Transcribed by Melody Carter


October 30, 1952




     We return to the publication of the old records of the County Court of Smith County this week.  The time is Tuesday, June 22, 1802, slightly more than 150 years ago.  The place is at or near Dixon’s Springs.  The following items in quotation marks make up such of the records as we wish to consider this week.


     “Court met according to adjournment.  Members present: James Gwinn, Elmore Douglass, John Looney and William Kavanaugh, Esquires.”


     We have no definite knowledge of the home of James Gwinn.  Elmore Douglass was a military officer of Davidson County  in* 168 years ago, having been sworn in as an Ensign on Jan. 6, 1784, Davidson County having been the first county formed in Middle Tennessee.  Wilson County came into existence in 1799, and Elmore Douglass was a member of its first Quarterly Court and Court of Pleas.  Later it appears that he either moved into the south side of the present Smith County or the county was enlarged so as to include the eastern part of the original Wilson County in Smith.  At the time of the Court’s meeting in 1802, it is believed that he resided in the present South side of Smith County.


     John Looney is one member of whom we know virtually nothing.  There is some indication that he once lived not far east of the present Lafayette, but this is not confirmed.  Two men of the same family name, Moses Looney, and David Looney, lived in Sullivan County in East Tennessee as early as 1780.  But we have no knowledge of whether John was related to either of the men.  In Febuary, 1780 the Sullivan County Quarterly Court met in the home of Moses Looney, and David Looney was a member of that Court.  Governor Caswell appointed David Looney as a Magor* on Nov. 19, 1799.  David Looney also voted for the formation of the State of Franklin, which vote is supposed to have been taken at Jonesboro, Tenn., in August, 1784.   David Looney was also a member of Tennessee’s first House of Representatives, serving as such from Sullivan County.  If any reader of the paper can supply additional information as to John Looney, where he lived, who any of his descendants are and etc., please let us know.


     William Kavanaugh, the fourth-mentioned member of the Court lived somewhere in the south side of the present Smith County from the best information available.


     “Deed 100 acres, Charles Kavanaugh to William Neal, acknowledged.”  Charles Kavanaugh was, we believe, a brother of William Kavanaugh, and lived 150 years ago not far from William’s home.  Charles Kavanaugh was a member of the first Quarterly Court of Wilson County, formed in 1799.  We do not know if these names were of the same man, but spelled differently.  It is our opinion that Charles Kavanaugh of the Smith County Court in 1802, was the Charles Cavanaugh, a member of the first County Court of Wilson County.  Charles Cavanaugh was the chairman of that first Court in Wilson County.  We have no knowledge of William Neal, but suppose that he was the ancestor or at least a relative of the Neal family that still lives in the south side of the present Smith County.


     “Deed, Thomas Hickman to Henry Moore, proven by the oath of Charles Kavanaugh, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto.”  The amount of land involved is not given.  It is the writer’s opinion that all the parties mentioned in this item lived a century and a half ago in the south side of the present Smith County.  And I may say that the same holds for the next items which are as follows:


     “Deed, 100 acres Thomas Hickman to George Tinkle, proven by the oath of Charles Kavanaugh, one of the subscribing witnesses.”


     “Deed, 20 acres (J)*ohn Barker to William Neal, proven by the oath of Charles Kavanaugh, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto.”


     We have no information as to Thomas Hickman.  Edmond Hickman was an early surveyor in Tennessee, and was killed by the Indians on Piney Creek in the present Hickman County, Tennessee.  This occurred in 1785.  We do not know if Thomas Hickman was related in any way to Edmond Hickman.  There was also a settlement here in Middle Tennessee known as Hickman’s Station, but we do not know the name of the man for whom the station was named.  It was at Hickman’s Station a Miss McGaughy was killed by Indians in the year 1788.  There is also a creek in Smith County, known as Hickman Creek, but we are not told for whom the stream was named.  The present town of Hickman, we suppose was named for the creek on which it is located.*  Henry Moore, mentioned in one of the land deals, is also another of whom we know nothing.  George Tinkle is one of whom we know nothing, never before seeing the name “Tinkle,” nor have we ever heard of such a name.


     John Barker, named in the last item above given is wholly unknown to the writer.


     “Deed, 200 acres, John Irwin to Joel Holland, proven by the oath of James Gwinn, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto.”  There was a John Irwin who was chosen as a member of a people’s committee in Washington County, in East Tennessee in 1784, with a view to the formation of the State of Franklin.  But we do not know if this John Irwin who sold land in Smith County 150 years ago, was the Washington County citizen of 18 years before.  We have no information  (on)* Joel Holland, but suppose he was a relative or the ancestor of the present Holland family in the present Macon County.  We presume that the land referred in the Irwin-Holland deal lay in the vicinity of Goose Creek which stream rises on the very outskirts of Lafayette on the South.


     “Deed, Henry Tooley to John Barkley, 328 acres, acknowledged.”  Henry Tooley had come to Smith County, Tenn. from North Carolina, about the beginning of the century.  He was a prominent man and shortly after he arrived in Smith County, he became a member of the County Court.  He and all his offspring of the name Tooley had left Smith County when the census was taken in 1820, for there is not a Tooley name in the census records of Smith County for 1820.  He lived at the rear of the present Riddleton and owned a lot of land.  A bend in the River was once known as Tooley’s Bend.  We have no information on John Barkley.


     “Deed, 10 acres, Henry Tooley to John Barkley, acknowledged,” No comment.


     “Peter Turney, Esq. produced a Commission from his Excellency, Governor Roane, wherein the said Turney is appointed Entry Taker pro-tempore, who gave security and took the following oath: viz. I, Peter Turney, do swear that I will well and truly perform all the duties of Entry Taker in and for the county of Smith, agreeable to law during my continuance in office, to the best of my knowledge and belief.  Peter Turney, Sampson Williams, Attest.”


     This item is not quite clear.  We would suppose that an entry taker was an official charged with keeping a record of all entries of land, together with the bounds of such lands; but this is merely a supposition.  The writer is subject to correction at any time when he is in error on the old records.


     “Ordered that the Grand Jury be discharged from further attendance at this term.”  No comment.


     “The Court agrees to adjourn this Court to met* at the dwelling house of William Walton at their next term, and ordered same to be entered of record.”  The Court of which we are making a report, was held in the home of William Saunders, near Dixon Springs.  Now it is agreed to hold the next term in the home of William Walton.  Walton lived in the present Carthage, so we are informed.  This would indicated that no Court had previously been held in Carthage, and we believe this to be correct.  William Walton was a relative of the Walton family now residing in Macon County if we are rightly informed.  The writer’s wife is a descendant of an early Walton who lived near the present Lafayette.


     “Ordered that a County tax of 6 1/4 cents be laid on each 100 acres of land, a tax of 6 1/4 cents on each poll and a tax of 25 cents on each stud horse, to be ‘layed’ for the present year.”


     Here we have some early tax figures, which indicate that taxes amounted to virtually nothing in Smith County 150 years ago.  A man with a thousand-acre farm at the rate, would have paid only 64 cents county tax on the same.  A poll tax of 6 1/2 * cents was also quite low.  The “Stud horse” was worth 600 acres of land.


     “Court adjourns till tomorrow, nine o’clock.”


     Thus closed the work of the Court on Tuesday, June 22, 1802.


(To be continued)



*the word “in” appeared in the original text but most likely needs to be of.

*the “J” in John was omitted in the original text

*in the original text, it was written, “ We have no information Joel Holland, but......

*Magor appeared in the original text but was most likely a typo for Mayor.

*The original text says,”The present town of Hickman, we suppose was named for the creek on which is


* the word “met” appears in the original text but “meet” most likely is the word meant to be used.

* 6 1/4 cents is used in the first mention of the poll tax, 6 1/2 cents is used in the writer’s explanation of 

  the poll tax.