January 3, 1952
Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We resume our “Colyum” with a continuation of the old records of the County Court and Court of Pleas of Smith County. The time is Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1801; the place, the home of Tilman Dixon, a short distance below the present Dixon Springs. For the benefit of any new readers we may add that the old Dixon home is still in a fine state of preservation and is one of the most noted landmarks in Smith County.
“Tuesday, the 22nd, Court met according to adjournment. Members present: James Hibbetts, Elmore Douglas, John Lancaster, William Kavanaugh, Nathaniel Brittain and John Patterson.” Some comment s has been made already about most of these members of the court and we refrain at this time, from repetition.
“Daniel Alexander is allowed letters of administration on the estate of Reuben Alexander, deceased, who came into Court and qualified and gave security, according to law, and returned an inventory into Court of said estate.” We have no information about Reuben Alexander, but presume that he was one of the members of one of the leading early families of the Dixon Springs section. We suppose there is on file at Carthage that inventory, which would make interesting reading for this present day. It is presumed that Daniel Alexander was either a son or a brother of Reuben Alexander.
“Ordered that Sampson Williams be appointed to ‘compleat’ the Survey claimed by Sevier and Gordon so as to ascertain whether Alexander Suite, Aaron Robbins and John Livingston live upon the same, or either one of them, that he make said survey agreeable to be directions of both parties and that he return two just and fair plans thereof to our ensuing Court.” Here is an item about a matter that had hung fire for many months. Sevier was the State’s first Governor, and Gordon was his partner in land dealing. They owned thousands of acres of Smith County lands, and they claimed that Alexander Suite, Aaron Robbins and John Livingston were living on the property of Sevier and Gordon. Alexander Suite was probably the father of W. N. Suite, later a Baptist minister of some note. Aaron Robbins was perhaps the ancestor of the Robbins family of Gallatin of a later date. John Livingston was perhaps the ancestor of the few members of the family who still live in Macon and other counties. We cannot tell from the order of the Court just where this disputed tract of land lay, but an earlier record made us to infer that it lay on the waters of Dixon’s Creek. The reader will note that Sampson Williams was to “compleat” the survey. This word is incorrectly spelled and should have been “complete.” Sampson Williams was the Clerk of the early Court, but he would not have qualified as a standard on spelling. The fact that Williams was to complete the survey shows that it had been begun at some earlier date. We suppose that we are to learn in later records of the Court how the matter disposed of.
“Ordered that Spilsby Coleman be released from paying the tax on 1,000 acres of land which appears to have been returned or charged to him through mistake, and that the Clerk be directed to transmit a copy of this order to the Treasurer.” Spilsby Coleman is another of whom we have no knowledge. So far as we can recall there is not a member of the Coleman family in the present Smith or Macon County. However, the Cornwell and Sutton families of Smith or Macon Counties trace their ancestry to a man named Coleman from Wales in the long, long ago. If any reader has additional information about Spilsby Coleman, please let the writer have same for publication.
“John L. Martin is appointed Sheriff for the ensuing two years, who came into Court and gave security and qualified according to law.” This John L. Martin was an early settler, we believe, in the Pleasant Shade section, and also served his county for some time as Sheriff. Just what his relationship was to Col. William Martin, of early Dixon’s Creek Baptist church history, we do not know. Perhaps some reader will give us the information.
“Ordered that Rachel Stalcup, wife of Samuel Stalcup, be cited to appear at the next Court to show cause, if any, why they should not be compelled to give new securities for her guardianship of her daughter, Dorras.” Here we have an item that is perhaps not clear to us who are 150 years removed from that day. One would judge that Rachel Stalcup had by a previous marriage, became the mother of one daughter, Dorcas, who evidently inherited property from some relative, perhaps her father; that Rachel later married Samuel Stalcup, that the Court had an idea that the bond perhaps was not as large or strong as the circumstances merited, and that the two were to appear at next Court and show cause why they should not provide new sureties.
“Deed, 111 acres Griffith Rutherford to Thomas Walker, proven by the oath of Francis Locke, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” We have no information about either party to the above transaction.
“Charles F. Mabias is appointed Coroner for two years, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law.” This man, Mabias, is said to have been the first settler on the extreme upper end of Lick Creek, owning the farm which is now the property and home place of Johnson Gregory. Anyway, he was quite a noted man for his day and time.
“Ordered that John Lancaster be allowed letters of administration to administer on the estate of John Lancaster, deceased, who gave security and qualified according to law.” John Lancaster is another of whom we have no information, although the name is familiar to perhaps most of our readers. We have a town in Smith County known as Lancaster, named for the family, and we are quite sure that the present Lancasters in that county are descendants of one or the other Lancaster, or of both of them.
“Church Fisher is appointed Constable, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law.” This is our first acquaintance with the given name, “Church.” We had heard of Patience, Charity, Truelove and various other names given, we suppose, from the Bible or some idea connected with the sacred writing; but “Church,” as a given name found in the old records were Bible names, as James Hibbetts, John Lancaster, Silas Jernigan, Daniel Draper, Peter Turney, Samuel Young, John Brevard, Nathaniel Brittain, Thomas Smith, David Venters, Josiah Payne, Joel Dyer, Michael Murphy, Sampson Williams, with a slight variation in spelling; Rachel Stalcup, Dorcas, her daughter; Cain Acuff and many, many others. So we are not to wonder if we find “Church,” “Goodman,” “Goodwoman,” “Patience,” “Hope,” “Charity,” and the fellow who named his dog, “Moreover,” from the scripture, “Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16th chapter.
We suppose many of our readers have heard the old story about the preacher’s visit to the home of one of the brethren, who had a tall, ungainly son of some 15 years. The minister on arriving at the home, was left for a short time in the company of the lad, with whom he attempted a conversation, which ran, according to the story, as follows: “Son, what is your name?” asked the preacher. The youth replied, “Pizlam Civ.” The old minister then said, “Son, you have a most unusual name.” And in this all our readers will doubtless be agreed. The boy said, “Pap says he got it out of the Bible.” The old minister decided that it was useless to inquire of the boy as to what part of the Bible the name came from; but, as soon as the father returned to the house, the guest said, “My good brother, your son has a most unusual name and he says that you told him it was found in the Bible. I have read the Scriptures for many years and do not recall having seen a name even remotely like our son’s name. “Why, my good brother, it is shore thar,” was the answer of the father of the son whose name was under consideration. “Well, I will have to be shown,” answered the preacher. “Shore, shore, I’ll show you right here in the Bible.”
The man entertaining the preacher then picked up a large old-fashioned family Bible and turned to the Psalms of David. This old Bible, like most of those of an earlier day, had the chapters numbered in Roman numerals, such as I, one; II, two; V, five; X, ten; L, 50; C, 100 and etc. The father of Pizlam Civ turned over to Psalm 104, which in Roman numbers was printed, CIV. With the word, Psalm, in front of CIV, the old man had derived the son’s name, “Pizlam Civ,” calling Psalm, “Pizlam,” and the number representing the chapter as Civ. The feeling of triumph that the father had left the old preacher in something of a dither and he had learned that there is no end to people’s wrong ideas and interpretations of the Scriptures.
Another story about names is recalled. A colored woman had twins girls. When the census taker came around, he asked the names of the two daughters, receiving the reply, “Exie and Zema.” Naturally he asked, “Where did you get the names? They are new to me.” She replied, ‘Out of de almanac.” The puzzled census enumerator scratched his head and said, “I do not recall having ever seen the names even in an almanac.” The mother replied, “I’se still got de almanac.” The “counter of noses” said, “Please bring it to me” So Uncle Sam’s man was handed an old and faded almanac and turned through it, but did not find the names he sought. Finally, the colored woman took it and turned to a page which advertised a sure cure for “eczema,” and pointed it out, “There it is, right there.” Indicating the word, “eczema.” “Just how did you ever get the names your children bear from the word, eczema?” asked the enumerator.
(To be continued)