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J. L. Colvert, retired merchant, was born in 1828 in Culpeper County, Va., the son of William I. and Harriett (Weedon) Colvert. The father, born in the same county in 1791, was a farmer and a soldier in the war of 1812, on duty in his native State. In 1828 he came to Warren County, Tenn., Thence to Alabama for a few years, and about 1840 returned to Cannon County, Tenn. He finally settled in Dekalb County in 1848 and bought a home of 150 acres, where he lived the greater part of his life. He died in Nashville in 1859. The mother, born in 1801 in Fairfax County, Va., is still living, receiving a pension for her husband’s services in 1812.
Our subject, one of seven children, came to Tennessee when an infant, and was reared and educated in Cannon County. At the age of sixteen he served a year’s apprenticeship in a tannery, then farmed a year, and in 1848 sunk a tannery in Dekalb County with his brother as partner. In April 1846, he Married Johanna Matthews, born in Cannon County in 1830. Their two children are Mary E., wife of S. D. Blankenship, and Harriett. In 1852 he engaged in farming and merchandising besides tanning. In 1854 he sold his tan yard and store and established a store in Smith County. After six months here he bought 500 acres in District No. 14 and farmed for three years. He then moved to Nashville, where he ran a lumber and wood yard and as contractor built Carroll and Wharf Avenues, rebuilt Market Front and built a sewer from the river to the Maxwell House. He also owned a third interest in a wholesale and retail grocery on Market Street. In 1862 he returned to Dekalb County and in 1864 settled in Smithville, where the next year he began merchandising at which he was engaged until January 1886. He then sold to his son-in-law, Blankenship. Mrs. Colvert died in 1855, and in January 1858, he married Martha M. Tysee, born in Dekalb County in 1839. Mr. Colvert is the oldest continuous merchant in Smithville business; he was in the grocery business in Nashville. In politics he is a Democrat, first voting for Fillmore. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, while his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church.