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The Fletcher Family Story
As Told by Mattie Tucker
Written and edited by Pattie Carter
Somewhere in Virginia, about 1849/50, my grandfather Benjamin
Patton Fletcher was born. His parents names are presently not known,
they both were also from Virginia. Ben left Virginia as a young man,
finding work with the railroad. He is also listed as a farmer on the 1880
census. It was when he reached Tennessee, the place he met and
married my grandmother, Mary Virginia Dodson/Dotson. Their marriage
record was located in Dickson County, Tennessee where they were
married on March 27, 1872.
Mary Virginia 'Jennie' Dodson was born about 1852 somewhere in
Tennessee, known to most everyone as Jennie. Even her descendants did
not know her name to be Mary Virginia, as they only knew her as Grandma
Jennie. Her parents names are not known either, and they both were from
My father, Benjamin Franklin Fletcher told us kids that my
grandfather worked for the railroads. That he was a big and strong man, he
could carry one steel rail all by himself. When other men carried them using
two men. Pneumonia took the life of my grandfather at a very young age,
leaving his wife, Jennie pregnant with her eighth child, Winnie.
Jennie, however was voted the most beautiful woman in McEwen,
Humphrey's County, Tennessee of her days. Jennie died of Yellow Jondis
within one to two weeks after the birth of Winnie, only being about 6 months
after the death of her husband.
My father also told us that my grandfather had killed a black man in
Tennessee. I'm not sure if this was the reason for their move to Texas, or
even if he was punished for a crime or running from the law. Working for the
railroad could of been another reason why they ended up in Texas.
After arriving in the Crandall, Kaufman County, Texas area.
Traveling with them on this journey were the children born in Tennessee,
Lucien Beauregard, Ida Jane, Charles P., Benjamin Franklin and George A.
(Although I do not think George made the trip with them or he could of died
along the way ). Arriving in Texas just before August of 1882, where their 6th
child was born, Henry Clay Fletcher, in Ennis, Ellis County, Texas. Leaving a
three year space between the birth of they're next child and no way of knowing
if the railroad brought them to Texas. Or was it in Ellis County that my
grandfather started working for the railroad, taking his family to the Crandall,
Kaufman County, Texas area. Where two railroads where being built. So its
not for certain which of the railroad companies he had worked for.
They're seventh child, Lydia Mae Fletcher was born there
in Crandall, Kaufman County, Texas in March of 1885, and Winnie the last
child born within this family according to the census record of 1900 she was
born in April of 1890. Using the census records and what my father told us
kids. My grandfather would of died at the latter part of 1889 and my
grandmother in April or May of 1890.
After grandma and grandpa died, there was an old grandma
woman, named Grandma Petry who had taken in the baby and the other
children until other arrangements could be made. The Dodson/Dotson family
from Tennessee had sent money for the kids to come stay with them.
Although, Lucien just being a kid himself, took the money and the kids never
got their tickets to Tennessee.
It was then Aunt Ida who married around the age of fourteen years,
John Henry Klutts, they took in Aunt Liddy, Winnie and Uncle Henry. My father,
Frank did not stay with is sister Ida. He said he could make his own way
and did so from around the age of thirteen years old. (His children tell the
story to be him making his way from around the age of seven years old, as
told them by their father). Frank did have a place to stay, Grandma Petry
helped him out.
In my teen years, we went as a family to visit Grandma Petry, she
could hardly get around then. She was so thrilled to see my father, because
she thought after he left, she would never see him again.
(The Big Family Trip...)
My father was a small boy when his family moved to Kaufman
County, Texas. They camped up on a hill in a tent. I remember visiting this
place also in my teen years. Papa went back to this place just to drink from the
well he had drank from when he was a small boy. When we drove up to this
place, Papa got out and drew water from the well and drank it. A woman had
come from the house, so Papa explained to her that he had lived up on the hill
when he was a young boy. The well there where they were standing, he had
drank from back then. There was a boy who lived in this house here, he was his
best friend. The woman asked his name and could not believe he was the
same Benjamin Franklin 'Frank' her husband had told her stories about. The
womans husband was not home at that time, and his wife knew that he would
be disappointed he missing seeing his boyhood friend. Papa never got to go
back to visit his friend or drink from that well again.
This is also the same place that my grandma and grandpa Fletcher
are buried. On the way to the cemetery you may be able to see that same hill
my father lived on as a young boy. My father, Frank told us that his parents
were buried under a tree and there was three graves there. Two large ones
and a small one. Papa had a brother in the small one, we believe to be
Charles P. Fletcher. When we arrived at the cemetery, it had not been kept up
over the years. The grass and bushes were high, but we found the graves my
father believed were those of his parents and his brother. There were no
headstones to identify them.
It was on this same trip that my father got to see his oldest brother
Lucien for the first time in forty years. My sister, Lillian 'Tinker' had found him
after she married and moved to this area of Texas. This would have made my
father around the age of 47 years old when we made this trip. When we
arrived in front of the house, mama and papa went to the door while us kids
stayed in the truck. My father and Lucien were talking and mama did not think
things were going just right, so she told Lucien that this was his brother Frank.
Lucien about fainted and was so very happy to see his brother, we ended
up visiting the whole day. Lucien also went to the cemetery with us that day.
Whats funny about this whole story is that later after we had been visiting
for awhile. Aunt Susie told us that Lucien was not happy to see our truck
coming up the drive way. He knew that someone was coming to visit and
he would not get any work done that day. Things turned out well and we all
had a nice visit.
This family trip we went on, I have always said was the best trip I
have ever taken in all my life. My father had seen things that he had not seen in
many years. Seeing Lucien again was what I felt my father needed. He always
felt so alone with us being his only family for forty years. He was always talking
about writing to Tennessee and trying to find some of his family, but never did.
It was not long after we returned home from this trip that I wrote a letter to the
Old Dallas Newspaper in search of papa's family. Someone knowing his family
in Tennessee answered my letter, sending addresses. I wrote to Papa's family
and they wrote back sending us pictures. (Mattie had sent these letters and
pictures to Loretta when she was living in Tennessee, in hopes that she could
find some of grandma and grandpa's family living there. Loretta never returned
them back to her. My grandmother tried for many years to finish out her fathers
dream). My father always wanted to go to Tennessee to visit his family, and
everytime we got ready to go something would happen that we couldn't leave.
Some of my fathers family from Tennessee, I think is named
Shaffer. Frank also had a niece and nephew that lived around San Bernardino,
California. Edith Fletcher Belcher. Ted Fletcher also lived somewhere around
there. They are some of Uncle Henry's children.
Frank, my father, always thought his family was Church of Christ
people, but after writing many of them. Most of his family was Baptist. My
mothers family, the Foley's was where our religion had came from.
Next Page: Page Two
This page was last updated 22 August 2003
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As Told by Mattie Tucker
Written and edited by Pattie Carter
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