Bob Hembree             11819 Maple st.     Whittier, ca. 90601


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A Family Newsletter


7th Edition                                                     Winter 1990




In many states there was a Hembree living there before statehood and we have every reason to believe Tennessee was no different when it entered the union on 1 June 1796. We know for certain that the Drury Hembree family was in Knox County, Tennessee in 1797 as his son John was born there, however I can’t say for certain that he was there in 1796. It is certain that Tennessee is important in researching the Hembree family as there were several lines living there before the 1830 Census.


Knox County:  In Drury’s family another son Isaac was born there in 1798 and his daughter Rebecca was married in Knox County in 1815. Although it was Knox County in 1797, by 1834 the portion of the county where Drury lived had become Campbell County, as Drury gave that as his pension address.


Roane County:  Joel Sr. son of James & Sarah, m Hannah, died 1825. Family   

       moved there in 1806.

       Joseph (believed to be Williams son) was there by 1812 (Deed)

       Col. Joel family by 1819 (Deed)

        Isaac Lyon (son of Joel Sr.) Tax list 1820

        Joel Jr. (Not son of Joel Sr. above) 1814 Tax list

        Benjamin (son of Joel Sr.) 1814 Tax list

        James (Son of Joel Sr.) 1807 Lawsuit & Deeds

        Obediah (Son of Joel Sr.) 1822 Poll Tax forgiven

        John 1822 Poll Tax forgiven


White County:  Zachariah (Son of Joel Sr.) 1814 Tax list.

                           James, 1808 also listed in Roane County. (Son of Joel Sr.)


Due to space limitations, this newsletter will deal only with pre 1830 and primarily Roane County but readers should be aware there are still several Hembree families living in Tennessee today. Some are descendents of the above, however, several other lines later moved to Tennessee. Elsewhere herein is a list of Hembree’s & their spouses who were born in Tennessee prior to 1830, the County is unknown, as I am uncertain as to whom their parents were.

          While Tennessee was one of the places to receive land for Revolutionary War Service, Drury was the only one of the above that was entitled to land for that service and his claim was later made in Indiana. Land may or may not have been the reason to move onward, but for whatever reason the group listed above all moved from Spartanburg County area of SC and generally speaking they all moved to the same locality even though several counties are involved, the area is contained in a circle with a radius of approximately 60 miles with the center being Roane County. Remember that eastern Tennessee was a part of NC before statehood, and that Anderson, Roane, parts of Campbell, and Morgan were all Knox County or Indian lands, thus you may find information in any of these counties of possibly some Indian records. While Roane County was not the actual residence of all the above, it’s where we find many of the family records in the Courts, County Tax Records, etc. and thus a must in searching our family lines in Tennessee.

          The above list actually contains 4 major lines of the Hembree family, Drury, Joel Sr., Joseph, and Col. Joel.  Before you do much on the family lines in Tennessee it is necessary to straighten out the Joel Hembree’s, what I call the “Joel’s of Tenn.” which is my primary objective in this issue, as they were all in Roane County area prior to 1830. To do this requires, first to acknowledge that old hand written records require examination of the writers’ hand. For example, Joe written with a hook or a line on the end of the “e” may look like Joel and second as I advised when I started the newsletter there may not always be an answer unless you can provide it. Sometimes we answer more questions by writing about what we don’t know than what we do. Tennessee falls into this area and the single greatest problem is who were the parents of Col Joel Hembree. If we can prove that out, then many things about the family will fall into place, but so many things conflict regarding this, that it is difficult to accept as proof the only document we really have to go on. True, despite being confusing.


1.      Joel Sr. b. 1755 in SC, m Hannah Pettit and moved to Roane County, in 1806 and lived in Blue Spring Valley (Deed dtd 26 Feb 1808). He may have lived there before 1806 as he signed a petition for a road in 1801.

2.     Joel B. Jr., b. 26 Nov 1804 in Spartanburg, SC, son of Joel Sr. & Hannah married 1830 to Sarah Wilhite at the home of Col. Joel Hembree in Roane County,

3.      Col. Joel, b. 25 March 1793, Spartanburg, SC, son of Joel Hembree and Matilda.

4.      Joel Jordan b. 7 Dec 1804, Spartanburg, SC, son of James & Nancy (grandson of Joel & Hannah) m Sally Paine 1825, later went to Oregon.

5.      Joel Jr. (not #2 above) Shown on County records as Public Road Administrator 1815, tax list in 1814, and Constable 1823 #2 and #3 above to young to be this Joel Jr.

6.      Joel Blackburn b. 18 June 1827 Roane County, Tennessee son of Benjamin/Peggy

7.      Joe often taken for Joel, if written with a hook on the end of the ‘e’. This is Joseph b. 1779 m. Sarah Elizabeth Melton, land grant on Bear Creek in Sept. 1812. Their first son Eli b. 1814 in Roane County 1814.

8.     Joel Sr. (Not #1 above) father of Col. Joel.


Having listed the Joel’s it is necessary to relate some of the confusion, which requires attention to separate truth from fiction.


a.   Col. Joel was the son of Joel Sr. & Hannah

b.      Col. Joel and Joel Jr. were brothers (2 sons of Joel & Hannah)

c.       Col. Joel was raised in the same family as Isaac, Benjamin & Joel Jr.

d.      Col. Joel was an only son.

e.      Joel Jr. and Col. Joel were nephew and Uncle or cousins.

f.        Joel Sr. & Hannah are buried in the Hembree Cemetery at Cardiff, Tennessee.

g.      The Hembree home at Cardiff was first that of Joel Sr. & Hannah.

h.      Col. Joel and Joel Jr. were the same person.


Starting with a:  Proven false by birth dates given in several different places, among which are the Bible’s of Isaac Lyon 13 Nov 1796 and Benjamin 18 Jan 1793, and Col. Joel’s headstone which shows 25 Mar 1793 or his Biographical – Tenn. Gen. assembly shows 25 Mar 1796. Either 1793 or 1796 proves Col. Joel could not have been the son of Hannah and Joel Sr. as Hannah would have given birth to 2 sons in eight months (Isaac Lyon) or 2 months (Benjamin). Other sources indicate 1793 is correct. Also, a diary of Col. Joel’s g-son, which states Col. Joel, was the son of Joel and Matilda.

b. Is proven wrong as shown except that it’s possible they could be half-brothers, If Joel Sr. had 2 families. Bible records and other sources prove Joel B. Jr. as son of Joel Sr. & Hannah.

c. Family tradition, but Deeds prove that Joel Sr. and Hannah lived at Blue Spring Valley and Col Joel in Cardiff.

d. Only McElwee gives us this information and states he had 2 sisters. Further proof of a separate family from Joel & Hannah who had several children.

e.  Different sources state a different relationship, all agree they were related.

f.  Nothing but tradition supports this. If Col Joel was the son of Joel and Matilda, then it is Joel and Matilda not Joel and Hannah who are buried at Cardiff. If so, then where are Joel and Hannah buried? PROOF LACKING as to who the couple is, but on Isaac Lyon’s farm in Blue Spring Valley, where Isaac’s wife is buried, is also the graves of two adults which could be that of Isaac’s mother & father, Joel Sr. & Hannah. If this is true then there were 2 Joel Srs. in Roane County and this accounts for many of the problems and confusion of the Joel’s of Tennessee. While I have no support for it, Jeanette Daniels, who has done much work on the Embry/Hembree family believes the other Joel on the 1790 Census of Spartanburg, SC also moved to Roane County, Tennessee. Excuse me, but I cannot mention Jeanette’s name without saying thinks for all her cooperation. Thanks Jeanette.

g. If true, Title should have passed on this property by the Administration of the estate of Joel Sr., and even though the estate records are missing we should have the real estate record of conveyance, (order recorded in real estate records or Deed of conveyance) but none exists.

h. Absolutely false. Among other things this is proven by marriage bond of Joel Jr. and Sarah Wilhite who were married at Col. Joel’s home. Col Joel and Joel Jr. signed the bond.

Psychology is not usually a requirement of genealogy but I think a psychological profile is helpful when you study the Joel’s of Spartanburg, SC and Roane County, Tennessee. On the one hand, we have a Joel being reimbursed for charity extended to another, and who sues and wins $1,000. as damage to his reputation when foul language was spoken before his young daughter. On the other hand we have a Joel who is fined for foul language, and when his son was elected to the state legislature, he went to some extent not to disclose the names of his father and mother. This is just an example, but I believe anyone studying the know facts will come to the conclusion that they were different men. If so, there really is no problem with the records and it appears that the Joel who married Matilda is a son of William Hembree, and therefore the two senior Joel’s were cousins. If that is true then Col. Joel was a nephew of Joseph (#7 above) if other information is correct. BE REMINDED THE ABOVE IS THEORY ONLY AND LACKS PROOF.


Hembree’s born in Tennessee before 1830 as shown by various records.

William b. 1810 m. Mary                              1860/70C Cumberland County, TN

Abraham b. 1813 m. Rhoda                          1840C Rhea County, TN

Andrew J. b. 1822 m. Margaret                     1860C Napa County, CA

James J. b. 1820 m. Eliza                              1850C Cumberland County, TN

Jasper Marion b. 1829 m. Manerva               1870C Sevier County, TN

James b. 1789, Nancy                                  1850C Meigs County, TN

Luis/Lewis b. 1828 m. Louza                        1880C White County, Ark.

William b. 1821 m. Mary                              1840C Henry County, TN

Squire b. 1812 m. Christa                                       1840C Henry County, TN

William b. 1800 m. Eliza                               1840C Roane County, TN

George W. b. 1816 m. Elvina                        1860C Roane County, TN

Joseph b. 1820                                             1880C Roane County, TN


SALT LAKE CITY is a lovely place to visit at Thanksgiving time and if you have not seen the Christmas lighting program you have really missed something. Particularly the Temple Square lighting where they reportedly used 240,000 tiny lights of various colors to decorate the square. Anyhow, amid fighting the flu or a cold they so hospitably gave me, I managed to do another week of research there.

One of the interesting things about doing research there is that others, particularly those of the Mormon faith, turn in their family lineage for filing in the library. I wish I could tell you it is all correct and well documented as it is supposed to be. But that is misbelief of the public. You should be aware that while the library is generally a good source, it also contains material with many errors, one of which I feel it necessary to inform you of. Although it would be easier to just ignore the erroneous information. Those who follow this newsletter will be made aware of the importance of the two Hannah’s in a later issue, besides I would be unhappy with myself if I did not advise you accordingly. Circulating in the library are several references to Mary Hannah Pettit, daughter of Joshua and Rachel Pettit, as being the wife of Joel Hembree, Sr.

          1st:  Mary Hannah Pettit b. 1753 was not the wife of Joel Hembree, Sr.

          2nd: Rachel Pettit was not the mother of Hannah Pettit, unless Rachel was another name in addition to Judah, and no evidence of that is shown.

PROOF:  Joshua Pettit’s hand written will was recorded in Spartanburg County, SC on 15 Feb. 1828 and is on Microfilm Reel #1433945 at the LDS library in Salt Lake City. I reread it to be absolutely certain that my information was correct. Not once but twice Joshua wrote “to my daughters, Mary and Hannah”, so there can be no doubt that there were two girls, Mary & Hannah. He also states “to my daughter Rachel Hembree”, whereby some people have deduced Rachel Hembree to be Joel Hembree’s wife. Rachel was Ephraim Hembree’s wife as proved by the Deed wherein he stated that the land was inherited from his father-in-law, Joshua Pettit. (Joshua & Judah also had other children but they do not affect this matter.) That Hannah Pettit was the wife of Joel Hembree, Sr. is proven on several deeds when she gave her dowers release.

          Some might claim that Joshua when writing his Will, would have also said Hannah Hembree as he did with Rachel, however Hannah’s husband, Joel, was deceased by the time Joshua wrote his Will.

          There was a Mary Hannah Pettit b. 1753 but she was not the daughter of Joshua and Judah as previously stated, and to follow her line correctly gives a total different lineage. Also, there appears to have been a Joshua Pettit who married a Rachel, but I have not researched this Joshua, Rachel and Mary Hannah to determine exactly where they fit in the Pettit line.


QUERY:  Does anyone have evidence of the Birthplace of Joel Hembree, Sr. (Joel B.)? Some show it as SC and some as VA.