Location: Dekalb County TN

Biography of Hon. J.J. Ford

Hon. J. J. Ford, attorney at law, was born in Dekalb (then Smith) County November 22, 1822. He is one of ten children of Daniel and Mary (Fite) Ford, the former of Irish origin. The father, born about 1794 in South Carolina, was the son of Daniel Ford, Sr., of Virginia, who became one of the earliest settlers of Tennessee, when Daniel, Jr., was but a small boy. He settled in Smith County near what is now Temperance Hall, where he remained until his death. With ordinary education in his youth, Daniel, Jr., married about 1818 and spent his life in Smith and Dekalb Counties. He was an able man and served as magistrate and constable several years. He died in 1864. The mother, a native of Tennessee and of Dutch decent, died in 1836. She was a daughter of Rev. J. Fite, an early Tennessee settler from New Jersey, who spent the early years of his settlement in a cane tent on Smith Fork, and who with his brother cut a road through the cane to Nashville. He made some money by dealing in the skin and flesh of bears. He was a Baptist minister for nearly sixty years and a historic character of early Tennessee. With no educational advantages our subject began the blacksmith trade when fifteen years old, and, when of age, purchased the property of...

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Biographical Sketch of Hon. J.W. Botts

Hon. J. W. Botts, Attorney at law, is the son of Aron and Sarah (English) Botts, and born on Smith Fork, Dekalb County, in 1830, one of eight children, five of whom are living. The father, of English ancestry, was born in North Carolina, and died in 1860 about sixty years of age. Left an orphan when a child, he was reared and married in his native State, and soon after removed to Kingston, Tenn., and afterward to Dekalb County, as it is known know. He settled at the mouth of Helton Creek where he resumed his business of hatter, until about 1831, since when he lived in Alexandria until his death. He was a tax collector one term and twice defeated as candidate for sheriff by only five and seven votes respectively. The mother, a native of North Carolina, died in Nashville about 1865. Our subject was educated at Alexandria, and at Gainesboro under Hon. William DeWitt, now of Chattanooga. In August 1850, he married Cynthia, daughter of Dr. Thomas J. and Nancy Sneed, of Alexandria, where Mrs. Botts was born. Seven of their thirteen children are living: Robert A., undertaker at Alexandria; Lizzie, wife of Andrew Kersey; Sarah, wife of John Argo(deceased), of Nashville; John E., with the St. Louis Railway; Norman and Earnest, both at Dixon Springs, and Charley. Mrs. Botts died in August 1883. February...

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Biography of T.W. Fitts

T. W. Fitts, a farmer and stock dealer of the Tenth District, was born March 4, 1832, in Smith County. He is the youngest of six children of Wootson and Tabitha (Winfrey) Fitts. The father was born in 1787, near Halifax, Virginia. He was lieutenant of a company in the war of 1812, was under command of Gen. Jackson at New Orleans; he came to Tennessee about 1822, and died near Eddyville, Ky., about 1850. The mother was born about 1787 near Petersburg, Va., and came to Tennessee after her marriage. Our subject had but limited educational advantages, but is a man of good practical understanding and business qualifications. In 1840 he married Miss Isabell Foster, who was born about 1812. She is still active and robust. To this union eight children were born of whom six are still living: Sanford (deceased); Jasper Newton; Durinda, now Mrs. Taylor; Golden; Nancy, afterward Mrs. Winfrey (deceased); Delia now Mrs. Williams; Sarah, now Mrs. Hayes, and Martin. Mr. Fitts and children are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The first year after marriage Mr. Fitts rented; he then bought an old Soldier’s right to 640 acres; the following year he purchased 200 more, and finally became owner of 1,300 acres of excellent land. Besides what he has given his family, he still has 1,000 acres, cultivated and improved, located in Cove...

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Biography of Prof. T. B. Kelly

Prof. T. B. Kelly, A. M., LL. B., president of Pure Fountain College, Smithville, was born in Columbia, Maury Co., Tenn., in 1852. His parents were Thomas J. and Elizabeth (Hardwicke) Kelly. The father was of Irish descent, born March 9, 1810, in Dickson County, Tenn., where his father, Thomas Kelly located after emigrating from Ireland, about 1800. Thomas J. married in 1838, and about 1844 moved to Columbia, where he established a queens ware store, which he managed successfully until the year of his death, 1861. His first wife was of French extraction, born in 1817, in Buckingham County, Virginia She died in January 1854. There were eleven children, only two of who are living: George M., a farmer of Maury County, and our subject. Prof. Kelly received his early education in his native county, at Jones’ Academy. In 1837 he entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, remaining five months. In the winter of 1873 he began the study of law at Nashville, his preceptor being Hon. F. C. Dannington. He also assisted in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court. In the fall of 1874 he entered the law department of Cumberland University at Lebanon, graduating the following June. He located in his native town. In September 1876, he commenced teaching in the Lewisburg Institute. For fifteen months he was assistant principal, at the...

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Biographical Sketch of Capt. J.T. Exum

Capt. J. T. Exum, merchant, was born December 4, 1842, in Smith County, Tenn. He is the son of Kinchen D. and Elizabeth (Allen) Exum, the former born in 1821, in Smith County, and the latter in 1821, in Wilson County. His grandfather, William a native of North Carolina, was one of the earliest pioneers of Smith County, where he died. Reared on a farm, our subject was educated at Cumberland Institute, in White County, and soon enlisted in the Federal Army as private, then corporal, then second lieutenant and recruiting officer for the Fifth Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry. He was soon promoted to first lieutenant, and in 1862 was made captain at Nashville. In March, 1865, he resigned his commission and for about two years was engaged in merchandising at Laurell Hill, Tenn. Then after about seven years in Buffalo Valley, Putnam County, in the same business, he was made United States storekeeper and gauger for the Fifth Internal Revenue District. In 1881 he was deputy United States marshal, under Marshal Tillman, and a year later was appointed United States commissioner for the middle district of Tennessee, but resigned in 1883. For four years previous to 1884 he was chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of the Fourth congressional District. After a year’s travel in the West he returned to Dekalb in 1886 and engaged in merchandising for a...

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Biography of Col. J.H. Blackburn

Col. J. H. Blackburn, attorney at law and solicitor of claims, was born in 1842 near Liberty, Tenn. He is the third of eight living children of William and Ann (Hayes) Blackburn, the former born in 1808 in South Carolina, and the latter in 1820 in Wilson County, Tenn. The father, when a during man, located near the present college home, Wilson County, where he afterward married. In 1846 he came to Liberty, and continued farming on his farm lately bought, and since 1885 he has lived in Dowelltown, in feeble age. For fourteen years before the war he was constable at Liberty and mail contractor for six years. The mother is also living. Our subject was educated at Liberty, and in 1861 enlisted in the Federal Army, Company A, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, and, though but eighteen, immediately elected captain. In November, 1864, he resigned his captaincy, and by order of Gov. Johnson raised a regiment at Liberty, known as the Fourth Tennessee Mounted Infantry, and served as colonel of the same until the close of the war, and was honorably discharged in August, 1865. He was in several battles, the most important of which were Nashville, Chattanooga, Snow Hill and Milton, where he defeated Morgan. He also cleared of guerrillas the counties of White, Putnam, Dekalb and Jackson by capturing Camp Ferguson, after which even rebel sympathizers felt...

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Biographical Sketch of R.F. Jones

R. F. Jones, merchant, was born in 1857, in Alexandria, Dekalb County, Tenn., one of three children of Jas. And Martha P. (West) Jones, the former, probably of English origin, and born near Alexandria about 1825, and the latter of like ancestry, and born in the same vicinity about 1835. The father was engaged in merchandising the most of his married life at Alexandria. At the battle of Chickamauga he received a shot from which he died in a few hours. The mother died near Alexandria in 1884. Educated at Alexandria and Liberty, our subject began clerking in 1874 for William Vick, at Liberty. After nine years here, he established himself in his present business at Dowelltown in which he has been most successful. In 1878 he married Eliza, daughter of Isaac and Nancy Whaley, of Liberty, where she was born in 1857. Their two children are Mattie and Frank. Our subject is a Democrat, first voting for Hancock. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal...

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Biographical Sketch of E.J. Evans

E. J. Evans, commercial traveler for Weel, Connell & Riddle, dry goods, shoes, clothing, etc., Nashville, was born in 1850 in the District of Columbia, and now resident of Smithville. He is the son of John G. and Lucinda (Vick) Evans. The father, born in 1819, in Dekalb County, Tenn., is the son of Joseph Evans, a native of Maryland, who, when a boy, came to Tennessee and settled where Liberty, Dekalb County, is located, among the very earliest white settlers. John G. had learned the carpenter trade under his father, and after his marriage in 1844, he settled in Liberty. In 1861 he moved to Dry Creek, and in 1881 to Smithville, where he was elected to his present position of register in 1866. His wife, born in 1822, in Dekalb County, is still living. Our subject, educated in Liberty, began reading law in 1872 under Hon. J. B. Robinson, and was admitted in 1873. The following year he was elected county clerk of Dekalb County, and served one term. In 1879 he established a dry goods store in Smithville, and after two years sold out and became traveling salesman for Settle & Kinnard, and two years later for Pigg, Manier & Co., then twelve months after for Tracy & Co., with whom he remained until he was employed by his present firm. In August 1875, he married...

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Biographical Sketch of J. M. Baker

J. M. Baker, a well-known farmer of the Fourteenth District, was born March 31, 1830, in White County, Tenn. His parents were William H. and Lucinda (Erwin) Baker. The father was born about 1800 in Virginia, of English descent, a son of James and Mary (Holmes) Baker. The father was a brave soldier in the war of 1812. He died at Norfolk. His widow immigrated to Tennessee with her children, five daughters and one son. They located in White County, where she died in 1856. William H. died November 14, 1872. His wife was of Irish origin, a daughter of William and Jane (Dildine) Erwin. His Maternal grandfather held a prominent position in the Revolutionary war. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm, and educated at the Union Institute, Dekalb County, in which county he engaged in farming when about twenty-three years of age. Shortly afterward he moved to White County, where, about 1870, he was elected magistrate, and served two terms. In 1883 he returned to Dekalb County, and in 1885 was elected magistrate. He was married, in March 1854, to Barbary, daughter of William and Zelpha Robinson. This Union resulted in the birth of Mary Viola (the widow of S. Simrell), Elizabeth C., William R., Susan M. (the wife of M. Davis), James M., Sarah Lena, Emma Florence, Barbary L. and Charles R. Mr....

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Biographical Sketch of Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes, An enterprising farmer of the Fifteenth District, was born November 3, 1810. In Georgia, and brought when an infant to Dekalb County by his father. He is the third of nine Children born to John and Martha (Young) Hayes. The father was born in South Carolina. He was for some time a resident of Georgia, then Alabama, and finally came to Tennessee, locating where Dekalb County now is. He died when Isaac was a mere boy. Our subject was educated in the subscription schools of the county. He remained with his widowed mother until his marriage. In 1832 he wedded Miss. Elizabeth McGinniss, who bore him seven children: Mary, Lucinda, Richard, Elizabeth, Isaac, and twins, all of whom are dead. The mother departed this life January 29, 1852. He married Miss. Eliza Helen Robinson, December 23, 1852. This Union resulted in the birth of eight children, of who are living John R., Richard, Kizzie, Rebecca, Mary, Isaac, and Eliza. After farming on rented land for some time, Mr. Hayes purchased fifty acres on Holmes Creek, and now owns 500 acres of valuable land, well cultivated, located on the Lancaster and Smithville road, eleven miles from the latter place. His property was greatly damaged by the late War, almost ruined, but he now has it in fine condition, and is one of the healthiest localities in the county....

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Biography of James A. Donnell

James A. Donnell,United States commissioner of internal revenue for the middle district of Tennessee, and an influential citizen of Alexandria, was born August 13, 1834, in Wilson County. He is the eldest of two children of Allan and Casandria H. (Britton) Donnell. The father was a native of Gifford County, N. C., born in 1806, of Irish ancestry, a son of Adlia Donnell, a native of North Carolina, whose father came from Ireland. Allan came to Tennessee about 1832, and a year later married and located in Lebanon, where for some time he taught school, afterward engaging in the mercantile business at the same place, then at Center Hill and finally at Commerce, where he died in 1838. He was a man of ability and influence, successful in all his undertakings. His wife was a daughter of Lanie Britton, a native of East Tennessee, and an early settler of Smith County. Mrs. Donnell was born in 1813 and died in 1876. Both were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, highly respected by the entire community. The subject of this sketch was educated in the common schools in Wilson County. At the age of twenty he went to Missouri, where for two years he engaged in farming and stock rising. He returned to Wilson County. At the outbreak of the civil war, he enlisted in Company A, Seventh Tennessee Infantry,...

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Biography of Hon. John B. Robinson

Hon. John B. Robinson, attorney at law of Smithville, is a native of Dekalb County; was born in 1835. His parents were Alexander and Rachel (Barnes) Robinson. The father was of English descent, born in Cumberland County, Va., about 1804. He came to Tennessee in 1824, locating in Smith (now Dekalb) County. Two years later he settled in the Fourth District. He taught school several sessions and then married. He was surveyor of the county a number of years. He owned 150 acres of fine land at the time of his death in 1867. His wife was born in Dekalb County, in 1804. Her parents, George and Bridget Barnes, were among the pioneers, settling in the county before 1800. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson had nine children, six of whom are living, our subject being the fourth. He was educated in the common schools. There were no public schools and his parents were unable to send him to college. After he attained his majority he began teaching, which he followed for several years. The last sessions he was in Illinois. In 1855 he commenced the study of law on his own responsibility, but advising with Judge Robert Cantrell, now of Lebanon. In 1858 he was admitted to the bar. When the war broke out he became one of the boys in blue. In June 1862, he enlisted in Company I,...

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Biography of Samuel Walker

Samuel Walker, a prominent physician of the Tenth District, was born February 8, 1848, in Dekalb County. He is the fourth of seven children of Hampton and Mary (Hicks) Walker, both of whom were also natives of Dekalb County. The father was born in 1811. He served two years in the late war, at the expiration of which time he was discharged on account of disabilities. His death occurred in November 1886. The mother was born in 1813. Our subject received his literary education in the common schools of Missouri, attending later two terms at the Kirksville branch of the State Normal School in the same State. At the age of thirteen he became a member of Company C, Second Tennessee Cavalry. He was orderly sergeant. The first six months, on account of his youth, he was excused from carrying arms by Gen. Forest. He took part in the battles Tissue Mingo Creek, Harrisburg, Miss., Abbyville, also in the famous raid of Memphis, Nashville, Franklin and Murfreesboro, and numerous skirmishes and expeditions in which Gen. Forest participated. The command surrendered May 8, 1865, at Gainesville, Ala. He then returned home. After his father’s death he went to Missouri, where two of his brothers preceded him. In partnership with Dr. Myers, of Queen City, Mo., he dealt in stock two years; they were so successful that our subject was enabled...

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Biographical Sketch of James T. Quarels

James T. Quarels was born in Wilson County in 1836, the fourth of seven children of William and Eliza (Hopkins) Quarels, both of whom were natives of Virginia, where they were married about 1835. They came to Tennessee, locating in Wilson County, where the remainder of their lives was spent in farming. The father died about 1844, the mother in 1881, both esteemed members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Our subject was educated in the country schools of his native county. About his twentieth year he married a native of Dekalb County, Miss Caroline, daughter of Jonathan and Priscilla Doss, who died about a year and a half after the marriage. In 1860 Mr. Quarels married his sister-in-law, Miss Darthula, by whom he had six children. Those living are Nora (wife of T. C. Peck, of Wilson County), James D., Zora, and Maud. In 1861 Mr. Quarels entered the Confederate Army under command of Capt. Bass, and served about one year, when he was discharged on account of disability, and returned home. In 1863 he again enlisted under Capt. Reese. He was engaged in the battles of Murfreesboro and Briston; after six months’ service he again went home. In 1864 he sold his property in Wilson County and purchased a portion of his present farm in Dekalb County, where he moved. The farm now contains over 100 acres...

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Biography of W.W. Wade

W. W. Wade, Judge of the Fifth Chancery Division of Tennessee, is a native of Dekalb County, born in Smithville in 1848, a son of Wm. M. and Caroline (Eastham) Wade. The Father was of Scotch-Irish descent, born in Virginia in 1826. His Father (grandfather of our subject), Wm. H., also a native of Virginia. He was a hatter by trade. After residing in Wilson County for a few years he located, in 1840, in Smithville, Dekalb County, where he passed the remainder of his days. Wm. M. studied law when a young man with Judge M. M. Brien, who afterward became his partner. About 1855 he entered into partnership with Judge Robert Cantrell, now of Lebanon, continuing until his death in 1858. His wife was born in Wilson County, Tenn., in 1828. After Mr. Wade’s demise she went to Nashville, in 1869, where she now resides. Of her five children three are living: Timothy W., a lawyer of Smithville; Louella, wife of Winfield Graves, a resident of Nashville, a produce dealer, and our subject who is the eldest living. He received his literary education in the Fulton Academy at Smithville, and at the age of nineteen began the study of law, under John B. Robinson. In December 1876, he was admitted to the bar and immediately entered upon his practice. In 1873 he formed a partnership with Hon....

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