Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
June 4, 1953
* CAL'S COLUMN *
Some days ago when the writer was in Nashville, he found a copy of the will of Thomas Gregory, one of his great-great-great-grandfathers. This man was born about 1725 and made his will in Smith County, Tenn., on July 13, 1811. The will is as follows:
The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Gregory -- in the name of God Amen-- I, Thomas Gregory, of the county of Smith and State of Tennessee, being now of perfect, sound and disposing mind and memory, bur far advanced in years, and knowing that by the irreversible decrees of a wise providence, it is ordained that all mankind shall die, do hereby make and ordain this my last will and testament; by these presents revoking all former wills and testaments heretofore made by me. Imprimis--My will and desire is that all the property of which I may die possessed, shall as soon as practicable and convenient, after my deceased, be sold at public auction in such manner as my executors, hereinafter named, shall desire and direct; and, after are paid, the residence of my estate shall be equally divided amongst my seven children or their legal representative or representatives, (to wit) Harden Gregory, Bry Gregory, William Gregory, the children of Thomas Gregory, deceased; Thomas Douglass, only son and representative of Sina Gregory, deceased, who intermarried with John Douglass; Elizabeth George, wife of Isaac George; and Abraham Gregory, all who, my will and desire is, shall share an equal portion of the proceeds of the sale of all property of whatsoever kind and description I may die possessed of.
My further will and desire is that if the above-named Thomas Douglass, (son of Sina) should die without issue, that part of the proceeds of my estate, which I have hereinbefore bequeathed to him, shall be equally divided in six equal portions or parts amongst those already designated as my children or their issue.
Lastly, I do hereby, by these presents, nominate and appoint Harden Gregory and William Gregory executors of this my last will and testament.
Signed, sealed and acknowledged to be the last will and testament of Thomas Gregory, before us, this 13th day of July, 1811.
Above is a copy of the will made more than 141 years ago. We do not know exactly how long Thomas Gregory lived after making this will, but would estimate that time at about seven years. We base this upon the inventory of his property turned into the Court on August 10, 1818 as follows: An inventory of the estate of Thomas Gregory, deceased, to wit: Negroes 15; one bed and furniture, one chest, one saddle, one kettle, one Dutch oven, one pair of hand irons, seven pewter plates, two dishes, two basins, one iron pot rack.
At the February term of Court in the year 1819, we find the sale of the personal property as follows: Thomas Gregory, Jr., to sundry articles, $6.12 1/2; Neel McDuffy, to sundry articles, $1.56 1/4; William Gregory, Sr., to sundry articles,$39.50; Bry Gregory, to one Negro man, $1,366.00; James Gordon, to one Negro woman, $917.00; Robert Allen, to one Negro man, $1,400; John Sutton, to one Negro woman and child, $1,200.00; William Allen, to one Negro boy,$1,366.00; Geo. D. Blackmore, to one Negro woman and child, $702.00; Isaac George, to one Negro boy, $1,000.00; Josiah Shaw, to one Negro woman and children, $1,719.00.
A. W. Overton, to one Negro boy, $1,000.00; Joel Dyer, Jr., to one Negro woman, $1,325.00; Peter Grisham, to one hackel, $2.06 1/4; John Edmons, to one bedstead, $1.00; Abraham Gregory, to one hff, (we have no idea as to what is meant), $0.37 1/2; John Gregory, to one Negro woman, $124.00; Harden Gregory, by one note, $387.14; William Gregory, by one note, $410.13; Bry Gregory, by one note, $252.00; Abraham Gregory, by one note, $98.60; Isaac George, by one note, $318.00; the heirs of Thomas Gregory, by one note, $106.00; Thomas Nash, by one note, $71.00; Joel Dyer, by one note, $57.46; Zack Wilson, by one note, $5.30; John Stamps, by one note, $86.18 3/4; William Traylor, by one note, $20.00; Cash, $45.00.
The final settlement of the estate was made on February 22, 1827, and resulted in the amount of $1,539.29 in cash being given each heir: Thomas B. Douglass, Isaac George, Abraham Gregory, William Gregory, Harden Gregory, and the heirs of Thomas Gregory, deceased, one share among them. The five who received a fifth of a share each were the children of Thomas Gregory, deceased son of the testator or maker of the will, Thomas Gregory. This second Thomas Gregory married Phoeve Hawking in Virginia in 1787. The names of his group of secondary heirs were as follows: Richard Brown, supposed to have married a daughter; Bazerl Burch, supposed to have married another daughter; Thomas Davis for A. J. Gregory, supposedly a minor and Davis was his guardian; Gabriel Gregory and Thomas Gregory.
Bry Gregory was our ancestor as we have frequently mentioned in this column. His wife was Elizabeth, but we do not know her maiden name. Bry was killed by lightning in January,1847, on the waters of Nickojack Branch of Peyton's Creek, and was buried at the present home of Robert A. Earps, formerly known as the Davis place. Bry's daughter, Bettie, married her first cousin, the Thomas Gregory, mentioned at the close of the preceding paragraph. He was commonly known as "Big Tom" Gregory. "Big Tom's" mother, Phoebe Hawkins Gregory, is said to have been related to Alvin Hawkins, governor of Tennessee. He was born in Kentucky in 1821, but lived most of his life in Tennessee. He was governor of the State from 1881 to 1887.
Harden Gregory, sometimes spelling his name Hardean, removed from Smith County to Giles County, Tenn., as early as 1805, and here ends his record, as far as our knowledge thereof goes. However, we are under the impression that he has many descendants still living in Giles and Bedford Counties in the southern part of Middle Tennessee.
Bry Gregory, our own great-great-grandfather, had the following children: Laban, to Crawford County, Ind.; Ansil, killed at 16 years of age by a falling tree in 1814; Mila, no further record; Tapley, married Sarah Piper; Bettie, married her first cousin, "Big Tom" Gregory; Delainie, married John McKinnis; Sina, married Neal Goad; Polly, married Malachi Shoulders; Ambrose, married Jemima Willis; Sabrina, married a Dycus; and perhaps one or two others whose names are not recalled.
William Gregory, the first of the family to come to Smith County, Tenn., name of wife unknown; but children include: Joe B. Gregory, Delphia, Little Tom, Smith, Dob, George O., and others. The late Fred D. Gregory was a descendant of William H. Gregory, commonly known as Squire Bill Gregory.
Sina Gregory, married John Douglass, an early Sumner Countian, who later removed to Arkansas. Their son, Thomas B. Douglass, whose mother died rather early, was named in the will of the old man. John Douglass' line of descent is given in part in Sisco's "Historic Sumner County."
We have no information as to the descendants, if any, of Isaac George and his wife, Elizabeth Gregory George. Abraham Gregory's name is spelled in places Abram. We are of the opinion that Abraham Gregory resided in Robertson County, as we find his name listed there at a very early date.
If any reader can give us additional information as to the sons, Harden and Abraham, your help will be much appreciated.
Thomas Gregory, son of the maker of the will, died early, leaving his widow, the former Miss Phoebe Hawkins, whom he married in Virginia in 1787, with five children, three of them sons, A. J., believed to have been known later as Jackie Gregory; Gabriel and "Big Tom." One of the daughters is supposed to have married Richard Brown, and the other Bazerl Burch.
There is no record in the settlement of the estate that shows any real estate, most of the old man's wealth being in slaves. We suppose that he lived somewhere on the present Peyton's Creek. He is presumed to have been buried in the same valley in which the family first settled after coming out of Chatham County, North Carolina, now known as the Nixon Hollow of Peyton's Creek, about four miles south of Pleasant Shade.
This Thomas Gregory had one known brother, John Gregory, married Judy Morgan, from the best information we have at present. She is said to have been a relative of John H. Morgan, the Southern General and leader in time of the Civil War. John Gregory died in North Carolina, and his widow, with her children, came to the present Smith County between 1791 and 1799. Her sons were: Jeremiah Gregory, another of the writer's great-great-grandfathers; Little Bill, John, commonly known as Joe Gregory; Major, removed to Red River in Robertson County, Tenn., and one daughter, name unknown. However,she was the oldest child, we would judge. There might have been other children in the family, but these are all of whom we have any definite knowledege at present.
From the two brothers John and Thomas Gregory, are descended all the Gregorys of the present Smith County and most in Macon County. However, there was another Gregory of about the same period in which John and Thomas lived, Billie Gregory, who arrived at Wolf Hill, not far northwest of the present Hartsville, Tenn., in the closing part of the 19th century, and from whom many Gregorys in Sumner County trace their descent. One of these descendants stated that he had once learned that Billie Gregory used to visit his kinsfolks on Peyton's Creek, which would show that he was connected with John and Thomas Gregory. Still another very early Gregory in Smith County was Hosea Gregory, but we have no knowledge of whose son he was or if he left descendants.
The following information is gleaned from the 1820 census records of Smith County: Jeremiah Gregory, the writer's great-great-grandfather and son of the John Gregory just mentioned, had the folling family in 1820: One male from 10 to 16, and one male over 45, himself, we are sure; and females, one from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 26, and one from 45 upward, his wife, no doubt. We have th ename of only one daughter of Jeremiah Gregory, Dillie, who married Johnson Anderson. Jeremiah married Barbara Rawls. Dillie's correct name, according to a later census record, was Delilah.
Labourn, or Laban, is the nest listed in the Smith County census for 1820. He was a son of Bry and a grandson of the old man whose will is given in the opening part of this article. His family: Three males under 10, one male 10 to 16, and one over 45, himself, no doubt; and one female under 10, and one from 26 to 45 years, his wife, we are sure.
Thomas Gregory is next listed, but we are not sure which Thomas is here given. However, we would judge at this point and with no time to dig into the matter, that he was the one called "Big Tom." Thomas Gregory, in 1820, had: One male under 10, and one from 26 to 45; and one female under 10 and one female between 16 and 26, no doubt his wife. Their oldest son was James L. Gregory, born in 1819, which would correspond to one male under 10; and we believe they had one daughter, born prior to 1820, and we believe that she was Kate, who later married a Mitchell. So we think we are justified in concluding that the Thomas Gregory here listed in the census of 1820, was one of our own great-grandfathers, our father's mother's father. Moreover, Thomas Gregory was a slave owner for many years and had one Negro in the census of 1820. Hosea Gregory is the next name listed. His family consisted of: Two males under 10, and one from 26 to 45, himself, we are sure; and three females under 10, one from 10 to 16, and one above 45. Whose son he was we have not the least idea.
Tapley Gregory is next. He had: Two males under 10, one from 26 to 45; and one over 45; females, two from 16 to 26. He was the son of Bry, and married Sarah Piper. He has a descendant, Mrs. R. F. Hamilton, of 315 Selvidge Street, Dalton, Ga., who has given us her line of descent from Tapley down.
Pitts Gregory is next. He had: One male under 10, and one over 45, himself; and one female under 10 and one between 16 and 26. Pitts was the son of Jeremiah above mentioned, and a brother of our own great-grandfather, Major Gregory.
George Gregory is next. He had: one male under 10, and one from 26 to 45; one female under 10, and one from 16 to 26. He is believed to have been the same man above mentioned as George O. Gregory, son of Squire Bill Gregory.
William Gregory, Sr., is next. This is Squire Bill, no doubt. He had in 1820: One male under 10, two males from 10 to 16, two males from 18 to 26, and one male over 45, no doubt himself; and one female over 45, Mrs. Gregory, we suppose. He also had three slaves.
Next is Bry Gregory, who, in 1820, had: One male from 10 to 16, and one over 45, himself; and one female, between 10 and 16, and one slave. His wife was then dead, we are quite sure. He owned one slave in 1820.
William Gregory, Jr., is next and we admit we ar not able to identify him beyond question. He was then between 26 and 45 years of age. This could have been the William Gregory called "Little Bill," the brother of Jeremiah.
Hubbard Gregory is next listed in the census of 133 years ago. We are inclined to think that this was the one our folks always called Harb Gregory or Harbard. He was a brother of out great-grandfather, Major, and of Pitts and Dillie, as well as others.
Next is Major Gregory, then between 26 and 45, with one female between 16 and 26. If this is the Major Gregory we think he is, then he was the writer's great-grandfather, who married first a Miss Nash, and died very early. Later, he married Miss Kate Boston, from who the writer acquired his handsome (?) Roman nose. However, this Major Gregory could have been a brother of our great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gregory, and an uncle of Major Gregory, the father of our grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory, for whom we were named. Perhaps later investigation may reveal which Gregory is here listed.
Stephen Gregory, the next in the list, was a brother of our great-grandfather, Major Gregory. He had in 1820: One male between 26 and 45; and one female under 10 and one between 10 and 16.
The last Gregory listed in the 1820 census in Smith County was Ambrose Gregory, son of Bry, and he lived at the foot of the present Mima Gregory Hill now in this county, at the extreme upper end of Peyton's Creek, about seven miles southeast of Lafayette. He had one male under 10, and there was another male between 18 and 26, himself, no doubt. He had four females under 10, and one from 16 to 26, his wife, no doubt. This man died in 1827, leaving a large family of children. His wife, the former Miss Jemima Willis, cared for them and brought them up to be decent men and women. The elevation above referred to took its name from her as she lived at the foot of the big hill.
We find in the census record of Smith County for 1820 the name of Richard Brown, believed to have been the same Richard Brown who inherited one fifth of one share of the property of old Thomas Gregory, whose will is at the beginning of this article. Richard Brown had: Two males under 10, one male from 10 to 16, and one over 45, himself; and one female under 10, two from 10 to 16, two from 16 to 26, and one over 45. He also had two slaves. There is no mention of Bazerl Burch, whose wife is supposed to have been a daughter of the dead son of Thomas Gregory, the maker of the will.