0106, PEPPER, Addison Guinn, b. 15 Aug 1890, d. 27 Jan 1982; Notes: s/o William Guinn and Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0104 and 0105. Addison m. Hattie Kay ca 1917, and that generated an incident that stunned the community for over 50 years. It is best told by Carnis Davis, who wrote the below article for the Oct 22, 1980, edition of The Easley Progress (the local weekly newspaper):
"We’ve come home, Dad!”
by Carnis B. Davis
It was just before sunset when thirty-five year old Addison Pepper drove his T-model tractor in from the cotton field, hung his hat on the peg on the back porch, and went through the kitchen door to the good hot supper that would be waiting for him. The house was dark, and ominously quiet. A quick look around told him that his wife and two little boys were gone. The year was 1925. Fifty-five years later, on a brilliant October afternoon, Addison Pepper, now past ninety and with failing eyesight, squinted out through the same kitchen door at two well-dressed men, both apparently around 60 years old. One of them took a step forward, handed Pepper a very old photograph of a beautiful child and said, “Mr. Pepper, have you ever seen this boy before?”
The old man held the picture close, straining to make out the features. There was something about the face . . . something that was vaguely familiar . . but the sun was in his eyes. . .He tried to remember. The younger man was sure. “Dad!” he cried. “We’ve come home! This is Robert and Billy!” The story that has unraveled since Robert and William Pepper knocked on their father’s door that Sunday afternoon ten days ago is an incredible saga of love and longing, and countless days and nights of watching and wondering, and listening for footsteps that never returned. At the heart of the story lies a seven year old boy’s promise to his mother. When Hattie Pepper packed her trunk with a few personal belongings and led her two little boys out the door of the farmhouse in 1925 the three of them disappeared without a single trace. All efforts to find them failed. Time after time clues were followed, but no scrap of evidence was ever uncovered. Finally, after long years of wondering and conjecturing, most of the people who had known Hattie assumed that she and the boys were dead.
Robert, the oldest son, explained what had happened, and how his mother had so effectively kept them hidden for 55 years. She took a fictitious name, he said. She changed their name to Johnson, and extracted a solemn promise from Robert that he would never, as long as he lived, tell anyone what he remembered about the home they left. Robert was a second-grader at Three and Twenty Elementary School when it happened, old enough to remember a lot of things about the farm, and his Dad. But young enough and impressionable enough to have implicit faith in his mother, and to obey her instructions, no matter how much it hurt. Talking about it last week in the living room of his father’s home Robert said, “I couldn’t break my promise to my mother. She told me whatever I did, I must never tell Billy anything about it. He was just two when we left, too young to know anything about our leaving. “But it has stayed with me all my life,” he said. “And why did you finally decide to break your silence and come back home?” we asked. “Our mother died,” he said quietly. “She died on Sept. 15. The day after the funeral I told Billy all I could remember about our Dad. I told him that I believe Johnson was not our real name. “I felt that with Mother dead now, I was released from my promise.” Billy spoke up. “Mother had an old trunk that she kept locked. We were never allowed to open it. She made her home with me, and the trunk was always there. But I never tried to find out what was in it. I respected her wishes, and never asked her what was in the trunk. When Bob told me about the promise we opened the trunk.” The trunk produced the clues that led the two men back to Easley. There were some old photographs, and some papers. The brothers and their wives decided to come back and try to find some living relatives. They never dreamed they would find their father still alive. One of the clues in the trunk led them first to Liberty. They looked in the phone book. There were no Peppers listed. Then they turned to the Easley directory and found several. They drove on here and checked in at the Traveleze Motel. They started making phone calls.
Luck was with them. The first person they called, told them that Addison Pepper was still living, that he and a sister, Lizzie, still lived in the old farmhouse out on Pepper Road in the Three and Twenty section. The brothers became excited, so excited they misunderstood the directions given them for finding the farm. The lady on the phone had mentioned Pisgah Church. They thought she said Pickens. They jumped in the car and headed out Highway 8. They were beginning to calm down a little by the time they reached Pickens. Thinking a little more rationally, they decided to go to the Sheriff’s department and ask for help in finding the Pepper farm. Again they were lucky. Lt. Buddy Duncan was on duty, and he knew exactly where Pepper Road was. “But you’ll never find it,” he said. “Come on, I’ll take you there.” Duncan led them straight to Three and Twenty Fire Station then down to Pepper Road, and Robert took it from there. “I got so excited I didn’t know what I was doing,” Robert said. “Even after 55 years, things looked familiar. When we came to the driveway, I knew this was the house. The barns, the front porch . . . I jumped out of the car and almost ran up to the door!” Addison Pepper got excited, too, when he finally realized that this was his two little boys back home again. His sister, Miss Lizzie, now 93, was a little slower to accept the fact that her long-lost nephews had come back. She asked a lot of questions. But finally, she, too, was convinced. Pretty soon the whole community heard about it, and for the next two days it was like a great family reunion at Three and Twenty. The Pepper house was full of people. They stood in groups in the yard, laughing, remembering, slapping each other on the back, wondering at the miracle that had brought the sons back to their aged father.
The Easley Progress heard about it, and we called some of the people in the community. Everybody was happy at the turn of events. Happy and immensely relieved to have the mystery solved at last. Thomas Watson said, “They left, of course, before I was born, but all my life I have heard the story. Every time a group of people got together,-- family reunions, big church gatherings, that sort of thing – the subject always came up. People never stopped talking about it.. Never stopped wondering what became of Miss Hattie and the little boys.” Watson said, “The family tried everything, did everything possible to find out something about the boys. After World War II Miss Annie (one of Addison’s sisters, now deceased) wrote to the War Department and asked them to search the records. She figured both boys would be the right age to be in service if they were still living. “After six months Miss Annie got a letter back saying they had searched the Army, Navy, and Air Force records, but could not find the names of Robert Pepper nor William Pepper.” Ironically, both men did serve during World War II, with the Navy. But they were enlisted as Robert Johnson and William Johnson. Watson said Addison Pepper never gave up hope that he would see his boys again, not until the last few years. He always believed that somehow he would see them again. “But just a year or so ago,” Watson said, “I guess he had finally accepted the fact that they were gone forever. He called my brother, Henry, Jr. and asked him to come over to his house. “When Henry got there Mr. Pepper gave him a Daisy air rifle. ‘It was Robert’s,’ he told Henry. ‘I saved it for him, but I guess he’s not coming back. I know you like guns, so I want you to have it.’" Robert got his Daisy air rifle last Tuesday. Henry Watson, Jr. brought it over to the Pepper house and handed it to him. Robert told me about the air rifle when we talked on Thursday. He marveled that his father had kept it for more than 50 years. And he marveled that Henry Watson would bring it back. “He didn’t have to, you know,” Robert said. “I never would have known that he had it.” We talked with long-time friend W. W. (Bill) Tripp. Tripp, recently turned 80, has lived at Three and Twenty all his life. He remembers vividly how the disappearance of Hattie and the boys shook the whole community. Tripp has always been close to the Pepper family. As a matter of fact, he and Addison are somewhat related. “Addison’s mother was my grandfather’s half-sister,”Tripp said. “And how has the return of the two brothers affected the community?” we asked. “We’re happy,” he exclaimed. “Everybody’s happy about it. The whole community. You should have seen the crowd of people down at Pep’s house Tuesday (The elder Pepper is “Pep” to close friends). I went over there. There was a crowd in the yard, but I spotted Robert as soon as I drove up. It had been 55 years, but I knew that had to be Robert Pepper!” "What do you remember about the Pepper family as it was 55 years ago?” we asked Tripp. “The lawn parties,” he answered quickly. “I remember their pretty house, and the big yard, and the lawn parties. You know, there were four pretty girls in the Pepper family, and they used to have a lot of parties. We always had a good time over there.” Most of the people we talked with remembered the good times at the Pepper home. Robert Pepper Remembered the happy times, too. Not the grownup lawn parties at his grandfather’s home. He remembered his big red wagon, and how the boys in the neighborhood all came over there to play with him, because he had the wagon.
He remembered the T-model tractor. “Dad would lift me up and put me in the seat, and let me drive it out across the field,” he said. He was silent a moment, to regain his composure. We turned to Billy. “What will you do now? Now that you know your true identity?” “We’re changing our names immediately, back to Pepper,” he said. “But won’t that be terribly complicated?” For it involves a lot more people than the two brothers. There are the brothers’ children, and their grandchildren, to consider. And their businesses back home, and business affiliations. Birth certificates to be corrected. Social security records to change. We could envision a whole spectrum of problems and complexities. “Yes, there will be problems,” Billy said, “but we want to set the record straight once and for all.” Robert agreed with him, and so did the two wives, who had sat in on the interview. Both men had already obtained their official birth certificates when we talked with them. They went to the Courthouse in Anderson and found that their births had been properly recorded by the physician who delivered them, the late Dr. Wm. A. Tripp, father of our friend W. W. Tripp. Dr. Tripp for many years had practiced medicine from an office at his home on Highway 8 in the Three and Twenty community. His name was on the birth certificates as attending physician. Robert and Billy displayed the new birth certificates with great pride. This made it official. Cleared up so many questions that had haunted them all their lives. It was a little like being born again, or resurrected to another life. “I’m proud of this little piece of paper,” Billy said quietly. You knew he meant it.
The brothers said they would be leaving the next day to return home, Robert to Brownsville, Texas, where he owns and operates an office equipment business, and Billy to his business in Birmingham. They agreed that they would be back in Easley again soon, though. They are concerned about their father’s eyesight and want to see if something can be done about it. They had already conferred with a Greenville doctor. The father had been taking a nap when we arrived for the interview. We heard him moving around in the other room and sent for him to come in and pose with his sons for a photograph. He walked erectly, surprisingly agile for a ninety-year old. We talked to Addison Pepper about his experiences. The words poured from his mouth, like marbles tumbling out of a small boy’s marble-bag, laughing, excited, almost unintelligible in his enthusiasm to tell me that his boys had come home. “How did you feel when you finally realized that these were your sons who had come back home?” I asked. He tried to tell me, but he couldn’t find the right words to express what he was feeling. But I didn’t need an explanation. It was a foolish question to ask in the first place. His expression told me all I needed to know.
A man had found his lost sons. There can be no greater happiness.
This article was transcribed by Carl Garrison on May 17, 2017, from:
People, Places, Events
Volume 78, No. 17
Page 1 of Section B of The Easley Progress
Wednesday, October 22, 1980
0104, PEPPER, William Guinn, b. 8 Mar 1854, d. 6 Feb 1897; Notes: h/o Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0105. s/o Pinkney L. (b. 23 Feb 1824, d. 30 Jan 1855) and Lucinda Pinson Pepper (b. 10 Dec 1828, d. 5 Feb 1855), both buried at Big Creek Baptist Church in Williamston, SC. Grandson of: Elijah (b. 1788, d. 1851) and (m. ca 1819) Sarah Breazeale Pepper (b. 24 Aug 1798, d. 9 Jun 1868). Father of: Annie Lucinda Pepper, 0101, Nancy Elizabeth Pepper, 0107, Minnie Jane Pepper, 0108, Addison Guinn Pepper, 0106.
0107, PEPPER, Nancy Elizabeth, b. 19 Apr 1887, d. 18 Jul 1981;
Notes: d/o William Guinn and Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0104 and 0105. Sister of Addison Guinn Pepper, 0106, Annie Lucinda Pepper, 0101, Minnie Jane Pepper, 0108.
0108, PEPPER, Minnie J(ane), b. 18 Feb 1889, d. 30 Jan 1978; Notes: d/o William Guinn and Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0104 and 0105. Sister of Addison Guinn Pepper, 0106, Nancy Elizabeth Pepper, 0107, Annie Lucinda Pepper, 0101.
0105, PEPPER, L(avina) Jane (Pickens), w/o W(illiam) G(uinn) Pepper (cg-0104), b. 26 Mar 1851, d. 11 Sep 1918; Notes: d/o Robert and Nancy T. Pegg Pickens (his 2nd wife), 0306 and 0305. Sister of Mary Mandeline Pickens, 0201, Virginia Angeline Pickens, 0202, Adison Gamewell Pickens, 0203, Dorcas Emeline Pickens, 0204, Sidney Asbury Pickens, 0207. Half-sister (same father, different mother) of Sarah Smith Pickens, 1702, John Norton Pickens, 1706, Martha Ann Pickens Gambrell, 0206, Rev Robert Mason Pickens, 0110, Col William Smith Pickens, 0220, Israel Wesley Pickens, 0320. Mother of: Annie Lucinda Pepper, 0101; Nancy Elizabeth Pepper, 0107; Minnie Jane Pepper, 0108; Inez Pepper who m. Marvin Attaway, (both buried in Williamston City Cemetery); and Addison Guinn Pepper, 0106, m. Hattie Kay.
0304, PEPPER, Child, b.ca 1875-1880, d. ca 1875-1880; Notes: This is an unnamed, gender unknown infant child of William Guinn and Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0104 and 0105. New marker.
0101, PEPPER, Annie Lucinda, b. 2 Nov 1882, d. 6 Apr 1970;
Notes: d/o William Guinn and Lavina Jane Pickens Pepper, 0104 and 0105. Sister of Addison Guinn Pepper, 0106, Nancy Elizabeth Pepper, 0107, and Minnie Jane Pepper, 0108.
0807, PEGG, Sarah (Douthit), b. 1 Feb 1776, d. 15 Aug 1857; Notes: w/o John Pegg, 0806. Mother of James B. Pegg, 0707; Martha F. Pegg Pickle, 0408; Nancy T. Pegg Pickens, 0305; and Caroline Elvina Pegg Gambrell, 1810. This family needs more research. Mary Dothard, 0808, was almost surely Sarah’s sister, as they are buried right next to each other. This means Mary was almost surely either a Douthit and married an unknown Dothard, or Douthit is misspelled on the tombstone as Dothard.
0806, PEGG, John, b. 4 Aug 1786, d. 6 May 1863;
Notes: John Pegg was the h/o Sarah Douthit, (0807). They were parents of James B. Pegg, 0708; Martha F. Pegg Pickle, 0408; Nancy T. Pegg Pickens, 0305; and Caroline Elvina Pegg Gambrell, 1810. John was the younger brother of Elizabeth Pegg Wilson, 1412. John was the s/o Samuel and Margaret Cockerman Pegg. Samuel was born in 1742 in Kent County, Delaware and died in SC, location unknown. Samuel was the s/o William and Margaret Pegg. William was b. 1701 in England (prob. Huntingdonshire) and d. 1770 in Kent County, Delaware. He emigrated to America ca 1712-1720 as an indentured servant to a barber. This family definitely needs more research -- it is involved in almost all the major families here!
0707, PEGG, James B(ailey), b. 10 Mar 1812 in Hardin Co., KY, d. 26 Sep 1885 in Anderson County,SC; Notes: h/o Elizabeth Pegg, 0708. Father of Willam Martin Pegg (not buried here) and Bailey McSwain Pegg, 0908, and probably other children. James was the s/o John and Sarah (Douthit) Pegg, 0806 and 0807. See 0708, Elizabeth Pegg for notes on James Pegg’s wife. James was the b/o Nancy T. Pegg Pickens, 0305; Martha F. Pegg Pickle, 0408; and Caroline Elvina Pegg Gambrell, 1810.
0708, PEGG, Elizabeth (Welborn), b. 26 Jun 1817, d. 5 Dec 1854; Notes: First w/o James Bailey Pegg, 0707. There is much to be discussed about this Elizabeth. I am not sure about this one. James B. Pegg had two wives, both named Elizabeth. One was either a Breazeale and married a Barton who died young or was a Barton and married a Breazeale who died young. The other Elizabeth was Elizabeth Welborn, sister of Julia Ann Welborn, 0311. With James’ son Bailey M Pegg being born in 1862, that would seem to make Welborn the 1st and Barton/Breazeale the 2nd, but some sources insist that James Pegg had only one wife. This is just another reason the Pegg family needs research.
0908, PEGG, Bailey McSwain, b. 26 Nov 1862, d. 18 Sep 1863;
Notes: Infant s/o James Bailey, 0707 and Elizabeth Barton/Breazeale Pegg, his second wife, not buried here.
1823, ORR, "Lumby" Jim, b. ?, d. ?;
Notes: African American slave grave. Generally accepted to be the husband of Barbara Orr, 1822.
1822, ORR, Barbara, b.?, d. ?; Notes: African American slave grave. Sometimes spelled "Brbay Oar", but generally accepted as noted, and reckoned to be the wife of Jim Orr, 1823.
1008, OLIVER, Mary (Slaughter), b. ca 1750, d. before 1840 Census; Notes: W/o Alexander Oliver, 1007. Some sources think she may have been a Warner, but the best ones, including DAR, say Slaughter. Mary and Alexander appear to have had at least 8 children: John; Samuel; Dr. James, 1215; Andrew (b. Feb 8 1773, m. Mary Lackey 1798 in SC, d. in Williamson Co, TX in 1857); Gomer, Jemima, Mary, and Susannah (only Dr. James buried here). I would really like to know more about the Slaughter family. New Marker.
1216, OLIVER, Martha (Leech) , b. ca1790, d. 2 Jul 1877, Age 87;
Notes: d/o Capt David, b. 1740 in Ireland, d. 1824, and Prudence Machlehenne (spelling?) Leech, neither of which are buried here. w/o Dr. James Oliver, 1215. Mother of: David Alexander Oliver, 1214, Antionette Oliver Bowen, 1212, Prudence Emeline Oliver Smith Pickens, 0221, Mary Lou Oliver, 1213, Aurelia Adelaide Oliver Rosamond, 1219.
1215, OLIVER, Dr. James, b. ca 1780 (or 88?) d. 10 Nov 1837;
Notes: s/o Alexander and Mary Slaughter? Oliver, 1007 and 1008. h/o Martha Leech Oliver, 1216, married 1820. Father of: David Alexander Oliver, 1214, Antionette Oliver Bowen, 1212, Prudence Emeline Oliver Pickens, 0221, Mary Lou Oliver, 1213, Aurelia Adelaide Oliver Rosamond, 1219.
1214, OLIVER, David Alexander, s/o Dr. James & Martha (Leech) Oliver, b. 3 Oct 1824, d. 26 May 1826.
1007, OLIVER, Alexander, SC Pvt. SC Militia, Rev. War; Notes: (b. 1744 in Ireland d. 16 Aug 1830). See Bobby G. Moss, "Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution", p. 741, for details. Alexander Oliver, according to local oral history, was the first school teacher for children in the area, but we are not sure of the school’s location. It was much too early for state schools, so he probably taught either in his home or possibly at Richmond Presbyterian Church. DAR research (A086126) shows Oliver to be h/o Mary Slaughter, 1008. A few sources think she may have been a Warner, but the best sources say Slaughter. Alexander and Mary appear to have had at least 8 children: John; Samuel; Dr. James, 1215; Andrew (b. Feb 8 1773, m. Mary Lackey 1798 in SC, d. in Williamson Co, TX in 1857); Gomer, Jemima, Mary, and Susannah, (only Dr. James buried here). The Olivers are a family that I would like to know much more about.
1414, NALLY/NALLEY, Abram/Abraham, b.ca 1747 (Charles Co, MD, and d. before 1820 or possibly ca 1836, according to the book listed below); Notes: According to Robert Dacus Nally’s book, “The Seven Sons of Abraham and Creasy Nally,” Abram was the only child of Richard (b. ca 1716, Charles Co. MD) and Elizabeth ____ Goley Nally (widow of Thomas Goley). Richard and his family moved to Albemarle Co, VA, around 1761; and then prior to 1774 relocated to Spartan District, SC. Richard died intestate in Spartan District around 1792; Elizabeth had died earlier. Abram evidently died prior to 1820 census; he was listed in 1790, 1800 and 1810 census rolls for Pickens County (on or near Brushy Creek or a tributary of it). Creasy evidently survived him and is shown on 1820 census living with her son Aaron and his family, but is not shown on the 1830 census, unless she was living with someone I don’t know about. Abram was probably a Revolutionary veteran, possibly in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, or South Carolina, but I have not found anything so far indicating his service. During the 1950s and 60s, there were many Nalleys living along SC Highway 8 just north of the Pickens/Anderson County line, and many are buried at Fairview Methodist Church. I believe it is very safe to say that Abram and his wife Creasy were the patriarchs of this entire group of Nallys/Nalleys. New Marker.