February 17, 1955


This Article Appeared In The Times

But Was Not Actually Titled Calís Column


Transcribed by Janette West Grimes


* Cal's Column *


This is Feb. 12, 1955. Fifty-six years ago tonight was the coldest time we can recall. This was on Feb. 12, 1899. The writer was a little boy, in his eighth year. Our father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. "Dopher" Gregory lived then at the foot of Mace's Hill, on the Dixon Springs side. We recall the day before the terribly cold night. Our father had all the wood that he could pile in the old fireplace. But it did not seem to burn right, making mostly blue blazes that did not seem to have much heat. We recall that our father had placed on the floor of the living room a heavy sort of cloth, called by him a "wheat cloth," on which in summer he had "sunned" his wheat. This floor covering helped a little, we suppose; but we still recall, after 56 years have passed, how that the wind came through the cracks in the floor of poplar without "tongue and groove" and that the old "wheat cloth" rose half of our childish height, about a foot and a half tall in a sort of billow from the wind that came through the floor. We almost froze. In the kitchen, it was even colder, there being no ceiling on the kitchen walls or overhead. We would snatch a few bites, then hurry back to the "blue fire." We had no thermometer in our boyhood home, but we do not recall any occasion when we got so cold inside a house as we did that time 56 years ago tonight.


We recall that a Mr. Dias died about the beginning of that terrible cold spell. The ground was so deeply frozen that the matter of digging his grave was post-poned until warmer weather came. The backwater from the Cumberland was high at the beginning of the cold spell, reaching into the town of Dixon Springs, three and a half miles from our old home. The backwater froze through a depth of about three feet and left blocks of ice on the old Carthage-Hartsville "pike," as it was then called, about three feet thick.


We did not hear of any livestock freezing to death, but there might have been some such casualties among hogs and calves. We find that the temperature at Trenton, West Tennessee, was 29 degrees below zero; at Union City, 28 degrees below; and one degree less at Dresden. All three places are in West Tennessee. We are quite sure that the temperature here in Middle Tennessee was as low or even lower than it was in West Tennessee.


Mr. James Ragland, our former partner in the publishing business, once informed the writer that he had two mules together in a fairly large stall that night 56 years ago, and that it was so cold the next morning that both mules were covered with ice from their breath freezing and clinging to the hairy coats of the two mules.


Reports have reached us also of how that some houses that had dropped down some from settling were lifted up something like an inch or two inches. This was in the cold spell of 56 years ago.


This morning the temperature in Lafayette was one degree above zero. This was cold enough to burst a few water pipes, to freeze up numerous cars and do some other damage. But this was almost "like summer" compared with a low of 29 to 30 degrees below zero in 1899.


The winter of 1779-80 was said to have been so cold that cattle were driven over on the ice that covered the Cumberland River. By many this is thought to have been the coldest weather ever known in the history of Tennessee. It was so cold that the Indians of that day and time did not have enough to eat and were hard put to find enough game to supply them with food.


The "Cold Friday" of Feb. 5, 1835, is another of the three coldest spells of weather ever known in Tennessee. There are no official temperature records of 1779-80 or of 1835. We recall one very cold spell since we have been in Lafayette. The temperature is thought to have dropped down to some 20 degrees below zero. We recall that we managed to "crank" our old Dodge car that morning and went down as far as Hillsdale. The ground was covered with snow and the sky was a bright blue that morning. We had intended to go to the tobacco sales floor and work for the papers, but changed our mind when we found it so cold.


Perhaps some of our readers think that the extremely cold weather is all on the side of "loss" and none of it on the side of "profit." This is an error, the extreme cold killing many of the insects that might survive a warm winter and become grievious pests the next summer. So, after all, it is a blessing in disguise when the weather becomes extremely cold and the temperature drops down to zero or below.



This Article Appeared In The Times

But Was Not Actually Titled Calís Column





Davis Gregory, aged nearly 90 years, perhaps the oldest member of the family in Middle Tennessee, died at the home of his daughter,Mrs. Henry Hammond, in the Sangtown section of Sumner County about six o'clock Tuesday night. Death was due to infirmities incident to extreme old age. He had been blind five years. He is survived by one son, Willie Gregory, who resides in Simpson County, Ky., five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.


Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Paul Crowder at the Wiseman Funeral Home in Portland Wednesday afternoon at one thirty o'clock, followed with burial in the Sangtown Cemetery. The deceased was a member of Garrett's Creek General Baptist Church. His father was William Gregory.


We are somewhat uncertain as to the line of descent of Davis Gregory, but we are quite sure that he was a descendant of Billie Gregory who settled at Wolf Hill, some distance out of Hartsville. This Billie Gregory, so we have been informed, used to visit his "kinfolks" on Peyton's Creek about 150 years ago. The Peyton's Creek Gregorys were the editor's ancestors and we are sure that we are some sort of a cousin to the deceased Davis Gregory. Billie left the Wolf Hill section to go back to Chatham County, North Carolina, to settle an estate in which he had an interest. This was perhaps as early as 1825, and he was never heard from again. He was supposed to have been killed on the trip. His sons were: Arch Gregory, died about 1861, when he was more than 90 years old; John Gregory, died about 1861 from scalds, when he was 52 years old; Obe or Obadiah Gregory, no further record; and Richard Gregory, who went a long, long time ago in Indiana. Daughters of Billie Gregory, of 150 years ago, were: Nancy Gregory, married a Crews; Sallie Gregory, married aMincey; Lucy Gregory, married a Griffin; and Polly, who removed to either Illinois or Indiana, and who is thought to have married aMurphey.


Arch Gregory, son of Billie, married Polly Latham; and his brother John Gregory, married Sallie Harper.



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We have recently received the following letter:


Eagle Creek, Oregon

January 31, 1955


Dear Sir:


I wondered if you could help me with my Smith County, Tennessee, ancestors, the Newbys, Simpsons and Pryors. I just recently heard that they were from Rome and Carthage, in that county.


William Newby or his son, John Newby, was an Englishman, who sold his lands and came to America, first to Virginia and then to Smith County, Tenn. His son, John Newby, was born Nov. 14, 1803, but I do not know where. He engaged in whiskey distilling, and buying and shipping goods down the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers to New Orleans. William Newby married first Nancy Pryor, by whom he had three children: James, Celia and John Newby. I do not know whom James or Celia married. John Newby was my great-grandfather.


Nancy Pryor Newby died and William Newby took little Johnnie to his grandmother, 40 miles away; but he could not leave him, for he had his mother's black eyes. So William took him back for his sister, Hannah Newby, and the slaves to raise. Do you find any record of Nancy Newby, sister of William?


William married the second time, to Nancy Hankins, by whom he was the father of four children, Whaley, Roland, Elizabeth and Nancy Newby. John Newby married Rebekah Simpson, daughter of Presley Simpson and his wife, Martha Sutherland Simpson. Rebekah was born about 1800 and died 100 years later. I presume that John and Rebekah were married in Smith County. Do you have any record of it? Three or four children were born in Smith County before the parents moved to Illinois. They appear to have been Carl [Carroll], William, Elizabeth and Martha Newby. I am sure that Elizabeth was born in Smith County, Martha was born there in 1824. Whaley Newby, my grandfather, was born in Illinois in 1839.


John Newby married Rebekah Simpson probably in 1818.Do you find any record of the marriage of any of the brothers or sisters of Rebekah? Other children of Presley and Martha Sutherland, daughter of Samuel Sutherland, were: John Simpson, married Patsy Puckett; William Simpson, married Polly McCullough; James Simpson, married Jane Mathis; Presley Simpson, Jr., died in infancy; Martha married Winters,McCullough,Holston andLawrence; Nancy Simpson, married aHyres [Highers?]; Mirah Simpson, married John Carter; Mary Simpson, married Sam Strong and Rev. Arthur Bradshaw, a Methodist minister; Harriet Simpson, married a Mr.Boze; and Cynthia Simpson, married a Bradley.


They were most probably in Smith County from 1820 to 1832 when John Newby and his first children left for White County, Ill. Two brothers, James Newby and Whaley Newby, went also to Illinois.


There was also a James Whaley Newby from McMinnville, Warren County, Tenn., who died there in 1821. They may be related to our family. I thought perhaps he might have been a brother, or nephew or cousin to my William Newby as John Newby's brother was a Whaley Newby. Also his son, Whaley Newby, born in Illinois, was my grandfather.


Perhaps there would be records of shipping and boats to New Orleans. In "Tennessee Cousins," by Worth I. Ray, I find there was a William Carter buried on the old Pryor Carter place, west side of Goose Creek. Isn't Goose Creek near Carthage?


I've enjoyed writing to you and look forward to reading your "Column" and your whole paper. I am looking for a history of Smith, Overton and Jackson Counties. Have any been published?


My best regards,

Mrs. E. M. Barnett,

R. 1, Box 39,

Eagle Creek, Oregon


P. S. From a book on marriage bonds, Wilson County, Tenn., by Mrs. W. P. Bouton, I find that on Dec. 22, 1806, James Newby married Sally Batley, Test., John Alcorn; and John Hallum as surety. On March 28, 1825, Whaley Newby married Elizabeth Cooksey, surety, James Cooksey. Whaley might have been the brother of John Newby, son of William Newby.


E. M. B.




We are publishing the above letter in full for the information that it contains and in the hope that the information we cannot supply might be furnished by some reader of our paper. Smith County, Tennessee, is our native county, but our birthplace was in the extreme northern part of the county and Rome is quite a long way to the southwest. However, we think we have some information that may prove of help to Mrs. Barnett. We have the census records of Smith County for 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1870. These records may supply Mrs. Barnett with some facts she is seeking.


William Newby, in the Smith County census for 1820 and the following in his family: Two males from 10 to 16, one male from 16 to 18, three males from 18 to 26, and one male above 45, doubtless William himself. Females were as follows: Three under ten, one from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 26, and one from 26 to 45, Mrs. Newby, we presume. He was evidently a well-to-do citizen for that day and time, for he owned four Negro slaves in 1820.


This is the only head of a Newby family we can find in Smith County in 1820. We note that Mrs. Barnett says: William Newby or his son, John Newby, was an Englishman, who disposed of his land in England and came to America, settling first in Virginia and then coming to Smith County. She says also that his son, John Newby, was born Nov. 14, 1803. This might have been the male listed above as being in 1820 from 16 to 18 years old. She reports she does not know where the son was born. The census records do not show the place of birth prior to the census of 1850. She reports William Newby to have been a distiller of whiskey and the operator perhaps of a flat boat plying the river to New Orleans.


We have no record of Hannah Newby at this time, so far as we can recall. We may find something later. As to the record of the marriage of John Newby to Rebekah Simpson, we are sorry to repost that the Smith County marriage records prior to 1840, are largely missing. In the census of 1830, Smith County, Tenn., we find Henry Newby, listed as living alone and being between 50 and 60 years of age. His near neighbors were: William Garrett, William Patterson, John Chambers, Nehemiah Dowell, Presley Askins [Eskew?], Eli Conyer and David L. Ray. From the names of these neighbors we would judge that Henry Newby lived somewhere inthe vicinity of Rome. Another Henry between 40 and 50 years of age, is listed also in 1830. Margaret Minton, John Richards, John Carter and Elizabeth Brown appear to have been his near neighbors.


William Newby, another Smith Countian in 1830, is listed as having: One male between 20 and 30, one from 50 to 60, perhaps William himself, as the head of the family, who is the only member of a family listed by name up to the census of 1850; and females, one under five, one from ten to 15, one from 15 to 20, one from 20 to 30, and one 40 to 50, supposed to have been Mrs. Newby. Near neighbors of this family were: Thomas A. Shepherd, Mary Sory, Nancy Powell and Henry Robertson. William Barnett apparently lived six houses above or below the Newby family. Fletcher Barnett, between 20 and 30, lived still closer to William Newby.


John K. Newby lived only seven houses or farms from William in 1830. He appears to have been then a young man with the following members of his family: One male under five, one from 20 to 30, John K., we presume; and one female between 20 and 30, supposedly Mrs. Newby. Their neighbors were: George Bell, Jesse Palmer, Richard Bray, Weakley Weaver, Simeon Enoch, Julius Morefield, [now called Mofield]; Johnson Morefield and Crawford Conner. All these names indicate that John K. Newby lived in the general vicinity of Rome, in Smith County.


Ten years later, in the census of 1840 for Smith County, William Nuby [Newby] is listed as head of a family having one male between 60 and 70 and one female in the same age group. His nearest neighbor, either "up the road or down the road" was Bolin Nuby, who was a young man apparently. He had: One male under five, and one from 30 to 40, supposed to have been Bolin himself. Females: One under five, two from five to 10, and one from 20 to 30, who, we are sure, was Mrs. Bolin Nuby or Newby. Their near neighbors were: James Cooksey, Garner Rollins, Elizabeth Gyld, and lived, if we judge them from their neighbors, in the vicinity of the present Rome. Elimer Newby is listed in 1840 as being a free colored male between 55 and 100. This is the census record and sounds like a poor old Negro slave who did not know his real age. This is the end of the list of 1840 Newbys in Smith County, Tenn.


Beginning in 1850 the census records show each member of the family, their ages and places of birth. We have the following on the Newby family in Smith County in 1850: Rolin W. Newby, head of family, 42 years of age and born in Tennessee; Lucy Newby, 40; Jonathan Newby, 18; Mary Newby, 12; Sarah Newby, 10; Thomas Newby, eight; Susannah Newby, six; Louisa Newby, four; and Rawlin [Rolin, Jr.?]. All the members of this family were born in Tennessee.


Next in the list is the family of Whaley Newby, 44, and born in Tennessee; his wife, Elizabeth, 47, and born in Virginia; and James, 19; Tabitha, 16; Nancy, 14; Lucinda, 11; Elizabeth, nine; Hester, seven; and Frances, four. Living apparently between the two Newby families was the family of James Cooksey, 44, and born in Tennessee. His wife, we suppose, Malinda, 28, and born in North Carolina; and the other members of the family: William, 18; Jonathan, 16; Whaley, 15; Priscilla, 12; Francis, seven; Louisa, five; James, four; and John, one, all of whom were born in Tennessee; and James Cooksey, 20, and born in Kentucky. It would appear here that James Coosey had been twice married, the older children being by the first wife and the younger by Malinda. She was too young to have been the mother of James, William, Jonathan, Whaley or perhaps Priscilla.


The nearest neighbor that Whaley had, one way or the other, was Nancy Newby, who appears to have lived alone. She was 65 years of age and was born in Penna. Other near neighbors of these families were: John T. Jenkins, Joel T. Shepherd, Michael Sory, S. B. Hankins, Benjamin Atwood and Eli Shy. The general location, judging from these neighbors, would have been the vicinity of Rome and Carthage. This is all the members of the family of Newby listed in Smith County in 1850.


Only two families of Newbys lived in Smith County, so far as our record shows, in the year 1870. They are listed as follows: Elizabeth Newby, probably a widow, 67 years old and born in Tennessee., supposedly her daughter, Nancie, 32, and born in Tenn., and a second door neighbor, James R. Newby, 38, and born in Tennessee. He was probably a widower in 1870, as there are listed three children only; William Newby, 14; Bettie Newby, eight; and Henry E. Newby, five. So he had no wife in the year 1870.


We note that there are quite a lot of Newbells listed in the various censuses of Smith County. But we presume that this is an entirely different family. We note that Z. T. Newby, born Sept. 6, 1820, died Dec. 26, 1908, is buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery at Lebanon. Near the grave of Z. T. Newby is that of Mrs. E. E. Newby, presumed to have been his wife, born Dec. 28, 1824, died April 21, 1890.


There is no history of Smith, Overton or Jackson Counties, so far as we know. That a history of each county is badly needed goes without argument. There are a lot of sketches of each county, but so far as the writer's knowledge goes, there is nothing like a fair account of the history of each county in print.


As to the Simpson family, we confess we do not have a great deal of data. We learn that Thomas Simpson was a signer of a petition to North Carolina, asking for annexation of Watauga to the State. This petition had no date, but a notation on the petition is "Received Aug. 22, 1776." So it was probably gotten up earlier that year. This is taken from Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee.


William Simpson, in 1820 in Smith County, was the head of a family, which consisted of: One male from 26 to 45, Simpson himself, we are sure; and one female under ten, and another from 16 to 26, presumably his wife. James Simpson was head of a family in the same census. He had: Three males under ten, two from 10 to 16; and one from 26 to 45, perhaps his wife.


Mary Simpson is supposed to have been a widow in the census of 1820. In her family were: One male from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 18, and one from 18 to 26. Females in her family: One from 10 to 16, two from 16 to 26, and one from 26 to 45, Mary we suppose. She was evidently well to do for that day and time, owning six slaves.


Lawrence Simpson is another and the last listed in Smith County in the 1820 census. He had: One male under 10, one from 10 to 16 and two from 18 to 26. So he was a young man, with a very young wife, we suppose, for his family there was only one female, and she was between 10 and 16 years old.


In the census of Smith County for 1830 are: Presley Simpson, with males: Two under five, one from five to ten, one from 10 to 15; and one from 50 to 60, Presley, we are sure. Females were: One under five, one from five to 10, one from 10 to 15, and one from 40 to 50. His neighbors included: John Newby, mentioned above in our letter; Henry Tuggle, Henry Hyres [Highers?], David Farmer and James Norris.


Mary Simpson is the next head of the family in Smith County in the year 1830. Presumable she was a widow, between 60 and 70 years of age. She lived alone. Her near neighbors were: John Culbreath, James Goodner, John Bryant and Major A. Beasley.


James Simpson is the next in the list. He had two males under five, two from five to 10, two from 10 to 15, one from 15 to 20, two from 20 to 30 and one from 50 to 60. Females were: One under five, two from 15 to 20, one from 40 to 50, presumably Mrs. James Simpson; and one female between 70 and 80. The near neighbors were: George H. Grey, Elizabeth Hayes, Joshua Ford, James Loy and Silas Cooper.


Thomas Simpson is next in the list. He was a young man, between 20 and 30; and his wife, the other membere of the family, was in the same age group. Their neighbors were: Daniel Seay, John Scrivener, Edward Moore, Elijah Foutch and William Marlow. These names indicate that Thomas Simpson lived in the general vicinity of Rome.


The next Simpson listed is Thomas. He had: One male under five, two from five to 10, one from 10 to 15, and one from 30 to 40, Thomas himself, we are sure. Females: One under five, one from five to 10, and one from 20 to 30, supposed to have been Mrs. Thomas Simpson. Their near neighbors were: John Austin, Guy Lee, K. D. Williams, Elisha Looney and Claiborne Kealy.


John Simpson is the last listed in the census of Smith County in 1830. He was a young man then, between 20 and 30; with one female, from 60 to 70 years old. Near neighbors were: Lilburn Chandler, Benjamin Tubb, Lewis Hall and John Gwaltney.


In the census of Smith County for 1840, I find only one Simpson family listed: Mary Simpson, head of a family in which there was one male between 30 and 40; and Mary herself between 60 and 70, and presumed to be a widow. Her near neighbors were: David Frye, Jacob Frye, Moses Springfield and Gregory Moore.


In the Smith County census for 1850, the first to give the names of all the members of the family we find John Simpson 45 years old and born in Virginia; and his wife, we suppose. Her name is Atha, 32, and born in Tenn. John was a stone mason. Near neighbors were: John G. Nollner, John H. Nollner, James Thomas and James Denney.


Samuel Simpson, 23, and his wife, Susan Simpson, 21, and both born in Tenn., make up the next Simpson family in the old records. Their near neighbors were: Parris Wilson, James Cobb, Elvira Foutch and B. H. Hankins. Thomas Simson, spelled as in the census records, was 45 years old, and born in Kentucky. His wife, Attalantha, 41, was born in Virginia. Their children were: James, 17; Charlotte, 14; Thomas, 12; Lewis, eight; and William, also eight, presumed to have been twins. In the same family was Nancy Simson, 70, and born in Virginia. Near neighbors were: John Fisher, Josan White, Matthew Parkeer and Robert Sandlin.


John Simpson, 20 and his wife, Elizabeth Simpson, 18, both born in Tennessee, make up the last Simpson family in Smith County in 1850. Milberry Woodson, Isaac Grindstaff, Isaac R. Moores and Samuel Brown were near neighbors of John Simpson.


We have quite a lot more Simpson information if Mrs. Barnett wants it. We hope to get to the Pryor family in Smith County in another article at an early date.