Five generations of teachers in Cherry and related families

TWO OF FIVE GENERATIONS-Five generations of the William Jackson Cherry family of Clay County have produced almost 50 teachers in the Cherry and related families (including in-laws) since 1895. Shown here (l-r) are members of two generations of the family: Eva Nell Cherry Plumlee of Celina, Kenneth Cherry of Columbia (TN), Adelle Cherry Birdwell, formerly of Hermitage Springs and now of Cookeville, and Jayne Plumlee Donaldson of Celina. (Photo submitted)

It’s not unusual for a particular profession or occupation to be a dominant one in families. In fact, it’s a fairly common phenomenon.

What’s not common, though, is for a particular family to produce five generations within a common profession, with almost 50 different members in some area of that field.

One of the Cherry clans, and related families, in Clay County can lay claim to that, dating back over a span of at least 115 years.

The list includes educators at many levels of teaching, from classroom teachers – some of whom taught in one-room schools – to superintendents of schools and college professors. Many of the teachers from the Cherry and related families taught, or are still teaching, in Clay County, but the geographic area covered by the families ranges across the Upper Cumberland, the state of Tennessee and other Southeastern states.

“The family always had a strong belief in education, and I guess that translated to so many of the family becoming educators and several marrying teachers, too,” said Dean Grimsley Cherry, a former Clay Countian and wife of a longtime educator. “It’s become something of a tradition in the family, and it looks like it will be handed down, with the fifth generation already producing four teachers, and so many going on to college now.”

Dean’s husband, Willie T.Cherry, was an elected superintendent of schools for three terms, beginning in the early 1930’s, holding the post for a total of 12 years. Mrs. Cherry, 94, now resides in Madison (TN).

The tradition was started in Clay County by William Jackson Cherry, who comprises the entire first generation, and has been perpetuated by four subsequent generations. W.J. Cherry received his teaching certificate in neighboring Monroe County, Kentucky, in 1895.

Cherry was the father of the following natives of Clay County: Orville Newell Cherry, Melic Dalton Cherry, Myrth Cherry, Ephraim Cherry, Raymond Cherry, Lattie C. Brown, Lina C. Lorance, Willie T. Cherry, Estes Cherry, and Kenneth Ray Cherry.

Several man and wife teams are included in the list, which follows. City of residence has been included in some instances for clarification.

• GENERATION 1 – William Jackson Cherry.

• GENERATION 2 – Edna Birdwell Cherry, Philip Myrth Cherry, Ida Mary Goodpasture Cherry, Willie Turner Cherry, Ephraim Dwight Cherry, Kenneth Ray Cherry, Lina Cherry Lorance and Mary Elizabeth Kyle Cherry.

• GENERATION 3 – Carmon C. Brown, Frankie M. Brown Stanley, William Newell Cherry, Olivette Brown Cherry, Cordell Masters, Melvin L. Brown, Adelle Cherry Birdwell, Kenneth Cherry (Columbia, TN), Eva Nell Cherry Plumlee, Lavelle Brown Sharp, Imogene Cherry Forte, Eddie Rose Cherry Bartlett, Kyle Jackson Cherry, Linda (Mrs. Kenneth) Cherry (Springfield, TN), Noel Cherry, Vickie Cherry, Ida Lou Brown Stephens, Betty Cherry Odum, and Herod Birdwell, Judy Cherry Lata and husband John Latta (Illinois) .

• GENERATION 4 – Phil Barlett, Lester Mayfield Brown, Sr., Theresa Brown, Carmon Mel Brown, Sr., Carol June L. Brown, Carolyn Masters Sawyer, Phyllis Birdwell, Connie Birdwell Arms, Cherry Forte Farnette, Cathy Cherry Worle, Jayne Ann Plumlee Donaldson, Barbara Sharp, James Plumlee, Michelle Plumlee, Amy Lorance Chalmers and Donna Cherry Gurchiek.

• GENERATION 5 – Rebecca Sharp Bunker, Amore Brown Guy, Frank C. Brown and Carmon Mel Brown, Jr.