LONG-FORGOTTEN BLACK FAMILY RESTS ON MULBERRY RIDGE

(05/12/2010)

Triplett resident Bernard Wyatt observes Sgt.
Henry Alpheus' marker in long-forgotten cemetery

By Bob Weaver 2010

Over the years we have written about Calhoun's black families, among them members of the Hick's community, deep in the woods between lower Pine Creek and the Hur-Joker road and the families residing on Raccoon Run near Russett.

In my early childhood days, the Hick's clan would travel by my house at Hur by horse and sled, going to the McCoy Store, nearly always stopping in the road to chat with my folks.

On hot days my mother would give them water, or in wintertime ask them to come inside to warm. While they accepted water, not coming into the yard beyond the road bank, they never came inside the house.

As a small child, I didn't understand their reluctance, my family having high regard for them, and my grandfather, Frank Weaver teaching their first one-room school about 1910.

It saddens me to think they believed they should "stay in their place."

Over the years we have been trying to connect family members of Calhoun's two black communities and others living in the region.

More recently we have been writing and collecting material about Rocksdale, once a bustling village along the lower West Fork, recalling tales by the late Randall Whytsell.

He spoke about a black family living across the West Fork on Mulberry Ridge in Roane County, their members buried in a long deserted cemetery.

Yesterday, we went to the Alpheus Cemetery, accompanied by Bernard Wyatt.

A hand print on a fallen marker is a sign of life in the deep woods of Mulberry, with a number of sunken graves and fallen markers on the knoll

Buried in the Alpheus Cemetery is a number of people, including the marked grave of Sgt. Henry Alpheus. A 1940 WPA project about the cemetery identifies Clemmie Alpheus (wife of Henry), Joshua Alpheus (son of Henry), a Mr. Hicks and about six other unmarked graves.

Marriage records say that Clarinda Alpheus, 26, married Homer Queen, 22, of the Hick's community between Pine Creek and the Hur-Joker Road in 1906.

In the 1910 Calhoun census they have at least two children, in addition to Ellen and Emma Alpheus, shown living with them.

In 1890, 15-year-old Mary Alpheus married Nelson Zeanes, 17, of Roane and Tyler County.

T. J. Alpheus of Roane County married Clare India Richards, 25, of Roane in 1905.

Little is known about the Alpheus family, whose members repose on a hill along Mulberry Ridge Road.


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