In my previous posting with this title, I told you I’d continue the story I began with it, which is about how, when I obtained a copy of the 1837 deed in which Daniel Cherry, a brother of my 3-great-grandmother Talitha Cherry Monk (1790-1860), loaned a piece of land to Talitha and her husband Strachan Monk (1787-abt. 1858), I then did a search of 19th-century land records in Hardin County, Tennessee. As I noted in my last posting, what I found when I did that search has provided me with illuminating information about an eastern North Carolina kinship network that settled on the Tennessee River in southwest Hardin County, Tennessee, soon after 1820.
To help make sense of these claims, I need to provide you with some context. Sometime between 1810, when they’re enumerated in Martin County, North Carolina, on the federal census, and 1820, when their family appears on the federal census in Davidson County, Tennessee, Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk moved their family from North Carolina to Tennessee. It’s clear from many records that the Monk family made this move to join Talitha’s brothers Eli (1774-1842), Isham (1775-1834), Wiley (1777-1806), and Daniel Cherry (1782-1843), who had come to Tennessee in the first decade of the 1800s.
As my last posting notes, though the father of these Cherry siblings, Jesse Cherry, died testate in Martin County in February 1808, his will is now lost and identifying all of his children has proven challenging. There’s a Jesse Cherry in early Hardin County records who appears to have been born about 1770 and is probably a sibling of the Cherrys named above, but this Jesse has not been easy for researchers to track, nor has his connection to these other Cherrys been absolutely proven.
Eli and Isham both moved on from Middle Tennessee to Hardin County in West Tennessee around or soon after 1820, as the Monk family did. Davidson County records suggest that Eli initially settled in that county after leaving North Carolina, as his sister Talitha and her husband Strachan Monk also did. Isham settled in Rutherford County, and Wiley and Daniel in Wilson County, both contiguous to Davidson. As my last posting stated, all of Jesse Cherry’s known sons, including two who remained in Martin County, Lawrence (1786-1846) and Darling (1787-1860), acquired land in Hardin County, though only Eli and Isham settled there with their sisters Talitha Monk and Lovey Byrd. Daniel settled finally in Haywood County northwest of Hardin.
Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk were in Tennessee by 1812, when their daughter Minerva (1812-1860) was born; both the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses place Minerva’s birth in Tennessee. By 1822, the Monk family had moved from Davidson to Hardin County, where Strachan Monk begins appearing in county court minutes by 8 January 1822.
Though there’s abundant evidence that Strachan Monk was in Martin County, North Carolina, prior to his removal to Tennessee between 1810-1820, and that he and his family came to Hardin County with his wife’s Cherry relatives, P.M. Harbert’s account of the early history of the county states the following about what the first white settlers of the county discovered when they arrived there in 1816:
The completely unfounded myth of Strachan Monk’s native American ancestry evidently appeals to Hardin County historians, and has proven difficult to combat with the profuse factual evidence which demonstrates that he was the son of Nottingham Monk (1755-1818) and Rachel Strachan (1755-1816) of Bertie County, North Carolina, both of whose family lines can confidently be traced back to immigrant ancestors to Virginia from England (on the Nottingham and Monk sides) and to North Carolina from Scotland (on the Strachan side). After I had shared information about Strachan Monk’s ancestry with family historians in Hardin County in the 1980s, a leading local historian published information about him in 1987 claiming that “strictly speaking Monk was not a white settler. But, he was also not an Indian native to the Hardin County area.”
Having learned that Strachan Monk was not in Hardin County in 1816 when the first white settlers arrived there — and that he was of English and Scottish descent and came there with a group of early settlers all with roots in Martin County, North Carolina, and all descended from early English settlers of southeastern Virginia — this local historian simply revised the myth Harbert had reported in 1947 and turned Strachan Monk into a North Carolina Indian who had come along to Hardin County with the early white settlers of the area!
It seems clear that the myth of the “rather prosperous tribe of Indians” the early white settlers found in the vicinity of Pickwick in 1816, whose chief was named Strawhorn Monk, is based entirely on the phonetic spelling of Strachan Monk’s surname as Strawhorn, which suggested native American ancestry to Harbert and subsequent local historians. Other spellings found in various records documenting his life are Strahan and Strahon. All are phonetic spellings of the pronunciation of the Scottish surname Strachan common in English-speaking areas of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Scotland today (though not in the earlier period I’m discussing here), the name is usually pronounced “Stracken.” In the past, the more common pronunciation was “Strahon,” or “Strawn.”
Note the spelling of the name used in this announcement that appeared repeatedly in the Raleigh Register (Raleigh, North Carolina) from May through July 1825, when litigation ensued in Bertie County, North Carolina, as the estate of Strachan Monk’s father Nottingham Monk was being settled there following Nottingham’s death in February 1818:
For the same reason that Harbert concluded that Strawhorn Monk was chief of a prosperous tribe of Indians, family historians have concluded that families such as the Rainwater family of Virginia and the Carolinas or the Whitehorns of Virginia and North Carolina were native American families — when tons of information exist to demonstrate that both families have roots in the British Isles (though there may well be native American families using the same surname in other parts of the country). It goes without saying that I am telling you all of this not because I would be in the least reluctant to discover that I have native American ancestry or any kind of ancestry at all: I don’t want to invent facts and mythical lineages for my family, however.
Back to the context I want to provide for you before I zero in on the piece of land Daniel Cherry loaned to his brother-in-law Strachan Monk and his sister Talitha Cherry Monk in Hardin County in 1837, and the kinship network on which land records of this vicinity cast interesting light: in roughly the same period in which Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk moved their family from eastern North Carolina to Middle Tennessee, another family that would connect to the Monks in Hardin County made a similar move. This was the family of Wilson Richard Batchelor (1775-1858) and his wife Alcie Odom (1790-1848).
As with the Monks, the Batchelors moved from eastern North Carolina to West Tennessee in stages, with a stop in Middle Tennessee. Wilson and Alcie Odom Batchelor are in Nash County, North Carolina, records up to December 1815, when Wilson bought items at the estate sale of his brother Barnaby in that county on 2 December. The couple appear to have been making arrangements to relocate by this time, since Nash County court minutes for 16 August 1815 state that Wilson Batchelor had been replaced by Wilson Collins as an overseer for a stretch of the road in the county by that date (Nash County Order Bk. 1811-1815, p. 493).
By 1820, the family had moved to Maury County, Tennessee, where Wilson Batchelor appears on the federal census in that year. The 1850 and 1860 federal census reports the birthplace of Wilson and Alcie Odom Batchelor’s daughter Hannah Delaney Batchelor, who was born in 1819, as Tennessee, so the family made the move from North Carolina to Tennessee between the winter of 1815 and 1819.
By 1830, the Batchelor family is found in West Tennessee in McNairy County immediately west of Hardin County. McNairy lost most of its early records in a courthouse fire in 1881, and Hardin also lost many of its earliest records in several 19th-century courthouse fires, so that tracking families that settled in either county in the first half of the 19th century can be a challenge. The Batchelors appear to have settled for good in the vicinity of the Monk and Byrd families in Hardin County not long after 1830, and about 1838, Wilson and Alcie Odom Batchelor’s son Moses (1808-1883) married Minerva Monk, daughter of Strachan Monk and Talitha Cherry. That marriage was followed by the marriage of their daughter Hannah Delaney Batchelor to Lawrence Cherry Byrd (1822-1864), son of William Edward Byrd (1790-1835) and Lovey Cherry (1784-1877) on 30 August 1842.
Then, finally, on 3 December 1847, Moses and Delaney’s brother Wilson Richard Bachelor (1827-1903) (he used the Bachelor spelling of his surname) married Sarah Tankersley (1830-1904), a daughter of Rowland Tankersley and Jane Williams, in Hardin County. Jane was the daughter of Samuel Williams. Until recently, Samuel was a blank to me, except for the excellent research of Kay Black, a descendant of Wilson Bachelor and Sarah Tankersley, who had used Hardin County will and court records to construct a good picture of Samuel’s family.
When I knew that I’d be working in Hardin County land records in the past several weeks, I told Kay I’d try to extend her research about Samuel Williams and his family. What I found when I did that was very interesting: as I worked on “my” families, the Cherrys, Monks, and Batchelors, with the allied Byrd family, I kept repeatedly bumping into Samuel Williams and his family. I discovered, in fact, that Samuel lived right beside the Cherrys, Byrds, and Monks.
I’m now fairly certain that Samuel Williams is part of the same Martin County, North Carolina, kinship network into which Wilson and Alcie Odom Batchelor’s son Moses and daughter Delaney married. Given what I find in Hardin County land records, I now think, in other words, that all three of the children of Wilson and Alcie Batchelor who married (a daughter Sarah never married, and a son William Skidmore Batchelor, who became a Mormon in a mission in West Tennessee in the late 1830s and went to Nauvoo, married a Mormon wife there) married into the very same Hardin County, Tennessee, kinship network with roots in Martin County, North Carolina, which had, even before these families all moved to Tennessee, tied the Cherry and Batchelor families together through their shared kinship with the Biggs family of Martin County.
Note Daniel Cherry’s 24 July 1823 survey for the 274 acres, half of which he would loan to Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk in 1837, at the head of this posting (Hardin County, Tennessee, Entry Bk. 1, Feb. 1820-June 1835, pp. 191-2). Note that the chain carriers for this survey were Strawhorn Monk and Jesse Biggs. I’ll explain in my next posting why that tidbit of information is highly significant, and what it suggests about Samuel Williams’ connection to the Cherry-Monk-Byrd kinship network of Martin County, North Carolina.
This is the second in a series of postings on this topic. The previous posting in this series is here.
1810 federal census, Martin Co., North Carolina, p. 452; Strachan Monk’s name is given as Strawhorn Monk.
1820 federal census, Davidson Co., Tennessee, p. 59; Strachan Monk’s name is given as Strahan Mink.
P.M. Harbert, “Early History of Hardin County, Tennessee,” West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 1 (1947), p. 40.
Tony Hays, “Who Were the First Settlers?” The Courier (Savannah, TN), 19 March 1987. See also Tony Hays, From Forest to Farm: Hardin County History to 1860 (Chattanooga: Kitchen Table Press, 1986), pp. 75-8.
On the solid evidence of Strachan Monk’s real ancestry, see my article “Will the Real Strawhorn Monk Please Stand Up?” Hardin County Historical Quarterly 8,4 (Oct.-Dec. 1991), pp. 3-18.
A record of the estate sale is in the loose-papers probate file of Barnaby Batchelor of Nash County held by the North Carolina Archives.
1820 federal census, Maury Co., Tennessee, p. 55.
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