Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lishie and Tishie Tedder

Tedder twins Suwannee County Florida
Tishie and Lishie Tedder
(about 1880)

In rural Suwannee County, a few miles north of the small town of Wellborn, a set of twins were born on Valentine's Day in 1877. Their father, John Henry Tedder, had been home for 12 years from the war between the states where he served the last 5 months of the war as a POW at Camp Chase, Ohio. He was a simple farmer with a large family; Lishie and Tishie were his 8th and 9th children. Their mother, Harriet Ellis Tedder was a native Floridian whose father, Henry Vinson Ellis, a Seminole War veteran; had passed away around 1850 before he was able to witness the marriage of his daughter.

Reconstruction, the era after the war, was a tough time for the former Confederate States. The war had devastated rail lines, steamboats, and farms. Poverty was prevalent throughout the South where most people only ate what they grew or hunted. Life was no different for the Tedder family. With 8 girls and 1 boy, working the farm was a daunting task. John Henry enlisted the help from his young brother-in-law, Joseph Ellis, who had also enlisted in the 1st Florida Cavalry

Two years after the twins were born, the Tedders welcomed another baby girl into the home. Lula was the 9th daughter, and last to be born of the 10 children. The oldest daughters, by this time, had already married and moved out of the household.

About 2 years later, tragedy would strike the Tedders when George, the only son, was killed when  a tree fell on him in a logging accident. He was 21 years old. The twins were only 4. Naturally, the loss of his only son would affect John Henry immensely. He had lost his help on the farm, and lost the only means of the Tedder surname to be passed on to future generations. Just 1 year later, on the 2nd of Aug, 1882; John Henry Tedder passed on to be with his heavenly Father. It would be 12 years before his widow, Harriet, would marry again.

Example of a palmetto thatch house
As one could imagine, the following years must have been unbearable for the family with both men of the house dead. The family was now living in a palmetto thatch hut in Lafayette County, Florida. Families in rural Florida during the 19th century had to endure the Florida summer heat, humidity, mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and other pests. Not to mention one would have to fight off the occasional gator and snake. Living in a palmetto thatch house made things worse by being open to the elements and living on a dirt floor.


In 1893, at the age of 14, Lishie Tedder married Robert Cribbs at the Lafayette County Courthouse. Robert was a farmer in the Old Town area of Lafayette County. Between 1892 and 1909 they were to have 7 children together, only 4 survived to adulthood: Lenora "Nolie", Daisy, George, and Ulus. By 1910 Lishie and Robert's marriage had turned sour. It is unknown what caused the friction in the relationship, but by 1914 Lishie had married her second husband, Simeon E. Sapp. 

Simeon was born around 1865 near Troublesome Creek in Echols County, Georgia to Mathew and Lucy Ammons Sapp. Simeon had been previously married to Mary "Mollie" Dixon a widow originally from Sumter County, Georgia. Simeon and Mollie had a farm in Lafayette County a few miles west of Branford near the Suwannee River. They never had any children together, but had 2 of Mollie's daughters from her previous marriage living with them. In 1913, Mollie succumbed to an illness and was buried in Maypop cemetery not far from their farm.

Lafayette County Courthouse
(early 1900s)
On December 28th of 1914 Simeon and Lishie wed at the Lafayette County Courthouse. Lishie's children from her previous marriage to Robert Cribbs remained with their father. Lishie was free to start a new family with her new husband in a wooden house on the farm. This would be the first wooden house that she remembered living in. Gone were the days of palmetto thatch huts.

In 1918 Lishie announced that she was carrying a child. This would be Simeon's first biological child. He had already helped raise 2 stepdaughters and a nephew, Payton Cooper, who was now living with him and helping him on his farm. He treated Payton like he was his own son. Now he was to have a child of his own. Sadly, 9 months later, the baby died in it's infacy.

Harriet Ellis Tedder Herring
with her 2nd husband Joseph Herring
 By summer of 1919, Lishie was expecting another child. S.E. Sapp was born on the 2nd day of April, 1920 to an elated Simeon and Lishie. Lishie's mother Harriet, now a widow, came to stay with them to help take care of the young toddler. Life would not remain joyful, however, as Harriet passed away not long after moving in with Simeon and Lishie. She was interred in Sandhill Cemetery, Dixie County, alongside her deceased husbands.

Tragedy would strike again in the Sapp family as Simeon would lose his brothers Mathew in October 1923 and Irvin in February 1924. Hard times had fallen on Simeon and his family and he lost his farm to creditors so he was forced to move. He planned to move to Marion County and stay with some distant relatives. He placed Lishie and S.E. on a train and sent them ahead, as he tied up loose ends and finished packing the wagon. Little did he know that when he said goodbye, it would be the last time he was to see his wife and 4 year old son again.

About four years prior, Simeon had contracted tuberculosis and over the next few years the disease had taken it's toll on him. After packing his wagon, he set out on the journey on horseback. It was early spring of 1924 and the wind still had a cool bite to it, especially in the rain. On a late evening in April he stopped at a house, south of Williston, for lodging. He never woke up from his sleep.

Simeon Sapp was buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery on the Levy and Marion County line. Without a marker, his grave has been lost to time.

Not long after this, Irvin Sapp's estate was adjudicated and settled. His brother, Simeon, was to have received a decent chunk of money for that time, but it was too late. So, Simeon's portion went to his only heir, young S.E. 

As S.E.'s legal guardian, Lishie was able to use a portion of this inheritance to buy them a home on 6 acres of land between Bronson and Chiefland. It was here that Lishie would meet her next husband, Wallace "Rabbit" Jones. They were wed on the 19th of February, 1925. Lishie and S.E. moved in with Wallace and rented out their home. When Mister Jones started abusing the young boy, Lishie left him and got a divorce. She was unable, however, to evict the tenants in her home. So they packed up what little they had and moved in with her daughter Daisy in Island Grove, Alachua County near the city of Cross Creek where, a few years later, Marjorie Kinnan  Rawlings would write The Yearling. 

In 1929, Lishie's son, Ulus had worked out a deal for her to purchase 40 acres of land in the Newberry area of Alachua County for $200 plus the deed to her home in Levy County. So it was here that Lishie lived for many years along with S.E.; working the farm and living a poor country life for many years. 

She married for the last time to Mr. William H. Bell in 1934. He was a poor farmer who talked Lishie into moving to Columbia County and working a farm up there. He persuaded her to sell everything they had aside from a milk cow and a horse. He took the money and disappeared. He was not seen again until months afterward when he showed up drunk. He left the next day and Lishie never saw him again. Mr. Bell would pass away in 1940. 
Ingrid's Restaurant Newberry Florida
Lishie at Ingrids Restaurant
Newberry Florida about 1965

Sometime later, after S.E. was married and had children, Lishie once again moved into the town of Newberry in a small wooden house next to the restaurant that S.E. had built called "Ingrid's." That building is now the Newberry Animal Hospital. She struggled most of her life financially, but whenever times were extremely hard and she needed help, she received help from her twin, Tishie.


Tishie Tedder's life turned out quite differently than her twin's. Although their lives started out the same, growing up in a palmetto thatch hut in rural Lafayette County, Tishie would live more at ease.

She was married in 1893, at the age of 16, to Reverend Charlie Holmes in Lafayette County. He was a farmer, as was most people living in Lafayette County at that time. They lived together childless for nearly a decade. At one point, they had a nephew, Rube Tedder, living with them; but never had children of their own. It is unclear what caused the marriage to dissolve, but by 1905 Tishie was out of Charlie Holmes's house and working between Trenton and Fanning Springs.

Tishie was staying at the Barker's house helping Mrs. Barker around the house. Mrs. Barker was pregnant at the time so the household chores fell primarily on Tishie to take care of. Obviously, this job was not to last. When Mrs. Barker had her child, Lottie, Tishie was let go as their house servant. With nowhere to go, the Barker's suggested trying to work for someone they knew in Jasper, Hamilton County. So Tishie hopped on a train heading north, unsure of what was to come.

As a side note: It is said the unincorporated town of Lottieville was named after the baby, Lottie Barker.

hamilton county courthouse jasper floridaTishie arrived in Jasper to the house of one of the more prominent and well known citizens of the area at that time, Judge Bartow B. Johnson (B.B. Johnson.) She knocked on the door and someone answered the door and explained the judge was not home at the moment. Tishie explained that she was there looking for a job as a servant and was sent by the Barker's. She was let in and given a tour of the house, which incidentally, was next to the courthouse where the judge worked.

Tishie made her way into the kitchen and began cooking a meal to try to impress the judge so that he would hire her. When Judge Johnson arrived home that evening, the aroma of Tishie's labor filled the air. He immediately said that if the food tasted as good as it smelled he would marry whoever cooked it. Needless to say, Tishie got the job.

The judge held true to his promise. On the 20th of January 1906, Tishie and B.B. Johnson married in Lowndes County, Georgia; where most of his family was from. Roughly nine months later, on the 17th of October 1906, a daughter was born. Tishie was 29 years old. The joy that a child brought into this house, unfortunately, would not last.

Grave of Eunice Mae Johnson
Evergreen Cemetery
Jasper, Florida
On the 26th of May, 1910, Eunice Mae Johnson passed away at the age of 3. It is unknown the cause of death. Tishie would never bear another child again.

Aside from the death of their only child, life was prosperous for the couple. The judge continue serving his community at the courthouse and Tishie continued filling his belly with amazing southern cooking.

Judge Bartow B. Johnson passed away on the 16th of November, 1940 at the age of 79. Tishie continued living in the house that they had lived in for nearly 4 decades. She would occasionally visit her twin sister, Lishie, in Newberry. In 1945, she was staying with her nephew, S.E. after the birth of his first child, Pauline. Tishie always seemed to be there for the family when they needed her.

Grave of Tishie Lou Tedder Johnson
Evergreen Cemetery, Jasper, Florida
Shortly after ringing in the new decade, on the 2nd of Jan, 1960; Tishie Lou Tedder Johnson passed away at the age of 82. Her remains were interred alongside her husband and daughter at Evergreen Cemetery in Jasper, Florida.

Grave of Lishie Ann Tedder Bell
Newberry Cemetery, Newberry, Florida

Nine years later, on February 16, 1969; one day after her 92nd birthday, Lishie Ann Tedder Sapp Bell passed away. The last of John Henry Tedder's children, known as the nine Tedder Girls, was welcomed into her father's arms in the heaven that she so devoutly believed in. It's no doubt she lived a hard life, but her faith ensured that her life after death would be glorious for eternity.

For further reading on the Tedder family, click here for a previous blog I wrote about Lishie and Tishie's father, John Henry Tedder.

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  1. WoW, great story & information. Thank you!

    1. It was my pleasure! Thank you for your interest and taking the time to read about my family

  2. Enjoyed reading about your family, similar stories, different families.