Transcribed by Janette West Grimes


June 18, 1953




†† We resume the publication of the old minutes of the Quarterly Court and Court of Pleas for Smith County, Tenn. The time is Wednesday, September 22, 1802. The opening item is as follows: "Court met according to adjournment. Members present: Charles Kavanaugh, Nathaniel Brittain, Peter Turney, William Kavanaugh, James Roberts."


†† William and Charles Kavanaugh are believed to have been brothers and they resided on the south side of the Cumberland in the vicinity of the present New Middleton. Nathaniel Brittain lived on Big Goose Creek. We recently stated in this column that we understood that the Brittain family resided about 200 yards east of the present Donoho Goose Creek, not far below Linville's Shop, and that Samuel Carothers resided 150 years ago on the farm now owned by Jim Tom Cunningham. We are informed by Mrs. Laura Gaston Garrett, of Dixon Springs, that we had the locations exactly reversed, that the Brittain family resided where Jim Tom Cunningham now lives, and Carothers where George Burnley now lives, about 200 yards from the end of the present Donoho Bridge. We are sorry for the blunder, but gladly correct any error we may make. We desire that in the future, long after we "have gone the way of all the earth," our accounts of early Middle Tennessee events may be found accurate and trustworthy.


†† Peter Turney resided on the present Bud Garrett farm on the Young Branch of Dixon's Creek, on the extreme upper end of which stream the writer "discovered America." We do not recall at this time just where James Roberts lived.


†† The first item of business that came before the Court on that fall day nearly 150 years ago was recorded in the following words: "Ordered that Henry Dancer oversee the road beginningat the three forks of the road and Mungle's Gap and Carother's Horse Mill, to extend to Richard Brittain's bounds leading up Middle Goose Creek."


†† Just where Henry Dancer lived, we do not know, but would presume that he lived on the road over which he was appointed overseer. Now we do not know where the "three forks of the road" are located. Mungle's Gap is at the extreme upper end of the Glasgow Branch of Lick Creek, although there is a difference of opinion as to whether the Gap then was where it is today. There is an old roadway, shown by the depression of scores of years and much travel, about a quarter of a mile south of the present Mungle's Gap. Some say the original Gap was here, while others contend that it was 150 years the present Mungle's Gap. Carothers Horse Mill, so we judge,was located not far from the Carother's home which is mentioned in one of the preceding paragraphs. Richard Brittain was the son, so we understand, of Nathaniel Brittain. He owned land on the lower part of Middle Fork of Goose Creek, according to the Court order.


†† "An application of Samuel Donelson, Esquire, attorney for Henry W. Lawson. Ordered that the Clerk issue a warrant directed to Charles Kavanaugh, John Smith and John Lancaster, Esquires, commanding them to attend on the lands of John Kingsberry in order to perpetuate testimony relative to the boundaries of Henry W. Lawson on the Caney Fork and that publication be made in the Nashville Gazette, according to law."


†† Samuel Donelson, an attorney for Henry W. Lawson, was striving to establish the boundary lines on the farm of Lawson, who evidently lived on the Caney Fork River which empties into the Cumberland just above Carthage. John Kingsberry is another of whom we know nothing. Lawson heads of families in the census of 1820 were: Moses Lawson, with one male between 10 and 16, one 16 to 18, three 18 to 26, one from 26 to 45, and one above 45, supposed to have been Moses himself. He had females in his family: One between10 and 16, one from 16 to 26, and one from 26 to 45, perhaps his wife. He owned 11 slaves in 1820.


†† John Lawson was another member of the family in 1820. He had in that census year: one male between 26 and 45, himself, we would judge; and one female over 45.


†† Thomas Lawson was a third member of the same family. He had in 1820: three males under 10, one from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 18, one from 18 to 26, and one above 45, presumably himself; and females as follows: Two under ten, two between 10 and 16, and one between 26 and 45. Henry Lawson's name does not appear in the Smith County census for 1820, and neither does John Kingsberry.


†† Henry Dancer, mentioned above, does not appear in the census of 1820.


†† The earlier Court records had ordered certain publication to be made in the Knoxville Gazette. From the above item we learn that a paper had been established in Nashville as early as 1802. Perhaps some reader can furnish something of the history of the Nashville Gazette.


†† "Ordered that John Luke be exonerated from payment of his taxes for the year 1802 upon five black poles." We know nothing of John Luke. He had five black "poles" meaning slaves.


†† "Ordered that Bolling Felts oversee the road leading from his own house to the Nashville Road, and that John Lancaster furnish a list of hands to work under him." We presume this road to have been located in the southwest corner of the present Smith County, as the Nashville Road is mentioned in other old records as extending through that section. We have nothing definite to report on Bolling Felts, although his name is mentioned rather frequently in the old records of the Court.


†† "Dennis Kelly to Joseph Gordon, 228 acres of land proven by the oath of John Looney, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered." We have no record of Dennis Kelly, although there was a Patrick Kelly in Smith County in 1820. We have no information on Joseph Gordon, although we suppose him to have been of the same family as John Gordon, from whom Gordonsville is said to have taken its name.


†† A list of the Venire to the next County Court (viz): Godfrey Fowler, Daniel Hammock, Edward Farris, Michael Murphy, John Payne, David Cochran, James Cochran, John Brevard, Jabus Gifford, Abraham Thompson, John Johnson, John Douglas, Philip Day, Charles McMurry, John Hargis, William Hargis, Isham Beasley, Thomas Bowman, Robert Bowman, William Boyd, Abram Brittain, Andrew Greer, Philip Thurman, William Payne, William Edwards, William Hankins, Samuel Carothers, William Cord, Samuel Hughes, Bill Hughes, John Murphy, William Alexander, Daniel Alexander, James Butler, Leonard Ballou and David Rorex."


†† Here we have a list of some of the leading citizens of Smith County in the year 1802. We have only a very little information on practically all of them, although we will give the small amount of data or history of those of whom we know enough to report. Godfrey Fowler lived near the present Cato about 12 miles south of Lafayette, in the early part of the 19th century. He had either died or removed at the time of the 1820 census when there was not a member of the family in the entire country.


†† Daniel Hammock is believed to have been the ancestor of Miss Mayne Hammock, of Hartsville. Many members of this family are found among the early members of Dixon's Creek Baptist church, although many of them spelled the name, "Hammack." So we would judge that he lived in the vicinity of the present Dixon Springs. We have no information about Edward Farris.


†† Michael Murphy resided at the present Pleasant Shade, and one or two sessions of the early County Court took place in his home. John Payne, David Cochran and James Cochran are "unknowns" to Gregory. John Brevard was of French descent and resided just below the present Hillsdale. The site of the old Brevard home is known to the writer who has picked up pieces of pottery and chinaware, as well as old bricks, on the site of the old home. The old spring flows on in the years gone by, but the Brevard family is just a memory in the community. However, their cemetery is still to be seen, with one grave bearing a long, wide slab on which is found the name, "Polyxena Brevard," inscribed thereon. She was born about 1805 and died at the age of 40 years and did not marry, so far as our memory serves us. The family removed to West Tennessee, in the vicinity of Union City prior to 1820.


†† The name, "Polyxena," pronounced as if spelled Po-lix-e-na, with the accent on the second sylable and y given the sound of short i, is from Greek mythology. The Polyxena of old was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, and was betrothed to Achilles. According to one legend, she was sacrificed to Neoptolemus at the tomb of Achilles in order to appease the shade of that hero, who had been slain with an arrow by Paris. She appears as the heroine in Euripides's tragedy, Hecuba.


†† Jabus Gifford is another of whom we know but little. He is listed in the 1820 census as having one male under 10, 2 from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 18, one from 18 to 26, and one above 45, himself, no doubt; and one female between 26 and 45. Where he lived and who his descendants were, we have not the least idea.


†† Abraham Thompson, John Johnson, Philip Thurman, William Boyd, William Payne, William Edwards, William Hankins, William Cord, Samuel and Bill Hughes, John Murphy, and James Butler, are all unknown to the writer. John Douglas could have been the same Douglas the "intermarried with Sina Gregory," as mentioned in the Column two weeks ago. Sina was a sister to our great-great-grandfather, Bry Gregory, and was our great-great-great-aunt.


†† Philip Day lived in the vicinity of Dixon Springs, and was a leading citizen of that section for a number of years. He was the ancestor of the Days of the county at the present time. Charles McMurry was from the same section and still has a number of descendants living in Trousdale County, among whom are the Stubblefields and others.


†† John Hargis is believed to have lived just above the present Cato. Later he is said to have removed to the "Ridge," or Highland Rim, where he still has numerous descendants. William Hargis is believed to have been a brother of John.


†† Isham Beasley was one of the leading citizens of Smith County for nearly half a century having been a large landowner, a slave holder and a wealthy man. He was a soldier of the American Revolution. He is buried in the present Sullivan's Bend, not far from Elmwood. He married Miss Polly Andrews not long after the close of the Revolution. The Beasleys of Smith and many more counties are all descendants of Isham Beasley.


†† Thomas Bowman and Robert Bowman lived just east or northeast of the present Riddleton. The Bowmans of that section are descended from Robert Bowman, who died about 1807. Whether Thomas and Robert were brothers or son and father, we do not know. Perhaps some reader can enlighten us on this point.


†† Abram Brittain was a son of Nathaniel Brittain who resided on Big Goose Creek at the present Jim Tom Cunningham place. The Brittains were great lovers of fine horses. Our good friend, W___ C___ Britain, of Hendersonville, is a descendant of Nathaniel Brittain, a member of Dixon's Creek Baptist church, who "lent his mare to run in a course race," and was "churched" for so doing about 150 years ago. He made his acknowledgements and was forgiven. It may be recorded here that Nathaniel Brittain died about five years after the record of the Court was made, and that some valuable horses were sold as part of his estate.


†† Andrew Greer is thought to have lived on the lower end of Middle Fork of Goose Creek which stream rises at the Gap of the Ridge and joins the East Fork of Big Goose Creek near the present Linville Shop, and near the home of Samuel Carothers, who was also of the number chosen for possible jury duty. A hill not far up Middle Fork is still known as the Greer Hill.


†† William and Daniel Alexander were early Dixon Springs citizens, with quite a number of their relatives still living in that vicinity, although many of them have moved to other sections to make their home.


†† Leonard Ballou was one of our ancestors, having been our great-great-grandfather. He was born in Botetourt County, Va. on April 4, 1767, and died in Smith County, Tenn., August 4, 1840. He resided at one time on the waters of Dixon's Creek, and later removed to Peyton's Creek, in 1808, and died there 32 years later. He was one of the charter members of Mt. Tabor Baptist church, formed in 1836, about two and a half miles south of his home. We might add that this is also the writer's church, with which he became identified on October 3, 1909. Leonard Ballou married first to Mary Metcalf, by whom he was the father of: Betsy, married Binian Lipscomb; Leonard, Jr., married Jane Nixon; James, married a Key; and Rice Meredith Ballou, who married Amanda Nelson and removed to Arkansas. After Mary's death, he married her sister, Sarah, and became the father of: Lorenzo Dow Ballou, our great-grandfather, who married Mary R. Kittrell on November 5, 1829; Julia Ballou, said to have died as a girl of 16 and to have been buried in the field acroos from the present home of Ray Kittrell, and whose body was later removed to the top of the hill above the Kittrell home; Minerva Ballou, married Booker Wakefield; Anthony M. Ballou, married a Cummings; William Ballou, married a McMurry; and John Ballou, married a White.


†† It may be added here that the peculiarities of the Ballou family, in part, may be traced to the Metcalf women. The writer has some of these peculiarities. The Leonard Ballou called for jury duty in September, 1802, was the son of Leonard Ballou, who married Miss Ester Meredith. The family is of French extraction and arrived in England in the year 1066, coming from Normandy in France. The first of the family in America was Maturin Ballou, who arrived in Rhode Island in 1646. Our fartherest back known ancestor was Guinebond Ballou who came out of France in the Army of William the Conqueror, in the year 1066.


†† The Ballous settled in the James River Valley as early as 1665. They came to Middle Tennessee in 1795.


†† The last name in the list of possible jurors in the group that we have been discussing was David Rorex. We have met with the name a few times in the previous records of the Court, but we have no idea as to where he lived or whether he left any posterity. There is no mention of the Rorex family in the census of 1820, 1830, or 1850, for Smith County.


†† We have mentioned Goose Creek numerous times, as well as Dixon's Creek frequently. We have mentioned Peyton's Creek now and then. These three streams rise in the southern part of what is now Macon County. Goose Creek is mentioned only once by Ramsey in his "Annals of Tennessee." This one reference to Goose Creek is as follows: "Noah Trammel was killed on Goose Creek" (by Indians). We wonder if any reader of the Times has any idea as to where Noah Trammel was killed. If so, send the information on, which will be appreciated. We are sure that Noah Trammel was related to the numerous Trammels in this county at the present time.


†† Dixon's Creek is mentioned once by Ramsey. He reports that George Roulstone was postmaster at Knoxville in 1797, and that that place was the point from which all the mail for the middle part of Tennessee and West Tennessee was sent out. The postmaster advertised in the Gazette the list of letters that were still in his hands on January 1, 1797. In this list is mention one letter as addressed to Dixon's Creek.


†† Peyton's Creek is mentioned by Ramsey just once. The occasion reported by the historian was that of the stealing of horses by Indians at Kilgore's Station, located on Red River, a tributary of the Cumberland; and, we believe, in the present Montgomery County. White scouts took up their trail and followed the roguish Indians till they surprised them on what is now Peyton's Creek, firing upon the Indians, killing one of them and the remainder fleeing, leaving the stolen property behind. We wish we knew just where on the present Peyton's Creek this skirmish took place. This occurred in the year 1782, so the stream has had a name for 170 years. It was named for John and Ephraim Peyton who were in the party that overtook the Indians and recovered the stolen horses.


†† If any reader can give us any authentic proof of where this took place, please let us know.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ( To be continued )