Tucker Historical Society

on February 20, 2011 in Tucker Historical Society

Photo of Roy Hutchens - Courtesy of Tucker Historical Society, Inc.

“You need to go to that meeting tonight, Diane,” said Mama. “Roy Hutchens is an extremely knowledgeable person on Tucker, and he is getting on up there in years. You don’t get a chance to hear him very often.”

“I am. I’m going tonight. He’s speaking on Main Street at a restaurant near Fountain’s Drugs – after hours.”

“Alright! Now come by the house when it’s over, and let me know what all he had to say,” said Mama.

“Why don’t you go with me, Mama? You’ll know the people there, and I don’t.”
“Because I just don’t feel like it. My knees are bothering me, and I’ve already got my gown on. You go on, and no matter how late it is, come by the house. I want to hear everything he says.”

So here I sat, in a room of strangers, though a few of them looked familiar. Trish England seemed to be in charge. I reminded her that she etched a sketch of my son, James, when he was about three years old. Cookies and sodas was served, and soon everyone settled down for the special guest speaker, Roy Hutchens.

Trish introduced him. “We are extremely proud to have a distinguished authority on Tucker, with us tonight. Our guest has been a reporter, writer, and editor, a successful career – all started out on a typewriter he bought for ninety-eight cents. Most Tuckerites know him from his column posted in the Eagle, Tucker Federal’s newsletter. His column ran for over twenty-six years. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure – and the pleasure of the Tucker Historical Society – to present, Mr. Roy Hutchens.”

A small and somewhat frail, elderly man hesitantly took the floor. He was dressed in a casual tweed suit, which was topped off with a snappy bow-tie. He seemed very unassuming and shrugged off the grand introduction. “Well, I do know history – concerning the Tucker area. I also know Lilburn history. I’m afraid you are going to get more than you asked for, because I do not know how to separate the two. You cannot have one without the other, so please bear with me. And if I go on too long, Miss England, please just raise your hand and I’ll wrap it up. There is really no end to it all, and I don’t want to tire y’all out too much tonight.”

“Mr. Hutchens, we want you to talk all night if you can. We want to hear whatever you have to say!”

Everyone was in agreement and supported Trish England’s statement. Mr. Hutchens placed his hands behind his back and assumed a speaking posture. He spoke, and held a captive audience. I cannot recall all he said, but I do remember a story about genealogy. I will paraphrase him to the best of my ability.

“You must know your genealogy,” he stated. “It is imperative! If you do not know who you were, you will not know who you are! I’ll give you an example. But first, let me tell you a little bit about DeKalb County – the county where we find Tucker, Georgia. The first known reports about DeKalb County, stated the area was covered densely with trees. Trees so big they covered the sky, which sometimes made it  hard to tell the time of day. The ground was covered in thick pinestraw. When the pioneers began to clear the land, they found the pinestraw lay thick – so thick – it went all the way up to a man’s shoulders.

Back in the Indian and early settler days, maybe back in about 1823, the DeKalb County border went all the way up to the Chattahoochee River – up where now Holcombe Bridge Road crosses over the river into Roswell. The Chattahoochee divided the nations – so to speak. The Native American side of the river was what is now known as Roswell. The early settlers encouraged by James Monroe, were on the opposite side of the river. That’s where they were supposed to stay. But, I’ll tell you what happened. I’m not saying it was right. I’m not saying it was wrong. I’m saying that this is what happens when you have pretty Native American women on one side of the river, and healthy robust men on the opposite side of that same river,” he paused and laughed. “Yes sir, I’ll tell you what happens. The men swim across the river!”

Everyone laughed and was in agreement with Mr. Hutchens. Knowing he had not offended anyone, he went on, “And over time, the men took wives, and brought them across the Chattahoochee to live amongst the settlers. And, some frontier men stayed on the Indian side, and lived with them as family.”

“And there was just such a man who took a bride, and they lived on the settler’s side of the river. They were married before the Creeks and Cherokees and before God. They raised a family. One day, the man said to his wife, ‘I know we are married before God and am satisfied with that, but I feel a need to file our marriage with the US government. I want you and our family protected, in case something should ever happen to me.’ He packed up his family in a buckboard wagon pulled by mules, and took them all the way to Jefferson, Georgia. There he went in the courthouse, and filed the union. Now, it was legal in the eyes of the white man’s government too. As the years went on and generations passed, the story of the couple who filed their rights with the government in Jefferson County, was passed down in the family. This blended family knew their rights.”

Mr. Hutchens paused to drink water and collect his thoughts. He took on a serious tone and continued, “You know, the world has not, and is not, always fair. I know that all of you have heard the story of the Trail of Tears. Yes, it happened, and it came to the descendants of this couple. The family was given a choice. They could stay and continue to carve out a life here in Georgia, or they could go out west with the Cherokees, and live on a new reservation. They were told that life would be good out west – a new opportunity. Some decided to stay in Georgia, while others went west.”

Mr. Hutchens paused as he carefully chose his words, took another sip of water, and continued, “And generations passed, and this separated family lost contact with each other. In fact, they were all but forgotten as a family. And we all know what happened to the reservation out west. After a time, the government allowed white settlers to take that land – which belonged to the Cherokees. Expansion! It was called!”

“This particular family was told to get off their land. When the family stood up for their rights, they were told to – ‘take it to court.’ Upon taking it to court, they were thrown out of court! They were told, ‘Redskins don’t have a right to the court system! Only white men held that right!’ So, this family was destitute, as were hundreds others. This family came together, and pondered what to do. They opened the family bible to read a verse or two for inspiration.” Mr. Hutchens smiled and looked us all in the eyes, “And, boy did they get it.”

Roy Hutchens quietly paced a bit, and then decided to share his smile with us. “A member of the family took the bible and read the words written inside the front page. That day, they read about their family back in Georgia, and how that marriage was filed in Jefferson, Georgia.  They contacted that family. The Georgia family knew of the family members out west, because it had been passed down orally – generation to generation. An attorney along with papers filed in Jefferson County, were sent out west to the family. They were well  represented in court. They were awarded many acres of land. I believe, if I’m correct, about a hundred acres.”

We all clapped. Mr. Hutchens beamed as he said, “I told you it was important to know your history – state, county, township, and family. It could mean everything to you one day. But the story about this family gets even better.”

“One of the descendents of that family who went west, born in 1879 in Oklahoma, learned how to lasso so that he could work his family’s cattle ranch. He was taught how to use a rope by a freed slave. This descendent won roping contests, began to speak publicly, and eventually became a philosopher of sorts. He starred on Broadway and seventy-one movies and wrote over four thousand syndicated newspaper columns. He befriended presidents, kings, and senators. He became well known for statements – simple yet profound.”

 

SmilingMamaand Diane

Helen Diane Story and Annie Helen Voyles-Story

If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned.


I never met a man I didn’t like.


Live your life so whenever you lose, you’re ahead.

 

“Well, if you guessed Will Rogers, you are correct,” said Roy Hutchens as he took a bow.

 

“Well, Di, what did you think of Roy Hutchens?” asked Mama.

“Oh Mama, he was fabulous!”

“Come on in. I’ve tea made. I want you to sit down and tell me all about it.”

 

 

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