General Chuck Yeager. Ask him who his heroes were growing up and he’ll tell you. Grandpa Yeager. He could do anything. He could fix anything. It used to take 5 hours to walk to Grandpa Yeager’s. That’s if they didn’t get a ride up Mud River. And a ride literally up the creek – the road was in the creek. In this search, we got 50 different opinions. It was up the left fork, no the right fork. It was this house on the flat. It doesn’t exist. There was root cellar. No, there wasn’t a cellar. There was an overhang over the creek where they put their milk and perishables.
It was 9 miles up the creek. No 9 Mile was the name of the road. Maybe it was 9 miles from Hamlin or Branchland or Hubble.
We drove up the left fork. The houses, only one lived in, were too close to Mud River and only the one on the flats looked old.
General Yeager wandered around it. I could tell that it was familiar but not familiar. We were told numerous times it had been Grandpa Marion’s house and the chimney had fallen down only 2 years before. Darn.
There was a gas well on the other side of the creek. But no, Gen Yeager said it wasn’t the house.
Three distant relatives came by and said it was. Or that they had been told it was.
We drove all the way – even past the very, very rough spot. Gen Yeager was looking at the safety of driving over the 50 yds that looked rather rocky. I ran on ahead to see what was around the bend. Another bend. But the road got more drivable. So I turned around – there was John, our driver. He was mostly concerned with a place to turn around even if we got past the rough spot. Yes, I said. I think I see a place. Well. Sort of.
I just didn’t want to give up.
Gen Yeager got out of the car and walked up the 50 yds. John got in the car and drove it up – he made it! What a GREAT ad for that make of car!
We came to a fork. We took it. Seriously, big debate, right or left. We thought we’d go one way and then back the other. We went left. (We never did go back right). A big gas construction of buildings. We passed it and went up every off shoot road. (All gravel as this point).
The third one was a beautiful graveyard. A hundred gravestones. Ninety of them were Yeager.
The rest were mostly Adkins. An Adkin had married a Yeager.
We had found Yeager Cemetery.
Many more gravestones were so old and small, they weren’t marked.
While John looked for some good shots with Gen Yeager, John’s wife Karen and I explored the building over yonder. Could it be Grandpa Yeager’s house? Probably not – we had left the creek long ago – and we did know it was on a creek. We knocked. There were three chickens – or was one a rooster. Yes. I crowed. It crowed.
We walked back, joined John & Gen Yeager, and drove to the next house over yonder farther. I got out, went towards the front door. Karen got out and went to the people on the back porch whom I had not seen. I got no answer and then woke up – sunglasses seem to limit my peripheral vision – and notice John & Karen approaching the side porch. Lotta smoking – probably why I didn’t see them – thru the haze and I avoid smoke.
The guy there said that Dorothy (Adkins? – lotta, I mean lotta Adkins in the area) Yeager had lived there and before that “Big Frank Yeager”. Well, “Big Frank Yeager” to us – was General Yeager’s great-grandfather who had had 27 kids. This guy led us back to the house. Gave us wrong directions – that left turn was after the right turn he didn’t mention – but we caught up with him. He said the structure near the home – had been the house but it had burned down. I felt a little sad but glad we had found the place. Then realized we hadn’t – there was no creek. Hmmm.
This “Big Frank Yeager” most likely was General Yeager’s “Big Frank Yeager”’s son but “Big Frank Yeager” to the next two generations.
We drove back down on the gravel road instead of back the way we had come.
We want back and drove up two other forks. One way – we found a no-shirt Robert, who jumped on his ATV to show us Grandpa Yeager’s house. He took us back to the house on the flat.
We checked it out again. No. Just wasn’t 9 miles up the creek. Couldn’t be the house.
Robert said finally Grandpa Neuman Yeager. We said, No Grandpa Marion Yeager.
We finally figured out that Neuman was Marion’s brother. Both were named Marion.
Marion Neuman Yeager
Marion General Yeager
Neuman had a few wives apparently and they called him a Mormon. One of the wives lived in the house which was now the barn-looking structure.
Marion General Yeager was General Chuck Yeager’s grandfather. Marion General Yeager had 9 kids.
The next day, we went back to the cemetery, back to the house on the flat.
That day we sent a recce up the left fork after Pansy Lee, Chuck Yeager’s sister, told the recce team that Grandpa Yeager’s house was up that fork. She told them some more details of the topography. Karen thought she had found it but didn’t give enough details to us to be certain.
So we took photos of General Yeager in front of Neuman Yeager’s house. It was the right area anyway.
John and I walked up the left fork.
Someone was living up that fork with some rather vicious dogs which passing in a car didn’t matter. But walking….They were just doing their job. They didn’t chase you past the road that passed their property. At least they hadn’t in the car. But now we were walking.
I did the baby talk – nice dogs, here boy, nice to see you. At first it worked. But my fellow explorer said, I’m not good with dogs. The dogs heard him. And turned back to vicious barking. I still talked nicely to them as my cohort retreated quietly. To get a head start if we had to run, I realized later! We had a trooper escort – with a gun – I thought he was closer – he wasn’t close enough.
As the dogs got closer, I backed up slowly in a zig zag. It was touch and go – 3 yards away. “Nice” wasn’t working. So I did my last option – hoping the bites wouldn’t hurt too badly and that help could come before I was too badly mauled – I yelled at them in my most commanding voice and pointed my finger and arm at their house: “GO HOME!”
They stopped short and then retreated a little. It was still touch and go. One wrong move…Then the dog on the left came at me again. The other dog opened its mouth to bite….and bit the other dog to stop him from advancing toward me. He knew they better go home. That I had retreated past the front of their property but wasn’t bait.
I yelled: ” GO HOME!” again as I continued my very slow zigzag retreat (trying not to look like I was something to chase – e.g. not running).
I called the neighbor a few days before our next attempt. He called the dog owner who was pleased his dogs were doing their job but would put them in the house.
This week, the dogs were kept inside…on the way up… but we were in a truck anyway.
Monday, we went up the left fork. All the way to the bad piece in the road – where it departs the creek. I climbed down to the creek. No, no place farther up the creek that would have a flat for a house.
We went back to the one house it might be. We explored the house. The two story part was new….ish. The one story…very old wood on the area showing the interior of the wall. Hmmm. We walked around outside. A shape in the side of the hill that would have held a root cellar.
We checked the creek – an overhang where milk could be kept. Beautiful, natural, multi-colored stone.
Wow. This has got to be it. But not a 5 hr hike. Wait a minute. This road wasn’t here. The road was in the creek – that is less direct. Could be 5 hours. From Myra. Or exploring up the creek.
Still not sure. The analysis could fit. But so could another analysis. Most of the houses would or could have these attributes.
We got out and walked most of the way back. We checked out a cave. We checked out a creek that came from a different holler – and joined this one. Walked up it as far as we could. I asked my cohort, Curtis, this time, how much he thought it would cost to get someone to clear it out for us. I was determined to find Grandpa Yeager’s house – or the foundation of it.
When we got one turn from the dogs, we saw the gas well that could have been the one Gen Yeager had said his Grandpa had had on his property. Noted. We got back in the truck. Good thing. We had backed up for them to explain a “root cellar” to me – there was one on this property – was this Grandpa Yeager’s foundation? No, it was too new a “root cellar” And then one dog came running. I told Adam to roll up his window. Adam did a little but stared the dog down. I was betting on Adam It stopped short.
We drove on down. Then tried the other fork. There was someone we had met very briefly a few weeks before. Country folk that didn’t want to talk to us much but did tell us to whom to talk up that fork.
We drove up past one house, another house. Couple on the porch. There’s a theme here. The gal didn’t understand what we were looking for and kept giving us incorrect information. The fella gave us some great information. Basically couldn’t go much farther up the creek – even on a four wheeler – too many trees down.
We went along a little farther, till the driver, Adam, drove into a deep hole on the left front. We were able to back out slowly. Yup. Can’t go any farther.
We drove back to Hamlin. By the time we got back, it was 5:30pm and we had a call from a researcher. He had what we wanted. Wow!
We went back the next morning. More on this later….