Tennessee Genealogy Research by Debbie W. Spero

Genealogy–tips, research ideas, problems and answers

Levi Matherly Alzira K Sevier Mary W. Polly Brown Sevier of Sumner County Tennessee

by deb - March 7th, 2014

I have been hitting my head for years on the brick wall of my 3rd great grandparents, Levi Matherly and Elzira/Alzira K. Sevier/Savere of Sumner County Tennessee.

I knew that Levi Matherly was present in the 1850 census of Sumner Co TN, district 9.  Levi was age 36, born TN with children:  John age 12, William age 10, Daniel 7 and James 5.

A few households away, also in district 9, was Mary Savere age 60 with:  John age 23, Elzira age 25, Alcy age 21, Richard 16 and Almyra 2. The next household was Richard Severe age 37 with Mary 34, James 9, Thomas 7, Mary 3.

On October 10,1851 Levi Matherly married Elzira K. Sevier in Sumner Co. TN.  In the 1860 census I found “Leo” Matherly age 29, district 18, Gallatin, Sumner Co, TN with:  Alzira 38, William 20, James 13, Elizabeth 8, Francis 4 and Manda 1, all born in Tennessee.   Also in the same district was John Matherly, age 21 with Harriet 39, Johnetta 10 and Mallissa 7, all born in TN.

There were no Savere/Sevier families in the 1860 census of Sumner Co.

In April of 1861, a deed is registered in Sumner Co, TN for Levi Matherly to J.S. Long.  Levi sells 87 acres in district 18, recorded in deed book 25, p. 142 of Sumner Co TN.   Ancestry.com shows a listing for Levi Matherly in 1862,district 18 of Sumner Co TN on a US tax list.

The next available tax list for Sumner Co TN is 1868.   This list shows only Daniel, James and John Matherly.  There is no entry for Levi Matherly.

Neither Levi nor Elzira/Alzira is found on the 1870 census of Sumner Co TN or the 1870 Tennessee Census.   A search of the county court minutes of Sumner Co TN Vol 8 Oct 1858-Apr 1866, Vol Apr 1866-Nov 1869 and Vol Nov 1869-Feb 1873 had no entries for Levi Matherly.  I also searched Sumner Co TN Inventory and Settlements Oct 1861-June 1869 and Feb 1869-1879–0 entries for Levi Matherly.

Here’s what I found:  John Matherly age 12 in 1850, age 21 in 1860 with wife and family; marries 1869 in Robertson Co TN to Sarah Osborne and is present in the 1870 of Robertson Co. TN age 35, p. 148, HH 142 with Sarah age 18.

I found two marriages for Daniel Matherly age 7 in 1850:  D.F. Matherly to M.S. McMurtry 17 Mar 1864 in Sumner Co TN and Daniel F. Matherly to M.E. McMurtry 1 June 1870 E. Burr, J.P., Sumner Co TN.   In 1870 Daniel is age 27, with wife Mary 23, living in Logan Co KY.

James Matherly, age 5 in 1850 and 13 in 1860, married Julia Osborn 4 May 1868 in Sumner Co TN.  He is present as James P. Matherly in Robertson Co TN, p. 148 HH 143, in 1870, age 25 with Judy age 25 and Joe age 1.

Elizabeth age 8 in the 1860 census married in 1865 to John Franklin Lewis in Sumner Co TN.  In the 1870 census, district 10,  Gallatin, was John Lewis age 27, with Elizabeth age 20 and Jane age 1.   Also in that household is 17 year old Frances with a last name that “looks like” Mcherley”, but I suspect is Matherly.

Frances would go on to marry on 12 July 1874 in Sumner Co TN to John L. Leggett.  Through ancestry.com I was able to trace Frances Leggett to her death on 1 April 1839, Nashville, Davidson Co, TN.  Her informant listed her father’s name as John Matherly and mother’s name as Sevier (no first name given).

The youngest child, Manda, age 1 in 1860, has yet to be found in the 1870 census.  Because her older but unmarried sister Frances is in the household of the oldest sister, Elizabeth, and because Elizabeth marries either at the young age of 13 or 15 in 1865, I would suspect that at least one if not both Levi and Elzira have died before 1865.   Manda, who is my direct line and my 2nd great grandmother, married 1 Jan 1880 to James Burton Honeycutt in Sumner Co TN.

And so, I feel I have found what is available for Levi Matherly and wife Elzira/Alzira Sevier Matherly in the Sumner Co TN records. My family chart will read that Levi died after 1862 and Alzira after 1860.

Now what?  Records on ancestry.com say that Levi is descended from Thomas Matherly and Elizabeth Jones and Elzira/Alzira K. Sevier is descended from John Finley Sevier and Mary “Polly” Brown and that is research for another day.



Who are the parents of Maggie Nova Brimm Kennedy of Smith County Tennessee?

by deb - February 11th, 2014

With the permission of a client, I am writing this entry about her grandmother, Maggie Nova Brimm Kennedy of Smith Co TN.   The question I have been trying to help her answer:  Who were the parents of Maggie Nova Brimm?

Maggie Nova Brimm, “Novie” was born 17 Feb 1885 in Smith Co TN.   Novie told her children that around age 6 she went to live with Arch and Lucy Brimm of Smith Co, TN.  They raised her as their own and were very good to her.

In the 1880 census of Smith Co TN, Maggie was age 14, living with A.H. Brimm and his wife Lucy and their sons R.A. and J.W.   Maggie’s relationship to head of household, A.H. Brimm, was given as “orphan”.

My client also told me that she and her family believed that Novie may have been Lucy Brimm’s niece and the child of Lucy’s brother, N.M. Nunley and his wife, Lucy Kindred.   Lucy Kindred Nunley died 5 Aug 1886 and was buried in the Nunley-Boston family cemetery with her in-laws, near Riddleton, Smith Co TN.   The family knew nothing more about N.M. Nunley.

In the 1880 census of TN, N.M. Nunley and wife Lucy were living with N.M.’s parents, A.W. and Lucy Nunley, district 3 of Smith Co TN.

With that to begin with, I decided to research the parents of both N.M and Lucy Kindred Nunley.   I hoped to find that Maggie Nova had been provided for in either their wills or estates.

Through my research of the Smith Co TN records I learned that A.W. Nunley died in 1884 and his son, N.M. Nunley was the administrator of A.W. Nunley’s estate.   The court of Smith Co TN provided a dower and homestead of about 80 acres for A.W. Nunley’s wife, Lucy Nunley, for her life.

In 1890, due to debts he owed, the interest and rights that N.M. Nunley had in his mother’s dower and homestead were sold.  This would indicate that N.M. had no other money to pay his debts.   This seemed to back up Novie’s story to her children of going to live with Arch and Lucy Brimm when she was about 6 years old.  Thus, when Lucy Nunley died in 1913 her son N.M. Nunley had no share to receive.

Through the loose Chancery records of Smith Co TN I found an interesting suit involving the Kindred family and one of their daughters.  This suit was chock full of family relationships, brothers naming sisters and brothers, sisters naming sisters and brothers, and mother naming daughters and sons.   However, this suit was in 1880, after N.M. Nunley and Lucy Kindred had married, but before Maggie Nova was born.    This suit also said that mother (of Lucy Kindred Nunley), Ann Kindred, died in 1880.

Lucy Kindred’s father was Roland/Rowland Kindred.   I found only one deed for him and that was in 1887 when he bought a lot in Riddleton, Smith Co TN, from his son Eugene Kindred.   Roland is present in the 1880 census of Smith Co, TN, the 21st district with a daughter, 2 sons and a granddaughter.  I could not find him in the 1900 census of Smith Co TN, but I did find a reference to him in Smith Co TN county court minutes volume 9.   In April 1902 R.J. Kindred of the 21st district was permanently released from working public road.   With that said, I have found no will or other probate or a death record for Roland after 1902.   His name is also not found in Smith Co TN cemetery records.

Though there are very few records left to research in Smith Co TN that might answer the question of Who were the parents of Maggie Nova Brimm Kennedy? I am still curious to know the answer.    It seems the county court records of the time did not “apprentice” young Maggie Nova Nunley? to the Brimm family.   Were Arch and Lucy Brimm her uncle and aunt? Close friends of the Nunley family? Does anyone else have a family story passed down that includes young Maggie Nova?



James Gourley and Violet Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson of Sumner County Tennessee

by deb - January 21st, 2014

It’s after the holidays, cold and snowy, and I have had a little time to work on my own family genealogy.   My mother, Lois Saddler Williams, is the daughter of Ellen Geneva Dorris, age 95.   My grandmother was born in the Shackle Island area of Hendersonville in November of 1918.  Her parents were John Anderson Dorris and Ollie Bell Honeycutt.

Ollie Bell was the daughter of James Burton Honeycutt.   The parents of James Burton Honeycutt were William Burton and Elizabeth (or Eliza) Ann Gourley, who was born about 1832 in Sumner County, Tennessee.   I have spent several afternoons this month, researching the Gourley line.

I began research in the Sumner Co TN records in the lawsuits, part of the “loose” collection of records of Sumner Co from 1786 to 1930.   This lawsuit is case 6336:  Alexander, Josiah and Susannah report, 25 Feb 1838:

Petition of Josiah Alexander and wife Susannah Alexander and Margaret Gourley and Eliza Gourley, Mary Gourley, James Gourley, ?? Gourley, and Franklin Gourley; the last five are minors, with special guardian Josiah A. Alexander, (being) the children and heirs of James Gourley and his wife, Violet, both of whom are now dead…They (the heirs) are tenants in common in a tract of land which has descended to them from their mother, the said Violet Gourley….The land adjoins the lands of John Chambers, Stephen Wilson, John Gourley and James Eskew, 44-50 ac.  The petition asks that the land be sold and proceeds divided among the seven heirs.

Sumner Co TN marriages show a marriage of James Gourley to Violet Wilson 5/18/1813.   A second marriage for James Gourley was also found in the Sumner Co TN marriages:  James Gourley to Elizabeth Simpson 12/30/1834.

Sumner Co Deeds 1806-1817 by Murray, 1989, p. 91:  Commissioners deed to divide the real estate of late James Wilson, dec’d, between heirs of said Wilson, as follows:  (Each received 45 ac):  James Wilson, James C. Hodges, Samuel Wilson, John Gourley, Jacob Houdeshalt, Petat?Wilson (I believe this is Violet Wilson because land of  Violet Wilson is given as boundary in the deed of Josiah Hodges to John Gourley, 5 Oct 1812, “being a legacy left said Hodges by his father-in-law, James Wilson, Sr., dec’d, 1811); Josiah Hodges; reg’d 12 Feb 1814.

Sumner Co TN Lawsuits, case 7420, report, James Gourley, deceased:

1838 petition of John Gorley and John Chambers, admrs of James Gorley, deceased, 19 Feb 1838…slaves Elliott, Caroline, William, Clarissa, Harrott, Felix and York…could not be equally divided among the distributees of the estate.  It would be to the advantage of the distributees to have the slaves sold.   James Gourley died 1 December 1837 intestate…he had 7 negroes (named above).  James left a wife and 7 children.

Sumner Co TN Lawsuits, case 3910, Henry and David Griggs vs Elizabeth Gourley 1839

Daniel Griggs purchased in Sept 1835, 35 acres from her (Elizabeth Gourley) husband, James Gourley, deceased…”It is not true, however, that said Daniel made the purchase of this defendant (Elizabeth) although she signed her name to the bond”.  This 35 acres belonged to the defendant…absolute right and which was…to her…of her first husband, John Simpson, dec’d.  “She is sorry to be compelled to say that she and her late husband, the said James Gourley, dec’d, lived very unhappily together…(because) of the influence over him by some of his children by a former marriage…the deft and the said James were married about 4 years ago…

The said James had 7 children at the time of their marriage; the deft had not any.  At the time of their marriage she had a (sic) property, the land before mentioned, and negroes and a good stock of cattle, hogs, sheep.   At the time the said bond was (sic), the said James (sic) her to put her name to the bond, which without much reflection, she did.  “She felt she had to sign it”.  Since the death of James Gourley, she has utterly refused and still refuses to make complainants a title to said land and that she claims said land as her (sic) absolute property.

Her husband, the said James, was the owner of a fine farm…about 220 ac. This he sold but a few weeks before he died and without doubt as she thinks…with intention to dispossess?) depose (?) her of a home and to defeat her right of a dower in the land and to enable his 7 children at once to have the whole of it, with the exception of 1/8, which is all she can get off the money for which it was sold.  He sold said land for about $20/acre.    She thinks she needs to keep her 35 acres.   Also, James had 50 acres from his first wife…the defendant got none of it, the children divided it amongst themselves.

Elizabeth Gourley further states that her last husband, the said James Gourley, …while he was lying dead in the house, John Gourley called her out of the house and there was John Chambers and Alfred Alexander who married one of the heirs.  They first spoke of the land that came by the first wife of her late husband, the said James Gourley, dec’d and Chambers said she could get no part of that.  They then talked about the 35 acres and defendant said she thought that…the heirs could get no part of hers.

As always, a few questions answered, and a whole new set of questions raised. Here’s to the hunt!



Charles Dillehay of Virginia and Leonard Brown of Caswell Co NC and Sumner Co TN Revolutionary War Patriots

by deb - March 6th, 2013

In my continuing research for Revolutionary War soldiers in my family tree, I have found two ancestors who are listed as Revolutionary War Patriots.  

I am descended from Charles Dillehay, born ca 1717 died after 1784, married to Elizabeth or Eliza through his son Arthur Dillehay, b. 13 July 1741.   Arthur married Sarah and my line continues through their son Edmund Dillehay b. 1767, d. 1 Dec 1827 in Smith Co TN.   Edmund married Joannah Asher and they were the first Dillehays in Smith Co after first spending time in Maury Co TN.

Edmund and Joannah Dillehay’s daughter, Elizabeth Dillehay, was born 1798 in North Carolina and married Obadiah Gregory, b.1799 NC in Person Co NC in 1817.   Their daughter, Margaret “Peggy” Gregory, married Henry Lankford.   Henry and Peggy Lankford’s oldest son Silas married, 1st, to Susan McKinnis.   Silas and Susan had daughter Mattie M. Lankford, who was the mother of my great grandmother Dellie Mae Hackett.  

According to a family history of the Dillehay Family by Nina Sutton in The History of Smith Co TN by Smith Co Homecoming ’86 Heritage Committee, Charles Dillehay was a Patriot who furnished supplies and aid in the Revolutionary War, at one time 250 pounds of beef, guns and other items.  Charles and Elizabeth (Eliza) his wife were living in Greenville Co VA in 1750 when their daughter, Hannah, was born.  

Further proof of this Patriot “service” is found in the Index to the Virginia Revolutionary Publick Claims County Booklets by Janice L. Abercrombie and Richard Slatten, where Charles Dillehay is listed, Greenville Co.

I am descended from Leonard Brown on my mother’s side of the family, through my grandmother, Ellen Geneva Dorris.  Her father was John Anderson Dorris.   John Anderson Dorris’ father was Joab Dorris.   Joab Dorris was the son of William Dorris, Revolutionary War Soldier of NJ and Sumner Co TN.  William Dorris was married to Eleanor Brown, born ca 1768 and died in Fountain Head, TN.  Eleanor Brown was the daughter of Leonard Brown and his wife, Sarah Kimbrough.  

Leonard Brown also gave Patriotic Service .   On the DAR ancestor search site I found under Leonard Brown:  served NC Patriotic Service b ca 1740 d ante 11-1833 Sumner Co TN; service source:  Hofmann, NC Abstracts of State Grants Vol 2, p. 47; service description:  took oath of allegiance to make land entry 1779; residence Caswell Co NC; wife:  Sarah Kimbrough.

I looked at Hofmann’s NC Abstracts of State Grants Vol 2, 2003, p. 47:  Leonard Brown 3 March 1779 616 ac on both sides of Harts Hillsborough (Rd) and on the waters of country line creek joining William Brown, Hutson Berry, Bazil Davis, Luke Pendergist, William Rice, both sides of several branches of said creek, and John Rice.

In the first few pages of this book I found:  In Nov 1777 the Assembly (of NC) passed a law for disposing of vacant public lands to new settlers.  The law declared that anyone who took the oath of allegiance to the new state could purchase vacant public land.

Though not Revolutionary War Soldiers, Charles Dillehay and Leonard Brown, were Patriots of the Revolutionary War, and a proud addition to the research of my ancestors’ service to our country.



William Dorris Revolutionary War Soldier of New Jersey and Sumner Co TN and widow Eleanor Dorris

by deb - February 6th, 2013

The pension papers of Revolutionary War soldier William Dorris continue with the widow’s pension application of his widow, Eleanor Dorris.

State of Tennessee Sumner Co   On this day personally appeared Ellenor Dorris widow of William Dorris deceased before me James Butler one of the acting Justices of the Peace in and for the county aforesaid.   She being a resident of the county of Sumner and state of Tennessee aged eighty one years who being first duly sworn according to law doth on her oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the acts of Congress passed July 7 1838 and the Joint Resolution of the 16 Aug 1842 (above that was written 3 March 1843) and act to continue the pensions of  certain widows  passed 17 June 1844

That she is the widow of William Dorris who was a pensioner of the United States and drew his pension in Nashville state of Tennessee.  She further states that she was married to the said William Dorris on the 15th day of January seventeen hundred and eight five (1785).  That she was not married to him prior to his leaving the service but she was married to him previous to the first day of January seventeen hundred and ninety four to wit at the time above mentioned.

That her husband the said William Dorris died on the 22nd November 1842 and that she the said Elenor Dorris has remained a widow ever since that period.  She and the said William Dorris was married in Caswell County North Carolina by Joseph Dorris a Baptist preacher. She annex(?) a certificate of her childrens ages by which it will be seen that her first born child was born 27 February 1786 which record is in the genuine handwriting of her husband.  Sworn to and and subscribed before me this 19th day of October 1844.                                                      Ellenor X (her mark) Dorris    

I James Butler one of the acting  Justices of the Peace in and for the county (of Sumner) hereby certifiy that I am well acquainted with Ellenor Dorris who has this day made the foregoing Declaration before me.  That from old age and bodily infirmity…she cannot appear or travel to the court house of her county to make this Declaration in open court…19 October 1844.. James Butler

This declaration was presented in the court of Sumner Co TN 6 July 1846 and was ordered that the county court of Sumner “recognize and approve the official acts of James Butler in regard to this declaration and that the clerk certifiy the same”…

16 April 1846 State of Tennessee Sumner County..On this day personally appeared Solomon Brown aged seventy four years before me John B. Brizendine one of the acting Justices of the Peace in and for the county of Sumner and made oath…that his siser Ellinor Dorris was married to William Dorris in Caswell County North Carolina about the 15th day of January seventeen hundred and eighty five in Caswell County North Carolina.  They were married by Joseph Dorris a Baptist preacher the same Baptist preacher who moved to this country (Tennessee) and accompanied General Jackson in some of his Indian wars.    This affiant was young at the time and unmarried but lived with his father.   There was a good many people at the wedding but does not now recollect any of them now that are living except a Brother who recollects as much perhaps at this affiant does.  Also Robert Dorris a brother of William Dorris was also at the wedding and now lives in Kentucky.  Affiant has a personal knowledge of the marriage and knows it to have been a legal one.  Said William Dorris was a pensioner of the Unted States on the Nashville roll previous to his death. 

Affiant has seen the record of the children of the said Ellinor and William Doris and although he does not write himself believes it to be the genuine record of the ages of their children.  He  further states that he is acquainted with the ages of the children and from his recollection Elijah Dorris the oldest in the record is now about sixty years of age.  William Dorris and Elenor his wife moved to Tennessee in 1802 and the affiant moved to the same county and state in 1817.     Solomon X (his mark) Brown

The next affadavit was given by Hanah Brown on 16 April 1846.  She began by restating what her husband had about the wedding of William and Elenor Dorris having occurred in Caswell Co NC by Joseph Dorris.  She went on…”This affiant was not at the wedding at the time of their marriage.  She lived about five miles from there but her acquaintance with them before and after their mariage was such at to enable her to recollect a great deal about it.”

She thinks their marriage took place in seventeen hundred and eighty five for they had three children Elijah-William–and John when this affiant and Solomon Brown her husband were married.  She knows this from recollection because the oldest of affiants children if now alive would be fifty six years.  This affiant and the said Solomon Brown who has made the annexed affadavit were married on the 5th day of April 1790 and William Dorris and Ellenor his wife had three children as before stated…She has known them ever since as man and wife until the death of said William Dorris.   Hanah X (her mark) Brown.

John B. Brizendine, one of the acting Justices of the Peace of Sumner County certified that he was well acquainted with Solomon Brown and his wife Hanah Brown…they are near neighbours and they are people of good character truth and veracity and full faith and credit are due and of right ought to be given to their statements…16 April 1846.

Next was the list of children of  William and Ellinor Brown Dorris:

1. Elijah Dorris was born February 27 1786

2. William Dorris was born November 24 1787

3. John Dorris was born January 10 1790 died Aug 8 1824

4. Robert Dorris was born May 6 1792

5. Zelpha Dorris was born January 14 1795

6. Abigale Dorris was born March 11 1797  Died March 27th 1808?

7. Lewis Dorris was born October 12th 1799

8. Jesse Dorris was born December 26th 1801

9. Elias Dorris was born January 21st 1807

Eleanor Dorris’ application for a pension as widow of William Dorris was approved and she was inscirbed on the roll at the rate of $20 per annum.  The certificate of pension was issued the 27th day of July 1846.   A second declaration was signed by X by Eleanor Dorris, age 85 on 26 Aug 1848 in Sumner Co. Tennessee





William Dorris or Doris Revolutionary War Soldier of New Jersey and Sumner County, Tennessee

by deb - February 4th, 2013

My latest discovery in the hunt for Revolutionary War ancestors is William Dorris of New Jersey and Sumner County, Tennessee.   His file is W 916.  William Dorris is my 4th great grandfather on my grandmother Ellen Geneva Dorris Saddler’s side.    Ellen Geneva Dorris Saddler, age 94, is the daughter of John Anderson Dorris.   John Anderson Dorris was the son of Joab Dorris, who was the son of John Dorris.  John Dorris was the son of William Dorris, who was a Revolutionary War Soldier.

William Dores (Dorris) of Sumner Co in the State of Tennessee who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Titus of the reg’t commanded by (left blank) in the N.J. line.  Issued on the rolls of West Tenn at the rate of $20 per annum to commence on the 4th day of March 1831.  Certificate of pension issued the 25 day of July ’34 (1834).

Eleanor Dorris, widow of William Dorris who served in the Revolutionary War as a private inscribed on the roll at the rate of $20.   Certificate of pension issued the 23 day of Jany/49 (1849).

Sumner Co State of Tennessee…On the 16th day of August 1832 William Dorris personally appeared in open court before Thomas Anderson, William Edwards and John L. (?) Esqrs the court of pleas and quarter sessions now sitting said county.   He being a resident of said county and state aforesaid aged about seventy one years old as near as he can recollect not having any regular (?) of his age…who being first duly sworn according to law doth on the oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as here in stated.   He resided in the state of New Jersey and county of Hunterdon where he was born and township of Hopewell.   Shortly after the defeat of Berg..(?) which was in 1777 he believes–he was called out as a militia man from said county on a tour of one month to guard the british…(?) at Trenton….my captain was by the name of Titus.  My 1st Lieutenant was Zebulon Burris.  The other officers I do not recollect….another Captain with his company guarding the prisoners called Captain Hunt. 

I was discharged by Capt Titus after my tour expired.  The next service…was in the spring or summer of 1778…the British was laying in Philladelphia was expected in the spring to take up the march towards New York and Jas A Miller now had order to be ready for marching at a minutes warning.  The arrangement was this: a barrel of tar was placed in the fork of a large popular that stood on a large(?) mountain and when the enemy(?) commenced…the barrel was to be set a fire as a signal to the neighboring county that they should march the next morning.

My Captain Beard stationed some of the men every night to march the mountain for the signal.  Was now laying in this condition for nearly two months previous to the enemy marching. And so,  soon as the as they moved we took up the line of march commanded by Capt John Beard Lieut Hogland  Colo Honden (?) and Major Beard commanded our Regiment. Our General was named          (left blank) Heard.  was marching near Bulington at the palce called the (??).    The march description continues with river names that I do not know and cannot figure out from the handwriting.    The march continued…marched back and took the Monmouth road arriving..at Sandy Hook..we had to march up the river for about twenty miles before we could cross the river and enemy gained a day’s march….brought on the battle of Monmouth and whipped the enemy…we was not called into the action.   The enemy shortly after took shipping (whipping?) at Sandy Hook and I was shortly afterwards by Captain Beard discharged.

I was called out four times after this in the service as a militia man, to wit: a monthly tour under Capt (?) Stout in the fall of 1778 which service  was in and about the lighthouse near the Jersey shore—which I performed and was discharged.  The next was a (?) of alarm when spring field was burnt by the enemy in New Jersey near Brunswick.  I think was out in the service about one month. Capt Ralph Guile was my capt.  I was called again for a tour of one month under Capt Titus I think….this service was performed in and about Morristown (?) in the summer of 1779. I was again and for the last time called out when the Pennsylvania line nrolled (enrolled) me. Was ordered to Princeton and lay there…This service he perforemd how long he was engaged in it he can not recollect.  My capt was       (blank) Titus.

He would (?) for the state after the siege of Little York ….the british passing from thence to New York through New Jersey and he and the other men took the whole of the prisoners and carried them to Trenton and put them in jail. 

I shortly after the war moved from New Jersey to North Carolina, Orange County, from there moved to this county about thirty years ago…he knows of no person who can certify his service except what John McMurtry may know.  He hereby relinquishes any claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.   Signed William Dorris 16 August 1832.

John McMurty made oath that..”I served in the revolutionary war and the first tour I became acquainted with William Dorris at Gowers (? ) New Jersey during the revolutionary war…17 Aug 1832.

Francis Johnson/Johnston, a clergyman residing in the county of sumner certified with John McMurtry that “we are well acquainted with William Dorris…that we believe that he is about seventy one years of age; That he is respected and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution and that we concur in the opinion”. 



John Knight, Revolutionary War Soldier Granville Co North Carolina and Smith Co Tennessee

by deb - January 17th, 2013

On the same day in August 1832 that John Knight filed his application for a Revolutionary War Pension, William Jones and Phillip Day, both citizens of Smith County, Tennessee appeared in and before the justices of the court of Smith Co, TN and stated that Day was in the service of the United States with John Knight in the five months tour spoken of by said Knight and that from their acquaintances with said Knight have no hesitation in certifiying that Day believed said Knight served the whole of the time stated in his declaration.

On the 4th day of September 1832 the clerk of the court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Smith Co TN, Jonathan Beckett, gave his certificate and seal concerning the matter of the application of John Knight for a pension. 

The next papers in this packet  were the Brief in the case of John Knight.  Though most of the information repeats what John Knight gave in his declaration, it does note that the declaration was made “in court” , that John Knight did not appear disabled by bodily infirmity,that John Knight was engaged in “no battles”.   The brief further noted that John Knight’s statement was supported by traditionary evidence (first term of 5 months) proven by William Jones and Phillip Day.   Although the papers of John Knight were deemed to be authenticate in this brief, “INVALID” was on one of the next pages in this packet.

Next in the packet:  a letter from A. Fergusson, Carthage, TN, in March 1837 to J.L. Edward Esqr, that “more than one payment is due to John Knight as a pensioner…and the papers and proof have to be returned to Washington to be submitted to your examination..”

The final letter in this packet was written 4 July 1838 and reads as follows:  Dear Sir, Mr. John Knight a pensioner living in this county has frequently told me of the injustice that was done him in making out his declaration.  He thinks that he stated only six months as the amount of his service being told at the time that six months would get him the same pension that twelve months would.   Under this mistake he considers himself injured in this that he served in all more than fifteen months and was misinformed about the necessaty of stating the particulars of each tour of service.  He states the following tours of service:  1st a tour of six months under Captain Richard Taylor and Pleasant Henderson and William Gill Lieutenant Wm Knight Ensign Barnet Pulliam; 2nd tour was under Captain John Hendersonof Colonel Malmodey’s Regiment.  This tour he served three months.  This was duirng the spring when the battle of Guilford was fought.  3rd tour of  three months at Georgetown in South Carolina shortly after Genl Marrion had made an impression (?) on that place. 4th tour was under General Marrion near Mouhs(?) corner and at Man…(?) plantations of three months.  5th tour of two months at the same place last mentioned.  during this time the British evacuated Charlestown. 

You will be pleased to refer to his papers and see which of his before mentioned tours was admitted and on which he received his pension of $26.00 his present pension and ….(?) that he did not mention so that he can prove up the ballance of the tours of service due him and thereby get his full …pension he is entitled to and suggest the plan he is to pursue in order to get full arrears as may be due him.  With great respect I am yours, etc., A. Fergusson.  At the bottom of the page was James L. Edwards, Esqr Commissioner of Pensions Washington City. 

This ends the papers of the declaration of John Knight, who WAS awarded a pension for his service in the American Revolutionary War.




Private John Knight, Revolutionary War Soldier of North Carolina

by deb - January 16th, 2013

John Knight of Smith County, Tennessee is my great-great-great-great-great grandfather on my grandmother’s side:  Ivorene West, daugther of Leatha Florence Sutton, daugther of Martha Eveline Russell, daugther of Eliza Knight, daughter of Henry M. Knight, who was son of John Knight.   John Knight was married to Martha Montague.  

The soldier’s application, S1992, John Knight, NC had this information:  John Knight of Smith Co Tennessee who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Taylor of the Regiment commanded by Col Lock in the N.C. line for 8 months.   Inscribed on the Roll of West Tennessee at the rate of 26 dollars 66 cents per annum, to commence on the 4th day of March, 1831.   Certificate of pension issued the 20 day of April 1833.  Arrears to the 4th of March 1833 of $53.32 plus semi-anl allowance ending 4 Sept $13.33= $66.65.

State of Tennessee Smith County Court August Term 1832

On this 28 day of August 1832, personally appeared in open court before justices of said court now sitting, John Knight, a resident of said county of Smith and state aforesaid aged seventy-two years, who being first duly sworn  according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States as a volunteer in the year 1778; that he was then a citizen of Granville County and state of North Carolina; that he was first attached to Captain Richard Taylor’s Company and afterwards to Capt William Gills company; the field officers of the Regiment was Col Mathew Lock, Majr Hugh Brevard and Majr McCallor McCawly; the company rendavoused at Granville court house and marched from thence through person and caswell counties; applicant served five months on this tour; never received a written discharge that he now recollects of, if he did it is either lost or mislaid so that is cannot now be found; applicant served in this tour in the same regiment with Phillip Day and William Jones, both of whom are now living and are residents of Smith County, and no doubt will testify to my service as above stated.

Applicant also served a tour of three months as a volunteer shortly after the one of five months as above stated; that he resided in Granville County North Carolina at the time of entering the service on that tour also; that he was attached to Captain John Hendersons company, and belonged to the Regiment commanded as well as now recollects  by Col Malmudy; that he was in no engagement during this service, and was not out of the State of North Carolina during this tour as well as he now recollects; has no recollection of having received any written discharge, if he did it is either lost or mislaid–has no written evidence whatever of services during the revolutionary war, nor does he know of any person now living by whom he can prove his service of three months as above stated.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Sworn to an subscribed the day and year aforesaid         John Knight

We Miles West, a clergyman residing in the county of Smith and state of Tennessee and Philip Day residing in the county and state aforesaid do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with John Knight who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration; that we believe him to be seventy-two years of age; that he is reputed and believed in the neighbourhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we concur in that opinion.  Sworn, and subscribed, the day and year aforesaid.  Miles West Phillip Day

And the said court do hereby declare their opinion after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the interrogatories prescribed by the war Department, that the above named applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states.  And the court further certifies that it appears to them that Miles West who has signed the preceeding certificate, is a clergaman, resident in the county of Smith, and that Phillip Day who has also signed the same is also a resident of the same county, and is a credable person, and that their statements is entitled to credit.     John Chamber  Chairman of Smith County C..?

Miles West, clergyman of Smith County, was another gr-gr-gr-gr-gr grandfather of mine, again on my grandmother Ivorene Cleveland West’s side–Ivorene was daughter of Irl Cleveland West, who was son of Ira Stokes West, who was son of Claiborne Wright West, who was son of Jesse West, who was son of Miles West and Lucy Parker.

Though his application was eventually approved, this first set of papers and witnesses was not sufficient.    



Jemima Williams, widow of Tobias Williams, Private of NC, Revolutionary War

by deb - October 15th, 2012

Jemima Williams, my 5th great grandmother, was the widow of Revolutionary War Soldier, Tobias Williams of NC and Smith County, TN.  Tobias Williams was granted a pension in 1833, and died in April 1834.    Following is the penison application of widow, Jemima Williams…

Smith Co. TN:  On this 21st day of November in the year 1837 personally appeared before me Daniel Smith one of the acting Justices of the Peace in and for the county and state aforesaid, Jemima Williams, a resident of Smith Co and state aforesaid aged eighty three years of age who being first duly sworn according to law doth on her oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Provision made by the act of Congress passed July the 4, 1836: 

That she is the widow of Tobias Williams who was a pensioner of the United States and drew his pension in Nashville, State of Tennessee, for services rendered during the War of the Revolution.

She further declares that she was married to the said Tobias Williams on the 1st day of April one thousand seven hundred and seventy five:  and that her husband the aforesaid Tobias Williams died on the 15th day of April 1834 and that she the said Jemima Williams has remained a widow ever since that period… Sworn to and subscribed before me, David Smith….

                                                                                           Jemima X (her mark)Williams

Daniel Smith gave his own statement that same day, that “I am well acquainted with Jemima Williams, widow of Tobias Williams a pensioner, deceased.   That she is a woman of respectability and truth…and credit (is) due…and ought to be given to her statement.   I further certify that from old age and bodily infirmiy she cannot travel to the court house to make this declaration in open court”.

On 1st day of October 1838, Daniel Smith, certified that, “the small slip of paper hereto annexed as bearing the date of the birth of William Williams was taken from the family bible in the possession of Mrs. Jemima Williams…She made the foregoing declaration and that she stated him to be her first born child”. 

The next paper in the file, giving a summary of the facts of the military history of Tobias Williams, stated in a remarks section that soldier married April 1775 Jemima.  She was allowed pension on a application…21 Nov 1837, while a resident of Smith Co, Tenn, aged 83 years.  William Williams b. Oct 19, 1775  was her first born child.

State of Tennessee Haywood County…22nd day of September 1838, appeared Herrod(?) Haralson…and made oath in due form that during the Revolutionary War and particularly from about the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six or 1777 up to the year 1800 or thereabouts, making twenty odd years, he was personally acquainted with Tobias Williams and Jemima his wife then of Caswell County North Carolina   that they were during that period living a near neighbor and that they were reputed as lawful man and wife and he never heard it suggested to the contrary and further, that they were of honest and respectable character.

2nd October 1838, a letter from Carthage, TN by a Mr. A, Fergusson to the Commissioner of Pensions, James L.Edwards, Esqr., stating that he had “sent to three counties in North Carolina and Viginia but no record as yet has been discovered  indeed I presume there is none so early a period as 1775  there are few records of the kind in existence.  I had taken the record of the oldest child from the bible at the time the magistrate attended at her house to qualify her…I have also after long enquiry and search found out Mr. Herndon Haralson in the western division of this state…and I am informed a minister of the gospel.   This is the best proof I have been enable to procure as yet in her behalf.  I have no doubt myself as to the Justice of the claim and believe to a certainty that the claim is genuine.  It would be a very pleasing…to the old lady to receive her pension.  I hope you will feel fully authorized to allow it.”

Her application was “admitted” and certificate of pension was issued the 22nd day of April 1839 and sent to A. Fergusson, Carthage, TN.

One last item of interest in this pension file was a letter from 30 Oct 1912 from a Mr. R.R. Williams, who requested the claim papers and abstract of service of Tobias Williams, a soldier in the War of the Revolution.   The letterhead was United States Trust Company, Louisville, KY.  In a handwritten “P.S”, Mr. Williams said: “I wish to qualify for membership in Sons of American Revolution”.




Revolutionary War Soldier Private Tobias Williams of Caswell County NC and Smith Co TN

by deb - October 12th, 2012

Tobias Williams of Smith County, TN was my great, great, great, great, great (5) grandfather, who served 6 months as a Private in the Revolutionary War.

I am descended from Tobias through my grandmother, Ivorene Cleveland West, daughter of Irl Cleveland West, son of Ira Stokes West, son of Claiborne Wright West and Frances Williams, daughter of James Clarde Williams, son of Tobias Williams and Jemima Claridy.

I found this information on fold3, which has military pensions, service records, etc.     Tobias Williams’ packet included both his pension application and the widow’s pension application of his wife ,Jemima, W6516.

Smith County TN 25 August 1832, personally appeared before me, David Hog, an acting Justice of the peace for the state and county …Tobias Williams, a resident of Defeated Creek in the aforesaid state and county; aged 86 years next October, who being first duly sworn according to law doth in his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States by draft in the militia of North Carolina October 1778 under the folowing named officers–my Capt, William White, Lieut Lawson, Ensign Wm Hanie.  Rendevouzed at Hills Borough in the state of North Carolina, marched from thence to Charles Town South Carolina, from thence to Puris Burge, from thence to the two Sisters on Savana River from thence to Brier Creek near Ash’s defeat and then marched back into the state of Northa Carolina to Hills Borough and there mustered out of service in the month of May 1779.  I was in no battle or engagement during the time.

Where and in what year were you born?  I was born in the state of Virginia Chesterfield County 1746.

Have you any record of your age?  No, not by me, my register was kept by my parents and I only have it from the information that they gave me.

Where were you living when called into service?  In the state of North Carolina, Casswell County.

Where have you been a living since the Revolutionary War and where do you now live?   I continued to live in Caswell County, North Carolina for some few years after the war then emigrated into Person County, the same state.  From thence I emigrated into the state of Tennessee and now I am a living in the same in Smith County on the defeated Creek.

How were you called into service?  By draft into the militia.

Who were your principal officers in the field?  General Butler, Col James Sanders

Did you ever receive a discharge from the service?  Yes, a verbal discharge, was the order of my discharge.

Have you any documentary evidence of your services?  No, only by my recollection.

Do you know of any person whose testimony you can procure to make proof  of this(?) ?  I believe I can  There is one a living in this county on the waters of Dixons Creek by the name of Philip Day.

How long were you in actual service?  I was in actual service six months and some few days.

Do you believe yourself able to attend court to make your declaration before the court?  I do not.

And I do here by relinquish every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declare that my name is not on the pension roll of any state.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid

                                                                                   Tobias X (his mark) Williams


David Hogg

On the 28th day of August 1832, Phillip Day of Smith County, TN, gave his statement that he was acquainted with the said Tobias Williams and that the said Williams was on a tour of five months under the above named officers.

There was also a statement by another 5th great grandfather of mine, Miles West.  Miles West, a clergyman residing in the state of Tennessee and County of Smith and Elam Russell (I had a 4th great grandfather by this name) residing in the same hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Tobias Williams…that we believe him to be Eighty six years of age that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood to have been a Soldier of the Revolution and that he is not able to attend court on account of his age and bodily infirmity and that we concur in that opinion.   This was signed by both Miles West and Elam Russell. 

David Hogg, Justice of the Peace, then declared that both Miles West and Elam Russell were credible witnesses and he concurred with their statments as to the age,  Revolutionary War service and bodily infirmity of Tobias Williams.

Tobias Williams was granted a pension at the rate of $20 per annum.  His certificate of pension was issued 9 January 1833.  Tobias Williams died  17 April 1834.