Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley
Edward Thomas Hemperley was born into the family of nine children of Edward Martin Hemperley and Rachel Powell on March 20, 1841 in Campbell County, Georgia. His childhood was spent in Georgia where he attended school and upon graduation began his life as a farmer. Edward didn’t particularly like this occupation and in 1860-1861 he attended lectures at Macon, Georgia to become a physician.
On March 3, 1861 in Fayette, Georgia he married Miss Letitia (Lettie) Ann Maranda Dodd, daughter of John Sample Dodd and Elizabeth Harriet Word.
Letitia Ann Maranda “Lettie” Dodd
John Sample Dodd was a prominent Baptist Minister in Georgia and has been written about in The Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists, The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County as well as The Sun newspaper published on April 2, 1881.
On September 9, 1861 Edward Thomas enlisted in the 27th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company E as a private. In November 1861 he was serving in Manassas, Virginia and listed as having chronic rheumatism. December 7, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia he was discharged for the disability.
The discharge states that he is 6 feet tall, dark complexioned, grey eyes, black hair and a twenty year old farmer. Physician M. Darnall, surgeon, further states that he has chronic rheumatism of the right knew preventing extension of the limb and that he believes that he will not get well as long as he remains in camp.
On August 1, 1863 Edward re-enlisted in the same Regiment at Fairburn, Georgia and served as a hospital nurse in Lake City, Florida in February 1864. March 11, 1864 he was suffering from neuralgia and was on inactive duty until October 25, 1864. His active duty included the battle at Lake City, and in the last battle fought at Bentonville, North Carolina.
On May 1, 1865 he was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina. He returned to Georgia where he and Lettie lived and he practiced medicine until 1869 when they moved to Miller County, Arkansas.
Moving from Georgia to Miller County was an arduous task. Four of their thirteen children had been born in Georgia and they, along with Edward and Lettie, road the train from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans. In New Orleans they boarded a steamboat going up the Mississippi River until they came to the Red River in Shreveport. Here they took another steamboat through Caddo Lake to Jefferson, Texas. In Jefferson they had to buy a wagon and an ox team for the final leg to Era, Arkansas. The final leg, which is about 50 miles, took two days.
They were greeted by family members who had already moved from Georgia. Edward’s brother, Andrew Simpson Hemperley and his wife Louise Catherine Dodd (aunt to Lettie) had come to Arkansas in 1856. Although Andrew Simpson had been killed at Baker’s Hill in the Battle of Vicksburg, his family was still there. Lettie’s uncle, Willis Henderson Dodd and his wife, Rachel Hemperley (sister of Edward) were in Miller County also.
In this area, Dr. Hemperley’s practice encompassed the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. According to Myrtle Hemperley Lloyd, Dr. Hemperley’s granddaughter whom I interviewed in the late 1960s, they had 760 acres of land, a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, and two cotton gins.
Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley passed away in 1913 in Miller County. Stories are that following his passing, Lettie was often called upon to administer to the sick because of her medical knowledge. She is described as having an outspoken personality, personal magnetism, and high energy. Lettie died in 1926. They attended Evergreen Baptist Church and are both buried there.
Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley and wife Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd Hemperley
Evergreen Baptist Church, April 2013