Absalom Hooper, Jr. was born about 1800 to Absalom Hooper, Sr. and Sarah Sales Hooper in the Pendleton District of South Carolina, but that region was not to be their permanent home. They settled in Haywood County, North Carolina where Absalom, Jr. married Martha (called “Mattie”) Kelley.
It seems that Absalom, Jr.’s older brother, Andrew, born about 1792, led the migration of the Hooper siblings to the new and burgeoning Union County. The Fodder Creek section in what would become Towns County was the domicile of Absalom, Jr. and his family. In 1840, the census that does not give names except for the head-of-household, gave numbers in that household as one male (10 to 15), 1 male (20-30) and 1 male (40-50), Absalom himself. Females in the house numbered eight: one (under 5), three (5-10), one (10-15), two (15-20), one (40-50), Martha Kelley Hooper herself. They were reported as having one slave. With nine children at home at the time, and Absalom himself being both a farmer and a miller, the family no doubt needed the help their slave provided.
Piecing together what information we can find from the 1850 census (which was the first US census to list names of children as well as head-of-household), together with various family records, we can determine that Absalom, Jr. and Martha Kelley Hooper had eleven known children.
(1) The oldest of their children was named Thomas, possibly the 20-30-year old listed in the 1840 census. I found a marriage record for Thomas Hooper to Cynthia Rogers in the Union County marriage records. They were married February 1, 1849 by the Rev. John Corn (one of the more-noted Baptist ministers of this early period of Union County history). About six years before Towns was formed from Union, a land transaction took place in which Thomas Hooper purchased land on Fodder Creek on March 28, 1850 from William A. Brown. Thomas did not keep the land but eight years, for records show he sold it to Henry Picklesimer on January 29, 1858. I have not proven this, but because some of the female Hoopers married into Brown and Picklesimer families, Thomas’s land transaction may have been to kin. To date, I have not located names of children of Thomas and Cynthia Rogers Hooper.
(2) The second child of Absalom, Jr. and Mattie Kelley Hooper was named Elizabeth, born about 1822 before the family migrated to Union County. She would have been one of the females between 15 and 20 years of age in the 1840 census. Again Rev. John Corn performed a Hooper wedding when Elizabeth married Josiah Wood (known as “Cy”) on September 29, 1847 in Union County. Known children of Elizabeth and “Cy” Wood were a daughter named Perthena born in 1850 and twins, Abner and Absalom L, born May 25, 1856. Note how the name Absalom is carried to multiple generations. Twin Abner may have died young as it is hard to find a record of him beyond his birth.
(3) Mary Hooper was born in 1825. According to Hearthstones of Home (Towns County History book, 1983), Mary married Henry Picklesimer. The Mary Hooper I found in Union County marriage records shows that one Mary Hooper (evidently not this daughter of Absalom, Jr. and Martha Kelley Hooper) married David Nicholson on February 22, 1855. Mary, daughter of Absalom, Jr. and her husband Henry Pickelsimer had these known children: William (b. 1844), Martha Adaline (b. 1846), Margaret (b. 1849), Andrew (b. 1852), Willborn (b. 1854), Alrina A. known as “Sis” (b. 1856) and Jason (known as “Bird,” b. 1859).
(4) The fourth child may have been named Francis. This family of Hoopers was living next door to Absalom, Jr. and Martha in the 1850 census, with his age as 24, born in North Carolina, wife Alvina, 22, also born in North Carolina and their nine-month old daughter, Sarah.
(5) Daughter Nirma Hooper was age 22, born in North Carolina, listed still at home in the 1850 census (born 1828). There is no listing of her marriage that I have found.
(6) Jemima Hooper (spelled Jermima in the Union County marriage records) was born in 1829. She married her first cousin, William J. Hooper, son of her uncle Andrew Hooper. The marriage took place August 16, 1851. They may have had one daughter, Jane. William was badly wounded in the Civil War and returned with health problems that persisted until his death in 1878. Jemima died in 1907. Jemima drew a Civil War widow’s pension.
(7) Sarah was born August 27, 1831 and died December 22, 1919. She married Samuel Nicholson on January 27, 1848 with the Rev. John Corn performing the ceremony. They had children John Thomas (b. 1849), Andrew Absalom (b. 1851), Martha Dorcas (b. 1853), Leander Columbus (b. 1856) and Carnmiller (?) Jane (b. 1868). This family also lived at Fodder Creek in Towns County and were responsible for giving land for the Fodder Creek School and Enotah Baptist Church.
(8) Margaret was born April 5, 1834. She married John W. Gilbert in Union County on December 23, 1852, with Justice of the Peace M. L. Burch performing the ceremony. This same justice of the peace performed Margaret’s sister Jemima’s wedding in 1851. Margaret and John had these children: Martha (b. 1853), Delia Ann (b. 1855), Mary Ellen (b. 1857), Sarah Frances (b. 1859) and John Absalom DeKalb Gilbert (b. 1861). John Gilbert was elected sheriff of Towns County in 1857. When the Civil War came, he enlisted in the Hiawasse Volunteers and was killed in the war. Widow Margaret Hooper Gilbert later married Joseph Brewster and they moved to Tennessee after the war.
(9) Hannah Hooper was born in 1836 in North Carolina. She was listed as 14 in the 1850 Union census. She married William Gilbert on November 4, 1853 with an M. Lance, justice of the peace, performing their ceremony in Union County. William Gilbert was a brother to Hannah’s sister Margaret’s husband, John W. Gilbert. According to a Hooper family Bible Hannah and “William’s four little boys” are listed as Larkin Pinkney (b. 1856), William Bartley (b. 1857), Oliver Perry (b. 1860) and George W. (b. 1862). Hannah’s husband William evidently died in the Civil War. By the time of the 1870 census, Widow Hannah Hooper and her four children were living in the household of her sister Jemima, also a widow, and her children. These sisters who married brothers seemed to have reared the double-first cousins—their children—in the Fodder Creek section of Towns County that once was part of Union County.
(10) Martha Ann (b. 1842 in Georgia) married Javan Brown on February 4, 1864, the son of Milton and Mary Hooper Brown. Martha Ann and Javan were first cousins. Their children were Willard (b. 1856), Carrie (b. 1865), Icey (b. 1868), Thomas (b. 1874) Amanda (b. 1875), Robert (b. 1879) and Columbus “Lum”, (b. date unknown).
(11) John, the last child of Absalom, Jr. and Martha Kelley Hooper was born in 1850, but no further information about him is known at this time.With a large family of eleven children to rear, we can imagine that life was not easy on their Fodder Creek farm for Absalom, Jr. and Martha. He was a miller, an occupation that was of assistance to his community while bringing in a little extra corn and grain to the mill operator. Martha Hooper died July 19, 1862 and Absalom, Jr. died a little later on October 16, 1862. They were buried on their own property, but their son-in-law, Samuel Nicholson, who bought most of Absalom, Jr.’s land, gave land for the Enotah Baptist Church location, and the Hooper family cemetery was incorporated into the Enotah Baptist Church Cemetery. If you go there to visit, know that the land was once part of our own Union County.
c2010 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 28, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.