I have been trying to get a handle on the woman listed, in Cocke Co. TN census records, as Patsy Sneed (age 43, b. TN) in 1850 and Martha Sneend[sic] (age 51, b. TN) in 1860. Obviously the same woman in these two records, she certainly appears to be the Martha Sneed (age 30-40) of the 1840 Cocke Co. census as well.
Regarding these Sneeds, the most compelling narrative is surely the family account presented by Martha “Patsy” Sneed’s granddaughter Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark (1861-1964), daughter of Pleasant Allen O. Sneed. Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark was born in Giles Co., TN, far away from Cocke Co., and apparently never set foot in the earlier East Tennessee location.
Late in life, Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark dictated a very informative family history, with the results privately published around 1958. She was thirty-three years old when her parents died in 1894, so besides the family members she knew personally from the Giles area, she absolutely had an extended opportunity to learn about the various family members back in Cocke Co.
In addition to covering her own marriage and children and grandchildren, she recounted with great clarity her parental family, including her siblings and their lives. She also provided solid details about her mother’s parents and her mother’s siblings. In a similar fashion, Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark spoke of her father’s mother and her father’s siblings, including her father’s older [presumably half-] brother Houston Felker and those of her father’s siblings who remained in Cocke Co. Uniformly, Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark statements could be documented by reference to the limited primary records available – but there was a 500 pound gorilla in the room, sitting patiently in the corner.
In the entire narrative, there was not an acknowledgement that Mary Catherine (Sneed) Clark’s own father Pleasant Allen O. Sneed (2 Feb 1836 – 12 Dec 1894) – or any of his siblings -- ever had a father themselves. With Pleasant Allen O. Sneed’s older [half] brother Houston Felker – from census records, William Houston Felker of Cocke and Giles counties – there was no mention of a father for that Felker kin. Likewise, and more importantly, there was absolute and complete silence about the father of the Sneed children – and those Sneed children were clearly subjects of great interest from a woman who was relatively [pun intended] talkative about family.
Not only was there no name identification of such man, but no acknowledgement of any aspects of such a man’s life. Nothing like, say, “My father’s father died when my father was young.” Or, “My grandmother Patsy Sneed was married twice.” Or, “My father’s parents ---[fill in the blank].”
To expand the record, after doing some work in the limited surviving early records for Cocke Co., I pursued posted suggestions on various websites. Lots of people had lots of suggestions about who Martha Sneed was or was not and who the missing father of the Sneed children might have been, but no one presented a shred of real evidence in support of their ideas.
Unfortunately, there is a virtually complete loss of the earlier records of Cocke Co. that could shed further light on the subject. Consequently, any dispassionate analysis will be hampered by that void. No matter what is said here, there may in fact have been an intact family structure being detailed by the Sneed census records in Cocke Co. and Giles Co. However, a review of those records – including the mentioned presence of a Martha Sneed as head of household in 1840 Cocke Co. -- would suggest the real potential that Martha Sneed was an unmarried daughter of Henly Sneed Sr. of Cocke County – and that all of Martha Sneed’s children were illegitimate.
As a new researcher on this family, I would be very interested in getting feedback for the more seasoned Sneed observers. Thanks for any input. ---Carl
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