Trigg and Bess and family 1929

Recollections of Bessie Wealtha Hackney
August, 1986

In 1914, my dad and mom, George McClellan Hackney and Loretta Ann Epling Hackney, with my sisters, Hettie, Jettie, and me moved from Mouthcard on Little Hackney Creek, Pike County, KY to Grassy Creek in Dickenson County, VA. This property* was part of the Mullins’ land and is now part of the Breaks Interstate Park. I was five years old. (*This property was purchased from M. T. and Gusta Owens on 13 February 1914 for $500, 40 acres on the waters of Grassy Creek, on the ridge above Noah Mullins’ old store. Gusta Epling, sister of Loretta’s m. Morgan T. Owens; Noah Mullins was Loretta’s uncle, her mother’s brother.)

We lived in a small house in what was called the “flat woods”. Our brother, Johnnie Parkis, was born there. Dad added a round room with many openings for windows to the small house, to be used as a parlor. He died before it was finished. I was almost nine years old. He is buried in the Mullins Cemetery surrounded by a golf course.

Mom and us children lived on in the house with help from some of our nearby relatives. Uncle Jess, Uncle Park, Grandpa and Grandma Epling, Aunt Lillie, Aunt Goldie and Aunt Gusta. Aunt Clementine (Noah Edwards’ sister), lived below our house. “Aunt” Nancy (no Aunt, but a good friend and neighbor), helped out also. “Aunt” Nancy’s son, Joe liked Hettie and courted her.

I started school in a small building when we first moved to Grassy Creek. I started in 1st grade, called Primmer, then to 2nd and 3rd grades there. Later went to 4th, 5th and 6th grades at Colley school. The school at Grassy Creek was also used as a church and was located across from where Aunt Goldie lived. The creek was a dividing line between Buchanan and Dickenson Counties (and still is). Later, a bigger school house was build on top of the hill across the creek to the left of Aunt Goldie’s. That burned down and another was built in the same place.

Hett and Freddie Edwards met first, then Noah Edwards and our mom, Loretta, through Aunt Clementine. (Clementine was the sister of Noah Edwards, she m. 1) Campbell Owens and was living at Grassy at that time.) Mom and Noah married on March 19, 1919, at Grassy (at our home, on the crooked porch). We all moved to Noah’s house (in Birchleaf, VA) and joined Freddie 18, Trigg 16, Darcy 13, Exie 11, Clara 8 and Zola 4. Hett and Freddie married in May, 1919, went “off” and got married. They moved into the house in the “flat woods” at Grassy Creek.

Mom and “Pa” (Noah) had one child, Opal Edwards Henning, born December 16, 1919. Mom died November 12, 1920. Opal was only eleven months old. Jettie, Park and I moved in with Hett and Freddie at Grassy Creek. Elma was born at Grassy Creek, February 26, 1921.

After I grew up and married and had children, I still dreamed about my home at Grassy Creek. When we went back home for a visit, we went to Grassy Creek with Hett, Freddie and their children. We climbed a hill and saw the old homestead in the “flat woods”. After that, I never dreamed about it again, although it’s still in my heart. I still remember how happy we all were, when my dad, mom, Hettie, Jettie, Park and me were there in our little house in the “flat woods”.

Noah Edwards married Ella Fuller Owens, February 28, 1921. Ella had a daughter, Hazel and a son, Eulie (whose twin had died). Hazel was older than Opal and Eulie was the same age as Park and Zola, 6 years. Eulie died of diabetes when he was only 19 years old. They joined Trigg 18, Darcy 15, Clara 10, Exie 13, Zola 7 and Opal 14 months. In 1922, Clayton was born, Earsel in 1925 and Clifford in 1927.

When Trigg, Lena and I came back home before Elmer was born, we went to Laurel Branch. Jim and Mag Arrington lived near us. Jim carried Lena all over and sang as he carried her. He had a real good singing voice. He had married Mag Fuller, Ella’s half sister. So Jim and Mag Arrington are “half” Aunt and Uncle to Clayton, Earsel and Clifford. Merle’s (Clayton’s wife), mother, Carrie is Jim Arrington’s sister. Their father is Johnny Arrington.

Lena and Elmer called Ella “little Granny” as did Hett and Freddie’s children. They all called Great Grandma Sally “big Granny”. After Noah “Pa” died, Ella married Jim Owens. They had no children together, but Jim had several, but only brought twins Estel and Ersle with him.

Recollections of Bessie Wealtha Hackney Edwards
May 1991

In 1924, Trigg Edwards and Alex Hackney (Sindusta Hackney Edwards’ brother), came to Detroit, Michigan. They stayed with Percy Hackney (Alex and Sindusta’s brother), and his wife, Ida. Trigg worked for awhile and was so homesick, he went home to Virginia. Trigg came back to Michigan with his brother, Freddie, wife Hett, children, Elma, Howard, me (Bess), Hett’s and my brother, Park.

All went to Uncle Stacy and Aunt Sindusta’s, who lived in a big house on Greenfield Road. Aunt Sindusta’s sister, America (“Merkie”), was there, also. I slept with her. We all moved to Grandy Street in Detroit, over a “beer garden” in a very large flat. Then we moved to St. Alburtus Street in Detroit.

Trigg and I took a streetcar to Detroit City Hall with Freddie and Alex as witnesses, and were married August 2, 1924. We came back to Hett and Freddie’s for a chicken dinner. Trigg and I rented half of the house on St. Albertus Street from Hett and Freddie, a completely divided house. Upstairs, America “Merkie” and her husband, Burke Williams, lived. One day, Trigg slipped on the ice and hit his head and was knocked out. Burke, who was a big man, picked Trigg up and carried him inside, he seemed fine afterward.

Lena was born July 20, 1925, on St. Alburtus Street. Dr. Danforth attended me at home. When Lena was a few months old, Trigg and I bought a house on DeSoto Street. There is a picture of Trigg and I and Trigg is holding Lena on the front porch of that house. Trigg worked at Ford’s in Dearborn. Freddie and Hett, Elma, Howard and Durward lived across the street.

Work slacked off and we all went “home” to Virginia, I was expecting Elmer. We all moved in with “Pa” and Ella until Trigg, me and Lena moved to Laurel Branch, VA, where Elmer was born April 19, 1927, in a “cabbage patch” – I always told him that. HO, HO

There are two Laurel Branches. This one is upriver from Sandlick. There is a turnoff to Frying Pan and the other way is to Laurel Branch where we lived. Clara Edwards married Silas Fuller while we lived down there. They both rode on one horse over to Laurel Branch to see us. Exie Edwards stayed with us and helped take care of Lena and Elmer and with the chores. It was so hard to make a living, that we all moved back to Michigan again. I was expecting Buford.

Trigg, me, Exie, Lena and Elmer moved to St. Mary’s Street, west of Greenfield. Trigg started work at Murray Corp. over on the east side. Buford was born there and Exie helped me take care of the children. This was a very small house. Freddie, Hett, Elma, Howard, Durward and Retta moved to Republic Street in Warren, East of Van Dyke and north of 9 Mile Road. Jett, Linden, Wilson and Nelson lived on Forest Street and Vance was born there, he was the same age as Buford. Then Trigg, me and (3) children moved closer to Murray Corp., where Trigg worked, to 8282 Fordyce, near Clay and Russell. It was a large house and Freddie, Hett and (4) children, Jett, Linden and (3) children all moved upstairs. Trigg could walk to work now.

I remember baking a big cake and it turned out so bad that Trigg laughed and laughed. I sorta had a temper – and I threw the cake down the basement stairs! HO What made it so bad, is that I had to clean it up afterwards! I never cared to make cakes from then on.

Freddie, Hett and children and Jett, Linden and children all decided to move back home. Otis was born November 9, 1930 and Gene was born January 1, 1931 back in Virginia. A black family moved in upstairs on Fordyce, they were very nice people. Old black woman babysat for our children. Called Buford “little chicken pie” – she really loved him. When he died, February 23, 1931, she washed and ironed his clothes for me. She said “poor little chicken pie”.

Trigg had to get a Transit Permit from the local Board of Health to take Buford home on the train. The Haley Undertaking Co. gave permission for us to take him back home. He died of bronchial pneumonia. We left on the train on February 24, 1931, and “Pa” (Noah) was to have met the train at Haysi, but unknown to us, Noah was deathly ill with pneumonia and “locked bowels”. Uncle Basil met the train and told us the bad news. Noah died on February 27, 1931. That was one of the worse times of our lives, to lose the baby and then Noah, Trigg’s dad and my stepfather; who I called “Pa”. Buford and Noah are both buried in the Edwards Cemetery up on the ridge.


  • Hett never had her hair cut. She always wore it coiled into a bun.
  • Jett had her hair cut once in the 1920’s, but it bothered her so much because she had it cut, she never had it cut again. She also wore it coiled into a bun.
  • The post office at Grassy Creek, was called “Jane” in the old days. Now, it is called the “Breaks”


  • Crooked Porch: A porch that goes around the house.
  • A Poke: A bag to carry things in.
  • Bitters: Good for boils.
  • Old Doc’s recipe: use herbs from the woods, mixed with whiskey, it cures boils.
  • Cut a Shine: When someone gets hurt, cries and dances around.
  • Chinkie Pins:Grows on bushes in burrs, when ripe the burrs open. They taste like chestnuts.
  • Like a Hen On a Hot Rock: Jumping around, anxious to go somewhere