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Family Stories


Biography of Tavner Martin
by Virginia Finley

Tavner Martin was born between 1785-1790 in North Carolina or Tennessee. His name might be "James or John Tavner Martin". There is some evidence that his father was Zachariah Martin and that a sister married Shadrack Phillips. Tavner Martin married Cynthia League, the daughter of Edmund League and Mary Beadle, about 1808 (some say 1810) in Warren County, Tennessee. Cynthia League was born about 1794 in Amelia County, Virginia. They came to Warren Co., TN and settled for awhile before going to Hamilton Co., TN. They had a log house near Wauhatchie. It is not known whether Tavner Martin or the Indians built the original log cabin. This house stood on a knoll about 400 yards from the Georgia State Line. (Information given by Sarah Little Parker.) - [[ I do know there were association of Edmund League with Tavner Martin early in 1800's. Tavner served as "chain carrier" for Edmund on land survey. Normally chain carriers were close relatives and normally teen age sons. Land was extremely important to a man and therefore he selected chain carriers he could trust. This is the only thing I have seen in records that point to a connection. This land being surveyed was in what is now DeKalb Co, Tennessee. The records for this area is poor due to fires in both DeKalb County and Smith County courthouses.]]

In 1805 the Treaty of Tellico gave the title to land and now open to settlement. At one time this included all the territory east of the Summit to Walder's Ridge to the southern boundry of the state. Warren County was, indeed, frontier country during this time. The county had been formed from White County in 1806 and McMinnville was established as a post office in 1811. The Black Fox Trail ran through the county. According to Hale in "Early History of Warren County" the Treaty of Holston in 1791 annexed the area from a point on the Cumberland southwest of a line ...that divides the waters of the Cumberland and Duck Rivers 40 miles above Nashville.

A BICENTENNIEL HISTORY OF DEKALB COUNTY, TENNESSEE, by Thomas Gray Webb, published 1995 by Bradley Printers of Smithville gives more information about Edmund League, Tavner Martin, John and Zachariah Martin, Joel Cheatham and Riley League. Thomas Webb is known as the Historian of DeKalb Co., Tenn.
page 33: Ebenezer Snow moved across the mountains by pack horse in 1806. EDMUND LEAGUE came the same year with horses.
1806 - page 43: small settlement on Allen's Ferry Road about two mile north of present Smithville....EDMUND LEAGUE located there in 1806. TAVNER MARTIN was there by 1812. JOHN MARTIN and ZACHARIAH MARTIN by 1816. Most of the best land had been claimed by speculators before the real settlers arrived.
1809 - All the following is from TN First Surveyor Dist Survey books BK D p 522. Entry 3857 2 Sep 1809 for Edmund League 70A in Warren Co., TN on head waters of Holmes Creek branch of Caney Fork River. Beg @120P S93 1/2P W120P N93 1/2P. 14 Dec 1810. Patrick MacEachern DS Scc: John Boon & Tavener Martin.
1810 - BK D p 474. John Boon 186A Warren Co., TN on head waters Homes Creek. Beg B. Oak & P Oak W220P W Walnut N135P Lynn E220P two Chestnut Oaks S136P to beg. Including his improvement survey as his Occupant Claim 18 Sept 1810. A Harris DS Scc: Tavenor Martin & John Boon.
1810-14 Dec-Entry 3857-2 Sep 1809-Survey for Edmund League 70A in Warren Co. on head waters of Holmes Creek branch of Caney Fork river. Begin E120P S93 �P W120P N93 1/2P. Patrick MacEachern DS. SCC John Boon & Tavener Martin. P 552 Survey Book D 1st Surveyor District, Early Tennessee Land Records
1812 - Tavner Martin was listed on the 1812 Warren County, Tennessee Tax List taken by Thomas Burgess, Esquire, on August 30, 1812. There are other names on Burgess' List that could possibly be connected to the Martin family: Jacob Hollingsworth, John Martin, James Lockheart, and Peter Ethredge. Alexander, David, Jacob, James, John (2), and William Martin were also found on other tax lists in the county. A 'Tavener Rodgers' also listed in the county.
1813 - BK F pgs 267-168. Entry 8473 24 July 1812 for Tavenor Martin assigne Yancey Thornton 5A in Warren Co., TN on Hurricane Creek of Caney Fork. Beg S20P E40P N20P W40P including first bottom above Isaac Blantons Entry 10A. 22 Mar 1813. A. Harris DS Scc John Blanton & Tavenor Blanton (this could be error on last name by District Surveyor)BK F pgs 268-269 Entry 9630 10 Dec 1812 for Edmond League assigne Clement Stubblefield 40A in Warren Co., TN on branch of Holmes Creek of Caney Fork nearly adjoining Joseph Frazers line. Beg about 1/4 mile from said Frazers line W40P S with boundary 66P W sd boundary 70A S34P e110P N100P including all good land between Boones Sugar Camp & sd Frazers line. 22 Mar 1813. A. Harris DS Scc John Childers & Edmond League.
1815 - Goodspeeds "History of Warren County, Tennessee", p. 814, lists all the settlers in the county by 1815. Tavner Martin is not listed as an early settler. Tavner is thought to have been living with one of the other Martins, possibly his father. On page 816 Adam Title (sic) is stated to have had a corn Mill on Charley Creek in the 13th District.
1820 - When the 1820 Census Warren Co, TN. was taken, Tavner's family was listed on page 21 and consisted of two sons under 10, 4 girls under 10, a male and a female between 26 and 45 years old. Next door was the Edmund League family. From the 1820 census Tavner's age would have been between 26 and 45 years, i.e., 1774-1794. [MARTIN, TAVNER State: TN; Year: 1820; County: Warren County; Record Type: Federal Population Schedule; Township: 200010-40010; Page: 21 Database: TN 1820 Federal Census Index] In the 1820 Census he was living next door to his wife's parents, Edmund League.

The children of Tavner Martin and Cynthia League were: 1) Zacharia 1812; 2) Hixie, June 26, 1813; 3) Edmund, March 1815; 4) Sarah "Sallie", November 25, 1818; 5) Elizabeth "Eliza" 1820; 6) Dabney, May 29, 1824; 7) Mary Ann "Polly", January 26, 1826; 8) Surletha Ann, January 28, 1828; 9) George Washington Canaan, March 8, 1830; 10) Jane Carolyn (Caroline), February 28, 1832; 11) Richard (Robert) League, July 31, 1834. All 11 children were born in Warren County, Tennessee.

Tavner and Cynthia--and several members of their family--were members of "The Little White Church at the Top of the Hill Down in the Valley": Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church. [You may already have this information. If not, you might find it interesting. Carolyn Bowers July 03, 2002 6:45 AM.]

1825 Warren County, Tennessee Plat Book records Tavner Martin's farm on Eagle Creek along the road between Sparta and Liberty. On Jan. 19, 1826 it was recorded in the Warren County Plat Book 1, page 350: Entry Bi, 1501 a survey of 180 acres for Tavner Martin including 20 acres where he now lives "in Warren County on Eagle Creek adjoining Easterage and Standege on the North side of the road leading from Sparta to Liberty, including the said Martin Plantation. It was surveyed Jan. 18, 1827 by Micijah and Martin Phillips.

State of Tennessee Warren County Tavner Martin 180 Acres; Plat Book 1, page 350, 1827

By virtue of an entry No. 1503 dated 19 January 1826 - I have surveyed one hundred and eighty acres of land for Tavner Martin, including twenty acres of a appropriate land whereon he lives, in the County of Warren on the waters of Eagle Creek. Beginning on a Black Oak on the south boundary line of a tract of land in the name of Easterage L. Standedge on the north side of the road leading from Sparta to Liberty running thence East one hundred and sixty poles to a Chestnut thence south two hundred poles to a Post Oak and Black Oak thence West one hundred and sixty poles to Black Oak thence North two hundred poles to the beginning, including said Martin Plantation. Surveyed the 18 January 1827 - Miajah Philllips and Martin Phillips SCB. J. B. Perkins, D.N. B. The above Survey includes 20 acres of appropriated land which is pasture. JBP.

Tavner received Grant No. 310 of 180 acres of land on March 10, 1828 in Warren County as recorded in Book A, page 210. He later received Grant No. 906, entry 867, 138 acres on Dec 11, 1839. (Book B, page 425).

1830 - He appeared on the 1830 census for Warren County, Tennessee. Terrell Curtiss advances the theory that Tavner's first name was James and that the family on page 347 of the Warren County census in 1830 was his family. While the family does not correspond directly with that in the 1820 census it could well be the same family. We know that Shadrach Phillips of Carmi, White County, Illinois wrote to his son Martin Phillips on March 20, 1830 saying "I want Tavner Martin to write to me as he said he would and let me know how he is coming on in the world. Andrew wishes to be remembered to Zachariah Martin." (Tavner's son) Terrell believed that Shadrach Phillips wife may have been a Martin. We do know that Martin Phillips had married Sarah League.

Tavner and Cynthia Martin raised their family in their large home. Mary Ann "Polly" Martin, the daughter of Tavner and Cynthia Martin was raised, along with her sister, Sarah, (who married Peter Tittle) and other siblings in their large home called ELMWOOD. Tavner Martin, made quite a name for himself when he built his great home in Wauhatchie, Hamilton County, Tennessee. Elmwood Farm was the heart of the Wauhatchie Indian settlement and there are remains of Indian villages on some of the fields. Wauhatchie was named for the chief, Wauhatchie Glass, who lived within a mile of this farm. [Tom Tittle, the grandson of Tavner Martin, the original owner of the house, who died at the age of 87 a few weeks ago, said he could remember hearing his Grandfather Martin tell of playing around the old log house with Indians when he was a child. Reference:; Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 18:45:13 EDT.]

On April 4, 1831, Tavner Martin enters 400 acres in Warren County on the waters of Eagle Creek, South Side. (Tennessee Grant Book #2427-4596): No. 3253. 28 Tavner, of Cannon County,sold to Edward W. Edge of Wilson County, on Sept. 26, 1836, 20 acres for $100 in 1st District, Eagle Creek of Caney Fork, with the improvements known as the old Tavner Martin place, surveyed Feb. 26, 1814 by John B. Perkins, the said tract was granted to Martin Brown and conveyed to Tavner Martin, Grant No. 5121, dated 30 May, 1812. The transaction was witnessed by Edmund Martin and Joseph Cameron and was registered at Woodbury, Oct. 6, 1836. (Cannon County, Tennessee Deed Book A, p. 122 # 131. On the same day and recorded on the same page as # 132, Tavner sold to Edge 180 acres for $200 in Cannon County in the 1st Dist, Eagle Creek, boundary line of Eastridge, standing on the North side of the road leading from Sparta to Liberty, including 20 acres where said Martin once lived. This deed was also witnessed by Edmund and Joseph Cameron and registered at Woodbury, Oct. 6, 1836.) 1836 he sold land that was then in Coffee County, Tennessee.

Tavner Martin moved his family from Warren County, Tennessee to Dade County, Georgia area. to Lookout Mountain; his land was situated on the Hamilton County, Tennessee/Dade County, Georgia line and bounded by Lookout Mountain. He was there during the Civil War and died there. They lived on the TN/GA line. [[Source: Margaret Ann Hudson I am descended from his son Edmond, who went to Sharp County, Arkansas about 1840. I have a copy of Tavner Martin's will. I am looking for his parents - All records show him as Tavner but there was a child named James Tavner.]] Dade County lies in the extreme northwest corner of Georgia. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north and Alabama to the west. Dade County was formed in 1837 from the western portion of Walker County. It was named after Major Francis Langhorne Dade who was killed in an ambush during the Second Seminole War in Florida in 1835. The county seat is Trenton.

1837 - The Cannon County, Tennessee. Court Minutes, Book 1, p. 158, in Jan. 1837 Friley Martin, Overseer of the road from two mile post on Allen's Ferry Road to Tavner Martin's old place, is to have the same lands as Tavner Martin, former overseer, had. On 1 Jan., 1837, in the Cannon County Deed Book A, p. 266, # 310 Tavner Martin sold to David Crowder, both of Cannon County 60 acres for $250 in the 11th Dist of Engine (Eagle) Creek. Witnessed by James McGuire, Thomas Bradford and Wm. Be?orton and registered at Woodbury on July 22, 1857.

1839 - The State of Tennessee granted 138 acres in Hamilton County, Tennessee, 4th range West of the Base Line, 3rd Township, Section 19 to Tavner Martin on Sept. 11, 1839. It was recorded as Grant No. 906, Ocoee District No. 867 and was signed by Gov. James K. Polk at Nashville of Dec. 11, 1839. It was not recorded until Jan. 1, 1886 in Hamilton County Deed Book 46, pp 317-318.

Record T, Vol 2; Book 46. State of Tennessee No. 906.

To all to whom these present shall come greeting. Know ye that in consideration of an entry made in the undertakers of five of the Ocorr District Number 867 dated the 11th day of September 1839 by Tavner Martin a general entrer there is granted by the said State of Tennessee to said Tavner Martin and his heirs a certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred and thirty eight acres lying in the county of Hamilton in said District, situated in the fourth range west of the basis line third fractional township and the nineteenth section, being the southwest fractional quarter of said section. Beginning at the southwest corner of said fractional quarter with its appurtenances. To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances to the said Tavner Martin and his heirs forever.

In witness whereof, James K. Polk, Governor of the State of Tennessee, hath hereunto set his hand and caused the great seal of the state to be affixed at Nashville on the 11th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine and of American Independent the sixty fourth. James K. Polk

A second grant was made on Oct. 3, 1839. Grant No. 1074, Ocee Dist. No. 1044, 4th Range West of the Base line, 3rd Township, Section 10 was signed by Gov. Polk on Dec. 31, 1839. It was recorded in the Ocee District office on Feb. 26, 1841 and recorded in Hamilton County Deed Book 46, p. 318 of Jan. 16, 1886.

Tavner bought part of the land granted to Silas Williams by the State of Tennessee in Grant # 1045 part of the SE 1/4 of Section 24, 2nd fractional Township, in Range 5 West of the Baseline. The state had granted the land to Williams on Dec. 30, 1839 and he sold it to Tavner for $210 on 23 Oct. 1840. The deed was recorded Aug. 1, 1843, Hamilton Co. Deed Book E., p. 154.

1840 Hamilton Co, TN, page 155; 1850 Hamilton Co, TN, Dist 4, page 948 ; and from the 1840 census Tavner would have been born between 1779 and 1790.

A John Williams bought land joining Tavner Martin on Oct. 6, 1842, according to Hamilton Co. Deed Book E., p. 198. It was joined on the south west by the waters of Lookout Creek. John Martin deed land for $125 in Hamilton County "on the top of the Lookout Mountain supposed to contain six acres more or less beginning in the center of the springs known as Holeman Springs, running down the spring branch in the middle there of to the mouth of mother branch." The deed is recorded in Book E. p. 424. (This land is located on the Tennessee/Georgia line, bounded by Lookout Mountain.) There is a deed of trust in Book E. filed on March 30, 1842, G. Woodward and R. Rawlins to secure payments of $1000 debt to a Martin. The name is difficult to read it is either I or J as the first initial and T. or S. as the second initial.

The Martin family lived near the town of Wauhatchie, Tennessee north of Trenton. The town was named for the Cherokee chief and the monument placed there gives a biography of the man. i.e., "Wauhatchie, Chief of the Cherokees, served in the War of 1812. He served in a company of Cherokees under Captain John Brown, Colonel Gideon Morgan, and Major General Andrew Jackson fighting the Creeks from 27 January to 11 April 1814. Wauhatchie was severely wounded 27 March and "lost his horse". He was a signer of the Hiawasse Purchase of 8 July 1817. He is in the Census of the Cherokee Nation in 1835 and followed the Trail of Tears."

The 1850 Census of Hamilton County, 27th District, p. 948 lists Tavner and Cynthia in Household 1504; Tavner as age 65 with $1000 worth of real estate and born in NC; Cynthia as age 56 and born in Virginia. For some unknown reason the census taker listed the Martin children in a separate household, Number 1505. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an error. Dabney, age 25; Surletha, age 21; Washington, age 20; Jane, age 18; and Richard, age 14, should have been included in Tavner's household. [Census: 1850 Federal Population Schedule, Tennessee, Hamilton Co, 27th Dist. page 477.]

Owin Holcoim deeded the NE quarter, Section 25, Range 5 West of Base Line, Township to Tavner Martin on 23 Jan. 1852 for $200. The deed did not include "about 34 acres in a deed of favor of McCallie and Hook at Harrison, Tennessee." The deed was recorded on Feb. 17, 1852 in Hamilton County, Tennessee Deed Book 8, p. 601.

Tavner and Cynthia are listed on the 1860 Hamilton County, Tennessee Census with Richard, age 25. (NOTE: the actual hand written census lists "ROBERT", age 25, evidently this is "RICHARD") The family is listed in Dwelling 166, District 4, page 26 and Tavner, age 70, $6000, $12,000; is again listed as being born in NC and Cynthia, age 64, was shown being born in Virginia.[1860 Hamilton Co, TN, Dist. 1, page 225, P.O. Chattanooga, family no. 1667.] Tavner is on the 1860 Slave Schedule, Tennessee, Hamilton Co, page 588. On the Slave Schedule, District 17, Hamilton County, TN in 1860, it appears that Tavner had several slaves.

Records indicate that Cynthia died July 1, 1862 in Wauhatahia, Hamilton County, Tennessee.

The Dade Tax Records shows that Tavner paid taxes on $6000 in 1867 but there was no land listed. Tavner died October 23, 1867 at the home of his son, Dabney. Tavner died in 1867 at the home of his son, Dabney, in Dade County, Georgia, and is buried in Wauhatchia, Hamilton County, Tennessee. Tavner's estate was probated in Dade County, Georgia; Misc. Estate Records, 1858-1877, page 588-641, Drawer 186, Box 25. On Nov 19, 1867 the Dade County Will Book, p. 19, records, "Whereas Tavner Martin late of . . . . . . The Index of Tennessee Probate, Hamilton Co. 1864-76, p. 488 shows Dabney's attempt to collect monies owed Tavner by Joel Cross.

"On the application of Dabney Martin, a citizen of Dade County, Georgia, and it appearing from his petition which is sworn to that Taverner Martin, his father, residing in said county of Dade and State of Georgia in 1867, died intestate and that said Dabney Martin has been appointed and qualified as administrator on said estate in Georgia and that said intestate held at his death two notes for $2000 each and one for $1000 executed by Joel Cross for land in this county in the Fourth Civil District to collect the same and to enforce vendor's lien for the purchase and the said Dabney Martin having taken oath and bond. It is ordered by the court that letters of special administration be granted to the said Dabney Martin."

SUPERIOR COURT BOOK 'B':1865-76, p. 641.
1 Umbrella . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J.E. Patterson .50
1 Harness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robt. Paris .30
1 Bible, Testament, Hymnal . . . . . Hixie Martin Powell .10
1 Weims Life of Washington . . . . . Jas. Blevins .30
1 Dialogue of Devils
1 Pr. Hammer and Tongs
1 Small Lock Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Shoab .55
1 Log Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J.E. Patterson 1.05
1 Drawing Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jas. Blevin .25

Tavner Martin lived right on the border of Dade and Hamilton Co, TN. Peter Tittle, brother-in-law of Tavner's daughter, Hixie Martin Powell, lived about 1/4 mile from Tavner. Hixie Martin & her husband, Jesse Powell, lived next door to Peter Tittle. [Source: "History of Dade County,Georgia" published by Espy Publishing Co. 1981 p.157.]

Submitted by Virginia Finley