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 short time.
In 1868 he married M. S. Maddox, who died in 1876, in which year their two children, James R. and John D. died also. In 1882 he married Alice McDonald, who lived but about seven months after. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Exum is a Republican and a member of the I. O. O. F. Lodge.