The Hembree Gene Pool

The best stories are those written by our genealogy.

Who are You? My search for my great grandmother.

Sarah Hembree, née Webb, was my great grandmother, on my dad’s dad’s (yes, as in my paternal grandfather) side. As a child, I could list everything I knew about her on one hand: from the only photograph of her I’d ever seen, I have her nose; she had a twin sister; she came from ‘over the mountain,’ whatever that meant; and she died very young, shortly after giving birth. I have wanted, ever since I saw her picture, to know more about this woman I would never meet.

Fast forward to my twenties: my Uncle, John Hembree, and I put together a book of family connections, (that I am currently working to have available online and searchable). I noticed that it focused on the Hembree family heavily. The Webb connections, not so much. A single page in the book contained a handwritten ancestry chart. Dated 1980, compiled by Ellis Couch, III, it listed Sara [sic] Webb as the wife of Isaac Shiloh Hembree, my great grandfather. My Uncle Ellis had included her parents’ names with birth and death dates, AND all four grandparents, first and last names only; more than enough to begin a search!

Now, all of you that are old hands at this search business are probably scoffing at how difficult I am making this sound. But I am 60 years old. When I first started searching for family history, it was to find out the outcome of my great grandfather’s poisoning and the trial that followed. The internet wasn’t even a twinkle in you-know-who’s eye! My first record search was in the basement of the Scottsboro county, AL, courthouse, among the original newspapers of the previous century. No microfiche, no film. Just shelves and shelves of stacked newsprint! It was an exciting (and exhausting!) three days of sorting through some of the most interesting bits of history I’d never known!

Back to Sarah.

Initial steps to searching family history should always start with asking questions of any living relatives, neighbors, and friends. I started with my dad. He referred me to his dad, who we lovingly called Pappaw. Pappaw was born December 6, 1903. Sarah died July 13, 1912. He was eight and a half years old. He told me he didn’t really remember her at all. My dad confirmed that he had not ever heard any stories told about her, but he remembers her name being mentioned during family conversations. Sadly, I waited too long to ask other family or neighbors. Mrs. Hulvey, the closest neighbor, was in her 90’s before I realized she might have information. I interviewed her briefly, shortly before she passed. As with many interviews, I came away with more questions that I never got to ask her.

Fast forward again 30 plus years! Through the advent of the internet, and genealogy sites, I have now discovered census, birth, marriage, taxes, wills, and death records – and more!

I now know a bit more about Sarah.

I know her twin sister’s name. I know that she had an older sister, and several brothers. I know that she and her twin were actually born in Arkansas, while the rest were born in Alabama, when the family moved out to Arkansas for a brief period. After researching the census documents and internet news stories from that time for Alabama and Arkansas, and finding out Sarah’s father had listed his occupation as farmer, I made some guesses, but I’m still looking for evidence to back up my theories.

Sarah Webb Hembree
Sarah Hembree, née Webb
Isaac Shiloh Hembree

Sarah was 25 when she married Isaac, a 45-year-old bachelor. The average age of marriage for women in the 1890’s was 22.5. Isaac would have been a catch. He was a fairly well-to-do landowner, from a large family. His family had been settled in the area for almost 100 years at that time. We’ll probably never know if it was a love match, or of convenience. Isaac was known for acquiring property, so perhaps there was an incentive? I continue to research the matter, but the romantic in me would love to find some written records!

Hembree White House in Hog Jaw Valley, possibly known as the Upper Place. Acquired in 1905.

Isaac acquired the Hog Jaw Valley White House in 1905, about five years into the marriage. Before that, he and his bride lived in the large white clapboard house at Long Island, site of the infamous poisoning case.

More on record searches:

One of the neatest things I noticed as I researched the census records, was the connections between families, such as the record of older children where the next census would find them married to neighbors. Because of the way census were taken, neighbors up and down the road were easily identifiable. Add in a county or state plat that identified land ownership, and it was easy for me to build up a picture in my mind of how the day-to-day paths and activities brought families into contact. The census records are rich in information: birth locations, ages, servants or other household members, occupations, among other things. The similarities of names, male and female, in the records can point to not so obvious connections, but they can also blur the lines. I go into the records for one thing, such as the name of Sarah’s twin, but my next foray will be the same records, to look for neighbors that might be the family her twin married into, since she is not in the family graveyard. At least, not under Webb. Where did she go? Maybe I have more cousins?!?

Sarah’s Married Life

Sarah and Isaac had several children. The first three were born at Stewart Place, a crossroads in Hog Jaw Valley, according to Ellis Couch’s handwritten Family Group records. I’ll have to do more checking, as this might be the name of the house at Long Island, or it might be Isaac’s brother, Dock’s place, which was at the foot of the mountain, just east of the crossroads.

The first baby, Robert Abb, arrived in September, 1900. My grandfather, John Brown Gordon (named after the famous John Brown) was born three years later. The third child, a girl, Ida Roxie, was born about a year and a half later, in late summer, 1905. She married a McCrary from Fackler, AL.

The other children were born at Upper Place, in Hog Jaw Valley, which I would assume (you know what they say about that!) is the White House that I know and love.

Baby number four was delivered when Ida was just turning two, in 1907. Named after her mother and her maternal grandmother, Sara Emaline would later marry Ellis Einsel Couch, Jr. and become my dear Aunt Emaline. Baby number five was the third boy. As was the family tradition, he received the ‘junior’ designation. Families often waited until several babies had been born before naming a junior, because of the high mortality rates among firstborns. Isaac Shiloh Hembree, Jr. came into the world early in the year in 1909.

What a crazy, hectic household that would have been! Five children, from diapers to a nine-year old! Knowing my family, it’s a sure bet the oldest children were already helping with chores: milking, feedings horses, pigs, and chickens, gathering wood, working in the fields, cleaning house, doing dishes,and keeping an eye on the younger ones! (I started washing dishes at six years old, and there were only four of us!)

The Last Child

Sadly, in early June, 1912, Sarah delivered a stillborn child. She would not recover from complications of that birth, and she passed away on July 13, 1912. She is buried beside her husband in the Harris Chapel Cemetery.

Sarah and Isaac rest beside each other at Harris Chapel Cemetery in Jackson County, AL

Ellis Couch notes in the records that Isaac remarried on July 25, 1916. No certificate of marriage has been located, and later census records have Mrs. W.J.Holly residing with them and listed as ‘wife’. She had two children of her own, from a previous marriage. That’s another avenue of research, for another time.

As a footnote, while there are many infant graves in the Harris Chapel cemetery, there isn’t one for Sarah’s stillborn child. There’s a faint family rumor that the child may have been laid to rest on the grounds of the family home in the Valley.

Sarah would have turned 38 the year her last baby was born, had she survived. Who was she? What was she passionate about? As I look at the members of my family, I see many things: a commitment to hard work, a no-nonsense approach to life, a hunger to improve their life and the life of their families, but most of all a deep and abiding love and pride in who they are. Sarah was a part of that. Maybe what I see is more Isaac Shiloh Hembree, and later, my own strong Grandmother, Kathleen Lassiter Hembree (we called her ‘Nanny’), but I know that there is a bit of Sarah in all of us, too. I’ll keep searching. I love a good mystery!


Let me tell you about Robert.

Every family has one. The child that stands alone from brothers and sisters. The child that does not conform to the expectations, behaviors, proprieties. The child who catches a parents heart – with anxiety, grief, frustration, anger, pain, but mostly with love. It is so hard to watch this child make a way. It sometimes seems as if the choices made by this child are always the worst, or the most difficult. Sometimes, the child runs to a very different drummer than the rest of us. Not that this is a bad thing. It can, sometimes, make difficult that which shouldn’t have to be so difficult. As it was with Robert.

Tow-headed, bright-eyed, as solid as a two by four at birth (10 pounds, 11 ounces of solid muscle). To pick him up was hefting a small sack of concrete. That wouldn’t stop moving. As soon as he could climb out of his crib, he did. As soon as he could walk, he ran. He had two settings: dead stop and full speed ahead. His favorite toys, at two years old, were the older kids’ wheeled toys. He borrowed them all: scooters, skateboards, tricycles, bicycles, skates, surfboards…. if it moved, if it moved really fast, he was on it! Trial and error, bumps and bruises, over and over until he’d perfected the executions. Hard-headed, some said. Soft in the head, said others.

The unstoppable force meets the immovable object…

Robert slept when he stopped. Because he had climbed out of his crib so soon, he had his own twin bed. He didn’t sleep on it, he slept under it. I would find him asleep on the carpet, head tucked neatly just under the edge of the bed. I’d put him to bed then. It was as if the floor was the immovable object that would allow his unstoppable force to cease, to rest. 

Robert slept as hard as he played. As a young adult, he required multiple alarm clocks to wake him, yet he would have periods of two to three days at a time where he would be unable to sleep.

During these periods, he was extremely physically active. He never stopped moving, graduating from the skateboards, skates and bycicles to the love of his life, a banana-yellow Suzuki – the road rocket.

Robert didn’t start out with a motorbike. His first adult vehicle was my car. I came out one morning to find my passenger side mirror dangling. Apparently he borrowed the car during the night, and sideswiped the mailbox on his way out. He was fourteen. This was not his first experience as a ‘borrower’, merely another in a long line of taking something to use because he didn’t have one of his own.

The Borrower

As a small child, Robert smacked his head – a lot. This was a bit before kids helmets were in vogue. It would be several years before I found research that indicated frontal lobe damage could lead to a serious lack of rule-following. Robert could tell you the right thing to do, but had a hard time following his own advice.

We lived in a neighborhood with lots of children, who often left their toys on sidewalks, or scattered across front or back yards. Robert began as a toddler ‘borrowing’ these left out toys. We would explain the concept of ownership and have him return the toy, with apologies, but it never really seemed to make a difference. He would continue to take, often leaving one borrowed item for another, because he never really owned any of it: paintball guns and equipment, skates, surfboards, skateboards, all left scattered across multiple locations as he would acquire something new. My cell phone, my car, both simply available to him under his particular code- he never took anything to keep it, just to use it.

Robert did have his own toys, his own skateboard, his own surfboard. It was not that he was lacking. He loaned his own belongings as freely as he borrowed others. Ownership, possessions; all very fluid concepts to this child.

That boy could destroy an anvil…

Robert’s first adult vehicle of his own was our old Dodge pickup. It was in very good condition, even though it was 10 years old and had well over 100,000 miles on it. It was a manual 5 speed transmission, a good first vehicle for a boy. Or it would have been. Robert had a peculiar ability to destroy. Robert could dismantle, destruct, and destroy anything. We often said he could destroy an anvil. Not on purpose, you understand. He was not mean or vengeful. He was curious, deeply thoughtful, and he questioned everything, particularly instructions. I remember giving him a little set of tools when he was four or five: hammer, screwdrivers, pliers.

It was several years later, when I got ready to paint the house, that I found all of the striker plates on every door in the house had no screws. He taken them all out! That explains why I would pick up screws in the vacuum cleaner every so often! (For those who wonder why the plates didn’t fall off the door frames, a previous owner had painted over them, so the paint held them in place.)

The truck that had lasted us 10 years came apart quickly for Robert. His need for speed was a contributing factor to its demise- it wasn’t built for hot-rodding, and Robert was no mechanic. He was also hard on the body of the truck. It wasn’t long before the driver side door acquired a huge dent from a elderly couple that turned into him while trying to make a right turn from a left lane in a mall parking lot (or that’s how the story went). The biggest mystery was the two large holes – holes! – in the solid steel rear bumper. We never did figure out where those came from! The truck had to be sold for scrap less than a year after we gave it to him.

The second car, which we required he buy from us, didn’t fare a whole lot better. That boy could destroy an anvil!

The Lady-Killer

From his youngest days, Robert was a chick magnet. From irresistible toddler to bad boy handsome adult, he never lacked for a girl who was goggle-eyed over him.

And he liked them! I remember his first crush. The neighbors had a darling daughter with long dark hair and large dark eyes and beautiful lashes. He was about four years old. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He was simply star-struck. She was a couple of years older and had no time for him! Then there was the year that 10-year old girls were calling him at 2:00 and 3:00 am! Caller ID became my best friend, as I would contact parents the next morning to let them know what their sweet young daughters were up to! There was that night he came home with a huge grin on his face. He’d discovered something, although I never asked! Then there was the girl who borrowed her dad’s SUV to come see Robert. I met her after she’d crashed it through a fence. She showed up on my doorstep, extremely upset, and asked to use the phone. There was always a girl, or two, or three. There was a fairly serious relationship with an older woman, who it turned out was formerly a man- no one but Robert was surprised. We were suspicious of that deep voice! There were the three girls Robert met when he had moved back in with us for a year. After he moved away, they kept in touch with me. They really missed him. Even his best friend, K., was female. She was an amazingly level headed girl that he’d known since grade school. I miss her. One conversation I remember really well was the night he told me he thought he’d met ‘the one’, but she was going into the army, and he was working on his own life, so they would go in two separate directions. I love them all, for loving him, and I’ve been blessed to keep in touch with some. It’s like having this extended family of daughters, who’ve all grown into beautiful women, with families of their own.

I give them to you for a little while…

We never know how long we get to keep our children. Most outlive their parents. Some do not. Robert did not. He lost his life on his motorcycle when another driver turned in front of him and he hit the pavement, crushing his lungs. He was an organ donor, so four lives were saved – heart, liver, kidneys – all passed along to those in need. Kinda what he had done all his life – pick up something here, leave something there. In so doing, Robert left a legacy of love, because he figured out the best way to be loved was to love. He borrowed our hearts, as well as our possessions. I miss him, I miss his hugs. I always will, but I know I will see him again one day!

Any stories you have of Robert are welcome to be shared in the comments.

In Honor of My Dad.

My first love… I remember telling you that when I grew up I would marry you.

My best critic… when you would tell me I had BO (and to go take a bath).

My standard for a gentleman… always holding the door for me, treating me with respect, and teaching me how to choose a good man. (I think I got that lesson right!)

My idea of a clean house… how to make a bed (‘but why do I have to make it, I’m just getting back in it again tonight!’), clean the bathroom, and wash dishes (‘waddya mean I can’t wash each dish separately with its own glob of dish soap?’ ‘I hafta wash the outside of the pan, too?!?’). There is still hope for these lessons to stick! (And yes, I have on more than one occasion cleaned my refrigerator before your visits!)

My first checking account and checkbook… (well, we really don’t have to go there, do we?)

My understanding of unconditional love and a glimpse of the face of my Heavenly Father… my first car, Mint Springs, VA, $2000+ in repairs… Oh,  and all the other times you forgave me and came through for me anyway!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you! I only hope I have been able to be as good a parent to my children as you are to me!

To Sam Hembree, my dad, Happy Father’s Day, 2017!

Sam Hembree
Sam Hembree, daughter in law Shannon and her husband, youngest son, Glenn Hembree
Sam Hembree (center) with his mother, Kathleen Lassater Hembree, and his dad, John Gordan Nrown Hembree, better known as Nanny and Pappaw!
Sam Hembree and Aunt Emmaline Couch
Dad. Blue jeans. Work. You had to be there! Lol!
L to R: Ike Hembree and wife Gail, William ‘Bill’ Hembree, Sam Hembree and wife Dee, around the table at his Country House, in Hogjaw Valley, AL
L to R: The Hembree boys: Ike, Bill, John, and Sam
Top, L to R: Ike and Sam Hembree; Bottom, L to R: their twin sisters, Sue and Ann.
If not pickin’, then definitely grinning! Nice hats! L to R: John, Sam, Ike and Bill Hembree, aka the Hembree boys!
These men, all of whom are wonderful fathers, from L to R: brothers John Hembree, William ‘Bill’ Hembree, Sam Hembree, and Ike Hembree.

Decoration Day at Harris Chapel Cemetery

Saturday, May 20, 2017

There is a cemetery on a hill in a place called HogJaw Valley. It is the repository of members of multiple families that have lived, loved, fought, and died in that place. It is a place where loved ones have been brought home, after death, to rest for eternity. It is a beautiful, flower and stone filled place, that is cared for by a dedicated group of individuals who want to honor the seven -plus generations of families who are buried there. Its name is Harris Chapel Cemetery in Jackson County, Alabama.

This past Saturday, family groups met at the cemetery to clean graves, place bright new bouquets on old and new grave markers, and gather for some of the best eating you could want: the potluck lunch at the pavilion!

Honoring the Morgan Family

Each year, the Harris Chapel Cemetery group honors a family that has members buried in the quiet hill. This year, it was the Morgan family. We heard from two sisters, whose mother, father, uncle and aunt had been laid to rest together on the hill.

They talked about their grandmother’s growing up, how she was traded by her dad, at 13, to a much older man, a whiskey maker up on Sand Mountain, for a jug of whiskey. This event began a life of hard work and hardship. She had three children before that first husband passed, two boys and a girl. She then remarried, another hard man, who, unfortunately was not the loving stepfather they might have wished for.

After one particularly bad day, they told how their uncle – the oldest child and still a young man – took a rifle and attempted to kill the stepfather, but received a head wound so grievous, he was never the same. He was sent to a sanitarium across the state. For years, his remaining sister, the mother of the two speakers, would provide clothing and small supplies, but because of the great distance, would be unable to visit her dear brother.

The two ladies gave their mom credit for realizing, as she raised her own five children, that she wanted better for her children.


This daughter was also placed in an arranged marriage. Her two daughters told us about the five children before turning twenty-five, the generous gift from another family of a wringer washer which became a treasured possession, the friendship of neighbors and churchgoers, and the strong support their mom gave each of them to get far away from this beautiful, but not prosperous, valley.

The girls did find a way to go to college, to leave the area, and settle in another city in Alabama. They report of prosperity and better times. Eventually they were able to bring their momma to live with them, but she insisted she wouldn’t go without that ringer washer! When the request came from the sanatorium for more clothing and supplies for their mom’s brother, they arranged for her to deliver the items in person. She was able to see her brother for the first time in 27 years. They would later bring their uncle to live with them until his death several years later.

These stories bring such life to the stones that mark the graves. It softens the rough hewn edges and makes even the bare and stony red ground seem more welcoming. There are many babies buried here, and mothers who didn’t live thru childbirth. There are sons buried long before their time, beloved and mourned. There are patriarchs and matriarchs – men and women who founded dynasties just a surely as any well known king. Then there are the soldiers. The cemetery holds the graves of unnamed and unknown confederate soldiers who died protecting something they felt sure of. We will forever honor these men who died fighting in a war, far from their homes. The realization that the names carved on these stones belonged to flesh and blood people who ate and drank, who married and bore children and raised sons and daughters, and mourned their losses, helps me to feel a connection to these souls; many of whom I never met here on earth. For a complete list, click here.

The Hembree clan met later for our annual meeting. We brought everyone up to date on the house, the lands, including walnut and pine trees, and maintenance still to be done. We’ll get together again soon to maintain our presence in the valley! In caring for and remembering our dead, it seems to make our time with the living that much sweeter!

Strawberry Pie: Food, Family, and… Dishes?!?

I made strawberry pie today. It’s been such a long time, I pulled out my old recipe card, to confirm the ingredients. That card was written by me over 40 years ago. My handwriting that of a young woman, I remember sitting with my mom, Phyllis Ann Allen Hembree, as she listed the ingredients. This was her recipe, and the recipe of her mother, my dear grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Allen. I have made it many times, both with my mom, and by myself. As good as this pie is (and it’s really, really good!*) the memories of cooking together, eating it ice cold and smothered with whipped cream, with a soft, crumbly crust, after a big family meal, makes it so much more satisfying than just a great strawberry pie.

That got me thinking about all of the wonderful memories made in and around the kitchen.

There was sitting around on hot summer afternoons ‘hulling’ peas, fingers turning green or purple, depending on the variety. Listening to the adults talk, watching the dented metal washpan become full of what would soon be cooked for supper, and watching the pile of ‘leavings’, empty hulls, strings from beans, snapped off ends, again depending on the variety, and the odors, of living plants, sweet earth, and hard work.

After dinner, of course, there were the dishes. To us children, the dirty dishes appeared to cover every surface, piled high like a fantastic scene out of some of the kitchens in Disney cartoons. No automatic dishwashers then, just the many hands of the various and sundry grandkids. From age six on, we would all take turns. I wasn’t very tall, so I would stand on a chair at the white porcelain covered sink cabinet. The soapy water was in that same dented metal pan that had been used earlier to hold freshly hulled peas or beans. Next to the sink was another washpan that held clear water for rinsing. That water got changed as it became too soapy. Dishtowels, thin, printed sacking material, were wielded by the drying crew. Dishes that weren’t clean were sent back to the hapless dishwasher, fingertips pruny and back sore from bending over the sink. Just when the crew thought we were done, the pots and pans would begin marching toward the sink, much harder to wash, scrubbed over and over ’til they shone. ‘Put a little elbow grease into it,” my dad would say. Then he would point out a spot I missed.

Recently, I wanted to recreate a little of the feeling of a family dinner, vegetables cooked fresh, homemade casseroles, roast beast (Sunday dinner beef roast), garden fresh sliced tomatoes, biscuits, homemade preserves and jellies, farm butter, and homemade desserts: chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, and cookies. While adults sat around snapping green beans, kids ran through the house, and the newest grandchild, my great-nephew John Luke Styes, played on a blanket on the floor. We hosted a houseful: cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and grand babies. The next generation sat around the table, piled on the porch, scattered across furniture in every room, and chowed down. It felt wonderful.

Dirty pans, not so much…

And the dishes? Well, now there’s an automatic dishwasher, and paper plates and plastic cutlery. We used multiple crockpots, so dirty pans, not so much. The kids and grandkids did do some of the dishes. But then we sent them off on a scavenger hunt. We are starting some new traditions, making some new memories. Like the cauliflower cheese casserole**, instead of traditional mac and cheese (which everybody LOVED! At least, they all wanted the recipe!)

My Dad, Sam Hembree, was there (and no, he didn’t make me rewash anything!) but Mom wasn’t (we lost her on June 9, 2014), and strawberries weren’t in season, so dessert wasn’t strawberry pie, but it still echoed with the history of family gatherings, and the promise of a future with many more. 

*Mom’s Strawberry Pie

Quart of strawberries, rinsed and hulled.

2 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 3oz box strawberry gelatin (regular OR sugar free works fine)

2 pie crusts, pre-cooked


While the pie crusts bake, mix up and cook the filling:

Combine arrowroot (or cornstarch), sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens and becomes silky looking. Add the strawberry gelatin, stirring rapidly. The mixture will begin to become glossy and clear.

Place the berries bottom up in the two pie shells. Cut up the smaller berries to fill in between the larger berries. Pour the glaze across the berries slowly, and make sure to divide the sauce evenly across the two pies!

Chill for at least an hour, slice, smother with whipped cream, and enjoy!❤️

**Cauliflower ‘Mock Mac’ and Cheese

Kosher salt, as needed, plus 1/2 teaspoon

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets

Coconut oil (to oil the dish)

1 can coconut milk (or heavy cream)

3 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup finely diced red onion (or Vidalia onion)

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, plus 1/2 cup for topping the casserole

1/4 c real bacon pieces, optional

1 teaspoon paprika or chili powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to combine:

Steam the cauliflower and drain. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the coconut milk (or heavy cream), cream cheese, Dijon mustard until combined and simmering. Add the garlic powder.  Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the onions, bacon bits, and paprika (or chili powder), and pepper. Add the mixture to the cauliflower.

Use the coconut oil to oil a 9×12 casserole dish. Pour the cauliflower cheese mixture in the pan. Top with the 1/2 cup of reserved cheese. Dust with a little bit of paprika. Bake in a 350 oven for about 10-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Use Google Forms to collect family information!

It’s time to update the family book! 

Sending letters is so old fashioned, and most members don’t want to sit down and write out names, birthdays, babies, marriages…. THEN have to mail it back. (I know I put it aside and forget, too!!!)

Next time you want to collect updates and anecdotes, send out your request with a link to a google survey. (Then you can cut and paste the info, too!) Here’s a link to mine- you will need to make a copy before you can edit and use.

Steps to using my Google survey:

When you click on my document link, you will need to make a copy to use it. Depending on your device, look for three vertical dots. Clicking on that will give you a list of options. Choose copy. This will put a fully functional copy on your google drive that you can rename, edit, or use as is!

There are some great tutorials out there for creating and using Google forms. 

Once the information starts coming in, you will want to collect it in a spreadsheet. Google forms gives you the option of looking at the information from the survey itself (with neat graphs and categories) or you can collect it in a simple spreadsheet, so you can see the individual responses in columns under each question ( you can sort your information, copy/upload the information into other programs, stuff like that).

To put it into its own spreadsheet, you will need to complete one more step.

Once you’ve copied the file into your own google drive, and opened the survey, notice the area right above the name of the form. There are two tabs there. One says ‘questions’ and one says ‘responses’. Choose ‘responses’, then, you guessed it, those three little dots! 

Choose Responses, then select the three dots for the next menu.

Choose ‘select response destination’ and then make sure that you type in a name for your spreadsheet… I usually name it after the survey, with the date I started using it. 

Next, choose ‘select response destination’.

Click create, and your ready to share the form with your family members! 

After you type in a title, choose ‘Create’ to save your choices.

If you want to change the spreadsheet, the tutorial for that is here.

The last step is to share. 

I’ve been collecting emails for my relatives, so my first step will be to send an email to ‘share’ the google form link. In the email, I’ll ask those relatives to share the link with their relatives. Like ripples in a pond, the doc spreads and your family tree grows.

This is the ‘share’ icon. You start here to send emails, or to get the URL shortlink.
You can share directly from the google doc, if you have everybody’s email. You can type each email, or (the easy way!) simply cut and paste from other group emails you may have already sent or received about other family events!

You can also get a link right from the google survey that you copy and paste into a regular email, message, or other communication to family members – even in a good, old fashioned letter! (They will need access to a computer to complete the document, tho’, unless you print out a questionnaire….. )

To get a link: 1) choose the link icon; 2) check the box for a short link name; 3) copy the link.

Hembree Family Farm in Hogjaw Valley: GeoCaching Scavenger Hunt Weekend Event, Nov. 19-20, 2016

The Hembrees of Hogjaw Valley (Bryant, Jackson County, AL) are having a little get together!

All Hembree Cousins and Relations are cordially invited!

1st: if you haven’t ordered your Shirts, there is still time. We told them we would need at least 20 shirts. Deadline Oct. 29. Click here to order a shirt.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bright and Early! Project Water Tank: replace the rotting wood under the tank. 

For over 100 years, the Hembree Farm White House has been served by a natural spring with the best, sweetest water in the valley. 

photo of the spout, Hembree Farm, Hogjaw Valley photo credit: Gail Hembree

Way back ‘when’, when my dad, Sam Hembree, was in college, he cleaned out an old metal tank and hauled it up the hill, about halfway between the spring and the house to gather water and help with the flow. After many years, the metal tank (which is a story in itself! ) was replaced by a new one. Now, the wooden support under the tank needs replacing. Teamwork will make short work of this task, so we are calling all hands on board to help! 

I would encourage you to bring some clean jugs to fill with this sweet water, which you can take home and enjoy once the work is done!

Where there are Hembrees, there is food! 

After the work is done, there will be a home-cooked farmhouse style lunch. The location  will be announced once we know how many are coming. There may be a minimal cost for lunch, to help defray the cost.

 Geocaching Scavenger Hunt

After the work and the food, there will be some fun! Hogjaw Valley is a beautiful place, and Fall in the Valley is made to be outside! To celebrate and get everybody out exploring, we are hosting a special Geo-caching Scavenger Hunt.

For those of you who are not familiar with geocaching, this activity involves using map coordinates (GPS, anyone?) to find specific ‘caches’ and locations. We want everyone to have an opportunity to visit various areas of the property. There will be items to collect, certain locations will only be revealed once a cache is located, and there will be assignments to bring back either items or pictures. 

We will leave everyone to their own devices for supper and breakfast. Sunday, after breakfast, we’ll gather and produce the results of the scavenger hunt. There will be prizes and surprises. As always, stories will be told, pictures will be taken, and laughter and good times will be shared! 

Bring your genealogical info!

We also want to share our connections, so bring pictures, stories, and genealogies!
Here’s where you come in: even if you are not attending…. SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OUR FAMILY EVENT to other Hembree relations, share the Tshirt link, and share my email, , so everyone can let me know if they plan to attend!

I am currently using WikiTree for the family tree, a site that is dedicated to one link per person. Read more about this at

The Hembree’s have lived in and around the area for over seven generations. photo credit: Gail Hembree

See you in November!

Clara Hembree Maxcy

None of them measured up to Kathleen….

I remember asking my Pappaw, John B. Gordon Hembree, why he never remarried after Nanny -my grandmother, Kathleen Lasater Hembree – died. We were sitting outside, on the old metal porch chairs. He was cleaning the tobacco out of his pipe. As he reached two fingers into the bag of cherry tobacco I’d brought for his birthday, I began to gently tease him about all the ladies in the valley, and how they must’ve brought casseroles, offered to help out, and generally eyed him as an eligible bachelor. He continued to mess with his pipe, as he allowed as how there were several women that offered comfort during the years that followed her passing.

She could have had any suitor she wanted…

He told me that my grandmother was ‘right pretty’, and that she had several ‘beaus’. He said that she was from a good family over in Bridgeport, and that she could have chosen any of those ‘fellas’ she wanted. “But she chose me over all them others.” He just looked a little bemused. Then he continued, and shared with me the reason he never remarried, “None of those women were your grandmother,” he said, as he began gently repacking his pipe.

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Thanks, Pappaw. I love you, and I miss you and Nanny, very much.

When the twins were born…

More wood for the fire. More wood. The room was so very warm. But the older boys kept bringing in wood to stoke the fire, and go back outside to split more. They couldn’t afford to let the temperature drop. The twin girls, born about a month premature, had to be kept warm to survive.

My dad, Sam Hembree, has told me this story more than once. The twin girls were his little sisters, Ann and Sue. They were very tiny, born at home in the big White House in Hog  Jaw Valley on September 25. Dad was only seven, so he mostly remembers the bustling about and the visitors; lots of people coming and going. It was his older brothers, Bill and John who had the hard work of bringing down the trees and splitting the wood to keep the fires going.

It happened during the night. Ann was born first, and Kathleen sent Gordon for Mrs. Metcalf, the closest neighbor, and the midwife, Mrs.Hulvey. As he left, Kathleen began to care for her tiny newborn. Then, she felt another set of contractions. The second baby came out, cold and lifeless.

By that time, Mrs.Metcalf had arrived and called for the boys to build up the fire in the room’s fireplace. The house was heated only by wood stoves and fireplaces. While September days weren’t yet cold, nights were chilly, especially up against the shadow of the mountain where the house sat. The fire soon warmed the cold room.

Mrs. Metcalf held the tiny second baby, at barely a few pounds, and sat as close as she dared to the fire. She had to keep the child warm, for her to live. She felt the heat singing her arm hairs, as she massaged the body of the little girl, urging her to keep fighting, to breathe and live. The boys kept bringing in wood, keeping the room as hot as possible.

They named the little girl Sue.

This is a photo taken of Ann and Sue with two of their brothers, Ike on the left and Sam on the right.
This is a photo taken of Ann and Sue with two of their brothers, Ike on the left and Sam on the right.
Having children has always been a risky business. When I think of all the ‘modern’ accoutrements of birth – moms-to-be know ahead of time about twins, triplets, physical problems, through ultra-sound, monthly and weekly Doctor visits – I am solidly impressed with the acceptance and strength of the mothers who bore our ancestors: our aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins – both the babies who made it, and the babies, and some of the moms, who didn’t.

These two girls survived and thrived. I am proud to have them as my aunts. They have each shown me, throughout their lives and the challenges they’ve faced, how to live with grace and courage. Perhaps in those very challenges of their beginnings, they found the strength for their futures.

God has a plan. #liveloved

For more details of this event, read the book, Kathleen by William Lasater Hembree, published by McKnaughton and Gunn.

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