Cocke County, TNGenWeb
French Family

Submitted by Julie Walters

Generation No. 1

1. UNKNOWN1 FRENCH was born abt. 1730.

Notes for UNKNOWN FRENCH: Some information on the French Family Name:
French is the English ethnic name for the man who came from France, from the Middle english word frensche = France, although occasionally it was simply a nickname for the man who adoped French airs. Those of Irish descent may be descended from Theophilus de Frensche, who was a Norman baron who came to the isles with William the Conqueror, and who produced Sir John French as a descendant (he was Commander-In-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in WWI)

FRENCH or THE FRENCH, an incomer from France. The first recorded reference to the surname appears to be a Symon le Frensch from the County of Wilkshire in England who was registered in the first ever English Population census of 1273. Roger, son of William French, quit claimed lands in Annan England for other lands in Moffat England in 1245.

Generation No. 2

2. HENRY2 FRENCH, SR. (UNKNOWN1) was born abt. 1755 in possibly Philadelphia, PA, and died in probably Greene County, TN. He married (1) ABIGAIL ANDERSON 2 May 11, 1790. He married (2) CATHERINE WATSON December 30, 1817 in Washington County, TN.

Notes for HENRY FRENCH ,SR.: Henry is at present a man of mystery. In 1982, we discovered through another descendant (Maidie Strellman of Bellevue, WA) that Henry had received a land grant from the State of NC for his services in the Revolutionary War. According to Ms. Strellman, the size of the grant indicates the rank the man would have held at the time he was paid off. The size of this grant (150 acres) indicates Henry was an Ensign. The grant is located "on the waters of the Cherokee Creek" in what is now Washington County, TN. The grant was issued 25 Aug 1779, and recorded on 11 Jul 1788. No explanation is given for the delay between the issuance and the recording. There is one possible explanation: In 1784 North Carolina ceded part of its western lands to the federal governement. Before Congress had time to act, North Carolina took back those lands. Meanwhile, the citizens of that area, being without state or federal protection, formed a new state, the State of Franklin. This state functioned for about three years but was never taken into the union. It ultimately became part of the State of Tennesse. In 1788, North Carolina again gained control of the area, pardoning the leaders of the now defunct state of Franklin, and assuming the functions of a state. This could explain the delay in recording, since the land grant of Henry French and all the other land grants in that area were dated identically, 11 Jul 1788, and were recorded by one Sam Johnston. (I have copy of surveyor's plat and land grant dated August 25, 1779 and payroll sheet dated 1782 received from Ruth French Duffy).

This information only serves to increase the mystery of Henry French, since the only Revolutionary War record we have found lists a Henry French as a member of the "IL Regiment of the VA State Troops." If they are the same person, why is NC paying off the VA veterans? Also, no record has ever been found where any Henry French ever applied for a Revolutionary War pension. We have also discovered that there was a fire in the National Archives in Washington, D. C., which destroyed all records received there before Nov 1800. This would account for some of the mystery.

Another mystery: We have a copy of a marriage record in Washington County, TN, where Henry French married Catherine Heatrone on 30 Dec 1817 (photostat in Strellman file). Also, there is a record of a marriage of Henry French and Catherine Watson on 29 Dec 1817 --also in Washington Co. (Duffy file). Obviously this is a case of miscopied information. The Strellman record is a photostat. If this is the same Henry, it would have to be a second marriage since William L. French was born in 1795 and John Peter French in 1793.

There is a lot of fascinating information in the Greene County courthouse, Greeneville, TN, concerning the Frenches. We found that Henry purchased 100 acres of land in 1801, and the cost was "40 pounds." So, we know that Henry was in Greene County by 1801. Ruth Duffy has a copy of this deed. A peculiar thing about it is that it is signed by "Henry French--his mark," indicating that Henry was unable to write. Yet by 1818, when another deed was recorded (sale of a farm to his two sons, John P. and William L.), his signature appears written by himself. Apparently he had learned to write during those 17 years. There were two other deeds recorded between 1801 and 1818 which gave Henry approximately 400 acres of land by 1818.

In Washington County, TN, which borders Greene County, there is a deed transferring ownership of a 200 acre parcel of land from several Frenches to one David Fulks. On October 28, 1809 the first three children of this family (Henry, George and John), among other men, sold 200 acres on Cherokee Creek, Washington County, TN for $1,000. This is signed by George French, Henry French, Peter French, Barbary (?) Felker, Evy Margret Toppin, Mary Walker, and Everett Walker. This deed was recorded in Nov 1809. Where all of these other Frenches came from is at present unknown. Presumably this transaction concerns the settlement of an estate and that these are all the children of Henry French's father. If the order of names means anything, Henry French must have been the second son. This matter is still being researched. Three years later, it seems as though Henry and George bought this land back or another parcel of 200 acres.

The above information is taken from the French Family Record, written in 1982, compiled by Ruth French Duffy and Philip A. Duffy.

Marriage Notes for Henry French and Abigail Anderson: There is no proof that the Henry French who married Abigail Anderson in 1790 is the father of William L. French. It would have to be his second marriage, since William L. had at least one brother (Henry French, Jr.) who was born before this date (in 1779). However, we will assume Abigail's bridgegroom is William L. French's father until we know otherwise. Henry French and Abigail Anderson are listed on the Frederick, Virginia marriage records 1772-1850. There is also a listing for Henry French married to Catharine Watson on 12/29/1817 in Washington County, TN. The name of Catharine Heatrone may be in error. This is yet to be determined.

It is not understood why Henry's first two children are sixteen years apart.

In 1818 Henry was still living on Cherokee Creek, age 58.

Generation No. 3

3. HENRY3 FRENCH, JR. (HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born abt. 1779 in Wilkes County, NC. He married RODY COTTER January 31, 1804 in Greene County, TN, daughter of JOHN COTTER?.

Notes for HENRY FRENCH, JR.: Henry French was born in 1779 in Wilkes County, NC, which is now Washington County, TN since 1777 and Greene County, TN since 1783. Henry married Rody Cotter on January 31, 1804 in Greeneville, Greene County, TN. Rody's name appears as Rhody Coiler on their marriage certificate. Her name is also known as Rhody, Rhoda and her last name as Callow, Collor. (There are both Colliers & Cotters listed on the 1800 Greene County, TN Tax List. Rody was born in 1778 in VA.

On the 1850 Greene County, TN census Henry was age 71 and Rody was 72. They both died between 1850-1860. Also living in the household in 1850 is Rhody Brammon, age 14. He was the son of Henry's sister, Elizabeth and her husband George Brannon (again notice the difference in spelling of the surname!).

Henry French, Jr. is included as a child of Henry French, Sr. and Abigail Anderson until I can prove his mother otherwise. He was born in 1779 and Henry Sr. and Abigail married in 1790.

There was probably an earlier marriage for Henry Sr. and possibly more siblings to Henry Jr.

Notes for RODY COTTER: Rody's name is listed as Rhody Carter on the Greene County, TN marriage list.

4. JOHN PETER3 FRENCH (HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born February 09, 1793 in Greene County or Washington County, TN, and died March 16, 1877 in Alma, Marion County, IL. He married ELIZABETH HARTMAN September 23, 1815 in Washington County, TN, daughter of JOSEPH HARTMAN and MARY HENLEY.

Notes for JOHN PETER FRENCH: John was a farmer and a developer in Alma, IL. John served in the War of 1812 from Greene County, TN as a Private under Col. Samuel Bayless and Captain Solomon Hendri, E. TN Military. He owned property in 1818 on Mill Creek (branch of Big Linestone).

John is listed on the 1830 Greene County, TN census list.

In 1835 John moved his family to St. Clair County, IL. He resided in Tonti Township until 1855 and then lived in Alma, Marion County, IL where he receivd 80 acres from his service in TN Militia during the War of 1812. He and Elizabeth were buried in Marion County, IL.
source: The French Family Association 10/1/1997, Greene Co., TN census lists

More About JOHN PETER FRENCH: John is the father of eleven children.

5. WILLIAM L.3 FRENCH (HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born July 04, 1795 in Greene County, TN, and died March 16, 1864 in Horsecreek Community, Greene County, TN. He married SARAH ANN GLASS January 28, 1826 in Greene County, TN.

Notes for WILLIAM L. FRENCH: William was a landholder in 1819 in Washington County, TN. William L. is listed on the 1850 Greene County, TN census. In Greeneville, Greene County, TN during the Civil War, William was ill at home and not in a unit when the rebels came through and put him on a horse and took him through the woods. He slid off the back of the horse and ran, only to be gunned down. He is buried at the Pleasant Hill Methodist Cemetery, Horse Creek Valley, Chuckey, TN. In the 1870 census, his widow Sarah is shown as living with her son, Anderson and his family.

6. ELIZABETH (BETSEY)3 FRENCH (HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born October 23, 1805. She married (1) JAMES JOSEPH LAYMAN in Greene County, TN. She married (2) GEORGE BRANNON July 07, 1832 in Greene County, TN.

Notes for ELIZABETH (BETSEY) FRENCH: Elizabeth's marriage record to Joseph Layman lists her marriage date as 23 Oct 1805 - this is in error. It is actually her birth date.

Generation No. 4

7. JAMES4 FRENCH (HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born abt. 1823 in Greene County, TN. He married MARGARET.

8. WILLIAM M.4 FRENCH (HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born abt. 1825 in Greene County, TN, and died 1897 in Cocke County, TN. He married ELIZABETH TROBAUGH August 23, 1846 in Greene County, TN, daughter of GEORGE TROBAUGH and REGINA ANDES.

More About WILLIAM M. FRENCH: He was a twin to Nancy French

9. MARSHALL4 FRENCH (JOHN PETER3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born 1824 in Greene County, TN, and died 1891 in Jasper County, MO. He married HARRIET WILLIAMS 1850 in Illinois.

10. WILLIAM JACKSON4 FRENCH (WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born abt. 1826. He married SUSAN E. BROYLES September 26, 1843 in Washington County, TN.

Notes for WILLIAM JACKSON FRENCH: Jackson "Jack" had seven daughters altogether, plus the one son, Thomas Newton French. Only two daughters' names are known at this time (1996). Marriage record for W. J. French and A.E. Broyles married 26 Sept 1843 Washington County, TN.
source: Marvin French

11. JOHN PETER4 FRENCH (WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born October 08, 1836 in Greene Co, TN, and died September 30, 1912 in Norbone, MO. He married SABRA JANE COLLIER September 24, 1854 in Greeneville, TN.

Notes for JOHN PETER FRENCH: The date of death on John P.'s tombstone, 30 Sep 1912, is incorrect. The right date is 31 Aug 1912.

The first recorded sale of property we found for him was dated 11 Apr 1910. From his birth we can determine that he was 74 at that time and had undoubtedly decided to retire. He was 75 at the time he had a stroke and 76 at the time of his death. The following is copied from the 6 Sep 1912 issue of the Norborne Democrat, Norborne, MO.

"John P. French, one of Norborne's best citizens, committed suicide by hanging himself in the barn at his home, Sat. morning, about 5:00 o'clock. Mrs. French had gone to the station with one of her granddaughters, who was returning to her home in Carrollton, leaving Mr. French alone in the house. During her absence, he secured a rope, tied a regulation hangman's knot in it, climbed up into the barn loft, raised a board in the floor, tied the rope on a joist, adjusted the noose around his neck; then tied his hands together and jumped through the hole in the barn loft. The drop was not sufficient to dislocate his neck and he died of strangulation. When found he was hanging in the stall where there was a horse, and was dead when cut down. The coroner was notified, but concluded that an inquest was not necessary as there was no question as to how he died. Dr. Brunner issued a burial permit."

"In Feb 1911, Mr. French was stricken with partial paralysis, his tongue and vocal cords being so badly affected that he could not talk sufficiently plain to be understood; this seemed to worry him greatly and he grew morbid; taking but little, if any interest in things around him. After being afflicted for several months his usually cheerful nature seemed to undergo a change, and nothing could restore his interest in affairs. He seemed to have lost hope, and with it, the desire to live. He knew there was no hope of recovery and the constant brooding over his condition probably unbalanced his mind and when in an irresponsible condition took his life."

"John P. French was born at Greeneville, Tenn., Oct. 8, 1836, and there grew to manhood. In 1854 he was married to Miss S. J. Collier, and in 1855 they came to Missouri; first settling in Franklin County. In 1866 Mr. French left his home in Franklin Co. and started on a prospecting tour of Texas. For nearly two years not a word was heard from him, and Mrs. French concluded that he must have been killed by Indians, that were at that time attacking whites that were traveling throughout the state. In 1867 Mrs. French, having given up hope of seeing her husband alive again moved to Carroll County where she had relatives. In 1868 Mr. French returned to his old home in Franklin Co. and learned that his wife and children were in Carroll Co., and at once came here to be with his family, and has since been one of our best citizens. For more than 40 years Mr. French made his residence in Sugartree and Cherry Valley townships and Norborne, and during all these years has been esteemed and recognized as an honest upright man whose word was his bond. There were no better men than John P. French nor was there one who had more friends. No man can point to any act of his that breathed of dishonor, he was honest and just and foursquare to the world. His tragic death is truly and sincerely mourned by all who knew him."

"He is survived by his wife and seven children, Gentry, Jeff D., George A., Oliver, and William French, and Mrs. Thomas W. Jones, and Mrs. John Eden. Funeral services were held at his late home in this city, Monday morning, conducted by the Rev. John Tanquary, of the ME Church South. He has long been an honored member of Carroll Lodge #249 AF & AM and the Masonic Order had charge of the services at his grave, burial was in beautiful Fairhaven."

A search of marriage records of Greene County reveals that John P. French married Sabra Jane Collier on Sept. 24, 1854 (#2475 1838-1855 records), John F. Broyles JP officiating. From the tombstone in Fairhaven Cemetery in Norborne, MO, we learn that John P. French died on Sept. 30, 1912, and his wife Sabra Jane (Collier) was born Sept. 30, 1836, and died in Norborne, MO. on Jan. 7, 1917. A search of files of the Norborne Democrat reveals the unfortunate circumstances of John P. French's death. A copy of his obituary is attached to this record. It is obvious from the newspaper report that the tombstone of John P. French contains an error. The tombstone shows his death as being Sept. 30, 1912, the newspaper issued on Friday, Sept. 6, 1912, states his death occurred Saturday morning about 8:30 (photostat in possession of Ruth N. Duffy). This would mean that he died on August 31, 1912. There are no files of the Norborne Democrat for 1917 so the obituary for Sabra J. French could not be obtained.

Some of the questions we had concerning John P. French have been answered on the receipt of his obituary; but as with all of this work, more questions have come up. HIs birthdate has been established as October 8, 1836. The first recorded sale of property we found for him was dated 4-11-1910. From his birthdate we can determine that he was 74 at that time and undoubtedly decided to retire. He was 75 at the time he had this stroke mentioned in the obituary and 76 at the time of death. One question comes up--the record in the courthouse stated "Mud Creek," but the obituary makes no mention of this but calls it Cherry Valley. Perhaps it was locally known as Cherry Valley, since the title "Mud Creek" is not particularly inviting.

We also can imagine the feelings of his wife, Sabra J., who, after twelve years of marriage and seven children, found herself without a husband. How did they live during the two years John P. was gone? Were they farmers and did she and the children run the farm? Did they own property in Franklin Co., MO? Did she sell it when they left? How could she have title to it without having John P. declared dead?

There must have been some money when John P. came to Norborne because the farm in Sugartree and Cherry Valley is very good land, and according to the obituary, they must have lived on it the rest of their lives. Or did it belong to some of the Colliers and was Sabra J. and family living there when John P. returned? There are still Colliers living in Carroll County. We have determined that there were Colliers there, and also Burgners, in Atchison County, MO. This is where James GENTRY French went and where his first wife, Margaret Amanda Burgner French, is buried. Records show that these three families (Collier, Burgner, and French) were all in Greene County, TN at the same time. Why was there a general exodus from Greene Co., TN?

Our research has indicated how terribly trying the post Civil War period was--especially for the citizens of Tennessee and the residents of Greene Co. in particular. Newspaper accounts of a 4th of July celebration held in Greeneville in 1868 indicate that farmers who had been Confederates were met at the city limits and not allowed to attend the festivities. Naturally, this would have resulted in some form of retaliation. This constant fighting among relatives, former friends, and neighbors must undoubtedly have been on of the causes of the exodus from the state. [There are no Frenches listed from Greene County on the Confederate rosters (Tennesseeans in the Civil War, Vol. I, prepared by the TN Civil War Centennial Commission).

The obituary states that the funeral was "conducted by Rev. John Tanquary of the ME Church South." While in Greeneville, we discovered that in 1816 the Methodist Church in its General Conference had made statements against slavery to the extent that "any slaveholder could not hold office in the Methodist Church." This irritated Methodists who owned slaves to the extent that in 1844 General Conference they split from the Methodist Church and formed the Methodist Church South. Naturally this caused a great deal of bitterness. We found that in 1875, the ME Church South sued the Methodist Church in Greeneville for possession of the building. The case went to the TN Supreme Court, with the result that the Methodists had to vacate the building in favor of the ME Church South. Interestingly enough, they moved into the upper floor of the courthouse and conducted services there until they could get their own building. This split continued until 1939, when the Methodist Church was finally reunited.

Mrs. Josephine French (widow of George French, son of John P. French and brother of James GENTRY French) wrote a letter in 1959 stating in part, "John P. French and wife (Sabra Collier) married quite young and left Tenn. and went by flatboat on rivers until they got to Franklin County, Missouri,-- he bought a farm there and part of their family was born there. Later they moved to Carrol County, Mo., and bought land there. Gentry was their oldest child; and when a young man, he went back to Tennessee to visit and he met his wife there--her name was Mattie Burgner."

In checking with the Missouri Historical Society, I found that many early settlers in MO did come down the Ohio River by flatboat until they reached the Mississippi. They then took steamboats because a flatboat could not be propelled up the Mississippi or the Missouri. So, it must be assumed that John. P. and his wife did this. Probably landing at Herman, MO, since it was an active river port at that time and was nearest to Franklin County. Franklin County records have not been checked at this writing (1981).

Norborne, MO, is in Carroll County, and in the Carrol County courthouse, Carrollton, MO, we discovered a great deal of information about the French family. Records show many property transactions concerning members of the family. John P. and Sabra J. apparently were farmers living on a very rich Missouri bottomland farm located in the Sugar Tree and Mud Creek townships. George A. French was apparently a developer of town lots as additions to the town of Norborne. Jefferson D. and Henry S. also had several real estate transactions. There were only two entries for John P. One, a small parcel of land in the Mud Creek area, dated 11 Apr 1910 (book #211, p. 634), and then a peculiar one signed by Sabra J. French selling the main farm in Sugar Tree township. This transaction is dated 26 Feb 1917 (book #213, p. 492) and signed by her. It should be noted that the tombstone shows her date of death as 7 Jan 1917. We did not have time to pursue this mystery further since we did not have the obituary or death certificate, and we have already found that tombstones are sometimes in error. There are no files of the Norborne Democrat for 1917, so the obituary for Sabra could not be obtained.

All of the above comes from the French Family Record, written in 1982, compiled by Ruth French Duffy and Philip A. Duffy.

"Mrs. Sabra French died in this city Sunday, January 7, at 6 o'clock a.m. of valvular disease of the heart after an illness of several months following a stroke of paralysis, aged 81 years 2 months and six days."

"Sabra Jane Collier French was born in Greene County, Tennessee, October 1, 1836 (mathmatically this would make her 79 years 3 months and 10 days old). After growing to womanhood, she was married to John P. French and lived on the old French farm south of town until a few years ago when they moved to Norborne and have since lived here."

"To this union eight children were born, seven of whom survive her. They are: George and Jeff of Norborne, William of Tina, Gentry of Nebraska, Oliver of Texas, Mrs. Tom Jones of Norborne, and Mrs. John Eden of the Stet country. (The 1960 Post Office directory lists a 4th class Post Office in Caroll County by the name of Stet, by 1970 it was gone from the listing). She also leaves to survive her several grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends who sincerely mourn her passing."

"Mrs. French has lived a true, consistent Christian life, doing good and administering to the wants of loved ones and friends. She was a member of the Methodist church in this city; and in her going to that better world, she will be missed, not only from her place in the church, but by all her friends and all who knew her."

"Funeral services were held at the Methodist church Monday afternoon at one o'clock conducted by her friend and pastor, Rev. W. B. Condes, after which burial was in Fairhaven cemetery by the side of her husband."

A photocopy of the original of this obituary is in the possession of Ruth N. Duffy. The original paper is on file with the Missouri State Historical Society, Columbia, MO.

Some interesting things that have come to light from this obituary are: John P. French was born Oct. 8, 1836 and Sabra J. Collier was born Oct. 1, 1836, both in Greene County, TN. Sabra J's tombstone in Fairhaven cemetery, Norborne, MO shows her date of death as Jan. 7, 1917. The masthead of the Norborne Leader (the paper that published the obituary is dated January 1,1916!!) There is a land transaction on file in the court house in Carollton, MO dated February 26, 1917, and signed by her. (Book #213, page 492).

More about Sabra Jane Collier: Burial: Fairhaven Cemetery, Norborne, MO. Another spelling of Collier is Colyar

Generation No. 5

12. JAMES H.5 FRENCH (WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born Abt. 1855 in Greene County, TN, and died in Greene County, TN. He married (1) ELIZABETH JOHNSON abt. 1874, daughter of RILEY JOHNSON and LUCINDA. He married (2) MARTHA JANE KNIPP March 20, 1879, daughter of JOEL KNIPP and SUSANNAH COBBLE.

James and Martha French

This photo is of James Henry French & Martha Jane Knipp French

Not much is known at this time about Elizabeth Johnson. I believe she was born around 1855. I found two Elizabeths around the age of 5 on the 1850 Greene County, TN census. I am going to show Riley Johnson as her father and Lucinda as her mother for this family tree until I learn anything further. They are on the 1850 Greene County census as follows: Riley Johnson age 32, Cooper, born in TN; wife Lucinda age 25 born in TN; Margarett J. age 7 born in TN; Elizabeth age 5 born in TN and Thomas age 3 born in TN. The other Johnson family that might be hers: William Johnson age 38, Farmer born in GA; Martha age 40 born in TN; Robert age 12, Margaret age 10; Henry age 8, Elizabeth age 6 and Thomas age 2. All the children were born in TN.

Information I received from another researcher (James H. Johnson) shows an Elizabeth being born in 1857 to Andrew Johnson b. 1814 and Sarah Whitson, in either Washington, Hawkins or Greene County, TN.

13. GEORGE ROBERT5 FRENCH (MARSHALL4, JOHN PETER3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born 1860 in Marion Co., IL, and died 1947 in Escondilo, CA. He married ALICE BIDDY ARTHUR September 01, 1890.


15. JAMES GENTRY5 FRENCH (JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born August 31, 1855 in Greeneville, TN, and died April 03, 1939 in Central City, NE. He married (1) MARGRET AMANDA BURGNER October 24, 1878. He married (2) LOUISA JANE MCCOLLUM August 01, 1898, daughter of ENOS MCCOLLUM and ANNA WHITEHORSE. He married (3) SADIE NANCY SHIVELY June 28, 1911 in Central City, NE, daughter of HENRY SHIVELY and VIRGINIA ABEL.

James Gentry French, known as Gentry, had three wives and 20 children with dates of birth that span 48 years, 1879 to 1927.

Margret also had two children who "died young," probably at birth. These births probably occurred between those of her sons Claude and Archie, judging by dates. Margret died two weeks after giving birth to a son, Frederick (FRED) Lee French. A beautiful obituary was printed in the Atchison County Mail, Rockport, MO, 19 March 1897:


"In Memory of departed Mother Mrs. Margarette French
When duty is pleasure
And labor is joy
How sweet is the leisure
Of endless employ."

"She is gone, never to return to her home any more. She hath no more any portion in anything that is done under the sun. Although it was understood for a few days that she was dangerously sick, friends were shocked by the announcement of her death Saturday morning Feb 13, 1897 at 1 o'clock a.m."

"Dear relatives and friends, do not mourn for this loved one, but try and meet her in that beautiful home above where there is no more sorrow, but all is happiness and peace."

"Margarette Amanda Burgner was born and raised near Greenville, Green County Tennesee October 2, 1858 and fell asleep in Jesus February 13, 1897. Her age being thirty eight years, four months, and eleven days. She united with the ME Church at Pleasant Hill, Tennessee at thirteen years of age. She was married to Gentry French October 24, 1878. Moved to Caroll County, Mo. Dec. 7, 1878 and to Atchison County Missouri in 1885. To this union were born nine children, two having died when small and we feel sure the mother will clasp them in a happier land where there is no parting. She was a loving mother and the sons and daughters miss her sweet voice in the family circle, and the bereaved husband--we sympathize with him. If he is faithful he will one day meet her in the sweet by and by. O How sweet it will be to meet that dear mother in the sweet home of the soul."

"How changed a home is without a mother. The only consolation is that in that mysterious life beyond the grave there is rest. Mother so fills a home with joy that the silence that is felt is heartbreaking. Too much cannot be said in praise of her. Truly to know her was to love her and those that have known her longest loved her most."

"The Reverends Laughlin and Jeffers read select passages of scripture and spoke words of comfort to the sorrowing ones but her life is ended, her work finished, her words of loving counsel heard no more. She will be missed from her home forever but the good she has done will live after she has gone from earth. Pen is too weak to portray a fitting tribute to the memory of one so beloved as Mother. One to whom we have ever looked for guidance and for words of encouragement when cast down or in misfortune and whose tender solicitude and loving sympathy has ever served to allay our trouble and banish care from the world."

"To us so great an affliction has never come before. It fills the heart with sadness, without the warmth of a mother love that has shed its prevailing influence through our life. The world seems cold, empty and desolate, yet we know and find comfort in the thought that the cause of our affliction is the beginning of bright joy somewhere else. It is in heaven where one who has borne with patience and fortitude the tribulations of this life lays them down."

"The practice of all that is noble, womanly, pure and good has been learned in this world, and for the exercise of these virtues there is a happier better world beyond and that bright home is the home of this Mother."

"Mother's gone and we're so lonely
Mother, sweetest name ere spoken
In her love, our hearts find shelter
When life's storms and tempests broke.
Mother's gone--the Master called her
He who died her soul to save
And she's gone in triumph homeward
Though her path is through the grave.
Thou has left us, and we miss thee
Sadly miss thee mother dear
In vain we listen for thy footsteps
Still thinking thou art near.
Weep not that her toils are over
Weep not that her race is run
God grant we may rest as calmly
When our work like hers is done."
A. L. (A. L. may be Rev. Laughlin)

Marguerite Amanda Burgner French (known in this report as "Margret") has a variety of spellings of her first name: 1. "Marguerite" on a census record; 2. "Margret" on her tombstone; 3. "Margarette" in her obituary; 4. and the family called her "Mattie" according to a letter from Josephine French (sister-in-law of James Gentry French, wife of George A. French; thus, a sister-in-law of Margaret Amanda by marriage); 5. Margaret Irene French Olson was named for this grandmother. She was told by Gilbert and Rose French, her parents, that Grandmother's name was "Marguerite," but that they preferred the spelling of "M-A-R-G-A-R-E-T." Margaret Olson has found a card in her scrapbook which says "Compliments of Margret A. French"--perhaps the tombstone spelling is the one this ancestor herself preferred.

The beautiful stone marking Margret A. French's grave is a grey granite shaft five feet high decorated with carved vines, at the bottom a hand with the index finger pointing upward and the words "In my Father's house are many mansions." Then, the inscription: MARGRET A., WIFE OF J. G. FRENCH, DIED FEB. 13, 1897, age 38 yrs, 4 months. At the top is a carving of a crown with sunbeams radiating outward, surrounded by clouds and topping two or three houses. It is approximately five feet tall, twelve inches square, and is in a remarkable state of preservation although the south side is beginning to be covered with lichens. It is located three-fourths of the way to the top of a hill on the west side of the cemetery and about three hundred yards from the High Creek Baptist Church, Watson, MO.

More about Margret Amanda Burgner:
Cause of Death: Probably toxemia resulting from childbirth (2 weeks earlier)

Occupation: Housewife. Burial: Firth Cemetery near Panama, NE


The first child of Sadie and Gentry was a boy that would have to have been born in the year of 1912 or 1913. As far as I know, this baby wasn't named and the birth may not have been recorded. This baby weighed 14 pounds and could not be delivered so had to be sacrificed to save the mother.

The following is an account written by her daughter Lu Etta:
"I, Lu Etta Barnes, the youngest child in our family, would like to write a story about my parents. James Gentry French, born August 31, 1855, was married to my mother, Sadie Nancy Shively, on June 28, 1911. He was almost 56 years old and she was 27. She was born on Jan. 29, 1884, in Merrick County. As my Dad was 71 years old when I was born, I was deprived of knowing him as I would have liked to as he passed away when I was 12 years old."

"As I can well remember, both of them were hard working and very devoted, lovable parents. We never had much, but it was always shared in our family, and we were well provided for and well taken care of."

"We lived on an acreage just a mile north of Central City, Nebraska. We always had a fruit orchard; my dad had a market for the vegetables and strawberries he raised. As I recall, he did almost all of his farming down on his hands and knees. He had a little hand plow that he used. I don't recall any equipment other than his hand garden tools. You never saw more beautiful gardens and produce than he raised. There were no weeds whatsoever. He worked from sunup until sundown. Thinking back, I don't ever recall going grocery shopping as we do today. We raised everything we ate. Mom always spent all day Sunday baking bread for the following week. It was so delicious! Mom was a wonderful cook and a great gardener also, but this is as I remember them in the last years of my Dad's life. They always had four or five cows and pigs and chickens for meat and eggs."

"Before Dad died, Mom worked in town at the sewing center branch of the WPA (Work Projects Administration) in order to make enough money to buy hay for the cows and the other necessities. I can remember her always worrying about getting hay and having it hauled so she would have plenty of feed for her cows. She took great care of her livestock. Dad had made her crates for carrying strawberries into town. She used to get up at 3:00 a.m., milk the cows, and then would always take two crates of strawberries, one in each hand, and go to town. On the opposite days she would carry two gallons of milk which she would sell. As I recall, she got 10 cents a quart for the strawberries she sold at the grocery store. She would walk a mile or better into town carrying this load and would be at work by 7:00 a.m."

"We never owned a car, so all our traveling was done on foot. I used to wait after school until Mom was off work, so I could walk behind her, and she would break that cold north wind that we had to face walking home."

"They both loved company at any time. There was always a bed ready for anyone or a meal on the table, not always fancy but there was always plenty to eat of whatever they had. During the depression, I don't think a day went by that she didn't feed a bum or two. In fact, one morning she left my breakfast on the table for me, as I was asleep in the bedroom right off of our dining room, when she went out to do the chores. As she went out, she noticed a man coming down the road. When she came in from doing chores, my breakfast was gone, and I was still sound asleep. So, she knew this fellow had eaten my breakfast and went on his way."

"My Dad passed away April 3, 1939. In the Fall, my mother sold off her livestock and moved into town. In later years, she worked at the Omaha Cold Storage processing poultry."

"In her final years, she enjoyed her garden and flowers. Any flowers mother raised, she truly loved. I, myself love cooking, company, gardening and my flowers. I have often wished that I could have given her some beautiful flowers which we can buy today. She loved the plain ones so much. While she was living, we (Jerry and Lu Etta) were just starting out and couldn't afford any of these extras that we enjoy so much now."

"When Jerry and I got married in Oct., we lived with Mom that winter until March 1 when we moved out on the farm we had rented. Mom had a big tree which we had cut down,and she had Jerry help her saw it up, using a long two-handled logging saw. He was amazed at the strength she had, and she was 60 years old at that time. They sawed wood all day long, and she was still going strong at the end of the day. She was a great woman."

"She will always be remembered as being so happy whenever anyone stopped by for a visit. I never heard her complain about anything nor anybody. She always said that if you can't say something good about a person, don't say anything."

"When she was a young girl, she got kicked in the face by a horse. Her head was swollen up as large as a bucket for days. There were no doctors at that time so her Dad doctored her with liniment until she got well. She always had a dent in her cheek where the cheek grew to her jawbone. In her last years, she had a nervous tic in her cheek. This was due to a dead nerve and was extremely painful whenever it would strike. She always felt this was what caused her problem. An operation was recommended. At that time, it was a very serious operation, but the pain got, so bad that she had to have the surgery. She never recovered from that and passed away on Nov. 1, 1957."

"She was dearly loved and missed by everyone who knew her. She was known as "Mom" to all three of the French families."

The preceding information was taken from the French Family Record, written in 1982, compiled by Ruth French Duffy and Philip A. Duffy.

More About Sadie Nancy Shively: Burial: Pierce Chapel Cemetary, Fullerton, NE.

16. WILLIAM LEWIS5 FRENCH (JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born January 09, 1881 in MO, and died August 18, 1954 in MO. He married MAUDE MARTIN December 31, 1900 in Monnett, Barry Co., MO.

Generation No. 6

17. JAMES A.6 FRENCH (JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born May 15, 1875 in Greene County, TN, and died February 08, 1945 in Greene County, TN. He married MARTHA M. OWENS July 29, 1894.


19. CLAUDE SMITH6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born August 03, 1879 in Norbone, MO, and died December 21, 1951 in Douglas, NE. He married MARY ETHEL DAILEY October 02, 1898 in M.E. Church, Parker, SD, daughter of WILLIAM DAILEY and LOUISA MCCOLLUM.

Claude was a jack-of-all-trades. More than a farmer, he was a blacksmith, carpenter, butcher, cobbler, mechanic, and could do almost anything one might want to do around a farm, e.g. shoe horses. Occupation: Farmer; Burial: Rosehill Cemetery, Douglas, NE; Medical Information: Suffered from Parkinson's disease

Notes for MARY ETHEL DAILEY: Buried at Rosehill Cemetery, Douglas, NE

20. SABRA SABESTA6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born July 02, 1887 in Norborne, MO, and died July 01, 1933 in SW of Unadilla, NE. She married (1) PETE CURTIS July 22, 1906. She married (2) JESSE DODSON VAN HORN April 12, 1912.

Notes for SABRA SABESTA FRENCH: Burial: Hopewell Churchyard Cemetery near Unadilla, NE; Cause of Death: Cerebral hemorrhage

Notes for JESSE DODSON VANHORN: Burial: Hopewell Churchyard Cemetery near Unadilla, NE; Cause of Death: Stomach ulcers

21. GILBERT WEAVER6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born June 29, 1890 in Phelps City, MO, and died June 18, 1968 in Greeley, CO. He married ROSE MAE KENNEDY February 05, 1913 in Panama, NE, daughter of JOHN KENNEDY and JESSIE JACOBS.

Notes for GILBERT WEAVER FRENCH: Gilbert and Rose homesteaded about 20 miles south of Vona, Kit Carson County, CO and built their own sod house. Burial: Sunset Memorial Gardens, Greeley, CO.

22. JOHN LEONARD6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born June 29, 1890 in Nishnabotna, MO, and died October 04, 1935 in Lincoln, NE. He married TRESSIE JUNE BOWENS June 10, 1914 in Adams, NE.

23. EMMETT DANIEL6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born December 28, 1894 in near Watson, Atchison County, MO, and died July 01, 1948 in Cheyenne, WY. He married SYLVAN MAE SNODGRASS July 04, 1921 in Central City, NE, daughter of BENJAMIN SNODGRASS and SARAH GOULD.

24. FREDERICK LEE6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born January 01, 1897 in Watson, Atchison County, MO, and died July 01, 1948 in Cheyenne, WY. He married (1) FRANCES MINNIE MCCLURE. He married (2) CARY LETTIA MCCLURE July 08, 1914, daughter of SAMUEL MCCLURE and ALENA HANNA.

25. CRAWFORD HUNTER6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born October 24, 1899 in Watson, Atchison County, MO, and died December 27, 1981 in Menlo Park, CA. He married MAURINE DUGHMAN September 25, 1920 in Central City, NE, daughter of ELWOOD DUGHMAN and SARA BEETEM.

Notes for CRAWFORD HUNTER FRENCH: Crawford's ashes were scattered on January 14, 1982 exactly 3 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay: latitude 37:48 and longitude 122:31

26. PRESLEY MILFORD6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born October 08, 1901 in Douglas, NE, and died February 14, 1990 in Central City, NE. He married (1) GWENDOLYN BARR. He married (2) HATTIE FREDA KELL December 07, 1933 in Stanton, NE, daughter of JULIUS KELL and MARTHA SCHIMELPFENIG

27. BIRDIE BEATRICE6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born May 05, 1914 in Central City, NE. She married ROBERT EDMUND HALL February 23, 1932 in Clay Center, NE, son of ARTHUR HALL and NINA FOSTER.

28. VIRGINIA DORIS6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born June 16, 1922 in Central City, NE, and died March 05, 1964 in St. Charles, IL. She married EARL MUSTARD, JR. June 16, 1940 in Aurora, NE.

29. VIOLA MAE6 FRENCH (JAMES GENTRY 5, JOHN PETER4, WILLIAM L.3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born September 23, 1923 in Central City, NE, and died August 01, 1992 in St. Francis Medical Center, Grand Island, NE. She married (1) WILLIAM LEE HOBBS May 21, 1943 in Virginia Beach, VA. She married (2) EARL MITFORD DOUTHIT December 16, 1955 in Columbus, NE, son of EDWARD DOUTHIT and CORA CLAPP.

Generation No. 7

30. HENRY ALEXANDER7 FRENCH (JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born June 03, 1895 in Greene County, TN, and died March 05, 1966 in Newport, Cocke County, TN. He married NINNIE HOLT April 11, 1915, daughter of GENE HOLT and PHEBE THOMAS.

31. ESTLE7 FRENCH (JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born September 12, 1902. He married GERTHIE JOHNSON.

32. EULA MAE7 FRENCH (JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born May 01, 1904. She married WALTER TURNER.

33. ULYSS A.7 FRENCH (JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born July 05, 1915. He married GRACE SAMPLES.

34. EURA7 FRENCH (JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born July 05, 1915, and died November 1945. She married TILMON HOLT, son of DANIEL HOLT and EFFIE FOWLER

Generation No. 8

35. GERTIE8 FRENCH (HENRY ALEXANDER7, JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born November 18, 1916 in Newport, Cocke County, TN. She married BURL SAMPLES December 10, 1941, son of JOHN SAMPLES and SARAH DAWSON.

36. ALLEN8 FRENCH (HENRY ALEXANDER7, JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born June 29, 1918 in Newport, Cocke County, TN. He married MAE CALFEE January 31, 1937 in Parrotsville, TN, daughter of ISAAC CALFEE and ELIZABETH DYKE.

37. EXIE8 FRENCH (HENRY ALEXANDER7, JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born March 13, 1922 in Newport, Cocke County, TN, and died August 24, 1995 in North Royalton, OH. She married J.B. SMITH 1939 in Newport, Cocke County, TN, son of NOAH SMITH and BERTHA CALFEE.

More About EXIE FRENCH: Attended Holt School. Grandma is buried in the North Royalton Cemetery, North Royalton, Ohio. Cause of Death: Parkinson's Disease

Notes for J.B. SMITH: J.B. Smith was born on October 14, 1917. One of his fondest childhood memories is going bare-foot in the springtime. He did a lot of hunting and trapping. As a child he had a lot of farm chores to do such as slopping the hogs, carrying in wood to the house to be used for cooking and heat, and milking the cows. Their home had no indoor plumbing and they didn't have electricity until 1940 when the T.V.A. came through.

A prank that he and his two brothers did was to go back behind a pond on their farm through the woods to where moon-shine was being made and drink beer from the barrels.

His first car was a 1935 pick-up truck. His mother would give him gas for it from her wash house that she used for her washing machine.

He describes his family as all hard working, God-fearing people. When times were slow on the farm they worked at Stokely's Canning in the fall. During the Depression his family only got back 15% of their hard-earned money that they had saved in the bank.

J.B. had a good childhood and he had lots of friends, and besides his brothers, he was close to his cousin, Ruble Smith. They would play guitar together. J.B. even played guitar in amateur contests in Knoxville. He attended the Holt School and met the love of his life, Exie French, at New Home Free Will Baptist Church. (This Church used to be called Red Wine Church). J.B. took Exie to the Coffee Pot restaurant in Newport and asked him to marry her. They married when Exie was 17 and J.B. was 21. Exie's father, Henry, built their home for them from scratch. It had four rooms, kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. The house was built with a view of the beautiful mountains all around. Their neighbor across the road was Jay Calfee and his wife, Virginia Ward. J.B. and Exie did have electricity and running water in the kitchen, but no indoor bathroom plumbing. Their first child was born a year later.

J.B. and Exie moved their family a few times from their McCowan Creek Road farm to Cleveland, Ohio and back. Farming was slowing in Cocke County and J.B. worked at the steel mill in Cleveland to support his family. In 1958/59 they finally settled on 5 acres in North Royalton, Ohio - where J.B. still lives today.

38. TILLMON8 FRENCH (HENRY ALEXANDER7, JAMES A.6, JAMES H.5, WILLIAM M.4, HENRY3, HENRY2, UNKNOWN1) was born August 16, 1926. He married EDNA GREER December 02, 1944.

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