Transcribed By Elsie Sampson
December 14, 1950
* CAL’S COLUMN *
Monday, June 16, 1800
“ Court met according to adjournment, the following members being present: viz: Garrett Fitzgerald, William Walton, Tillman Dixon, Charles Hudspeth, Esquires.” So reads the opening item of the third meeting of the Quarterly Court of Pleas of Smith County, Tenn. Nothing is said in the record to indicate where it met, but it is virtually certain that the Court met in the home of Tillman Dixon, at the present Dixon Springs.
“Grand Jury also elected and sworn: viz: John Douglas, foreman; Godfrey Fowler, Patrick Donoho, James Roberts, Robert Bowerman, John Patterson, Phillip Day, Jacob Bowerman, Richard Harmond, James Cherry, David Cochran, Leonard Jones, Stephen Pate, Edmond Jennings and Isham Beasley.” In this list of early Smith County citizens appeared for the first time the name of Robert Bowerman. The other Bowerman has already been mentioned a number of times. He was Jacob Bowerman, supposedly a citizen of lower Jennings’ Creek, now in Jackson County. Whether Robert was a brother or a son, or whether there was any relationship between the two does not yet appear. And it is possible that in the copying of the old records an error might have been made and the name might be Robert Bowman, who was undoubtedly one of the early and substantial citizens of Smith County, and a resident of the section in which the town of Riddleton is now found.
By way of parenthesis, it may be added, just here that we have learned a little about the Brevard family. For there is an old cemetery on the farm of the late Claudie Gregory, just below Hillsdale, and about six miles south of Lafayette, in which some of the early Brevards are buried. On one tombstone is the following: “Polly Anna Brevard, Born Jan. 30, 1800; Died July 27, 1840.” We know or feel quite certain that John Brevard lived on the waters of Goose Creek in the year 1800. So the birth of his daughter, we presume, took place early that year. From all indications the present Jesse Merryman home, formerly the old Johnson home, near Hillsdale, was the original Brevard home. Just where the ford in the creek was, at which Brevard found the newborn baby and to whom he gave the name of Ford, remains unsolved. However there was a ford for many years in front of the present home of Leslie Cothron, which is only a few hundred yards from the old home that we judge to have been that of John Brevard. When the family left the county does not appear, and it is not likely that the entire family died and ended this particular Brevard line. Any other information about the family will be appreciated.
“Ordered that Lemuel Henry be admitted as a practicing attorney, he having taken the necessary oaths and oath of office.” So reads the next item on that summer day 150 years ago. Who Lemuel Henry was we do not know. If memory serves us right, he was the second attorney to offer to practice law in Smith County. “Ordered that Silas Jernigan be appointed Constable to attend on the Grand Jury, who was accordingly sworn.” Here we have another name that has disappeared largely from North Middle Tennessee. However, there is a John Jernigan at Springfield, referred to by those who know him, as “Uncle John.” Then there is a minister of the Church of Christ at Portland by the same name. We do not know that they are related, but the name and spelling are the same.
“Deed, 100 acres Thomas Harney to Esom Graves, proven by the oath of Jacob Bowerman, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, ordered to be registered.” We have not the least idea as to who Thomas Harncy was, but we presume that Esom Graves might have been the ancestor of the Graves family now in Davidson County, since this family once lived on Jennings’ Creek, and the winess, Jacob Bowerman, lived on that stream a century and a half ago.
“Ordered that Thomas Draper, Pleasant Kearby and Willeroy Pate be appointed patrollers of Captain Pate’s Company.” Here we have another item that is not quite clear. The word “patrollers,” is not found in the dictionary, but we suppose it had to do with those who went around over the various sections and sought to keep law and order or to hold in line any that might have been inclined to lawlessness. We suppose they were mounted men and that they had to cover quite a large territory. The
writer may be wholly off balance on this point. If any reader knows more about the above than Cal does, and he would not have to know very much, please write us and we will do our best to straighten this matter. Thomas Draper, we presume, lived on Jennings’ Creek or at least in that part of Smith County that became Jackson County five years after the above record was made. Pleasant Kearby, we believe, was the ancestor of the Kirby family of North Middle Tennessee. We have already referred to the spelling or the calling of the name, which then was pronounced as if spelled, “Kyearby,” Willeroy Pate is believed to have been a resident of Salt Lick of Cumberland, and perhaps the ancestor of the present Pate family in that section.
“Ordered that Richard Banks be allowed to keep a ferry at his own landing below the mouth of Dixon’s Creek, and that he be rated agreeable to the rates of all other ferries in the county except Edmond Jennings. “ Here we find a distinction or a difference, and we confess we do not know why Jennings, who lived at the mouth of Jennings’ Creek, near the present Gainesboro, should be rated differently from all other ferries in the county. From the mouth of the Caney Fork down, and Dixon’s Creek is perhaps 35 miles below the Caney Fork, the River is much larger than it is at Gainesboro. If this did not make the difference in rates, we do not know just what did.
“Will of Jesse Sanderson proven by the oath of Arthur Hessian, one of the subscribing witnesses therein, who also swore that he saw John Patterson subscribe the same as a witness with himself, John Sanderson and Leonard Jones were sworn as Executors.” Here we have another item of interest. We know that the Sanderson family lived on what is now called Sonderson’s Branch which flows into the Boston Branch just above the present Pleasant Shade. We also were informed long years ago by Joseph Sanderson, one of the wisest men we ever knew, that the first Sanderson house built in Smith County was erected near the present Ezra Huddleston home prior to 1811, near a fine spring. He also informed the writer that the family lived there for some years when the earthquake of 1811 that formed Reelfoot Lake, caused their fine spring to cease to flow, and the family had to abandon their pioneer home and move down the branch for about a quarter of a mile to another spring and there built on top of the little hill near the present Hugh Hackett home. Edward and Tommie Sanderson were two of the oldest members of the family of whom we have any record. One of these was in the War of 1812, if we remember correctly. Perhaps somewhere among our many old records is something that would shed light on this point, but we are too hard pressed for time to try to look it up at present. Mrs. Vina Hesson was a Miss Sanderson prior to her marriage and perhaps could give some light on who Jesse Sanderson and John Sanderson were. She is now about 90 years of age and still has a good memory. We hope to learn from her on these points. We might add that the family at present is nearly extinct, with Thomas D. Sanderson, Carthage undertaker, and his son, Glenn Sanderson, being the only adult members of the family left, so far as we have learned. It has occupied a prominent place in Smith County for about 150 years. Arthur Hessian was the founder of the present Hesson family in Macon and Smith Counties. He was known then as “Arter Hessian,” or perhaps more correctly, as “Arter Hashun,” as the name was called in the long ago, and to a lesser degree in our own early life. He lived, if we remember correctly, just above the present Pleasant Shade. John Patterson, the other witness, and Leonard Jones, the other executor of the will, deserve some consideration. In looking back over our old family records we find the following about the Jones family and we believe this is the same family to which Leonard belonged: Sam Jones and his mother, believed to have been a Miss Lane prior to her marriage came from North Carolina to the present Jennings’ Creek about 1795. His father, believed to have been William Jones, was killed in the Revolutionary War. Sam married a Miss Watkins of Wilson County. She lived to be 107 years of age. Sam is buried in the family graveyard at Red Boiling Springs.
The children of Sam Jones and the Watkins woman were: Dick Jones, married Andrews, and moved to Danville, Arkansas; Sam Jones, married a Bruce and went also to Danville; Jake Jones, married a Patterson, and also went to Danville; William Jones, married a Dewitt, and removed to Danville; Leonard Jones, married a Patterson, a cousin of Jake’s wife; Jesse Jones, married an Adams; and Betsy Jones, married Tom Hutcherson. We find that we have quite a lot more on the Jones family. Now here is some more surmising; Since we find the name of Leonard Jones, as executor of the will of Jesse Sanderson, and also that one of the subscribing witnesses was John Patterson, and since the same given name of Leonard is found in both records, and since Leonard married a Patterson and both Jones and Patterson are connected with the will of Jesse Sanderson, we believe we are justified in supposing that the Jones family whose outline is above given and the Jones of the old court records were of one and the same family.
Richard Banks above referred to, was a charter member of Dixon’s Creek Baptist church, which was formed near his home on March 8, 1800. His wife, whose name was Kerenhappuch Banks, was another charter member. One of our first darkies to ever know was Bob Banks, who perhaps was owned by the same family at the time when the slaves were freed. He lived on the site of the present home of Ed Smith, about a half mile below Mace’s Hill church house. The writer lived in the same house that Smith now occupies in the year 1913. From that place we left on the morning of July 12, 1913 to make our first preaching effort.
One other matter that may seem trival or even silly is connected with the name Bob Banks, our old darky neighbor of more than 50 years ago. Bob died when the writer was a small boy, not more that seven years of age. He left an old dog that had “mange” on him until he was virtually without hair. Late one cold, snowy winter day, some of the neighbors decided it would be better to kill the old dog than to leave him to starve to death. They shot the animal which got away from home after being shot and came by the front window of the living room of Cal’s little home more than 50 years ago. He can still see in his minds eye that gaunt, “mangy” and wounded dog, the bullet hole in his side still being as clear in memory as if the event were only a week ago. The old dog was overtaken about 200 yards from our childhood home and speedily dispatched. To our childish mind this was a tragedy and we grieved much over the incident. From our childhood bed through an open window we could see that part of the hillside where the old dog had been killed and thrown into a gully beneath some cedar brush or bushes. We do not recall an event of our very early life that affected us so badly as did the killing of the dead man’s old, friendless and forsaken dog. Weeks later we helped to pull that old dog’s body from beneath the cedar brush and into a shallow grave that had been dug on a bank just above where the old fellow had lost his life. We believe we could go today to that very spot, although it has been 40 years since we were there. If any reader feels that the above is trivial or silly, you are at liberty to do so. But the impressions made by the incident were hard on our tender and confiding disposition that craved the right and opposed the wrong even in the tenderest years of which we have today any memory. Please do not judge us too harshly when we go back through the years and give a description of some of the worries of childhood that today would be passed by with but scarcely a thought and without remembrance.
Next week we hope to resume at the place where we have digressed from the old records.