The following is written by William, a cousin of mine, just after he turned eighty and is a copy I received from another of my cousins, Joan "Parrish" Owen (deceased), that she in turn, obtained from the Giles Historical Society, Pulaski, Tennessee.
Apr. 17, 1802 - May 5, 1852
MARGARET AMANDA GORDON
June 27, 1811 - Apr. 1, 1892
A Sketch By Their Son, W.A. Rothrock
A short statement or sketch of our ancestry I think, might be of interest to my children in the years to come. So will here try to record what I know and what I have been able to gather from other sources and regret very much that I know so little of the life of my father, he having died when I was only four years of age. Consequently my knowledge of him consists chiefly of what my mother and others have told me of him. Friends of my father's who had associated with him in a business way paid him high complements as an honest and fine business man.
I am sorry, too, that I have put off the writing of this sketch to this day and age of my life, being past my 80th birthday. My mind being less active and my hand less steady it makes it more difficult to say what I want to say, but earlier in life I was so busy in efforts to provide for these depending on me for a living in this world that I scarcely ever thought of my ancestry, but now see my mistake and will do the best I can to correct it.
My father, Johnathan Rothrock, was a son of Phillip Rothrock who married Martha Lebaugh just after the revolutionary War had closed, and settled in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania about the year 1790 where he reared a large family of children, seven boys and two girls. The name of the girls I never knew, don't remember ever having heard their names called, neither do I know whether or not they ever married. The names of the boys were as follows as I understand: Abram, Joseph, Phillip, Benjamin, William, Johnathan, who was my father, and George, he being the youngest of the seven sons. You notice that nearly all of this family had Bible names which is an indication that their father and mother were believers in the Bible to say the least of it. There is another thing noticeable as regards to these names. All are single, no middle names as we have in this age.
My grandfather, Phillip Rothrock, settled in the neighborhood of a Presbyterian Church and brought up his family under that influence, so religiously they were Presbyterians or Calvinists in their belief. Politically they were of the old Federalist party, afterward called the Whig party, and after the Civil War as it was called (which lacked a good deal of being civil) the old Whig party took the name of Republican party and is so designated at this time. Their nationality was German. Both grandfather and grandmother Rothrock were full bloods, but were ever loyal to the land of their adoption and helped fight in wars for civil and religious liberty.
I am indebted to my brothers Bob and Tom and sister Mattie for what I am writing here, they having made a visit to Uncle Abram Rothrock and family after the close of the war between the North and South in the 1860's.
Uncle Abram lived at that time at McVeytown, Pa. near my grandfather's old place and place of my father's birth. Our information came chiefly from that source as to our Rothrock ancestry. With the exception there was never any visiting between my father's family and that of our northern relatives. The distance being so great and transportation was an entirely different proposition from what it is this day and time.
The time came in grandparents lives when they were to be witnesses to the passing of their children from under the parental roof and parental influence into the world of different environment. The separation and scattering of a large family over the world has always been a thing of sadness to my mind.
Dr. Abram Rothrock was the only one of the seven brothers to remain in the state of his birth. he settled at McVeytown only a few miles from his father's old place and practiced the profession of medicine all his life and became quite prominent as a physician.
Joseph, the older of the seven sons, on leaving his father's home went west and settled in Ohio where he married and had sons and daughters. I met one of his sons in Nashville, Tenn. more than a half century ago and don't remember what he told me about his father's family, only that he was a son of Joseph Rothrock and brothers and sisters.
Phillip Jr. also went west and settled in Missouri where he raised a large family of children. I think he has a son in Kansas City who is in the mercantile business unless he has left there in the last few years.
The other four sons on leaving their father's home went south. Benjamin settled in North Carolina where he reared a large family and his representatives are still there, I understand at this writing.
William Rothrock, for whom I was named, settled in Selma, Alabama and as a civil engineer ran the lines of Alabama's first railroad. He married late in life and had no children. I never saw him but twice and that was after my fathers death when he made two visits to my mother's family at Brick Church, Tenn. He lived to a good old age, 90 or 92, and was gathered to his fathers.
George, who was the younger of grandfather's seven sons, left his father's home in Pennsylvania and came to Jackson, Mississippi, put in a mercantile business but lived only a few years when he sickened and died with malarial fever. He never married.
My father, Johnathan Rothrock, when a young man wanted to take the science of medicine as a profession but his father for some reason opposed it and gave him an apprenticeship in his business or profession, which was that of tanner and which served him in good stead in after life. After serving his apprenticeship with his father he concluded to cast his let toward the sunny south and in due time found himself located in the little village of Cornersville in Giles County, Tenn., as a clerk in a dry goods store which position he held for about three years. He then left Cornersville and went six miles south to what was then known as the old Gordon Community, now as Brick Church in Giles County, Tenn. There he rented a store building and put in a stock of goods of general merchandise which proved to be a profitable enterprise for him.
He obtained board in the home of Robert Gordon, Sr., my grandfather, where he met my mother, Margaret Amanda Gordon, whom he wooed, won and married in the year 1831.
A year or more after his marriage he formed a partnership with two other men, McCord and Wood, and they moved to Jackson, Miss. where they put in a more extensive stock of goods. He only stayed there a few years, four or five perhaps, when on account of my mothers health he left Jackson and moved to Franklin, Tenn. There he put in a stock of goods in connection with a large tannery and was very successful in his business. My mother having regained her health things looked brighter and more promising for them. At the time they moved to Jackson they had one child born to them, Mary Kennedy, their first born. while living in Franklin they had five other children born to them as follows; Robert Gordon, Martha Jane, George McDonald, John Thomas, and Margaret Elizabeth. About this time under the providence of the Supreme ruler of this Universe another change was to take place.
My mothers father, Robert Gordon, Sr., died at his home at what is now known as Brick Church in Giles Co. Tenn. leaving a large estate located on the water of Richland Creek in said County of Giles. My mother's interest in her father's estate was a nice farm of about 200 acres of rich creek bottom lands nicely improved for that age and ten or twelve negro slaves, so my father concluded to sell out in Franklin and move to the farm at Brick Church and back to Mother's old home and among her kinspeople.
On getting back to Brick Church my father took charge of his farm, stocked it as he desired, put up a store building, put in stock of goods and in connection with the store he put in a tannery. Under his management these things all made him money.
It was at this place that I was born on the 27th day of Nov. 1847 and dear to my heart are the memories of my childhood days when fond recollection bring them to view.
Being situated now in the neighborhood of the church of his choice with a good school convenient, his family in good health and my mother's people, her mother, brothers and sisters, with a few exceptions, living around them on adjoining farms and as neighbors, it would be reasonable to suppose that this period of my father's and mother's life was one of contentment, prosperity, and happiness. My mother said to me on one occasion that she and father were very much gratified and elated in getting back to the old home and among friends where they began their married life. I imagine that it was surely like coming home to them.
On reaching their home and becoming settled, my father was elected an elder by the congregation of the Old Brick Church in which capacity he served to the time of his death, attending the services of church regularly, praying in public when necessary or when called on to do so. He also installed the family altar in his home which was regarded by he and my mother as the foundation stone of good civil government as well as good church government and I feel sure today, after my experience of 80 years association in matters pertaining to this life that my father and mother were eminently correct in their view along this line.
But this pleasant, happy, contented situation was not to last a great while for under the great plan of a great and gracious God, all things pass away and new things take their places and these changes will continue to the end of time.
My father was in a few years after going to the farm stricken with dyspepsia which became chronic. It seems that medical science of that age could not give him relief but advised my mother to take him to Summertown, a watering place and summer resort in the adjoining county of Lawerence and some forty miles away. They thought the waters of that place and the change might be beneficial, but such did not prove to be true and after being there only a few months passed away in the presence of his loved and faithful companion and friends in the month of April 1852. His remains were brought back to his home and he was layed to rest in the Brick Church Cemetery. He was 50 year of age at the death. His education was such as the schools afforded in that age in Pennsylvania where he was reared. I don't suppose he could be termed a classical scholar yet he was a student at all and a learned man. He did clerical work along legal lines for his neighbors and friends in the surrounding country which made him a useful man to his country. I was told this many years ago by Mr. Ben Wheeler who had known him as a young man when he came to Tenn.
My mother in her lectures to me as to the language I used said, "I lived with and was associated with your father for 21 years and I never heard him use an ugly or curse word while he lived." She made it a little stronger on the point in view by saying he was smart enough to use decent language even when mad and worried. Will say just here to use indecent language in my mother's hearing or presence meant severe punishment if it was one of her own children or a sever lecture if it was some one else child.
My mother, as stated before, was a Gordon, Miss Margaret Amanda Gordon. A granddaughter of Samuel Gordon who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War of the 1770s.
It was told me by my mother and her brother that their grandfather was more than seven feet in height and weighted between three and four hundred pounds. I visited his grave when in Tennessee in 1924 and judging from the distance between head and foot stones he must have been quite a giant. I don't know how many children my great grandfather had. My grandfather, Robert Gordon Sr., was a son of Samuel Gordon and was raised to manhood in Kentucky and married a Miss Katie Kennedy. A few years after marrying having accumulated some money he moved from Kentucky down to Franklin, Tenn. and there left his family for something like a year.
He bought 1000 acres of land on Richland Creek around what is now known as Brick Church in Giles County, Tenn. He paid one dollar an acre for his land, rough that is in timber and cane. In the year 1807 he took two of his sons, 12 and 14 years of age, and two negro boys about the same age, went onto the land to clear it up and put in condition. By the following spring, 1808, he had put up a comfortable log house and moved his family down from Franklin, Tenn. where he had left them while he was making the necessary improvements to their coming. They lived in this cabin a few years while making other improvements, clearing land and fencing his place. At this time, 1808, his nearest neighbor was 15 miles away.
After a few more years had passed he decided that he must see after the educational and spiritual interest of his family, so he builded him a nice brick house of eight rooms and builded a church at the same time in which they could teach school.
By this time the country was settling up rapidly around him and he got his neighbors interested in church and school and made arrangements with a young Presbyterian preacher to teach the school and preach for them. Mr. McMillion builded a good strong church organization and the most thorough and best school in all that section of Tenn. Many young men who were studying for various professions came to that school to take the different languages. Mr. McMillion was a classical scholar himself and gifted both as a teacher and preacher.
Judge Neil S. Brown, a great lawyer and Governor of Tenn. at one time was educated in the Brick church school. Gen. John C. Brown of military fame during the Civil War, a fine lawyer and was also Governor of Tenn., was educated in the Brick Church school. Gen. Preston Smith who lost his life on one of the bloody battle fields in the war of the Sixty's and many others that I could name--men of prominence. I am dwelling on this school in this old community because my children all went to school in that same community but under different age. Before the war between the North and South and during my grandfather Gordon's life the Brick Church school was considered one of the finest in the state. From the results of the war everything was changed, a new system of schools and teaching.
The old Gordons are all gone and I am sorry indeed to have to admit that with their passing we, their descendants, have failed to measure up to that high standard of citizenship attained by our fathers.
I have written these last few lines for my children or those of them who may see fit to read what I am here trying to tell them to their ancestry and of the noble and unselfish efforts and sacrifices they made in order to build up the community in which they lived, making it one of the finest in all the state of Tennessee. Now I have no reason to believe that my dear ones will violate the code of honor and uprightness in their lives left them by their ancestors.
Robert Gordon, Sr., my mother's father, as a pioneer of Tenn. was a power for good in his community as a church man and educational matters. He raised a family of five boys and four girls. The boys were Thomas K., Maj. John, David, Robert Jr., and Andrew. The girls were Betsie, Polly, Margaret Amanda, and Nancy.
Col. Thomas K. Gordon married Bettsie Lane. There was born to that marriage five sons and five daughters. The descendants from this one marriage amounts to more than two hundred at this writing.
Maj. John Gordon was united in marriage to Annie Kennedy. To them was born six sons and three daughters. The descendants of this marriage are not so great in number as that of the preceding family.
David Gordon married Martha Smith, a sister of General Preston Smith. To this union was born three daughters and to two of these daughters sons were born.
Andrew Gordon, the fourth son of Robert Gordon Sr., married Miss Gough, a daughter of Mr. John Gough. Her given name I don't remember. They had sons and daughters born to them but owing to the fact that they moved to Texas at an early date (in the 1846 perhaps) and before my time, from Tenn. I never knew much of the family except two of the sons who served in the Tenn. Division of the Confederate Army during the war between the North and South in the 1860's. As my mother's place was in the war zone I saw them frequently as their commands passed our way. Harry was a private and belonged to Terry's 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment. He was a great shot and fearless in battle. He was killed in the Battle at Resace, Georgia. General G. W. Gordon was the other of Uncle Andrew Gordon's sons referred to on another page. He passed through the war with considerable renown as a military commander.
My mother's sisters and their marriages:
Aunt Betsie married a Mr. McDonald and they moved to Mississippi. They had sons and daughters. I never saw any of them.
My mother's sister Polly Gordon married Martin B. Wood and settled in the Brick Church Community in Giles county, Tenn. To this marriage was born ten children, five boys and five girls. Names of the boys: Robert, John, George, Thomas, and David. the girls were: Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Tennessee, Margaret and Liza. The descendants of this family were quite numerous. Mr. Wood and Aunt Polly, on putting their possessions together, were considered the wealthiest people in the Brick Church Community. They owned over a hundred negro slaves and a good big landed estate.
My mother's third sister, Nancy Gordon, married Thomas H. Lane. To this union were born six sons and five daughters. The names of the sons were: George, Thomas, Robert, John Martin, David and Andrew. The names of the girls were as follows: Mary Kennedy, Nancy, Betty, Bell and Virginia. All had second names but I remember none of them. This family of children was born and reared on a farm near the Brick Church and what is now known as the R. H. Laird farm. These children are part of one of the best and most highly cultivated society it has ever been my privilege to associate with or to know. Uncle Tom Lane moved to Texas with his large and interesting family in the year 1856 and settled in Lamar County near Bonham. Except his two older daughters who had married in Tenn. Their descendants scattered over the states of Texas, Tenn., and Oklahoma but the children of Uncle Tom and Aunt Nancy have all passed to their reward.
This brings us down to the real subject of this poorly written sketch, my mother, the grandmother of my precious children who saw them all born and who was the first to render them service on their advent into the light of this world and who seemed as much pleased with them as the mother and father of them.
Margaret Amanda Gordon, as before stated in this writing, was a daughter of Robert and Katie Gordon. She had such education as the schools of that age afforded. She also had a practical and thorough training in domestic science at home by her mother instead of in the schools as of the present day. Every one worked in that day and time on the farm even if they owned negro slaves, at least that was the case in my grandfather's family, so in my mother's young days she was trained in all kinds of work pertaining to the house that my grandmother thought would be of service to her in after life, cleaning house, sewing of all grades, cooking, spinning and weaving her thread into cloth after spinning.
My grandmother was considered an expert with spinning wheel by all who knew her and she herself thought she could spin as many cuts of thread in a day as any one if not a little more. One night after a hard days work at the wheels, grandfather heard grandmother laughing at my mother and Aunt Nancy about having beaten them spinning. Grandfather made the girls a proposition that on the next day they try their skill in the way of a race with their mother and made them this proposition. The one who beats her mother spinning I will give as fine silk dress as can be found in the market and if you both beat her, will give each a dress. Mother came out victorious winning the race by one cut although Grandmother had beaten her own record, Aunt Nancy came out third in the race but got her dress all the same. This may not be in the least interesting to my children should they take the time to read it and I only write this to show the views of our ancestors toward the training and bringing up our children in the way they should go and in that way would be so helpful to them all through life.
These old people were rich and did not need the labor of their daughters, they had servants for every position about the house and farm and well trained, but they in their wisdom and loving consideration for the future welfare of their children knew from experience that their children must know how to do things and not be afraid of work if they were successful in life and this view of theirs was forceably illustrated or demonstrated in the life of my mother to be the correct view.
My father died at the age of 52 years leaving mother with six children to care for and educate, her negroes and farming interests to see after, a store with a good big stock of goods, a tannery and all the business connected with these various enterprises to wind up. it was indeed a business man's job but as administratrix she shouldered the job, otherwise the court would have appointed an administrator for the estate at great cost. There is where her former training came in and I have heard her time after time give expressions of thanks for the way her people, father and mother, had trained her along the line of doing things that would be of help to her through life as administratrix of her husband's estate. She had a big undertaking but made a success of it so I have heard her brothers tell her in after life.
In the year 1860 there arose the greatest political upheaval and excitement all over the United States, North and South, that has ever occured in my day. The North wanted to confiscate the negro property of the South and set them free. This brought on the war between North and South and known in history as the Civil War, which perhaps my children have all read and know more or less about and also how that terrific war of four years terminated and the desperate poverty in which our beloved South was left after that cruel and unjust war was over.
As I sit here at my desk trying to pen these lines, I hear the radio announcer at Dallas, Texas calling the cotton market and prices at various points, which reminds me of a little incident that occured just at the close of the Civil War and under my mother's management. My mother's farm was without fences along the public highway that ran through it, having been burned by the armies passing back and forth that way, which virtually left the whole farm lying out with no protection, neither did she have stock with which to work the farm had it been under fence, and legal money to buy anything with. Her stock left from the ravages of war consisted of a yoke of poor oxen, too poor for the yanks to eat, a blind mare and a broken leg one. I have heard her say that those were the most trying times of all her life. So the news came one morning that the Southern armies had all surrendered and the war was over. Mother said to me, I want you to go to town (Pulaski) tomorrow, see Dr. White and find out whether there is any market for cotton, what it is worth, etc. She had six bales of cotton left over from her crop the year the war began that she could not sell. She had it rolled into an old log house in the back yard and sent down in the field and had an old rick of hemp hauled up and packed all around and over the cotton hiding it completely and it stayed there four years of the war.
The yankies had confiscated and shipped all the cotton in the whole country north during the during the prgress of the war, so when I got back from Pulaski and told Mother that Dr. White said he would give her $1.25 per pound for her cotton she expressed more joy and happiness than I had seen or heard her express in four long years and wound up by saying the Lord will provide for his people and she so believed.
Bright and early the next morning she had me on the road to market that cotton. My team consisted of the yoke of oxen referred to a few lines back, the blind and broken leg mares. I was ashamed to drive into Pulaski with that team but a Potentate on his throne never felt more important or exalted than I as I rode on top that load of cotton. The six bales brought over $3500.00 which enabled her to get her farm fenced and buy such stock as was necessary for the farming of her lands the following year.
The two great armies that fought back and forth through Tennessee consumed everything eatable along the highways over which they passed and burned all the fences. The Northern army paid for nothing they got. The Southern army paid for all it got in Convederate money but after the fall of the Confederacy their money was no good, could not buy anything with it, therefore the money from the six bales of cotton came in like a blessing from on high and my mother always looked at it in that way. After the war was over she filed claims against the U.S. Government for thousands of dollars but because of her being a Rebel and having had three sons in the Confederat Army she was not allowed her claims and never recovered anything that was lost during the war, yet these things never seemed to dicourage her. Her energy never seemed to flag or wane in the least.
I could here record many of happenings of that day and time during and following the cruel war of the 1860's showing the trials, troubles and tribulations and sorrows of my dear toiling, working mother but that would be aside from the object of this writing and then it is likely in this day of rush, whiz and whirl my own dear children would not take the time to read what I have already written, being so busy in their endeavor to provide for those depending on them for the necessities of life.
The family lived at Brick Church, Giles Co., Tennessee until 1900 when they moved to Waxahachie, Texas.
These next lines were written by William Andrew Rothrock just before his death at the age of 83.