The Lea family came originally from Lea Hall in Cheshire, England – James Lea, founder of the American family, was born in England in 1718 and came to Virginia in 1840, later moving to North Carolina, Orange County which later became Caswell County. James married Anne Tolbert and they were the parents of several children, among them Rev. Luke Lea, Sr., a Baptist minister, who married Elizabeth Wilson. They moved to what is now Tennessee shortly after the Revolution. This couple was the parents of twelve children, among them many prominent men in Tennessee history including John M. Lea, one time sheriff of Grainger County, Tennessee.
The ancestral home in Tennessee was Lea’s Springs named for Rev. Luke Lea. It was a nineteenth century spa in Grainger County near Knoxville, popular with the gentry. Paying guests took the healthful waters. There were many different kinds found on the grounds.
John married Ann Roddy, daughter of James Roddy, whose name appears often in early East Tennessee history. Among their children was Pleasant Miller Lea, who lived in what is now Bradley County, Tennessee. He married Martha H. Cravens (sister of Robert Cravens who was a Chattanooga industrialist and who built Cravens House). Among their children was Robert Franklin who married Matilda Ann McCollum November 4, 1857. They lived in Dade County, Georgia, and raised their family there. From their descendants have come many Dade County families, living primarily in the North Dade area. Their land lay North and West of the present Wildwood Post Office.
Their three sons married three sisters. The oldest, John Bell, married Emily Elizabeth Holmes; Hugh LaFayette married Laura Holmes; and Rogert Luke married Julia Holmes. One daughter, Martha Ann (Marr), married Joe Puckett and their daughter Jennie Blanche remained unmarried. They had one daughter who died as a child, possibly two.
John Bell carried the mail at Wildwood. He and Emily Elizabeth had a large family (ten children). Their oldest daughters, Mary Ada and Annie Elmira, attended Pryor Institute at Jasper, Tennessee and became teachers. Ada taught for many in Hamilton County, Tennessee, serving also as principal for many years at Red Bank Junior High School. Annie taught on Lookout Mountain until her marriage. Each weekend she would walk down the mountain to be with her family and each Sunday walk back up the mountain to resume her duties as a teacher.
Annie married Robert Byron Porter. They had six children – Ollie Frances married Alfred Boyd and taught school at Wildwood and in Hamilton County. She lives in Chattanooga.
Annie Bell married Clarence Alvin Carroll. Their daughter Mary Jacquline married Earl L. Sams and teaches at North Dade School. They have three children – Melanie, Earl jr., and Anna. Their daughter Janie Elizabeth married Fred W. Mahan.
Emily Sarah Elizabeth married Joe Dale Brown. They have a son, Dale Thomas, who has a daughter Shannon.
Robert B., Jr., after working many years locally, became a preacher and has pastured several churches in the Southern United States. He married Evelyn Ruth Ford of Whiteside, Tennessee. They have on daughter Charlotte Ann Houseman and two grandchildren.
Mary Ethel died at age 25.
Martha Lea married James E. Rogers. They have four children – Jennie, Jim, Bob and Paul.
John’s next daughter, Beulah, married Herbert Cleveland Porter, a brother to Robert. They had eight children – Norvin (Red), Elsie, Harry, Leona, John, Beulah Bell, Glenna Sue, and Helen.
The one’s still living in Dade County are – Beulah Bell, who married Bud Lawson andhad three children.
Glenna Sue, who married Adrain M. Lawson. They have ten children: Tommy, charles, Stacia (Mrs. Paul) Dugan, William, Mike, Cheryl, George, Mary Beth and Johnny.
Helen Cole has two children and lives in Slygo.
John Lea’s other children: Leafa married Luther Slizer. Austin Leroy married Lora Carroll. Robert Luke married but died very young. Ethel Elsie taught at Wildwood until her death. Tomas E. W. taught at Wildwood. He married Grace Cook. They ran a florist shop in St. Elmo. Two who died as infants, possibly twins.
Hugh and Laura Lea had three children – Carrie Shipley; Calsie who married Fannie Phillips; and Worth who married Minnie Spiers. Calsie ahd a son Robert and daughters Dorothy, Katherine, Edna, and Margie (who married Eolmer Stephens). Worth had two daughters – Annie Faye (who married Joe Neely) and Myrna Carol (who married Tom Blevins).
Robert Luke and wife, Julia had two children – Ida (who married Edwin Dantzler), and Maurice.
Matt and Joe Puckett had three children: Frank, Roberta (married Wilbur Irwin and had a daughter Gertrude (Mrs. Bill) Harman, and Alma. Alma married Fran Neely and remained in the Dade area. They had three children – Violet Ruth, who has two sons, Bobby and Tommy Crow. Frank married Marjorie Morgan. They have on daughter, Debbie. Joe Neely married Annie Faye Lea. They have three children – Marshall, Marie and Scott.
Jennie B. lea cared for her parents as long as they lived. She shared her life with all her many, many nieces and nephews. She outlived all but on of her nephews and died in1980 at the age of 104. (Used by permission HISTORY OF DADE COUNTY GEORGIA by Retired Senior Volunteer Program, 1981.)