George Bert Fridell and Nannie Myrtle (Price) Fridell Family

The following excerpt is from the book @ Any Age: An Autobiographical Memoir With Genealogical and Historical Records by Ernest A. Clevenger, Jr. , © copyright 2011, and is used by permission of the author.  The book may be ordered at Amazon.com.  Click here for book description.

 

            My great-great paternal grandfather was Charlie Fridell who came to America from Germany and here married a girl named Youngblood, who was born in Cork, Ireland.  I was told that neither could speak English very well, nor the other’s language.  They settled in Marshall County, Alabama, near Guntersville. 

 

           My great-great grandfather Charlie was killed in the Civil War and his wife survived him by some fifteen years.  They had four children, my great grandfather, Isaac Fridell and Jim, Bill and Mattie Fridell.  Bill was a blacksmith and accidentally killed himself by his own weapon. After his “retirement” my father spent considerable time researching our family history and in his records on the Friday family I found a two page history of the Fridell family. Part of it reads, “Isaac Wesley (Fridell, my great grandfather), was born on December 17, 1846, married Mary I. Morrow, daughter of Joe Morrow, who had three brothers, James Polk, George and Horace, and a sister. Rebecca.
Virgil W. Morrow, Mary's cousin, and with whom I corresponded in March, 1955, and whose age was 85 years on May 17, 1955, said he remembered Ike and Mary from his boyhood days, and recalled that Minnie died when she was quite young (about 9 years old) and that Mary died when she was 48 years old, of a “choking goiter”, at Bridgeport, Alabama, and was buried in nearby Mt. Carmel Cemetery.”

             My great grandfather, Isaac, lived to be almost 91 years old, and died on Sunday, September 12, 1937 and was buried September 14, in the National Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee, with full military honors. He enlisted July 21, 1864 in the Union Army, and served as a Private, Battery C, 1st Battalion, Tennessee Light Artillery. He was honorably discharged August 1, 1865. His children recall his relating many stories and events that happened during the war, and of his driving army wagons with food provisions for two years before he was old enough to join.

            Of their nine children, two sons and seven daughters, three died young, Minnie (9 years), Ruby (4 years) and Rebecca while a baby. Sherman (b. 1880), the only other son left home in 1899 and was heard from no more. George Bert (b. June 13, 1875, d. March 31, 1961) and his four sisters, Betty M. (b. November 29, 1872, d. September 18, 1957), Lillie (b. March 23, 1878, d. August 13, 1969), Flora (b. April 16, 1882, d. August 17, 1961) and Dora Dean (b. January 15, 1892, d. May 4, 1979) all living to ripe ages.

            My grandfather, George Bert Fridell (I called him “grand pa”), as a young man lived in Bridgeport, Alabama, and worked as a stone cutter mason during the 1890's. He told me of helping to build some of the structures at The University of The South, Sewanee, Tennessee.  He also worked on the First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, located at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Oak Street. He said it was the practice then for masons to cut their initials in the large sand stones as they were shaped by hand, and that many stones in these buildings had his initials engraved on their back side.

            On a trip to Sewanee in 2009 I inquired about the buildings constructed during the 1980’s.  In one office I was told that David Bowman, an author and professor who published Sewanee in Stone

(Proctor’s Hall Press, Sewanee, TN 2003) would be the most likely source and directed to the DuPont Library where a staff member located the volume in the stacks.  Not being a patron of the school I could not check the book out of the library but later found a copy in the Nashville Green Hills Library.  While reading the book I learned that only two Sewanee buildings were constructed in the 1890’s, Walsh Memorial Hall in 1890 and Hodgson Memorial Infirmary in 1899.  Grandpa Fridell was fourteen years old in 1890 so Walsh Hall is not a likely candidate for his work.  However, Hodgson Memorial Infirmary was finished in 1899 (Sewanee in Stone, p. 86) when he would have been twenty-three years old and probably is the building he worked on at Sewanee.  Bowman states the average wage for the period was $1 per day “for nine-hour days, six days a week” or about $300 a year assuming uninterrupted work. (Page 53).  

            Grandpa Fridell was next employed by the Willingham Furniture Company in Bridgeport, Alabama, as an engineer, and went to Memphis with them when they moved their business there.  After this he worked for the Memphis Casket Company in the same capacity.  At the time, being single, he saved his money and occasionally loaned the company funds to make expenses.  He said when he was single he usually carried several hundred dollars cash on him at all times as he was afraid of the banks.
            On June 7, 1900, he married Nannie Myrtle Price of Trenton, Georgia. She was born November 6, 1878, the oldest of twelve children of my maternal grandfather Hugh Armstrong Price, II (b. June 29, 1854; d. May 24, 1931) and Sarah Ellen Craig Price (b. March 8, 1861). To this union was born eleven children. (1) Price, the oldest, was born in December 1901, but died in 1902. Dr. Donnelley (father of Milton Donnelley) said death was due to drinking unpasteurized cow milk.  (2) Aaron, the second child, was born in January, 1903, but died while they were in Memphis, and was buried there. These unfortunate incidents and their being separated from other members of their families, resulted in their moving to Chattanooga, after first shipping his tools back in care of his father-in-law, Hugh A. Price, II, who put them in storage.

            My great-great maternal grandfather was John Edward Thornton Price, born in Ireland, who married Mary Ernestine Armstrong (b. Nov. 24, 1837 in Rutherford County, Tennessee) and their son, my great grandfather, Hugh Armstrong Price, II (b June 29, 1855 in Rocky Springs, Jackson County, Alabama, d May 24, 1931) married Sarah Ellen Craig (b. March 8, 1861) in the Isaac Craig home on September 16, 1875.

            I learned later in life that my Price kinfolks were largely responsible for the early establishment of congregations of the church in Tennessee and Alabama. I compiled a history of the Rocky Springs Church of Christ from documents furnished by Howard Blazer, Sr., who had preached for the congregation, and from a history by Ralph Wharton (Unpublished), from an article written by my father and from information given me by my uncle, Lonnie Blackwell (who had preached at South Pittsburg).

            The brief history has been quoted by several Restoration Movement historians both in print and on the Internet.  My version reads as follows:

            Early in the 1800's a number of Presbyterian and Episcopalian pioneers had moved from North Carolina and Virginia into the Tennessee River Valley and adjoining areas of Tennessee, some of them founding a community in Warren County, which became known as Old Philadelphia. These were religious people, without a preacher, and they studied the scriptures together. Soon they were worshipping as one body, calling themselves Christians and the church only as the church of Christ.
            A post road from Knoxville to New Orleans was opened in 1805 and some two years later, when the territory of Alabama, then largely occupied by the Cherokee Indians, was opened to white settlers, among the first to arrive and settle in Northern Alabama was a group from Warren County, Tennessee. Some of these people located near the post road and built a community that they called Antioch. This was in 1807. Among these were William J. Price, baptized in 1811 at Old Philadelphia, Tenn., and his wife and a slave named Moses. They selected a home site near a spring they found by following a game trial, and named the place Rocky Springs. It was a little over a mile south of Antioch. W. J. Price was a prominent leader in the church until his death.

         A grave stone marker in the Rocky Springs Cemetery has this inscription:

 

William J. Price
Born January 15, 1793
Died January 26, 1868.

         A community grew up around the home of William J. Price, on the post road to Rocky Springs. A post office was established there, along with an Indian Trading Post, a tavern and stables for changing horses on the stagecoaches. On June 12, 1847, the congregation moved into a new building at Rocky Springs, abandoning the old one at Antioch. At that time there were eighty-two members, including six colored.

         Among the records is an item dated February 12, 1827, Jackson County, Alabama. It authorized James Anderson to preach the word of Truth and with the approbation of the congregation at Antioch, of which he was a member. It is signed by the elders: Elisha M. Price, William King and Andrew Russell.

         In June 1851, according to a still extant copy of the minutes, the church listed 130 members of whom twenty-six were colored. Brothers Joel B. Arendale and Thomas A. Hill were appointed deacons. Brothers George Cloud and W. J. Hughes appointed bishops.

         The Civil War was most disastrous to the church. A letter written in 1861 pointed out that there were ten widows with thirty- five children in the congregation, and that they were destitute. In the winter of 1864; the building was burned by the Union Army. Most of the members were scattered. Some returned in 1865 and resumed worship, began slowly to rebuild, completing the building in 1870. By 1875, the church had outgrown the building and a still larger one was built. the present building was erected in 1912 and additions have been made since then.

         When this writer began his investigations into the oldest congregation of the church in Alabama he did not know he would discover activities of distant relatives. Four brothers, Elisha, John, Hugh and William J. Price [Grandma Fridell’s relatives] came from Ireland and settled in Asheville, N. C. Elisha was the eldest, being born in 1770. He died in 1876, two days after he reached his l06th birthday. John Price died at the age of 110 and William lived to be more than 75 years old. Both Elisha and William were pioneer preachers of the church of Christ.

         Hugh Price had six children: one son and five daughters. The son, Ed, was born June 24, 1824 (near Rossville, Ga.) and died June 16, 1910 at the age of 86, and was buried in the Whitt Cemetery in Trenton, GA where his wife was also buried.. He was married to Mary Ernestine Armstrong (born Nov. 24, 1837 and died Dec. 11, 1912) who was reared near Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Rutherford County) by her grandfather Hughes.  They also lived in Shelbyville, Tennessee. She studied medicine in school and was known as a medical doctor although she never went into public practice.
         The Rocky Springs church records have E. T. (Edward Thornton) Price and Mary E. (Armstrong) Price, his wife, listed as members from 1884-88. Ed was the father of Hugh Armstrong Price, whose daughter, Myrtle Price Fridell, is the mother of Mary Ellen Fridell Clevenger, the writer's mother.

         William J. Price and Elder Elisha Price are the 4th great- uncles of the writer and Hugh Price, their brother, his 4th great- grandfather.  Most of the information contained in this brief history was gathered from records now (when this was written) in the possession of Howard A. Blazer, Sr., who as stated, "I have the oldest records known of the Rocky Springs (formerly Antioch) congregation. The oldest authentic records in these books began with 1847."

         It was W. J. Price who deeded the property to the Rocky Springs church for the church property and the cemetery that is now the Rocky Springs Cemetery, where he is buried.

         As a point of information for those who mistakenly suggest that the church of Christ was founded by Alexander Campbell it may be shown that Old Philadelphia church of Christ came into existence not later than 1810; that Rocky Springs (Antioch) Church of Christ began in 1807; that Campbell arrived in America September 29, 1809 and did not preach his first sermon until July 15, 1810 (At Washington, Penn.); and that Campbell did not cease to work within an association of the Baptist church until 1827; thus congregations of the church of Christ were in existence in America for at least nineteen years before Campbell laid aside his denominational ties and also began to worship according to the New Testament pattern.

         It is believed that Rocky Springs Church of Christ is the oldest continuous New Testament church in America. Brother Blazer believes it to be the oldest congregation in the world that has been in continuous existence for 168 years and is still worshipping according to the New Testament pattern.

 

            The Dade County Library in Trenton, GA has a book about the early history of the area called A History of Dade County Georgia.  Compiled and edited by Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Dade County Historical Society.  Published by Esper Publishing Company, 1981.  On page 33 is description of The Price House and Sitton Mill.  The old mill in Trenton, GA was built with material cut and sawed on Sand Mountain by Edward Price, grandfather of W. I. Price.

            Now back to the Fridell story:  they rented a house in the Orange Grove section of Chattanooga that was owned by Ed Bass, a grocer. Grand Pa had just gotten a job at the Lookout Lumber Company as engineer, and was not able to pay rent in advance.  Mr. Bass seemed to have faith in him, and he always showed his appreciation to him by voting for him the many times Bass served as Mayor of Chattanooga. They lived there two or three years and decided to buy their own home at the southeast corner of Kirby and Orchard Knob Avenues.  They paid an even $1,000.00 for the house.  In order to get the down payment Grand Pa went to Trenton, Georgia and borrowed the cash payment of $150.00 from Andy Brown.  Mr. Brown was a big farmer and at that moment did not have that much cash on him so they went to the telegraph operator at the railroad station where Mr. Brown asked him for it, and got it.  Grand Pa had repaid $i00.00 when Mr. Brown died, and he paid the remaining $50.00 to his estate.

            Grand Pa Fridell then went to work at 0derless Refrigerator Company located on East End Avenue at the Southern Railroad. But he soon quit of his own accord which made Mr. Raoul, the owner, mad.  He next bought an interest in and operated a grocery store at the corner of Bailey Avenue and Hawthorne Street.  After operating the grocery a while and doing well, he sold out at a profit, after first declining the offer.  He sold his home on Kirby for a $500 profit and bought another in Ridgedale from Ed Bass, which was located where the power station now is.  This was in 1907.
           

            Again looking for a Job Grand Pa asked a boiler inspector he knew to help him and he told him of a possible job at the Chattanooga Medicine Company in St. Elmo.  There, Mr. Griscomb gave him a job as plant engineer, Jan. 6, 1908, where he worked 32 years. The company furnished a house on Patton Street (where my mother was born May 13, 1909). (3) Isaac Thornton was born at Trenton, (4) Hugh Bert in Highland Park and (5) Harold in Ridgedale. In 1912 the Fridells built a home on Tennessee Avenue (St. Elmo) and sold it in 1916, moving to a house on St. Elmo Avenue for about 18 months. The First World was in progress and Grand Pa was persuaded by Oscar A. Crisman to move his family to a farm near Winchester, Tennessee, where he worked by nearly two years before moving back to St. Elmo and the job with the Chattanooga Medicine Company.  They lived at 3817 Longview Avenue in a house owned by the company.
 

            While working at the Oderless Refrigerator Company Grand Pa had an attack of acute appendicitis and was operated on by Doctors Sutton and Noland in his own home, in the kitchen, his appendix had burst and he was not expected to live through the night.  But he recovered.  While he was recuperating and off from work the Medicine Company continued to pay him as usual.  Mr. Griscomb had asked Mr. Raoul about Grand Pa before he was employed at the Medicine Company and was told, “He was the best damn mechanic he had ever seen, but the most temperamental, and he would see him in hell before he would give him another job.”  That was good enough recommendation for Mr. Griscomb.

            Grandpa was an electrical engineer at Chattanooga Medicine Company but he also preached much of the time; my earlier remembrance of his preaching was about Alton Park, a community adjoining St. Elmo, where the church met at 3 in the afternoon in a hall above the fire station, one of the attractions for attending with him (it meant going to church three and sometime four times each Sunday) was our being allowed to play on the fire trucks after services.

            In his brief Fridell history my dad wrote, “It was in July 1927 when I met (6) Mary Ellen, and married her December 23, 1928 in her own home on Longview Avenue. Mr. Fridell continued with the Medicine Company until they retired him when he was 65 years old. Until his death, March 31, 1961, age 85, he lived at various places, mostly with his daughter, (8) Rachel and her family,” and for several years with (10) Frances and Rusty (Dallas) in Sanford, Florida where he worked as a cabinet maker in a shop he built behind their home; and then for a while in Nashville at Lake Shore Home.”  He had moved back to Chattanooga only a few weeks before he suffered the heart attack that took him away.

            The other Fridell children were (7) Johnnie May, who lived only a year, (9) David St. Elmo, who lived three years, and (11) Theodore Patten, who lived three years.

George Bert Fridell was born June 7, 1876 and died in 1962.  He was married to Nannie Myrtle (Price) Fridell born November 7, 1878 and died March 16, 1940.


Issue:

Price Fridell
Born December, 1901 in Memphis, TN and died in 1902.

Aaron Fridell
Born January, 1903 in Memphis, TN (still born)

Issac Thorton Fridell
Born January 10, 1904 in Chattanooga, TN and died May 30, 1966.
(Richard "Dick" Fridell, Thorton's son and Richard's sons are the only decedents carrying the Fridell name.)

Hugh Bert (Hubert) Fridell
Born October, 1905 in Chattanooga and died in 1929.
(He played football for the University of Chattanooga: following a game he and his girlfriend (last name Richardson) were at a party when he fell sick, was taken to the hospital and died of pneumonia).

Harold Fridell
Born August 30, 1907 in Chattanooga, died 1927
(He was shot & killed in a saloon as the result of a gambling incident.)

Mary Ellen Fridell Clevenger
Born May 13, 1909 in Chattanooga and died January 23, 1978.

Johnnie May Fridell
Born 1910 in Chattanooga and died in 1911.

Rachel Lindsey Fridell Holder Carson
Born November 8, 1913 and died October 17, 2006 at age 93.

David St. Elmo Fridell
Born 1916 in Chattanooga and died December 25, 1919.

Myrtle Frances Fridell Shirley Dallas
Born in Winchester, TN on Chrisman Farm on the Elk River on January 13, 1919 and died July 18, 1990

Theodore (Teddy) Patten Fridell
Born July 23,1922 in Chattanooga and died in 1925.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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