Page 1

Family H!tory of Jimmie Ga"! Johnson

Gattis Family History 1900-1969 Part II

By Claudia Kay Johnson Granddaughter

Jimmie with little sister Flossie & and brother Lem.

18 August 2011 Giles County, Tennessee Today is the birthday – 81st – of my Daddy, Edward Franklin Johnson. He has lived all his life, except for a short stint in the Army, within a few hundred yards of the place where he was born on Rose Hill, Tenn. His siblings lived within 25 miles, with the exception of Wilba Lee, who lived in Cleveland, Ohio, for several years before being enticed back to Tennessee by the beautiful rolling hills and the love of a good Southern family. The view from my front door was my grandparents’ home – a modest place on a sizable farm. My brother and I were allowed, after a certain age, to travel down the road or through the field, to my Grandmother’s and Grandaddy’s. Grandmother died in 1969 when I was only 10, and she had been sick a long time. When I think of her, it’s coconut cake, a trunk of old pictures in the upstairs room, watching her kill a chicken once, the “cinnamon vine” that grew along her kitchen window, a slamming scene door and a squeaking porch swing, church at Rose Hill Free Will Baptist, bouquets of honeysuckles, fan magazines, a box with hair collected from her brush and a story that each day before Granddaddy returned from work Grandmother would “fix up” for him. Always interested in history or just perhaps nosy, I once asked my grandmother about her own mother, and she told me her name had been Amanda. I remember going to Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Ala., to visit the graves of both grandparents. I loved the family reunions when Uncle Ruf Gattis and Aunt Flossie Gattis Fann would come up for the day. Long after Grandmother died, I traveled to Huntsville to see Ruf and Flossie to learn more about the family history. That is the day I copied the photo of Amanda and Franklin Gattis (reprinted herein) and learned Amanda’s maiden name, Frame. I was fortunate to grow up knowing my aunts and uncles and their families and spouses. Each of them is dear to me, and I had hoped for years to be able to work on a family history for them to enjoy. I so wish Uncle Ben and Aunt Dorothy had lived to see this document. I have spent years collecting all the information and trying to organize it to tell the family history – our Gattis history – accurately. Along the way, I met Charles Gattis, grandson of Uncle Lem, who has been a tremendous help in connecting the dots by sharing with me his own research and offering encouragement. I believe this document to be very accurate. I tried to verify everything I’ve used, and if I still have a concern after extensive research, I have addressed my questions in the text. I included originals of many documents so that my family could enjoy seeing how the original looked. The portion of our Gattis history that I can verify begins with the birth of James in 1759 in Pennsylvania. It is my belief that he was the child of John Gattis and that their family were among the Scots-Irish immigrants to America during the Colonial period, long before the American Revolution. The term "Scots-Irish" refers to settlers who were born in or resided in Ireland but whose earlier origins were in Scotland. There are a myriad of possible reasons for the immigration of so many of the Scots-Irish to America in the 1700s. High rents and religious persecution have often been blamed. Note that these are not the immigrants of the later potato famine years. Many of the earliest Scots-Irish immigrants of the 1720s and 1730s first settled in Pennsylvania, then moved down from Pennsylvania into Virginia and the Carolinas. From there, immigrants and their descendants went on to populate the states of Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Our Gattis family moved in the mid-1820s to Lincoln County, Tenn. Giving further credence to my belief that our Gattis were among the Scots-Irish, these immigrants were often referred to as "Scotch-Irish," "Ulster Scots" and "Irish Presbyterians." Early records of the New Hope Presbyterian Church in Orange County, N.C., where our ancestors moved in 1763 show Gattis family members in leadership positions. In a history of that church written in 1891 but looking back more than a century it states, “The Geddes family, now spelled "Gattis," in their early history, belonged to New Hope church, but nearly all of them are now in the Methodist church. One of the descendants of the old Elder Alexander Gattis, is now a Methodist Minister – Thomas, by name.” This search for 250 years of Gattis connections has been a fascinating – like the mystery of Grandmother’s mother, Mandy, – and oftentimes moving endeavor. James’ recounting of his Revolutionary War service is as compelling as any movie. Grandmother’s great uncle, Cicero Wade, an eager young soldier who volunteered for the Confederacy, was killed at age 21 during the Battle of Seven Pines. Frank Gattis, Grandmother’s father, Frank, died of Parkinson’s disease at age 55. Grandmother’s own grandmother was named Jemima, causing me to wonder if this is somehow linked to Grandmother’s unusual name, Jimmie. I do not presume to be the family authority on the Gattis genealogy or even on Grandmother. My 17 first cousins most likely knew her much better than my brother and I, though we lived close. They have their own stories, and each of them can and should add to this record. This book is dedicated to our parents, the children of Jimmie Gattis Johnson, in memory of those who have gone before us and with hope for those who follow.

Claudia Kay Johnson Copyright 2011, Claudia Johnson, all rights reserved

Mandy & Frank Gattis

Mandyʼs First Marriage Mandy Frame married A. Woodard on May 20,1883, in Moore County, Tenn. He died in an accident involving a mule or horse, according to Helen Johnson Kilgo, Mandy’s granddaughter. The Woodards had two daughters: Myrtle and Sue Ella, both who are listed as stepdaughters of Frank Gattis in the years following the remarriage of their mother, Amanda Woodard, to Frank Gattis, on 4/24/1891 in Moore County, Tenn. Myrtle married Thomas L. Painter, who worked in the carding department at Merrimack Mill. At the 1920 US Census, they lived on A Street in Merrimack (25) Village. She was 35, he was 40 and their son Floyd was 13. Thomas and Myrtle were both born in Tennessee as were all their parents. Floyd was born in Alabama. She did not work. Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Ala., shows a grave for a Thomas Painter who died 12/19/1927 and a Floyd T. Painter, 4/19/19066/20/1982. The other daughter, Ella, was born 6/26/1887, in Tennessee. She married Marlin H. Bean on 11/26/1910. Marlin Bean is listed in the household of Lucy Bean in the 1910 Census. They live two households from Frank Gattis. Marlin is 25 and works as a weaver at Merrimack. He was born in Alabama, but both his parents were born in Tennessee as were his widowed mother’s. Ella died 7/2/16 in a stove fire at the home of her mother, Mandy Gattis, while cooking for a celebration. She is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Ala. Marlin, 39, is listed as head of household at Madison Crossroads, Ala., in 1920 with his mother Lucy, 64, and daughter Jewell Bean, age 5. His occupation is general farming, and both he and his mother can read and write. By 1930 he has remarried and lives on Burton’s Row in the Whitesburg area of Madison Co., Ala. He and wife Madenia have a 1 1.2 year old daughter, Catherine, and his daughter Jewell is 15. His sister, Mamie Griffin and her two sons and two daughters live with them, and all but Medenia and the Bean girls are listed as farmers.

1900 U.S. Federal Census, Franklin Co., Tenn.

Neither Frank nor Mandy could read and write, they did not own their place and he worked as a farmer. Between this Flossie始s birth in 1903 and the 1910 Census, they moved to Huntsville, Ala.

Back: Sarah Amanda Frames, Franklin Alexander Gattis, Myrtle Woodard Painter, Ella Woodard, Emma Gattis Gibson Lema Gattis Ransom Front: Jimmie Gattis Johnson, Flossie Gattis Fann, Floyd Painter (son of Myrtle), Rufus Gattis, Lem Gattis






Rufus Wroden Gattis

6/24/1891 Moore Co., TN

4/7/1912 Flora Bell McGee Huntsville, Ala.

11/6/1983 Huntsville, Ala.

Maple Hill Huntsville, Ala.

Emma Gattis Gibson

9/14/1893, TN Moore Co., TN

10/8/1910 Carlton Gibson Huntsville, Ala.

5/18/1970 Lincoln Co., TN

Lincoln Co. ?

Lemuel Mosely Gattis

6/4/1898 Moore Co., TN

2/5/1922 Selma Ozell Williams Toney, Ala.

3/24/1963 Huntsville, Ala.

Maple Hill Huntsville, Ala.

Lema M. Gattis Lem Gattis Knight Ransom

4/5/1899 6/4/1898 Winchester, TN Moore Co., TN

1. Wiley Knight 3/7/1912 Selma Ozell Lincoln Co. TN Williams 2/5/1922 2. Albert Roscoe Ransom ????????? Toney, Ala.

9/6/1969 3/24/1963 Huntsville, Ala. Huntsville, Ala.

Maple Hill Huntsville, Ala.

Jimmie Gattis Johnson

11/24/1900 Winchester, TN


12/22/1969 Ethridge, TN

Rose Hill Cemetery, Giles County, TN

7/1/1991 Huntsville, Ala.

Maple Hill Huntsville, Ala.

Flossie Mae Gattis 9/3/1902 Moore Co., TN Fann

Benjamin Monroe Johnson Lincoln Co., TN

11/21/1916 Homer Talmus Fann Lincoln Co. TN

Frank Gattis is listed in the Huntsville, Ala., City Directories for 1911-12 and 1918-17

The old Madison County Courthouse (1914) was built while the Gattis family lived in Huntsville.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Madison Co., Ala.

Gattis home in Merrimack Village

Life in the Mill Village The Gattis family is first listed in Early days of Merrimack, note mules the Merrimack Mill Village in the 1910 Census. At about the same time construction of the mill began in the mid-1890s, work was begun by the Merrimack Mill Company on houses for its employees. Merrimack Mill planned to recruit most of their employees from other towns and outlaying areas and knew that housing would entice a large work force. Most of these first houses were two-story, two-family dwellings, with five or six rooms to the side. Houses were set on lots large enough to allow space for outbuildings for the stabling of cows or horses, and the Mill also provided a pasture for employees’ cattle to graze on. Near the pasture was a pigpen, for those employees who could afford to have a hog. Rent for the village houses was $.50 - $.75 per week, depending on the size of the house and was deducted directly from the worker’s pay. Toilet paper was delivered once Cotton being processed a week by the mill to each village house’s outhouse. The Mill provided a communal garden area so employees could grow their own produce. Cotton was delivered to the plant by drays pulled by two mules. When the mill began operations on July 9, 1900, there were approximately 60 houses completed and occupied by some of the 750 initial mill employees. The mill was operated by steam, and required a four-man boiler crew to feed coal into the boiler at all times. A typical shift was from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and until World War I, wages were paid in gold coins. The many windows in the mill were designed to allow as much light as possible into the building. The only additional lighting was provided by dim, oil burning lamps.

Merrimack Mill, ca. 1923

Merrimack Mill, 1900-1992 Gattis children became employed at the mill very early. S.M. was their mother “Mandy� and Frank was their father. The Gattis family lived in the Mill Village, pictured above in 1923.

In 1899 construction started on Merrimack Mill and village. The mill began operation in 1900. A second mill building, added in 1903, made it one of the largest in the South. Under Joseph J. Bradley, Sr., managing agent (1905-1922), the village grew to 279 houses, a hospital, school, company store and other small businesses. In 1920, the steam-operated mills converted to electricity. Lowenstein fabrics bought the mill (1946), changed its name to Huntsville Mfg. Co., and the village became Huntsville Park. The million-square-foot plant continued to operate until 1989, and in 1992 Huntsville's last operating textile mill was torn down.

Huntsville, Alabama, as it looked when the Gattis family lived there in the early 1900s. We think the girl on the end looks like Jimmie Gattis.

Prior to the mandatory school law passage, children were allowed to work in the mill as spinners or sweepers. Children were given their own wooden boxes to stand on so that they could reach the spinning machines. Initial regulations on mandatory school only required children to attend class six weeks a year. Until the Child Labor Law was placed into effect, children were allowed to work in the mill year round, reporting for their shift at the end of their school day during their required six weeks of class time. As each Gattis child attained the age of 12, Frank and Mandy signed affidavits allowing them to go to work in the mill.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, Madison Co., Ala.




Mandy never stated these origins for her parents as her father being from Illinois and her mother being from France and speaking French until the 1920 Census. In 1910 she stated her father was born in Tennessee and her mother in North Carolina. By the 1930 Census Frank is dead, and she is the head of household with her widowed daughter Lema Gattis Ransom始s family living there. Here she again states that her father was born in Illinois but is back to stating that her mother was born in Tennessee. Lema works as a speeder hand and Ola as a doffer at Merrimack. The boarders are spinners. There is some indication that Mandy was mentally ill, so perhaps she was delusional during the Census. Note that in no Cenus where she is shown is she working. Her children, however, went to work as preteens.

1930 U.S. Federal Census, Madison Co., Ala. Self



Death of Frank Gattis Death Certificate The official certificate of death, signed by Rufus W. Gattis, his son, states that Frank had been sick for one and one-half years and died of paralysis agilaus, which is a disease of the nervous system now called Parkinson’s Disease. He had received no operation, and no autopsy was conducted. The death certificate was signed by Dr. Carl Grote Sr. His parents are given as Green Gattis, born in Tennessee, and Jemima Wade, also born in Tennessee.

Sarah Amanda Myrtle

Emma Lema Jimmie

He was buried at Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Ala.

The Mystery of Mandy In the 1900 Census for Franklin County, Tenn., neither Frank nor Mandy could read and write, they did not own their place and he worked as a farmer. Between Flossie’s birth in 1903 and the 1910 Census, they moved to Huntsville, Ala. In 1910 she stated her father was born in Tennessee and her mother in North Carolina. Mandy never stated that her father was from Illinois and her mother from France and speaking French until the 1920 Census. By the 1930 Census Frank is dead, and she is the head of household with her widowed daughter Lema Gattis Ransom’s family living there. Here she again states that her father was born in Illinois but is back to stating that her mother was born in Tennessee. Lema works as a speeder hand and Ola as a doffer at Merrimack. The boarders are spinners. There is some indication that Mandy was mentally ill, so perhaps she was delusional during the Census. In no Cenus where Mandy is shown is she working. Her children, however, went to work as preteens. The Gattis children became employed at the mill very early. The affidavits granting permission to work were signed by S.M., their mother “Mandy” and Frank, their father. Something is seriously wrong with the birth dates of Frank and Mandy. The 1871 dates on their tombstones do not match what they reported in more than one Census. Her daughters by the first marriage were born in 1885 and 1887, making Mandy 14 when she had Myrtle if born in 1871 and 10 if Mandy was born in 1875 as she said sometimes. I have found a Sarah M. Frame in the Lincoln County Census for 1870 who is age 6 living next door to the G.C. Gattis family. I have confirmed using Will and Estate Settlement records in Lincoln County, Tenn., at this is not our Sarah Amanda. I found the estate settlement of father in that household, G.B. Frame, who had a fairly large estate even in 1870. His children were mentioned, and his daughters, Polly A. and Sarah M., were named with their husbands. I have also found both of their marriage certificates. Neither were married to a Woodard or a Gattis.

Ben Johnson (1922-2003), the oldest son of Benjamin Monroe and Jimmie Gattis Johnson, recalled that their Granny (Mandy) Gattis lived about five blocks from their house in Huntsville, Ala. The old streetcar line ended there, and he remembered the conductor getting out, taking a line that hung down for the electric arm that he would swing around to the other end of the car and hook it on an overhead line that made the electric motor run, powering the car. "They were very slow," Uncle Ben said, "but believe it or not, people got run over by them."

Sarah Amanda Frame Gattis Died Jan. 19, 1950 Huntsville, Ala. She is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery.

Jimmie Gattis Johnson Born 11/24/1900 Died 12/22/1969 Benjamin Monroe Johnson Sr. Born 7/17/1899 Died 7/19/1973

Benjamin Monroe and Jimmie Gattis Johnson on their wedding day (above), May 2, 1916, and on their 50th anniversary (left).



1920 U.S. Federal Census, Madison Co., Ala. Monroe was a section hand at Merrimack Mill. Jimmie did not work. Daughter Helen is shown in the household of her paternal grandparents, Wm. Ed & Leoma Williams Johnson, also of Merrimack.





Harold Frederick Kilgo



Milas VanBuren Myers



3/2/1944 8/7/1982

Maria Barbara DeWeert (1) Wylodean Bell (2)

Mildred Pauline



3/2/1944 11/2/1968

Clifford Reavis Garrett (1) Charles Edward Owens (2)





Wilma Pearl Barler

Edward Franklin




Okaleen Fagan Carvell

Wilba Lee




Charles Henry Featherstone

Helen Lorene



Dorothy Gaynell


Benjamin Monroe Jr.

Jimmie and Monroe, who had lived at 316 B Street in Huntsville, bought their Rose Hill farm in 1929. His aunt, Ethel Williams Booker, his mother Leoma's sister, lived there. J.F. Rosson drove down from Campbellsville to Huntsville to move the family, which at that time included Helen, Ben, Dorothy, Mildred and Brooks. Edward and Wilba Lee were later. The Johnsons followed Rosson's truck 75 miles over horrific roads in a open four-door 1926 Star Car. It was about the third car on Rose Hill. Monroe was a mechanic, so the family always had some sort of car. However, their old twostory Victorian era house did not have electricity or indoor plumbing. Water came from a well. Monroe wanted to modernize it to the more popular bungalow style, so he hired the Helton brothers, neighbors, to make the changes. Later Monroe erected a windmill and generated electricity years before anyone else on the hill had power. When the Star Car was no longer usable for transportation, Monroe rigged up the motor to pull a small grist mill, thus becoming the miller on Rose Hill. Brooks, Edward & Ben Johnson

Jimmie Gattis Johnson with Mildred and Edward on the tractor Monroe built from plans in Popular Mechanics magazine.

Edward Johnson

Dorothy & Ben when the family still lived in Huntsville.

Monroe and Jimmie Johnson at Rose Hill, Tenn.

Jimmie with Edward and Wilba Lee. ca. 1936-37

Brooks, Wilba Lee and Jimmie.

1930 U.S. Federal Census, Giles Co., TN.

Wilba Lee. And her cat

50th Anniversary, 1966, Rose Hill, Tenn. Jimmie Gattis & Monroe Johnson

Helen, Brooks, Dorothy, Monroe, Jimmie, Edward, Mildred, Wilba Lee & Ben.

Jimmie with Edward

Monroe & Jimmie Johnson, 1961

D. April 13, 2012, Giles County, Tenn.

Rufus Gattis, Flossie Gattis Fann & Claudia, 1980

Gattis Family from James Gattis, 1759

Gattis Family History, Part II  

The Gattis story picks up with the family's move to Huntsville, Ala., to work at Merrimack Mill and a Depression-era return to Tennessee.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you