How Aunt Pet Got a Nickname and Lost an Eye
How Aunt Pet Got a Nickname and Lost an Eye


Sandra Nipper Ratledge

Aunt Pet (Cline) Martin

[NOTE: My story below has been stolen in whole from this website and attached to an family tree violating my copyright listed below. When I recently updated this story adding Aunt Pet's photo, this same member STOLE it a second time and re-uploaded on her online family tree after removing my note here in brackets. Attaching any of my original work to online trees or eslewhere on the internet constitutes THEFT of intellectual property protected by copyright.]


Deep in the red clay Knobs of McMinn County in Southeast Tennessee, stood the old home place of Aunt Pet and Uncle John Martin. Theirs was a home long familiar to kinfolks, friends, and travelers alike as a warm hearth and a safe refuge in time of need. A lifetime of farm laborers and a steady flow of children's footsteps had worn down their entranceway into almost recognizable patterns of feet. Across this threshold had passed footsteps of weary wayfarers over the years -- young and old, belabored and nimble, light and weighty. Never did either kinfolks or newcomers enter or exit without being blessed by Aunt Pet's familiar hug and kiss. Her petite, wiry frame always greeted them with outspread arms, at least as far as they would stretch! Her empathetic love extended not only to all children and every relative, both near and far, but to anyone misfortunate, abandoned, ill, or in need. If such a person were hungry or needed a place to stay for either a little or a long while, Aunt Pet would oblige willingly and as generously as her modest means allowed.

God blessed her with a gift for making people feel welcome and at home. Indeed, they were welcome because she was truly unselfish, loving, kind-hearted, and generous. She petted everyone, young and old alike, and not just people but also animals, taking in every stray that "darkened the door," nursing sick animals to health, finding homes for some, and keeping the old and lame.This is how she earned the nickname "Pet," appropriately given her by her Cline family. Soon, neighbors in the hills and hollows of the Knobs called her by this short, catchy name that fit her so well. Before long, everyone designated her by that name. Eventually, younger generations knew no other name for her except "Pet."

On one occasion when out-of-town relatives arrived for a visit, Aunt Pet ran with outstretched arms to greet them in her familiar manner. It had been a very long time since she had seen these kinfolks. Happily, she began hugging and kissing each one immediately. A woman among the visitors was wearing a large, broad-brimmed felt hat. With a long, bejeweled hat pin, this lady had firmly secured her hat into the braided tresses atop her head. When she ran excitedly and hugged this visitor, the sharply pointed hat pin pierced Aunt Pet's eye. So it was from love that Aunt Pet lost her right eye.

Aunt Pet was well-blessed with more than an average share of motherly affection. Not only did she bear nine children of her own, nursing and caring for them through all the bouts of childhood diseases, but also reared two stepsons as her own. It was always said that she never differentiated between these stepsons and her own offspring in either affection or treatment. She declared that she loved Ples and Johnnie like her own natural-born children. She mothered all children and was affectionately called "Aunt" by all the youngsters in the Knobs around Liberty Hill whether she was actually an aunt or not.

Although her house and hands were overflowing, she still accepted orphans with nowhere to go just as she had always taken in lost or abandoned strays. This was how a youngster named Joseph Horace Cobble came to live with Aunt Pet and Uncle John in the Knobs after the Civil War. Growing up in the Martin household, Joseph was treated like one of their own. Several years later, he wed Mary Elizabeth Martin, Uncle John's first-born grandchild. Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Ples Martin and wife, Nancy Ann T. Cline, "Aunt Nan," younger sister of Aunt Pet. Thus, this particular orphan did become a family member, by law as well as in spirit. Others, like Josie Cook, lived with Aunt Pet and Uncle John for an unknown amount of time. (See John and Pet Martin's family photo for their pictures taken with the family.)

Aunt Pet was the second wife of John Martin, his first wife, Harriet E. Greenway, having passed away young in her mid-twenties. Martha Jane "Pet" Cline, daughter of David Anthony and Edith Caroline (Cochran) Cline, was about twenty when she shouldered the responsibility of being both a wife to John Martin and a mother to his two sons, Ples and Johnnie. Her household, wifely, and motherly duties she performed well, almost as if a calling, for the next forty-three years until Uncle John died in November 1905. By that time, she had borne nine children of her own and reared all to adulthood. In later years, she tenderly cared for Uncle John in the frailty and infirmity of old age and attended him faithfully on his deathbed.

She loved, led, and inspired her family for seventeen more years until her death also in the bleak month of November in 1922. Life had not been easy on a farm in the Knobs, but to it she had given her heart and soul. This legacy of love made her fondly remembered, especially by granddaughter Annie (Martin) Taylor for more than half a century after 1922. So, it was from Annie Taylor of Englewood, Tennessee that I came to know how Aunt Pet got a nickname and lost an eye.

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.

©1999--present year by Sandra N. Ratledge. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any reproduction or inclusion of this website's contents in publication whether online or in print is prohibited. Do NOT copy photographs and upload on Find a Grave or any other internet websites, blogs, attach to family trees, or print in publications. Do NOT copy stories, articles, documents, sketches, anecdotes, letters, obituaries, content data, etc. and attach to family trees or upload on other websites of any kind.

Sandra Ratledge

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.