Please welcome guest blogger Matthew Burns of Pendleton County WV, author of the recently begun Appalachian Lifestyles blog. “My goal in starting this blog was to create a forum where I could share my colorful family stories,” he tells me, and the following story certainly fits that bill.
A few days ago, I received from a distant cousin a photo of my great-great-great grandfather and my great-great aunt, Solomon Hedrick & Mahala Teter. I had never before seen this photograph and seeing it reminded me of their story.
The story begins with Mahala’s parents, Samuel and Sidney (Wimer) Teter. When Mahala was 10 years old, her father Samuel died in a farming accident. A few years later, the widow Sidney gave birth to a daughter, which she named Sidney Teter. No matter how you look at it, there is no way possible that the baby belonged to Samuel Teter. Word got around, and it turned out that the widow Sidney had been laying with Solomon Hedrick and that the baby belonged to him. With the secret out, Solomon and the widow Sidney made their relationship known and Solomon acknowledged the child as his own, but here is where it gets colorful.
About this time a man named Cornelius Ketterman, whom the widow Sidney had grown close to in the months following her husbands death came back into the scenario. According to stories, Cornelius was really in love with the widow Sidney and promised to marry her after some time had passed (she was in mourning) and when the War was over (in those days, men thought the War of Northern Aggression would only last a few months).
Well, when ole Cornelius came back into the picture, the widow Sidney cut it off with Solomon Hedrick and took up again with Cornelius. It wasn’t long until she and Cornelius had a son together, and soon thereafter Cornelius went back into the Confederate Service where he was captured and sent to the Yankee Prison Camp in Camp Chase, OH. He died there. The widow Sidney was once again left alone, only this time with two young children to raise.
In the meantime, a new romance was budding, this one between Solomon Hedrick and Mahala Teter. I guess Grandpaw Solomon thought if he couldn’t have the mother, then by golly, he’d have the daughter. Mahala and Solomon were no relation, per se, since she was the daughter of the widow Sidney’s first marriage. As time passed, Mahala and Solomon were married, and the widow Sidney moved in with them with her two children, a girl by Solomon and the boy by Cornelius. By all accounts, the widow Sidney approved of the marriage between her daughter and her former suitor, and always held Solomon in high regard because he was a good provider.
The daughter of the widow Sidney and Solomon Hedrick that was named Sidney Teter, soon took on her father’s surname as well, and became Sidney Teter Hedrick. She was my great-great grandmother. I wonder how she really felt about her sister being her step-mother? About her father being her brother-in-law? She didn’t get married until she was 19 years old, which in those days was a little long in the tooth, so I can only guess that she must have been comfortable with the whole situation.
When the daughter Sidney Teter Hedrick married Miles Thompson, they built a house next door to Solomon, Mahala and the widow Sidney, and lived there the rest of her life.
I know there has to be more to the story than what I’ve been able to collect from family stories and historical records and such. I’d say there is a very interesting story here somewhere…lost in the recesses of time. My how tongues must have wagged!