Transcribed by Brenda H. Wills


August 23, 1951




   We resume this week the old records and are leaving off personal items that concern Cal.  We published a few weeks ago a record of a sale of the “perishable” property of the estate of Nathaniel Brittain, deceased.  For this we received a fine letter from W. C. Brittain, of Hendersonville, commending our efforts to keep names and places identified so the younger generation may know who their ancestors were and where they lived.  We thank him for his good letter.


   We also received a letter from Mrs. G. E. Berry, of 500 West Second Street, Cisco, Texas, asking us if we did not make a mistake in the copying of the name of David Gurley, mentioned in our article on the sale.  We took the trouble to go back to the original record and found that we had it correct.  David Gurley, and not Davis Gurley, as was the name of one of her relatives of nearly a century and a half ago.  However, it is possible that the Clerk of the Court made a mistake in the spelling of the name, but we took it down as given in the old records.


   The next item reads:  “Charles T. Mabias, five barrels of corn, $8.50.”  Charles T. Mabias was the first coroner of Smith County.  He lived where Johnson Gregory now lives, on the extreme upper end of Lick Creek.  He paid $1.75 per barrel for his corn.  This was a rather high price for 146 years ago.


   The next two lots of corn were bought by James Nowling for $1.70 per barrel.  We know nothing at all of Nowling.  We supposed his name would now be spelled Knowlin.  Where he lived is not known nor revealed by the old records.


   “Henry Dancer, five barrels of corn, $8.50,” read next in the corn selling.  Henry Dancer was a proprietor of a tavern and sold spirituos liquor.


   “Widow Brittain, Flax wheel, $2.00.”  Such is the reading of the record of the next item of sale.  Widow Brittain was no doubt the widow of Nathaniel Brittain, whose “perishable” property was being disposed of.  A flax wheel was a very necessary piece of equipment for a pioneer home.  We suppose the price is reasonable, considering the time.


   “Henry Dancer, two sheep, $2.73.  Henry Dancer, two sheep, $3.00.”  Here we have two more sales that we are combining.  Dancer is the same man that bought five barrels of corn.  The price of sheep appears to have been quite low.


   “Abigail Street, two sheep, $3.81.”  We have not seen the name of Street before in the old records of Smith County, and have not one bit further information on this point.


   “Richard Brittain, one bay colt, $26.00.”  Abraham was another son of the dead man, Nathaniel Brittain.  The bay colt brought a good price; for in that day and time, $26.00 would have brought a hundred acres of land and it heavily timbered.  We have read how that in 1805 Obadiah Gregory bought 50 acres of land for $20.00 on Wartrace Creek in the present Jackson County.  The bay colt was perhaps a race animal and we wish somehow it could be possible to print the records of the horses owned by this pioneer family of 145 years ago.


   “Abraham Brittain, one bay mare. $41.00.”  This may have been the same mare that Nathaniel Brittain had loaned to a friend to run in a “course race.” in 1800 and for which Dixon’s Creek Baptist church had “churched” him.  He made his acknowledgements and was restored to fellowship.  We do not know that this was the same animal, for the very next item bought by Abraham Brittain was a sorrel mare for $27.00.  This could have been the one lent by Mr. Brittain in the summer of 1800 and about which we read in the old minutes of Dixon’s Creek Baptist church.  The price paid was $27.00 and the bay mare cost Abraham $41.00.  This would indicate that the sorrel was perhaps the older and it is entirely possible that she was the animal loaned by her owner to his neighbor to run in that race somewhere on Dixon’s Creek a century and a half ago.  The old minutes read, if we remember correctly:  “A charge was brought against Brother Nathaniel Brittain for lending his mare to run in a course race,” and some brother was appointed to “cite him to appear before the church and answer the charge.”  Shortly afterward Brother Brittain gave satisfaction and was restored to fellowship.  The love of a good horse is still to be found in the family and W. C. Brittain, of near Hendersonville, is a great lover of good horse flesh.


   “Richard Brittain, one black colt, $15.00.”  The age of the colt is not given.  But the fact that the Brittains bought practically all the “horseflesh” is evidence of the desire to keep good stock in the family.  In fact only one animal got out of the family, and it is possible that Thomas Gray, who paid $50.00 for one sorrel 

was a son-in-law of the deceased.  The sale to Gray was the largest for the horses in the point of  price, Gray paying $50.00 for “one sorrel colt.”


   “Widow Brittain, one filly $40.00” reads the next item.   The last item about the horses is;  “Richard Brittain, one filly, $30.25.”


   All these items are given in detail to show something of the love of the family for blooded stock.  If any reader can give additional information, please send it in and we will try to publish at once.


   “Samuel Gates (or Gatts), notes due, $122.00.”  We have no record whatever of Samuel Gates or Gatts.  “James Nowlin, five barrels of corn, $8.33 ½,” reads the last item of the sale,  It is totaled and amounted to $490.75.  The concluding part of the old record is as follows: State of Tennessee, County of Smith, June term, 1806.  The within Inventory was returned into Court by Abraham Brittain, administrator of Nathaniel Brittain deceased.  Ordered to be recorded.  Teste.  Robert Allen, Clerk.


   In the remainder of this article we return to the old records of the County Court of Smith County.  The last previously published in the old records was an article starting with the words:  “Venire Facias to the ensuing Court,” followed with the names of 35 citizens of the county.  Comment was offered on each one of those men of whom we had any information.  The Court was in session at Dixon Springs, on Wednesday, June 17, 1801.  Ordered that the report of the Sheriff for non-residents’ lands, who failed to return same for taxation for the year 1800, be received, and that the same be advertised agreeable to law, which are as follows (viz.) John and James Bonner, 185 acres; Joshua Davis, 684 acres; Mame Phillips, 1,240 acres; Benjamin Sheppard, 3,200 acres; John P. Williams, 1,321 acres; John Williams, 650 acres; Thomas Shoot, 1,000 acres; William Waller, 2,001 acres; John Armstrong, 5,000 acres; Stephen Pettis, 500 acres; Levi West, 429 acres; Francis Hollenshead-John Drews heirs, 1,280 acres; Sterling Brewer, 640 acres; Samuel Saunderford, 7,680 acres; James Adams, 640 acres; Heirs of James Celton, 640 acres; Nancy Shepherd, 2,560 acres; William Tyrell, 1,000 acres; Daniel Anderson, 640 acres; William Shepherd, 1,350 acres; Robert Thomson, 640 acres; John Price, 640 acres; Lardner Clark, 640 acres; John Kennedy, 640 acres; John Bartlett, 640 acres; Robert Cartwright, 640 acres: Thomas Cartwright, 640 acres; George Cummings, 640 acres; John Ford, 640 acres; Heirs of Henry Flury, 1,000 acres; John Gattlin, 824 acres; David Allison, 1,681 acres; Allen Ramsey, 1,358 acres; Edward Yarbrough, 3,840 acres; Captain William Lytle, 3,000 acres; Heirs of Archibald Lytle, 3,000 acres; Heirs of John Calloway, 840 acres; Stephen Cantrill, 1,000 acres. Signed, John L. Martin.


   “Heirs of Luke Sylvester, 640 acres; Heirs of Solomon Truth, 640 acres; Heirs of Joseph Harner, 640 acres; Heirs of Thomas Treuton, 640 acres; Heirs of John Brabble, 640 acres; Heirs of Christopher Church, 640 acres; Heirs of Michael Valentine,  640 acres; Heirs of James Moore, 640 acres.  Signed, James Gwin.


   “It is therefore, ordered that the Clerk made out a certificate of the same, together with the amount of the fine, taxes and charges due thereon, and cause same to be published twice in the Knoxville Gazette, giving notice that the same will be sold or so much hereof, as will satisfy the fine, taxes and costs.”


  Here we have a very lengthy item, listing a total of 59,862 acres of land about to be sold for non-payment of the taxes for the year 1800.  These were non-resilient owners of land in Smith County, and we have not one word of information about any one of such owners or heirs.  The names are, for  the most part, familiar: but there are some exceptions.  Thomas “Shoot” is certainly a name that is out of the ordinary.  We wonder if this should not have been spelled “Suite”, which was a fairly familiar early name in Smith County.  Hollenshead is a strange name, and so is Samuel Saunderford.  James Celton is a rather unfamiliar name.  We wonder if it could have been John Shelton.  The name of Robert and Thomas Cartwright are familiar, although the family is slowly becoming extinct, there being virtually no young men in this section bearing the name of Cartwright.  It is a very old name in the history of Smith County.  Levi Cartwright was a minister of the Christian Church in Smith County in the long ago.  Richard Cartwright lived in Defeated Creek prior to the Civil War.  Other members of the family lived on Peyton’s Creek in the long ago.  Henry “Flury” is an odd name, and we have no information.  John Gattlin is another name that is not common in Middle Tennessee.  We wonder if it was the same family name as that that gave Gatlinburg in the mountains of East Tennessee its name.  Joseph Harner is another name not now known in Smith County.  Thomas Teuton, John Brabble, Christopher Church and Michael Valentine are others whose family name are no longer directly connected with Smith County.


    Another point of interest in the closing part of the item is that advertising of the sale of those lands for taxes was to be done in Knoxville Gazette.  We would judge from this item that there was then, in 1801 no paper published at all in Nashville. 


   “Ordered that Charles Hudspeth, Esquire, William Martin and Andrew Greer be appointed inspectors to the ensuing election and that the sheriff be directed to notify them thereof.”  Thus reads the next item we will discuss in the old records.  Charles Hudspeth was a member of the County Court and resided somewhere in the upper part of the present Jackson County or the present Clay County.  William Martin was a well-known planter of the Dixon Springs section, and a leader in his county.  He resided not far from the present Dixon’s Creek Baptist church.  Andrew Greer is believed to have lived on the lower end of the Middle Fork of Goose Creek, where there is now an elevation of land known as the “Greer Hill.”  Just what an election inspector of 150 years ago was, the records do not show.


   “Ordered that William Haynes’ stock wark, a crop and underbit in the right ear, and a crop and overkeel in the left, be recorded.”  William Haynes is supposed to have been the ancestor of the Hanes family of Macon County, of a much later date.  The family now spells the name, “Hanes.”


   “Ordered that Richard Brittain be appointed overseer of the road from near Samuel Caruthers’ to the ‘fork road’ up the Middle Fork of Goose Creek to Daniel Alexander’s, and that Daniel Alexander be appointed overseer of the road leading from his own house to where it intersects with the other road, and that James Gwin and James Hibbetts, Esquires, furnish said overseers with a list of hands.”  So reads the next item in the old records.  Richard Brittain is the same man mentioned earlier in this article as the purchaser of some of the horses belonging to the estate of his father, Nathaniel Brittain.  From the record we would judge that he must have lived on the lower end of Middle Fork, not far from where Greer, also above mentioned, lived.  The road leading up the creek by his home reaches the Highland Rim at the Gap of the Ridge about six miles west of Lafayette.  Evidently Samuel Caruthers lived at the extreme south end of the road, which would mean about the place where Middle Fork empties into East Fork of Goose Creek.  Brittain was to be overseer to the home of Daniel Alexander, which would indicate that said Alexander lived somewhere about the present Pleasant Valley Methodist church.  He was to be overseer to “where it intersects the other road,” we presume but do not know that this was a road on the Highland Rim or Ridge running east and west, about where the present Austin Peay Highway is.  There is no indication of an intersection and well defined road from the vicinity of Pleasant Valley to the Gap of the Ridge except the present Highway running east and west on the ridge.  There is no indication of the present New Harmony Road, or the road leading west from the present Cedar Bluff to Bennett’s Store, then having been laid out.  James Gwin and James Hibbetts were residents of Goose Creek and members of the County Court.


   “Ordered that John L. Hart be appointed to collect the State and County Tax for the present year, (1801) who gave security and qualified according to law.”  Who John L. Hart was, we do not  know.  That he was most probably a relative of the man for whom Hartsville was named seems reasonable.  He was, we are   quite sure, related closely to the Aaron Hart who was among the 35 men named in the same Court to serve as a member of the “Venire Facias” group appointed the same day.


   If readers enjoy these old records and Cal’s surmisings, let us know.  If you detest them, we could be persuaded quite easily to leave them off.  Let us know one way or the other.