I began this series of postings about the 137-acre tract on the Tennessee River in Hardin County, Tennessee, that Daniel Cherry (1782-1843) loaned to his sister Talitha (1790-1860) and her husband Strachan Monk (1787-1858) in 1837 by telling you of my surprise when I read the original deed for this gift of land. Before reading the deed, I had understood that this land was an outright gift to Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk.
But when I obtained a copy of the original deed, I found that Daniel had not given this land to his sister and brother-in-law: he loaned it to them during their lifetime, with the stipulation that they could not sell it. It was to be bequeathed to their children and heirs, who were also forbidden to sell the land. When that document piqued my curiosity and I began to investigate the history of this piece of land, I discovered a fascinating set of records that helped me see the outlines of an eastern North Carolina kinship network living along the Tennessee River in southwest Hardin County in the first half of the 19th century: the land records showed me who lived adjacent to whom, illuminating connections I might not have seen without doing this search of land records.
As my last posting also told you, I was especially interested to discover the role that a man named Samuel Williams (1760/1770-1840) played in this kinship network. I had known little about him before I did my search of land records, except that his daughter Jane married Rowland Tankersley, and that couple had a daughter Sarah (1830-1904) who married Wilson Richard Bachelor (1827-1903), son of Wilson Richard Batchelor (1775-1858) and Alcie Odom (1790-1848) of Hardin County. I knew from the outstanding research of Kay Black, a descendant of Wilson and Sarah Tankersley Bachelor, that Samuel was born between 1760 and 1770, and made a will in Hardin County on 7 January 1840 naming his wife Nancy, son Lewis, and daughters Nancy Wood, Mary Wood, Jane Tankersley, and Elizabeth Pyburn (who was deceased by this date). The will names Charles Wood and Lewis Williams as executors, and was witnessed by Elisha Pack and William Pyburn (Hardin WB B, p. 194).
Charles and Lewis presented the will for probate at February court 1840 (Hardin Court Minutes Book C, p. 309). Kay’s research had established that Elizabeth Williams married William Pyburn, Nancy Williams married Charles Wood, and Mary Williams married Daniel Green Wood. What I did not know, however, until I began investigating Hardin County land records to track the history of the land Daniel Cherry loaned to his sister Talitha and brother-in-law Strachan Monk, was that Samuel Williams lived next to the Cherry, Monk, Byrd, and Batchelor families, about whom I already had abundant information. As I began looking carefully at land records of all of these families, it began to seem clear to me that Samuel Willaims very likely arrived in Hardin County with pre-existing ties to the Cherrys, Monks, and Byrds that point to Martin County, North Carolina, as his place of origin.
In my last posting (it’s linked at the start of the third paragraph above), I provided you with a snapshot of the original land entry page for Daniel Cherry’s 24 July 1823 survey for the 274 acres on the Tennessee River, half of which he loaned to Strachan and Talitha Monk (Hardin Entry Bk.1 Feb. 1820-June 1835, pp. 191-2). This document says that the 274 acres were surveyed pursuant to entry 546, dated 4 May 1821, which was founded on military warrant 305 to James Reynolds, who assigned it to Daniel Cherry.
The land description shows that the land was in Tennessee surveyor’s district 7, range 9, section 1, and began on the banks of the Tennessee River at the mouth of Sulphur Creek, bordering Lawrence Cherry’s entry 245 on the south. W.L. Petty was the surveyor of Daniel’s tract, with chain carriers Strawhorn Monk and Jesse Biggs. It’s important to note that, as both Margaret Hoffmann and Helen Leary note in their guides to research in North Carolina’s early records, chain carriers for land surveys in this period were frequently close relatives or associates of the person for whom land is being surveyed — and so their names are genealogically significant. This holds true for research in the early records of North Carolina’s daughter state, Tennessee.
The certificate for this 274-acre tract was issued to Daniel Cherry on 28 January 1824 (Tennessee Land Entry Bk. W, p. 801, #21280). It provides the same land description found in the survey document. I have searched for the original military grant to James Reynolds, but have not located it. Note that the survey document confirms what I reported to you in the first posting in this series — namely, that the sons of Jesse Cherry were speculating in land in Tennessee by buying military warrants from North Carolina men who had been rewarded for their service with Tennessee land. It also confirms that Daniel’s brother Lawrence, who remained in Martin County, North Carolina, and followed his father as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, was speculating in land in Tennessee (as was his brother Darling, who also represented Martin County in the North Carolina House) while living in North Carolina.
It’s certainly important to note that one of the chain carriers for this July 1823 survey for Daniel Cherry was his brother-in-law Strachan (“Strawhorn”) Monk, to whom he’d loan half of the land. The other chain carrier, Jesse Biggs (1801-1878), was the son of William and Milberry Biggs of Martin County, North Carolina. William Biggs (1780-1815) was a first cousin of Martha Biggs (1784-1860) of Martin County, whose first husband was John Williams (abt. 1763-1805). Martha was the daughter of James Biggs (1753-1789) and Jemima Cherry. By her second husband (who was a Biggs cousin of hers), Joshua Worldly Hassell (1786-1824), Martha had a son Cushing Biggs Hassell (1809-1880), whose autobiography up to 1840 is included in a collection of his papers held by the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The collection also contains diaries kept by Cushing Biggs Hassell.
This autobiography, as well as a document in the same collection entitled “Family of John J. Williams of Savannah, Hardin County, Tennessee, Brother of C.B. Hassell of Williamston, North Carolina” composed in 1874 states that, by her husband John Williams, Martha Biggs had a son John Job Williams (1800-1863) who went to Savannah in Hardin County, Tennessee, where he became a well-to-do merchant.
Perhaps you can see why I am drawing your attention to the fact that Jesse Biggs was a chain carrier, along with Strachan Monk, when Daniel Cherry had his 274-acre tract surveyed in Hardin County in July 1823? And that Jesse Biggs had close kinship ties with a Williams family who came to Hardin County along with the Biggs and Cherry families, to which this Williams family was connected by blood and marriage? I strongly suspect that these are clues suggesting to us that the Samuel Williams whose daughter Jane married Rowland Tankersley was related to John Job Williams, and came from the very same Martin County, North Carolina, kinship network from which John Job Williams came.
In Hardin Entry Bk.1, Daniel Cherry’s 1823 entry of 274 acres immediately follows an entry of a survey done on 25 July 1823, the day after Daniel’s land was surveyed, for John Waggoner, in which the surveyor, W.L. Petty, was assisted by the same chain carriers found in Daniel‘s survey — Strachan/Strawhorn Monk and Jesse Biggs. John Job Williams, son of John Williams and Martha Biggs, was thrice married: his first two wives were Susan and Martha Wagoner, daughters of Daniel and Martha Kincannon Wagoner of Hardin County. I am not certain how Daniel and John Wagoner connect, but I would be very surprised if those two Wag(g)oner men are not closely related.
Immediately preceding this entry of land for John Waggoner is an entry for Samuel Williams. The survey for this entry was done on 24 July 1823, the same day Daniel Cherry’s tract was surveyed (Hardin Entry Bk.1 Feb. 1820-June 1835, pp. 190-1). Samuel Williams entered a tract of 274 by virtue of entry 1946, founded on certificate 1319. The land was in surveyor’s district 7, range 14, section 1 on the Tennessee River. The land description states that the 274 acres bordered a tract of 640 acres belonging to Isham Cherry. William Petty was the surveyor, with Strawhorn Monk and Jesse Cherry the chain carriers. This is that younger Jesse Cherry that, as I told you in my preceding posting, may have been another of the sons of Jesse Cherry, Esq. (d. 1808), who came to Hardin County.
The 1823 land entry is not the first that Samuel Williams made in Hardin County. On 7 December 1820, he had had a survey for 52 acres pursuant to warrant 325 issued by the Register of West Tennessee, bordering Isham Cherry’s survey. In this case, the land surveyor was Daniel Cherry, with no chain carriers mentioned (Hardin Entry Bk. 4, Dec. 1820-Dec. 1840, p. 110, entry 19, survey 7790). Hardin County court minutes also show Samuel buying 190 acres from Isham Cherry before 20 June 1825, when this deed was recorded in court (Hardin Court Minutes A, p. 289; the index to Hardin County deeds microfilmed by the LDS library, where I did my recent research in the county’s land records begins with 1835, and I did not locate this deed).
On 9 July 1833, Samuel Williams entered another 110 acres in Hardin County out of a grant for 500 acres pursuant to warrant 1319 (the book is stained across this land entry, and much of the document is not legible). The land is on the Tennessee River range 14. section 1, bordering the northeast corner of a survey of 640 acres for Isham Cherry. Samuel Williams was the surveyor and no chain carriers are given (Hardin Entry Bk. 4, Dec. 1820-Dec. 1840, pp. 107-8, entry 46). These land records suggest to me that Samuel Williams and his family were actually living on some one of these tracts of land on the Tennessee River in southwest Hardin County, adjacent to members of the Cherry, Monk, Byrd, and Batchelor families.
The survey for Isham Cherry referenced in Samuel Williams’ July 1833 land entry was a survey done on 6 December 1820: Isham had 640 acres surveyed, assigned to him by Daniel Cherry, in 7th surveyor’s district, range 14, section 1. The entry was pursuant to military warrant 232 issued by the state of North Carolina at Raleigh on 2 June 1813 and at Nashville on 23 December 1814. The entry states that the land lay along the Tennessee River (Hardin Entry Bk. 4, Dec. 1820-Dec. 1840, p. 8, entry 3). This same entry will be referenced again in an April 1837 land entry by Lovey Cherry Byrd, which I’ll discuss in a moment. As that land entry makes clear, both Samuel Williams and Lovey Cherry Byrd lived adjacent to Isham Cherry’s 640-acre tract in southwest Hardin County on the Tennessee River.
We can also pinpoint where the Byrd family lived in the 1830s through John Richard Byrd’s (1803-1872) 24 April 1837 survey for 119 3/4 acres and 82 poles of land in Hardin County, under the occupant law of 1836. This land was in range 7, section 1, bordering on its west side Lawrence Cherry’s entry 245 with a conditional line drawn between the land of Strawhorn Monk and John R. Byrd. Jesse Cherry was the surveyor for this tract, with David K. Reed and David E. Byrd as chain carriers (Hardin Entry Bk. 2, Feb. 1821-Nov. 1837, pp. 133-4). David Kennedy Reed (1807-1854) was John R. Byrd’s brother-in-law, husband of John’s sister Mary Byrd (1810-1865). David Edward Byrd (1805-1852) was John’s brother, who married their first cousin Nancy Catherine Monk (1809-1850/1860), daughter of Strachan Monk and Talitha Cherry.
On the same day that this piece of land was surveyed — 24 April 1837 — Lovey Cherry entered 10 (or is it 100? — the document is difficult to read) acres under the occupancy act of 1837. The land entry states that the land was in range 7, section 1, bounding the southwest corner of Isham Cherry’s entry 17, running to a provisional line between Lovey Byrd and David K. Reed, to the east boundary line of John R. Byrd, north to Lawrence Cherry’s entry 245, then to the west boundary line of Samuel Williams’ entry, and from there to the northwest corner of Isham Cherry’s entry 3. Jesse Cherry was surveyor, with John R. Byrd and William B. Byrd as chain carriers (Hardin Entry Bk. 6 Feb 1837-Feb. 1883, p. 15, entry 2234). William B. Byrd was William Buck Byrd (1817-1880), another of William Edward Byrd and Lovey Cherry’s sons. Note that Lovey’s survey, which shows her living next to her son John, son-in-law David K. Reed, and to land owned by her brothers Lawrence and Isham, as well as by Samuel Williams, states that she was entering this land under the occupancy act, as John R. Byrd also did when he entered land at the same time. They were living on these pieces of land.
The entry 3 of Isham Cherry referenced in this survey for Lovey Cherry Byrd is that same 640-acre tract surveyed for Isham on 6 December 1820.
On 8 May 1837, Lovey Cherry Byrd entered another 102 acres, again under the terms of the occupancy act (Hardin Co., TN, Entry Bk. 2, Feb. 1821-Nov. 1837, pp. 134-5, entry 104). The land was in range 7, section, 1 bordering on Isham Cherry, David K. Reed, John R. Byrd, Lawrence Cherry, and Samuel Williams. Jesse Cherry was the surveyor, and chain carriers were John R. Byrd and William B. Byrd. The preceding entry is for the 119 3/4 acres that Lovey’s son John Richard Byrd had entered bordering on 24 April 1837, bordering Lawrence Cherry’s land and with a provisional line running between John R. Byrd’s land and that of Strachan/Strawhorn Monk.
The following year, on 6 January 1838, Strawhorn Monk entered 200 acres under the occupancy law (Hardin Entry Bk. 3, Sept. 1837-March 1846, p. 13, entry 257). The land was in range 7, section 1, with the land description stating that it lay on the waters of the Tennessee River, and bordered John R. Byrd and land entered by Lawrence Cherry. A note in the margins of the entry book states that a tract just south of the Lawrence Cherry tract was taken by Wiley B. Monk on 28 February 1838 (or does the note mean that the 200 acres Strawhorn Monk entered in January were transferred to Wiley in February?). Felix Grundy Monk (abt. 1816-1863) and Wiley Buck Monk (1818-1874) were sons of Strachan Monk and Talitha Cherry.
Shortly after this, on 16 January 1838, David E. Byrd had a survey for 200 acres in Hardin County by virtue of the occupancy act of 1837. The land was in range 7, section 1, bordering an entry by Jacob Barnet and Strawhorn Monk. Jesse Cherry was surveyor and chain carriers were David E. Byrd and his brother Thomas William Byrd (1812-1885) (Hardin Entry Bk. 3, Sept. 1837-March 1846, p. 24, entry 289).
David Edward Byrd’s name appears again in a 2 February 1846 land entry for Moses Batchelor (1808-1883). The land description for the 19 acres Moses had surveyed in range 7, section 1, notes that it adjoined David Byrd’s entry of 200 acres, #316. Moses entered this land under the occupancy act, which indicates that he and wife Minerva Monk, daughter of Strachan Monk and Talitha Cherry, were living on this land (Hardin Entry Bk. 5, p. 77, entry 1118). Because David E. Byrd’s January 1838 land entry states that his 200 acres bordered Strawhorn Monk, Moses’ father-in-law, and because we know from other land entries that Strachan Monk’s land was next to that of David E. Byrd’s brother John and a tract belonging to Strachan’s brother-in-law Lawrence Cherry, we can place Moses Batchelor right next to these members of the Byrd, Cherry, and Monk family in 1846.
I have a poor photocopy of a land release deed dated 4 August 1845 from a Hardin County deed book I have not yet been able to identify. The photocopy was sent to me by a Byrd family descendant in the 1980s. The document states that Emaline Barnes (1824-1889) and her husband John Barnes, along with her brother William. B. Byrd, were deeding to David K. Reed for $50 each their interest in two parcels of land that had belonged to Emaline and William’s father William Edward Byrd. The land was in the 9th surveyor’s district of Hardin County, 7th range, section 1, and it lay along the Tennessee River.
According to this instrument, the first parcel of land consisted of 40 acres, from a tract of 50 acres surveyed on 3 July 1823 for Isham Cherry, ten of which belonged to John Job Williams. The other parcel was a tract of 52 acres surveyed for Samuel Williams on 7 December 1820. Emaline and John Barnes and William B. Byrd were relinquishing their claim to this land to David K. Reed with the stipulation that Lovey Cherry Byrd was to have her interest in it during her lifetime. The deed was signed by John Barnes, Emaline (X) Barnes, L.C. Byrd, R.W. Byrd, and Clairy (X) Byrd. Witnesses to the agreement were Moses B. Batchelor, David E. Byrd, E.R. Reed, and John A. Reed.
The L.C. Byrd signing the deed is not Lovey, but her son Lawrence Cherry Byrd (1822-1864), who married Moses Batchelor’s sister Delaney. R.W. Byrd is Lawrence and David’s brother Rufus W. Byrd (1827-1875). Clairy Byrd was Clara Ann Byrd (1807-1872), a daughter of William Edward Byrd and Lovey Cherry, who married Richard Robertson. It’s not clear to me why she signs the deed with her maiden name, and why her brother William, who is one of the three people relinquishing interest in the land, does not sign this deed. E.R. and John A. Reed are two sons of David K. Reed and Mary Byrd; E.R. was Ezekiel Randolph Reed. The latter two are evidently Ezekiel R. and John A. Reed, sons of Mary C. Byrd and David Kennedy Reed.
The document states that it was recorded 4 August 1845, but has a filing date written in the margins alongside it which states that it was filed 6 April 1837. On that date, most of those signing this document were not yet of age. I think the filing date must refer to an action in the estate of William Edward Byrd, who died in Hardin County before 21 December 1835, when his oldest son John R. Byrd was appointed administrator of his estate (Hardin Court Minutes Bk. C, p. 92). On 21 March 1836, John R. Byrd returned an inventory of his father’s estate to court (ibid., p. 112). This page of the court minutes has John R. Byrd’s signature as a justice of the peace of the county — his actual signature is entered into the court minutes, that is.
On 19 August 1840, John R. Byrd filed a settlement of the estate of William E. Byrd (Hardin WB Bk. B, pp. 233-4, and on 7 September 1840 he returned further accounts of the estate settlement, reporting a settlement of debts to William Brien, administrator of Jonathan Windsor, deceased, and to John Job Williams, guardian of Susan, Daniel, Elizabeth, and Julia Williams (County Ct. Minutes C, p. 344). I mention these details since it appears that the August 1845 memorandum of agreement between John and Emaline Barnes, William B. Byrd, and David K. Reed was connected to the settlement of the estate of William E. Byrd — and note the references to both Samuel Williams and John Job Williams in the description of William E. Byrd’s landholdings in this document.
On 7 August 1846, another document involving the settlement of the estate of William E. Byrd was filed: in this case, William Byrd’s son Lawrence Cherry Byrd was deeding his right to slaves named Famey, Bartley, and Helen, who had been the property of his father, to his brother Thomas W. Byrd. The deed, which was filed in Hardin County (Hardin DB G, p. 391), states that Lawrence was living in Hot Spring County, Arkansas. It was witnessed by C.H. McGinnis and William Pyburn — the same William Pyburn whose wife Elizabeth Williams was a sister of Jane Williams Tankersley, mother of Sarah Tankersley who married Wilson R. Bachelor. On 7 September 1847, Lawrence proved the deed in Hardin County and it was recorded.
And that 137-acre piece of land that Daniel Cherry loaned to Strachan and Talitha Cherry Monk in 1837 — what became of it? I find Strachan and Talitha deeding it to their son Eli Cherry Monk (1826 – after 1860) on 27 February 1847, with the deed repeating that the land was being conveyed to Eli during his lifetime and not to be sold (Hardin DB H, pp. 14-5). Witnesses were Rufus W. Byrd and Wilson R. Bachelor. This deed does not even mention that the land belonged to Talitha’s brother Daniel, who had died four years prior to this. I don’t find further mention of this land and what became of it in Hardin County deed books, though I may have missed a deed from Eli disposing of the land.
Remember that the land description when Daniel Cherry entered this piece of land in 1823 states that it lay on the Tennessee River at the mouth of Sulphur Creek? Here’s a screenshot of a Google map of this area today:
And here, from the website of the Tennessee state government, is a Tennessee Department of Transportation map of Hardin County, showing Pickwick State Park in relation to the rest of the county: it’s the area shaded in green just to the west of the bend in the Tennessee River that has now been dammed and turned into the lake area that the park overlooks. Immediately across the river on old maps can be seen Pyburn Bluff, the site at which an early settler of the area, Jacob Pyburn, operated a ferry across the river.
Oh, and to show you how complicated and thickly interwoven the kinship network I’m discussing here via land records was, see the Raleigh Register notice at the head of the posting, showing that Elizabeth Gainer Cherry, mother of the Cherry children who moved from Martin County, North Carolina, to Hardin County, Tennessee, was married — by Reverend Joseph Biggs — to Edward Byrd on 7 February 1822 in Martin County. By this time, her daughter Lovey Cherry had been married for some twenty years to Edward Byrd’s son William Edward Byrd. Rev. Joseph Biggs was the uncle of Martha Biggs, daughter of James Biggs and Jemima Cherry, whose son John Job Williams came to Hardin County. Joseph was the great-uncle of the Jesse Biggs who appears as a chain carrier in some of the land surveys mentioned above.
And there’s also this to add to the discussion: the Batchelor family that is part of this kinship network in Hardin County descends from Richard Batchelor (1645-1682), an English immigrant to Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, through Richard’s marriage to Ann, daughter of John Biggs. John Cherry, the immigrant ancestor of that line, was in Lower Norfolk County by 1637. The Batchelor, Biggs, and Cherry families began to be woven together in various ways in that county as early as the latter half of the 1600s.
This is the third in a three-part series of postings on this topic. The previous installment in the series is here.
Margaret M. Hoffmann, The Short, Short Course in the Use of North Carolina’s Early County-Level Records in Genealogical Research (Rocky Mount: Copy-It Printing Co., 1988), pp. 52, 56; Helen F.M. Leary, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History (Raleigh: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), p. 45.
See Rayma Leone Biggs and Mary Louise Biggs, The Jesse Tree: History of Biggs-Dexter Families in America (Iuka, MS, n.d.).
A copy of the autobiography of Cushing Biggs Hassell transcribed in 1958 by the Martin County Historical Society in Williamston, North Carolina, is online in a digital collection of historical resources maintained by East Carolina University. On John Job Williams and his roots, see also Mary Lou Clayton Williams, The Descendants of John Williams and Martha Biggs of Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina (Savannah, Tennessee, 1997).