915 N. Ridge View Dr.     Santa Maria, Ca.  93455-6319


Text Box:  










A Family Newsletter


20th Edition                                                   January 1996




          I have avoided doing an article on Joseph’s line, mainly in the hope that I could acquire additional information and be more certain of his ancestry. Also, his line was well covered by Thelma Kurtz in her book “Lest We Forget”, but several years have passed since it was published. Although, I have obtained much of the same data as covered in her book, very little new information has come forth. Still one new item of information contained in a Deed recorded in Spartanburg County, S.C. allows me to now state with confidence something I advised in the previous issue, “William #9 could have been the father of Joseph.” I now feel certain that Joseph Hembree’s parents were William Embry and Martha Embry. Since there is always a possibility of multiple marriages, I am still proving Martha out as his mother but there is no doubt about her being Williams’ wife.

          The reason I had so much trouble with this line is that William Embry always signed his name Embry, and I had not accepted him as being Hembree, and have stated that he was proven to be Embry not Hembree. (See discussion following herein) however, I re-examined the Deeds and found that in a Deed dated 25 September 1784 (Recorded in Deed Bk. D pg 116-120 Spartanburg County, S.C.) from William Embry to Jane Fowler, the transcript states in the body of the Deed

“Lt. Gov. William Bull to William Embry;” said William Hembree (sic)” ”

The key to this is the use of (sic). For those not acquainted with it, it means that the use of a word or phrase may seem strange, but was used intentionally. Therefore, if Hembree was used intentionally it was no doubt used to indicate the same family name, despite the fact that William signed Embry. While William always signed Embry, that was not true with his son Joseph as we find his name as Emry, Emery, and Hembree. The family name in use today by Josephs’ descendants is Hembree, and that is the name we find that Joseph used since he moved to Tennessee. I have no record of him prior to his move to Roane County, Tennessee.

          Another Deed, which proves this out, states William Embry, Rutherford County, N.C. purchased 200a on N. side of Pacolet River in Spartanburg County, S.C. (Spartanburg County Deed Bk. F, pg 337-338).

          Family members state that Joseph was born in Buncombe County, N.C. in 1779 and to my knowledge his birthplace has never been in dispute. Since Buncombe County was not formed until 1791 (formed from Burke & Rutherford County) we know the area referred to was actually Rutherford County in 1779 (Joseph birth date) even though Joseph went from Buncombe, N.C. to Roane County, Tennessee in 1812.

          The Declaration of Widows Pension, and family members statements say Joseph was married in 1809 at the home of William Hembree in Spartanburg County, S.C. by Kelcez, Justice Peace.

          The Deeds, which establish William to reside at both Joseph’s birthplace, and where he was married, are more that mere family coincidence. Also the other William Hembree’s’ in S.C. are eliminated by age, location, time period and known family makeup’s.

          When we put it all together, it simply leaves little doubt as to his lineage. The William Embry / Hembree referred to is the same as William #9 in the previous edition of this newsletter, was Joseph’s father.

          Joseph served as a Private in Capt. Wm. Whites Co., 2nd Reg. Vol. Mounted Gunman, Commanded by Co. John Brown, under the name of Joseph Emery. He entered service January 1814 and was discharged at Kingston, Tennessee in May 1814. His will was dated 20 October 1854 and filed for probate 6 April 1868 Roane County, Tennessee (Wills 1865-1871/ Book G. pg. 321, Roane County, Tennessee.)

Joseph had a Land Grant of 50 acres on Bear Creek, Roane County, Tennessee in September 1812 under the name of Joseph Emery, and that is where they built the family home.

He married Sarah Elizabeth Melton who reportedly lived to be 110, but the exact date of her death is unknown. She was born in N.C. and some list her birth date as 1790, however, on 6 April 1887, her son Joseph Jr. or g-son Joseph, swore in Court that “she was over 100 yrs old and an idiot or person of unsound mind or no mind at all”, thus the 1790 birth date is to late. She was apparently still living on the Bear Creek property in 1887. She and Joseph reportedly had 12 children, of which at least 8 grew to adulthood. The known children were:

1.     Ezzarias Hembree b. 1813, TN. m. 10 Jan. 1838 to Sarah McGill

2.     Eli Hembree b. 1814, TN. m. (1st) 2 Dec. 1841 to Nancy E. Balew, (2nd) to Sarah C. Hart.

3.     Melissa Hembree, died in infancy.

4.     Cynthia Hembree

5.     George W. Hembree, b. 1825, TN. m. Nellie White,

6.     Joseph Hembree, Jr. b. 1830, TN. m. Jane _____.

7.     Sarah Hembree, b. 1832, TN.

8.     Elizabeth Hembree, b. 1834, TN. m. Aug. 1880 to James B. Hamby.

9.     William Hembree b. abt. 1837.

10. Anganira Hembree m. R.P. Howard.


Joseph & family attended the Wheat Baptist Church, and he, Sarah, sons Eli and George and possibly other family members are buried in the Hembree Cemetery in the area known as Wheat, Tennessee. This land is now a part of the Oak Ridge Atomic Energy program and the Cemetery is now known as AEC#10. (Cemetery #10).

     Several Hembree families, cousins, in-laws, etc. owned land, which was taken for the development of Oak Ridge. I’m informed that the surveys, family info (data relating to land titles) etc. is retained in the TVA Library at Chattanooga, Tennessee, which I plan to visit one day.

     If you’re traveling through Tennessee, you will find the Oakridge area an interesting place to visit. From a genealogical point, almost every Hembree line I know of, at some point went to or through Tennessee. The AEC area was the former Morgan, Roane, Anderson, and Campbell Counties where several Hembree’s lived, and includes three or four cemeteries where Hembree’s are interned.

     This newsletter is not intended as a lesson in genealogy, but reading it may seem that way, so tune out here if you like. I am also aware many readers are more competent teachers that I however, in a paragraph above I used the word (sic) as stated in a Deed, and it bears further discussion as proof of the Hembree name. The fact that is was used in that manner, indicates that the person who prepared the deed was trained or knowledgeable of the language or law, as it was not and is not a word in common usage. We can therefore assume the person to be knowledgeable of what he was saying. The manner of use makes it clear that William Embry was also one or known to be a Hembree. I have always stated William Embry was Embry not Hembree, and that fact remains, as respects William Embry. However, it is now apparent that the writer of the Deed, knew of his own knowledge that either; others knew William as Hembree, or other members of his family were named Hembree. This is important because we know William had either a brother or son named John Embry. John and William are found in the same documents as Embry, however, John is likely the same John whom we find in other documents as Hembree. The Embry line goes back through N.C. to Halifax and Lunenburg Counties in Virginia and I find I made the same mistake as others who feel Embry was a different family, with an occasional misspelling of Hembree but basically a different family name. I will prove them out before listing the ancestors of William and John Embry, but there is little doubt they go back to Lunenburg / Goochland County, Virginia to Henry Embry / Emery. If so, a lot of things become clear, as it has always bothered me that Henry Embry just popped up from nowhere and is found in the same areas as the James and John Hembree line.

     Two things about economics have always played a part in my family research. 1st:  It was likely that brothers had the same general financial conditions, (The English tradition of the eldest son inheriting all, affects this but that faded fast in this country) and 2nd:  Economic conditions meant they did or did not have the same opportunity to become literate. Therefore, if one brother was literate, I generally expect other brothers to be also, and if one brother was a large landowner, I expected the other brothers to be sizeable landowners or businessmen. While exceptions are common, they are still a good guide as to whom John is most likely to be a brother of which James, etc. The literate problem still is a concern with Joseph as his will is the only document I know of that required his signature and it is signed with his mark (x). It could be that he was to old to see or write, as he was 75 when it was written, but it appears likely he would be literate if he was a son of William Embry, since there is no doubt about William being Literate.

     The 1800 Census of S.C. shows William over 45 and no wife is listed, but I have not located him in 1790 Census, so his wife could have died when Joseph was young. Since there were no public schools in the area at that time, it might account for Joseph not being literate even though his parents were.

     Family stories handed down, say there were four brothers who went to S.C. and settled near the Tyger River. If William Embry was a Hembree and we now know he was at least known by some  as Hembree, then we have four Hembree’s who went to S.C. about the same time period, ca 1775. All four owned land in sizeable amounts (above the 50 acre head right basis), and all four were literate, at least to the degree of reading and writing their own names. Deeds and other documents prove James Hembree, David Hembree, William Embry / Hembree and John Embrey / Hembree signed their name and witnessed other documents, and all were of an age group which fits into a family grouping. All four moved to the general area of the Tyger River, and all were found in the border area of the N.C. and Virginia before moving onward. I believe we can now be certain the four brothers were James, David, William & John.

     As you know, all good lessons require homework, so let me know what you can add to this, whether or not you are in agreement.

     Planning any family reunions, please advise.



Forward to RBL #21


Return to RBL Introductory Page


Return to Records Page