Transcribed By Polly King
March 15, 1951
* CAL’S COLUMN *
“Deed, Josiah Howell to Joel Holland 340 acres, acknowledged and ordered to be registered.” No comment.
Ordered that the following Justices be appointed to take a list of taxable property for the present year: James Hibbetts. Esquire, for the two lower Goose Creek Companies: Tilman Dixon, for Capt. Ballou’s Company: Peter Turney, for Capt. Settie’s Company, and Capt. Pate’s Company; William Walton, Esquire, for Captain Prior’s Company; Garrett Fitzgerald, for Capt. Fitzgerald’s; Charles Hudspeth Esquire for the lower Obed’s River Company; and Moses Fisk, Esquire, be appointed for Capt. Russell’s Company, and the upper Obed’s River Company.” Here we have a rather lengthy item. The reader, we suppose will understand that the county had no Civil Districts such as are now to be found in the county. Instead the county was divided into Militia Companies. There were, according to the above two companies on Goose Creek. We presume Captain Ballou was James Ballou, who lived on Dixon’s Creek. We suppose Captain Settie resided on Peyton’s Creek, not far from the present Mt. Tabor church. Captain Pate probably was a resident of Salt Lick Creek. Captain Prior’s place of residence is unknown; but, since William Walton was to finish the list for Prior’s Company, and Walton lived about the present Carthage, we presume that Prior must have resided near or in Carthage. We suppose that Garrett Fitzgerald may have been the same as Captain Fitzgerald, although there was a Jabias Fitzgerald in the county at the timeof this meeting. Two companies were on the Obed’s River, one called the Lower and the other call the Upper. Captain Russell, we suppose, lived somewhere in the present Clay County.
“Ordered that there be a county tax of 61/4 cents on each 100 acres of land; 61/4 cents on each white poll, 121/2 cents on black polls, and fifteen cents on each stud horse for the present year.” So reads the next item. Here we learn of very low land taxes, just six and one fourth cents on each acre. A poll tax had to be paid by white men of six and a fourth cents, but colored men were deemed to be worth enough to charge their owners with a tax of 12½ cents. But to cap it all off, a stud horse in that day and time was considered more valuable than 200 acres of land, or even of a Negro slave. But all in all, we wonder how those old timers would look at our present taxes, which are sky high and still going up. According to the above rate a man with a thousand acres of land and 20 Negro slaves and two stud horses would have paid only $3.42½ tax in a year. No income taxes were thought of for more than a hundred years later, and sales taxes were then unheard of. Perhaps there was a tax on liquor, but it was small indeed: No tobacco tax, no gas tax, no tax on cattle or hogs or sheep. What a wonderful time that must have been in some respect.
“Ordered that Garrett Fitzgerald be allowed to build a mill on Flynn’s Creek upon his own land.” Here we learn that we have been in error in supposing that Garrett Fitzgerald lived in that early day in the present Clay County. Instead he lived on Flynn’s Creek which it’s in the pre-no idea where the land lay. Comment has already been offered on the McDonald family.
“Ordered that Court adjourn until tomorrow nine o’clock.” This closes the first day’s work in March 1801.
Tuesday, March 17, 1801.
“Court met according to adjournment. Members present: (to-wit) William Walton, Moses Fisk and Peter Turney, Esquires.” We have only three members of the Court on hand for the opening of the second day’s work. We still wonder how many “Esquires” made up a quorum.
“On Motion of George Smith, Esquire, ordered that the fine and double tax on 1,280 acres of land originally in the name of John Drew, be remitted for the year 1800.” We have no idea, of who John Drew was, but he was probably a brother or else a close relative of the Benjamin Drew mentioned in last week’s paper. Where the land was located, we have no way of knowing at present. Who George Smith, Esquire, was we do not know. Presumably he could not have been a member of the Court since the names of all the members present had been listed in the preceding item, and George Smith is not among them. On the other hand we are “in the dark” as to how one who was not a member of the Court could make a motion, but this can probably be explained by the fact that the Court was not like our present County or Quarterly Courts, in which no person except a member can make a motion. If this is not the explanation, some information by way of correction is invited. “On motion of Jesse Wharton, Esquire, order that the fine and double tax incurred by George Deaderick on 500 acres on land by remitted for the year 1800.” Jesse Wharton is another new comer to these records and this is the first we have found about him. Where the Deaderick land was is not known.
“John Ratcliff, security for Paul Garrison, surrendered him in open court and the court ordered him into the custody of the sheriff.” So reads the next item. John Ratcliff is another “unknown” to us, and so is Paul Garrison. What Garrison had done is not recorded here, but evidently Radcliff decided that he was no good and that he would save himself the bond he had made for Garrison. Whether there was a jail at the time does not appear from the records, but we presume there was such and “institution.”
“On motion of Benjamin Seawell, Esquire, ordered that the fine and double tax incurred by John Seasley* for John Williams on 400 acres of land for the year 1800 be remitted.” We believe that Seawell was a lawyer, but we might be mistaken in this. However, a reading of the records made thus far, we believe, will reveal that Seawell was an attorney. John Seasley* is another “newcomer” to these records. We have no further information about the man and do not recall having ever seen the name before.
“Deed 100 acres, Abram Thomason to John Hargiss, proven by the oath of John Reid, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” We believe, but do not know, that John Hargiss was a resident of Dixon’s Creek. Abram Thompson was most probably an early relative of the Thompson family of the vicinity of Hartsville. John Reid spelled his name, as do the Reids of Macon County today.
“Deed two acres, Thomas Walker and Griffith Rutherford, to David Venders, proven by the oath of Francis Locke, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” Here is perhaps the smallest land deal in acreage found thus far in the old records. Readers will recall that David Venters was given permission* to build a mill at the “Blue Spring” on Goose Creek by an earlier Court; but we do not know whether the two acres included that location for a mill. Thomas Walker and Griffith Rutherford are both “strangers” to Cal, as he has no knowledge whatever of either party. We will have to make the same admission concerning Francis Locke.
“Deed 100 acres, George Deaderick and John Caffery to Francis Patterson, proven by the oath of James Gibson, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” No comment.
“Deed, John Caffrey and George M. Deaderick to William Moore, 30 acres, proven by the oath of Francis Patterson, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto. And ordered to be registered. No comment.
We will strive to get back to the old records a little later, but we wish to bring in some other matters at this point.
We are in receipt of a letter from Mrs. Nora McClain, of New Middleton, Tenn., stating that she finds our Columns very interesting. She informs us that there are two members of the Fitzgerald family residing in Celina. Miss Maude Fitzgerald and her brother, Clyde Fitzgerald, and suggests that we get in touch with them in order to learn more of the history of the family. We thank her.
She also states there is a Willie Roberts, who she believes might be related to the William Roberts-mentioned in one of our recent “Cal’s Columns, and who also lived in Celina, near Butler’s Landing. We wish to thank Mrs. McClain for her suggestions and will try to get in touch with the parties mentioned.
We are very anxious to try to preserve as much of the history of this section as is possible for one who is so limited as the writer is. Grime’s History of Middle Tennessee Baptists was published in 1902 and has been almost “extinct” for several years. We would like so much to re-publish this record of the Baptist churches of North Middle Tennessee and to add to it the events of the past 48 years, as well as to give quite a number of sketches of other old churches. However, lack of time and money are seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our way and we will probably have to forego this worthy undertaking.
Perhaps many readers of the Times do not enjoy the old records. We do not ask you to read them if you do not find them of interest to you. But for others, there is much enjoyments in knowing the things of the past and learning the origin and history of many families, churches and other institutions. We are grateful for many, many commendations of Cal’s Column we have received. In fact we have “Boosts” in this effort as a newspaper man, than in any other we have ever made. Thanks Friends.