Showing posts with label Location: Cocke County TN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Location: Cocke County TN. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Archie's boy, Andy Sawyer (1836-1926)

Last week I wrote my great-great grandfather Archie Sawyer's son James. This week I am focusing on Andrew, the eldest son of Archie and his wife, Sallie Killion. Archie and his boys are on my radar because of my focus on DNA research this year. I am on the hunt for male Sawyers descended from Archie to beg, borrow or bribe my way to a cheek swab for a yDNA test. Bounties will be paid to those who deliver a willing, living candidate. Cake, cookies, booze. Whatever works.

Archie and Sallie's eldest son, Andrew Sawyer (b. 15 Dec 1836 d. 6 Nov 1926) lived most of life in Cocke County, Tennessee. He married Sallie Etherton. Together they had 11 children, including 6 sons that survived to adulthood.
    1. George Wesley Washington Sawyer (1858-1960) had no surviving sons, but as our longest lived relative must be included. 
    2. James Sawyer (1863-1944) does not appear to have had any sons. He and his wife Clara Jones had daughters Mary, Ruth and Grace. 
    3. William A. Sawyer (1865-1904) married Nannie Cavender in 1895. They appear to have had one surviving daughter, Susan, before William died.
    4. Jacob Charles Sawyer (1867-1914) was an invalid for most of his adult life. He never married and is not believed to have had children.
    5. John Sawyer (1872-1940) and his wife Cora Quinn do not appear to have had any sons. They had daughters Tressie and Charlsie. 
    6. Joseph Henry Luther Sawyer (1883-1944). FINALLY!! Joe and his wife Eunice Holt had surviving twin sons, Clarence and Claude (b. 24 May 1921). They also had a daughter Alta, who compiled a family history that has been a cornerstone of my research with the Sawyers. 
I don't mean to give short shrift to the women of the family, or to those children who died young. They are cherished and recorded in my data. But they do not pass on the yDNA I am seeking.

While there are many family stories about Andy, especially about his Civil War experiences, documenting them has proved difficult. It is clear the war was a monumental experience in the life of his family. They lived in Sevier County then, reportedly moving further up into the mountains to avoid the violence. Andy was gone for much of the war, though where he was or which side he fought on is not clear. It seems he didn't go far, since several children were born those years. His wife and children reportedly lived with his parents.

According to family stories (and photographs) Andy worked as a teamster hauling cut trees across the mountains to mills in North Carolina when the lumber companies moved into the Smoky Mountains in the early 20th century. His occupation in census records is listed as a farmer. He appears in most records living with or next to his brothers, sisters and children as part of a tight knit clan.

I would dearly love just one or two minutes of time with any direct male descendant of Andy and Joe. It won't hurt a bit. Just a little swab. Promise.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Photo Credit AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Shawi 

Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Archibald Sawyer (1795-1880)

Archie Sawyer, my great great-grandfather, is a man of mystery. He shows up as Archibald Sayard in the 1830 Federal Census living in Cocke County, Tennessee census. A grown man, age 30-39, with a house full of women and children. Another Archibald Sawyers, aged 70-79, is enumerated on the same page. According to later census data Archie was born about 1795 in South Carolina. Just to make this more interesting there are two similar James Sawyers families enumerated a couple of pages later.

1830 Census listing showing two Archibald Sawyer/Sayers/Sayard listings
Ten years later, I believe Archie is living with my great-great grandmother, Sallie Killian, their eldest two children, his son, her daughter and three other children. Sallie is the only adult woman in the household. The second household, no longer listed on the same page, appears to now be headed by Rebecca or Bricka Sawyer. The elder Archibald appears to have died.

An aside. The presumed death of old Archibald corresponds very nicely with the death in 1839 of a Revolutionary War pensioner, Lewis Sawyer, in Cocke County. A man who does not appear in any Cocke County census. Except his name is NOT Archibald. James Sawyer also loses an elderly man, aged 80-89 in the 1830 census. And names a son Lewis. Of course, I don't know what Archie named those children living with him in 1830.

1840 Cocke County, TN census

By 1850, Archie and Sallie's household reflects the family I know, family my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer, his brothers and sisters considered their own. They claimed Sallie's daughter, Linnie, and Archie's son, James, as their own, never distinguishing them from the full brothers and sisters. Which led to more than a little confusion when I began researching.

The confusion lingers. Just who are those people living with Archie in 1830? I assume brother James, born about 1820, is one of the boys. I have no idea who the others are. None. In 1840 the women, oldest girl, and one male child are no longer in the household. That leaves one boy and two girls, all aged 10 to 14 years old, living with Archie and Sallie. Three people of whom no mention has ever been made in my family.

So who are these folks, Archie? These people you sheltered in 1830 and 1840. Where are they hiding? I am hoping DNA testing may lead to some clues.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

  • Alta Sawyer Palmer, The Sawyer Family, Third Edition (Morristown, Tennessee: Privately published, 1986).
  • 1830 U.S. census, Tennessee, Cocke, p. 245, line 4, Archibald Sayard; digital images, (accessed 24 Feb 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M19, roll 180. 
  • 1840 U.S. census, Tennessee, Cocke,, p. 262, Archabald Sawyers; digital images, (accessed 16 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M704, roll 518.  
  • 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Tennessee, Cocke, District 11, p. 423A, dwelling 1142, family 1142, Arch Sangers or Sawyer; digital images, ( accessed 16 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 874.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Joseph Conway 1802 Will (Part 1) - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

My 4th great-grandfather Joseph Conway wrote a will shortly before his death in 1802 in Cocke County, TN. The Cocke County Courthouse burnt in 1876 and all records held there were lost. A copy of the will was found, however, in the Court of Common Pleas records in Highland County, OH where Conway had owned land.

I transcribed his will and the following orders from a copy of the court record in Joseph Conway's Ancestor file at the DAR Library in Washington DC. The document was marked "Common Pleas Court, Highland Co., Ohio, Record Book A, 191-192."

Because of the length of the court record my notes and analysis will follow in Part 2.

In the name of God Amen I Joseph Conway of Coke County & State of Tennessee being week in body but of Sound & perfect memory blessed be God for this same calling to remembrance the uncertainty of this life that it is appointed for all men once to do and being desirious so to order & dispose of what estate God in his mind has been pleased to bless me with do make constitute and ordain this my last will & testament in manner & form as follows Viz  Imprimes I gave and bequeath my persons & immortal Souls to God who gave it & as to my worldly estate which God in his mercy hath been pleased to bestow on me my will & meaning is that it be so order and disposed as by this my will & testament is hereafter mentioned after all my just debts & Funeral expences are paid  Item   I give & bequeath to my dear & loving wife Sarah Conway one Third part of my real & personal estate among her natural life after that the real estate to be disposed of as is hereinafter mentioned  also  the personal estate to be agreeably divided between the Surviving heirs except the Negro girls given to my daughters in lieu of lands  Item  I give & bequeath to my son Edward Turner Conway two tracts of land lying on Knob Creek  one containing 347 acres conveyed to me from Spencer Rice & John Gooch  The other containing 70 acres adjoining the aforesaid tract taken up and Surveyed by myself also one other tract of land containing 200 acres called the Sugar camp tract Taken up also by myself
Item I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Conway one tract of land containing 300 acres whereon I now live purchased from Robert King also 400 acres as part of an other Tract of Land lying on the North side of the Ohio river on the waters of Paint creek a branch of the Sciota River called the buckskin tract
Item I give and bequeath to my son Peter Conway  Charles Conway and William Turner Conway also the child my wife is at present pregnant with if a son the remainder of the Buckskin tract of land and also one other tract of land containing 2400 acres called the Lees Creek tract a branch of this aforementioned Paint Creek to be equally divided agreeable to quantity & quality
Item I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Maree Conway and Sarah Conway also the child my wife is at present pregnant with in case it is a daughter to have each a Negro girl when the come of age or at the day of marriage the Negro girl to be picked out by the executors which shall be in leiu of their portion of land
Item I give and bequeath to my sons and daughters Edward Joseph Peter Charles & William Elizabeth & Sarah also the Child my wife is at present pregnant with all the rest of my property to be equally divided also my will and desire is that there shall be no division of the estate until my son Edward comes of age at which time there shall be a division & he runs his portion and the rest also in rotation as they come of age shall run their portion also My will and desire also is that my wife shall have the care or ________ent of the estate & children under the directions of the Executions who shall be and are hereby empowered in case they shall see the estate wanting in any respect or the children misused to take possession of the estate and apply it to the best use for the advantage of the children  Also my desire is that the children may be educated and raised in as Christians like manner as the circumstances of the Estate will admit
Finally I do constitute appoint and ordain William Scruggs Phillip Hall & Christopher Conway my whole & sole Executors of this my last will & testament in witness whereof I have set my hand & seal this twenty first day of May 1802
Attest                                                                  Jas Conway {seal}
Florence Puckett
Clary Scruggs
S  Crosby

I William Garret Clerk of the Court of {seal} Pleas & quarter Sessions for the County of Coke do certify the above to be a true copy of Joseph Conway will as rewarded & filed in my ____ in witness whereof I have hereunto Set my own private Seal having no Seal of ___ence this 23rd day of September 18__ (14?)
W. Garrett  ____

Whereupon ordered that a writ of Partition issue to the Sheriff commanding him that by the oath of James Johnson Esq.  Charles N Clifton & Reubin Brown who are appointed commissioners & Thomas N Sanders Surveyor cause to be d____d & partitioned the land mentioned  in the petition agreeably to the ____ of Petitioners and furthered ordered that the commissioners report at the next term of this Court and that the p___n & Document accompaning the same this order & report of Commissioners be one the records of the Court whereupon a writ of Partition issued in the following words & figures to wit  The State of Ohio Highland Common pleas March Term 1815  this day on motion of Beston & Jainagan & others by Wm Couch their attorney  it was ordered that the Sheriff of Highland County by the oath of James Johnson Esq.  Charles N Clifton  and Reuben Brown commissioners & Thomas M Sanders Surveyor because to be set off & partitioned the land in the Petition mentioned which is patented to Joseph Conway on Lees Creek of 2400 acres to be divided in four equal shares equal for quality & quantity that there be set apart respectively to Charles  William  & James Conway each one fourth of said tract in severally and that the remaining fourth part divided to Peter Conway now deceased be equally divided into seven equal parts or shares equal for quality & quantity and set a part in severally to Edward  Joseph  Charles  William & James Conway & to Elizabeth Conway now Elizabeth Jainagan & to Sarah Conway now Sarah Hogain brothers & sisters to the said Peter Conway deceased & it is further ordered that the Commissioners report to the next court

       In testimony that the foregoing is a true copy of the order in the {seal} case of Allen Trimble Clerk of the Court of Common please for said County have been unto set my hand & seal _____ this 6th day of March 1815
Allen Trimble

I hereby certify that the within named James Johnson Reubin Brown & Charles Clifton Commissioners & Thomas M Sanders Surveyor was qualified according to law to the duly a____'d on them by this order Given under my hand & seal this 9th day of March 1815
David  Te___ll JP

Highland, OH, Court of Common Pleas Record Books Record Book A: 191-192, Joseph Conway Will and Petition for Division of Land, 9 Mar 1815; DAR Library: Ancestor Database File for Joseph Conway (#A025212).  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Logging in Cocke County - Those Places Thursday

Cocke County Killions, c. 1920
During the early part of the 20th century industrial logging took hold in the mountains of East Tennessee. Though my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer left the mountains of Cocke County for farmland along the Nolichucky River in Greene County, his brothers and Killion cousins in Cocke County joined the thousands of men who earned a living chopping down the old growth forests and moving the lumber to the mills for processing. From 1900 to 1930 two-thirds of the forests in the Smoky Mountains were cut down.

Gee's brother Andy Sawyer and some of his sons were teamsters, hauling lumber cut in Cocke County across the mountains by wagon to mills in North Carolina. Their frequent trips to and from Madison County, NC helped maintain links to Sawyer cousins in North Carolina, links all but lost today. They would drive their horses from Del Rio, up past Paint Rock, Hot Springs and down toward Marshall, NC. A Sawyer cousin shared a digital copy of a photograph above of some of the Killions at work moving the logs. We can't identify specific individuals, but these men were the sons and grandsons of one Andy & Gee's maternal uncles - most likely Jacob Killion (1824-1903). 

School outing, c. 1920
From today's perspective clearcutting such large swaths of old growth forests is appalling, at best. It was not seen that way at the time. Many families saw incomes rise with the wages paid to the loggers and teamsters. The communities were proud of the railroads and mills. My great-aunts remembered outings or frolics up into the mountains to watch the wood being felled and moved. 

Their photo albums contain several photographs of school girls and friends posed on logs and downed trees. No one is mourning in these photos. They are playing, gawking and celebrating. In this photo the logs are resting next to a railroad line. My great-aunt Selma Sawyer, a school teacher, is seated at the right.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Archie Sawyer & Sally Killion - What I was told

From Flickr by hubertk

Growing up I was told my great-great grandparents Archie & Sally Killion Sawyer had come over the mountains from the Carolinas to Cocke County after the Revolutionary War.  They had nine children - James, Linnie, Andrew, Barbary, William B, Elizabeth, Crawford, Jake and my great-grandfather, Jehu (or Gee). Most of the children remained in Cocke or Greene counties, but James settled in North Carolina, had twins and a son Leroy. Linnie moved away after the Civil War and contact was lost with her family. I was told that Archie died January 2, 1881 and was buried at Joseph's Chapel in Cocke County. We were kin to the Killions and Killians in the area and to the Sawyers over the mountains in Madison County, NC.

That was it. The sum total of our knowledge.

My aunt dug into census records in the 1970s and reported that Archie had been born in South Carolina around 1795 and that Sally was born around 1810 in North Carolina. Once I began researching in the 1980s the census records provoked as many questions as they answered.  The 1880 census enumerated Sally (listed as Sarah) living in Greene County with her son William. She and her daughter were both listed as widowed. Given that I believed Archie died in 1881 this was surprising.

1880 Greene County TN census listing for Sarah Sawyers
I wondered if he had left the family (giving him LOTS of credit for an 85 year old man) and searched the census records for Cocke, Greene, Jefferson, Sevier Counties in Tennessee and Madison and Buncombe Counties in North Carolina. He was not to be found.

On my next trip back to Tennessee I went to Joseph's Chapel to see Archie's grave. (Did I take a camera?  I was young. I had diaper bags, juice boxes, Cheerios, even toddlers. No camera.) Once I found the tombstone I was surprised to find it read Sarah Killion, wife of Archibald Sawyer with the dates 23 September 1812 - 2 January 1881. That's according to my notes. Will I swear to the spelling? Not a chance. I'm not even sure if it read Sarah or Sally - Archibald or Archie. (Remember, I was really, really young.) What I will swear to is that it was NOT Archie's grave, but his wife's. There was no marker for Archie. Given the 1880 census record I feel confident that Archie died sometime before the 1880 census and was probably buried at Joseph's Chapel. 

Guess what's on my agenda this summer?


I was wrong in stating I did not have a camera! Photograph of Sarah's gravestone is here.

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Tennessee, Greene, District 4, enumeration district (ED) 46, p. 65C, dwelling 162, family 162; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1258.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

The rivers run ...

With a blog named for the Nolichucky River, this year’s Blog Action Day! theme of water is a natural. As are rivers. Rivers move. They rage, flood, flow, wash and meander. They define our migration, our settlements. They are our boundaries, our highways. We sing of them, write of them, dream of them.

And when I was young, we watched them burn.
Even 20 years after the 1972 Clean Water Act my children, growing up along the Grand River in Michigan, were forbidden to swim in the river and all but disinfected after swimming in Lake Michigan near its mouth. While I still worry about the long-term health effects, today’s Grand is renewed. 
My 'heritage' rivers - the Nolichucky in North Carolina and East Tennessee and the Rika in the Ukraine - are smaller mountain rivers draining into large watersheds. The waters of the Nolichucky flow out of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, feeding into the French Broad, the Tennessee, the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers. The Rika, rising in the Carpathian Mountains, flows south to the Tysa (Tysza) and eventually drains into the Danube north of Belgrade.  
Relatively remote and with limited human populations nearby, they have not been polluted to the extent the downstream rivers have been. Still, there are threats to each from runoff waters. 
Siltation, or the sediment from soil erosion, is the greatest threat. The resulting cloudiness in the water reduces the light available to the river ecosystem, damages water filtration systems used for power generation and drinking water, and can even inhibit recreational uses. Logging in the Smoky Mountains during 19th and early 20th centuries dramatically increased erosion and runoff. Commercial development is the largest contributing factor today to siltation in the Nolichucky. Logging and desperately needed development in the Carpathian Mountains compete with the environmental threats to the Rika, though the Ukraine and six other governments have signed an agreement to promote sustainable development in the mountains. 
Increased levels of E. coli and contaminants from fertilizers and pesticides also threaten the rivers. 
I was pleased when I investigated the current state of the Nolichucky River to find it being monitored and improving in quality. Farmers and developers are being encouraged to limit livestock access to the river and to install drainage systems to reduce stormwater runoff. These actions resulted in improved water quality in the three sections of the river being monitored for poor quality. One section was so improved it was removed from the list. 
I have not been able to investigate the water quality of the Rika. Instead, I have watched as red sludge from an industrial site oozes into the Danube and threatens more villages in Hungary. Depressing as that vision is, I hold onto the improvements made here following the Clean Water Act and hope that similar efforts in Central and Eastern Europe will lead to cleaner rivers there.

For further information on

Photograph from the U.S. National Archives.