February 18, 1954
Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
*Cal's Column *
Additional Cleveland Data
Box 150, Moscow, Idaho,
Rev. Calvin Gregory,
Editor and publisher of the Times,
Dear Brother Gregory:
Several numbers of the Times, have come to both interest and instruct me. Let me here wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and the continuance of a most interesting publication.
I am much interested in the material submitted in the December 17th issue, on Cleveland. My wife and three sons hang on the Cleveland Family Tree, through marriage of Elizabeth Cleveland, daughter of the second Alexander Cleveland, to John Coffey, all of Orange County, Virginia.
From data gathered by the Cleveland Family, I have it that the first of this Cleveland Family came to Virginia, probably after 1659, in the person of Alexander Cleveland, Sr., said to be a brother of Moses Cleveland, who went to New England and was the ancestor of President Grover Cleveland. This Alexander Cleveland left a son, Alexander Cleveland, Jr., probably born in England, about 1659, came with his father to Virginia, where he married Milly Presley, daughter of Peter Presley, who was a son of William Presley, the Burgess, etc., and had, John Cleveland, Alexander Cleveland 3d., Jeremiah Cleveland, Micajah Cleveland, Elizabeth Cleveland and William Cleveland.
John Cleveland, son of Alexander Cleveland and Milly Presley, born in Orange Co., Va., about 1697, married Martha Coffey, who was born about 1707, also in Orange Co., Va. Their children: John Cleveland, Jr., Mary Cleveland, Benjamin Cleveland ( Col. in the Rev. War in North Carolina), Robert Cleveland (Capt. in his brother Benj. Cleveland's Regiment in N. C., Rev. War), Jeremiah Cleveland, (Rev. Sol.), Larkin Cleveland (Rev. Sol., N. C.) and two daughters or maybe a son, Tom and a daughter.
Of these sons of John Cleveland and Martha Coffey, all gave a good account of themselves in the Rev. War. Robert Cleveland removed to Blount County, Tenn. after the Rev. War, and left posterity in that County, which scattered through Eastern Tenn. He was born in Prince William Co., Va., in 1744 and died in Blount Co., Tenn., in 1812. He married Ailey Mathis, and left a considerable family, "Elder" Eli Cleveland, was a son of Capt. Robert Cleveland, born October 1, 1781, and died November 23, 1859, married Polly Ragan, etc., is buried in Cleveland Grave Yard in Blount Co., Tenn. Another son was Presley Cleveland, born September 14, 1779, died May 31, 1861, married Elizabeth Johnson.
Robert Cleveland had a younger brother, William Cleveland, who may be your William Cleveland of Smith County, Tenn. We know that the Clevelands were moving into Tenn. about that time. so he could have been a brother to Capt. Robert Cleveland, who is also buried in the Cleveland Burying Grounds in Blount County, Tenn.
If anything new shows up on the Clevelands, I wish I could have a chance at it. Again wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year, I am
Walter W. Smith
After reading the above letter which came more than a month ago, we partially overlooked it and now apologize for our oversight.
We offer the following additional Cleveland information: Col. Benjamin Cleveland was one of Armstrong's captains. William (afterward general) Lenoir was Cleveland's first lieutenant. This had to do with the fight waged against Indians in the year 1776 in East Tennessee. We have a rather lengthy account of this expedition, found in Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee.
Another item in the same book is as follow: "Reaching the foot of the mountain, they fell in with three or four hundred men, who were creeping along through the woods, desiring to fall in with and join any party that might be going to oppose the enemy." This was in 1780 and just before the battle of King's Mountain. Cleveland was in the thick of that battle that turned the tide of the American Revolution. He was one of the three men who signed the report of the battle to Gen. Gates. This is the last account of Col. Campbell as given by Ramsey, the historian.
Mary Cleveland, born april 22, 1756, died October 15, 1843, and is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, a few miles east of Nashville on the Gallatin Road.
William J. Cleveland, born July 31, 1835, died March 19, 1888, and is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery.
A. H. Cleveland, born Nov. 30, 1869, died June 21, 1911, is buried in the same place.
Myrtle (Laycock Cleveland) wife of W. R. Jenkins, born July 21, 1881, died January 30, 1915, and is buried in County Line Cemetery, on the line between McMinn and Monroe Counties, in East Tennessee. In the same cemetery rests the mortal remains of William Cleveland, born Aug. 25, 1879 and died November 10, 1909.
The following records including many Clevelands, are taking from the monuments in family burial grounds located at or near Sweetwater, Philadelphia and Madisonville, in East Tennessee. A partial list follows: Capt. Robert Cleveland, son of John Cleveland, born____, died ____.
Elder Eli Cleveland, son of Capt. Robert Cleveland, son of Capt. Robert Cleveland, October 1, 1781-November 23, 1859; Polly Ragan Cleveland, wife of Eli Cleveland, July 30, 1786-January 21, 1862; Robert R. Cleveland, September 15, 1808-April 7, 1868; Sydney G. Nelson Cleveland, wife of Robert R. Cleveland, July 15, 1811-October 23, 1884; Aley Mathis Cleveland, May 7, 1813-May 30, 1855; Clarissa Cleveland, September 6, 1815-March 11, 1880; David H. Cleveland, November 5, 1824-August 10, 1900.
Elizabeth Johnson Cleveland, wife of David H. Cleveland, January 5, 1827-December 31, 1882; Jesse F. Cleveland, July 11, 1845-October 27, 1846; Mary Catherine Cleveland Walker, wife of Seth McKinney Walker, January 4, 1847-April, 1906; Louis J. Cleveland, February 17, 1853; Presley Cleveland, son of Capt. Robert Cleveland, September 14, 1779-May 31, 1861; Elizabeth Johnson Cleveland, wife of Presley Cleveland, Feb. 17, 1792-November 20, 1854. We have some other Cleveland dead listed in the cemeteries just mentioned. That these are relatives and members of the same family mentioned in the above letter, there is not a doubt . In fact part of those mentioned in the letter are buried in one of the three cemeteries just listed above. But there seems to have been some error in the counties. Philadelphia and Sweetwater are in Monroe County, Tenn., and Madisonville is in Loudon County. My records are from "Bible Records and Tombstone Inscriptions," by Mrs. Acklen.
The writer finds the following sketch, including a picture of Elder Eli Cleveland, in "Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Ministers," by J. J. Burnett:
"In the cemetery of the old Sweetwater Church, in Monroe County, not far from Philadelphia, rests the remains of one of the earliest pioneer settlers of the Sweetwater Valley. From his tombstone I copy this inscription: "In memory of Rev. Eli Cleveland, born October 1, 1781; died November 23, 1859. Born a sinner saved by grace."
"The Clevelands are a numerous and noted family, both in England and in the United States. A book has been written which gives the history of the family as far back as the year 1200, showing the varied spellings of the name to be, "Cliffland, Clyveland, Cliveland, Clieveland, Cleaveland, and Cleveland -- the last spelling being the one adopted by the members of the family who came to this State." (Lenoir).
"The subject of our sketch was born in Wilkes County, N. C. He was a son of Capt. Robert Cleveland and a nephew of Col. Benjamin Cleveland, both of Revolutionary "fame," making many campaigns together, "fighting the Tories." The father of these two American patriots, the grandfather of Eli Cleveland, it is thought, settled in Orange County, Va., about the year 1700.
"Eli Cleveland was married to a Miss Mary Ragan, of Ashe County, N. C., December 28, 1803. To this union were born eight children, four sons and four daughters.
"He was baptized the third Sabbath in December, 1813, uniting with a Baptist Church in Ashe County, N. C., having obtained a hope in Christ a short itme previous. Soon afterward he commenced exhorting and preaching to sinners to "flee the wrath to come." He moved with his family to Knox County, Tenn., in 1817. He was ordained to the ministry in 1818, by request of Beaver Ridge Church. He moved to Sweetwater Valley in 1821. He united with the church at Sweetwater the fourth Saturday in January, 1822. He was chosen moderator of the church soon afterward, and retained the office until his death. This being a newly settled Country, he preached much and was instrumental in building up and establishing a number of churches. He also built up a fine estate and became the owner of several negroes. He had some $30,000 loaned out, mostly to farmers, at 6 percent interest. He gave the ground for the meeting house and cemetery of the old Sweetwater Church, and largely built the house, boarding the hands and furnishing teams, and negroes to drive them, as well as to do other work in connection with the building. The house was built of brick, and Elder Robert Snead was a co-laborer with him in building the house, Brother Snead being an expert hand at moulding and laying brick; and, having charge of the building, put his indellible mark on the house by putting up the front wall with his own hands out of the brick he himself had made.
"Eli Cleveland was a good practical surveyor, and did a good deal of surveying in connection with the entry and settlement of the new and fertile farms in the "Ocoee District," thus helping his neighbors to establish their lines and corners. I have been told the town of Cleveland was named for him; at any rate, it was named for the Cleveland family. As to education, culture, style of preaching, etc., a venerable brother, who knew him well and heard him preach often, characterized him as a "good mathematical man, well versed in the Scriptures, sympathetic, powerful in exhortation, a great peacemaker, and a genuine missionary; he was very simple and plain, and never tried to go into the deep doctrines of the Bible before an audience." As to personal characteristics and appearance, he is described as a man of plain speech, having perfectly black hair ( in his younger days), a fine physique, weight about 200 pounds, a fine conversationalist, and possessed of a voice that was full of pathos and tears. "His exhortations and appeals had a most wondeful effect upon his hearers. Repentance was the great theme of his preaching, and hundreds of souls were brought to the Saviour under the influence of his ministry." His brethern sometimes twitted him, good-naturedly, over his money-making, slightly insinuating that he was to "rich" for a preacher. But he had a talent to make money, and Providence had spread out before him a new, rich country, and all he had to do was to use his good sense and go out and possess the land. He was not grasping, however, but was liberal with his means for a man of his day and environment. He not only contributed liberally toward building a house of worship for his own neighborhood, but helped the First Baptist Church of Knoxville build their first meeting-house, gave liberally to the Baptist Female Institute at Jonesboro, and to othe rcauses of religion, as he had opportunity. He gave his time to the churches, never receiving anything from them in the way of remuneration for his services. It is said, however, that on one occasion a collection was taken for him without his knowledge; but, with the consent of the brethren, he took the money donated and with it purchased an overcoat for a poor preacher in the neighborhood.
"In the '30's and '40's, when churches were dividing over the question of "missions" and the "societies of the d a y, " Elder Cleveland, by keeping a cool head and steadying the boat, taking a conservative position, as he did, kept his church a unit and steered it successfully through the straits of those stormy days, landing it at length in tranquil waters, on the "missionary side"of the question.
"Elder Eli Cleveland died of heart failure November 23, 1859, aged 78 years, 1 month and 22 days. His last words were addressed to his true yoke-fellow in the ministry, Elder Robert Snead, who was to succed him in the pastoral care of the old Sweetwater Church: "I shall not long be here; I have given up; I have no desire to stay here at all; this world is nothing to me. I am perfectly resigned to go at any time, it is the will of God to take me. I have great reason to be thankful for His goodness toward me. My trust is altogether in Jesus, because I could not trust in anything on earth or in myself. I want you to pray for me that I may go easy, for God answers the prayers of His people. Take care of my little flock." The last words spoken, in thirty minutes he fell asleep in Jesus without a groan or a struggle."
From the reading of the sketch of the life of Eli Cleveland, we learn that Col. Benjamin Cleveland, above mentioned at some length, was an uncle of Eli's.
We have quite a lot of other data about the Cleveland family, largely from Bible records, marriage records and tombstone inscriptions. If Brother Smith desister them, we shall be glad to publish same at an early date.