Transcribed by Kathleen Hastings Whitlock
November 8, 1951
Following is a copy of a letter written by the editor to his firend, Dr. M. M. McDonald, of Cookeville. For the information that the letter contains, we are publishing it for the benefit of our hundreds and hundreds of relatives. It is suggested that the article be clipped and filed away for future reference. Editor.
November 5, 1951
Mr. M. M. McDonald,
Your letter of Nov. 3rd, has come to hand and has been read with interest. I have some information on your line of Gregory relatives. Your grandmother was a Miss Gregory, the daughter of Dobb Gregory, who was killed by Cal Beasley during the Civil War. Dobb Gregory was the son of Squire William H. Gregory, a Revolutionary soldier, who arrived in Smith County in 1791, the first of the family to come to the county. He settled in the William Nixon Hollow, about four miles south of Pleasant Shade. Squire Bill, as he was called, was a very fine man, and was the first man buried on Peyton’s Creek in a store-bought suit of clothing. This was in 1852, and he is buried near the old home place in the Nixon Hollow. His grave, so far as I have been able to learn, is unmarked; but it is in the back side of the little bottom on which sat the old two-story house that stood after your father, Presley McDonald, was born.
I remember the old clock quite well and recall that it had been in the family for many years. If it was the property once of his great-great-great-grandfather, it was once owned by Squire Bill’s father, Thomas Gregory, whose will is on file at Carthage. It was made in 1817 or 1818, and was probated in 1827. Thomas Gregory had the following sons and daughters; Harden Gregory, Squire Bill Abraham Gregory, Old Bry, a daughter, who married a Douglas, a daughter who married Isaac George, and one son, Thomas Gregory, who died before his father. This son, Thomas Gregory, was the father of Mrs. Richard Brown, Mrs. Bazerl Birch, A. J. Gregory, Gabriel Gregory and Big Tom Gregory. Big Tom was my own great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s side of the house.
Squire Bill’s father, Thomas Gregory, was one of the wealthiest men in Smith County at the time of his death which took place somewhere before Feb. 22, 1827 when the estate was finally settled. He left an estate worth more than $10, 000 cash at that time. He would have been worth today at least $125, 000.
I have not had time to look up Jimmie and Johnnie Gregory, brothers of your father’s mother, but I have them and the rest of the number somewhere in my old records. There was a daughter who married a Matherson and I believe one or two other daughters, whose names I cannot now recall without looking into the records which are scattered through my books and papers and which I have not time at present to look up.
The old Thomas Gregory who died before 1827, had one brother that I know of, John Gregory, who died in North Carolina, but his widow and Children moved to Smith County more than 150 years ago. John had a son,Jeremiah Gregory, who had a son, Major Gregory, who had a son, Stephen Calvin Gegory,* who had a son, Thomas Morgan Gregory (Dopher) who had a son, Calvin Gregory, the writer of this letter. But my grandfather married his third cousin, Sina Gregory, daughter of Big Tom Gregory, the son of Thomas Gregory, the brother of John Gregory. You and I are fourth cousins. I am slso connected with yur line in another way. My grandmother, Sina Gregory’s mother, was Bettie Gregory, daughter of old Bry, the brother of Squire Bill, your ancestor. You see the Gregorys sometimes married kinfolks, which give the writer connection with three lines of the same family.
*Note: It is evident here he meant Stephen Calvin Gregory instead of Gegory.
The Gregorys came to Smith County, or rather what is now Smith County, beginning in the autumn of 1791. They came from the Hillsboro District of Chatham County, North Carolina, which county is not far from Raleigh, the capital. They came to North Carolina from Virginia, and the first Gregory to reach Virginia was Richard Gregory, who arrived at Jamestown in 1620. I have the name of the ship on which he crossed the Atlantic somewhere among my papers. The family came to American shores largely from North Ireland. They originated in Scotland on the shores of Loch Lomond in the ninth century. The founder of the family was Gregorious the Third, son of Alpine, king of Scotland from the year 832 till 836. But we are quite sure that all the royal blood in our veins has long since “run our” and that we are just ordinary and common folks. We have had some great men among us, and a lot of others who did not qualify in any way for greatness. Perhaps you may no know it, but there is no family that does not or has not had some “black sheep” in it. We are related to the old Scotch freebooter, Rob Roy, who lived and perhaps plundered in Scotland hundreds of years ago. Some of our folks got off on the wrong foot in various other ways, there being one or two horse thieves of whom we have “slight knowledge”.
But on the other hand, the Gregorys have been devoted to the land that they have called their own, have generally lived among the hills, first of Scotland, later of Virginia and North Carolina, and still later of Tennessee and Indiana. They have been patriotic and home-loving citizens; and, in general, have been about as the average family that traces its ancestry back for a thousand years or more. No man can trace any family back that far and not find any “dead limbs” on the family tree.
None of the above is meant to “throw off” on any ancestor, nor do we mean to boast about the Gregory family. We do not feel superior in any way to any family that wants to do right and tries to keep the fires of patriotism, love of country, love of God and love of the right burning on their altars. The writer is glad to know something of his line of descent and wishes he knew more. He regrets the exceedingly little knowledge that practically all the members of the family have of their past history.
Friend McDonald, if there is anything else that I can tell you about the Gregory family, please write me and shall try to “dig it up.”
With best wishes, I am,
Your friend and brother,