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Robert Humphrey Amburgey
and Gertrude Quillen

Robert Humphrey Amburgey
Robert Humphrey Amburgey
Gertrude Quillen Amburgey
Gertrude Quillen Amburgey
Con - Don and Glenn Amburgey
Con, Don and Glenn Amburgey
Bertha and Sister - Gertrude Quillen
L-R: Bertha and Gertrude Quillen
Martha Carson, Jean Chapel and Minnie Woodruff
L-R: Martha, Mattie and Minnie Amburgey - The Sunshine Sisters
Don Chapel and Tammy Wynette
Don Chapel and Tammy Wynette

Robert Humphrey Amburgey Jr b 11 May 1888 Knott Co KY d 30 Jul 1962 Clermont Co OH; s/o Alfred Amburgey and Elizabeth Betts Amburgey. Robert Humphrey Amburgey m. 22 Nov 1917 to (2) Gertrude Quillen b 1898 KY d 27 Mar 1997 Nashville, Davidson Co TN; d/o Richard Quillen II and Carrie Venters. (More about Robert Humphrey Amburgey Family). Children of Robert Humphrey Amburgey and Gertrude Quillen;

1. Bertha "Minnie" Amburgey m. to (1) Charles "Ducky" Woodruff; (3 children); m. 1990 to (2) Bob Garcia. Minnie Woodruff was the female voice heard on some of Bill Carlisle's biggest hits such as "Too Old To Cut The Mustard," "No Help Wanted," and "Is Zat You Myrtle?". 

2. Irene Ethel "Martha Carson" Amburgey b 19 May 1921 Neon, Letcher Co KY d Thursday, 16 Dec 2004 Nashville, TN age 83 (see obituary); m. (divorced 1950) 1st to James Roberts s/o Fiddlin' Doc Roberts; m. 2nd to Xavier Cosse.

3. Opal "Mattie" Jean Amburgey (aka Jean Chapel and Mattie O'Neill) b 6 Mar 1925 d 19 Aug 1995 Port Orange, Volusia Co FL; m. (divorced) (1) Floyd "Salty" Holmes; (1 daughter); m. (2) Unknown.

4. Glenn Daniel Amburgey

5. Conley Martin Amburgey b about 1936 d Saturday, 14 Jun 2008 m. Mary Anne Unknown.

6. Lloyd Franklin "Don Chapel" Amburgey m. Unknown; Lloyd "Don Chapel" Amburgey m. Tammy Wynette. (Lloyd divorced Tammy after 3 years of marriage)

Robert Humphrey Amburgey
and Mary Annabelle C Baker

Robert Humphrey Amburgey Jr b 11 May 1888 d 30 Jul 1962; s/o Alfred Amburgey and Elizabeth Betts Amburgey. Robert Humphrey Amburgey m. 31 Dec 1911 to Mary Annabelle C Baker b 1898 d 1915; d/o Henry Baker and Martha Catherine Taylor.

Robert Humphrey Amburgey
Gertrude Quillen and Family

Robert Humphrey Amburgey occupation; mechanic and carpenter; he played the fiddle which inspired his daughter, Irene "Martha Carson" to be a musician.

Robert Amburgey and his wife Gertrude Quillen Amburgey were of hardy mountaineer stock. They made their home in the coal mining region of Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, near the Virginia line. Their house was the next to last one up the holler out from Neon, Ky., which appears on today's Kentucky maps as Fleming-Neon. Robert was a carpenter and a brattice man, builder of coal mine support structures. Gertrude kept house, looked after the cows and chickens that were the source of much of what the family had to eat, and tended to her children, of whom there would eventually be six; three girls and three boys.

The Amburgeys lived less than 50 miles, as the crow flies, from Poor Valley, Va., home of the legendary Carter Family. Like the Carters, the Amburgeys and the Quillens were musically talented. The Amburgeys were noted for their ability to play string instruments, and the banjo was the one that Robert Amburgey chose to concentrate on. The Quillens, on the other hand, were singers. They sang the Stamps-Baxter-type gospel material and traveled over a wide circuit of eastern Kentucky visiting churches where they performed at all-day singings and shaped-note singing conventions.

Gertrude Amburgey, who did not bestow full approval on her husband's banjo picking, persuaded him to join herself, her father, and her brother in forming the Quillen Quartet which was well received by congregations who loved the gospel harmony they performed.

Into this rich heritage of string instrument and gospel music the three Amburgey sisters, Bertha (Minnie), Irene (Martha), and Opal (Mattie Jean), in that order, were born.

"We just had a love for the string instruments," Martha says. At an early age, Minnie adds, "we were trying to sing, too. We were trying to get into the act." She says that seeing and hearing their parents singing before church audiences impressed them as very glamorous. "And we thought we wanted to do that, too," she says.

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