“In Consideration of the Love and Good Will I Have and Do Bear Towards My Sister Telitha Monk”: Daniel Cherry, Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk, and What Land Records Can Teach Us (1)

Cherry, Daniel, 25 Sept 1837, Hardin TN DB H, 13
Hardin County, Tennessee, DB H, pp. 13-14.

Cherry, Daniel, 25 Sept 1837, Hardin TN DB H, 14 (2)

This is a story about a bit of genealogical housekeeping, and how tidying up your notes and filling in gaps as you do that can lead to unexpected genealogical discoveries, as one new piece of information attaches to another new piece of information, providing you a richer snapshot of a family than you had before you did your housekeeping. It’s a story that begins with the simple task of my obtaining a copy of a deed — of the original deed — and reading it, which then led to an investigation of the history of a tract of land, which, in turn, provided illuminating information about an eastern North Carolina kinship network living on the banks of the Tennessee River in Hardin County, Tennessee, from the 1820s forward.

I have known for years that a brother of one of my direct ancestors — this was Daniel Cherry (1782-1843; his sister Talitha Cherry Monk (1790-1860) is my 3-great-grandmother — deeded her and her husband Strachan Monk (1787-abt. 1858) land in Hardin County in September 1837. A descendant of Talitha’s sister Lovey Cherry Byrd (1784-1877), whom I visited in LaGrange, Tennessee, around the beginning of January in 1982 to talk family history, sent me a summary of this deed after that visit. What he sent was a brief statement about the fact that the deed shows Daniel giving his sister Talitha and her husband Strachan Monk 137 acres on 25 September 1837, with Daniel noting that he was deeding the land to Talitha for love and affection. This information came to me with a note that the land was near the present-day community of Counce in southwest Hardin County. (In a subsequent posting, I’ll show you where this land is today — in Pickwick Landing State Park, or more likely under the lake that has been formed at that site by damming the Tennessee River.)

This deed is important, genealogically speaking, since it establishes the relationship between Daniel and Talitha Cherry as siblings. Daniel, as it happens, left a bible record stating that he was the son of Jesse and Elizabeth Cherry.[1] Jesse Cherry (1749-February 1808), who represented Martin County, North Carolina, in that state’s House of Commons in 1790-2, 1795, 1801,[2] died testate in February 1808, but his will has not survived — and putting together a list of his children by wife Elizabeth Gainer (1751-1836) has involved considerable sleuthing to turn up documents such as the 1837 Hardin County deed from Daniel Cherry, a known and proven son of Jesse, to Talitha Monk naming her as his sister.

A notice about Jesse Cherry’s will, dated 27 May 1808, appeared in the Raleigh Register on 2 June 1808, indicating that the will had named Daniel and Darling Cherry (1787-1860) as executors. These are sons of Jesse. Darling and another son Lawrence Cherry (1786-1846) followed in their father’s footsteps as members of the North Carolina House from Martin County.

Cherry, Jesse, Notice of Will and Executors, Raleigh Register, 2 June 1808, p. 3, col. 2
Raleigh Register (North Carolina), 2 June 1808, p. 3, col. 2.

There is also an extensive loose-papers estate file held by the North Carolina Archives, labeled as the joint estate of Jesse Cherry and his son Wiley/Wilie Cherry (1777-1806) of Edgecombe County. The Edgecombe label reflects litigation about these estates that ensued in that county following the deaths of Jesse and his son Wiley. Among the many documents this file contains is a 9 May 1821 deposition given by Daniel Cherry at the house of Elijah Truett in Wilson County, Tennessee, that also establishes him as the son of Jesse Cherry of Martin County, North Carolina, and gives a fascinating, detailed account of his to-and-fro movements between North Carolina and Tennessee in the early 1800s.[3], Here’s the first page of that deposition, with the final page and Daniel’s signature following:

Cherry, Jesse and Wilie Estate, Edgecombe Co., NC (9)

Cherry, Jesse and Wilie Estate, Edgecombe Co., NC (12) copy

In his deposition, Daniel states that he was born in Martin County, and he and brother Darling were in Tennessee in 1805. He then returned to Martin County to visit his father Jesse Cherry, staying with his parents until March 1806, when word reached them that their son Wiley had died in Wilson County, Tennessee, leaving his brother Daniel as his executor. The deposition (and other documents in the file) note that, as he was coming and going from Tennessee to North Carolina and back, Daniel was bringing horses to sell in North Carolina. He drove some of these across the entire length of the state to Martin County, which is in extreme eastern North Carolina.

When he learned of his brother Wiley’s death, Daniel returned to Tennessee, boarding with a relative, James Cherry, in Wilson County, and in the fall of 1806, he went back to see his father Jesse Cherry in Martin County, taking Noah Lilley with him. He and his brother Darling then went back to Tennessee in 1807, and in February 1808, their father died, leaving them as executors of his estate. As the estate was being settled, Darling remained in Williamston for that purpose, and Daniel returned to Tennessee, boarding with his brother Eli in Wilson County.

It’s not hard to establish that Daniel Cherry was a son of Jesse Cherry and Elizabeth Gainer of Martin County, North Carolina, then. Without Daniel’s 1837 deed to his sister, it would have been very difficult to ascertain that Talitha, wife of Strachan Monk, was another of Jesse and Elizabeth Cherry’s children, however. That much I knew before I recently noticed that I had never read the original 1837 deed, and needed to obtain a copy of it.

When I did so several days ago, here’s what I found: Daniel Cherry didn’t actually give 137 acres of land to his sister Talitha and her husband Strachan Monk: he loaned them this land, with strict provisions written into the deed forbidding them to sell it. At their deaths, the land was to go to their children and heirs, who were also forbidden to alienate the land. At the head of this posting is a snapshot of the document from Hardin County, Tennessee, Deed Book H, pp. 13-14, with my transcript following:

I Daniel Cherry of the State of Tennessee and County of Haywood for and in Consideration of the love and good will I have and do bear towards my sister Telitha Monk of Said State & County of Hardin I do lend unto her during her Natural life & during the lift time of Strahorn Monk, the half of my tract of Land of 274 acres No. Grant 21280 and dated 28th Jany 1824 the east half adjoining of Lawrence Cherrys tract No Entry 245 which is one hundred and thirty seven acres and after the death of the Said Strahorn Monk & Telitha Monk, I give said land unto their Children & their heirs forever & it is distinctly understood that Said Land is not to be sold or Conveyed by them or others of them during their Natural lifes that is their life times in said land nor is it to be sold by any officer whatsoever for any debt they May Contract

Danl. Cherry (seal)

Signed & sealed in the presence of us

Norman T. Cherry
Isaac M. Johnson

On the back of said Deed is the following certificate

I wish said Land to be solely for the use of them and their Children to be raised & Supported on it [water damage makes the bottom right-hand corner of the page illegible here; ellipses indicate sections that are not legible] . . . 274 acres is as follows in Hardin County in the 7th District . . . 1st Fractional Section Beginning on the bank of the Tennessee River a sugar tree the next . . . at corner of Lawrence Cherrys Tract No Entry 245 runs thence down the river with its meander South 80 west forty poles forty poles south 70 west forty poles south 40 west sixty poles to the mouth of Sulphur Creek south sixty five degrees west forty poles to an Elm thence south forty five poles to Said Creek in all two hundred and thirty two poles to a white Oak thence east one hundred & sixty five poles to two black Oaks thence north three hundred poles to the beginnings I do lend the east half which is the upper half of said 274 acres of Said 274 acres tract in Witness Whereof, I do hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this 25th September AD 1837

Danl. Cherry (seal)

Signed & sealed in the presence of us

Norman T. Cherry
Isaac M. Johnson

On the back of said Deed is the following certificate

State of Tennessee, Personally appeared before me Littleton Joyner, Haywood County’s Clerk of the County Court of said County Daniel Cherry the bargainer, with whom I am personally acquainted and who acknowledged that he enacted the within Deed for the purposes therein Contained witness my hand at office this 2nd day of October 1838.

One wonders what all these provisions were about, particularly when Daniel Cherry was willing to sell the other half of this 274-acre tract in December 1837 to his nephew Thomas William Byrd, son of William Edward Byrd and Lovey Cherry: the deed for that sale is recorded twice in Hardin County Deed Book G (pp. 371 and 451), with the deed noting that the sale took place in December 1837 and that the 137 acres sold to Thomas W. Byrd for $305 were half of a 274-acre tract, the other half of which had been loaned by Daniel to his sister Talitha and Strachan Monk.

Cherry, Daniel to Thomas W. Byrd, Dec 1837, Hardin DB G p451
Hardin County, Tennessee, DB G, p. 451.

It’s not really as if Daniel Cherry needed those 137 acres he had loaned to his sister Talitha and her husband. Daniel was an exceptionally wealthy man with landholdings across Tennessee and in contiguous states. Already by September 1821, in the Edgecombe County, North Carolina, lawsuit involving the combined estates of Jesse and Wiley Cherry, Luke Ross of Martin County deposed that Daniel Cherry owned (at the age of 39) some 10,000 acres in Tennessee. The first several land entry books for Hardin County alone contain so many entries for Daniel and his brothers Isham, Eli, Darling, and Lawrence Cherry that it would take many days to read through them all. Byron Sistler’s Tennessee Land Grants, Surnames C-CZ (Nashville, 1997), shows several pages of Cherry land grants in Tennessee, almost all for the sons of Jesse Cherry.

As Mattie Logsdon notes in her book Climbing the Cherry Tree (Ada, Oklahoma, 1977), Jesse Cherry’s sons were extensively involved in land speculation in Tennessee in the first decades of the 19th century. Logsdon indicates that family stories report that the two sons of Jesse Cherry who remained in Martin County, North Carolina, and did not permanently relocate  when their brothers went to Tennessee in the early 1800s — these were Darling and Lawrence — actively solicited information about men in North Carolina eager to sell their Revolutionary warrants for land in Tennessee.

Darling and Lawrence sent that information to their brothers in Tennessee, who then got a jump-start on buying the military warrants and obtaining the tracts of land those warrants had awarded for Revolutionary service. In this way, all the brothers, Darling and Lawrence included — but especially Daniel — gained large landholdings in Tennessee in the early 1800s. As I’ll show you in a subsequent posting, the 274-acre Hardin County tract, half of which Daniel loaned to his sister Talitha and her husband Strachan Monk, came to him from a military warrant issued in North Carolina to James Reynolds.

By the time Daniel died at Cherryville in Haywood County, Tennessee (this is now Bells in Crockett County), on 3 November 1843, he had amassed so much land that his heirs “forgot” — or so it would later be claimed — that he owned valuable acreage in St. Louis. In 1907, a series of articles similar to the one below, from the Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock), 15 July 1907, appeared in newspapers in various places, announcing that Daniel Cherry’s heirs had “remembered” that he died possessed of valuable acreage in what was now downtown St. Louis, and they had filed suit to claim this property.

Cherry, Daniel, AR Democrat, 15 July 1907
Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock), 15 July 1907, p. 5.

My point in mentioning Daniel Cherry’s vast landholdings in Tennessee and other places is simply to underscore that he surely did not need to cling to those 137 acres he loaned to his sister and her husband in Hardin County, Tennessee, tying the land up in legal restrictions during their lifetime and the lifetime of their children and children’s children. I do wonder why he considered it important to make that arrangement. And in my next postings about this, I’ll fill you in regarding the interesting information I’ve learned as I’ve researched the history of that piece of land in Hardin County land entry books and deed books.

[1]The bible was published in Philadelphia by M. Carey in 1817. In 1972, it was owned by Douglas S. Anderson of Brownsville, Tennessee. A transcript of the bible register was submitted to the Mississippi Genealogical Society by Mary E. Thomas (212 Fulgham Ave., Crystal Springs, Mississippi) and published in 1972 in volume 14 of a series that society published under the title Mississippi Cemetery and Bible Records (pp. 47-9). I also have a photocopy of the original, including the title page and the register.

The bible has a note on its frontispiece saying that Daniel Cherry bought it for $18 at Nashville on 19 July 1821. The first set of entries in the bible register, which record the birth of Daniel Cherry, son of Jesse and Elizabeth Cherry, on 20 October 1782, and of his wife Sarah Turner, daughter of Frederick and Mary Turner, on 22 September 1787, are all written in Daniel’s hand. The bible register also states that Daniel and wife Sarah were baptized by Elijah Maddox on 5 September 1821 in the Cumberland River near Benders Ferry. The same hand has recorded the birthdates of several of Daniel and Sarah’s children; the dates of birth of some of the children have been written in by another hand.

[2]See, inter alia, W.H. Howerton, comp., The Legislative Manual and Political Register of the State of North Carolina (Raleigh: Josiah Turner, 1874), p. 278; and Francis M. Manning and W.H. Booker, Martin County History, vol. 1 (Williamston, NC: Enterprise, 1977), p. 233.

[3]On this document, see David B. Gammon, Records of Estates, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, 1761-1785, vol. 1 (Raleigh, 1989), pp. 19-20. The original file of documents can be read and downloaded at the collection “North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979” at the FamilySearch site.

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