Friday, February 14, 2020

Hattie Jane Rhinehart, from the hills of Tennessee

Hattie Jane Rhinehart Shields
Hattie Jane Rhinehart, daughter of William Dearnald Rhinehart and Roda Elizabeth “Bettie” Sneed, was born in Flat Creek, Sevier County, Tennessee on March 24, 1895. She was the youngest of five children—Sarah Malonia Rhinehart, Ollie C. Rhinehart, James (Jim) Daniel Rhinehart, Arlie Mack Rhinehart, and Hattie Jane Rhinehart. Hattie is my maternal great-grandmother. Her children called her Mommie all of her life. We called her Grandma Shields. Hattie had a paternal aunt named Hattie Jane Rhinehart so may have been named after her.

With no proof to back this up, it’s believed that Hattie’s family began in this country when two or three Jewish brothers immigrated from Germany. One settled in Tennessee, one in Texas, and one went to an unknown location. My DNA ethnicity estimate doesn’t include anything from Germany though so I am questioning that family lore.

On June 11, 1900, Hattie and her family lived in the 13th Civil District of Sevier County, Tennessee. Hattie was enumerated as five years old, born in April 1895. Her parents had been married for 14 years and her mother had five children, all of which were living and still in the home. Hattie’s father William was a farmer, most likely being assisted by his 10-year-old son James who was enumerated as a farm laborer.

William D. Rhinehart family
Hattie was educated in a one room schoolhouse, learning to write using chalk and slate-rock. She learned to read from the Bible. She loved to read and did so often most of her life.

Hattie was just 13 when her father William died in Tennessee on April 19, 1908 at the age of 44. He was buried at Catons Chapel Cemetery in Sevierville, Sevier County, Tennessee. Hattie was probably still mourning her father’s death when she married James “Stewart” Shields, son of Samuel “Cas” Shields and Martha Ogle, in Sevier County on March 30, 1909. Her bother-in-law Ashley Sutton and Stewart posted a $1250 bond when they filed for the marriage license on March 29. The ceremony was performed by the local Justice of the Peace, A. D. Eledge, who it turns out lived seven houses from the Cas Shields family. Hattie was 14-years-old and Stewart was 17. Hattie and Stewart had 12 children over a 30 year period—Daisy Lee Shields, Willie Mae Shields, James B. Shields, Betty Ann Shields, Paul Sam (he went by Paul Sam) Shields, Bessie Lucille Shields, Mary Nell Shields, Dorothy Joline Shields, Bobbie Jean Shields, Charles Dewayne Shields, Loyal Mack Shields, and an infant that did not survive.

Stewart Shields - Hattie Rhinehart marriage certificate

After the marriage, Hattie and Stewart moved in with her widowed mother in the 13th Civil District of Sevier County, which is where the census enumerator found them on April 29, 1910. Her sister Ollie and brothers James and Arlie were also living in the home. Her mother Bettie was a farmer on a general farm that she was renting. Hattie’s siblings were all farm laborers, as was her husband Stewart. She was the only person in the home not working. All of her mother Bettie’s children were still living. Hattie’s sister, Malonia, lived next door with her husband Ashley Sutton and daughter Georgia. Two months after the census was taken, 15-year-old Hattie gave birth to her daughter Daisy (my Granny) in Sevierville.

Stewart, Daisy, Hattie, and Willie Mae Shields

Malonia Rhinehart Sutton
Sometime after Daisy was born and before her second daughter Willie Mae was born in 1914, Hattie and her family, including her mother, loaded up the wagon and moved to Whitfield County, Georgia. Around 1914, her sister Malonia became ill. Needing someone to help take care of herself and her children, Malonia and her family also moved to Whitfield County. It’s believed that Malonia had some type of cancer. Her health worsened until she died on November 25, 1916. She was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia, leaving three young daughters behind, ages seven, three, and one. Malonia’s oldest daughter Georgia would later tell her granddaughter that the one vivid memory she had of that time was sitting in the wagon that carried her mother’s wooden casket to the cemetery.

From October 1917 until June 1919, Hattie’s brother Jim Rhinehart served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Jim was shipped to France where he served as a Wagoner in the Supply Company of the 318th Field Artillery.

On January 5, 1920, Hattie, Stewart, their four children (Daisy, Willie, James, and Betty), and her mother lived in Dalton. Stewart was a farmer on a general farm and her mother Bettie was a farm laborer on a home farm. Hattie, Stewart, and Bettie could all read and write. Daisy and Willie were both attending school. James was two and a half years old, and little Betty was just three months old.

1920 Soundex cards

On April 18, 1930, Hattie, Stewart, and their now eight children continued to live in Dalton, at Prater’s Mill and Deep Springs Roads. Stewart’s father, mother, and brother Blaine lived next door. Hattie’s mother Bettie had moved back to Sevier County and was living with her widowed sister, Mary Sneed Loveday, niece Ellen Loveday and nephew George Loveday. Hattie, Stewart, Daisy, Willie, James, and Bettie could all read and write. Paul and Bessie were unable to read and write but were attending school so it wouldn’t be long before they could check that box. Hattie’s sister Ollie Rhinehart Mathews died of pellagra of the bowels at the age of 45 in Sevierville on July 24, 1934. She was buried at Catons Chapel Church Cemetery in Sevierville. By 1935, the family had moved to Blackstock, Catoosa County, Georgia.

Hattie, Stewart, and Mack Shields
On April 23, 1940, Hattie and her family still lived in Blackstock. Stewart and Paul Sam were both farmers, working a 30-hour week. The highest grade that Stewart had completed was third; the grade box was unchecked for Hattie. Even though four of the children had left home—Daisy, Willie, James, and Betty—there were still seven children at home—Paul Sam, Lucille, Mary, Joline, Bobbie, Charles, and Mack. Hattie’s mother Bettie died of breast cancer in Sevierville on July 23, 1945. She was buried two days later at Catons Chapel Cemetery. I had a photo of William’s headstone thanks to someone posting it on his Find-A-Grave memorial so thought I’d request one for Bettie’s stone. Unfortunately, she must be buried in an unmarked grave because the volunteer that responded told me the following: “I could not find any other Rhinehart graves in this cemetery and he had lots of open space around him so wife could possibly be buried there also but I did not see a stone at all.”

My Mama remembers Grandma Shields as a very sweet person. During the early 1940s, Mama lived in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee with her father Sam Holland (my Granddaddy). Daisy (my Granny) had been declared unfit by the courts after she left Granddaddy and Mama so he had sole custody. Grandma Shields stepped in and played a key part in Mama’s life at this time. Since Grandma Shields lived in Tunnel Hill, Catoosa County, Georgia, Granny’s brother Jim Shields drove to Chattanooga and picked Mama up every weekend so she could spend it with Grandma Shields. On Sundays, Granddaddy came to pick her up and take her back home to Chattanooga. Mama spent her summers in Tunnel Hill.

Hattie and her brother Jim Rhinehart (child unknown to me)

Several of Grandma Shields children are close in age to Mama so she had built-in playmates in her aunts and uncles. Sometime Hattie's brother, Arlie Rhinehart and his wife, Martha or Aunt Marthie, would pick Mama up in a wagon and take her to his house for a few days. Mama remembers shelling corn and saving the cobs for the outhouse when she stayed with Grandma Shields and Uncle Arlie. Being on the farm meant there was always lots of work to do. Mama remembers that Grandma Shields hand milked the cows. She gave the first few squirts of milk to the cat and then kept milking until she had two gallons of milk. After she finished, she’d put a few nubbins of corn in her apron. As she walked outside, she tossed the corn on the ground for the chickens. While they ate the corn, she’d decide which chicken she wanted to cook for dinner. Then she’d pick it up, wring its neck, and take it in the house and pour boiling water over the chicken from a pot she’d started before going out to milk the cows. Then she’d defeather and gut them (the worst part), and fry it in her big iron skillet for dinner. Grandma Shields made the best cornbread you ever had to go with the chicken, along with summer vegetables picked from the garden. And of course, she was a southern cook so you know there would be a pan of biscuits when she didn’t make cornbread. Mama remembers going to the spring to wash clothes. Grandma Shields would take her scrub board, octagon soap, and the dirty clothes to the spring, put them in a tub, and then hand scrub and rinse them. Then they’d carry the clothes back to the house and hang them up on the clothes line. After the clothes were dry, Grandma Shields would heat up the iron so she could iron the white shirts the boys wore with their overalls on Sunday.

Stewart and Hattie Shields
My parents married when Mama was 15; she had my sister Bonita at age 16. The marriage was only a year old when Daddy left. Once again, Mama’s uncle stepped in and moved Mama and Bonita to Tunnel Hill. They spent some time with Grandma Shields and some time with Granny while Mama got a divorce. Since Mama now had to support herself and Bonita, she got a job in Chattanooga. Grandma Shields helped by taking care of Bonita while Mama worked. After a year, Mama got an apartment in Chattanooga. After a while, Daddy showed up again and they ended up getting married again and moved back to Atlanta. I know Mama was thankful for Grandma Shields help during this trying time in her life.

In 1954, Hattie and Stewart lived in Tunnel Hill. Stewart, however, worked as a janitor for the O. B. Andrews Company, a paper manufacturer that made paper margarine wrappers among other things, in Chattanooga. Stewart used a hammer to knock the perforated sheet out of a big sheet of paper. He worked there until his retirement; date unknown.

Hattie thought TV was the devil’s instrument. In the late 1950s, it was thought she had cancer so the doctor sent her to a cancer hospital in Rome, Georgia. She stayed there a year but doctors eventually determined she didn’t have cancer after all and sent her home. While she was gone, Stewart bought a TV for the house. When Hattie returned and saw the TV, she made him put it in the back room. But low and behold, she started watching it and found a soap opera she liked called Love of Life. One actress, named Vanessa, was her favorite. At the time, Mama was pregnant with her fifth child and when she was born, Hattie asked Mama to name her Vanessa, which she did.

Mama and Bonita standing in the Shields home driveway
with a cake for Hattie's son Charles

Stewart (we called him Pappy) was a farmer and owned 65 acres of land in Tunnel Hill. He gave one acre each to Granny and Paul Sam. I have very fond memories of going to visit Grandma Shields when my siblings and I were younger. She lived down the road from Granny, who we often visited. Bucket’s in hand, we’d walk down the dirt road to Grandma Shields’ house, picking blackberries along the way and thinking about the blackberry pie someone would make later that day. You walked into Grandma Shields’ house through the back door. The front of the house had a porch across the front that overlooked a beautiful pasture. There was an L-shaped porch on the back that always had stuff on it, including rocking chairs. My sister Bonita remembers sitting out there listening to the Grand Ole Opry. Grandma Shields had a big quilting rack set up in the living room and everyone sat around it working on a quilt section. They let Bonita sit with them and do something like she was working on the quilt too.

Shields home in Tunnel Hill, Georgia

Stewart Shields standing in the driveway of the Tunnel Hill home

Grandma Shields played the fiddle, banjo, and mandolin; Stewart played the banjo, fiddle, and guitar; and several of her children played as well. In 1910, Hattie and Stewart formed a band they called The Skillet Lickers and played around Sevier County. I imagine there was always music in the house.

Paul Sam Shields playing the banjo

Loyal Mack Shields from The Settler's Magazine

Stewart died suddenly at 71 years of age on September 7, 1962, a Friday night. They found him dead in the field by his house in Tunnel Hill. He was buried at Nellie Head Memorial Baptist Cemetery in Catoosa County, Georgia. Hattie moved in with her son Paul Sam after his death. Her granddaughter Evelyn remembers my Granny (Daisy Shields) and her husband Hoyt (Vest) coming to their house to pick Hattie up (and sometimes Evelyn) to attend a Dalton tent revival. They always stopped for a root beer float on the way home. Evelyn also remembers that she could always talk to Hattie about anything and enjoyed going to church with her. After living with Paul Sam for a couple of years, Hattie moved back to Sevierville and lived with her sister, Ollie, in the house owned by cousins Mack and Ellen Loveday. Mack and Ellen were the children of Mary Catherine Sneed Loveday, sister of Hattie’s mother Bettie. This house was previously owned by Bettie before the Loveday’s lived in it. Hattie and Ellen worked hard to prepare food for the winter months. They would lay a white sheet out on the porch and lay green beans out to dry. They called these leather britches. They stored food in fruit jars under the front porch, canned vegetables, sausage, and beef. We visited Grandma Shields when she lived in this house. I’m told this is the house where we helped feed the pigs.

Hattie and her cousin Ellen Loveday

Lankford kids feeding the pigs

About 1970, our family celebrated having five living generations. The picture below includes the representative members—my great-grandmother Hattie Rhinehart Shields, my Granny Daisy Shields Vest, my mother Fay, my sister Bonita, and her son Brian.

Five generations - Hattie, Daisy, Fay holding Brian, and Bonita

Hattie’s brother Jim died in Sevier County on January 29, 1971 at the age of 80. He was buried at Shiloh Memorial Cemetery in Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, Tennessee. Hattie’s son James died in Sylacauga, Talladega County, Alabama on September 26, 1972. He was buried at Nellie Head Memorial Baptist Cemetery in Catoosa County, Georgia. Her daughter Betty died in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama on February 16, 1975. She was buried at West Hill Cemetery in Dalton.

Mama remembers getting a call at work in the Atlanta metropolitan area that Hattie was in the hospital. She left work and headed to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga where Hattie had been admitted, arriving at the hospital room minutes before Hattie died on April 11, 1982. She was buried beside Stewart at Nellie Head Memorial Baptist Cemetery in Catoosa County after a funeral service officiated by Rev. Junior Bryson. Hattie was 87-years-old.

Hattie beside a stream in the Smokies
I have never heard anything but nice words about Grandma Shields. I hope she knows she’s still alive in our minds and hearts.

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, City Directory, 1954.
  • Obituary, James Stewart Shields, Chattanooga Daily Times, Chattanooga, Tennessee, September 8, 1962.
  • Obituary, Mrs. Hattie J. Shields, unknown newspaper, April 13, 1982.
  • Personal memories of Fay Lankford, Bonita Streetman, Denise Murphy, Evelyn Shields Jenkins, and Carol Defore.
  • Settler, vol 3, no. 4, December 1986, Sevier Printing Incorporated.
  • State of Tennessee, Sevier County, Rite of Matrimony, March 30, 1909.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Blackstock, Catoosa, Georgia, 1940.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Civil District 13, Sevier, Tennessee, 1900, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Lower Tenth, Whitfield, Georgia, 1920, 1930.
  • U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.
  • U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.
  • U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918, Tennessee.
  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration State: Tennessee; Registration County: Sevier; Roll: 1877690.

No comments:

Post a Comment