Bob Hembree            11819 Maple st.  Whittier, ca. 90601-2746


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A Family Newsletter


12th Edition                                                         Aug. 1992




          Tracing our ancestors is like working a jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces seem to go together and others do not. It’s one piece at a time, but always there is one key piece that everything seems to hang on. Leave the puzzle on the table and someone comes along, picks up a piece, drops it in place and walks on. They didn’t finish the puzzle, but that one piece makes it possible for the one that follows to finish it. Whether or not this proves to be the key piece, only time will tell but I will use this means to record a finding I think important in solving the puzzle of the Joel’s of Tenn.


          The puzzle is the confusion in the relationship between Joel Hembree Sr., (herein referred to as Joel Sr.) and Col. Joel Hembree (herein is referred to as Col. Joel) and Joel B. Hembree, Jr. and the conclusions drawn from land records of Roane County, Tennessee. I believe the common mistake of all who searched the records to trace the family, was to assume the land to be the same parcel of land. While the properties were adjacent, I will show herein that they were not the same parcel of land, and therefore merely a coincidence of location. They do not in and of themselves prove anything as to bloodlines of the family. That is not intended to say that there was no bloodline, only the fact that the land records do not prove Col. Joel as an heir of Joel Sr. as many people seem to think they did.


          First and foremost, known handwriting comparisons with the handwriting in the deeds prove: (A) That the deeds were not written by either Joel Sr. or Col. Joel. (B) That the person referred to in the deeds as Joel Hembree Jr. was Col. Joel.

          Second, and of the utmost consideration is the fact that the terms Junior and Senior used in that period, did not necessarily indicate father and son. The reason the deeds are of such importance is to establish whether or not the term Jr. was used as a son of the exact same name or merely the younger of the two Hembree’s. Since the land never passed to Col. Joel as previously thought, it appears the person who wrote the deed, used the terms Jr. and Sr. merely to indicate the younger and elder Joel. He may or may not have had knowledge of any relationship, but due the names and location of the property, merely made an assumption.


          Generally speaking, when a person is named to be an administrator of an estate we can assume he was named by the court because of his legal counsel or is an heir of the deceased. Col. Joel, was named along with Isaac Lyon Hembree as administrators of the estate of Joel Sr. deceased. Shown by Court record, the deeds referred to, and by a copy of the Personal Inventory of the estate, but by no other records I have been able to discover.


          The court records are very vague or missing on this matter, and even when the appointment was made, state the apparent death of Joel Sr.


          The Deed recorded in Deed Book G, page 60 Roane County, Tennessee recorded 29 May 1834, states “Joel Hembree Jr. on his part and as administrator”. Had Col. Joel been required to sign individually as an heir, then Isaac Lyon also would have signed individually as an heir, and as administrator, but he did not. Col. Joel signed individually because he had a separate interest in the land which was given as security under the Bond to John Underwood dated 12 December 1822, as shown in the above referenced deed.


          Neither did title to land shown under a deed from James White to Joel Sr., dated 22 April 1819 when Joel Sr. bought 400 acres (not 200 as shown in the bond) ever pass to Col. Joel. (This purchase was involved in the settlement of a lawsuit by Joel Sr. against White).


          Nor did land shown under a deed from Hugh Dunlap to Joel Sr. dated 26 February 1808, lands adjacent to James White pass to Col. Joel. But deeds to Col. Joel to adjacent properties, helped to confuse the issue. The confusion being simply that doe to very poor descriptions, everyone has taken the lands to be the same land and assumed Col. Joel to somehow be the son of Joel Sr. as we use the term Jr. today. To clearly establish the chain of title it is necessary to go back to the original land grants. Even these require close study, and for those not familiar with that portion of Tennessee in the early days, they were North Carolina Land Grants in Tennessee.


          North Carolina Land Grant 7 September 1795 #305 to Wm. Reed who sold to Gen. James White contains the lands of which 400 acres were sold to Joel Sr.


          North Carolina Land Grant 7 September 1795 #308 to Wm. Reed who sold to Ananias McCoy contains the lands, which were later, sold to Col. Joel. (Referred to above as Deeds to Col. Joel because of lengthy Abstract of Title). Making it even more difficult to distinguish the lands, portions of both land grants later are in the name of McElwee. Some of the land of Joel Sr. and Col. Joel was adjacent, and all of it was in the area known as Blue Spring Valley.


          North Carolina Land Grant 4 January 1795 # 209 to Stockley Donelson and James Wood Lackey, sold to Hugh Dunlap, then to Joel Sr., bordered lands of Gen. James White with one line being the crest of Walden’s Ridge. Also in Blue Spring Valley. (Because of space, the Deeds are referenced for those who may wish to research them, with full knowledge I have not set in exact order the complete transactions.)


          The last paragraph of the Deed recorded in Book G pg. 60, reads in part “Whereof I Joel Hembree, Junior for myself and also as the administrator & Isaac L. Hembree Administrator also of the Last Will & Testament of Joel Hembree Senior”. It is signed: Joel Hembree for myself & Joel Hembree, administrator

Isaac L. Hembree, administrator


          If the Will was submitted to court, it is not a part of the record, and we can only assume that if a Will existed, that the named Executor could not serve, or that no Executor was named, since the court named administrators.


          Isaac Lyon Hembree, known son of Joel Sr. & Hannah Hembree, had a legal background, was in fact later a Judge, and could have been looked at favorably by the court either as an heir, or for legal knowledge, thus no problem with his appointment, but note he signed only as administrator.


          Col. Joel, however in signing for himself is in fact stating a separate interest. It appears he merely was appointed administrator along with Isaac L. to protect a separate interest, rather than a separate legal proceeding that would be necessary if he had no control over the assets of the estate, and since he had a legal joint obligation under the bond previously given in 1819, he wanted to be certain of his release from that obligation.


          Conclusion:  The court appointment of Col. Joel as administrator was made because of an interest in lands which were owned by Joel Sr. and Col. Joel, not as Col. Joel being a legal heir of Joel Sr. While this may not appear to hold a position of strength from a legal argument it is otherwise a very strong position considering all the known matters of the relationship.


        I believe that the importance of this piece of the puzzle is that no inference as to any specific relationship can be drawn from the land records, other than the fact they were neighbors, and had some business dealing for which the joint obligation under the bond was made. While there is little doubt that Joel Sr. and Col. Joel were somehow related, we know from verified birth records of Isaac L., Benjamin and Col. Joel that Col. Joel was not the son of Joel Sr. and Hannah.

        We also know from another record that Col. Joel was the son of Joel and Matilda, and that piece of the puzzle will also fit, if we accept the conclusion that the land records are no proof to the contrary. The question then, is who was the Joel who married Matilda, (the parents of Col. Joel)? It still LACKS PROOF but he was most likely a brother of Joesph Hembree, and a son of William Hembree. See the Joel’s on 1790 Census, Spartanburg, S.C.


        By now I’m sure Alvin Hembree wishs I would retire from genealogy or lose his address, but in response to my queries he located the missing deed (Book G pg. 60), and provided a hand drawn map of the area. With the aid of the computer, I have redrawn the map and inserted the 50 acre parcel from Hugh Dunlap. If you go there today, you should be able to locate the parcels due to his work and knowledge of the area.  THANK YOU, ALVIN.


        While the reciting of Deeds, etc. is boring to read, I felt it worthwhile to record the supporting data to assist those who may wish to do their own research, as many of you are descendents of Joel Sr. or Col. Joel.










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