Genealogical information for the family of THOMAS S. VASSEY (1811-1892)

W. E. Speer, Editor

34Clear Creek Road Marion, North Carolina 28752-9423

(828) 724-4444 e-mail: wspeer1161@ao.com

Vol. 4 AUGUST 1999


NOTE FOR ONLINE VERSION: All images have been omitted from this online version of the newsletter. However, all text has been retained. Minor editing, such as correcting typos and eliminating unnecessary spaces, has also been done.

The family geanealogy lists originally included in this newsletter havebeen significantly updated and therefore areomitted from this online version. The latest genealogy list and other family info, including photos, can be accessed online at one of the following Web Sites:

    1. http://www.MyFamily.com (restricted access, family only)
    2. http://www.genealogy.com/users/s/p/e/Wade-Edward-Speer/
    3. http://hometown.aol.com/wspeer1161/myhomepage/heritage.html


From the Editor

Welcome to the first VASSEY newsletter! It covers 1900 related VASSEY family members and some exciting new information on our earliest ancestors! My first three newsletters (vols. 1, 2 & 3) covered my fatherís SPEER family. This newsletter begins coverage of my motherís VASSEY family. Some of you received my VASSEY genealogy list several years ago; however this newsletter contains an updated descendant list, and exciting new information on our oldest ancestors, as well as family histories and photographs. This newsletter covers the descendants of George Vassey (Vasser), particularly his son Thomas S. Vassey of Cherokee Co., SC.

Extensive genealogical information on our VASSEY family has been compiled by numerous family members over the past few years. It is an exciting hobby and many of us seem to have been bitten by the same bug lately. With the help of many others, two genealogy lists are included here, one for Thomas S. Vassey and one for his sister Elizabeth. In addition to these lists, some fascinating family stories and photographs are also included.

Additional newsletters will be published as new information is gathered. If you have family stories, letters, or photographs that you would like to share, please send them in. Originals will be returned.

The VASSEY newsletters are provided free to family members! Send in your address to get on the mailing list. Family members are encouraged to copy the newsletter and distribute it to others in our family. Non family members may purchase the newsletter ($15.00 plus $1.00 shipping) by sending a check to me.


Origin of VASSEY Surname

The origins of our large VASSEY family are uncertain and the actual circumstances of their immigration to America has yet to be found. Various family members have speculated that the surname origin is French, German, Scotch-Irish, and even English. It seems most likely that they were French Huguenot immigrates, perhaps even from the town of Vassy in Normandy. Many Huguenots (Protestants) left France to escape the persecution of the majority Catholic population (see below).

Knowing that some of our probable ancestors spelled their surname VASSER (see next section), the following surname history is interesting. This information was recently posted on the VASSER Family GENFORUM Message Board on the Internet. In this account, note the various surname spellings, which have apparently existed for hundredís of years!

 "The name Vasser originated in the 13th century in the Kingdom of Lotharinga, now called Lorraine. Vavassour is not a common name, but was frequent in the 12th and 13th centuries. It derives from Vavassour (Latin Vassus Vassorum, "Vassal of Vassals") and was used as a Feudal tennant ranking immediately below a Baron or Viscount.

"In 1599 the Presbyterian Church was established in France. Henry of Navarre (Henry IV) was a champion of the protestant cause and, in 1572, opposed Henri Guise, head of the Catholic League. This resulted in the War of the Three Henrys and in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre on Aug. 24, 1572. Thousands of Protestants were slain. The religious wars were resumed and the persecution of Protestants spread over France. "The industrious, talented refugees took up residence in Holland, England, Brandenburg, and not the least, in America, where their influence is attested by a sample roll call of Hugeunot names: Revere, Bowdoin, Fanenil, Delancy, Huger, Jay, Delano, Manigault, Vasser, Galluder, Baynard." Many additional spellings of the name Vasser resulted from this migration.

"In England, Queen Elizabeth I befriended the Huguenot refugees, giving them financial help throughout her reign. However, the Vassers of England observed the religious unrest in their new environment. Among these were John Vasser and his wife Elizabeth. Born in England about 1595, John Vasser was a descendent of a Huguenot who had fled the St. Bartholonew's Day Massacre.

"No doubt because of the troubled times, John Vasser applied for a patent and permission to sail, "beyond the seas." He took the oath required and, in the old script, made his mark on a spelling of (Jo, Viccar). According to the ship's manifest, in the spring of 1635, John Vasser, his wife Elizabeth, and their indentured servant, Wm. Baker, sailed aboard the baroque "Alice" with Richard Blake as Master of the Ship. They departed from Gravesend, County Kent, England. This port was the embarking point of the London Company émigrés.

"In due time John Vasser, his wife, and servant settled in Virginia. Spellings from early records in Virginia are Verser, Valser, Vassar, Vesser, Vassor, and Veser--all descendants of the first John Vasser. Other spellings of this name include Vawser, Visser, Vausour, Vavasour, Vavazor, Vassall, and some with the prefix Le. The surname survives rarely as Vawser.

"Records show in England, in 1327, a Thomas Vassar of Essex and in 1332, a John Vassar in Meaot. In Huguenot Historical Records are found Michael Vasseur and Nicholas Vasseur who were killed by Indians in an attempted settlement of Florida.

"The above information was taken from The Descendants of John Vasser of Virginia (1635-1984): A Family History by Lyndal G. Vessar."

Could these have been our family? A possible connection is suggested below. Hopefully more research will give us an answer.


Our Earliest Known Ancestors

Some information on as many as four generations of our earliest ancestors is given below. Information on Thomas S. Vasseyís family has recently been discovered by family researcher Kathy Miller of Rock Hill, SC. However it must be pointed out that actual records proving these connections are generally lacking or confusing (not surprising given the various surname spellings). While this is the most likely picture pieced together today, it is reasonable to expect the picture will change as new information becomes available in the future. The following new information covers the previously-unknown siblings and ancestors of Thomas S. Vassey:

John Vasser (bef1765-c1815); moved from Halifax Co., VA to Iredell Co., NC My g-g-g-g-g grandfather! His son was:

George Vassey (Vasser) (c1782-c1840); b. in VA, probably Halifax Co; moved to Iredell Co., NC, then to Spartanburg Co., SC; d. in

Spartanburg Co., SC. My g-g-g-g grandfather! Their 7 children were:

1) John Vassey (Vasser) (c1806-??); b. in NC; m1 Elizabeth Watkins; m2 Rachal Ragan. Johnís 8 children (which wife is uncertain):

1) John G. Vasser (c1832-c1884)

2) Nancy Vasser (1841-??)

3) Sarah Jane Vassey (1838-1926)

4) Margaret Vasser

5) James Vasser

6) Presia (Preshey) Vassey (1828-??)

7) Esther Vassey

8) Mary S. Vassey

2) Nancy Vassey (c1810-aft1870) b. in NC; d. in Spartanburg Co., SC.

1) Mary Elizabeth Vassey (1847-1928; m. Marvel Cash.

2) Amanda Vassey (c1852-??).

3) Caldonia Jane Vassey (c1859-??); m. Dawson W. Batchor.

3) Thomas S. Vassey (1811-1892) b. in Rutherford Co., NC; m Oct 22, 1835 Manerva Amos; d. in Cherokee Co., SC.

My g-g-g grandparents! 12 children. See genealogy list herein with 1,456 descendants (& spouses)!

4) Elizabeth Vassey (c1813-1870; 7 children. See genealogy list herein with 425 descendants (& spouses)!

5) Levy Vassey (Vasser) (c1819-c1864) b. in SC; m c1851 Sarah Cash; Sarah & sons moved to AL after 1870; Levt & Sarahís two children:

1) George W. Vassey (Vasser) (1852-??); m. Narcissa Smith..

2) John Vassey (Vasser) (1856-??).

6) Cynthia Vassey (c1830-??).

7) William Vassey (c1834-??).

Although as yet unproved, this list suggests that Thomas S. Vassey had three brothers and three sisters! This certainly fits my expectation that he would have come from a large family. In addition, confusion over the proper spelling of the surname apparently existed even before Thomasí time (see comments below). The fourth child Elizabeth Vassey may be the same individual listed as a daughter of Thomas S. Vassey on the list below (see comments below).

Land records in the Courthouse in Rutherford County, NC suggest that a John Vassey was buying and selling land in the county in 1843, 1844 and 1845. This probably was the older brother of Thomas S. Vassey. Another deed recorded on May 12, 1845 connects Thomas Vassey and John Vassey in a single transaction when the County Sheriff forced the sale of a tract of land in the county owned by the two men. Other records elsewhere in the courthouse (birth, death, marriage, etc.) contain the names of hundreds of Vassey individuals, suggesting that one or more of the Vassey children (probably John? and/or Elizabeth?) raised large families in the county. However, we know that Thomas finally settled a few miles south in Cherokee Co., SC.

It is possible that our earliest ancestor listed above, John Vasser (bef1765-c1815) was descended from Peter (c1640-c1695) and Margaret Vasser. Peter was a son of John (c1595-c1650) and Elizabeth Vasser, the French Huguenots mentioned earlier as fleeing France to England and then immigrating to America in 1635. John and Elizabeth Vasser settled in the Colony of Virginia. However the possible connection spans a gap of about 150 years! Maybe new research in the future can fill in that gap.

The family of Thomasís wife Manerva Amos lived in the same area of Rutherford Co., NC. The following information, from an existing compiled family genealogy book, is known about Manervaís family:

David Cooper m. Elizabeth Wilder My g-g-g-g-g-g grandparents! Their daughter was:

Orpha Cooper m. Daniel Amos , Sr. My g-g-g-g-g grandparents! Their 9 children were:

1) John Amos (1775-1833) m. Margaret ????; 2 children.

2) William Amos (1778-1856) m. Elizabeth ???? (//-1856).

3) Elizabeth Amos (1779-??)

4) James Amos (1782-c1849) m. Elizabeth Soward.

5) an unknown sister (c1786-??)

6) Charles Amos (1790-1874) m1. Susan Richards; m2. Mary Mcelreath.

7) David Amos (1791-1856) m. Nancy Watkins My g-g-g-g grandparents! Their 5 children were:

1) Manerva Amos (1817-1907) m. Thomas S. Vassey My g-g-g grandparents!

2) Marion Amos m1. Elizabeth Massouri Cooper; m2. Rebecca Hames.

3) Temperance Amos m. Davis Hardin.

4) Joseph P. Amos m. Sarah Durham.

5) Louisa Amos m. Edmund Hames.

8) Daniel, Jr. Amos (1797-??) m. Mary Lackey.

9) Mary Amos (1800-??) m. Joshua Soward


Thomas S. Vassey and Manerva Amos

Thomas S. Vassey (1811-1892) and Manerva Amos (1817-1907), my g-g-g grandparents, are the first persons on the large genealogy list at the end of this newsletter; everyone else on the list is descended from them or married to someone who is! They married Oct 25, 1835 and lived first in Rutherford County, North Carolina. About 1850, they moved a few miles south and settled on a small farm in the northern part of Cherokee County, South Carolina, just south of the state line with North Carolina. It was a rural setting, with Chesnee, the nearest town, two miles to the southwest, and Gaffney, the County Seat, 13 miles to the southeast.

Little is known about Thomas and Manervaís life on the farm. They raised 12 or 13 children on the old home place and are buried there atop a small hill which provides a commanding view of the surrounding country side. Long ago, the property passed into the hands of others; the original home buildings are gone, but the tombstone is still present (see photograph).

In his recent book, Precious Memories The Descendants of David Landrum Vassy and Teriza Watking Vassy, Thomas Marion Vassy gives the following history of Thomas and Manerva:

"Thomas was born February 4, 1811 probably in Rutherford County, North Carolina. At the time, that area was referred to as Tryon District, and was carved into counties at a later date. Minerva was born December 8, 1817, almost surely in Rutherford County, where it is known that her family owned land. They were married when Thomas was 24 and Minerva was 18, on October 22, 1835. They had 13 children, three of whom did not survive into adulthood.

"Thomas and Minerva Vassey were members of the State Line Baptist Church, which was located about a mile and a half from their home. Thomas was a Deacon in 1865 and a trustee in 1874. ...Thomas was a farmer all his life. Cotton was his cash crop, but he is known to have grown a garden, as well.

"Minerva was blind for the last fifteen years of her life, from an unknown cause. Ethel Vassy Mullins told her daughter, Aurelia, that she remembered that Minerva lived out her latter years with her son Pinkney. Maggie Vassey, wife of William Pinkney Vassey, is quoted by relatives as saying that Minerva smoked a corncob pipe. Minerva liked cucumbers but they inevitably made her sick. Aureliaís great Aunt Eliza would tell her children before the meal to take all the cucumbers they wanted and then remove the dish from the table. But Minerva would smell them, anyway, and demand some--knowing they would disagree with her to the point of making her sick."

Virl Vassey (Mrs. Carroll Ray Vassey) of Chesnee, SC relates that in her later years, Manerva enjoyed sitting in a rocking chair in front of the fire place while using her cane to rock herself. Eventually the cane wore a hole in the floor!

Various spellings of the Vassey surname exist in Thomasís family. His family bible gives nine different surname spellings for his 13 children! The entries are Vassey, Vaysy, Vasy, Vasse, Vayse, Vasey, Vaysee, Vasa, and Vaysa. You can imagine how much confusion this has caused! Note that two of Thomasí brothers, his father, and his grandfather apparently used a tenth variation: Vasser! Consistent surname spelling was apparently not important in this family before 1900!

Perhaps the various surname spellings are not surprising when one considers the multiple spellings that apparently existed before Thomasí time (see Origin of VASSEY Surname above). Some people might be tempted to dismiss Thomasí multiple bible surname spellings as lack of education; however it seems more reasonable to assume they reflect his knowledgeable command of writing, his understanding of the long-established family tradition of varied spellings, and his understanding of the various possible pronunciations of his surname. The nine different surname spellings in Thomasí family bible are probably unique in American family history, and his bible entries are quoted elsewhere in the genealogical literature as an example of how confusing surname spellings can be!

In Thomasí bible, the spelling VASSEY is given the most times; for three of the children. The children were not compelled to keep or use the surname spellings found in the bible and most of them used VASSEY. Son David Landrum (given as VAYSE in the bible) chose to use VASSY, as do all of his descendants. Son John Jonas, Sr. (given as VASSE in the bible) chose to use VASSEY, as do all of his descendants.

The children of Thomas S. Vassey and Manerva Amos, as they are listed in the family bible:

  1. John Thomas Vassey (1837-1892)
  2. George Winfred Vassey (1839-1861)
  3. Nancy Vaysy (1840-??)
  4. Mary Matilda Vasy (1843-1927)
  5. John Jonas Vasse, Sr (1846-1931) My g-g grandfather!
  6. David Landrum Vayse (1848-1915)
  7. Emily Louise Vasey (1850-1911)
  8. Alfred Leonidus Vaysee (1853-??)
  9. Cynthia Narcisus (Toomie) (1855-1941)
  10. William Pinkey Vasa (1859-1929)
  11. Hester Vaysa (1861-1862)
  12. James Milton (1865-??)
  13. Elizabeth Vassey (??-1870) Probably Thomasí sister, not his daughter; see note below

The last entry, Elizabeth Vassey, probably was Thomasís sister, not his daughter (see above). A genealogy list at the end of this newsletter gives 423 descendants (and spouses) of Elizabeth.

Another curiosity of this Vassey family: It is not know what Thomasís middle initial "S." stands for!

Photographs of two of Thomasí children are included in this newsletter. The portrait of David Landrum Vassy and his wife Teriza Elizabeth Watkins was provided by Guy Vassy Davidson of Effingham, SC. The portrait of John Jonas Vassey, Sr. was provided by Marvin Louie Vassey of Spartanburg, SC. The two men in the photos look remarkably alike; perhaps not surprising since they were brothers.

Nearly 1,500 descendants (and spouses) of Thomas S. Vassey and Manerva Amos are shown on the large genealogy list in this newsletter!


Vassey Soldiers in Civil War

At least three of Thomasí sons fought in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. They apparently all joined together on April 13, 1861 at Limestone Springs, Gaffney in Cherokee County, SC. This is the site of present day Limestone College. They began as Privates in Company D, 5th Regiment, SC Volunteers and were mustered into active service with the Palmetto Sharp Shooters.

George Winfred Vassey (1839-1861). Died from measles at Camp Peters, Fairfax, VA in Sep or Oct, 1861.

John Jonas Vassey, Sr. (1846-1931) Company M, Palmetto Sharp Shooters, SC.

John Thomas Vassey (1837-1892) Company M, Palmetto Sharp Shooters, SC. Was sick in Richmond, VA hospital in May/June 1862 and was on sick

furlough much of 1862. Was on wounded furlough July/August 1864. Was wounded in left hand and admitted to Jackson Hospital, Richmond, VA on Oct 7, 1864. John was wounded twice, at Wills Valley and Darbytown road. John had become s Corporal before he was wounded.


Family of John Jonas Vassey, Sr.

John Jonas Vassey, Sr. was the fifth child of Thomas and Manerva. He was my g-g grandfather. He was born Jun 21, 1846 and died Mar 21, 1931. He returned home to northern Cherokee Co., SC after the Civil War and married Elizabeth Edwards (1842-1892). See his portrait elsewhere in this newsletter. John Jonas, Sr. and Elizabeth had ten children:

  1. Willie Vassey
  2. Zeno Vassey
  3. David Edward Vassey (1867-1900)
  4. John Jonas Vassey, Jr. (1869-1955) My great grandfather!
  5. Alfred Miller Vassey (1871-1945)
  6. Jonas Weldon Vassey (1872-1965)
  7. Jesse Newton Vassey (1875-1949)
  8. Jeff W. Vassey (1875-1917)
  9. Luther Cornelious Vassey, Sr. (1877-1948)
  10. Virgil L. Vassey (1884-1931)

The picture of John Jonas, Sr. with four of his sons was taken in front of the family house north of Highway 11, just east of Chesnee, Cherokee County, SC. Although undated, it appears to have been taken about 1890(?). Today, only part of this house is still standing; it has been incorporated into a newer and expanded house. It sits at the intersection of two county roads less than a mile east of the center of Chesnee.

Elizabethís parents were Judge Edwards and Celia Ann ????. Elizabeth was born Jun. 16, 1842 and died Oct 23, 1892. John Jonas, Sr. and Elizabeth Edwards are buried at Arrowood Baptist Church Cemetery, Chesnee, Cherokee County, SC. Great-granddaughter Estelle Vassey Speer recalls the day of her great-grandfatherís funeral. She was 9 years old. It rained as his body was carried in a pine box casket on a two-horse wagon from his home east of Chesnee to the cemetery west of town. A possession of cars followed the wagon in the rain.


Family of John Jonas Vassey, Jr.

John Jonas Vassey, Jr. was born Jul 6, 1869. He was my great grandfather. He married Leila Cooper (1874-1937) and they had 3 children:

  1. Lawrence Edward Vassey (1894-1973) My grandfather!
  2. William Earl Vassey (1898-1975)
  3. Meta Vassey (1900-1980)

The portrait in this newsletter of his family was drawn by g-g grandson Edward Shanon Wood. The lady standing in the portrait is Leilaís sister Rosa Cooper Staten, who was deaf due to a childhood accident. The picture in this newsletter of the familyís house was provided by grandson Marvin Louie Vassey (the artist is unknown). The remodeled house still stands on the northwest edge of Gaffney, Cherokee Co., SC.

Leilaís parents were Dr. William Cooper (1846-1923) and Rhoda ???? (1850-1906). Leila was born in 1874 and died Sep 30, 1937. Her siblings were: Garnet, Oscar, Ozro, and Rosa.

John Jonas, Jr. and Leila are buried in the Providence Baptist Church Cemetery about 1 1/2 miles north of the center of Gaffney, SC.

Granddaughter Estelle Vassey Speer recalls that her fatherís house and her grandfatherís house were close enough together that the families frequently visited by walking back and forth. Estelle and her father often walked together to her grandfatherís house to visit on Saturdays. On several occasions, John Jonas, Jr. picked Estelle up in his one-horse carriage and took her to his house for extended visits. John Jonas Jr. was a farmer with cultivated fields and a large garden. He also raised cows, pigs, goats and horses. During the Fall harvest, thrasher-machine crews were hired to cut the fields and Leila would spend weeks thereafter cooking and canning. Estelle especially remembers Leila frequently cooking cornbread and hoecakes (wheat bread) on coals raked out onto the fireplace hearth. An ever-present coffee can of mixed butter and molasses to spread on the breads was kept on the back side of the kitchen wood stove.


Family of Lawrence Edward Vassey

Lawrence Edward Vassey, my grandfather, was the oldest son of John Jonas Vassey, Jr. He was born Mar. 14, 1894 and married Helen Estelle Duncan (1898-1967) on Oct 26, 1919 (see portraits). Lawrence served in the US Army during W.W.I, although his large size excluded him from battlefield duties; instead he served stateside as a cook (see picture of Lawrence in military uniform).

Lawrence joined Apr 6, 1917 at the age of 23. He served in 3rd Company Coast Artillery Company, SCNG until Sep 26, 1918 when he was transferred to Headquarters Company 36 CAC. On Nov 9, 1918, he transferred to HQ Co 34 CAC until his honorable discharge on Dec 4, 1918. Lawrence made Private First Class on Jul 6, 1918 and Cook on Sep 4, 1918.

After the war, he worked as a carpenter and cook for the Civilian Conservation Corps at Sumter, SC from at least 1933 until honorably discharged Oct 1935 to accept employment. For some time he worked as a carpenter for his father-in-law, Walter T. Duncan He became a City patrolman and later retired as a Police Captain in Gaffney. Lawrence and Helen lived on Poplar Street in Gaffney and had one daughter, Larry Estelle Vassey (my mother). The pictures in this newsletter of Lawrence and Helen were provided by their daughter Estelle Vassey Speer of Marion, NC. The portraits of Lawrence and Helen, Estelle, and Clarence were drawn by Estelleís grandson Edward Shanon Wood.

Helenís parents were Walter Thomas Duncan and Minnie Susan Barrett. They lived only a short walk from Lawrence and Helen and both families frequently visited each other.

Lawrence was always known for his large size; not so much fat, just large. As an adult, he was six feet three inches tall and weighed as much as 300 pounds! In the accompanying picture of his eighth-grade class, the big fellow on the end is not the teacher; thatís Lawrence! He was 19 years old at the time and weighted 245 pounds! Apparently he had entered school at an older age than the other kids. He was not only larger than the other kids, but older as well. In those days, the eighth grade was the last year of compulsory education.

I remember my granddad as a "gentle giant" who was fond of taking his five-year-old grandson fishing! Every time my parents brought me to visit, Granddad would be waiting with his car loaded with fishing poles, food, drinks, and his home-grown fishing worms! He raised his own worms in numerous bathtub-sized boxes scattered in various shady places around his house. He sold the worms for extra income which probably came in pretty handy after he retired. It was also handy for his own fishing trips! He even raised his own special cane, which he cut and rigged as fishing poles.

Soon after arriving at his house, we would be on our way to some small fishing pond out in the country. Sometimes he would take me to a commercial catfish pond, but usually we would go to a private pond that he knew about and had already acquired permission for us to fish. He knew of numerous such ponds and we seldom fished the same pond more than once. Bank fishing with cane poles, bobbers and worms was his style and I remember many pleasant hours spent with him, trying to entice bream onto our hooks. We usually caught quite a few and Granddad was a pro at cleaning and cooking them. Grandma generally required him to cook the fish on the home-made grill beside the goldfish pond in the yard, and together they would make it an outdoor fish fry for the whole family!

I remember one particular fishing trip when the bream fishing was so good that we ran out of worms. Soon we were digging up worms at a creek-side spot deep in the woods that he knew about since he had been there before. Granddad was doing the digging, but his eyesight was beginning to fail him and he could not see the large number of suitable worms that he was uncovering. So I pitched in and was gathering the worms into a can as he dug. When he uncovered a tiny snake, I hesitated to grab it; but without saying a word, he grabbed it and put it in the can! I thought he had mistaken the tiny snake for a large juicy worm! I was afraid to even carry the can after that, much less reach in and grab a worm! Upon returning to the pond, I was much relieved to see him first sort through the can and withdraw the snake! It was on his hook and in the water before I was even baited up. Only moments later, Granddad landed the largest bass I had ever seen!

Granddad had quite a Ďgreen thumbí and raised a large garden anyone would be proud of. Although the garden was large, no tractor ever touched it; he prepared the soil before planting by plowing with a push cultivator! Each row was lovingly laid out with corn, beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Each plant got individual care. Watering was done with hoses carried from row to row. As usual the garden produced far more than the two of them could eat and much seasonal food was shared with nearby family and friends. Large quantities of food were canned for later use and sharing. Often the quantity of garden foods exceeded their ability to can at home, and they took advantage of the community canneries that operated during harvest time. I remember several occasions when I helped prepare vegetables for canning, loaded Granddadís car to the limit, and waited our turn at the cannery. When our time came, things moved fast: vegetables were cooked first in large steam cookers, then dumped into hoppers that fed into tin cans passing underneath on conveyor belts. The loaded cans were then sealed and passed into another oven for final cooking. Then the hot cans were cooled in a water bath and hand loaded back into the car for the trip home. I can remember the thrill of Mom opening some of these cans during winter time and we would have almost-fresh vegetables from Granddadís garden!

Helen died Nov 1, 1967 and Lawrence died Oct 16, 1973. They are buried in Frederick Memorial Gardens Cemetery about six miles north of Gaffney, SC.


Family of Estelle Vassey

Larry Estelle Vassey, my mother, was born Nov 21, 1921 and married Clarence Gordon Speer (1920-1987) on Aug 16, 1942 (see portraits). Estelle and Clarence were sweethearts at Gaffney High School and married a few months after she graduated from Limestone College. Dad worked in the telephone industry and they lived in several places in SC and GA before settling down near Marion in McDowell County, NC, where Mom still lives. While the children were growing up, Mom worked as a receptionist at the phone company and after we were grown, she worked for the County Social Services for nearly 21 years before retiring in 1986. Dad died Sep 14, 1987 and is buried in Frederick Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Mom and Dad had 3 children:

  1. Larry Scott Speer b. 1945 m1. Gina Davis (2 children); m2. Julie Dare Stalings (1 child).
  2. Wade Edward Speer b. 1947 m. Elizabeth Olmstead, divorced.
  3. Clarissa Ann Speer b. 1948 m1. Jimmy Wood (1 child); m2 Tommy Hall (1 child); m3 Jerry Kilgore, divorced.

See my 1998 book WILLIAM SPEER (1747-1830) ABBEVILLE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA HIS LIFE, FAMILY AND DESCENDANTS and my WE SPEER FAMILY HISTORY NEWSLETTER v. 1, 2, & 3 for Clarenceís ancestors and descendants.


Descendant Lists

The two genealogy lists on the following pages cover 1900 VASSEY family members! The first list covers the descendants of Elizabeth Vassey (c1813-1870) who was probably a sister to Thomas S. Vassey. She and many of her descendants lived in Rutherford, Co., NC just north of the line with Cherokee Co., SC. The second list covers the descendants of Thomas S. Vassey and Manerva Amos who lived in the northern part of Cherokee Co.


 NOTE FOR ONLINE VERSION: The original genealogy lists has been omitted from this online version of the newsletter. See NOTE on cover page.



TEXT FOR PHOTOS (See NOTE on cover page)

Tombstone of Thomas S. Vassey and Manerva Amos Vassey

Vassey Cemetery, Cherokee Co., SC


John Jonas Vassey, Sr. (1846-1931)


David Landrum Vassey (1848-1915) and Teriza Watkins(1856-1911)


John Jonas Vassey, Sr and Sons at House Chesnee, Cherokee Co., SC c1890?

l. to r.: John Jonas Vassey, Sr. (1846-1931); Virgil L. Vassey (1884-1931); John Jonas Vassey, Jr. (1869-1955); Luther Cornelious Vassey, Sr. (1877-1949); Jonas Weldon Vassey (1872-1965).


John Jonas Vassey, Jr. Family

seated: John Jonas Vassey, Jr. (1869-1955); Lelia Copper (1874-1937); William Earl Vassey (1898-1975); Meta Vassey (1900-1980). standing: Lawrence Edward Vassey (1894-1973); Rosa Cooper Staten. Drawn by g-g grandson Edward Shanon Wood.


House of John Jonas Vassey, Jr. Gaffney, South Carolina Artist unknown


1913 Central School 8th Grade Class Gaffney, South Carolina

Lawrence Edward Vassey (1894-1973) standing with hands together


Lawrence Edward Vassey ( 1894-1973)and Helen Estelle Duncan (1898-1967)

Drawn by great grandson Edward Shanon Wood from Oct 26, 1919 wedding photo


Lawrence Edward Vassey ( 1894-1973) World War I Uniform May 10, 1918


Larry Estelle Vassey (1921) Clarence Gordon Speer (1920-1987)

Drawn by grandson Edward Shanon Wood