Children of Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) and Wife Hannah Phillips: Daughter Who Married John Hammons (2)

The survey of this land was done on 8 November 1807, and the tract surveyed turned out to be 120 acres. The survey record repeats the information about the provenance of the land found in the entry record, noting that the original warrant to Patrick Hamilton was for 5,000 acres. When A. Higginbotham surveyed this tract, chain carriers were Keys and C. Hammons. This is, I think, John’s son Charles W. Hammons, who would have been a young teen at the time.[2]

Tennessee Plats and Surveys, Series 3, Bk. 34, p. 7 (3rd Surveyor’s District, 1807-1814)

White County was the parent county of Warren County. I think that though this piece of land is recorded as being in White County in November 1807, it fell into Warren County when the latter county was formed from White in 1807, the year in which the survey was made. Warren County is in Middle Tennessee. Its county seat, McMinnville, is some 110 miles south and a bit west of the Wayne County, Kentucky, county seat, Monticello. Many of the county’s early records perished in a courthouse fire in 1852, creating difficulties for those tracing people and families in the county prior to that date. As the research wiki for Warren County at FamilySearch states, early records for Warren are often found in White County.

On 12 August 1808 when 200 acres on Hickory Creek in Warren County were surveyed for Martin Harpool by A. Higginbotham, the survey record noted that the land adjoined John Hammons’s 100 acres and that John Hammons and Joseph Allen were chain carriers.[3] By 7 November 1810, John Hammons Sr. also had land on waters of Hickory Creek in Warren County: he entered several pieces of land on that date, with the land entries noting that the tracts (12, 15, and 16 acres) were in the 3rd surveyor’s district adjoining land on which Joseph and Jesse Allen lived.[4]

According to Will T. Hale, Hickory Creek, which is a tributary of Barren Fork, a tributary of Collins River, drains Viola Valley, one of the most fertile farming districts in Warren County (see Hale, Early History of Warren County [McMinnville: Womack, 1930], pp. 57-8). Walter Womack notes that John Hammons’s brother Leroy operated Hammond (sic) Tavern at Scott’s ford on the Kentucky Road near Viola (Womack, McMinnville at a Milestone: 1810-1960 [McMinnville: Womack Printing, 1960], pp. 160, 184). According to Will T. Hale, when Quincy Academy at McMinnvile, the county’s first school of consequence, was chartered in 1809, Leroy Hammons was one of its trustees (Early History of Warren County, p. 32).

Tennessee Account Books Series 1, Bk. 4, unpaginated, arranged by date (Grants, West Tennessee, 1814-5)

On 3 October 1814, John Hammons Jr. entered three tracts (#6073, #6074, #6075) in Warren County, 200 acres, 120 acres, and 30 acres, all entered under warrant #1686, the warrant by which he had entered 100 acres in August 1807.[5] There are quite a few entries and surveys listed in early Tennessee land registers for John Hammons/Hammonds in Warren County. Unfortunately, most of these do not contain a Sr. or Jr. designation, and because father and son appear to have had tracts adjoining each other on Hickory Creek, it’s not easy to know to which John Hammons each record refers.

Warren County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. B, p. 89

John Hammons Sr. and Jr. appear in a 23 December 1812 Warren County deed showing John Sr. deeding his son John for $600 an enslaved woman named Moll and Moll’s child Ages.[6] As we’ll see down the road, the name appears as Agy in legal documents regarding John Hammons’s estate — likely a nickname for the given name Agnes. The deed identifies the two Johns as Sr. and Jr., and is signed by John Sr. with witness George B. Bonner, who proved the deed on 5 December 1813. It was recorded 17 November 1814. 

On 20 January 1816, John Hammons Jr. deeded to Thomas Hopkins for $500 130 acres on Hickory Creek in Warren County, with the deed noting that the land adjoined John’s tract of 200 acres, and that the land had been surveyed by Aaron Higginbotham on 8 November 1807 under warrant #6075.[7] The deed states that John was of Warren County and Hopkins of Sullivan County. John Hammons signed with witnesses Isham Perkins and Clement Sullivan. Both witnesses proved the deed with the date unspecified, and it was recorded 1 January 1816.

As a previous posting notes, when Thomas Brooks and wife Sarah Whitlock Brooks sold 44 acres on Beaver Creek in Wayne County, Kentucky, to Jacob and Daniel Shearer on 9 January 1818, the deed states that the land was bordered by land belonging to Charles Baker, John Hammons, and Daniel Shearer.[8] As I state in another previous posting, in my view, this tract belonged to John Jr., who had held onto some of his landholdings in Wayne County after having moved to Tennessee.

On 22 August 1818, John Hammons Jr. sold to Gerard Scott, both of Warren County, for $77 seven acres on waters of Hickory Creek adjoining land of Martin Harpool and Thomas Hopkins.[9] John signed, with witnesses James Johnston and Andrew Miller. The deed was acknowledged, without specifics of who proved it and when it was proven, and it was recorded 5 December 1818. Note that Andrew Miller was John Hammons’s son-in-law. He married John’s daughter Mary/Polly.

On 26 August 1818, John sold John Engledove, both of Warren County, for $440 100 acres granted to John on 3 October 1814, location #152.[10] John signed with witnesses Andrew Miller and Woodson Hammons. The deed was recorded 14 December 1818. The Woodson Hammons proving this deed was likely John’s son, named for John’s brother Woodson.

In my view, as he made these land sales, John was preparing to move from Warren County: a deed he made on 20 April 1819 to Thomas Hopkins of Sullivan County for 26 acres on Hickory Creek out of John’s 200-acre grant states that John was “late of Warren County.”[11] The deed has John’s signature, with the preceding date, though it indicates that John had made an agreement to sell this land to Hopkins on 11 January 1817. Benjamin Wooton and James Martin witnessed, both proving the deed 23 July 1819. It was recorded the following day. 

Jackson County, Alabama, Years (1820-8)

By 4 August 1820, John was in Jackson County, Alabama. On that date, he was commissioned a justice of the peace for Jackson County.[12] Jackson County is in the northeast corner of Alabama, bordering Tennessee on the south and Georgia on the west. Courthouse fires in 1864 and 1920 destroyed most of its early records.

As the previous posting notes, John Hammons was living on 22 January 1824 when his father-in-law Thomas Whitlock made his will in Cumberland County, Kentucky, naming John Hammons as his son-in-law.[13] By the time Thomas Whitlock’s estate was settled on 9 March 1832, John had died, as the estate settlement record indicates, when it states that his heirs were receiving John’s portion of Thomas Whitlock’s estate.[14]

As I also note in my last posting, in my view, the daughter of Thomas Whitlock who married John Hammons had died prior to 22 January 1824 and this is why Thomas does not name her in his will as he names John Hammons as his son-in-law. I explained my reasons for making this deduction in another previous posting. In the absence of any records (at least, ones that I can find) naming this daughter of Thomas Whitlock, it has proven well-nigh impossible to determine when and where she died. As we’ll see in a moment, litigation filed by John Hammons’s heirs in following John’s death in Jackson County, Alabama, in that year, appears to indicate that all of his children except son Leroy were of age in 1828. 

As the previous posting states, the scant sources we have to document the year of birth of Charles W. Hammons, who is thought to be John Hammons’s oldest child, place his birth in 1796. As we’ll see down the road, the 1830 federal census in Jackson County, Alabama, indicates that Charles’s brother Woodson, who is listed after him in the list of heirs in the 1828 case file I’ll discuss in a moment, was born between 1800-1810, per the 1830 federal census, but since Woodson was made a constable-commissioner of Jackson County on 3 March 1823, it appears he was born closer to 1800 than 1810. The 1800 date of birth — or a date even somewhat earlier — is suggested, too, by Woodson’s witness to his father’s 26 August 1818, deed to John Engledove, discussed above.[15]

I have not found positive data to allow me to pinpoint when John Hammons’s daughters Mary/Polly (married Andrew Miller), Nancy, and Elizabeth (married Henderson) were born. If Leroy was the last-born child — he is, in fact, repeatedly listed last in the list of John’s children in the 1828 lawsuit — and if he was a minor in 1828, then it should be noted that he purchased federal land in Jackson County on 1 June 1831, so he was of age by that date. These pieces of information appear to place his birthdate between 1811-1814. Numerous family trees online give his birth year as 1826, misunderstanding, I suspect, the reference to him as an “infant heir” of John Hammons in the 1828 lawsuit. 

So, assuming that all of these children of John Hammons were born to his Whitlock wife between the years 1795-1814, roughly, then it would seem she may have died between 1810-1820. Depositions in the 1828 lawsuit also state that John had had two other children who died by 1828. If John’s Whitlock wife lived to 1820, then she would perhaps have died in Jackson County, Alabama. I think it’s more likely that she died in Warren County, Tennessee, between 1811/1814 and 1819.

Valuable information about John Hammons’s heirs and date of death (1828) is found in a chancery court case filed — apparently — in 1828 in Warren County, Tennessee, following John’s death in that year in Jackson County, Alabama. Before I offer a transcript of the portions of the case file for this lawsuit that I’ve found, I should say that I have not read the original case file, and am not clear about whether the following transcripts cover all documents in the case file or only a selection of them.

The lawsuit appears to have been filed by John Hammons’s children along with their uncle Leroy Hammons of Warren County, Tennessee, against Thomas Hopkins and George Layne. Wanda Gant has helpfully transcribed documents from the case file, noting that the original is in a box of Middle Tennessee court cases held by Tennessee state archives.[16] In transcribing documents from this case file, Wanda Gant was interested in particular in the testimony of James Campbell, whom she was researching when she found these documents, and her transcripts of the court documents are interlined with some of her own notes about James Campbell, which I’ve removed from the transcripts below:

Division of the State of Tennessee, sitting at McMinnville: The bill of complaint of Charles, Woodson, Nancy, Elizabeth, Leroy Hammons, who is an infant and sues by Charles Hammons, his brother, all of Jackson County, Alabama, Leroy Hammons Sr. of Warren County, Tennessee and Andrew Miller and his wife Polly of the Western District. Humbly praying begs leave to show to your honor that they are heirs and legal representatives of John Hammons, deceased, who died intestate in the County of Jackson, Alabama 1828. 

Personally appeared before me at my office in the town of McMinnville in the state aforesaid on the 9th day of August 1829. The witnesses who have respectively signed their name to this deposition, all witnesses in a certain matter of controversary now depending in the district court of chancery holden at McMinnville in the State aforesaid wherein the heirs of John Hammons deceased and others are complainants and Thomas Hopkins and George Layne are defendants who having first duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists depose as follows.

State of Tennessee personally appeared before me, Josiah F. Morford Clerk and Master of the District Court of Chancery holden at McMinnville in the State aforesaid on the 4th day of April AD 1831, J. F. Morford Clerk, State of Tennessee, personally appeared before me Josiah F. Morford, Clerk and Master of the District Court of Chancery holden at McMinnville in the state aforesaid James Campbell a witness in a certain matter of controversy now depending in the said court, wherein John Hammons heirs and others are complainants and Hopkins and Layne are defendants, who being first duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists, deposes as follows in presence of counsel on both sides who interragates. In the year 1822, and from thence to 1827, I attended as counsel to a suit then pending in the Circuit Court at Bellefont, Alabama where in Thomas Hopkins was plaintiff, and George W. Thompson was defendant. The suit was in relation to two Negroes, Molly and Agy, the first being black and the second a mullato, and which slaves I believe formally had been the property of John Hammons, the reputed ancestor of complainants, where I was attending to said suit, and at one of the terms of said Court at Bellefont at which the cause had been argued and probably in the year 1825-1826 John Hammons came to that Court and expressed a wish that I would examine certain papers he had in his possession in relation to his dealings with Hopkins and also to give me full information in relation to the whole transaction, between him and Hopkins. I heard Hammons narrative, and examined his papers. I recollect two obligations or bonds of defeasance which had been executed by Hopkins to Hammons one of them showing as I believe that a conveyance Hopkins held from Hammons for a tract of land in Warren County was a mortgage, another showing as I also believe that a bill of sale Hopkins held for the above negroes was for a mortgage. I recollect no other facts in Hammons disclosure to me that now occur to me as material to relate. In the course of conversation Hammons expressed a wish that some person would undertake for him against Hopkins, and give him Hammons a part of what was received. My impression is I told him I could not undertake to do anything for him in the way he wished, as I was a practicing lawyer in Tennessee and the law forbids me engaging in any business for conditional fees. I don’t recollect that he made any direct offer to employ me in the suit against Hopkins. But he showed me his papers, and maid a statement, and said he wished he could get some person to undertake to conduct a suit against Hopkins and he gave as a reason that he was unable to do so himself without assistance. I did not agree to undertake for Hammons and I maid no charge for anything I told or said to him. The negroes had been sold as I believe by virtue of an execution John McGowan against John Hammons. Thompson held them for McGowan under the execution sale. Hopkins claimed the negroes by a bill of sale from Hammons. The suit, I believe, is not yet decided but is now pending at Huntsville and those holding under the execution sale, one yet in possession of them. The defeasance in relation to the land, I believe to be the same now on file in this suit and that in relation to the negroes, was attested by or purported to be attested by L. W. Harbury and I have understood is now on file in the suit at Huntsville. It was obtained since the death of John Hammons and Filed in that cause as I believe. And further, this depondent saith not, sworn to and subscribed before me at office where it was taken 4th April 1832.  James Campbell. 

The following material is not in the transcripts I link above produced by Wanda Gant, but I think it’s likely these are further transcriptions she has done from this case file — and since they aren’t at the linked sites above, I can’t really say where I found these transcripts:

State of Tennessee personally appeared before me, Josiah F. Morford Clerk and Master of the District Court of Chancery holden at McMinnville in the State aforesaid on the 20th day of April AD 1831, Elisha Reynolds, Uriah York and Becky Shrouder witness in behalf of the complainants in a certain matter of controversy now depending in said court wherein John Hammons heirs and administrator are complainants and Layne and Hopkins are defts who first being duly sworn on the Holy Evangalists depose as follows:

Becky Shrader 1st witness. Question 1st. By the complainants. Are you acquainted with the parties in this controversy? Answer: I am acquainted with them, the heirs of John Hammons, Leroy and the Adm’s. I have no great acquaintance with the deft’s. I have seen them. Question 2: State who are the heirs of John Hammons and give their names. Answer. There are six now living, two dead, Polly, the wife of Andrew Miller, Charles, Woodson, Nancy, Betsy and Leroy Hammons. Question 3rd: Were the above named children the legitimate children of John Hammons? Answer: They were, they never were otherwise reputed. Question 4th: Do you recollect that Houston Hammons and James Hammons went with John Hammons to drive some cattle from Mr. Hopkins quarters in this County and if so, state the time as near as you can. Answer: I do recollect of their going in company for that purpose and it has been about 10 or 11 years ago as near as I can recollect. Houston Hammons is my son. Cross examined by the defendants council. Did you say that one of the girl heirs of John Hammons was married? Answer: I understood that one Betsy was married to a man by the name of Henderson. Becky Shrader [her mark].

I suspect that the preceding very invaluable transcripts are note transcriptions of all the material in the case file for this chancery court lawsuit, but of select documents. Note some very important points we learn from this lawsuit:

  • John Hammons died in 1828 in Jackson County, Alabama. 
  • At the time of his death, he left six children, who appear to be named in order of birth — except that Becky Shrader’s deposition lists Polly, wife of Andrew Miller, first, and that makes me wonder if Mary/Polly was, in fact, John Hammons’s oldest child.
  • By 1828, two other children of John Hammons had died.
  • In 1828, Leroy, the youngest child, was still a minor.
  • The dispute between John Hammons’s heirs and Thomas Hopkins and George Layne was about ownership of the two enslaved persons, Moll and her child Agy, whom John’s father John Sr. sold him on 23 December 1812; and ownership of some of the land of John Hammons in Warren County, Tennessee, was also at dispute.[17]
  • The identity of Becky Shrader is not clear to me. If she had sons Houston and James Hammons, then did she have a Hammons husband prior to marrying a Shrader husband?

The six children of John Hammons who were still living when Becky Shrader made her deposition on 20 April 1831 were still alive on 2 April 1838, when an instrument was recorded in Warren County, Tennessee, deed book L regarding the lawsuit of Leroy Hammons (John’s brother) and Elisha Reynolds against Charles, Woodson, Nancy, and Leroy Hammons, and Andrew Miller with wife Polly.[18] (See the head of the posting for a digital copy of this document.) The dispute was over ownership of the 200 acres of land that John Hammons had entered in Warren County on 3 October 1814 under warrant #1686.[19] John had evidently continued to hold that land up to the point of his death in 1828, and after he left Tennessee for Alabama, and his heirs’ uncle Leroy, with Elisha Reynolds, was claiming ownership of it. Since John’s daughter Elizabeth was clearly living when this 1838 list was compiled, I am not sure why it omits her.

This ends what I know up to the present about John Hammons, son-in-law of Thomas Whitlock. I would caution you to approach published and online family trees for this family with great trepidation. Not a few have confused the John Hammons Sr. and Jr. of this family line with a John Hammons found in Montgomery County, Virginia, records. And one tree after another has added an entirely fictional middle name — Houston — to the names of both John Hammons Sr. and John Hammons Jr. Why people want to do this, I cannot for the life of me understand.

In my next posting, I’ll share the few pieces of information I can document regarding the children of John Hammons and ? Whitlock.

[1] Tennessee Land Entries Series 2, Bk. 41, p. 41 (3rd Surveyor’s District, 1807-9)

[2] Tennessee Plats and Surveys, Series 3, Bk. 34, p. 7 (3rd Surveyor’s District, 1807-1814).

[3] Ibid., p. 77.

[4] Tennessee Land Entries Series 2, Bk. 44, pp. 129-130 (3rd Surveyor’s District, 1810-1812).

[5] Tennessee Account Books Series 1, Bk. 4, unpaginated, arranged by date (Grants, West Tennessee, 1814-5).

[6] Warren County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. B, p. 89.

[7] Ibid., pp. 193-4.

[8] Wayne County, Kentucky, Deed Bk. C, pp. 4-5.

[9] Warren County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. B, pp. 426-7.

[10] Ibid., pp. 411-2.

[11] Warren County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. C, pp. 162-3.

[12] Alabama Territory Register of Appointments Civil and Military, 1818-9, p. 122; see also Valley Leaves 5,3 (March 1971), pp. 116-7, transcribing Jackson County, Alabama, Civil Register of County Officials, 1819-1832.

[13] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. B, pp. 423-4.

[14] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. C, pp. 21, 23.

[15] See supra, n. 10.

[16] Tennessee State Library and Archives, box 4, Middle Tennessee Court Cases (1828). Wanda Gant’s transcripts are at the USGenWeb site for Jackson County, Alabama, and the Alabama Genealogy Trails website.

[17] See supra, n. 6.

[18] Warren County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. L, pp. 204-5.

[19] See supra, n. 5.

One thought on “Children of Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) and Wife Hannah Phillips: Daughter Who Married John Hammons (2)

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