23rd Edition                                                  August 1997


915 N. Ridge View Dr. Santa Maria, Ca. 93455-6319






A Family Newsletter

26th Edition 1 December 1998


When I became interested in genealogy, it was my intention to go backwards to the first Hembree in America and then write a book about the descendents of that individual, the impact an average family has made upon American society, both contributions and problems and the present day numbers of that family. While the Newsletters might represent chapters in the book, many questions remain, despite years of research.

One thing that is no mystery is the predominance of farming, as a family occupation. That is common for most families since land acquisition was a prime motive for the westward movement. I have also traced the number two occupation of family members during the 298 years from the earliest proven record of the spelling of our "Hembree" name to present date.

Regarding contributions to society, teaching is surely one of the most influential professions upon society as a whole as we were all educated in one way or another by the teaching profession. While a few universities existed during the indicated period, it was after 1900 before schools as we know them became available to everyone. Few, if any, were concerned with a separation of church and state. Most believed it quite proper that the church serve as schools and that the schools should teach from a religious prospective. Often, the only literate person available capable of teaching was the local minister, and financial concerns often required the minister to have a second source of income to exist, so it was not unusual for ministers of the Gospel to serve both as minister and school teacher.

Certainly, teaching is a fundamental part of the ministry, and whether or not we agree with the teachings, the church have been very influential in our lives and thus on society. The number two occupation in our family lineage is the ministry for men, and teaching for women. While I have not maintained exact numbers, these professions show up over and over. I have chosen to describe one of the truly devoted men of God in the Hembree line and thus to write about Fred Buis Hembree, Sr. and his family who followed him in devotion to the Lords work.

Fred Buis Hembree, Sr.

The greatness of America has not come primarily from the metropolitan areas, but from remote areas we pass at great speeds on interstate highways. As children growing up, we are eager to leave those areas but most anxious to return to them for family values as we raise our children.

One such area near Walling, in White County, Tennessee is where Fred Sr. was born on October 19, 1919. Fred, son of John L. Hembree and Nancy Emma Sanders Hembree, as a child attended Mt. Pisgah Methodist Church and the local schools, until he was drafted into military service during his senior year of high school. He was inducted into the armed forces at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia in October 1941. In March 1944 he landed in England and remained there until D-Day (June 6) when he was sent to France with the invasion forces.

Fred had risen to the rank of sergeant when he was struck by a single German bullet on July 10, 1944. A pocket New Testament he was carrying in his left blouse pocket when he was hit by the bullet was penetrated about three quarters of the book. When Fred gave the life-saving book to his mother, the bullet was still embedded in the torn pages which appear as if cut with a large knife. On February 1, 1945, Fred was honorably discharged from the Army and married on February 24, 1945 Jessie Leah Stanford, daughter of Charles and Deborah Hounsell Stanford, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They had met at a Youth for Christ Rally in Providence, Rhode Island while Fred was in the army. Following the wedding, Fred brought his bride home to White County, Tennessee and began farming. It was here that he felt called into the ministry. He returned to school and obtained a Bachelorís degree from Tennessee Tech and a Masterís of Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School. The marriage yielded four children, three of whom survived to adulthood. They are 1. Betty JANE Hembree, born February 4, 1946 in Sparta, White County, Tennessee. 2. JOHN Wesley Hembree, born November 12, 1952 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee and 3. Fred Buis Hembree, Jr. born on his fatherís birthday, October 19, 1954. Both sons followed their fatherís profession and continue to be a positive influence for the good of society in their ministerial roles.

Rev. Fred Sr.ís last appointment was Carthage United Methodist Church in Smith County, Tennessee where he retired after serving the ministry for thirty-seven years. On March 29, 1986, he died in Lebanon, Tennessee where he had retired. He died of a heart attack while fighting a brush fire at his home.

Rev. John Wesley is now retired from the active pastorate, and leads revivals and does lay missions in Central and South America.

Rev. Fred Buis, Jr. is the pastor of Old Hickory United Methodist Church, Old Hickory, Tennessee. He rose to the rank of Major while in the Army and was a Chaplain in a medical unit during the Desert Storm conflict.

Jane, now (Betty) Jane Hembree Crowley of Knoxville, Tennessee received a B.S. degree in Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1968 and worked as a Director of Christian Education at a Knoxville church. She has one son, Charles Allison Reeves, III (Chip) who was a leader in the college ministry of his church while attending the University of Tennessee where he earned a B.S. degree in Business Management and a Masterís Degree in Statistics. He is currently active in the leadership of his church and in the Promise Keepers organization.


Mt Pisgah, which Fred Sr. attended during his boyhood, dates back to very early days of White County, Tennessee and are an important part of the history of White County. Annually, on the 4th Saturday in August, the Methodists would move their families here and go into camp and stay a week or 10 days and attend the arbor meetings. The church was organized in 1820 but the camp meetings and the cemetery predate that time. One report of the camp meetings state "the people came in large crowds, and covered the acre and a half with women, men and children from the backs of the tents to the center of the arbor, just as thick as they could stand on the ground."

The report states some of the preachers were the most talented and eloquent speakers ever seen in any public arena, political or any other kind. The Revs. Burr, Moody and Petway were a few of them. I am unsure of the other two but Dwight L. Moody was a well-known orator and preacher in Tennessee. He was one of the founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In addition to religious revivals, these camp meetings served an important social function for the society of the day. Many marriages took place between people who met at the camp meetings.

Fred Sr. was a great great-grandson of James Hembree and Mary Jane Knowles. It is possible James & Mary met at one of the camp meetings as the property surrounding Mt. Pisgah church was owned by an old Irishman, John Knowles, a Revolutionary soldier, and father or uncle of Mary Jane Knowles. I have read that the preaching at the camp meetings went on for 8 to 10 hours each day. Sometimes, ministers preached in shifts, and sometimes the same person preached for 8 hours. Other denominations held camp meetings at Mt. Pisgah Church, which still stands today, although it is a rebuilt building. Another part of the history of this church, which must have influenced the life of Fred Buis Hembree, Sr., is the cemetery, which is actually older than the church itself. The cemetery is the resting place of John Knowles, and other Revolutionary soldiers, as well as several Confederate soldiers. It is one of a few where the grave markers appear to be tents. Large slabs of stone were quarried not to distant there from, and placed in the cemetery in an inverted "V", thereby giving a stone finish covering the entire grave, and preventing animals from digging up the remains. The first person to be buried there was Archibald McDaniel, brother in law to old John Knowles. (I have used old John Knowles only because that is the way I have found him referred to.)

Not wishing to be considered prejudiced, I chose to write about other than two of my siblings who chose the calling to be Ministers of the Gospel. After choosing Fred as the subject of this newsletter, his daughter Jane graciously assisted by rewriting and confirming the data used herein.

Many thanks, Jane.







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