Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
June 21, 1951
* CAL'S COLUMN *
We resume the account of the old records of the County Court and Court of Quarterly Pleas.
"Tuesday, June 15, 1801: Court met according to adjournment. Members present: James Gwin, Charles Hudspeth, James Hibbets, Peter Turney, Esquires."
Peter Turney was not present at the opening of court on the day previous. He was a resident of the present Young Branch in Smith, about a mile and a half southwest of where the writer was born.
"Ordered that the inventory of John Lee, deceased, returned by Samuel Huff administrator, be received and entered of record."
Who John Lee or Samuel Huff was does not yet appear in the reading of records.
"Ordered that Sampson Williams be appointed to survey a tract of land claimed by George Gordon and John Sevier, whereon Andrew Suite now lives, and that he return three just and fair plans therefore into our ensuing Court." Here we have a raather unusual item. Apparently George Gordon and John Sevier were the owners of thousands of acres of Smith County lands. Alexander Suite, pronounced "sweet" had apparently taken up his abode on part of the land claimed by Sevier and Gordon. Where this was we do not know. Who Suite was, we have no way of knowing at the present. However, we had once in Tennessee a Baptist minister names W. N. Suite. It may be that the minister was the son of Alexander. Be we have as yet no proof whatever of such connection. The returning of "three just and fair plans therefor," has us stumped, we confess. The land either belonged to Gordon and Sevier or it did not. Alexander Suite was occupying the land either legally or illegally. Just where "three just and fair plans" could have entered in, we do not know. Perhaps we read of William's recommendation to the Court we will then know more.
"Deed, 325 acres, Samuel Parker to John Fitzgerald proven by the oath of John L. Martin, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered."
Samuel Parker is not known by either ancestry or posterity, so far as the writer's information goes. John Fitzgerald is perhaps an ancestor of the Fitzgerald family of Clay County. John L. Martin is another "unknown" to Cal. Where the land is is not revealed in the record of the Court.
"Deed, 122 acres, Edmond Jennings to Daniel Draper, proven by the oath of James Robert, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered." The land was probably on the present Jennings Creek as Edmond Jennings was an early resident of the section. Moreover the Drrrapeers are among the earliest settlers of the present Jennings Creek, which rises in Macon County in "Stream Mill Hollow" and empties into the Cumberland some 25 miles to the east, and just below the present Gainesboro. James Roberts, we presume, is the same James Roberts appointed the day before for Grand Jury service.
"Ordered that James Crabtree be appointed Overseer of the road lately 'layed' off from Daniel Witchers' to the State line, near the State line, near Giss's Settlement, to begin at said Witchers' and that all the hands on the Waters of the Jennings Creek work under said Overseer." Part of this item is incorrectly written, as a re-reading will show. Evidently Witcher lived on Jennings Creek, and this road led northward to the State line, near the Giss or Gist Settlement. There are still a few members of the Gist family residing on a rural route out of Red Boiling Springs. Tandy Witcher lived 150 years ago at the present Red Boiling Springs. He is sometimes referred to in old records as Tandy Witcher. The road referred to is most probably on that went either the present Pine Lick of Jennings Creek, or up the present Hudson's Branch by way of Red Boiling Springs, perhaps, to the Kentucky line. If the Pine Lick route were meant, it left the Central Basin just south of the present Miles Cross Roads in the present Clay County. Any information on these points will be appreciated.
"Deed, 750 acres, Selby Harney to Timothy Ridley, proven by the oath of Armistead Stubblefield, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered." Here we find some more of the "unknowns." Selby Harney appears here for the first time in the old records, as does Timothy Ridley. But Armistead Stubblefield has already been mentioned a number of times. He is supposed to have resided in the vicinity of the present Hartsville, and was no doubt the ancestor or a brother to the ancestor of the present Stubblefield family in Trousdale County. Just what connection, if any, existed between the Stubblefields of Macon County and of Trousdale County, we have not yet learned. Where the 750 acre farm lay is also unknown to the writer. We are sorry that our information is so limited but we are always open to correction and instruction.
"Ordered that William Martin be appointed Overseer of the road from the top of the ridge between Martin's and Dixon's Creek to the ford of Dixon's Creek, near Captain Ballou's, and thaat the following hands work undeer said Overseer: viz: All his own, Captain Turney's, Capt. Ballou's, Vincent Ridley, Thomas Sutton, Leonard Ballou, Jacob Hancock, Godfrey Fowler, David Rorax and John Gray work under said Overseer."
Here we have another item that is somewhat obscure. We know the next creek east of Dixon's is Peyton's Creek, the top of the ridge between the two streams is about a quarter of a mile from where the writer was born and spent his boyhood, the top of the Mace's Hill. So it seems that this is not merely a mistake in the recording of the name meant.
Now Martin's Creek of today is on the southeast side of the Cumberland, between Chestnut Mound and Gaineesboro. Here we have a difficulty, for we cannot conceive of any one ridge lying between Martin's Creek and Dixon's which lies, as the crow flies, approximately 20 miles northeast of the mouth of Martin's Creek. If it be argued that the wording of the item is correct, then just which of the several "top of ridges" between the two streams is meant ? There is a ridge between Salt Lick Creek and Defeated Creek, to the west. Then there is the ridge dividing the waters of Peyton's Creek and Dixon's Creeks at or near the present Mace's Hill.
If the point is advanced that Martin was to be oversee of the road leading from the top of the ridge between Peyton's Creek and Dixon's Creek, then Martin was overseer of a stretch of road only about two and a half miles long, as we know exactly where the west end of the road is, or was, at the ford of Dixon's Creek near Captain Ballou's. This is just below the present Dixon's Creek brick church house. The Captain Ballou referred to was James Ballou, who married a Shelton, and later a Shields. His home was at the old Brooks place just below the present home of Will W. Oldham on Dixon's Creek.
James Ballou and Leonard Ballou were brothers, Leonard living about half a mile north of the ford referred to. The overseer, William Martin lived on the waters of the Dixon's Creek, presumably near thee preesent Cato. Captain Turney was the same as Peter Turney, Esquire. Thus far we are informed that the hands to work under Martin were his own, Capt. Ballou's, Leonard Ballou's and Capt. Turrney's. All these are known to have lived in the vicinity of or on the waters of Dixon's Creek.
Next there follow several person's names who were never residents of Dixon's Creek or vicinity as far as we are able to judge at this distant day. The additional names are :
Jacob Hancock, Godfrey Fowler, David Rorax, and John Gray. So we are almost forced to the conclusion that the road over which Martin was appointed overseer must have extended all the way from the present Martin's Creek to the ford referred to. If we are in error on any point, feel free to make any needed corrections.
""Ordered that John McCormack be appointed Overseer of half of the road lately laid off from Daniel Witcher's to the State line, near "Guesses" Settlement and all the hands on Bowen adjacent to the road work under him." Here we have a division in the work of overseeing with John McCormack to share with a James Crabtree the road lying somewhere from Jennings Creek to the Kentucky line. We have not the slightest idea as to who John McCormack was, or whether he was rrelated to the present McCormack family in Smith and Macon Counties. The "hands on Bowen" has the writer "up a tree." We do not know anything about a place or community called "Bowen." If any reader can enlighten us, please do so.
"Bill of Sail, James Lee to Samson Williams, proven by the oath of John L. Martin, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be recorded." We are certain that "Bill of Sale" is intended, but we do not know what was sold by James Lee, to Samson Williams.
"Ordered that Robert Bowman be appointed Overseer of the road from the ford of Peyton's Creek, where Walton Road crosses same, to Saunders Ferry and that all the hands that worked under William Saunders that live between Dry Creek and Peyton's Creek work under said Overseer.
Here we have another item that is not clear. Robert Bowman was an early settler on what is now called Bowman's Branch, which empties into Peyton's Creek just east of the present Riddleton. He died early in the 19th century, a man of wealth and influence and one of the prominent early citizens of Smith County.
The point is not clear as to the location of Dry Creek. West of Peyton's Creek to Saunders Ferry, the first stream we come to is now called Bowman's Branch, for the Robert Bowman referred to above, we suppose. Now if Bowman's Branch was originally called Dry Creek we have not heard of it before. Can any reader enlighten us on this point ? The east end of the road over which Bowman was to have charge was about a mile west of the present Monoville. The other end of the road was at Saunders Ferry, which, we presume, was near Dixon Springs.
"Ordered that 'Big Joel ' Dyer be appointed Overseer of the road leading from Michael Murphy's to the mouth of Peyton's Creek, and that William Walton Esquire, furnish said Overseer with a list of hands."
"Big Joel" Dyer, we suppose, was Joel Dyer Senior, there being a young Joel Dyer. "Big Joel" lived somewhere about the present Graveltown on Peyton's Creek, and was given the first permit to erect a water mill on Peyton's Creek, this section of the Court having taken place about a year previous to making him road Overseer. His work began at Pleasant Shade, where Michale Murphy lived and ended at the mouth of Peyton's Creek about two miles southeast of the present Riddleton. The writer once lived on the very road here referred to, in 1917 when our home was in the lower end of present Pleasant Shade.
Leonard Ballou, above referred to, was one of the writer's great - great - grandfathers. He married sisters, Mary and Martha Metcalf. He left Dixon's Creek in 1808, and bought 640 acres of land about a mile above the present Pleasant Shade. We have the record of 15 Leonard Ballous and our own son, Leonard Calvin Gregory, was named in honor of the Leonard Ballous of the past.