Transcribed by: Janette West Grimes


Dec. 4, 1952


* Cal's Column *


   The next item in the old records is as follows: " John Douglass,Esq.,Sheriff, is appointed collector of the State and County Taxes for the year 1802,who came into Court,gave security and qualified according to the law." Here we learn that taxes were collected by the early Sheriff's of Smith County instead of as today, by the County Trustee.We do not know if this man Douglass was a brother of Elmore Douglass, an early member of the County Court of Smith County. The same man was a member of the first Court in Wilson County,in 1799. Other early members of the Douglass family in Tennessee were: Edward,James and William Douglass. Edward Douglass was a member of the Constitutional Convention which met on January 11, 1796 for the purpose of forming the new State of Tennessee. He and William Douglass were both from Sumner County. Edward was also a senator from the same county in the first legislature of the new State.


   Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee has the following item about James Douglass: "On the 31st of August, ( 1792 ) an attack was made on John Birkley ( Berkley ? ) and his son, in his peach orchard, near Bledsoe's Lick ( Castalian Springs now ); the former was wounded,but bravely returned the fire and killed an Indian in the act of scalping his ( Birkley's ) son. On the night of the 27th of August, a party of 15 Creeks put fire to Captain Morgan's home,near the same place; but the fire was extinguished and the party repulsed by the aid of Captain Lusk's company, stationed for the protection of the frontiers. On the preceeding night the same party opened the stables of James Douglass and took his horses. The next day Samuel Wilson fell in with them, wounded one,put the party to flight and regained the horses, a gun and a bloody blanket. Shortly' before 11th August, 1792, the Indians killed a boy and wounded a man near Bledsoe's Lick.


   We do not know that Sheriff Douglass was a relative either of the Douglass men mentioned in the above items, but presume that he was. As we have already set forth in these writings, Miss Elizabeth Gregory,daughter of Thomas Gregory, and a sister of Bry Gregory, our own great - great- grandfather married a Douglass, but we do not have his name, although Sisco's history of Sumner County gives the name of the Douglass who married Miss Gregory. We do know that Thomas B. Douglass was one of the heirs of Thomas Gregory,Sr., whose estate was settled in 1827.


   " Ordered that James Vance be Overseer of the road leading from John Lancaster's Ferry to the  Walton Road, and that John Lancaster, Esquire, furnish said Overseer with a list of hands." The place for the overseeing by Vance was, we believe, between the Chaney Fork River and Walton Road, which lead down from the Chestnut Mound section to Carthage, and westward by way of Dixon Springs. We have no information on James Vance, although we find mention of John, Joseph and Samuel Vance very early in The history of Tennessee. Samuel Vance was a member of Capt. Evan Shelby's Company which fought with great bravery in the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. John Vance was Clerk of the Court of Sullivan County, Tennessee, in 1788.


   Joseph Vance was a member of the County Court of Sevier County, in which part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located, when the county was formed in 1794. The writer_visited the county seat on last Saturday and found an ancient courthouse, in which are some old, old records. This county is said to be the most strongly Republican in the entire United States. It gave Eisenhower a majority of seven to one over Stevenson.


   " Ordered that Wilson Cage, James Bradley and Andrew Greer be commisioners to divide the tract of land whereon Michael Murphy lives, between the heirs of William Young, deceased, agreeable to law; and also that they lay off one - third of the tract to the widow of the deceased, to include his mansion house." Here we have an item that is of interest. Michael Murphy lived near the present Pleasant Shade, there being some difference of the exact location of the home occupied by Murphy. Some state that it was located in the field at the rear of the Bob Williams house in Pleasant Shade. Others think it was located perhaps where Hugh Hackett now lives, or near the old Sanderson home. The evidence in favor of the first location is that one of the old court records says that Archibald Sloan was to be overseer of certain roads, including the one down to the home of Michael Murphy, which would have signified the road leading from the present Billy Sloan home down the present Sloan Branch to the field above refered to, a distance of about a quarter of a mile. On the other hand, if the Murphy home was on the farm now owned by Hugh Hackett, there is no way to reconcile the Court order to Sloan as overseer, so far as we can see.


   Wilson Cage is supposed to have been the ancestor of the Cages of Smith County of a later date. The same may be said for James Bradley. Andrew Greer is supposed to have resided on te lower part of Middle Fork of Goose Creek where an elevation is still called the "Greer Hill."


   William Young was the ancestor of Judge Sam M. Young, who died some years ago at Dixon Springs and who was perhaps the best historian Smith County ever had. Just where the lands of William Young lay, we do not know; but they were in the vicinity of the present Pleasant Shade. " The mansion house " must have meant the house in which he resided, as distinguished from tenant houses and from quarters in which slaves lived.


   "Ordered that the accounts and vouchers allowed by Moses Fiske and Peter Turney, Esquires, in thew settlement by them, made with the administratrix and administrator, be received and the settlement entered of record." We do not recall the estate herein referred to, but a look back through the old records would  perhaps give the name of the party whose estate was being administered. Moses Fiske and Peter Turney were both very prominent men in the history of Smith County. Fiske being a noted surveyor and Turney being a planter and owning Bud Garrett farm near Dixon Springs, and much adjoining land.


   We find the following account in which the name of  Peter Turney is mentioned by Ramsey in his Annals of Tennessee, " Knoxville, Tenn.


   Sept. 24, 1794, Sir: - - On the seventh instant by order of General Robertson, of Mero District, I marched from Nashville with five hundred fifty infantry under my command, and prsued the trace of Indians who had committed the last murders in the District of Mero, and of the party that captured Peter Turney's negro woman, to the Tennessee, crossed it on the night of the twelfth, about four miles below Nickajack; and, in the morning of the thirteenth, Nickajack and Running Water, towns of the Cherokees." This was signed by James Ore, who was in charge of the expidition. No account is given of the fate of the negro woman.


   Letter of Attorney, Joshua Knowlton of Sampson - , proven by the oath of Archibald Sloan, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto." We would judge this to have been what we call today a power of attorney, which is a legal form by which one party authorizes another party to sign the first party's name to certain legal documents and to bestow upon the " grantee " the authority to act for the " grantor " as though the " grantee " were himself present and acting in his own behalf. The name of the party receiving the Letter of Attorney is supposed to have been Sampson Williams, although the surname is left out of the records. We have no information at all about Joshua Knowlton.


   " Ordered that John Rankins be overseer where Fredrick Debow was Overseer, and that the same hands work under him." We know nothing of John Rankins, but believe that Fredrick Debow lived on the lower end of Big Goose Creek. There is an old Debow cemetery not far from the juncture of the two parts of Goose Creek, Middle Fork and East Fork.


   " Ordered that be overseer of the road  from Dixon Springs to the ford on Dixon's Creek on the Fort Blount Road, and the same hands work under him as were liable to work under the late Overseer." We do not know who Josiah Payne was. We do know that a young Mr. Payne was one of the number that started down the Tennessee River in the big flotilla that finally reached Nashville, that he died of wounds inflicted upon him by Indians who fired on the boat on which he was traveling. But do not know if Josiah Payne was related to Payne killed by the Indians in March, 1780. Another early Payne was Jesse who was one of the incorporators of Washington College in East Tennessee in 1794. William Payne helped to run the boundry line of Grainger County in 1796. The same man was a member of the County Court of Washington County in 1796. We are sorry that we have no information of a later date to give our readers concerning the Payne family which is still quite numerous in Smith County.


   We know the road over which Josiah was overseer, having traveled it thousands of times in our early life. It began at Dixon Springs and ended just below the present brick church house on Dixon's Creek, where the old Fort Blount Road crossed the creek. This was near the homes of James Ballou and Elias Johns 150 years ago. We traveled this road for the first time more than 50  years ago and later walked over it to and from school at Dixon Springs, which we attended for a short time.


   " Ordered that Henry Tooley be Overseer of that part of the road where Robert Bowman was Overseer and that the same hands work under him as worked under the late Overseer. " Robert Bowman was a very early citizen of the vicinity of the present Riddleton, and lived on the stream that now bears his name, Bowman's Branch. It was called Spirited Creek for a time, but this name is now almost entirely forgotten. Henry Tooley lived at the rear of Riddleton, so we are informed. He was an early member of the County Court and was quite prominent in it's affairs. No trace of the family appears in the old records after 1820, and there is no member of the family listed in Smith County in the census for 1820.We suppose that the family emigrated to some other county or state. However, we are quite sure that our fellow townsman, Buford Tooley, is a decendent of the Henry Tooley, who was overseer of the road near Riddleton  seven score and ten years ago.


   " Ordered that Joseph Shaw be Overseer of the road from Oldham's Cabbins ( Cabins ) to the Indian Boundary, and that the same hands living between said Cabbins and the Indian line work under him." We are not quite certain as to where Oldham's Cabins were, but the Indian Boundary lay to the east of Smith County and formed perhaps a part of the boundary of the county. We would judge that this Oldham family was the first of the name in Smith County, and there is some indication that Oldham's Cabins were on Snow Creek, just above the present Elmwood. We hope to have more information on this branch of the Oldham family.


   We have some information on the George Oldham branch, came from Virginia in 1805 and settled at the present Herbert Sloan place on Peyton's Creek. The family is of English origin and the name came from the earlier spelling of " Old Home," or " Hame." Gradually the name was changed to Oldham, as it is now spelled.


   George Oldham came out of Virginia in October or November, 1805, with his wife and two children, the younger of whom, a daughter, Polly Ann, was only nine months of age. Mrs. Oldham was a Miss Sutherland prior to her marriage. She had a sister who married a man named Greanead, believed to have been the ancestor of all the members of that family still living in North Middle Tennessee.


   Their children were: Polly Ann, married William Nixon; Judy, married Nelson Davis; Sam, married Nancy Nixon, a sister of William Nixon; and later married a sister of his first wife, Sallie Nixon; Tommie Oldham, married a Massey; William Oldham, married a sister of Tommie's wife; Celia Oldham, married Brice Piper; Willis Oldham, married first a Beasley and later a Richards; Letha, married James Gregory, son of Big Tom and Betty Gregory; James Oldham, married Mary Perkins; Jane Oldham, married a McKinnis; Betsy, married Payne, and removed to Georgia; Adeline, married Levi Shoulders, son of Malachi and Polly Gregory Shoulders, and George Oldham, a victim of infantile paralysis and who never married. Polly Ann and her husband, William Nixon, were the parents of: James C. Nixon, married first to a Miss Gregory, and lastly to Mrs. Polly Ann Russell Donoho; Celia Nixon, married a Taylor; Adeline Nixon, married Joe Taylor; Sam Nixon, married Harriet Cartwright, daughter of Richardson Cartwright; William Francis Nixon, killed in Mexican War; Tom Nixon, married a Hudson; Hamilton Nixon, killed by a horse; George Nixon, drowned in the Cumberland, about 110 years ago; Juno, and we have no further record of her; and John C. Nixon.


   Judy Oldham and her husband, Nelson Davis, were the parents of: Willis Davis, married a Bowman; Celia Davis, married Jabe Gregory; and Emily Davis, married Ned Gregory.


   Sam Oldham was the father of: Bob Oldham, married a Piper; Mary Oldham, married Tom Miller; Dick Oldham, no further record; Nancy Oldham, married William Piper; and Lou Oldham, married Alex Piper.


   Tommie Oldham, whose real name we believe was Thomas Jefferson Oldham, was the father of: Hugh Oldham, married Em Dillehay; Ben Oldham, went to Oklahoma; Tom Oldham, killed during the Civil War; Sarah Oldham, married Jim Blackwell; Judy Oldham, married Arch Blackwell; William Oldham, no further report; and Jane Oldham, married a Smith.


   William Oldham and his wife, the former Miss Massey, were the parents of: Sam Oldham, married Chib (Sallie) Gregory, daughter of Tom Gregory, a half - brother of the writer's grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory; Celia Oldham, married John Shoulders, Murray, no further record; Nancy Oldham, married Rufus Beasley, son of Calvin Beasley; Margaret Oldham, married Lon Dias; Candace Oldham, married a Richardson; Ann Oldham, married a Burris; Mima Oldham, no further record; and James Oldham, bitten by a rattle snake when he was a lad of about ten and died from the effects of the poison.


                                                      ( To be continued )