Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
February 25, 1954
* CAL'S COLUMN *
We resume our publication of the old records of the County Court and Court of Pleas of Smith County, Tenn. The item are in quotation marks. The following is the first not as yet published: "Wednesday, Dec. 22, 1802. Court met according to adjournment. Members present: (to wit) James Hibbetts, Lee Sullivan, John Looney, James Gwin, William Kavanaugh, Esquires, Justices."
James Hibbetts lived in 152 years ago on the present Carter Branch in the South side of the present Macon County. The old family graveyard is located on the present Jim Burrow farm. Lee Sullivan lived in that distant day and time in the present Sullivan's Bend, above Carthage and not very far from the present Elmwood. John Looney's place of residence is not known to the writer, although there is some indication that he lived just east of Lafayette. However, we are not satisfied on this point and would appreciate any correction.
James Draper resided on the present Jenning's Creek from the best information we have. James Gwin is believed to have resided not far from the present Hartsville in that distant day and time more than a century and a half ago. William Kavanaugh lived in the south side of the present Smith County, in the vicinity of the present New Middleton.
"John Chambers exhibited his stock mark, being a crop off the right ear and slit in each. Ordered to be recorded." We believe that John Chambers resided long ago on Peyton's Creek, below the present Pleasant Shade. W. W. Chambers, Carthage merchant, has asked us to learn if we can, something of his line of descent. We have not been able to give this much attention, but we do know that a town in Pennsylvania was called Chambersville, located in Indiana County. Also in Franklin County, Pennsylivania is a town called Chambersburg. We would judge that early settlers in both places were members of the Chambers family.
In looking over the early Smith County families, as listed in the census of 1820, we note the following heads of Chambers families: William Chambers, one male from 26 to 45, himself, no doubt; and females, one under ten, and one from 16 to 25, Mrs. Chambers, we are sure. They owned two slaves. The Mr. W. W. Chambers, of Carthage, stated that his father was William Chambers, and that so far as he was able to learn , there was a William Chambers in his line as far back as he had any record of same. This man may have been the great-great-grandfather of the W. W. Chambers, Carthage merchant.
Richard Chambers is the next head of a family of the name in the lists above mentioned. He had: one male from 10 to 16, and one from 26 to 45, Richard, we feel certain. Female: One under ten, one from 26 to 45, Mrs. Richard Chambers, no doubt. This family owned two slaves in 1820.
Rebecca Chambers was evidently a widow in 1820. She had not a male in her family. Females: One from ten to 16, two from 26 to 45, and one over 45, Mrs. Rebecca Chambers, who was evidently well off for that day and time, owning 10 slaves. We do not have any idea as to where she lived, but would suppose that she probably resided in the vicinity of the present Riddleton.
James Chambers is next. He had: Two males under ten, one from 10 to 16, and one from 45 years upward, himself, we are sure. Females: One under ten, two from 10 to 16, and one from 26 to 45, Mrs. James Chambers, we suppose. This family owned two slaves in 1820.
In 1820 John Chambers is shown to have been from 26 to 45, and lived alone. This could have been the John Chambers who was a member of the Court in 1802, but we doubt if this be true. There are no other Chambers listed in the 1820 census.
On Sept. 16, 1794, in Davidson County, Tenn., a man named Chambers, first name not given was killed by Indians. This occurred about 12 miles above Nashville. At the same time John Bosley and Joseph Davis were wounded and John Donnelson's Station burned. This is the only member of the Chambers family in the very early history of Tennessee, of whom we have any knowledge.
By 1850 the family had the following members: John Chambers, 32 years old; his wife Caroline, 31; John, nine; Samuel, four; and Lucy A., one year old. Mary Burnett, aged 11 years, lived with this family which resided on Peyton's Creek. Elizabeth Chambers, 47, and supposed to have been a widow, born in Kentucky; Benjamin F. Chambers, 23 and born in Tenn., William, 19, born in Tennessee; and Mary Chambers, 16, and born in Tennessee. In the same family and related, we are sure were: Samuel B. Chambers, 30 years old and born in Tennessee, his wife, Mary F. Chambers, 26, the mother of Elizabeth, three; William, two; and Jane, four months old. It is possible that Samuel B. Chambers was the son of Elizabeth, although she was only 17 years older. This family lived in the vicinity of Dixon Springs.
Richard Chambers is next in the list. He was in 1850 71 years of age and was born in North Carolina. In his family were Sarah Chambers, 30 and supposed to have been Richard's daughter; and Samuel Scroggins, 17. The next listed is Rhoda Chambers, 73, and born in Maryland, James Piper, 22, lived with her.
John Chambers lived not very far from Rhoda. He was 41 years of age, born in Tenn. His wife, Elizabeth, was the same age as her husband, and was born in Tennessee. Mary E., a daughter, was 11, Sarah E., another daughter, was seven; and James H. Chambers, was two. William H. Chambers is the last head of a Chambers family listed in Smith County in 1850. He was then 55 years of age, and was born in North Carolina. His wife, Evalina, was 45 or 46, and was born in Tennessee. Children: Thomas, 21; Harriet, 16; William, 14; Peter, 10; Cynthia, eight; and Henry, four. We would judge from the information gleaned from the census for 1850 that the Chambers family came from North Carolina to Tennessee.
"Jesse Beasley exhibited his stock mark, being a swallow fork in the left ear, and an underkeel in right. Ordered to be recorded." This Jesse Beasley, we are sure, was the son of Isham Beasley and his wife, the former Miss Polly Andrews. Isham was a soldier of the Revolution and was one of the wealthiest men in the country in the years before the Civil War. If any reader of the paper can give us additional information on Jesse Beasley of 1802, please feel free to write us.
"James Gwin, Esquire, exhibited his stock mark, being a slit in the left and an overslope in the right ear. Ordered to be recorded." This is the same James Gwin above referred to as a member of the Court.
"In the suit, Nathaniel Ridley against Reuben Osborne, James Draper and Jesse Shoemake came into Court and replevied the property attached, and acknowledged themselves as special bail." We suppose this James Draper to have been the same man mentioned in the beginning of this article as a member of the Court. We have no knowledge of Nathaniel Ridley or Reuben Osborn, nor Jesse Shoemake. Nor do we have the least idea as to the nature of the suit. However, human nature has not changed in the least in 150 years and lawsuits will last till the end of this age, we are sure.
"Ordered that the following Justices take in the last of taxable property for the year 1803, viz: James Gwin, for Captain Casey's Company; James Draper, for Captain Witcher's Company; James Hibbetts, for Captain Gifford's Company; John Patterson, for Captain Patterson's Company; Tilman Dixon, for Captain Matlock's Company; William Gregory, for Captain Settle's Company; James Roberts, for Captain Pate's Company and for Captain Anderson's Company; Lee Sullivan, for Captain Sullivan's Company; John Lancaster, for Captain Fite's Company; John Looney, for Captain Hay's Company; Charles Kavanaught, for Captain Kavanaugh's Company; William Kavanaugh, for Captain Cotton's Company; Elmore Douglass, for Captain Bishop's Company; and Peter Turney, for Captain Samuel's Company."
The above rather lengthy item from the old records is of interest, but we sorry we know so little about what is meant or the parties mentioned. We suppose the Companies referred to were military companies. We have already referred twice to James Gwin, Captain Casey, we believe, was Samuel Casey, who in 1802, lived on Goose Creek, where Gwin is thought to have lived. Casey came to Smith County from Georgia, in the very early history of the county. Hiram Casey is thought to have been a son of Samuel. Hiram Casey was a Baptist minister of note in Smith County from 1812 to 1824. The family is unknown in Smith County at this time. James Draper has already been mentioned in this article. Captain Witcher is supposed to have been Daniel Witcher, born in Virginia, and an early resident of the Long Fork section of the present Macon County. he was the ancestor of the present Witchers in Macon and Jackson Counties.
Jabus Gifford is the oldest Gifford listed in the census of 1820, but we have no way of knowing if Captain Gifford was Jabus Gifford. John Patterson was an early blacksmith of Goose Creek, which rise just to the south of Lafayette. We do not know of John Patterson and Captain Patterson were one and the same, and the same holds for the others having the same surname as the head of Company listed. Tilman Dixon resided at Dixon Springs, and the town was named for his spring. We have no information as to Captain Matlock unless he was George Matlock, the only member of the family listed in the county in the 1820 census which shows that he was then above 45 years of age, and the owner of 19 slaves.
The William Gregory listed was a brother of our great-great-grandfather, Bry Gregory. He was born in Virginia in 1764, and married Martha Bledsoe. He was a resident of Chatham County, North Carolina, for some years, before coming to east Sumner County in 1791 and settling on Peyton's Creek, in the present Nixon Hollow. He was the first of the family to come to Middle Tennessee. We have a lot of additional information on William Gregory, but refrain from giving it now. The Captin Settle referred was supposed to have been Edward Settle who once lived on the present Stone farm just above Mt. Tabor Baptist church, a mile below the present Pleasant Shade. There were many, many Settles of a later date in Barren County, Ky., although there is not a family of the name now living in Smith County.
We are of the opinion that Captain Pate was a resident of the Salt Lick section, east of the present Difficult. We do not know anything of James Roberts, of that day and time. We know nothing of Captain Anderson. John Lancaster is supposed to have resided in the south side of the present county of Smith. We know nothing of Captain Hay, nor of where he lived. We have only a very little information as to Elmore Douglass, Captain Cotton, of Captain Samuel. We know that Peter Turney lived 152 years ago on the same stream on which the writer was born in 1891. He resided at the present Bud Garrett place. Captain Samuel or Samuels, is supposed to have resided in that vicinity, which is on the waters of Dixon's Creek.
"Godfrey Shaver exhibited his stock mark in open Court, it being two slits in the right ear and a crop off the left. Ordered to be recorded." Godfrey Shaver is unknown to the writer, but we find in the 1820 census of Smith County that David Shaver and his wife were both old and lived alone. We also are informed that one of the grandmothers of Elder C. B. Massey, 87-year-old Baptist minister of Pleasant Shade, was Fannie Shaver. We would judge that Fannie was related to Godfrey and David Shaver, of the long ago.
"Ordered that Matthew Green be fined 30 cents for profanely swearing in Court, and that execution issue against him for the aforesaid sum." We have no information on Matthew Green, although Isaac Green arrived on the Langford Branch of Defeated Creek as early as 1801. His son, Robert, was born there in 1802. Isaac Green was from Virginia.
From the above episode of fining Matthew Green, we learn of the strictness required of men in the early part of the last century. The fine was of a small amount, just 30 cents, but that was quite a sizable sum of 152 years ago.
Isaac Green, referred to above, had the following family in 1820; Males, two under ten, one from 16 to 18, Robert , we are sure; and one from 26 to 45, Isaac himself, we are quite sure. Females, one under 10, one from 10 to 16, and one from 26 to 45, Mrs. Isaac Green. Isaac Green was the only Green head of a family in Smith County in the census of 1820.
Readers have perhaps wondered why we do not give any information from the censuses of 1800 and 1810. We are informed that in an attack made on Washington by the British in the War of 1812, that they burned the census records, for the most part or those decades. We wish we had the old original census records for 1800 and 1810, but they are gone now beyond recall.
If any reader of this column can give additional information, as to any of the parties herein mentioned, we shall be more than glad to have same and will not feel at all that someone is trying to supersede us in our feeble efforts to record the events set forth in the old records of more than a century and a half ago. Please lend us a helping hand in keeping alive some of the old places and person listed by the County Court Clerk of the early part of the 19th century.