Benton County Tennessee

Early Settlers Biographies

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Henry Franklin Abbott, b. 1848 at Crockett Gully's/Holiday/Benton County. Buried in the Plesant Hill Cemetary. Henry was m. 4 times. 1st: Caroline Poleston. b. 1846. d. 9-1860. Buried at Plesant Hill Cemetary. 2nd wife: Martha Elizabeth Norwood b. 1860. d.12-9-1887(myggandma). 3rd wife: Amanda Louise Allen. b.10-18-1865. d. 5-10-1906. buried at Plesant Hill Cemetary. (he was married the 4th time but I don't know her name but she too was buried in Plesant Hill).

09/01/2002 Update

Crockett Gully's was located approximately 14 miles west of the Tennesse river & Sugar Tree. Approx. 3 miles north of Natchez Trace Park. When Davy Crockett and family were on their way to the Almo in Texas in 1932, they stopped and camped along the beautiful white sand at a large gully. His cousin and family became ill and could not continue on. they built a cabin. Afetr that other settlers came along. It was a good place to camp. Henry Abbott's family came and whne he married his 2nd wife,my greatgrandmother Martha Elizabeth Norwood, they had the first griss mill.

Henry Franklin Abbott, born 1848. Died 12-7-1914. Buried at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist church cemetary on Eva road. Henry was married 4 times.

1st wife: Caroline Poleston, born 1846. Died 9-1860. Buried at Pleasant hill Cemetary.

2nd wife: Martha Elizabeth Norwood born 1860. Died 12-9-1887. Buried at Pleasant Hill cemetary.

3rd wife: Amanda Louise Allen. Born 10-18-1865. Died 5-10-1906. Buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetary.

4th wife: Don't have any information on her(if you know J.C. Hedges, he's my first cousin. His daddy and my daddy were halfbrothers and is mother is my great aaunt and half sister of my grandma Courdie Kee and daughter of Henry's 3rd wife Amanda Louise Allen.

Thomas Kee and wife Elizabeth Allen. Brother of Luther kee. Thomas Kee was a horseman. He raced horses and sold them. All are buried at Cross Roads Baptist church cemetary.. Don't know the date. Maybe some of our family will see this, go to the cemetary and get the info for you.

Thomas and Elizabeth had 3 children. Polly, Luther and Albert Arthur. Polly married a Smothers (relatives of Smothers that owned the Camden theater).

Luther Kee is the father of Emma Kee Smothers, married to Albert smothers.Iver Kee Hicks was married to Marvin Hicks(I believe all have died. maybe their family can give info.).

Albert Arthur Keewas born 9-23-1884 in Crockett Gully's.

Cordia Abbott, daughter of Henry and Martha Elizabeth Norwood, was born 3-3-1886 at Crockett Gully's.

Cordie Abbott & Albert Arthur were married in 1900. They had 7 children. Thomas, Flora may, Ray, Carlie, Albert, Jewell and Bernice.

Thimas(9), Ray(12) Carlie (18 months) & Albert(21) are the ages when they died and were buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetary. Albert was the father of Dennis Earl Kee of Camden.

Thomas Jackson Kee, son of Charles Kee and Amy Sykes born in 1826. Died in Benton County. Charles Kee was the son of Holloway Kee Sr. and Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Charles Williams. All of the Kee's are buried in Pleasant Hill Baptist church cemetary.

Children of Thomas Jackson and Elizabeth Kee are: Albert Author(my grandpa), Sarah, Mary Elizabeth, Daniel Jackson, Luther A., John Allen, Nora Kee (Smothers), Martha Yarbo "Mattie" Kee(Wimberley/Baker), and Ada Bell.

Elizabeth Allen Kee (my ggrandma)' s father was John "Jack" Allen.

Martha Elizabeth Norwood Abbott was the mother of my grandma Cordelia D. Abbott Kee (b. 3-3-1886 at Crockett Gully's. d. 9-6-1963 at home(Camden,Tn) Buried at Pleasant Hill Baptist church cemetary.

Albert Author Kee b. 9-23-1883 near the old home place where I was born on Natchez Trace road, 9 miles south of Camden. Died 9-6-1959 at home.Buried at Pleasant Hill Baptist church cemetary.

Flora Mae Kee Hedges Wade(my mom) b. 8-3-1904 on N. T. Rd. d. in Whitesveille,Ky 3-10-1981. Buried at Cross Roads Cemetary. Washie Green Hedges(my dad) B. 11-24-1895 at Crockett Gully's/Holiday,Tn. d. 9-22-1963 at Camden Clinic. B. in Cross Roads Cemetary.

My brother Leonard D. Hedges b. 8-14-1925. d. 4-30-1969 at Camden. Buried by mom and dad at Cross roads cemetary.

Jacob Browning Florence was born on December 23, 1838 in Benton County, Tennessee, son of Josiah Turner Florence and Avis Simmons.

He was named after Josiah's friend and neighbor, the Elder Jacob Browning, the pioneer Baptist preacher of Benton County. Our Jacob Browning Florence was well educated and was a Phycian in Benton County for several years. Although he was known as "Doctor" Florence, Jacob never had a medical degree, but his study and knowlege of medicine was widely sought by many who had aches and pains in Benton County. Vital Records show that Jacob was still delivering babies around the County in 1909 and 1910.

State of Tennessee, Benton County: December 30, 1841;
Jacob B. Florence assignee____of Sam'l Douglas by Virtue of certif _18 NC warrant No. 3661 issued by the Secretery and Camp of West Tennessee for forty-eight acres enters one fourth acre of the same in B. County in range 74 Section 5 beginning at the South East Corner of occupant entry in the name of Franklin Rushing on which L.D. Pierce now lives runs North five poles thence East 46 for complimant.

Josiah T. Florence
December 30, 1841
Filed December 30, 1841

Jacob Browning Florence married Cynthia Jane Greer in the Rocky Ridge area of Benton County on October 16, 1862. Cynthia was born on January 17, 1843 in Benton County, in the area called Rocky Ridge. She was the daughter of Hezikah Greer who was born April 4, 1807 in Stewart County, Tennessee and died in Benton County on March 28, 1862. Her Mother was Mary Wyatt, born on December 27, 1805 in South Carolina and died on May 24, 1865 in Benton County. Jacob and Cynthia's marriage bond reads as follows:

"16 Oct 1862, J.B. Florence & Cinthia B. Greer Md: 16 Oct 1862, I Quilleon, MG."

Jacob served the Confederacy during the Civil War. He enlisted on May 20, 1861 at Paris, Tennessee. He was a part of Company E, 5th Tennessee Regiment, Infantry. He was to have taken part in the terrible Battle of Shiloh, but his first day out, Jacob came down with a bad case of measles, and was delirious with fever. After the battle of "Bloody Shiloh," it was time for his Company to move on. They left Jacob to recover at the home of an old couple who lived at the edge of the battlefield. When Jacob got well, he had no idea where his Regiment had gone. So Jacob started to make his way back to Benton County. He got a ride on a stagecoach that was stopped on the Union lines. The Union was stopping people to look for southerners to sign their allegence to the Union. The stage coach driver convinced the Union soldiers that Jacob was not a Confederate, but an extra driver on the coach. This got him safely though the Union lines and back onto Confederate Territory.

On April 22, 1867, a document shows that Jacob and his wife, Cynthia, selling 80 acres of their land to Samuel H. Madden in consideration for the payment of $500.00. They also sold a parcel of land containing 20 acres in Benton County to a James M. Markham, for the sum of $50.00. This was dated on October 26, 1871.

On October 15, 1879, J.B. Florence sold another tract of land, containing 10 acres to C.C. Vicke for the consideration of the sum of $100.00.

Jacob Browning Florence served as a member of Camp 1014, of the United Confederate Veterans. He was also a Delegate to the Populist State Convention of Nashville, Tennessee (this information is out of a paper dated, April 20, 1900). During a period of agricultural depression, many farmers formed alliances designed to make themselves a stronger element in national, state and local politics. A natural sort of outgrowth of this political activity was the Populist Party which fostered many liberal programs but failed because of it's limited appeal. Dr. J.B. Florence was among it's strongest supporters and leaders in Benton County. For a time, around the turn of this century, the local Populists were a group to be heeded somewhat as some of it's leadership represented a better class of farmer folk.

Jacob died on September 30, 1911 of heart failure. After Jacob died, his wife Cynthia filed for his Civil War Pension. In the application, Cynthia stated that Jacob came home from the war to recover from a severe sickness. After a year at home, he returned to service and joined Forrest's Command, and fought in the battle of Johnsonville. He returned home after only a few days due to his health. She filed for the pension on June 1, 1913. It was rejected on July 10, 1913, because J.B. Florence had deserted on May 23, 1862 from Company E, and no later record of his sevice. There was another Civil War Record that showed the following:

Confederate Soldiers Service Records, North Carolina Troops F 976 M 22C:
Florence, J.B., 2 Co. C. 5 Tenn Inf.

In the appllication, she stated that she had a life estate of about 90 acres of thin hill land, about 30 to 35 acres open, and the place was valued at $600.00. This was all the land Jacob owned at the time of his death.

Cynthia Jane died on March 9, 1914 of paralysis. Jacob and Cynthia are buried together at Rushing's Creek Missionary Baptist Churchyard in Benton County. Cynthia Jane Florence's tombstone at Rushing's Creek Churchyard is misspelled. It reads, "Cynthia J. Florrence."

Artie Miss Florence was born on August 29, 1863. She was the first child born to Jacob and Cynthia. She married Lucian Thomas Elmore on September 17, 1879 in Benton County. Lucian T. Elmore was born on April 20, 1856, and was the son of Edward Elmore and Caroline Boswell. Artie was known as the "shouting Methodist." She died on March 18, 1943. Her husband died three years earlier on March 15, 1940. They are buried at Liberty Methodist Church in Benton County, Tennessee.

The children of Lucian Thomas Elmore and Artie Miss Florence were:
1. Napoleon "Polie" Elmore Born: July 11, 1880
2. Clara Elmore Born: Sept. 4, 1885
3. Luther Elmore Born: May 17, 1892
4. Carlos Elmore Born: Oct. 1, 1894 Died: July 19, 1969
5. Lavonie Elmore Born: Oct. 28, 1897 Died: Nov. 14, 1978
6. Ernie Elmore Born: April 13, 1900
7. Tommy Elmore Born: Jan. 19, 1905 Died: 1961

Mary Avis Florence was born on December 2, 1865. She married on November 12, 1882, to Asbury Newton Presson, who was born November 4, 1863 and died in 1950. The parents of Asbury N. Presson were Ellis Presson and Catherine Spars Rushing. He was known as "Pa Newt," son of a Union Soldier. There has been conflicting information if his name was William Asbury Newton Presson or Asbury Newton Presson - I have no written proof of either. Mary Avis died in 1954. They are buried in Benton County at an unknown location as of this writing.

The children of Asbury Newton Presson and Mary Avis Florence were:
1. Effie Presson Born: Feb. 1885 Died: Jan. 10, 1967
2. Nora Presson Born: Aug. 13, 1887
3. Arthur K. Presson Born: March 25,1890
4. Herman Winfred Presson Born: April 22, 1893 Died: Sept. 28, 1968
5. Cloris or Clovis Presson Born: July 18, 1895
6. Ida C. Presson Born: Sept. 5, 1897
7. Ellis Wilbur Presson Born: Sept. 11, 1901
8. Cloie Presson Born: Nov. 13, 1903
9. Eugene Cyrus Presson Born: Nov. 20, 1906
10. Child Presson ( Mary A. Presson was listed in 1910 as having 10 children, 9 living.)

George Washington Florence was born in 1867 in Benton County. (See posted Biography.)

Sarah Elizabeth Florence was born on December 25, 1869. She married Alvin H. Bain on November 2, 1886 in Benton County. Alvin was born in July of 1871. Sarah Elizabeth died in August of 1955. She and Alvin are buried at Pleasant Hill Methodist Churchyard in Benton County. The only child known born to them was a daughter born about 1887. Her name is not known.

Rebecca Cordelia "Delia" Florence was born in Benton County on, April 13, 1871. On November 26, 1887, she married William Alexander Sparks in Benton County. William (Bill) Sparks was born in May 13, 1866 and died in December 28, 1947 in Benton County, Tennessee of a Stroke. He was the son of Dr. James Thomas Sparks and Nancy Walker Weatherly. William Alexander Sparks was known by his friends as "Bill" Sparks, by his children and grandchildrenas "Pappy Bill" Sparks and as "Mr. Bill" by his son-in-laws. He was tall in statue, standing over 6 feet and weighing more than 250 pounds. He had a deep rough voice that demanded attention from his children and grandchildren. Pappy Bill was always seen wearing his big black hat. He was a heavy eater with a passion for home cured country ham. He often ate ham three times a day, and he expected "Mammy Dee" to have a dessert on hand to finish off his meal.

Bill Sparks made farming his lifes work. He owned automobiles but never took the time to learn to drive. The driving was left to one of the children, usually his son, Ray. Today, he would be known as a back-seat driver as he would ride in the rear seat behind the driver directing the speed, turns and direction. Rebecca Cordelia Florence, "Mammy Dee," was well known for her good cooking and each summer she canned many jars of fruits and vegtables. Bill and Cordelia had a strong belief in God and they were active members of the Rushing Creek Baptist Church located in the Rushing Creek Community of Benton County. It was said that Bill, along with his brother's, Sam and Jake, were the pillars of the church.

Rebecca Cordelia died October 27, 1951 in Benton County of a Heart Attack. Their burial place is in Rushing Creek Cemetery.

The children of William Alexander Sparks and Rebecca Cordelia Florence were:
1. Virgil Harrison Sparks Born: October 30, 1888 Died: Nov. 29, 1948
2. James T. Sparks Born: March 7, 1891 Died: June 3, 1967
3. Jacob Roy Sparks Born: Jan 11, 1894 Died: June 30, 1962
4. Ida Sparks Born: August 16, 1896 Died: Feb. 25, 1979
5. Ada Sparks Born: April 14, 1899
6. Zula M. Sparks Born: November 27, 1900 Died: April 18, 1988
7. Beulah Sparks Born: April 3, 1904 Died: Nov. 1, 1969
8. Lovie Sparks Born: April 27, 1907 Died: Oct 22, 1958
9. William Ray Sparks Born: Jan. 27, 1909 Died: Jan. 19, 1992
10. Allie Marie Sparks Born: Jan. 18, 1913
11. Cynthia Ophelia Sparks Born: April 21, 1918 Died: Nov. 4, 1970

Elbert H. Florence was born on July 17,1875. The 1900 Census of Benton County, showed Elbert living as a boarder of Charley Hubbs. He married Lena Beaver Ballentine in Crockett County, Tennessee in 1917. Lena was born about 1876 in Tennessee. He was considered a well educated man who taught school in Benton County, as well as other counties. It is believed he met his wife while teaching in Crockett County. They moved to El Paso, Texas, where Elbert commited suicide in 1929. They had only one son, who is also deceased. He was John W. Florence, who was born circa 1908 in New Mexico. The 1910 Soundex of Texas showed that Elbert was raising 4 stepchildren that belonged to his wife Lena. They were, Eva, age 16, Willie, age 12, Conrad, age 9, and Nina, age 7. They were all listed as being born in Tennessee, and carried the last name of Ballentine, showing that Lena's maiden name was not Ballentine as always been thought, but that of a possible first marriage.

Robert Gillian Florence was born in Benton County on July 20, 1878. On September 5, 1900, he was wed to Jeannie (Genie) L. Davidson. While doing a marriage record search, I found two marriage bonds with Jeannie Davidson listed just a day apart. The first one was recorded on September 4, 1900. She was listed as going to marry Martin L. Vick. On the 5th of September she was listed again to marry R.G. Florence. The story on this that was told was that Jeannie was in love with both men, and could not decide which one to marry. So, she set both men in a room with four chairs that faced away from the door. The men were to sit in two of these chairs and she would enter the room without looking and whoever she sat down beside of would be the one she would wed. She sat down next to Robert Gillian Florence and they were married. Robert also was a Benton County Magistrate, (the dates of his service is not yet known), following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Josiah Turner Florence. he also was elected to the Benton County, Finance Commitee at the July term in 1907. Robert was a democrat. Eugenie Davidson was born in 1885 and died in 1933. She was the daughter of James B. Davidson and Olive Adams. Robert Gillian died on October 1, 1932. Both are buried in Camden City Cemetery in Benton County.

The Children of Robert Gillian Florence and Eugenie Davidson were:
1. Emory Carmack Florence Born: Sept. 17, 1907 Died: Oct. 10, 1946
2. Olive C. Florence Born: 1910

James Oscar Florence was born on August 29, 1880 in Benton County, Tennessee. He was a Telegraph Operator by trade. James was employed with the Nashville-Memphis Railroad. Later he was a station Master at McEwen. He married Maude (Maudie)Garner on January 2, 1904 in Benton County, Tennessee. He went by "Oscar" all of his life.

Maude was the daughter of George Farmer Garner and Josephine Katherine Hall. Maude Garner was born September 16, 1883 in Sulphur Creek, Benton County, Tennessee, which is now in the Big Sandy Postal area. Maude was a member of the Methodist Church of the Eastern Star. She died on January 24, 1976 in the Green Valley Medical Center, in Dickson, Dickson County, Tennessee. She is buried on January 25, 1976 in McEwen Cemetery in Humpreys County.

James Oscar Florence died on June 23, 1958 in McEwen, Humphreys County, Tennessee of a Stroke at his home after doing yard work during the heat of the day. He is buried in McEwen Cemetery

The children of James Oscar Florence and Maude Garner were:
1. Mary Lucille Florence Born: November 14, 1904 Died: March 30, 1990
2. Measie Florence Born: 1906-1907 Died: 1906-1907: in infancy.
3. Basil Eugene Florence Born: June 7, 1906 Died: 1992
4. Thomas Harold Florence Born: May 23, 1908 Died: Sept. 1982
5. Moselle Marguerite Florence Born: Jan. 25, 1911
6. James Blount Florence Born: March 1, 1913 Died: June 22, 1995
7. Cynthia Josephine "Jo" Florence Born: May 29,1915 Died: September 4, 1997
8. John Pershing Florence Born: April 6, 1918 Died: July 19, 1997
9. George Browning Florence Born: June 22, 1923 Died: August 19, 1939

Finis Uing Florence was the last child born to Jacob and Cynthia. He was born on March 24, 1883. He was named Finis because of being the last child born. It is the Latin word for "Finished." On November 28, 1917, he married Ona Whitfield, who was born December 9, 1890. She was the daughter of Obediah and Emiline Whitfield. Ona was a school teacher at the Liberty School in 1910. The Whitfield heirs donated the land to the Benton County Education Department in 1921, to build a new school.

The old Liberty school had became run down, so the new building was built on the Whitfield property, ajacent to the to the old one. Finis Florence was one of the teachers at Liberty, and is probably were he met his wife. Finis ran a street car in Memphis for a time, and returned to Benton County to care for his ailing mother, Cynthia Jane, who died soon after.

In later years, Finis became a mail carrier in Camden. There is a street in Camden called "Florence Street." It was named for Finis Florence, who once owned the tract of land the street and surrounding neiborhoods are on. Finis and Ona never had any children. Finis Florence died in July 18,1970, and Ona died of congestive heart failure on January 22, 1986 (month and day are not on her tombstone). He and his wife are buried at Liberty Methodist Church Cemetery in Benton County.

Submitted by Dan Florence

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