Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.


May 22, 1952




        We continue the publication of the old records. Our closing thought in the last paper was that the Court adjourned to meet in the next session in June following. In this we were in error, as the adjournment was only for that day. The next day the work of the Court was completed for three more months.


        “Thursday, March 18, 1802, Court met according to adjournment. Members present: viz. Peter Turney, Elmore Douglass, Charles Kavanaugh, William Kavanaugh, and John Lancaster, Esquire.” These five men composed about one third of the County’s magistrates, and we still wonder how many were required to constitute a quorum. Comment has been offered already concerning each of the above-named gentlemen.


        “Venire Facias for the Superior Court: Charles Kavanaugh, Peter Turney, James Wright, James Ballou.” Three men were thus appointed for jury duty, we suppose, although we do not know much about the Superior Court of that day and time. Comment has already been offered concerning Kavanaugh, Turney and Ballou. We do not know anything scarcely about James Wright, except that he appears a little later in the history of Smith County as the owner of a large number of slaves, and was a man of distinction and wealth for his day and time. Ballou was a brother of our great-great-grandfather, Leonard Ballou. Kavanaugh was from the present south side of Smith County, and the other tree lived in the vicinity of Dixon Springs.


        “Ordered that the inventory account of the estate of John Lancaster, deceased, be received, and ordered to record.” We have no idea as to who John Lancaster was, but suppose he was the ancestor of the present Lancaster family in Smith County.


        “Isham Beasley exhibited his stock mark, being a crop and a half-crop in the left ear, and a half-crop in the right. Ordered to be recorded.” Isham Beasley was a soldier of the American Revolution and married Polly Andrews. He and his wife appear to have lived first in Smith County in Beasely’s Bend, back of the present Riddleton. Later, he bought many acres of land in Sullivan’s Bend, built a fine country estate there and became on to the richest men in Smith County. He left a very large number of sons and daughter, 16 in number, we believe. His will is still on file in the office of the County Court Clerk at Carthage, and makes settlement of his estate which embraced perhaps a hundred Negro slaves, and thousands of acres of land. Just why he gave part of his heirs, “Twenty-five dollars, no more or no less,” and others large number of slave and broad acres of land, we do not know. Perhaps he felt that he had already done for those who were given the small amount, all that he had the right to expect of their father. All Beasleys of this section are descended form Isham and Polly.


        “James Wright exhibited his stock mark, being a crop and half-crop in each ear, under in the right ear and over in the left. Brand O. Ordered to be recorded.” This is the same man above-referred to, without doubt. The fact that he had a brand for his cattle and horses showed that he was the owner of perhaps large numbers of these animals.


        “Charles Kavanaugh exhibited his stock mark, being a crop and a slit in the right ear, and a crop and underkeel in the left. Ordered to be recorded.” Kavanaugh was a resident of what is now the south side of the county, from the best information that we have. We suppose the “underkeel” and overkeel” and “underbit” and “overbit,” terms used in marking hogs and sheep about the ears, are clear to some of our readers. We admit that we do not know very much about the terms.


        “James Ballou exhibited his stock mark, being a crop and two slits in the right ear, and a crop off the left; band brand JB. Ordered to be recorded.” Our old great-great-great uncle lived on Dixon’s Creek, just below the present brick church house. He was probably a man of considerable property for his day and time. So far as we can learn he had no sons and only one daughter, Susan, who became the wife of Arch DeBow, a resident of Wilson County. One child, we do not know whether son or daughter, was born to Arch and Susan, the child marrying a Norris on reaching adult life. James Ballou was first married to a Miss Shelton. After her death, he married a Miss Shields. It is possible that we are in error in our view that only one child, a daughter, was born to James Ballou. He had a nephew, James Ballou, son of Leonard Ballou and his wife, Mary Metcalf. This second James Ballou was born June 2, 1802, and later married a Key. The children of this marriage were: Leonard, Mary, who married a Brockett; James, went to Illinois; Martha, a cripple, who taught school 75 years ago or more; and Dick Ballou.


        “William Kavanaugh exhibited his stock mark, being a crop and an underkeel in the left ear, and a half-crop in the right ear. Ordered to be recorded.” We presume that William and Charles Kavanaugh, both members of the old Court, were brothers, although we have no definite proof thereof.


        “Venire facias for the ensuing Court; Edward Cage, Lewis Smith, Zadoc B. Thackston, Samuel King, Robert Ward, Leonard Ballou, Benjamin Barton, Isham Beasley, William Hargis, James Cherry, Charles McMurry, Abraham Brittain, Will “Roy” Pate, Henry Huddleston, William Marchbanks, Joseph Williamson, William Sullivan, Thomas Heaton, Robert Rowland, Andrew Greer, Henry Dancer, John Brevard, John Grey, Daniel Hammock, John Barkley, William Penny, John Kearby, William Stalcup, Patrick Donoho, Francis Patterson, William Haynie, Moses Pinkston, Reuben Goad, John Chambers, Sr., Thomas Jamison and Edward Farris.” Comment has been offered already on all of this number, about whom we have learned anything, and the others are wholly unknown to us.


        “Ordered that Moses Fiske, Peter Turney and Garrett Fitzgerald, or any two of them, be authorized to ‘compleat’ a settlement with the administrators and the adminstratrix of the estate of William Young, deceased and such settlement, when ‘compleated’ to return into Court with the vouchers received relative thereto.” Fiske was a very prominent citizen of the county 150 years ago, and was the ancestor of the late Bill Fiske, who operated the Clay County paper, “Bill Fiske’s Bugle,” for many years. Peter Turney was the grandfather of the Peter Turney, who became Governor of the State at a much later date. Garrett Fitzgerald was another early and prominent citizen, and we are almost sure that he was the ancestor of the present Fitzgerald family in Clay County, two members of the family living in Lafayette, Mrs. Annie Fitzgerald Butler and Frank Fitzgerald. We suppose that William Young was(1) perhaps the ancestor of the present Young family at Dixon Springs. Readers will note that the word, “Compleat,” is incorrect.


        “Bill of ‘sail,’ Samuel Parker to William White, being certified by Nathaniel Lane, Clerk of Wake County; and attested by two of the Justices of the Peace for the same (county), as having been acknowledged before them. Ordered to be recorded.” The word “sail,” was another wrong spelling, sale being intended. We do not know what was involved in the sale, but it was made in Wake County, North Carolina, which county is in the central part of the State, contains 841 square miles and also the capital of the State, Raleigh. Samuel Parker is one of the very first members of a family that became very numerous and influential in the later history of Smith County. William White was also a member of a very early family in this part of Tennessee. One member of the family, Elder Joshua White, was one of the number that helped to form Dixon’s Creek Baptist church, the first organized in Smith County. We have the following sketch of this pioneer minister: “Elder White was first a member of the Camden church, Camden County, North Carolina. He was ordained to the ministry in this church. In the early nineties of the eighteenth century, he moved into the neighborhood of Fishing Creek church, Halifax County, North Carolina, and cast his membership with this church and became their pastor. He remained pastor of the church for some time, when he, perhaps as early as 1795, moved to Tennessee, settling most probably on Red River, in Robertson County. He was one of the noted figures among the ministry of this section, and did much in gathering the early churches of Middle Tennessee. He was one of the Presbytery which constituted Dixon’s Creek church, in 1800.”


        “Ordered that the report of a road from John Looney’s to Chas. Kavanaugh’s be received and that Nathaniel Farrer and William Madin be appointed to open and keep same in repair, each overseer to meet at Richard Cantrill’s and that John Looney, Esquire, furnish them with a list of hands.” This road was in what is now the south side of Smith County, so far as we can judge. Nathaniel Farren is another of whom we know nothing, and so are Richard Cantrill and William Madin.


        “John Douglass, Esquire, protests against the jail of Smith County, and the Court ordered it to be recorded.” John Douglass was a member of one of the most noted early families in Middle Tennessee, the Douglasses of Sumner County being part of the same family. The jail, we suppose, was of log construction, and we have no idea where this  “protested jail” was. The Court was meeting here and there, largely at Dixon Springs. So we may be justified in saying we suppose it was located at Dixon Springs, as no Court had been held at the present Carthage in 1802. The Court ordered “it to be recorded, the protest, and not the jail.


        We are glad to find that early citizens of Smith County were humane and believed in(2) showing mercy toward those unfortunate enough to have to go to jail. Readers should recall that 1802 was not far removed in point of time from the old stocks and other forms of brutal punishment meted out in Virginia and other older States.


(To be continued.)



Transcriber’s notes:


(1)   Original text spelled the word pas;  “was” seems more appropriate.

(2)  Original text used the letter n; ”in” seems more appropriate.