TNGenWeb Project
The Goodspeed Publishing Co., History of Tennessee, 1887
Pages 1146-1152

Biographical Sketches
Union County

Transcribed by Fred Smoot

  Hon. Coram Acuff
  Nicholas Ailor
  Prior L. Beeler
  John Bowman
  John C. Buckner
  Robert E. Buckner
  Richard J. Carr, M.D.
  William Duke
  Elisha Ferguson
  William Graves
  Christian Haynes
  William Irwin
  George Johnson
  M. D. Kincaid
  Capt. James L. Ledgerwood
  A. L. Leinart
  James H. Roberts
  Josiah Russell
  Josiah Smith
  William E. Smith
  Charles H. Smith
  John Stooksbury
  Thomas B. Walters
  Capt. John Wilson
  Rev. John N. Yadon


Hon. Coram Acuff, lawyer, was born in Grainger County August 23, 1846, the son of Simeon and Susan, (nee Strange) Acuff, the former of German origin, born in this country in 1818, still living, and a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church. He entered the ministry about 1840. The mother was born in 1816, and died in 1882, a member of SAW church. Our subject, the fourth of eight children, received a fair education, finishing at Walnut Grove, Knox County, after he was married. In July, 1862, he joined Company D, First Tennessee Federal Infantry. He was at one time taken prisoner, but soon taken to Rutledge, Tenn., where his old teacher, Ben Peck, and his father’s family physician, Dr. J. P. Legg, procured his parole; he soon returned, and served until June, 1865. He farmed, taught and attended school until in 1874, when he was elected county court clerk of Union County, and was twice re-elected, serving twelve years. In 1886 he was admitted to the bar, having read and learned of the law during his clerkship. He was a representative of two counties in the Legislature in 1887-88. He was married to Nancy Ellen Clapp, of Maynardville, June 23, 1870, where they have since resided. They have three sons and one daughter, viz.: Charles B., Frank P., S. E. Neill and Ella Zell. He and his wife are Missionary Baptists. and he is an influential Republican. He is devoting his time to his profession as a lawyer.

Nicholas Ailor, a prominent attorney, was born near Maynardville, August 22, 1834 the son of Samuel and Sallie Ailor , of English descent, and natives of Knox County. The former a successful planter and miller, died December 26, 1885, aged about seventy-o years of age, and the latter died about 1882, of the same age, nearly. Our subject was well educated, and taught school for a time, then began law under Col. Evans, of Tazwell, and was admitted in 1859. Since the war he has been very extensively in practice in the county and State courts. In October, 1869, he married Mary J., a daughter of John B. and Ruth Mitchell, of this county. Of four sons and three daughters, one of the latter is deceased. Our subject is a Democrat, in favor of prohibition. He is an influential man, is a Missionary Baptist, and his wife a Methodist.

Prior L. Beeler, a merchant farmer and stock dealer, was born near where he now lives December 29, 1849, the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Morton) Beeler, the former born in Grainger County, and deceased in this county July 27, 1883, aged seventy-one, and the latter born in 1827, in this county where she still lives, a member of the Methodist Church. The paternal grandparents came from Germany to Sullivan County and finally to Anderson County. Our subject, the eldest of nine children, attended the common school, and worked on his father’s farm until November 20, 1873, when he married Nancy, J., a daughter of William Irwin. They have four sons and three daughters, and one daughter deceased. Our subject has always farmed, and in 1887 also became a merchant at Turner’s Cross Roads. Two years after marriage our subject purchased part of the land he now owns, and to this he has added. In 1887, in connection with farming, he engaged in merchandising at Turner’s Cross Roads. Our subject is a strong Prohibitionist and is among the county’s best citizens. He and wife are Methodists, and he is a Mason .

John Bowman, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Claiborne County July 21, 1829 the son of William and Mary (Beeler) Bowman, the former born in Virginia, and died in Claiborne County in 1849. He was a child when they came to Tennessee, at that time a territory, and served as sheriff of Claiborne County several years. The mother, also of Virginia, died in Claiborne County about 1839, and our subject is the fourth of her seven children. Mr. Bowman was fairly educated, and after his father’s death farmed the homestead, and then, a year later, bought land in the First District, where he spent nine years. In 1867 he bought his present land. He joined Company C, First Federal Tennessee Infantry, August 9, 1861, and served in the Georgia campaign, and various other places. Martha C., a daughter of William Dunn, became his wife in 1865, and died in 1881. Of three sons and two daughters born to them, two sons and one daughter are living. In 1883 he married Rhoda J., a daughter of David Anderson, who bore him two daughters. He was a magistrate several years, in both Claiborne and Union Counties, and in 1879 became trustee of this county for three terms. He is a Methodist, and his wife a Missionary Baptist. He is a Republican.

John C. Buckner, miller, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Grainger (now Union) County, December 29, 1826, the son of Col. Ezra and Elizabeth (Duncan) Buckner, the former born November 14, 1797, in Knox County, and died in this county October 4, 1862; and the latter born in this county in 1800, and died March 12, 1883. Both were members of the Baptist Church. The father’s family were from Virginia, he being a farmer and a colonel in the militia, and served in the war of 1812. Our subject, the third of ten children, received a common school education, and September 12, 1850, married Nancy Miller, who was born October 14, 1830, and died October 18, 1866. Of three sons and five daughters, three daughters are living. May 7, 1867, he married Maishley E. Ailor, born in 1836, and the mother of one son and four daughters. He has always been a farmer, and in 1884 added much to the land given him. For four years before the war he was a magistrate, and again in 1876. He and his wife are Methodists, also the daughters. He is a Mason, and a Democrat.

Robert E. Buckner, farmer and stock dealer, was born where he now lives, May 25, is6o, the son of William P. and Nancy (Smith) Buckner, the former born near Maynardville July 15, 1823, and deceased at Tuscumbia, Ala., June 17, 1877, while on a business trip. He was a successful farmer and fruit grower, and inventor of the Self Adjusting Wagon Brake. The mother, born in Union (then Grainger) County, May 2, 1824, died August 20, 1880, and both were Missionary Baptists; they married October 28, 1841. Our subject, the youngest of six children, was educated at Mossy Creek College, and clerked in his father’s store until the latter’s death, since when he has been a farmer. January 6, 1886, he married Emily, a daughter of Josiah Kelley, of Clay County, Ky. She is a Missionary Baptist, and he a Republican.

Richard J. Carr, M. D., was born in Claiborne County, at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, February 26, 1826, the son of James M. and Sarah (Rogers) Carr; the former of Irish origin, and born in 1801, in Washington County, and the latter of Irish. German stock, born in Claiborne County, in 1805, and deceased in 1843. Both were members of the Baptist Church. The father is a farmer, and has lived in Claiborne County since childhood. Our subject, the eldest of six sons, was educated at Clinton Academy, and then clerked for two years for John Whitson, when he became a partner with W. H. Whitson, and two years later sold to him. He began reading medicine under Dr. M. Tate, and in 1852 began practice at Tazewell. After seven years in Union County at Loy’s Cross Roads he came to Maynardville, where he has since practiced. In 1860 he became circuit clerk, serving two terms. He is wealthy, is a Baptist, and a Mason, and in his lodge he has held all the offices. He is a Republican in favor of Prohibition. In 1852 he married Nancy A. Marshall, of Campbell County, who died in 1863, having been born in 1832. She was a Methodist, and left five sons. In 1864 he married Charlotte Huddleston, of this county, who died March 6, 1874, leaving two sons. She was born in 1838, and was a Missionary Baptist. In 1875 he married Niecey Hill, of this county, by Whom he has two sons. She is a Missionary Baptist.

William Duke, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Granville County, N. C., June 10, 1815, the son of Nelson and Polly (Longmire) Duke, the former of English descent, born in Franklin County, N. C., and deceased in this county about 1862 at the age of 8eventyyears. He was a farmer and teacher. For several years he served as Magistrate, The mother, born in Granville County, N. C., died in this county about 1859. Our subject, the third of ten children, came to Tennessee when he was ten years old, and is the only living one. When nineteen years old he engaged with Jacob Sharp, and worked for over five years, his first salary going to his father. He was in ill health for about two years. In 1843 he married Tinsy, a daughter of Isaac Sharp, of Campbell County, and she died in May, 1860, aged thirty-eight years, and a member of the Baptist Church. Of two sons and six daughters, one son and four daughters are deceased. In 1862 he married Martha, a daughter of John T. Harden, of Anderson County. Of their three sons and two daughters, one son is deceased. About seven years after his first marriage he rented land, and afterward bought his present home. He and his wife are Baptists, and he is a Republican in favor of prohibition.

Elisha Ferguson, farmer, stock dealer and miller, was born near New Market, Tenn., April 9, 1844, the son of William and Mary (Bradley) Ferguson, the former of Scotch origin, born in Grainger County about 1811, and deceased at our subject’s home September 1, 1886; and the latter, born in the same county as her husband, in 1821, now living with our subject. Both were Missionary Baptists. Our subject, the fourth of seven children, received a fair education, and in 1862 joined Company F, Third Tennessee Federal Infantry, serving at Nashville, Murfreesboro and other battles, and was discharged in February, 1865. June 20, 1866, he married Margaret J. Bradley, of Jefferson County. Of three sons and four daughters, two of each sex are living. Our subject has always been a successful farmer and is a Mason, a Republican, and a member of the G. A. R., while both are Missionary Baptists.

William Graves, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Claiborne (now Union) County, November 30, 1838, the son of John and Annie (Russell)Graves, the former born in Randolph County, N. C., and deceased in this county November 30, 1858, aged about fifty-two years. He lived in Tennessee from boyhood as a successful farmer. The mother, born in Virginia, died in Union County, in 1872, aged seventy-four years. They were both Methodists. Our subject, the fourth of six children, worked on the farm until 1857, when he married Bartheny Lynch, a native of Claiborne County, born January 28, 1838. Of seven sons and three dau-1-ters, one son is deceased. William bought the homestead, after his father’s death, ~ut in 1882 sold that and bought his present home. In 1861 he joined a Company of the Second Tennessee Federal Infantry, and became corporal, serving at Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, in the Georgia campaign. and in Kentucky; was captured while home on a furlough, but soon escaped, passing four days and nights without food. After many adventures he joined his company at Knoxville. He served as constable one term, and is a Republican, a member of the G. A. R., .and his wife a member of the Baptist Church.

Christian Haynes, farmer and stock dealer, was born where he now lives, July 29, 1834, the son of Abraham and Nelly (Housley) Haynes, the former of English lineage, born on New River, Va., in 1811, and deceased in 1869. The latter was born near Housley Ford, in Claiborne County, March 3, 1812, and deceased in thig county, July 10, 1850. The father came to Tennessee when about three years of age, and was a successful merchant and farmer. For twelve years he was a magistrate. He afterward moved to Knoxville, where he died. He was married January 8,1832. Both were members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Our subject, the second of eight children, was fairly educated, and bought land of his father, which he has since greatly improved, and has always been a farmer. June 20, 1867, he married Mary A., daughter of Morris Atkins, born June 13, 1840, in Grainger County. Their children were Belle M. (deceased January 28, 1885, at Mossy Creek College), William C., Lilly M., Maggie M. and Dell S. Our subject and wife are Baptists, and he is a Mason, and strong Prohibitionist.

William Irwin, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Campbell dounty, January 18, 1826, the son of John and Jennie (Sharp) Irwin. The former was born in Knox County, and deceased in this county, in 1837, aged thirty-nine years. The latter was born in Anderson, (now Union) County, and deceased May 27, 1843, at the same age as her husband. They were both Methodists. The father engaged in farming and stock dealing. Our subject, the third of ten children, worked on the farm until February 5. 1850, when he married Rachael Loy, of Anderson (now Union) County, born March 18,1832, and deceased June 29,1887, leaving five sons and five daughters. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. After farming on his father’s place four years, our subject bought his present farm. which he has enlarged and improved. He is a member of the above church, and is a Prohibition Democrat.

George Johnson, merchant and farmer, was born where he now lives, July, 4, 1832, and is the son of George and Nancy (Buckner) Johnson, the former born in Virginia March 12, 1775, and deceased January 18, 1852, in this county, where he was a successful farmer. He had come to Tennessee in 1800, and was under Gen. Jackson at the battle of The Horseshoe. The mother, also of a pioneer family, was born in Sullivan County, April 1, 1791, and died in this county November 20, 1876, she being a member of the Baptist Church. George and his sister Nancy were twins in a large family. He received a fair education, and took care of his aged parents, and in 1886 also became a merchant. From 1866 he was a register for eight years. On March 25, 1869, he married Sarah, the daughter of Valentine and Lucinda (Malone) Turner, and they have four sons and three daughters. She is a Baptist, and he an earnest Republican. Mrs. Johnson’s mother died in 1861, and her father in 1862.
[LATER. -Since the above was written and set in type, Mr. Johnson has died. He was sick about two weeks, and died August 8, 1887, in the full triumph of faith and hope. He was one of the best citizens of the county, and his death was sincerely felt.]

M. D. Kincaid was born in Powell’s Valley, September 80, 1842, being the son of William and Susan (Wilson) Kincaid, the former of English-Irish origin, born in 1798, in Powell’s Valley, Campbell County, and the latter of German stock, born in 1807 in Claiborne County, and deceased May 10, 1880. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The father was a successful trader and farmer, and died April 3,1855. Our subject, the eleventh of thirteen children, was educated at Tazewell Academy, and Emory and Henry College, Virginia. He then superintended the iron works for his mother until January 6, 1869, when he married Mary E., a daughter of J. G. Palmer. Of their four sons and two daughters, two sons and one daughter are deceased. In 1870 our subject bought his present farm, and in 1874 was elected circuit clerk, and then became trustee for two years. He is a farmer and miller, and is engaged in manufacturing lumber, flour and meal. Since 1882 he has been a merchant at Effie, where he is postmaster. He and his wife are Methodists, and he is a Mason and Knight of Honor.

Capt. James L. Ledgerwood was born in Knox (now Union) County, March 12,1833, the son of Samuel and Sany N. (Rutherford) Ledgerwood, the former of Irish descent, born in Knox County, and deceased in 1885 in this county, aged seventy-two years, and the latter born in Knox County, and deceased in 1869, about sixty years of age, and both members of the Baptist Church. The father was a farmer and magistrate, serving about. fifteen years. The mother was of English origin. Our subject, the third of seven children, received a common education, and August 10, 1851, married Marjaner, a daughter of William C. Hansard. Their children are Samuel J., William C., Brownlow and James N., and those deceased are Lloyd and Ulysses S. He has always been a farmer, and in 1854 bought half and received from his father half of his present land. In August, 1861, he joined Company B, First Tennessee Federal Infantry, and after seven months became captain of Company F, Third Tennessee Infantry, serving at Murfreesboro, Mission Ridge, in the Georgia campaign at Nashville, at Franklin and Chickamauga, and was mustered out in March, 1865. He had been elected sheriff while in service, and on his return his supply refused to give up the office, but everything was arranged satisfactorily, Gov. Brownlow reappointing our subject. He has been magistrate for six years. In 1866 he was licensed as a lawyer, and practiced in Maynardville and Knoxville. He had been a farmer and stock dealer. He is a Mason, a Prohibition Democrat, and a Methodist, to which church his wife belongs. Absalom Rutherford, the grandfather, was a soldier in the Revolution.

A. L. Leinart, merchant, was born near Clinton, Tenn., January 16, 1829, the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Queener) Leinart, the former of German descent, born January 25, 1805, in Anderson County, and deceased in 1887, and the latter of like origin, born in Campbell County, and deceased in Anderson County, in 1847, a member of the Baptist Church. The father was a successful farmer. Our subject, the second of ten children, was educated at Clinton Academy, and Strawberry Plains College, and taught school for four years. When eighteen years old he joined Company D, Fourth Tennessee Volunteers, and was one year in the Mexican war. In 1856 he erected the first house in Maynardville, and became a merchant until 1861, when he entered Brazleton’s battalion, as second lieutenant in the Confederate Army, and remained for a year. He was wounded while on picket duty near Pinesville, Ky. After the war he became a merchant, as at present. In 1885 he became postmaster. He is a Democrat. March 10, 1857, he married Mary, a daughter of Mark Monroe, who is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church. Of four sons and four daughters, three of the former and one of the latter are living.

James H. Roberts, tanner and farmer, was born in Knox County, October 25, 1832, the son of Henry G. and Rebecca (Harris) Roberts, the former of English-Irish stock, born in Knox County in 1808, and deceased in 1866, and the latter born in Raleigh, N.C., in 1810, and still living, a member of the Presbyterian Church. The father was a farmer. Our subject, the eldest of eight children, received a common education, and when fourteen became a clerk at Woodburn, Knox County, and ten years later entered the stock trade at Chester, S. C., where he had a livery and sale stable, to which be brought stock purchased at home. In 1861 he also engaged in tanning, and was postmaster at Woodburn until 1868, first under the Federal and then under the Confederate Government. In 1863 he also engaged in farming, and is now a magistrate. He lost very much during the war, being twice burned out. January 30, 1852, he married Saphrona, a daughter of Lewis M. Ellis, of Grainger County. They have a large family. Both are Methodists, having joined in 1853. Our subject is a Mason and a Prohibitionist.

Josiah Russell, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Claiborne (now Union) County, April 8, 1833, the son of Edward and Barbara (Graves) Russell, the former born in Virginia, and deceased in 1857 in this county, aged sixty years, and the latter born in North Carolina, now over eighty-five years old. The father came to Claiborne County with his parents, and became a wealthy blacksmith and farmer, and was a major of militia, and a Democrat. Our subject, the second of seven children, remained on the homestead, and helped to educate the children after his father’s death. He dealt in stock first, and after the war bought land, and became a farmer, but since 1877 has lived on his present farm, which he has greatly improved. In 1860 he married Sarah A., a daughter of William Johnston, and of five sons and five daughters two sons are deceased.

Josiah Smith, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Grainger (now Union) County, in his present residence July 10, 1826, the son of Josiah and Nancy (Stonely) Smith, the former of Scotch-Irish origin, born in Virginia, and deceased in this county in 1837, aged sixty years, and the latter, born in Pittsylvania County, Va., and deceased in this county, in 1847, aged about sixty-four years, and a member of the Primitive Baptist Church. She was first the widow of William Condray. The father came with his parents, when young, and was in the war of 1812. Our subject has been largely self-educated, and January 15, 1846, married Almeda, a daughter of William and Phoebe (Woolsey) Hubbs, and has five sons and three daughters. Her father was born in Virginia, and served in the Indian removal from the Ocoee Purchase, and died in 1877, aged eighty-three. Her mother was born in Virginia, and is now ninety-one years old. Both were Missionary Baptists. Our subject continued to live on the homestead, to which he has added much. He and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, and he is a Mason and a Republican.

William E. Smith, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Grainger (now Union) County, January 27, 1844, the son of John A. and Emily A. (Buckner) Smith, the former, born in Grainger County, now a resident of Knox County, aged sixty-five years, and the latter, born in Knox County, now aged sixty-three. Both are Baptists, and the father a successful farmer. Our subject, the eldest of a large family, received a common-school education, and remained with his father until November 16,1865, engaged at that time as a clerk. He then married May J., a daughter of John Miller, of this county. Of eight sons and one daughter, two sons are deceased. Our subject bought his present home after his marriage, and now is store-keeper and guager, for the Government, and has been since March, 1886. He is a Democrat, and his wife a Methodist.

Charles H. Smith, leather manufacturer, was born in Jefferson County, Ky., February 20, 1844. Our subject, the second of three children, is largely self educated, and, in 1861, he joined Gen. Morgan Confederate Scouts, and was taken prisoner on a raid in Ohio, and imprisoned at Camp Douglas, Chicago, eighteen months. He then became a scout in Gen. Forrest’s cavalry, receiving many wounds, and now carrying a bullet imbedded in his hand. He traveled after the war considerably, and, in 1869 came to Union County and purchased a tannery. He now has $20,000 invested, and with a capacity of $15,000 worth of leather annually, giving employment to many hands constantly. In 1872 he married Mary F. Floyd, who is a Methodist. Our subject is a Mason, a Democrat, and a prominent man of his region.

John Stooksbury, farmer and stock dealer, is a native of Anderson (now Union) County, born September 24, 1830, the son of Isaac and Sarah (Loy) Stooksbury, the former born in Tennessee, of Virginia parents, and deceased in this county in 1868, aged sixty-six years, and the latter born in Anderson County, and deceased in this county in 1867, at the age of sixty-four. The Loy family were pioneers from North Carolina. The mother was a Methodist. Our subject, the eldest of eleven children, grew up in the country, at his father’s farm until March 20, 1856, when he married Sarah, a daughter of William Sharp. They have nine sons and two daughters, one of the former deceased. After two years farming his father’s land, he purchased part of his present land, and has since enlarged it considerably. His wife is a Methodist, and he a strong Prohibitionist.

Thomas B. Walters, farmer and stock dealer, was born where he now lives, February 10, 1851, the son of Thomas S. and Sarah S. (Wadon) Walters, the former born in Pittsylvania County, Va., October 17, 1804, and the latter born in this county January 25, 1808, and deceased January 23, 1879. Both members of the Baptist Church. The father was a successful farmer, and quite young when they came to Tennessee. Our subject, the ninth of ten children, is largely self educated. September 8, 1872, he married Perlina J. Hamilton, of this county, daughter of William and Nancy B. Hamilton, and their children are H. Ramer, Cleopatra, Samuel J. T., Frank and Oscar. Our subject has been farming and stock dealing, and has bought all of the old homestead (except his share) and has just completed a fine residence. In 1880-81 he was a merchant at Effie, the firm being Walters & McDowell (J. C.). He has been very successful, is a popular man, and a decided Democrat. His wife is a Missionary Baptist.

Capt. John Wilson, farmer and stock dealer, was born in Anderson County, October 28, 1813, the son of Augustus and Barbara (May) Wilson, the former a soldier in the Revolution, a farmer, and a noted hunter, who is said to have killed deer on the site of Knoxville. He went to Knox County, a young man, and afterward to Anderson County. He was born in the Potomac Valley, Md., May 4, 1759, and died February 28, 1851, while the mother was born in Virginia, and died in the same county. They had two children, our subject and a sister. The former was fairly educated, and remained on the homestead, caring for his parents, until about 1855; then bought a farm in Anderson, (now Union) County, but in 1884 moved to his present farm. He was a recruiting officer, and in September, 1863, was made captain of Company M, but afterward Company L, Eleventh Tennessee Federal Cavalry, serving until June, 1865. April 27, 1837, he married Lydia, a daughter of Isaac Wilson, and born in Campbell County, in May, 1816. They have five sons and two daughters. For seven years our subject was postmaster at Hurricane Branch, and for twelve years was magistrate. He is a Republican, and a member of the G. A. R.

Rev. John N. Yadon, a prominent minister of the Missionary Baptist Church, was born where he now lives, May 3, 1823, the, son of Joseph and Phoebe (Cabbage) Yadon; the former was born in 1799, and deceased in 1873, and the latter was born in 1800, also deceased in 1873, and both were members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Joseph Yadon, the grandfather, came from Ireland, as a British soldier, in the Revolution, but afterward joined the Americans, and was at the battle of Stillwater, and was a drum-major. He afterward moved to Virginia, and then to Tennessee. The father was a farmer, and postmaster at Haynes, for twenty-four years. Our subject, the eldest of seven children, was fairly educated, and March 28, 1841, married Salena Condry, who was born in August, 1820, in Grainger (now Union) County. Of two sons and seven daughters, six daughters are living. He has bought half of his father’s estate, and is a successful farmer. In 1858, he was ordained a minister, and preaches at Hickory Valley, Staight Creek, Spring Dale and Head of Barron, Churches. He is a strong Prohibitionist.

Source: History of Tennessee Containing Historical and Biographical Sketches of Thirty East Tennessee Counties. Illustrated, pp. 1146-1152. Published: Chicago and Nashville: The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1887.


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