The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Emma Shackleford - Grandmother of Minnie Pearl?
Did Minnie Pearl's Grandmother Teach at the "Old Union" School?

Contact us if you have additional information on the Emma Shackleford - "Minnie Pearl" Connection

Harrison S. Shackleford
& Mary L. Weeden

Some Notes on Harrison Shackleford:

  • Born 1805 in VA
  • Married about 1827 in Davidson Co, TN
  • 1840 census in Coffee Co, TN
  • 1848-1849 White Co, TN tax rolls for District 6 (Cassville area)
  • 1850 District 7 of Van Buren Co, TN
  • 1854 Postmaster in Manchester of Coffee Co, TN
  • 1860 census in Coffee Co, TN
  • Manchester merchant, trustee, & justice of the peace
  • 1870 census in Coffee Co, TN (retired merchant)
  • 1875-1877 Member of TN General Assembly

Note 1:  It appears that Harrison Shackleford (Shackelford) may have moved his family from Coffee Co, TN to White Co, TN (about 50 miles or so) for a brief time in the 1840s, then moved to Van Buren County, and then returned to Coffee County.
Note 2:  The name of a D.T. Shackleford appears on a White County, TN court document on July 1, 1855. 
Source: Frames 002430 & 002431 of White Co, TN microfilm Roll #153, Probate Records, Volume G-P, 1807-1899. 
Note: 3:  The name of Brown Shackleford appears a March 22, 1856 White Co, TN document.
Source: Frames #001177 & following of White Co, TN microfilm roll # 154, Probate Records, Vols. R-Z, 1807-1899.
Note 4:  D.V. & Aletha Shackleford names appear on a White Co, TN document from the mid-1870s. 
Source: Frame #001500 of White Co, TN microfilm roll # 154, Probate Records, Vol. R-Z, 1807-1899.

Emily V. Shackleford
& Thomas S. Colley

Some Notes on Emily Shackleford:

  • Born in December 1828 in TN

  • Daughter of Harrison & Mary Shackleford

  • Married on May 18, 1854 in Coffee Co, TN

  • 1860 census still in Coffee Co, TN

  • Thomas Kelly Colley on 1860 census as their son

  • Later moved to Franklin, TN (Williamson County);
    T.S. Colley appears on the Williamson Co, TN 1900 census

  • Minnie Pearl's (Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon's) autobiography names T.S. Colley as her grandfather

"The only name we have of those who taught in that old house [original log building used by Union School in Hickory Valley of southern White County, TN] is that of Miss Emma Shackleford and that was about 1848."*

Based upon the following pieces of circumstantial evidence, we believe that this "Miss Emma Shackleford" who taught at the "Old Union" School was "Emily V. Shackleford," daughter of Harrison and Mary Weeden Shackleford and grandmother of the famous comedienne known popularly as "Minnie Pearl":

  • "Emma" was a common nickname for "Emily."
  • The Shackleford surname was not a common name in Middle TN of the mid-1840s.  Thus, it is not likely that there were two "Emily Shackleford" persons of the same general age in the Middle TN area at that time.
  • Harrison Shackleford did own land in southwestern (Cassville area) White County, TN in 1848 & 1849.  Although that was not in the same community (Hickory Valley) as the Union School, it was just a few hours away by horse.
  • Harrison Shackleford's "Emily" would have been about twenty years old in 1848, when "Miss Emma Shackleford" taught school at Union School.
    • Although a bit young for a teacher, it is very possible that she could have been a school teacher at the age of 20.  That would not have been unusual.
    • Harrison Shackleford's "Emily" would have been a "Miss" (unmarried) in 1848 (as was "Miss Emma Shackleford" the teacher), since she married Thomas S. Colley in 1854.
  • Emily V. Shackleford's sister, Susan (Marcell), was a Cumberland Presbyterian (and had been so since her youth).**  That might be an indication that the Shackleford's were affiliated with this denomination.  If so, that could explain how "Emma" became a teacher at the Union School, which was held in the Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church meeting house.  Perhaps the Harrison Shackleford family attended the Union Church (or had some affiliated connections to it) while they lived in White County, TN in the late 1840s.

*Source: Article by W.W.  "Uncle Billie" Young in April 25, 1929 edition of the Sparta News (Sparta, TN).
Source:  Obituary of Susan Mariah (Shackleford) Marcell, published in August 28, 1874 edition of The Democrat in Manchester, TN.

Thomas Kelly Colley
& Fannie Tate House

Some Notes on Thomas Kelly Colley:

Sarah Ophelia Colley
& Henry Rolffs Cannon
Some Notes on Sarah Ophelia Colley:
  • Born October 25, 1912 in Centerville, TN
  • Adopted her stage name of "Minnie Pearl" in about 1936
  • Married Henry Rolffs Cannon on February 23, 1947 in Nashville, TN
  • Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975
  • Died March 4, 1996 in Nashville, TN
Note: The Shackleford surname is frequently spelled "Shackelford" in the historical records, thus Harrison Shackleford may appear as "Harrison Shackelford" or "Emily Shackleford" may appear as "Emily Shackelford."

December 13, 2014 Letter from Mr. Tommy Webb (DeKalb County, TN County Historian)

"I find it quite likely that Emma Shackleford taught school in White County in 1848."
-Thomas G. Webb

In the October-December 2014 issue of The PathFinder (White County, TN Genealogical-Historical Society), the contents of this Emma Shackleford page was published.  In response to the article, Mr. Tommy Webb (DeKalb County, TN County Historian) wrote a hand-written letter to the editor of The PathFinder.  Mr. Webb is related to the Shackleford family.  Download Mr. Webb's letter.