Bob Hembree       11819 Maple st.     Whittier, ca. 90601


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A Family Newsletter


4th Edition                                                       SPRING 1990


James N. Hembree was born in Spartanburg, S.C. in 1774/75, the eldest son of Joel and Hannah Pettit Hembree.  He married Nancy ___________, about 1799 and is first shown in the census by name on the 1800C of Spartanburg Co., S.C., married with one female child.  From other sources we know that daughter was named Morning, b. 20 Sept 1799 – 1800.  James and his young family were members of the Friendship Baptist Church at Pauline, S.C., and we can be certain that when Morning was born she was properly introduced to everyone in the church family.  Morning had an aunt named Matilda who was only six years older than she, and I feel certain that she advised everyone that Morning was her niece.  If she found a need for help she could call on Mornings g-mother Hannah who was also a member of the congregation, and we know how bashful g-mothers are about showing off their g-children.  On 15 Nov. 1802 a sister named Rosannah was born and took her turn in the spotlight of love and attention.  In the large families of the time the spotlight shown but for a brief period until it beamed upon another, and the family of James and Nancy was no different.  Joel Jordan Hembree the eldest son was born, on 7 Dec. 1804, thereby insuring the continuance of the family name for another generation.  Joel was the last of the family born in S.C. and as unbelievable as it might have seemed in 1804 he would move completely across this country and later die on the Pacific Coast.

  Times were changing and free or cheap land was in the interior and James who was a SCC (Sworn Chain Carrier) may have seen parts of Tenn. as go with the rest of his family about 1806, to Roane Co., Tenn., where they resided for a short period.  The words simply decided to go are misleading, because moving then was an even bigger decision to make than it is today.  Allied Van Co. did not roll up to your door, pack you up and send the bill to your employer, while you drove an air-conditioned car to your new home.  As this was now a new nation the proclamation of Great Britain which denied clear title to land west of the Appalachian Mountains was no longer a hindrance to moving inland, and even though by comparison to the Rockies the Appalachian Mountains are just hills, it wasn’t until the discovery of an Indian trail we now call the Cumberland Gap that people felt it possible to move westward.  So James & Nancy, his mother and father, brothers & sister, (except a sister Rachel, and possibly one brother, Obediah) neighbors and friends migrated to Roane Co. TN.  Later, accompanied by his brother Zachariah and family, they moved about 50 miles onward, but still close to the family, to Caney Fork area of White Co., Tenn. where James claimed land under Land Grant #5579 about 1808.  The Grant was finalized and Deeded to him on 18 may 1814 (Deed Bk F, Pg 381, White Co., TN.).  Although this area would later be known as Warren Co. it was there that James and Nancy increased their family by eight, the last being Isaac Newton, born 29 Apr. 1823, who would later be responsible for the closing of the affairs of James (Nancy previously deceased) when he was appointed Administrator of the will of James N. Hembree, 8 Feb. 1850 in Washington Co., Ark.

  Whether or not James was a leader or just enjoyed being with family I do not know, but if we read closely what we know about his life, I’m sure one would be safe to say he was a family man.  I do know his children were leaders; to say the least, Joel Jordan and Absolom Jefferson were leaders.  The reason I say he was a family man is that every time I have found a record of him, some family member is involved.  In 1802 he was in the Friendship Church with family, in July 1807 in Roane Co., Tenn., he, his wife, his sister and his father, brought suit against Drury Smith & Elizabeth smith for words of damage to their reputation, (Roane Co. Min. Bk 1807-09 pg 178/9).  In a storekeeper’s record book in Roane Co., a charge item reads:  James Hembree and likely 2 of his brothers.  In MO. his children and g-children are shown near him on the 1840 C. of Polk (Later Dade) Co.  James, Nancy and dau. Matilda, were charter members of the oldest Christian Church in Dade Co., MO., and as stated earlier, his will was probated by a family member.  He was also a mountain man.  Again if we study where he lived and owned property it was in hilly or mountain areas, and the Deed to the property in Caney Fork states “on the side of a mountain”, but the locations do not appear to have been isolated.  In White Co. his and Zachariah’s family were located near each other.

  It’s probably worthwhile to explain my use of the word mountain man, because there is a great difference between the mountain men of the east and the mountain man of the west.  The song “I lived on the sunny side of the mountain, and she lived on the twilight side of the hill” indirectly relates a reasonable distance of neighborhood, but the sunny and twilight side of the western mountains might be several days’ travel in the early 1800’s.  Middle and Eastern Tenn., and later Ark. & MO. is the type of mountains that James was familiar with, very small valleys of from 10 to 40 acres of tillable land and thus only one family to the valley.  That’s why it was over to the sunny side of the mountain to see the girl friend.  Beautiful country but entirely a different type of life than the mountain man of the west who was isolated most of the year.

  It was in the hills of Tenn. that a bonding of James children and Andrew, one of James younger brothers, took place as they were growing up together.  While it is not particularly unusual, James had two brothers who were younger than his son Joel Jordan.  One of them was also named Joel (Joel Bird) and the other Andrew Thompson.  It was Andrew who later with his family would join several of James & Nancy’s family, to move on westward.  We know that James served on Jury duty in 1820 and from, the 1830C of Warren Co. that James & Nancy resided there until about 1832 when they reportedly moved to Ark. Before moving onward to Polk or present day Dade Co., MO. about 1836.  They were in the church in Dade Co. in 1839, and are listed in the census of Polk Co., in 1840, and they owned land in Morgan Town., Dade Co., in 1842/43.  They later returned to Washington Co., Ark.

  Although Marcus Whitman is reported as the first wagon west on the Oregon Trail in 1836, it was really Dr. White, who made at least a portion of the Oregon Trail when he took reportedly nineteen wagons west to Fort Hall (now Bingham Co., Ida.) in 1842 and went on to Oregon on horses.  It was about that time that the families, wagons, horses, cattle, etc., began to be assembled for departure from Fitzhugh’s Mill, near Independence, Missouri, in the spring of 1843 on what history named the Applegate Wagon Train.  Yes, it was “WESTWARD HO”.  For two years before that 1843 departure, James & Nancy watched the planning for the trip.  Their children’s Farms and Homes in Dade Co. had to be sold, wagons to be bought & furnished, all but necessities sold or given away as the wagons would carry only so much and a light load would still seem impossible when fording rivers and climbing mountains.  But life goes on, and they had recently seen the marriage of their daughter Sarah Elizabeth to John Barton Pennington, and the birth of their first born, Martha Matila, and now Sarah was expecting again (Mary Jane was born crossing the plains).  There daughter-in-law Sally (wife of Joel Jordan) was also expecting, but the wagon train would not wait (Nancy Jane was born crossing the plains), as the Bonner party would later discover, you crossed the mountains before the snows or you did not cross.  With all that was going on, it must have been a busy time in the lives of James & Nancy, but it would also be a difficult time, as goodbyes would have to be said.  They would say goodbye, with full knowledge they would not likely again see them, or g-children, which they would never see.

  Their son James Jasper (m. Malinda Cole) died in Dade Co., MO. before the great wagon train of 1843 moved westward, but his son Lycurgus later arrived in Oregon on 19 Sept 1851 and settled in Lane Co., and another g-son, Isham Newton arrived in Oregon in 1872 and may have been a scout as he was in MO. in 1877, and back in Oregon in 1880.

  I have found no evidence that James or Nancy ever made the trip to Oregon, but members of their family played an important part of the early day settlement of Oregon.

  To repeat, life goes on and not all of their children went to Oregon.  Their first-born Morning had married and remained in Tenn.  She and her husband Daniel Clark had presented them with four g-children.  Daniel was a very successful businessman in Tenn., a slave trader, but James & Nancy owned slaves and except for the 1808 outlawing of arrival of new slaves being brought into the country, the issue of slavery was still one to be decided.  After all, the Indentured servants and Redemptioners which settled VA. Were nothing more than slaves, but that was the whites and for given periods of time, usually 3, 5 or 7 years, and slavery of the blacks were ownership, property rights, etc.  Slavery is not the subject of this newsletter but it was a sign of wealth of the day as slaves were expensive, and from their wealth we know something about their lifestyle, education, etc.  It appears that all of James & Nancy’s children were educated, at least to the point of being able to read and write.

  Rosannah – I have nothing other than her birth

  Dorinda – I’m still working on

  Matilda m. Jacob Lindley and died in MO.

  Cythnia m. Wm. M. Roark and was in Texas in 1860C

  Hugh Lawson m. Annette Bender and died in Dade Co.,  MO. 1898

  Isaac Newton m. Elizabeth West – was in Washington Co., Ark. 1850


  Since Nancy is not mentioned in the 1850 census or in James will it is presumed she preceded him in death, sometime between 1842 and 1850.  She may or may not have been alive when James returned to Washington Co., Ark, where he died ca. 1850, and his son Isaac Newton was named, as Administrator of his will.

  It would be easy to continue on to fill a book about Hembree family and descendents in Oregon, but space does not permit, however I would like to inform anyone interested in this line of the many fine records in the Oregon State Archives, the State Library, the Lane County Museum, and especially the Yamhill County Museum at Lafayette, Oregon.  I would especially like to express my thanks to Ruth Stoller of the Yamhill Co. Museum for her help and courtesy extended to me in opening the Museum for my use.  Also, to Roma Sitton for the work she did in collecting data for this small but very important Museum.  Early Oregon was to a large extent the area in and around Yamhill Co. and the pioneer families of Yamhill Co. are well documented in the museum files.  I am told due largely to her work.  Thanks for a job well done.  Possibly my work on the family prior to there arrival in Oregon, has answered some questions contained in the files and I hope I did not confuse them.  Anyway should someone by chance, read this newsletter many years from now, be advised that I plan to forward a copy of this entire family line as I have it, to the Yamhill Co. Museum.

  One problem in researching James & Nancy’s family is the Pennington’s that married into the family.  I mention it here because:  1. Sarah Elizabeth Hembree (James & Nancy’s dau. listed above) married John Barton Pennington, 7 Apr 1841 in Dade Co. MO.  2. Matilda Hembree (James sister) married Benjah Pennington, (often listed as J.B. Pennington) 26 Jul 1814 in Roane Co., TN. and since names were in short supply they of course named a son John Barton Pennington, whom many confuse as the one who married Sarah Elizabeth previously mentioned, but that is incorrect as he was born in 1820 and Sarah Elizabeth previously mentioned married a John Barton born 25 Apr 1812 as proven by his death certificate #886, Fresno, CA., and his parents were J.B. Pennington and Mary Bennett.  3. It would not be interesting if it stopped here, so on we go.  James & Nancy had a niece, (daughter of Benjamin & Margaret) named Hannah Caroline who married J.H. Pennington (Actually his name was Joel Harrison but the initials J.B. and J.H. are confusing if the print is bad).  Further confusion occurs in that some list Sarah Hembree and Elizabeth Hembree both married to John Barton Pennington. Actually her name was Sarah Elizabeth Hembree, - one person. Although I have not found any intermarriage of the families until after 1800, the Pennington and Hembree families go way back at least as being in the same locations of VA, N.C., Tenn., Ala., etc.  It may be of interest to some that the Pennington family was one of the very first in this country.  How about 1607 Jamestown?  That’s right, Robert and John Pennington were officers on the first ship, and are listed among the first planters (meaning they were planted here from England) in this country.  (Proceedings and Accidents of English Colony of Virginia). Robert died 18 Aug 1607 but I do not know if they were brothers. I am still attempting to determine if a carpenter on that ship named Thomas Emry was a Hembree or not, anyway, Hembree’s and Pennington’s are found together from coast to coast.

  ANDREW THOMPSON HEMBREE, b. 31 Jul 1803, in Spartanburg, S.C., married Martha Lorinda McCoy on 17 Jan 1833, in Morgan Co., TN. Beyond being brothers, it is important to stress the relationship of Andrew to the family of James N. Hembree and I have accordingly included the two of them in this article.  Andrew is found with his wife and a 5-10 yr. old daughter in the 1840 C. of Roane Co., Tenn. as Andrew Hembry. In the 1850 Oregon Territorial Census, and the 1860C of Yamhill Co., Ore. with a male son named Andrew Jackson Hembree. The 1860 census is an error. Andrew Jackson Hembree was a g-nephew of Andrew Thompson Hembree, both names were Hembree and the Census taker simply did not know or did not show him as a g-nephew instead of a son. Later Andrew and Martha moved to Sonoma Co., Calif. where Andrew died 5 Nov 1873 and is buried in Shiloh Cemetery, Windsor, CA. Although Andrew Thompson was younger than Joel Jordan, he was older than James other children who went west together. I’m certain Andrew Thompson was special to his nephews and nieces, because his grand niece wrote about him as a very special person doing things for the family. The 1880 Sonoma Co. census correctly show Andrew as a nephew. To my knowledge, Andrew Thompson and Martha McCoy had no children other than the daughter shown on the 1840C of Roane Co. I find no records that they adopted Andrew Jackson, but they raised him, as he was only 10 when his father, Absalom Jefferson Hembree was killed. It appears that Absalom was planning for Andrew to be raised by his namesake because he made a special provision for him in his Will although the boy was only 2 years old at the time. The Will written in 1848, eight years before Absalom’s death, provides that his estate goes to his wife Nancy, and upon her death to be equally divided between all of his children (5 at the time of the writing), except that his son Andrew was to have a good horse, saddle, bridle, a good cow & calf, and a good suit of clothes, and a special amount for Andrew’s education. He appointed his wife Nancy and his Uncle Andrew Thompson as Executors of his Estate.

  REUNIONS:  Those passing Ty-Della Park, Belvidere, Kan. The weekend of 29/30 June – 1 July, may think the HEMBREE family reunion turned into a feud - but don’t worry, it was just part of the fun – a Black Powder Shoot, with Crazy hats, doing a Cake Walk in the Talent Show. Were those separate events or all one thin – my memory it’s so bad. They advise dinner at 1:00 PM Saturday, with the meat going into the pit Friday – midnight. Campground & electricity available. Provide your share of food, etc. Reunion advisors: John F. Hembree, Box 184, Pratt, KS 67124 Ph. (316) 672-3466 and Ethel Pinkston, Box 292, Pratt, KS. 67124 Ph. (316) 672-3038. (Previous issue I stated this to be held Jul 4th weekend – MY ERROR).

  Also, the Hembree reunion at Lake Tenkiller, Gore, Okla. Aug. 10-12. See last issue for details.

  QUERIES:  Need proof of maiden name of Asenath Hembree, b. 1760 N. Caro. d. 1852 Anderson Co., S.C., wife of Rev. James Hembree, b. 1758. Resided Anderson Co., S.C.

  Need family makeup of Susanna Hembree, b. ca 1760 daughter of David and Elizabeth Hembree; she married Mark Pitts, moved to Lincoln Co., TN. ca 1815. Out of space – more next time.