|Martha Gilbert and Chester Eveland|
Martha Gilbert and Chester Eveland wedding picture, taken in 1901.
Photos submitted by: JD Eveland
Hi, folks! I just came across your delightful flag Pond website in the course of looking for something else as usually happens, and I recalled my own delightful experience with you. A good many years ago, 1984 to be specific, I happened to be driving from California back to Washington DC, and found myself in central Tennessee with an entire extra day on my schedule. I decided to travel up to Unicoi County in search of my grandmother's family. My grandmother, Martha Gilbert, was born and raised somewhere in the vicinity of Flag Pond, but left with her family to move to California sometime in the 1880s. There she met my grandfather, Chester Eveland, and became the mother of my father, Warren Eveland and his younger brother Harvey. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to know her, since she passed on in 1906 in the course of childbirth. In fact, my father hardly knew his mother, since he was only two years old when she died. However, there were several stories told about her, and her connection to Unicoi County was well established. So I thought I would find out what I could about her, if anything.
Incidentally, I'm attaching a copy of their wedding picture, taken in 1901, with my grandmother looking extremely attractive and efficient and my grandfather doing the best impression of a stunned ox available this side of the pasture.
I drove up from Johnson City on a Friday morning toward the end of August -- a beautiful sunny day. I had no idea where I was going but figured to play it by ear. I drove up through Erwin toward Flag Pond; somewhere in your vicinity, I found a country store. There were a number of local men in the store, chatting with each other. I introduced myself at that point, said that I was a descendant of the Gilbert family, and wondered offhand if there were any Gilberts in the neighborhood with whom I might speak. Several of the men suggested Henry Gilbert (I believe that was his name), noting that he was the (again, as I recall) Superintendent of Schools and lived in Erwin; they even gave me directions to his house. Figuring I had little to lose I thanked them and headed back to Erwin. When I reached his house, I likewise introduced myself to his wife who was there alone. She was enormously cordial and told me that I could find Henry down at the high school. A few minutes later, I located him there and introduce myself again as a Gilbert relative. He could not have been more pleased to see me; it took us a couple of minutes to figure out that we were approximately third cousins once removed.
Once that was established, he took me under his wing for the rest of the day. We drove all around the Flag Pond area including up toward Mars Hill; we tromped through fields and forested areas in search of some old family graveyards; and I got introduced to a whole slew of Gilbert relatives, although almost all of them turned out to be deceased. He told me a number of stories about the family, who had gone where and when, and also a lot about the town and the area. Unfortunately, in the ensuing 25 years I've forgotten a lot of what we talked about. But what I have not forgotten is the enormous hospitality and friendliness extended to a perfect stranger on the basis of a very tenuous familial connection, the pride and pleasure in family, and the incredible beauty of the surroundings of your town. I've never had the chance to return, but I will always remember with great fondness my connection to Flag Pond on one of the more unique days in my highly varied life!
Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce a bit; I'm sure that despite all the travail of the last 25 years, your community is still friendly and welcoming. I'm proud of my connection to you and your wonderful folks!
Blessings on you all!
[ Billybob ] All rights reserved.