Tri-County Observer (Monroe Co. TN) August 3, 1977:
“A Remarkable Woman---Hear my story of an exceptional person, who met her tasks of life with resolution, confidence and efficiency.
Born in Monroe County, isolated from the great outside, without formal schooling or cultural experience, this mountain girl married at 20 and cared for a family which grew to 12.
Her home, a one-room log cabin, her cooking, the fireplace. Water was fetched by crossing the creek on a log and dipping from a spring. The family lived off the land, bartered for a few things lacking. Her little flock provided the wool which she cleaned, carded, spun and wove for bedding and clothes. She milked two cows and fed a few hogs and chickens.
Corn, grown on their small clearing, ground in a local mill, powered by water-wheel provided their main staff of life. Her men-folks with their homemade rifles, bullets and powder enriched their meals with wild turkeys, deer, pigeons, raccoons and tree squirrels. In early spring she pushed the snow aside under the trees looking for truffles, wild onions, lettuce and other goodies of the forest to balance the family diet.
During the Civil War, a lawless band of guerillas raided her home, kidnapped her husband and carried away all her food and bolts of woven cloth, including an unfinished one on her loom. This was the first time she was seen to weep, but not for long. In a few days her husband escaped, as she knew he would and organized a company of sharp-shooting mountain men who decimated the guerillas on their second attempt which ended all future raids.
In 1876, the year General Custer and his cavalry were wiped out by Chief Sitting Bull in the battle of the Little Bighorn, the family departed for California. Some families of Blacks came to see them off and cried like little children. They realized that they were to lose forever all the help and love from this remarkable mountain woman when they were ill or in need.
The family left on an immigrant train seven years after Governor Leland Stanford drove the gold spike at Promontary Point, Utah, in celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Meals were cooked on pot-bellied stoves and served on oilcloth covered boards placed across the backs of the seats. You can be sure that they had a good supply of their own ground corn, roasted wild turkeys and other mountain food to carry them most of the way.
The same boards supported their bedding at night. They suffered severe cold through the Sierra snow sheds near Truckee but were rewarded by warm spring sunshine when they got off the train at Marysville, California. After scouting a few hours for a job, the husband returned with good news: a contract to clear the 240 acre Crum Ranch 1 1/4 miles north of Live Oak, Sutter County. The live oak forest was so dense one needed a compass to avoid getting lost. The reward was $1,000, plus the right to the first crop of wheat. The wood cut in four foot lengths was used to fire the Southern Pacific engines which ran beside the farm. In 1889 this farm was purchased by the oldest son and was known as the J.M.H. Ranch.
After completing their contract, the family moved to Shasta County where they homesteaded a section of land in the Churn Creek area below Redding, bordering the Sacramento River. There, they built a large home, planted an apple orchard in the low land near the river and raised their large family until they were old enough to go out on their own.
When the great Berkeley fire destroyed our new home on Virginia Street in 1924, it was not the loss of the house that caused our greatest grief, it was a woolen bedspread, in the center of which was a beautiful design of yarn, colored with native dyes from the Tennessee mountains.
Who was this remarkable woman? My beloved grandma, Elizabeth Young Hampton (1838 - 1912), the pioneer with perseverance, ability and courage, qualities still needed in our country today. Visits to Grandma were the highlights of our lives. She took us fishing down by the river, gathered red apples for us, and cooked things she knew we liked to eat. Her many grandchildren will never forget her.”
Charles L. Hampton 1805 Alice Street, Apt. 508 Oakland, California, 94612