Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Long Ago With the Mary L. Reid Hood Family

The distinctly American holiday, Thanksgiving, is an important time for families. We gather to share a wonderful meal celebrating the bounty of harvest. Turkey and dressing are part of the main course, as are delectable vegetables attesting to the yields from cultivated gardens and fields. We recall blessings of the year and pay tribute to the long tradition of Thanksgiving going back to the gathering of Pilgrims and Indians in early American history. Indeed, we are so blessed, and gratitude abounds for our abundance, health, happiness, togetherness as families.

And well it should, for Thanksgiving Day is a day to count blessings. My personal philosophy is that every day is a day for giving thanks. But sometimes when we consider the hardships of our forebears, we can empathize with the conditions that were far from ideal.

Such is the true story that came to me recently from the pen of Claudia Carol Thomas-Alexander of Fayetteville, Georgia. She is an avid genealogist, and has compiled a book dedicated to the memory of her great grandmother, Mary L. Reid Hood and her seven children, the sixth of whom, Claudia Cornelia Hood Fair, is Carol’s grandmother from whom she heard the accounts of Mary Reid Hood and what she knew of Mary’s husband, Richard Jarrett Hood. Carol Thomas-Alexander was able to find another descendant of Richard Jarrett Hood to fill in the missing parts of her great grandfather’s life, and that we shall see as this story develops.

But I’m getting ahead in this account and must give details so that you may know why Thanksgiving in 1895 was such a sad time for Mary Reid Hood and her children.

Mary Reid was born October 19, 1855. Her parents were Levi Q. and Martha Ann Beach Reid. It is believed Mary was born in White County, Georgia. On December 12, 1875, Mary Reid and Richard Jarrett Hood were married in Union County, Georgia. Richard Jarrett, eldest son of William Jackson and Celia M. Turner Hood, was born in the Pendleton District of South Carolina in 1854. His family had migrated from South Carolina to Union County, Georgia.

It is not known just how Mary Reid and Richard Jarrett Hood met, but it may have been as he went through White County taking goods along the Logan Turnpike to trade in Gainesville, Georgia.

After their marriage in 1875, Richard Jarrett and Mary Reid Hood set up housekeeping in the “upper” Choestoe District around Hood’s Chapel (now Union Church) somewhere near the present Richard Russell Scenic Highway. Richard Jarrett Hood had a country store and the Choestoe post office at his home. He was known to drive cattle to Gainesville for sale and also to take a herd into South Carolina to market. On these trading ventures, he would bring back supplies to his country store for sale. Mary helped him “tend” the store and care for their farm.

Seven children were born to this couple: Sarah Ida (b. 1877); Laura L. (b. 1879); Zona Belle (b. 1883); Cora Lode (b. 1884); Jessie Mae (b. 1886); Claudia Cornelia (b. 1889); and Talmadge J. (b. 1892).

Claudia Cornelia Hood Fair (their sixth child) told Claudia Carol Thomas, her granddaughter, the fond memories she had of her father, Richard Jarrett Hood. As he prepared to leave on a journey in 1895 to take cattle to market in South Carolina, she recalls that he and her mother had a long conversation before he left. He took Claudia, his then six-year old daughter, into the store and picked out a pretty hat from the shelf with navy ribbon decorations. He asked Claudia’s mother to allow him to take Claudia with him on the cattle-selling trip, but her mother would not agree. Claudia Cornelia remembers that her father held her in his arms for a long time before he left, shedding many tears. She recalls how they watched him going down the road from their Choestoe home, driving the cattle. A sense of sadness fell over the family at this particular departure.

In the days ahead, they watched and watched, yearning for his return. But that was the last the family saw of Richard Jarrett Hood. Her mother told the seven children that he must have fallen into trouble, perhaps from robbers who stole the cattle and murdered him.

That first Thanksgiving without Richard Jarrett Hood was a sad time for Mary Reid Hood and her seven children. Ida was then 18, Laura 16, Zona 12, Cora 11, Jessie Mae 10, Claudia 6, and the only son, Talmadge, a little tyke of 3. Claudia Cornelia remembered that her mother fell into a deep depression from which she never fully recovered. Jesssie Mae was sick at the time of her father’s departure and died of tuberculosis in 1902. Talmadge died in 1904, probably from leukemia. Claudia Cornelia remembers that her mother “died of a broken heart” on May 8, 1905. All three were laid to rest in the Union (formerly Hood’s Chapel) Church Cemetery in Upper Choestoe, Union County, Georgia.

c2003 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 27, 2003 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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