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A Bridge Not Made By Hands

"It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble." - Rev. Clemens Means, 1877.

I love researching my family history.  I love it even more when I find something nice to write about.  For instance, consider this one thing I discovered only this morning.  I love going to York's Fentress County Tennessee.  Alvin C. York's son, Bruce, spent more than 10 years developing this database as a community service.  It started out as a project to assist people searching for their Fentress County roots, but not it has expanded to the entire region.  If you are looking for relatives who may have lived in this area, visit York's Fentress County Tennessee.  It's the number one genealogy site for researching all families from this area. Over 200,000 names are listed.

Getting back to my story, I was looking at one section of my family tree on York's Fentress County Tennessee this morning and one thing led to another and here I am writing another story, which I hope you enjoy.

Hanchrist Carlock reached America sometime around 1725.  He served in the American Revolution, fighting Indian allies of Great Britian. Before the war, Hanchrist was the road foreman in Augusta County, Virginia.  About the same time, George Washington, the future president, was working as a civil engineer in Augusta County.  George was given the task of surveying a road from the mouth of the Potomac to Natural Bridge.  One of the wonders of the world, Natural Bridge approaches Niagara Falls in grandeur and exceeds it in height (215 feet) and natural mystery. Natural Bridge is 100 feet wide.  Its span is 90 feet. Under its arch men look like small boys, and giant trees like small bushes.  Thomas Jefferson was the first owner of the land surrounding Natural Bridge.  He spoke of it as yet to be 'a famous place that will draw the attention of the world.'  John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court 1801 to 1835, named it 'God's Greatest Miracle In Stone.' American statesman and orator Henry Clay wrote of 'the Bridge not made with hands...'"

To assist him in the survey of this great scenic wonder, George hired Hanchrist Carlock to be his foreman.  One day, George chiseled 'G. Washington' in capital letters 23 feet up the Southwest wall of the canyon. Hanchrist chiseled 'H. Carlock' about 12 feet below and 10 feet to the right of Washingtons. Both signatures are still visible today.

Hanchrist came to America from Holland.  His son, Job Carlock, migrated west to Overton County, Tennessee sometime around 1805 and married Sarah McDonald.  Their daughter, Nancy, married Presbyterian minister Clemens Means, son of irish immigrants, Andrew and Nancy Means, about 1820.   Clemens' brother, Benjamin, was the great-great grandfather of my grandmother, Dimple Means Speck.

At the age of 77, Clemens Means sat down and wrote a biographical sketch about himself.  The quote I used at the beginning of this story was written by Rev. Means in this sketch..."It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble."   I thought about how many times George Washington, John Marshal and even Henry Clay might have turned to God for help as they were helping form this great country of ours.  I imagine Hanchrist Carlock needed a higher power as he left his homeland for America, and so did his son, Job, as he migrated west from Virginia to Tennessee.

It really is a small world, sometimes hard to live in.  But, just like the characters in this story, it is a whole lot easier to live in when we realize that we are connected by a 'bridge not made by hands.'

God is good.


  1. Hanchrist is my 7Th generation Grandfather if anyone knows more info i'd love to know more

  2. Hanchrist is my 5th great-grandfather. I'm descended through his son Abraham, born in Augusta VA and ended up in Schyler IL. I just learned about the George Washington and Natural Bridge connection a few days ago. So cool!

  3. Hanchrist is my 5th great-grandfather. I'm descended through his son Abraham, born in Augusta VA and ended up in Schyler IL. I just learned about the George Washington and Natural Bridge connection a few days ago. So cool!


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