From Family Findings
Vol. II, No. 1, January 1970, pp. 14-16
Copyright, Mid-West Tennessee Genealogical Society, 1970
Appears on this web site by permission


by Fidelia Simpson Barnett


Come all ye Union ladies who are living in the State,
And listen td my story I am going to relate.
I lived in Alabama in that good old healthy clime,
Until we emigrated to this state in eighteen hundred forty-nine.

Our home was very pleasant, and with health we had all been blessed,
But my husband thought it prudent to go out·further west.
I had been living there some thirty years with friends I love, I know
But I felt it was my duty — with my husband to go.

Our children were all small then and we thought it would be best,
To go to a new country away out further west.
So I left all my friends and kindred most dear to me,
And came with my companion to the State of Tennessee.

Then we laid in our rations, to do us on the way,
And started in November — it was the fourteenth day.
I left all my relations in the County of Limestone;
I had four living sisters, but brothers I had none.

I left my aged father there and sisters who were dear;
My mother — she had gone to rest - and had been several years,
But to leave my fathers house, and him to see no more,
That was the greatest trial that I had to endure.

When I bade them all farewell, 'twas then my heart did ache;
I shall never forget that day while I have breath to speak. (BMR-take?)
I took my sisters by the hand, but could not speak a word,
And then I left my native land, and trusted in the Lord.

I felt just like a lonesome dove, who had just lost her mate;
There were just me and my husband — and children we had eight.
I did the very best I could to try to hide my grief,
But my husband was very kind to me — that gave me some relief.

My father went to town with us, it was a town of fame.
It was the seat of Limestone County, and Athens was its name.
There in the street bade farewell to him and Uncle dear,
And there fell from all our eyes, many a bitter tear.

That day I passed the old graveyard where my dear mother lay,
Who often warned me in my youth, and told me I must pray.
I was her youngest child; of me she took good care;
She would make me read the Bible and say the Lord's Prayer.

We were traveling right along the road where she had walked with me
And plucked the pretty flowers from off the redbud tree.
But she was gone and I went on with those I loved best;
I tried to be right cheerful as we traveled to the west.

That day we got to Poplar Creek and there we had to camp,
And when I got the supper done I lit the glimmering lamp.
The lamp that always shined so bright - it did not shine far me
When I thought of home and friends that I no more would see.

When I would travel all day long, tired and weary-worn,
I'd lie down within my tent and think of friends and home.
One day as I was traveling I saw the old mile post;
It said "To Athens forty miles" — and I thought that I was lost.

The children would get out and walk, and they would never tire
Looking at the telegraph and at the lengthy wire.
My little boys walked all the way — over hill and mound;
When they grew tired, would sit and rest upon the sandy ground.

My husband had trials and hardships on the road,
For he had to drive the wagon with such a heavy load.
The wagon it broke down one day and the children all fell out,
The only bad accident that happened on the route.

Sometimes I would go along cheerful — the weather cool and calm
But oft times think of those dear friends I'd left in Alabam.
At night I'd take my baby up, and nurse it on my knee,
With my little children by my side as close as they could be.

At night we would make the beds all down and the children go to sleep.
My husband he would take my child and I'd go out and weep.
I could almost see my father's face, it appeared so plain
Then something seemed to whisper — "You shall see him again."

When we crossed the Shoal Creek Bridge, I thought that it would fall.
Then when we came to Shoal's Hill, that was the worst of all.
We drove along that winding ridge, along that crooked road,
And I could but sit and wonder at the wonderous works of God.

The road it was just wide enough for the wagon wheels to go,
And it made me almost shudder to look down so far below.
When we got to Savannah and crossed Tennessee River
I thought I really was gone from all my friends — forever.

But after traveling fourteen days and lying on the ground,
We found ourselves in Tennessee, in midst of Jackson Town.
Jackson was a pretty town, its houses were so white,
But we did not stay there long, for we got home that night.


"1849 — Leaving My Home in Alabama for the West" by Fidelia Simpson Barnett was submitted by the author's fourth great niece, Barbara M. (Mrs. R. E.) Richardson, 232 Walnut Street, Jackson, Tenn. 38301. We wish to express our appreciation to Fanny (Mrs. P. C.,) Lockett, 4624 Southern, Dallas, Texas 75209 for her kind permission to publish this picturesque description of the migratory settlement of our early West Tennesseans. Note by contributor Fidelia's husband, Matthew Huston Barnett, later migrated with his family to Yell County, Arkansas and still later settled in Texas. "Home" in last line near Medina, Tenn.