Marion County, Tennessee Genealogy Tennessee State Flag Tennessee State Flag
Marion County, Tennessee Genealogy

Goodspeed's Biographies of Marion County
Q - S

published 1886


HON. WILLIAM ROBERSON RANKIN - The subject of this sketch may be truly classed as one of the leading citizens of this county. He has for some time been numbered with the agriculturists of Marion county, and in prosecuting his farm work is very progressive in his ideas, and ready to take advantage of every turn of the tide to improve his circumstances. For the past few years he has been making a specialty of high bred stock.

Mr. Rankin was born in Jasper, October 5, 1835, a son of Hon. David and Zilpah (Roberson) Rankin, the former a native of Greenville, Tenn., born February 17, 1799, and the latter a native of Bledsoe county, Tenn., and born near Pikeville, September 18, 1809. David Rankin went to Marion county as a boy, with his parents, and settled in the Sequatchie valley where his father soon died. He was reared on a farm, and for some time was employed as a clerk in a store. He later entered the mercantile business on his own account in Jasper, and was very successful, and became quite wealthy, and the owner of a large amount of land in the Sequatchie valley, and Rankin Cove was afterward named in his honor. He was a self-educated man, and always took an active interest in political matters.

He was justice of the peace and clerk of the circuit and county court of Marion county for a number of years, and in 1845, he was elected to the legislature and again in 1847, serving two terms, or four years. At the time of his death, September 16, 1862, he was clerk and master of the chancery court at Jasper. He was a Master Mason, holding his membership in the lodge at Jasper, and often represented that society at the grand lodge. His wife died October 26, 1882, and both were members of the Presbyterian church. They were the parents of a family of eleven children, viz: Caroline L., Peter T., Mary A., James R., deceased, William R., Margaret R., Lafayette R., deceased, Eliza R., deceased, David Byron, John L. and Samuel R. both deceased.

William Roberson Rankin, the subject of this sketch was educated in the public schools of Jasper and the Barritt College at Spencer. He spent only two years in the latter place, however, when he was compelled to leave school on the account of failing health. He afterward entered the law school at Lebanon, Tenn., but discontinued that before completing his course, returned to his home and read law under George J. Stubblefield, in McMinnville. He began the practice of law in Jasper in the year 1860, and in 1864 he went to Nashville, Tenn., and practiced law there until 1870. He then returned to Jasper, and in 1876 moved to his farm in the Seventh district, five miles east of Jasper, and has since made that his home.

He has (missing text) farm and has for a number of years made a specialty of fine stock raising, and probably has done as much as, or more than any other one man toward improving the stock in that community. He has an elegant home situated in Rankin Cove, which was named in honor of his father. Politically he is a Democrat and on that ticket was elected to the legislature in 1861, and served one term. he is a Royal Arch Mason and holds his membership in Nashville.

July 18, 1865, Mr. Rankin was united in marriage to Miss Louise J. Stockell, who was born in Nashville, Tenn., June 14, 1843, the daughter of Captain William and Rachael (Wright) Stockell. To this union have been born six children, of whom we have the following record: David R., born May 24, 1867, who lives near Chattanooga, married Miss Burta Childress, June 23, 1897; William S., born October 2, 1869, died January 3, 1883; Charles W., born April 22, 1872, single, is living in Chattanooga; Mary L., born March 4, 1874, married Frank C. Gladney, of Arcadia, La., July 21, 1897; Albert R., single, born May 16, 1876, lives near Chattanooga; and Thomas Turley, single, born December 22, 1878, is living with his parents. The entire family are members of the M. E. church, South. Mr. Rankin is not now practicing law, but is devoting his entire time to his farm and his stock. As a citizen he is loyal in his adherence to the principle of right government, as a friend and benefactor, he has gained an enviable reputation. His financial career has been reasonably successful, and he has planted himself firmly in the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens. He is a friend of education, and his highest ambition has been to educate his children and qualify them for good citizenship.

JAMES M. RIGGLE - Prominent among the successful farmers and stockraisers of Marion county may be named the subject of this historical notice, who now resides in the Thirteenth district, and who, by his enterprise and energy in the direction of his chosen industry, has given to his work’s significance and beauty of which few deem it capable.

A native of Marion county, he was born March 22, 1835, in the Seventh district on land now owned by William E. Hamilton, and he is a son of Jacob and Jane (Smith) Riggle, who were born, reared and married in Virginia, whence they came to this section of Tennessee, locating first at Rankin’s Cove. Subsequently they removed to the Thirteenth district and located on the farm now owned by C. C. Anderson, and upon that place both died when well advanced in life. The father always engaged in farming and met with well deserved success. He was a Whig in politics, and as a soldier on the war of 1812 participated in the famous battle of New Orleans. His wife was a worthy member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and both were honored and respected by all who knew them. Of their large family of children only two are now living: James M., of this review; and Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson, who now lives with her son, C. C. Anderson, mentioned above.

During his boyhood and youth James M. Riggle attended school near Jasper, and, laying aside his text books at the age of eighteen years, he took up the more responsible duties of business life, choosing the occupation of farming with which he had become thoroughly familiar upon the home farm. At the time of his first marriage he located at Rankin’s Cove, and on coming to the Thirteenth district lived for a time on the farm now occupied by Jacob Cyphers. From that place he removed to his present farm, where he owns one hundred and seventy-five acres, principally on the Tennessee river bottom, and is meeting with excellent success in its operation.

On the 24th of August, 1854, at the age of twenty years, Mr. Riggle was united in marriage with Miss Ruthie Stovall, who was born in Sumner county, Tenn., November 20, 1835, and was a daughter of James Stovall. They became the parents of eleven children, namely: Josephine B., who died in infancy; Rosaline, who died at the age of sixteen years; Thomas J., a conductor on the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad, living at Nashville; Louisa Jane, wife of William Beddow, of Nashville, a passenger conductor on the same road; James B., who is also in the employ of the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad, and a resident of Nashville; Ellen O., widow of James M. Davis, living with our subject; William M., who died in childhood; Laura, a resident of Nashville; Margaret, who died in infancy; Simon, who was killed at the age of twenty-three years by an engine on the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad blowing up at Bridgeport; and Cora, who died in infancy. The wife and mother, who was a consistent member of the Methodist church, died April 18, 1879. Mr. Riggle was again married, with Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth (Cyphers) Brophy. She was born November 18, 1835, and departed this life July 12, 1897. There were no children by this marriage.

During the Civil war, in 1863, Mr. Riggle joined Company H, Third Confederate Cavalry, and was with General Forrest on several raids in middle and west Tennessee. Politically, he is a Democrat, but at local elections always supports the man whom he believes best qualified for office, regardless of party affiliations. Religiously, he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, belonging to the Hale Chapel congregation.

A LAWRENCE ROBINSON is a young and energetic lawyer of Jasper, and a gentleman who holds a conspicuous position among the members of the bar of Marion county, Tenn., both for his legal ability and forensic power.

Mr. Roberson was born December 6, 1871, at Pikeville, Tenn., a son of James and Penelope P. (Spears) Roberson. The mother is a daughter of Gen. James G. Spears, who was a general in the Union army, and the father, James Roberson was a son of Col. Isaac and Elvira (Cole) Roberson. Col. Isaac Roberson was a man of strong character and extraordinary intelligence. He was a stanch Democrat and represented his district for two terms in the state legislature. He was too old to take an active part in the war between the states, though his sympathies were with the south. Our subject’s father was born in Bledsoe, county, Tenn., in 1837, and his wife was born in Rhea county, Tenn., in 1847. He received his primary education in the common schools of his native county and supplemented same with a course in Emory & Henry College in Washington county, Va. He was reared on a farm near Pikeville and spent considerable time at farm work. After leaving school he studied law with James G. Spears and commenced the practice of law at Pikeville. Soon afterwards he was appointed clerk and master for Bledsoe county, and held the office for six years, and then resumed his law practice, and after following with marked success the practice of his profession at Pikeville for twenty years he removed to Sequatchie City, Marion county, and there combines the practice of law with the work of operating a farm.

He enlisted in the Confederate army at the beginning of the war as the captain of a company which he gathered and organized in the Sequatchie valley. He was taken prisoner and was kept eighteen months, after which he was exchanged and then continued as a Confederate soldier until the close of the war, completing his education after the war.

Mr. and Mrs. James Roberson are the parents of ten children, of whom the subject of this sketch is the second in the order of birth, and of whom we have the following record: Isaac G., a farmer and stockraiser in Texas; Alexander L.; Addie E., wife of J. F. Hoge, a merchant at Litton, Bledsoe county, Tenn.; James N., in college at Jasper; Spears, in college at Jasper; Samuel T., in college at Jasper; Florence, who died at the age of two years; William, also attending the Jasper College; John R. And Brown, both still living at home.

A. Lawrence Roberson, the subject of this sketch, attended the public school in the district in which he spent his boyhood and then entered the Pryor Institute at Jasper. After completing the literary course in 1892, he went to Emory & Henry College in Virginia, where his father was educated. He afterward studied law under his uncle, Col. A. L. Spears, who is now our subject’s partner in the practice of law. He completed his course and commenced practice in Jasper in 1894. Politically he is a Democrat and cast his first presidential vote ballot for Grover Cleveland. Socially he is a member of the Knights of Pythias, and is also a member of the Methodist Episcopal, church, South. He is a man of excellent business qualifications, public spirited, possessed of broad ideas, and enjoys the confidence and esteem of a large circle of business and social friends. He is still a young man and has every prospect of becoming one of the leading attorneys and business men, not only of the county but of eastern Tennessee. He is yet unmarried.

CHARLES RAINES ROGERS, a prominent and highly respected citizen of Marion county, was born November 5, 1833, on the farm where he still resides, being pleasantly located three miles east of Jasper, and he is a worthy representative of one of the leading families of the county. With him resides his sister Emily, who as born on the same farm August 17, 1838, and she now acts as his housekeeper. Their parents were Emanuel C. And Martha (Smith) Rogers. The father was a native of Hawkins county, Tenn., and the town of Rogersville probably took its name from his family. He was born April 8, 1794, and was a son of William Rogers, who died near Sparta, in White county, Tenn., and a grandson of Dauswell Rogers.

It was 1814, that our subject’s father came to the Sequatchie Valley and located in Bledsoe county, where he was married to Miss Martha Smith, whose people lived in that county near Pikeville. She was born, however, in Anderson county, Tenn., May 3, 1798. After their marriage the young couple continued to make their home in Bledsoe county until 1832, when they took up their residence upon the farm in Marion county now owned and occupied by their son and daughter of this sketch. Upon this place they spent their remaining days, the father dying November 22, 1851, the mother July 15, 1885, and the remains of both were interred upon the farm. For many years the father was a prominent and influential local preacher of the Methodist church, and of him it may be said the world is far better for his having lived. In his political affiliations he was a Whig.

To this worthy couple were born seventeen children, but only four are now living, namely: Sallie, the widow of Andrew Dame and a resident of the Seventh district of Marion county, her home being near the old homestead; Charles R., of this sketch; Emily, who is with our subject; and Martha, wife of Carroll Rainey, of Jackson county, Ala. Those deceased are, John A., a farmer who died on the old home place in 1888, at the age of seventy-three years; Rhodie, who died in July 1888, at the age of seventy-two years; A. H., who died in Jackson county, Ala., in April, 1892, at the age of seventy-two years; E. T., a farmer, formerly a merchant of Trenton, Ga., and other places, who died near the old homestead March 16, 1893, at the age of sixty-six years; Aaron B., a farmer, who was born in 1824, and died in the neighborhood of the home farm, November 18, 1851; R. M., a farmer, who died April 23, 1858, at the age of twenty-eight years; T. F., who died at Vicksburg, Miss., during the siege, having been forced into the Confederate service and belonging to the company commanded by his brother, E. T. Rogers, though his sympathies were with the North; Elizabeth A., who married Levi Webb and died March 30, 1897, on her sixtieth birthday, in the house where she was born; David C., who died in boyhood, Nov. 13, 1851; and Allen, Alfred, Pleasant and Dauswell, who all died in childhood.

Having never married Charles Rogers and sister Emily have always remained on the old homestead, and he has successfully managed the same for many years, being a painstaking and skillful agriculturist. Both he and his sister are leading members of the Methodist church at Pleasant Grove, and are held in high regard by all who know them. Being forced into service, Mr. Rogers was a member of the Confederate army for just one week, but he has always been an ardent Republican in politics and was opposed to secession.

JOHN SEXTON - Throughout the greater part of his life this gentleman has been a resident of Marion county, and his name is inseparably connected with its agricultural as well as its public interests. He is a man of intrinsic worth, esteemed in all the relations of life, and has been prominently identified with the growth and prosperity of this section of the state.

Mr. Sexton was born October 3, 1843, in the Sixth district of Marion county, a son of Joseph and Martha Jane (Higdon) Sexton, natives of Polk county, Tenn., where their marriage was celebrated. On coming to the Sequatchie Valley they located just below Dunlap, but only remained there a short time as that section was Indian land. Their next home was on the south side of the Tennessee river in what is now the Sixth district of Marion county, the father making a few improvements upon the land now owned by John Cummings. At the end of two years they removed to the north side of the river, where the following four years were passed and then spent two years in Alabama. For the same length of time they made their home in Tishomingo county, Miss., and then returned to the Sixth district of Marion county, where they lived for four years. A short time was then passed in Hamilton county, Tenn., and after again living in the Sixth district of Marion county, they returned to Hamilton county in 1858, remaining there until 1863. In the latter year the father again took up his residence in Marion county, where he departed this life in 1867, at the age of fifty-eight years. His wife had passed away in 1854, aged forty-six. By occupation he was a farmer and wood workman, and in politics was an ardent Democrat.

In the family of this worthy couple were thirteen children, but only four are now living, namely: Caroline, wife of Alexander McNabb, a farmer of Kelly’s Ferry, Marion county; John, of this sketch; Blackburn, a farmer and miner at McNabb mines; and George W., an agriculturist of Clay county, Mo. Those deceased are Mary, who wedded Thomas Hale and died in Marion county; Celia Ann; Sallie Ann; James, who died in Marion county many years ago; Joseph and Wilson, who also died in that county; Martha; and Louisa, who married William McNabb and died in Marion county.

John Sexton secured his education in the public schools of Hamilton county, where most of his boyhood was passed. True to his early teaching, he enlisted in October, 1862, in Company H, Fourth Georgia Confederate Cavalry, and served as sergeant of his company until August 1863, when he was detached on courier service under Gen. D. H. Hill. Later he was with General Walker’s escort. He and his command were afterward detailed as scouts under General Johnston, and was subsequently with General Hood until the close of the war. He was in many important engagements, including the battles of Ashville, War Trace, Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and was with the command from Dalton to Atlanta, and in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. At the close of the war he had nothing left but a poor horse and a ragged uniform. Nothing daunted, however, with his characteristic energy, he commenced farming and getting out timber, and is now one of the prosperous and well-to-do citizens of the community.

On the 26th of May, 1867, Mr. Sexton was united in marriage with Miss Mary Hartman, a daughter of John Hartman, and they have become the parents of eleven children, but only five are now living: Mary E., at home; Thomas J., a farmer of the Sixth district of Marion county; Nancy J., wife of Silas Powers, of the same district; and Sallie and Joseph, both at home. Those who have already crossed the dark river of death are William, George, James and Samuel. The wife and mother is an earnest and faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.

Mr. Sexton exercises his franchise in support of the men and measures of the Democratic party, and as the candidate of his party he was elected sheriff of Marion county in 1886, acceptably serving in that position for two years. Throughout his life he has made the most of his opportunities, has accumulated a handsome property, and his career illustrates what can be accomplished through industry, perseverance, good management and a determination to succeed. He has not only won success financially, but has also gained the high regard of all with whom he has come in contact.

DR. DAVID CARAH SHELTON - Marion county has few more energetic or wide awake men among the younger members of its professional population than this gentleman. His name will be readily recognized by the citizens of Whitwell and vicinity, and even throughout the greater part of the county, as a physician and surgeon who, in partnership with Dr. Alton T. Peay, has built up a lucrative practice in the town of Whitwell and the northeastern part of Marion county.

Our subject was born September 3, 1868, in Shelton’s Cove, Marion county, Tenn., and is a son of Richard Elijah and Mary (Thatcher) Shelton, the father born in the Fifth district of Marion county, Tenn., December 31, 1838, and the mother born near Soddy, Hamilton county, Tenn., May 24, 1838. Richard Elijah Shelton, father of our subject, graduated form the University of Nashville in 1860, and at once began the practice of medicine at the village of Soddy, Hamilton county, Tenn., and was thus engaged until the breaking out of the Civil war. He enlisted in 1861 in the Confederate army, under Bragg, and was employed in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia in the capacity of a surgeon. After the close of hostilities he returned to his home in Soddy, and remained there one year, and then moved to the Sequatchie valley and settled in Shelton’s Cove, and there spent the remaining years of his life. He was a Master Mason and held his membership in Altine lodge, No. 477, at Sulpher Springs. He served as school commissioner for two years, and died near Victoria Mines, at the home of Mr. Holcamp, while making a professional call, January 29, 1885. His wife died December 26, 1896. Both were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. To them were born eight children, whose names and the dates of their births are as follows: William F., born September 19, 1862; George S., born April 13, 1866; Dr. David Carah, the subject of this sketch; Wathan Dudley, born October 10, 1870, and died January 20, 1871; Sallie Malinda, born December 30, 1871, the wife of Fred Keller, and attorney living in St. Louis, Mo.; Esther E., born June 2, 1874, and died May 18, 1890; Joseph T., born August 10, 1876, and died August 26, 1885; and Alta Icie, born October 9, 1879.

Dr, Shelton first attended the public schools of the valley and then the high school at Chattanooga. He entered the University at Nashville, from which he graduated with high honors in 1897. He began practicing medicine at Inman in 1893, before graduating, and remained there about two years. In 1897 he went to Whitwell and September 11, of that year, he formed a partnership with Dr. Alton T. Peay, and they have built up an extensive and profitable patronage.

November 17, 1897, Dr. Shelton was united in marriage with Miss Bertie Bennett, who was born in the Fifth district, Marion county, Tenn., December 25, 1872, a daughter of Samuel and Sallie (Pryor) Bennett, and eldest grandchild of Washington Pryor. She was educated at Centenary College and Pryor Institute, Jasper, Tenn. Both the Doctor and Mrs. Shelton are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and he is a member of the Modern Woodmen fraternity and also of the Alumni Association of Nashville. Politically he is a Democrat but has never aspired to public office. He is a man of excellent education, of marked ability and bids fair to become on of the leading physicians of eastern Tennessee.

WILLIAM CARROLL SHIRLEY is a well-known and honored citizen and member of the farming community of the Third district, Marion county, and is also the postmaster at the village of Shirleyton. He was born February 18, 1840, in the Third district, Marion county, a son of Jesse and Sarah (Grayson) Shirley. The father was born in White county, Tenn., March 18, 1808, and died August 24, 1894. Jesse Shirley was a son of John Shirley, who was born in South Carolina and married a Miss Frost. John Shirley migrated from his native state to White county, Tenn., and in 1818, moved from thence to the Sequatchie valley. His brother, Thomas, went to White county at the same time and moved with him to the Sequatchie valley in 1818. He, Thomas, and his son, William, sold goods to the Indians where Whitwell now stands, and the house they built and occupied as a residence is still standing and in use as such.

John Shirley, our subject’s grandfather, settled on a farm near where Whitwell now stands, and five years later he moved to Jackson county, Ala., where he died in 1845. He reared a family of eleven children, of whom the father of our subject was the oldest. Jesse Shirley was educated in the common schools of the valley and was twice married. His first wife bore the maiden name of Brandon, and one child, Wilson, was born to them. He died in Osage, Mo., at the age of fifty-six years. The mother died in Tennessee, and the father subsequently married Sarah Grayson, who was born in Buncombe county, N. C., and died in 1880. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and are buried at Red Hill. Politically he was a Democrat and for eighteen years was magistrate and also served for some time as chairman of the county court. To this union were born ten children, of whom we have the following record: Jane, wife of Joseph Anderson, a farmer of the Third district, Marion county; John, deceased; William Carroll, the subject of this sketch; Thomas was a Confederate soldier under Forrest, and was killed at Fort Donelson; Elizabeth died in infancy; Francis M., married Miss Emma King; Henry died at the age of fifteen years; Nancy, wife of James Smith, of Sequatchie county, Tenn.; Christopher C., married Miss Laura Condra, and is living in Whitwell; and Jesse L., married Miss Sallie Thacker, and is making his home in Graysville, Ga., where he is engaged in the practice of medicine.

William Carroll Shirley, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the public schools at Cheekville, and Red Hill, after which he taught school fourteen sessions in Marion county, Tenn., and Jackson county, Ala., both before and after the war. He enlisted in Rice’s command of cavalry in the Confederate army, at Shellmound, June 3, 1862, and was sent first to New Albany. From there he went to Athens, Tenn., and from thence he went to Bridgeport, Ala., and at the battle of Chickamauga he was wounded in the right arm. At the battle of Philadelphia, Tenn., he was wounded in the left arm, breast and shoulder and went to the home of a friend on the Coosa river, Ala, and stayed five months until he recovered from his wounds. He then rejoined the army at Dalton, Ga., and was all though the Atlanta campaign. He was wounded in the left hand at Noonday church. He served until the close of the war, surrendered with the army near Whiteside, Tenn., and was paroled at Nashville, May 27, 1865. He then returned to his home and resumed his teaching.

September 2, 1869, Mr. Shirley was united in marriage with Miss Semiramis Andes, who was born in Marion county, Tenn., in 1836, a daughter of Alexander and Sarah (Lewis) Andes. Mrs. Shirley was educated in the public school at Red Hill. After their marriage they first settled on a farm not far from their present home and lived there eight years, and then moved to where they now live. In 1879 Mr. Shirley began selling goods at his home, and later moved to Whitwell, following that occupation there until 1892, but since then has devoted more of his attention to farming. In 1883 he secured the establishment of the post office of Shirleyton at his home and has been its postmaster ever since. Mr. And Mrs. Shirley are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.

JOSHUA C. SMITH, one of South Pittsburg’s wide-awake and popular business men, is the manager of the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company’s store. He was born on a farm near Sparta, White county, Tenn., June 6, 1856, and is a son of Carroll and Katie (Bradley) Smith.

It is thought that Carroll Smith, our subject’s father, was born in North Carolina. He died about the year 1857, and at about the age of forty-five years. The mother was born at Crossville, Cumberland county, Tenn., in 1821, and is now residing in Montague county, Texas. In 1858, after the death of her husband, the mother, in company with friends, took her family and started for the state of Arkansas in an ox wagon. This family made their home in Van Buren county, Ark., until 1876, when the mother of our subject and some of the other members of the family went to Boone county, in the northwestern part of the state of Arkansas. She afterward moved to Montague county, Tex. Her family consisted of nine children, seven of whom are still living, and of whom we have the following record: William, a farmer in Van Buren county, Ark.; Andrew, a farmer in Van Buren county, Ark.; Silas is a farmer in Montague county, Tex.; Henry is a farmer in Van Buren county, Ark.; D. M. is an attorney of Montague county, Tex.; Mary, the widow of Lee Lloyd, is now living in Boone county, Ark.; Joshua C., the subject of this sketch. The deceased are Jane, who was the wife of Frank Maxwell, died in Boone county, Ark; and Kurg, a farmer by occupation, died in Boone county, Ark., in 1897,

Joshua C. Smith, the subject of our sketch, was educated in the public schools of Van Buren and Boone counties, Ark., and at very early age he began earning his own living. In 1881, he returned to White county, Tenn., and for a short time was employed by some saw mill people in Warren county. Two years later he went to Crossville, Tenn., and opened a store there, but after continuing in business for three years on the credit system, was unable to make collections and consequently was obliged to close his business. Afterward, however, he paid all of his debts in full. After discontinuing his business at Crossville, he went to Sparta, White, Tenn., and was there employed by England Bros., in their store at that place for three years. He went next to Montague county, Tex., and was in a store there for two years, after which he returned to Tennessee, and entered the employ of the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company, and served in their store at Whitwell as a salesman. Four years later he was promoted to the position of manager of the company’s store at South Pittsburg, the position he now holds. Mr. Smith is a man of sterling qualities, superior business ability and has learned the various details of his business by years of varied experience. In public and social life, also, he is held in the highest respect and esteem, and while living in the Cumberland county the Democratic party chose him for their candidate for sheriff, and although the county was very strongly Republican, he was defeated by but a very small majority.

May 24, 1893, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Sallie Vincent, a daughter of Dr. A. F. Vincent, of Manchester, Coffee county, Tenn., where she was born, and to this union one daughter, Hyder, has been born. Mrs. Smith is a member of the Missionary Baptist church, and our subject is a member of the fraternity of the Knights of Pythias and is an officer in his lodge. He also affiliates with the Woodmen of the World lodge. Politically he is a Democrat.

COL. ASHLEY LAWRENCE SPEARS - Few men are more prominent or widely known in Marion county than Col. Ashley L. Spears, a leading attorney of Jasper and one of the honored veterans of the Civil war. He has been an important factor in the business, political and social life of the community; is public-spirited and thoroughly interested in whatever tends to promote the moral, intellectual or material welfare of his town and county.

The Colonel was born March 28, 1842, eight miles below Pikeville, in Bledsoe county, Tenn., and among his ancestors are several that have been prominent in military circles. The family has been well represented in all the wars of this country, his great-great-grandfather having served in the Revolution. His grandfather, Dr. John H. Spears, belonged to General Coffee’s command in the war of 1812, and participated in the battles of New Orleans and Horse Shoe. The latter was a native of Buckingham county, Va., and as early as 1796 removed to the head of the Sequatchie valley, being among the earliest settlers of that region. He made his home upon a farm at Grassy Cove, Bledsoe county, and successfully engaged in the practice of medicine until called from this life in 1860, at the age of seventy-four years.

Gen. James G. Spears, the father of our subject, was born in Bledsoe county, March 29, 1816, was educated in the common schools of the county and successfully engaged in teaching for a number of years. He was elected clerk of the circuit court of Bledsoe county, and while holding that office, he studied law. About 1848 he commenced practice in Pikeville and for many years was one of the leading attorneys of the valley. In 1847 he was commissioned colonel of the militia of Bledsoe county; organized a company for the Mexican war; and tendered his services to the government, but was not needed. At the outbreak of the Civil war, however, his sympathies were with the Union cause, and he and R. K. Bird, of Roane county, Tenn., organized a regiment in 1861, at Camp Dick Roberson. Mr. Bird was elected colonel and Mr. Spears lieutenant-colonel. With his command he took part in the first battle of the war at Wild Cat Mountain, Ky., which was followed by the engagement at Fishing Creek, where he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general for gallantry, from which he gets his well-known title of general. His brigade was composed at first of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Tennessee regiments, but when it was reorganized he had some Indiana and Kentucky regiments in his command. He was in the battles of Cumberland Gap, Stone River and Chichamauga, later engaged in guarding the fords along the Tennessee river, was in the engagement at Missionary Ridge, and then in pursuit of Longstreet. Early in 1863, he resigned his commission and returned home to resume his practice of law, which he followed until his death. At the battle of Stone River, General Rosecrans had recommended him for promotion to the rank of major-general. He was a good soldier and an excellent attorney. Politically he was a Douglas Democrat, and was an elector on the ticket when the “Little Giant” ran for president. He died at his summer home at Braden’s Knob, July 33, 1869, and was buried at Pikeville.

Colonel Spears, of this review, acquired his primary education in the public schools, and then entered Emory & Henry College, in Virginia, where he was a student when the civil war broke out. Before completing his college course he returned home and taught school for a short time, but on the 25th of February, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company D., Fifth Volunteer Tennessee Infantry, at Flat Lick, on the Cumberland river, with Capt. Joe Turner as organizer of the regiment. He was made adjutant and held that position until the close of the war. With his father he was in the battles of Stone River and Chickamauga, and was in all engagements in the campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, under General Sherman. He was wounded in both legs at the battle of Resaca, Ga., but not very severely, and also slightly wounded in the left side, but remained with his regiment. Returning west with General Thomas he took part in the battles of Franklin and Nashville, Tenn., and followed Hood south to the Tennessee river. Shortly after the troops of which he formed a part were shipped for Cincinnati, Ohio, thence to Washington, D. C., in box cars, and on to Annapolis, Md., and Fort Fisher, arriving at the latter place just after Terry had taken the fort. Colonel Spears was in the siege and capture of Fort Alexander and Town Creek, and then proceeded to Wilmington, N. C. While there the prisoners released from Andersonville arrived, and were escorted by the soldiers to Fortress Monroe, where they were clothed and fed. Our subject then went to Washington, D. C., and from there returned to Nashville, Tenn., where he was mustered out in April 1865.

Returning to his home in Pikeville, Colonel Spears was appointed clerk of the county court of Bledsoe county, for two years, and was then elected clerk of the circuit court by the people. About a year later he hired a deputy and in 1867 entered law school at Cumberland University, where he completed the law course. While in college he was nominated, in 1869, to represent Bledsoe, Rhea, Sequatchie and Hamilton counties in the state legislature, and on returning home made the race and was elected. In 1871 he was re-elected for two years, and in 1872 was an elector on the Horace Greeley ticket. He commenced the practice of law at Pikeville in the latter year, and in 1878 was elected attorney general of the Fourth judicial district, a position he most creditably filled for eight years. He is one of the best and most distinguished lawyers of East Tennessee, and is now successfully engaged in practice at Jasper, with his nephew, A. L. Roberson, one of the coming attorneys of the county. The Colonel is ow serving as president of the First National Bank at South Pittsburg, Tenn.

On the 9th of April, 1873, Colonel Spears was united in marriage with Miss Mattie J. Pitts, who was born in Bledsoe county, in 1846, and died November 23, 1896. Three children blessed this union: Nellie Pitts, now the wife of William D. Wright, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Grace Kendrick and Alvin Lawrence, both at home. The Colonel was again married, December 28, 1897, this second union being with Miss Willie Cummins, who was born in Franklin, Tenn., December 15, 1856, and is a daughter of William and Susan (Russell) Cummins. She was well educated in the schools of her native city and at Nashville, became an excellent teacher, and for about twelve years was employed in that capacity in a college. The Colonel and his wife are both active and prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, while socially he is a Master Mason, belonging to the lodge at Jasper, and politically he is a Democrat. He is one of the most substantial citizens in the county, owning over two thousand acres of land, but is very generous with his means, and gave seven thousand and five hundred dollars to help build the Pryor Institute at Jasper.


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September 22, 2003