West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gene Espy, Georgia to Maine - 1951

In recent years there have been many tales of life on the Appalachian Trail. The Trail has become synonymous with the call of the wilderness, the test of one's endurance, the ultimate escape from modern life. But back in 1951 when a twenty-four year old named Gene Espy from Cordele, Georgia decided he wanted to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in one long hike, only one other person had ever done it. The Trail for the thru-hiker was virtually untested, waiting to be conquered. The Trail of My Life is the story of one man's journey from Georgia to Maine along the now-famous Appalachian Trail.

Gene Espy has led a life full of adventures, and the highlight of them all was his 1951 Georgia-to-Maine solo hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, making him the second thru-hiker to claim this accomplishment. He is an Eagle Scout, a Georgia Tech graduate, and a retired U.S. Air Force aerospace engineer. Gene is a well-known speaker who enjoys telling about his AT hike and many other experiences. His now vintage hiking equipment is on display in the visitors center at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia near the approach trail to Springer Mountain. - source

Appalachian Trail Museum

Click here for a newspaper article about his accomplishment  - Oct 1951.

with gear from his AT thru-hike
click here for the full story

Incidentally, I was two years into my own "serious" hiking when I discovered an e-mail my Atlanta cousin Beverly sent me long ago.  In it, she was sharing some information given to her about Eugene (Gene) Espy - his Appalachian Trail exploits - and the likelihood we were related to him.  And, only recently, when I was "cleaning up" some of my Watt Espy posts did I find the letter written by Gene to Uncle Watty.  The connection then was made!  The Macon, GA address was a clear piece of evidence.  My goal in coming weeks is to try to show exactly how we are related.  I will add my findings here.

The common ancestor is Robert Marion Espy, Sr., born in Lincoln County, NC and died in Eufaula, AL.  He was married to Elizabeth "Betsey" G. Watt, born in Cherokee County, AL, and died in Cherokee County, AL.  One of Robert Marion Espy, Sr.'s sons was Thomas Franklin Espy, your great-great-grandfather. Another son of Robert Marion Espy, Sr. and Elizabeth Watt was Robert Marion Espy Jr., born in Tallapoosa, AL, died in Abbeville, AL.  A son of Robert Marion Espy, Jr. was Alto Lee Espy, born in Pike County, AL, died in Cordele, GA. A son of Alto Lee Espy was Eugene Marion Espy, born in Cordele, GA.  

- Beverly Espy Dayries

click here for the graves of Robert Marion Espy, Sr. and Elizabeth G. Watt (Espy), my ggg-grandparents and Gene's g-grandparents.


Anonymous said...

Hello Major Allen Espy,

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your website. I am not even sure how I ended up there, but am so glad I did. You have put a lot of work into documenting your family history, which is so impressive. I wish that I had this kind of information for my children and my children's children. Thanks again!

Kim D.
Fargo, ND

Anonymous said...

About Gene Espy and John Marshall Carter -

In September 2007, when searching for info of a maternal great-great grandfather, I finally located one of my mother's first cousins who I had met only once. His name was George Marshall Carter. I had slightly known Hilda, the young woman he married, through Phi Chi Theta at what was then the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia (now Georgia State). That was back in 1955. I was in touch with them in the early 1960's, but then I lost contact with them.

Immediately after I contacted him, George Marshall was very helpful in passing on to me all the family records his mother had, and he kept me in his e-mail group, passing on the political jokes, cartoons, etc. and an occasional update on his family. When my mother's youngest sister died in May 2010, some of the family stayed at the same motel while in Cordele for the visitation and funeral. George Marshall brought with him and loaned me his family records to photo at that time.

I was chatting with George Marshall and another distant cousin at the visitation, and somehow Gene Espy came up. I think I had seen that on many e-mails George Marshall sent to several, I probably asked him who this espy was. George Marshall said he had always been very good friends with Gene Espy. He went on to say that in Espy's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail, that he mentioned that when he started on the hike, he had a friend with him, but that the friend dropped out along the way. George Marshall said that he was that friend who dropped out.

John Marshall Carter died shortly afterwards - in October 2010. I continue to send and receive cards with his wife Hilda.

I'm sure you didn't expect such a long answer to your simple question of whether I was related to Gene Espy. ...Oh yes - another comment - Gene's mother's name was Alto Lee Espy. But she was called "Lena." - Beverly