Sequatchie Valley Tennessee

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Shown above are two pictures taken in the Sequatchie Valley of Tennessee

This is another picture of the Valley-Marion County Tennessee

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.>>>It was in the year of 1980, early November, that my wife and I decided to visit Bledsoe County Seat, Pikeville, to research the Shoemakes who had left South Carolina and migrated to this beautiful valley. Of those that came, I later learned spelled their names in different ways. Some spelled it Shoemake, some Shoemate, some Shumate, and some Showmake. We were living at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia at the time, so we drove through Chattanooga, Tennessee, and over Signal Mountain that lies north west of the city. The road was crooked and some places very steep. However, it soon leveled off and we drove on admiring the rolling hills. Before long we found ourselves in the beautiful Sequatchie Valley. The only comparison would be the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

>>>The Sequatchie Valley in southeastern Tennessee (and Browns Valley in northeastern Alabama) is one of the most recognizable non-coastal landforms in the eastern United States. The valley looks almost like a knife incision when viewed on a topographic map. If you visit, you'll notice that the valley is very striking in appearance, with quite steep escarpments leading to a fairly narrow (generally less than five miles across) and flat valley floor.

>>>Sequatchie Valley is a unique geographical feature in Tennessee and contains three counties. They are Bledsoe, Sequatchie and Marion. This area was very early in settlement in the history of the state and therefore, many Revolutionary soldiers came into the area to live.

My Visit To The Valley

>>>As my wife and I traveled through this wonderful valley, we did not learn it's name until lunch-time. While eating at one of the restaurants in Pikeville, we learned the name of the valley. As we traveled through the valley we noticed a high ridge situated on the east side of the highway as we drove north, it was Walden's ridge and on our left, west of the highway, we saw the Cumberland Plateau.

>>>As I viewed this beautiful valley, I could not help but envy the Shoemakes who came here after the Revolutionary War. Bledsoe County was laid out from land acquired from the Indians in 1805. Many changes have taken place since the Shoemakes (Shomate) left South Carolina and moved to the valley (1800-1810) Cattle and dairy barns, silos and grazing land now deck the rolling hills of the beautiful valley.

>>>Upon our arrival in Pikeville, we were not aware that the businesses of the city closed on Thursday, the very day that my wife and I decided to take a trip to this beautiful place. The small town of Pikeville brought back many memories of yester-years. The courthouse which was rebuilt in 1908, after a fire had destroyed the old one. The old buildings remind one of the pioneer days. The courthouse is a two-story brick building, with tall columns standing out front. Upstairs, on the second floor is the court room. Inside are the old, iron-folding chairs with slat bottoms and backs. The two restrooms, one for the men and the other for the women were found to be at the head of the stairs. The doors to each were standing open. However, rhere was no one using them at the time.

>>>Across the street from the courthouse was a small café which was closed. However, we were not without help. In front of the café were two elderly men. One was cutting away at a woden stick; the shavings falling on to the sidewalk. The other was occupied with a mouth full of snuff, spitting onto the street. "Just like old times." The men explained to us about the town being closed on Thursdays and invited us to come back the next day when things would be open.

>>>Having a desire to not be out done, we went to the county school board office that was situated next door to the closed library. The secretary in the office told us of a Dorthy Shoemate Sullivan who might be able to help us. I located a telephone booth, took the directory and looked up her name and number and called her. I asked her if we could come over and she said we would be welcomer. So off we went.

>>>Our visit with Mrs. Sullivan proved fruitful. She informed us of her aunt, Annice Shoemate, age 83, who lived south of Pikeville. She lived right on our way back to Chattanooga. So off we went to Annice's house.

A Visit With Annice Shoemate

>>>Our visit with Annice was well spent. We learned about her father, her grandfather, and her great, grandfather. She told us that her father's name was John., that her grandfather's name was James, and her great, grandfather's name of John. She said her father was born about the year of 1841 and died about 1916, we later learned that the date on the tombstone at the grave site was (J. W. Shoemate, B. May 7, 1850, D. April 10, 1916). Her information gave us a clue to how to research the census for this John.

>>>We also learned from Annice that her father John had a sister named, Sarah Shoemate, who died in 1926, being about 75 years of age. There was also a sister to Sarah named Mary, who married Dunlap Kitchum. We were also told that there was another sister named Margaret A., who married a Frank Reed. Both of these sisters were said to have remained in Bledsoe County.

>>>John W., Sarah, Mary, and Margaret were brother and sisters.

>>>Annice also told us that when her grandfather, John, moved from South Carolina, he left two brothers behind. She also told us about her father's sister, Sarah, her aunt, who moved to Oklahoma and was killed in a cyclone. Another point of interest was she said her three brothers moved to Oklahoma. One would wonder why they moved, I didn't ask her, but I would assume it was because the U.S. Government had established an Indian Reservation and they were part Cherokee. The census listed this group as being Mulattos. This is an assumption on my part.

The Humble Cemetery

>>>Before leaving Bledsoe County, My wife and I drove to the Humble Cemetery where Annice had told us her father was buried. Here we found many Shomates buried there. (See Cemetery Records

>>>Leaving the cemetery and traveling on to the community of Dunlap, we took a highway leading to Jasper, Tennessee, the county seat of Marion County. Here too, the courthouse was closed. However, we would not be defeated, again I went to a phone booth and called one of the Shoemakes listed in the telephone directory. I was referred to a Mrs. Ryby Pruitt of Star Route, Sequatchie, Tennessee. This led us to the top of Mount Eagle. We located Mrs. Pruitt's house and introduced ourselves. She was very nice to us and invited us in. She shared with us what information she had, explaining that she had kinfolks living in Jackson County, Alabama, just across the State Line. This was several miles south from where she lived.

A Visit With Ruby Pruitt

>>>While visiting with Mrs. Pruitt, we had the opportunity of meeting some of her children. One could notice that they had Indian blood, because of their dark complection and their very dark hair.A picture of her father also showed that he was of Indian descent.

>>>Mrs. Pruitt gave us her father's name as James McKenly Shoemake. She said her grandfather's name was Thomas Shoemake, who died in 1926. Further research revealed that his name was Thomas Jefferson
Shoemake, a son of Morris K. Shoemake (Shoemate) who was a son of John Fletcher Shoemake, who was living in Bledsoe County in 1850, who was born in South Carolina in 1795. She also gave us the name of a Mrs. Lella Shoemake Morgan who lived in Tiftonia, Tennessee near Chattanooga. I was informed that her son had been working on researching the Shoemake Family of that area. She said I might get some information from him.

>>>After arriving back home in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, I called Mrs. Morgan and set up a time I could visit her. She was very nice and told us we could come over the next Saturday.

Visiting Mr. Lella Shoemake Morgan

>>>Every place that we went, we found a very warm welcome. Mrs. Morgan was no different. A pot of coffee was put on the stove and a platter of cookies were served. I reviewed the material that Mrs. Morgan's son had collected and filled my note pad full. She told me about her Uncle Arthur ( Richard Arthur) who lived about 45 miles away in Jackson County , Alabama. Further research led me to find Arthur. His name was Richard Arthur Shoemake, the son of Thomas Jefferson Shoemake, a brother to Mrs. Pruitt's grandfather. John Fletcher Shoemake was Arthurs great, grandfather.

>>>Here is the way that it works: Arthur Shoemake, the son of Thomas Jefferson, who was the son of Morris K. Shoemake, who was the son of John Fletcher Shoemake, who was the son of John Shoemake who came to Bledsoe County from South Carolina about 1800, by the way of Knox County, Tennessee.

>>>On the following Monday, I drove to Jackson County and sought to locate Arthur, but failed. So when I returned home, I called him on the telephone. He told me his father was Thomas Jefferson Shoemake who was born in 1861. This proved to be of great help in identifying the Shoemakes from Marion County, Tennessee with those of Bledsoe County. (See Arthur's letter, click here, and scroll down)

>>>After talking with Arthur, I went to the Chattanooga Library. Here I found many records which included the tax rolls, census records, and voting records of Bledsoe and Marion Counties. Here is what I found:

>>>In 1828, a John Shoemake purchased 50 acres on Walton's Ridge. This was on September 28, 1825. It was also situated in Bledsoe County. (Book D-224) I have reason to believe that this John ws John Fletcher, even though I have no documented proof.

>>>Three years later on February 11, 1828, a Robert Shoemake bought 64 acres of land from Thomas Riddle (D-327). Again he purchased 400 acres of land from John Bridgman on November 13, 1832. This Robert was a son of John Shoemake, a brother to James and William, and a brother to John Fletcher Shoemake. (Bledsoe Land Records).

John Shoemake (.Grandfather, according to Morris K.) was born in SC., about 1766. Morris K. listed the following as the children of John, Jr.: ( Tennessee Records)
-----(a) John Fletcher, B. 1795, born in S.C.
-----(b) James, B. 1820
-----(c) William, B. 1805
-----(d) Robert, B. 1805 - 1810
-----(e) Sarah, B. 1810,
-----(f) Dicy, B. 1796

>>>See the Morris K. Records, Click here.

The Robert mentioned above is shown to be born between 1805 and 1810 in Tennessee, but living in Bledsoe County in 1828. He is listed on the census as being a Mulatto. It appears that John F.,. James, William and Robert were brothers.