Transcribed By Pamela Vick


August 27, 1953




     After quite a long delay, we are resuming the publication of the old Court records.  We have had some complaint over our failure to keep the “Colyum” coming right on week after week.  We appreciate the kind words concerning our Column and thank those who have commended it.


     We closed with adjournment of Court on Monday, December 20, 1802.  We begin with the opening of next day’s session.  “Tuesday, December 21, 1802.  Court met according to adjournment.  Members present:  James Hibbetts, Peter Turney, Elmore Douglas, John Lancaster, and James Draper, Esquire.”  Although we have frequently commented on the locations of the homes of those early members of the Quarterly Court and Court of Pleas of Smith County, 150 years ago, we will rehearse a bit on this line.  James Hibbetts lived in that distant day and time on the present Carter Branch, about two miles southwest of the present Hillsdale, on the present Lon Burrow farm.  He and other members of the family are buried there.  Hibbetts’ Gap of today is that between the waters of  Dixon’s Creek, on the extreme upper end of Dog Branch, and the waters of Big Goose Creek, on the east end of Pumpkin Branch.  It is supposed that the Gap was so named for Hibbetts as this was the last gap through which the traveler of a century and a half ago passed before reaching the Hibbetts home.  The same thing may  be said of Mungle’s Gap, above the present Good Will Baptist Church, between the waters of Lick Creek.  Mungle is said to have lived more than a mile northwest of the Gap that still bears his name; it was the last Gap the traveler passed through before reaching the mile-square tract of land owned by Daniel Mungle.  Hibbetts’ Gap was three miles or more from the man for whom it was named.


     Peter Turney lived on the present Young’s Branch, of Dixon’s Creek, about a mile and a half west of where the writer was born, on the farm today known as the Bud Garrett place.  This place was at one time known as “Bear Wallow,” from the fact that bears “wallowed’ in the waters that flowed from a big spring near the present Bud Garrett home.  Peter Turney was the grandfather of the Peter Turney, who later became governor of Tennessee in 1893, and served two terms.  He was the son of Hopkins L. Turney, the son of the man who was a member of the County Court of 150 years ago.  We recall seeing the old Turney home as a boy and it was, to our childish mind, one of the finest country homes that had ever been  built.  We still recall The “pink room,” the “blue room” and other things out of the ordinary in the average country home of 50 years ago in Middle Tennessee.


     Elmore Douglass was a member of a very prominent early family in Middle Tennessee.  Sisco, in his “Historic Sumner County ,” gives a lot of this family, one of whom, John Douglass, married one of our great-great-great-aunts, Sina Greegory.  She was a sister of Bry Gregory, and was the woman for whom our father’s mother, Sina Gregory, was named.  This John Douglass family removed to Arkansas at a very early date and Sina was dead prior to 1827, when her son, Thomas B. Douglass, inherited his mother’s share of the estate of her father, Thomas Gregory, who died in 1817, but whose estate was finally settled in the year 1827.  Thomas B. Douglass received his mother’s share, which was one seventh of the estate, amounting to $1,539.29.  We wish we had more to give about Elmore Douglass, but lack of knowledge of him prevents our giving a fuller history of this man.


     John Lancaster is supposed to have been the ancestor of the numerous Lancasters of the present Lancaster, Tennessee section.  James Draper is believed to have been an early resident of Jennings Creek.  Nothing is known by the writer as to his descendants.


     Some facts are revealed about these early members of the Court by the census records of Smith County for 1820.  In that year, James Hibbetts, the head of the family, is listed as having one male between 10 to 16, one 16 to 18, three males from 18 to 26, and one above 45, no doubt James himself.  He had females as follows:  One between 16 to 16, and one 45 or older, no doubt his wife.  He was also a man of wealth for that day and time, owning eight slaves.  He was the only man of family of Hibbetts listed in the old census records.  So far as the writer has been able to learn, there is not a single family of the name Hibbetts, in all of the Smith County nor any adjourning county.


      Peter Turney had either died or removed from Smith County when the census of 1820 was taken, for there is no mention of him in the records of that roll call, as it were, of Smith County citizens.  We wonder if the family had not removed to what iwas in 1817 named Marion County.  However, the following Turney families are listed in Smith County in 1820:  Henry Turney:  One male over 45 and one female in the same age group.  We suppose this name is meant for Turney, since we find the name again in the same records listed as Henry Turney, with one male over 45 and one female in the same age group.


     Gregory Turnery:  (incorrectly spelled-Turney) Three males under 10, and one from 26 to 45, no doubt himself, and three females under 10, three from 10 to 16, one between 26 and 45, Mrs. Turney no doubt; and one slave.


     Jacob Turney:  Two males under 10, two between 10 to 16, one between 18 to 26, and one above 45, no doubt Jacob himself; two females under 10, two between 16 to 26, and one above 45, Mrs. Jacob Turney, we suppose.


     Isaac Turney-- Here the name is correctly spelled and the family is listed:  One  male under 10, four males from 10 to 16, one from 16 to 18, one from 18 to 26, and one between 26 to 45, Isaac, we are sure; and three females under 10, and one between 26 to 45, Mrs. Turney, we suppose.


     There is no mention of Elmore Douglass in the 1820 census, although we do find Elizabeth Douglass, Edward Douglass, George Douglass, Susannah Douglass, Larkin Douglass, Hannah Douglass, Anderson Douglass and James Douglass listed as heads of families in Smith County 133 years ago. 


     John Lancaster had evidently removed from Smith County or died before the census of 1820 was taken, as there is no mention of him therein.  However, we find the following Lancaster head of families:  One Lancaster who had no given name, so far as the record shows, William Lancaster, Thomas Lancaster, Robert Lancaster, Jr., Thomas Lancaster and William A. Lancaster.


     James Draper had also either died or left the county in 1820, for there is no mention of him in the census of that year.  The only Drapers mentioned are Matthew and Phillip Draper, the latter owning four slaves in 1820.


     “Ordered that the fine and costs incurred by Willie Sullivan as a juror at this Court to March term last, be remitted.”  We do not know who Willie Sullivan was, although there are two places in Smith County in which the Sullivans resided as early as 1802, one of them being Sullivan’s Bend, northeast of the Present Elmwood, and the other being in what is now Macon County.  We do not know who Wllie Sullivan was, but he had failed to attend Court as a juror in March, 1802 and was then fined and had the costs assessed against him.  Here the Court became lenient and remitted or forgave his fine and costs.


     “Letter of attorney, William Brice Fantrielle to Lee Sullivan, was proven by the oath of Abraham Rogers, one of the subscribing witnesses.”  A letter of attorney is now called a power of attorney, authorizing one’s representative to act for him and in his place and stead.  William Brice Fantrielle is another of whom we know absolutely nothing.  In fact we never saw the name before nor have we any recollection of ever seeing it anywhere else.  Abraham Rogers is a rather familiar name.  However, no man of the name is listed in the old census records of 133 years ago.  We have no knowledge of Lee Sullivan, but would judge him to have been related to Willie Sullivan of the preceding paragraph in the old records.


     “Ordered that Rhoda Powell have letter of Administration on the estate of Jesse Powell, deceased, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law.”  Here we learn that death has always prevailed among every people, nation and tongue.  Rhoda Powell, we suppose, was the widow of Jesse Powell.  But we have not a single detail on which to build anything in the way of a story.  Where Jesse Powell lived, or when he died is not revealed.  We wish we knew more of him.


     “Deed, 280 acres, Joseph Lawrence to John Warren, proven by the oath of Lee Sullivan, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto.  Ordered to be registered.”  Where this land was, we have no way of knowing.  The census of 1820 shows the following heads of Lawrence families, although some of the spellings are not the same:  Hiram Larence, William Lorence, David Lorance, William Lawrence, Nancy Lawrence, Charity Lawrence, Thomas Lawrence, Edward Lawrence and Faris Lawrence; but there is no record of Joseph Lawrence.


     John Warren is listed in the census above referred to numerous times, as follows:  One male over 45, one female between 26 to 45.  He was evidently a man of wealth for the period in which he lived, having eight slaves in 1820.  The only other Warren head of a family in the county at the time was Ethelred.


     Mention of Lee Sullivan has already been made, but it will be of interest to readers to learn that Lee Sullivan was a wealthy man of his day and time, owning in 1820 eleven slaves.  He had in his family one male under 10, and one over 45, Lee, himself, no doubt.  One female between 26 and 45 is mentioned in the census records.  Other Sullivan heads of families in Smith County 133 years ago included: Tabitha Sullivan, Daniel Sullivan, no doubt one of our Macon County Sullivans of a later date; Willie Sullivan, mentioned in an item above, and who owned 10 slaves; and William Sullivan, owner of 33 Negroes.


     “Letter of attorney, Wilson Cage to Lewis Davis, acknowledged in open Court.”


     This is another Power of attorney, such as described above.  Wilson Cage was one of the wealthiest men in Smith County a century and a quarter ago.  He had 29 slaves and a large family of his own, consisting of four males under ten, one male from 18 to 26, and two males over 45 years of age, no doubt one of them was Wilson Cage.  Females included:  Two under 10, two between 10 and 16, one between 16 and 26, and one from 26 to 45.  We wonder if the present Cage’s Bend, south of the present Riddleton, were named for Wilson Cage.  Other Cages in Smith County long ago included:  Leroy Cage, a young married man: and Palemon Cage, supposedly a widow with three children, and who owned four slaves.


     Lewis Davis is another of whom the writer has no information.  However, the family was quite numerous in Smith County in the years long gone by, there being the following heads of families in Smith County in 1820:  Elizabeth Davis, Ross Davis, Hezekiah Davis, John Davis, Uriah Davis, Henry Davis, Elizabeth Davis, Benjamin Davis, and Matthew Davis.


     In our own records of the Davis family, we have the oldest known member as Nick Davis, said to have married a daughter of Isham Beasley, but we have not been able to verify this.  Nick Davis lived on the present Robert A. Earps farm on Nickojack Branch near Piper’s School house.  We have the names of only four of the children of Nick Davis.  They were: Candace Davis, married first to John Gregory, a brother of the writer’s great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gregory; and it may be added that Candace later married Hiram Cothern, the first of this name to appear in Smith County; Dillie Davis, married Little Bill Gregory, another brother of Jeremiah; Nanie Davis, married Peter Grissom; and Alfred Davis.  The offspring of Candace and Dillie is very numerous from a stand point of both Cotherns and Gregorys.  Nannie Grissom became the ancestor of quite a large number of persons, including the late Campbell Grissom, of this county.  Alfred Davis wife’s name is not known to the writer, but Alfred was the father of a son, Nelson Davis; and a son Mabe Davis.  Nelson married Judy, daughter of George Oldham, and was the father of:  Willis Davis, married a Bowman; Celia Davis, married Jabe Gregory, son of Little Bill, her father’s uncle, and therefore, her first cousin, once removed: and Emily Davis, married Ned Gregory a son of Little Bill Gregory.  Another son of Nick Davis is not known to the writer.  However, this son was the father of Billie Davis, who married Mary B. Taylor; and a daughter, Nellie Davis.  Billie or William J. Davis and his wife Mary B. Taylor, were the parents of Rufus B. Davis, who later became a Baptist minister.  The writer was baptized by Elder Davis on October 3, 1909.  Davis was baptized E. B. Haynie in 1859.  Haynie was baptized by John Wiseman in December 20, 1819.  Wiseman was baptized by Thomas Durham in 1799.  Thomas Durham was baptized by John Waller, but we do not have the date at this time.  John Waller was baptized by James Read in 1767.  James Read was baptized by Shubal Stearns in 1756.  Shubal Stearns was baptized by Wait Palmer into the fellowship of North Stonington Baptist church in 1751.  This church is located in Connecticut.  We hope to pursue this line still further when we have opportunity.  We have no desire to boast of anything at all, but have given this record for the benefit it may give to the group whom the writer has baptized during the past 39 years, numbering approximately 2,000 persons.


     “Deed, 125 acres, John Murphy to Samuel Hughes, proved by the oath of Richard Brittain, one of the subscribing witnesses.”  We know nothing of John Murphy, but suppose that he was related to Michael Murphy, one of the earliest settlers in the Pleasant Shade section.  Samuel Hughes is another “unknown” to the writer.  Richard Brittain, the witness, was the son of Nathaniel Brittain, who resided a century and a half ago at the present George Burnley home, just east of Donoho bridge across Big Goose Creek.


(To be continued)