Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
February 28, 1952
* CAL'S COLUMN *
We resume the publication of the old records of the Court of Pleas and Quarterly Sessions of Smith County, which we have been publishing for many weeks. The next session was held near Dixon Springs and it is reported as follow:
"At a Court opened and held at the late dwelling house of William Saunders, on Monday, the 15th day of March, 1802. Members present (viz) William Walton, Peter Turney, Elmore Douglas, William Kavannaugh, James Hibbetts and John Lancaster, Esquires." A brief account of part of these magistrates follows: William Walton lived above the present Carthage, and the road leading from Crab Orchard westward by the present Carthage to Dixon Springs and further West is called the Walton Road for this pioneer settler who was among the very first in Smith County. As has been recorded in this column, Peter Turney lived on the present Bud Garrett farm about one and a half miles northeast of Dixon Springs, and on the Young Branch and we may be pardoned for stating that the writer was born on the extreme upper end of this stream. Peter Turney was the grandfather of Peter Turney who became Governor of Tennessee in 1893. He, Peter Turney, Sr., above mentioned was the father of Hopkins L. Turney and Samuel, both well known in the history of Tennessee prior to the Civil War. Peter Turney lived near a large spring which still flows on long after the early pioneer settlers had gone "the way of all the earth." It becomes very muddy now when rains fall higher up the valley. This is thought to be due to a series of sink holes which receive muddy waters from every heavy rain. These sink holes begin on the farm of our old grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory, not far from the present Mace's Hill, and extend in a irregular line across the next farm and the next to the old spring. Because of the fact that bears wallowed in the spring and adjacent waters, the old Turney home was known as "Bear Wallow," a name which only a few will recall having every heard the place called.
Elmore Douglas, we presume, lived somewhere to the south of the present Carthage, but we do not know where. And we are quite sure that William Kavannaugh was an early citizen of the south side of the present Smith County, as we believe John Lancaster was from that section. However we are subject to many errors and we invite correction when in error on any point of history.
James Hibbetts lived on the waters of the present Big Goose Creek, a few miles south of the present Lafayette. There is still a gap or break in the ridge that divides Goose Creek from Dixon's Creek at the very head of what is now known as Pumpkin Branch still known as Hibbetts' Gap. It is almost certain that James Hibbetts lived on the waters of the present Pumpkin Branch. It was near the place where this stream enters Big Goose Creek that John Brevard lived in the long, long ago. He was of French descent and was a man of prominence for that day and time. He removed about 1820 to West Tennessee.
The expression. "the late dwelling house of William Saunders,"evidently signified that Saunders had recently died. It could not have signified that the pioneer home of Saunders had recently burned, for the Court held its meetings in that dwelling. We do not know exactly where the house stood, but we are quite sure that it was in the vicinity of Dixon Springs.
"Ordered that Daniel Alexander be allowed a retailing licence to keep a Tavern at his now dwelling house, that he be rated as follows: (to-wit) For breakfast, dinner and supper, 25 cents; for whiskey by the half pint, 12 1/2 cents; for brandy, 12 1/2 cents; for lodging, 6 1/4 cents; for stalling and forage, (at) twelve, 25 cents; for corn and oats, per half gallon, 6 1/4 cents; who came into Court and gave security according to law." Here we have some prices that prevailed 150 years ago. Daniel Alexander is presumed to have been one of the members of that family who lived at or near Dixon Springs a century and a half ago. "His now dwelling house" meant his present dwelling house. Three meals for 25 cents was "dirt cheap," so it seems now. We never bought or sold a drop of whiskey or brandy and we are not prepared to comment on the price, but suppose that it was very low for each product. Six and a fourth cents for one's bed was very, very cheap. The other prices, we think, are equally low. The "grammar" on the last is not exactly correct, but it was certainly expressive and brief, setting forth what was done by Alexander.
"Bill of 'sail,' Sampson Williams to William Marchbanks, acknowledged and ordered to be recorded." A bill of "Sail" meant "sale." William Marchbanks' name appears in numerous other records, but we do not know where he resided. Sampson Williams was Clerk of the Court, and resided on lower Salt Lick of Cumberland, his home place being known as Williamsburg, where a small town developed, and which was once the county seat of Jackson County.
"The following Gentlemen were empaneled, elected and sworn as a Grand Jury: (viz) Stephen __________, (name was overlooked or left out of record), foreman; James Bradley, James W. Wright, Michael Murphy, Robert Dugan, Hezekiah Woodard, Jeremiah Taylor, Vincent Ridley, Thomas Walker, Leonard Fight, Samuel Stalcup, Nathaniel Ridley and James Baker, who were charged and set out to inquire of indictments and etc., and Robert Cotten was appointed Constable to attend them." We have offered comment about each of these of whom we had any record or knowledge, and we pass the item by.
"Deed, 254 acres, William Walton to Richard Taylor, acknowledged and ordered to be registered." We know nothing of Richard Taylor, nor have we the slightest idea as to where the land lay.
"Deed, Charles F. Mabias to Philip Day, acknowledged and ordered to be registered." We presume this deal involved land not far from the present Cato now in Troutsdale County. Charles F. Mabias once lived at the present Johnson Gregory place on the extreme upper end of Lick Creek. Philip Day once was a member of Dixon's Creek Baptist church.
"Richard Clark's stock mark, a crop off the right, and a swallow fork and under bit in the left, ordered to be recorded." For fear that some of our many new readers may not understand what stock marks were, we may add that for hogs and sheep, as well as horses and cattle, the forests were unfenced and stock roamed at large. The result of this sort of ranging where they please led to a lot of stock straying for miles and miles from home. So that each man might be able to establish his claim to any livestock, it was needful that some sort of mark or brand be used and this had to be recorded so as to establish same by law. Marks in the ears of hogs and sheep were used, and cattle and horses were branded with a hot iron. We suppose that there were virtually no fenced pastures in Smith County 150 years ago, just "pounds," or, as they were called in the West, "corrals." We recall that as late as the close of the last century that most farmers had their stock marks.
"Deed, Zachariah Green and William Gillespie to Roderick Jenkins, proven by the oath of Robert Collier, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be registered." We have no knowledge whatever of Zachariah Green, or of William Gillespie, or Robert Collier. Roderick Jenkins was the son of William and Nancy Jenkins, who came to Tennessee from North Carolina more than 150 years ago. Roderick Jenkins was known long ago a Roddy Jenkins. We have no knowledge of his first wife, but his second wife, was a Miss Pack, said to have been half-Indian. Roderick Jenkins was the father of William Jenkins, married Sabrey Witcher; James Jenkins, married Susan Goad; Samuel Jenkins, married first, Sabrey Goad, a sister of Susan Goad; later he married Miss Ruth Boston, daugher of George Boston, who was a brother of one of our great-grandmothers, the former Miss Kate Boston; Roddy, Jr. who went to Illinois; Jennie, who married Billie Donoho; one who married a Cummings; and one other whose name is not know. Roderick Jenkins had at least two brothers, one of them being Noah Jenkins, who was the great-great-grandfather of the writer's present wife, the former Miss Betty Jenkins; and another John Jenkins or Jacob Jenkins,or both of them. We hope to publish shortly a list of the descendants of William and Nancy Jenkins, and, therefore, refrain from mentioning more of them at this time, except for casual reference to them now and then. It might be added here that Roderick Jenkins is believed to have resided in the vicinity of the present Russell Hill in this county.
"Deed, 100 acres, Roderick Jenkins to William Jenkins, acknowledged." These two men are above referred to and we pass them by for the present.
"Deed, Thomas Stokes to Jones Bishop, 100 acres, proven by the oath of Willis Jones, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto." This is the first time we recall the name of Thomas Stokes, and here our information ends. Jones Bishop has already appeared in the old records. Willis Jones, we think, was a brother of Leonard Jones, already mentioned in this Column. We are quite sure that this Jones family is the same to which the late Luther Jones and Jim Jones, formerly of Difficult, belonged. Perhaps some reader will be interested in knowing of the reaction of these two brothers, each of whom lived to be mroe than 90 years of age, had toward Cal's first preaching effort. We may have already recorded this matter, but it will bear repeating. Our initial preaching effort was made at Defeated Creek Baptist church on the morning of Saturday, July 12, 1913. These two men, Jim and Luther Jones were present. On arriving at home, Luther's wife, who was an invalid and did not often attend church, asked about the service. Her husband, who talked with more or less of a nasal twang, replied that they had a new preacher. His wife, somewhat surprised, asked who the new minister was, receiving from her husband the reply: "Brother Gregory." His wife asked, "How did he do?" Her husband's reply will live with Cal as long as memory lives. It is as follows: "Well, if he ever does make a preacher, he's got it all to do yet."
Uncle Jim's wife, who was not at church when informed of the new preacher that had spoken to the church that July day, asked, "How did he do?" Uncle Jim replied, "I do not know why Mount Tabor church sent out such a man!" Of course, the writer did not learn of these things until a few years had passed by and he was able by the time to "take it." We hope that readers will pardon this additional "detour."
"Ordered that John Simpson, who is charged with begetting a bastard child on the body of Elizabeth Wakefield, be fined according to law, and that he be bound in a recognizance in the sum of three hundred dollars with James Simpson and Roderick Jenkins, his securities, to be void on condition that the said John Simpson indemnifies the County as to the maintenance of said child, and perform such orders as the Court may from time to time make concerning same." Here we have an ugly report that we publish for no reason other than that it is in the old records, and to show the frailty of the human family. We know nothing of who John Simpson was. We know nothing of the poor fallen woman in the case, Elizabeth Wakefield. We know nothing definite as to James Simpson, but presume that he was a brother of the father of John Simpson. Roderick Jenkins, was a brother of the writer's wife's great-great-grandfather, Noah Jenkins. He had no connection with the wrong done, but was acting as security for John Simpson. One thing stands out and that is that sin and wrong-doing have had their way over the human family throughout man's stay on this earth. The writer has done some family research work, and has nearly always told those for whom he was making research that almost every family tree has some dead limbs on it and that there is scarcely a family without a black sheep in it, and also that most family closets hide a skelton or two.---(To be continued)