Local History: Traveling Thomas Jefferson Yeager

Sharon Schuler Kreps/CullmanSense

CULLMAN – Thomas Jefferson Yeager loved adventure. As a matter of fact, he never stayed in one place for very long. During the late 1880s and into the early 1900s, he was known to move from state to state fairly regularly. He and his wife Mary “Hollie” (Willoughby) would gather up their belongings, load up their family and head for parts unknown.

Originally from Georgia, the Yeager gang traveled by oxen wagon from Carroll County, Ga. to Wood County, Texas and then back to Carroll County before landing here in Cullman County around 1910. 

While in Cullman County, Tom and his family had settled in the Fairview area. From here, they eventually settled for good in the hills of Tennessee. 

Tom was an expert sorghum syrup producer and he carried his syrup mill everywhere he went.

He was also very proud and ambitious, as one might imagine; his family consisted of 17 children, 14 living until adulthood. One could imagine the task of moving all those children in an ox-drawn wagon.

At the end of his life, he had descendants scattered throughout Texas, Alabama and Tennessee, all of them proud and ambitious just like Tom. 

Mr. Yeager was a prosperous farmer, a deeply religious man, and a Sacred Harp singer.

In his opinion, work was a virtue, and a slothful attitude was a sin.

He was the head of his household and was well known for his adventurous spirit.

Life was never dull on the Yeager trail. Tom was a typical pioneer and his spirit was common among early Cullman settlers.