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Thomas Armstrong Kesterson

Son of James Roland and Eliza Jane (Walker) Kesterson
Married to Sarah Jane Russell and Eliza Jane Dunn

Photos and information contributed by Bob Copeland

Spanish American War 1898 Pvt. Co C 4 Rect Tenn

Headstone at New Hope Cemetery

Eliza Dunn Kesterson
with her grandaughter Roxie Hutson, Minnie's daughter

Thomas Armstrong Kesterson was born 14 October 1853 in Anderson Co Tennessee. He died March 1, 1907 Roane Co Tennessee. Thomas was first married to Sarah Jane Russell 13 July 1876 in Anderson County. Sarah Jane was the daughter of Samuel and Martha Russell and born about 1859 in Morgan County and died 26 January 1925 in Gatewood West Virginia buried at Pleasant View Cemetery. Thomas and Sarah had two children - Hattie Tennessee Kesterson 1886 and Jesse James Kesterson 1886, who was adopted.

Thomas and Sarah divorced 5 Feb 1898. Thomas then married Eliza Jane Dunn. Eliza had never been married before but she had children: Nola Dunn 8 May 1884, Cora Dunn 11 Feb 1886, Minnie May Dunn 29 Oct 1889, Samuel Whetson Dunn 16 Jul 1894 and Ethel Frona Dunn 16 Jun 1896. The father of these 5 children was Masten Tate HILL. Masten Tate Hill was married tp Harriett Ann Dunn 19 Dec 1878. Masten and Harriet had 7 chidren: Walter Hill, Gilbert Hill, Bertha E. Hill, John Wesley Hill, William Oliver Hill, Edgar Masten Hill and Martha Jennie Hill. Harriet and Eliza Dunn were sisters. There mother was struck by lightning and killed. Eliza was only 12 at the time her mother died, she moved in with her sister Harriett and her husband Masten. Masten started having relations with Eliza at some point and was the father of her five children.

Eliza met Thomas Armstrong Kesterson after he got out of the War in 1899. Eliza wanted to marry Thomas and Masten did not want her to marry him and told her if she did marry him, she could not take her children with her. When she told Thomas about what Masten had said, Thomas got his gun and with Eliza, went to get her children. Masten was setting in the front yard with a shotgun when they arrived. Thomas told him that they were going to get married and she wanted her children and they come to get them whether he liked it or not. He told Masten he better not put his hands on his shotgun because if he did there would be a shoot out. So Masten just sat there and they loaded up the children and left. Harriett divorced Masten on 14 Oct 1903. After the divorce, Masten Tate Hill left Anderson Tennessee and went to Jefferson County Tennessee and married Florence Beatrice Hill on 23 October 1904 and had five children with her. Obadiah, Orvel Lee, Cecil Beatrice, Henry H. and Lee Hill. When Florence died on 8 May 1918, Masten loaded these five children on a wagon and took them to Greenville Tennessee to an Orphanage. Then Masten came back to Anderson County Tennessee and tried to go back to Eliza but she had nothing more to do with him. Masten stayed in Anderson Tennessee and died there 13 Jan 1940.

The Manhatten Project

From the Knox News - By Kelly Norrell Posted June 3, 2009 at midnight displaced-manhattan-pr/
Kelly Norrell is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.

In October of 1942, four Kesterson children - Martha, Jesse, Helen and Ruth - came home from their Anderson County schools with surprising instructions: Don't come back. That's because their schools, Scarborough School and Robertsville School, were closing. Life as they knew it was grinding to a halt in their farming community, Lupton Crossroad, and on all the other farms in the roughly 60,000 surrounding acres.

Soon a letter arrived informing the children's parents, Sam and Mary Kesterson, that the family had two weeks to move. They were among about 900 Tennessee families displaced by the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government operation that would develop the atomic bomb and found what became the city of Oak Ridge.

Rebecca Carroll, the daughter of Jesse Kesterson, has released a novel inspired by the family's experience. "Milk Glass Moon" is about a 14-year-old girl's experience of being displaced by the Manhattan Project and her gradual understanding of what the government was doing. "I wanted people to know the pre-Oak Ridge story and to know about the people who had to leave. They did their part and their story was never told," said Carroll, who now teaches English at Pellissippi State Technical Community College.

The move itself became the grist of family legends. On New Year's Day, 1943, a horse-drawn wagon with livestock plodding alongside moved chickens, furniture and a cast-iron cookstove to a two-story house in Coalfield, 20 miles away. The Kestersons, like all the displaced families, had combed areas like Deer Lodge, Harriman and Oliver Springs for housing. Carroll described her family's feelings as mixed. "My dad was eetheart and they had three children.

In a cruel twist of fate, her father, who worked at three plants at Oak Ridge, developed myelofibrosis, a cancer associated with beryllium used in one of the plants. He received a settlement, but died of the cancer when he was 78.

Life was not easy for Carroll either. She and her husband divorced, and then she remarried and divorced again. In 2002, she enrolled in the master's program in English at the University of Tennessee. There she took creative writing for the first time and it changed her life. "I took courses from Michael Knight and Allen Wier (both on the creative writing faculty) at UT. Milk Glass Moon was my creative thesis. I had never really had anyone critique my writing. They taught me a lot about writing, about showing and not telling," she said.

Carroll wrote the book in the summer of 2003. "I had done the research, and then I sat down and wrote the book very quickly." In the fall, she submitted the finished work to Knight and Wier. "Michael was director of my committee. I was really worried as to what Michael would think. I was afraid he would give it back and say it was garbage." Carroll said she ran into Knight one day on campus. "He said, 'I've finished your book.' I said, 'What did you think?' He said, 'I like it.' I about fell over." She said he suggested a number of changes, which she was willing to make.

She said her father liked the manuscript. "My dad said, "You got Mama good." Carroll's father did not live to see the book published.

Katie Sands, Junior White and Eliza Kesterson
Junior White born15 Jan. 1926 Died 19 May 1992

My grandmother Ethel Frona Dunn holding Otis Hutson, son of Minnie Dunn Hutson, then my mother Eula Mae, then Eliza Jane & in front of her is Roxie Hutson, at her side is my uncle Robert Kinsel
Ethel Frona Dunn born 16 Jun 1897 died 21 Mar 1954 her husband Henry White was born 22 Jul 1889

John and Ethel (Kesterson) Kinsella

Eliza Jane (Dunn) Hill Kesterson died at her home Friday night Jan. 30,near Robertsville. She was born Aug. 18,1871, near Knoxville. She had been ill for some time with heart trouble. She was a member of New Hope Church and lived devoted christain and was loved by all who knew her, and will be sadly missed in the community. She leaves to mourn her death, two brothers, J. M. Dunn of Knoxville, John Dunn of Cincinnati, Ohio., one sister, Mrs. Julia Frances of Knoxville, also five children, Sam Kesterson, Mrs. Ethel White and Mrs. Cora Smith of Robertsville, Mrs. Minnie Hudson of Cotuia and Mrs, Nola Seivers of Habeshan, Tenn. and several grandchildren. She was buried at New Hope Sunday.
(Obituary donated by Susie Bullock, contributed by Angela Meadows)

Many of the Kesterson Family is buried in the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery
Kesterson, Eliza Dunn 08-11-1870 / 01-30-1931 w/o Thomas A
Kesterson, Mary A. 09-30-1896 / 11-12-1983 Mary Anna Cox wife of Samuel Whitson Kesterson
Kesterson, Samuel Luther 11-24-1938 / 11-27-1938
Kesterson, Samuel W. 07-16-1894 / 07-02-1962 (Samuel Whitson)
Kesterson Thomas A 10-14-1853 / 03-01-1907 Pvt Co C 4 Regt TN Inf Spanish American War

Eliza Jane (Dunn) Kesterson (Thomas is right next to her)

Mary Anna (Cox) and Samuel Whitson Kesterson

Thought to be the children of Eliza (Dunn) Kesterson

Eliza did not have any children with Thomas Kesterson so they would have to be children she had with Maston Tate Hill. Several (or all?) of children used the Kesterson name. Does anyone know the children here?