Who Was Here When I Got Here

The Cloverdale Community

The following are reminisces of the Cloverdale community by Brody Hawkins who was born there in 1927 and has lived there all his life.  These are his memories of the families that lived in Cloverdale when he was a child.

George Forester – George Forester lived on Cloverdale Road across from the Hawkin’s place.  He married Sallie Kirkes and had four children, Herschel, Byron, Cicero and Bertha.  George’s first wife died and he married Nettie Carroll. They had two daughters Grace and Edna.

Herchel went to TX and spent his working life there.  He taught in college.  Herchel had two children who played pro football. Bertha married a man in the Army, Mac McGehee and they had two girls. I don’t know who Herchel’s boys or Bertha’s girls married.

Byron married Hettie Black and they had three children: Harold, Irene and Gladys. Byron farmed on part of his daddy’s place and lived at the Peter Forester house (George’s father).  Byron’s daughter Irene married Van Wall. They moved the old Peter Forester house and built a new brick home. Van and Irene had one daughter, Jeannie.  Harold Forester married my sister Mary Hawkins and they had two sons, James and Larry.  Gladys married Pat Baugh.  She was expecting their first child when she died with a brain tumor.

Cicero married Inez Black, a sister to Byron’s wife.  She had been married previously and had one son, J.B. Brannon.  She and Cicero had two children, Bobby and Jane.

Grace Forester married James Abercrombie and he died.  She then married Lee Blevins and they had two children, Mary Jane and Roy Lee.  Grace and Lee lived in the George Forester house.  Her son Roy and his family have restored and remodeled the old house now.

Edna married Pat Baugh and had two children, Patsy and Steve.  Pat and Edna built a house on the Forester place next to Cloverdale Church.  Edna was a teacher and Pat built houses in Chattanooga.

Tom Beckham – Tom Beckham lived on what we later called the Beckham place in Cloverdale. Tom was crippled.  He raised four girls and one boy. Tom’s daughter, Jewel Beckham, married Joe Phillips and raised two boys, Wilburn and Fred.  Another daughter, Lucille, married Jack Blevins and had two children, Lewis and Christine.  Daughter, Gertrude, married Carl Hawkins and had five children, Buddy, Shirley, Farris, Jerry Bill and Patsy.  Tom’s only son, Hubert Beckham married Etoka Blevins.

Once my father and Marion Cochran were hauling telephone poles out from the Welch Ridge, They accidentally knocked Jack and Lucille’s mailbox down.  Daddy went up to Lucille’ house and told her what happened.  He said he would bring her a new mailbox and put it up and he did.  But Tom Beckham reported him to the postal inspectors.  He told them Daddy had always hated his family.

John Lee Forester – His children were Roland, J.P. and Lena. John Lee’s wife’s name was Matt.  He was a brother to Aunt Molly Amos.   John Lee had emphysema.  John’s daughter, Lena, married a Scruggs and had two children, Lee and Maybell. Lena was killed in a car wreck. Lee married Frances Wallin, Arthur Waliin’s daughter. Roland was a horse trader. J.P. lived by the railroad crossing near the Beckham place.  He married Flossie Barkley and he was killed in a wreck, too.

Calendar E. (Petey) Hawkins – My grandfather Petey died March 16, 1944.  The war was in progress.  He wanted to live till it was over, but he didn’t.  He was about 88 years old.  He married Jennie Harris and had five children Grady, Nell, Mattie, Glennie and Lois.

Grady married Velma Riddle, daughter of Roland and Ellen Riddle, and had five children, H.G., Jr., Ernest Middleton (Brody), Mary Ellen, Catherine Ruth and Raleigh Alexander.  They all eventually settled in Cloverdale.  H.G. first built at Trenton, but later sold out and built on the Welch place (now owned by the Hawkins family). H.G. married Savannah Nunley and had two girls, Valorie and Cathy.

Brody built on the home place.  He married Verenice Cooper and had two children Ronnie and Linda.  Ronnie graduated from Georgia Tech and is a civil engineer for TVA.  He and his wife Melody have three children Ben, Jenny and Rachel.  Linda is an English teacher at Dade County High School. She married Lane Wilson and they have one son Sam.  Ronnie and Linda both built homes on the Hawkins home place.

Mary, as mentioned earlier, married Harold Forester and lives on part of the Forester place. Catherine lives at the old home place after living in NC for many years.  She has five children:  Michael, Jeff, David, Coleen and Kenneth Goode.  Raleigh lives on part of the home place. He married (1) Cynthia Dyar and (2) Joan Cameron.  He has four children:  Raleigh, Jr., Mary, Cameron and Carrie.

Petey’s daughter, Nell, married J.C. Pody and had no children.  Her sister, Mattie, married D. P. Ross and had one daughter Mary Sue. They lived in Gadsden, AL. Sister, Glennie, never married.  She taught school for many years, mostly at Weaver, AL.  As of this writing, she is still living (1996) and is 95 years old.   Lois married Hudson Cargile.  She was a nurse, a graduate of Newell’s Hospital School of Nursing.  Hudson was a linotype operator for the Chattanooga News-Free Press. They had no children and lived in Red Bank, TN.

Will Street -Will Street lived near the AL/GA state line on the place where Stumpmaster’s is.  Rustic furniture is now made in the old house.   Will married Bonnie Blevins and had three boys. At one time he had a lot of farm land, but had to sell some of it to pay medical bills.  He lived to be about 88 years old, I believe.  Will’s mother was Mahulda Hawkins.  She was Grandpa Hawkins’ aunt.

His son Joe Street married Maureen Morgan (Little Miss) and they had one son Sam Street.  Will’s next son R.B. Street married a teacher Minnie Street.  She taught both of my children in first grade. The youngest son was Bill Street, He married Sarah Mae Guinn.  They moved to Birmingham and still live there.

We would swap work with the Streets, threshing wheat and oats.  Me and H.G. and Daddy would go over early and butcher a sheep and put half on to boil and the other half was fried. The thresher crew would eat a sheep a day.  It was during the Depression and people would help with the threshing just to get one of those thresher dinners.

Jim Lambert – Jim owned the farm next to the Miller Cemetery. He practically invented the tenant system. He would sometimes have six or seven tenants.  It was a very poor system. It wasn’t good for anybody, landlord or tenant.  Tenants over the years were my grandparents Roland and Ellen Riddle, the Howells (John, Peck, Willy, and Paul) the Youngs, Ernest Minor, the Selveys and Cad Evans, and several Negro tenants.

Acey Young married Henry Kenimer’s sister and they had eight children.  She was burned to death in a house fire. She was pouring fuel oil on the wood in the fireplace and lightning struck the five-gallon can and it exploded, burning her to death. Asa was left with eight children to raise.

Pyron Lambert, Jim’s only boy, married Lora Howell.  One of the girls, Bertha, married Otis McSpadden and he was the mail carrier for a while. They had three daughters Doris Rose, Christine and Juanita. Juanita married Ed Selvey’s boy, Ernest.  One of the Lambert girls married a farmer in Fort Payne.

P.G. Bible – Mr. Bible owned a farm east of the Peter Forester home place.  P.G. married Lou Forester, a sister of George Forester.  I believe his sons were Charley and John Bible.  P. G.’s daughter, Jenny Bible, married Will Campbell. John Bible moved to Michigan and raised cranberries.

Charley Bible farmed and saw-milled.  He raised several kids:  Gordon, Raymond, Dorothy, Mary Beth, Royce, Ruth, Elsie Susan and Emma Jane.  Charley’s wife was named Edith.  He married her in Michigan. They had one child that drowned in a rain barrel.  Miss Edith taught a Sunday school class always.  Charley testified in church that he was in Trenton and saw where an acorn seed had busted the sidewalk.  He thought that was an example of the power of God.

P.G. Bible was school superintendent for years until they started paying a little.  Then all of a sudden they wanted someone else.  He kept bees. I remember going by his house with Perry Henderson after Perry had sold his cotton crop and Perry bought 60 gallons of honey in five-gallon lard cans from Mr. Bible.

The first jet planes had just come out and I was over at P. G.’s house talking to him when six jets broke over the mountain making a terrible noise.  It almost scared the old man to death and me, too.  He was about 88 at the time. I think he lived to be about 92 years old.

Sam Peters – Sam Peters and his wife Sally lived by the Cloverdale church. She had a son, Fred Warren, by a former marriage. They had two girls, Nina Ruth and Beulah Mae.

A funny thing happened at Cloverdale Church during a revival.  Peg Buchanan went up at the end of the service when they had the altar call.  His peg leg would not bend, and he couldn’t kneel at the altar, so he lay down on the mourner’s bench and they prayed for him for an hour at least. Then they discovered that he was passed out drunk.  They roused him and he went to the south side of the church and picked up a gallon jug of whiskey and went home.

Dr. Middleton and Ben Hogan’s Dogs – Dr. Spencer Middleton and I go back a long ways.  I’m known to most people as Brody, but my real name is Ernest Middleton Hawkins. I was delivered by Dr. Middleton, who told my daddy that the delivery was free if he would name me after him.

When I was young, Dr. Middleton came by our house on his way to see Ben Hogan’s wife.  She was having her eighth child.  He lived on the place now owned by Charles Morgan.  Ben lived about a mile off the main road.  The branch was up and Daddy told me to go with Dr. Middleton and carry his bag.  When we got to the house, we could see old Ben sitting back in the house.  He chewed tobacco, dipped snuff and smoked a pipe all at the same time.  Hound dogs came bailing out from under the house and started biting us. Doc said, “Son, hand me that pistol grip shotgun out of my bag.

I handed it to him and he started shooting dogs.  Ben came out on the porch and said, “Doc, would you just kill all of a man’s dogs?”

Doc said, “If you don’t get these dogs off of us; I will shoot you, too.”

He shot dogs as long as he saw them.  He had a 410 over and under 14″ barrel gun. That family later left here and I have never heard of them again.

Dr. Gardner– When I got here, we had three doctors in the community, Dr. Middleton, Dr. Gardner and Dr. Bunk Payne. We used Dr. Middleton.  Middleton and Gardner were jealous and would run most doctors out. They let Payne stay because he treated venereal diseases.  He doctored them with mercury compounds. The treatment was as bad as the disease, but that was all there was to treat it with. Also, Payne would doctor our livestock.  Back then all the doctors did that.

At that time, over half the people couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the doctors.  Dr. Middleton said he never sent a bill. They paid if they could.  Dr. Gardner, however, would go to see people about paying. He would say, “Hey, fella, could you help me a little on your bill?” If they said, no, he would ask them about giving him a calf or a hog or something. He once took ten gallons of sorghum for a baby case.  Dr. Gardner delivered six babies for one family I know and they never paid him a penny.

I remember going to get Dr. Gardner at two in the morning to deliver Buddy Howell’s baby.  Doc lived in the house where the Coopers live on Cloverdale Road.  He told me to put my mule in the barn and I rode with him in his car.  I remember going to the post office and seeing Doc Gardner pulling someone’s teeth while they were sitting on the fender of his car.  Doc would come by the post office and get his mail and he would throw the junk mail in the old pot-belly stove unopened.

Dr. Gardner got killed when a train hit his car at the railroad crossing just below our house.  He lived alone and they had a hard time finding any relatives. When a committee went into inventory his property, they found $57,000 in the house behind the piano.

The Newmans – We helped the Newmans thresh wheat.  We always looked forward to those big threshing dinners. But when we sat down at the table, Mrs. Newman brought in bowls of clear soup. It was a fish soup, I think.  Mr. Newman tasted it and said “Oh, Mother, you’ve outdone yourself.

Me and my brother H.G. didn’t see it that way.

The Oylers – Tom Oyler was living here when I got here.  He lived where Harry Hester lived and Red Hester now lives.  Torn Oyler was a mail carrier.  He had three boys, Henderson, Buster and Jody.

The Hesters – When I first remember, Jim and Carrie Hester owned and lived at the place where Robert Howard lives now. Jim and Carrie grew up at Fort Payne. Their families had farms in Fort Payne where the June Jam now lakes place.  They were first cousins.   Jim sold his place in Johnson’s Crook and rented the Riordan Place on Cloverdale Road.  This place now belongs to the Green family.  (The Riordan place was originally owned by the Nisbet family).

Aunt Carrie died with cancer after much suffering.  My mother and Della Gifford sat up with her many nights.  Their daughter Ducky Hester married Charlie Williams.  Bea Rumley is their daughter.  Other children of Jim and Carrie were Annie May, who married Chester Amos; Venice, who married Hershel Hawkins; Viggie Hester, married Ella Tatum; Russell Hester who raised a large family at Rising Fawn; Chester Hester (called Preacher) and Willis Hester; both of them never married. Willis was obsessed with flying and spent a lot of time and money taking pilot training.  He died of leukemia, I believe.

At one time I remember that Uncle Jim hired a Negro quack healer. The man had us boys start digging red worms.  He made a salve out of it and put it on Aunt Carrie’s cancer.  He charged Uncle Jim a lot of money, but Uncle Jim loved Aunt Carrie so much he would have done anything he could for her.  He spent most of what he had trying to cure her. As of this date, October 1996, only Russell Hester and Venice Hawkins are living from this family.

The Campbells – When I got here, Will and Jenny Campbell lived near Sulphur Springs, GA. Will came from Tennessee. At one time he ran a restaurant in Chattanooga.  He married Jenny Bible, daughter of P.G. Bible and a sister to Charley Bible.  They raised four children, Joe, Wallace, Clara and Kylus. Joe worked at the Georgia Experiment Station. Wallace was an engineer and doctor and made Captain in the Army.  Clara was a school teacher and Kylus, a machinist.  Kylus married Betty Hale from Sand Mountain.  They had four children, including a set of twins.  Kylus and Betty live at Stone Mountain, GA. All of the Campbells moved away from Cloverdale.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Molly Amos – I remember Uncle Bill and Aunt Molly Amos well. They lived across from where Harold and Mary Forester live now.  He had a little store and a grist mill. We also voted there for many years.  Bill had been married before and raised a family.  He had Chester and Lester Amos and Hester that married Harvey Bradford.  His daughter Willie married Oscar Hartline who was in the trucking business.  Chester married Annie May Hester. Aunt Molly had also been married before to an Allen and had Grady, Van, and Louellis Allen. Louellis married my uncle Ernest Riddle and at this writing (1996) she is living in Chattanooga and is around 90 years old.

Everybody really liked Uncle Bill and Aunt Molly Amos.  Aunt Molly was a Forester, a sister to John Lee Forester.

Jock Tatum – When I can first remember Jock Tatum lived on Hwy. 11 just across from its intersection with Cloverdale Road.  His house would have been on property where the Interstate is now.  His wife was Ada Chadwick. Jock looked like he was about seven feet tall. He would load cross ties onto box cars at Sulphur Springs, GA by himself.  Their children were Jewel, Ella, Nola, Mildred, Doyle and Dan.

Jewel married a Newman.  He died many years before she did. She moved to Knoxville and died there a few years ago.  El married Viggie Hester and had two sons, Terrell and James Donald (Pete).  El was a registered nurse and a good one.  She worked at T.C. Thompson’s Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.  She was the evening shift supervisor of the whole hospital.  My wife, who is also a nurse, worked for her sometimes.  Nola married a Long and Mildred married a Pody who was a floor finisher in Chattanooga.  Dan Tatum married Ruby Gatlin, a sister to Charlie and Jay Gatlin.  Their children were Kay, Bud, Delores, Tula and Sue. At his death, Jock Tatum owned forty acres of the Clint Cooper place.  He died with cancer.

Will Hawkins Family-When I got here, Will and Ida Hawkins lived in the community.  Ida was a Cochran.  Will was a cousin of my Grandpa Hawkins. They moved into a house that was on the property now owned by Dion and Linda Bradford (Linda is Will Hawkins’s granddaughter).  George Hawkins, Will’s brother, lived there when a Mr. Blansit owned it.  Mr. Blansit was a superintendent at Brock Candy Co.  He and my daddy were big friends. Will’s children were Susie, Carl, Gene, Inez, Pauline, Lela, Billy Ray and Louise.

Susie Hawkins married somebody in Alabama City.  Carl married Gertrude Beckham.  Gene married Nell Wofford and they had three children Linda, Doug and Jim Hawkins, who grew up next door to my family. Inez married J. T. Barkley the first time.  (She’s now married to Rudy Ziegler).  Pauline married Henry Spencer and lives down toward Trenton.  Lela married Melvin Chadwick and they had two girls, Frances and Polly.  Billy Ray married Estelle Nunley the first time.  She is a sister to my Brother H. G.’s wife.  Billy Ray died just a couple of weeks ago (Oct. 1996).  Louise married Possum Chadwick. They live at Trenton.

The Mr. Blansit mentioned above came down one weekend and went hunting with my daddy.  He asked Daddy if he wanted 1,000 pounds of spoiled candy bars from Brock’s.  Daddy said yes, and he brought them down and we fed them to our hogs and then slaughtered them.  The peanuts or something turned the lard and meat and the meat wasn’t very good to eat.

Grady and Ella Forester – When I can first remember Grady and Ella Forester had a store and cotton gin at Sulphur Springs, GA.  They also ran the post office there. They sold groceries, shoes, fertilizer and ginned cotton.  He also had a sawmill.  Grady was a nice man.  He would sneak around to smoke.  We wondered why.  I remember that he was deathly afraid of lizards.  Ella was formerly a Frizzelle and had a brother named Harold Frizzelle.  Grady and Ella had two boys and a girl.  The oldest boy was James Fred who married a girl named Thelma from North Carolina. The next was J.G. Forester.  He married somebody from Chattanooga. Their daughter Inez married a Quinton from Trenton and she taught school some.

Grady was an asset to the community.  He would give us credit when no bank would loan us a dime.  I don’t think Grady ever made very much money because people wouldn’t or couldn’t always pay him.

Mrs. Forester sure was a good cook.  My first job when I was 14 years old was logging for Grady Forester.  He said he would give me .40 an hour and I could bring my dinner or .25 an hour and eat with them.  I took the .25 deal. They had iced tea every day.  I didn’t even know what it was–and the rice pudding with raisins in it was something else!     Everything the woman cooked was delicious.

When Grady’s first gin burned down he was so desperate, he wanted to kill himself.  One man owed him a pile of money and wouldn’t pay him.  Dr. Gardner talked him out of it.

Two Gatlin girls, Christine and Irene, lived with the Foresters for a while so they could go to high school. Their daddy was hurt in a mine accident.  Both were pretty girls:  Irene was dark like her daddy and Christine was fair like her mother.

Nisbet Family – Cloverdale was once a 3.000 acre stock farm owned by the Nisbet family, an aristocratic family from south Georgia. James Cooper Nisbet commanded a Confederate company from Dade County and wrote a book about his Civil War experiences called Four Years on the Firing Line.

I can remember the last of the Nisbets that lived here in Cloverdale.  They were three brothers George, June and Sid Nisbet. At one time the family was said to have owned a lot of stock in Central of Georgia Railroad. Their ancestors had a private railroad car and it sat on a siding at what is now the Green place on Cloverdale Road.  The old Nisbet home is in ruins now.  When I can remember, the Nisbet boys lived in a house on the hill, just after you turn off on Cloverdale Road where Bud Tatum built a house.

Mrs. Nisbet lived with her sons until she died. Jewel Beckham Phillips told me a story about Mrs. Nisbet. Jewel’s mother, Mrs. Beckham, went to visit Mrs. Nisbet.   Mrs. Nisbet told her that people didn’t visit in the morning and wouldn’t let Mrs. Beckham come in. She told Mrs. Beckham to go back home and come back in the afternoon.

The bachelor brothers were well-educated when they came here. They were way ahead of all of us here on soil conservation.  It is told that one of them got to thinking about getting married.  At every meal, when he would fix his plate, he would fix a second plate with what he thought a wife might eat. After a trial period, he decided it would just cost too much to feed a wife, and remained a bachelor all his days.

Me and Daddy and Cad Evans stopped one day visiting the boys and June came in.  He had been milking and he had a single barrel shot gun he had been shooting crows with.  He set the milk on the table.   He emptied his shot gun and the empty shell went in the milk.  June said, “That will make the milk taste like gunpowder. Then he reached down into the milk bucket with a very dirty hand and recovered the shotgun shell.   They did not bathe or wash their clothes on a regular basis.  They went to every singing and homecoming around just to get something good to eat.

In 1937 my Grandpa Hawkins was the proud owner of a truck and a new Panama hat. We were the only family around with a truck and the Nisbet boys were fascinated with it and loved to hitch a ride with Daddy in the truck. We came back to Rising Fawn one day after a trip to Chattanooga and June and Sid were at Kenimer & Fricks’s store.  Daddy asked June if he wanted a ride home and he quickly said yes.  He hurried back into the store to get his brother Sid. June jumped in the bed of the truck and sat right down on Grandpa’s brand new Panama hat that he had just paid $16.00 for that day. When we got to June and Sid’s house, June jumped off the truck and walked around to Daddy’s side and said, “Oh, Grady, would you mind taking us back to Rising Fawn? We left a team of mules and a wagon tied up at the back of the store.  Daddy enjoyed telling this story so much that he didn’t mind the trip back to Rising Fawn at all.

Sid Nisbet was the last of the brothers to die.  People thought the boys had money hid out at their place and Sid was murdered for it. Milt Lee and Blackie Crane served time for the murder of Sid Nisbet.

I’m sure I left some out, but these are many of the families that lived here In Cloverdale when I can first remember, over sixty years ago.  Thanks to Edna Forester Baugh for filling in a few gaps in my memory.

Written by Ernest M. (Brody) Hawkins

  1. verenicehawkins

    Dr. Gardner delivered me 7-8-32 and delivered my brothers and sister. I wrote the article for the book about him. Verenice Hawkins

  2. verenicehawkins

    I have several Dr. Gardner stories because he was our family doctor. I went to the site of the accident when he was killed. We lived nearby and heard the train hit something. I am a nurse but nothing could be done to help him. He set my broken arm when I was 6 When we knew he was coming we got our sturdiest chair because he was heavy.

  3. I value the content post.Many thanks. Much obliged.

  4. Richard Evan Riddle Jr

    Ernest Riddle was my grandfather. Granny Lou died shortly after my father passed in 2001 at the age of 92.

    Clara, Donna, Evelyn and my dad, Richard, were their children. Donna lives outside Atlanta Georgia. All others have passed.

  5. verenicehawkins

    My husband wrote this. He was Ernest’s nephew and was named for him. My daughter saw Donna a few years back at kinfolks gathering of Cordells. Ed Forester, Aunt Hassel’s son, has lots of family information.

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