Jackson Sun, March 10, 1912

(A Biography)
(By Capt. T. M. Gates)

            The propagator of the family of Seviers so numerous in Tennessee and Texas was a Huguenot Pilgrim that fled from France in the early part of the seventeenth century.

            The Huguenots were dissenters from the Catholic faith and were Calvinistic in doctrine. King Louis of France resolved to enforce religious uniformity in his kingdom. To carry out his purpose he issued an edict that no one of his subjects should leave France under a penalty of death. He placed soldiers in the district where the Calvinists lived to torment them and force them to accept the religion of his kingdom which was Catholic.

            In spite of the vigilance of the soldiers, there was a small colony of Huguenots, as they were called, that shipped for America and landed on the coast of what is now the state of South Carolina. Among this band of Pilgrims was one who spelled his name Xavier. This Huguenot, after a short stay in Carolina moved to Virginia and in the course of time there were three sons born to him, John, Robert, and Valentine.

            At this time England owned what is now the United States. In October 1780, the battle of King's Mountain was fought, and we find in history that John and Robert Sevier were officers in this bloody battle, and that Capt. Robert Sevier was slain. This Capt. Robert Sevier was the father of Major Charles Sevier whose biography I am writing.

            John Sevier, brother of Capt. Robert Sevier, was chosen as the first governor of Tennessee. After the death of his brother, Robert, he took his son, Charles, away and put him to work with a hatter at Greenville. Young Charles did not like his job and went to live his mother's brother, Charles Robertson, Jr., who was a farmer. About the year 1802, Mr. Charles Sevier, the subject sketch, married Miss Elizabeth Witt, and soon afterwards moved to Overton County.

            When West Tennessee was opened up, young Charles Sevier, with his wife, moved to Madison county and entered or bought a farm four or five miles southwest of the present city of Jackson.

            During the war of 1812, Charles Sevier served in the West Tennessee regiment and was in the battle of New Orleans. General Jackson promoted him, with seven others, for gallant service in the battle. Major Charles Sevier was a very large man and of wonderful constitution. He was the political leader of the democratic party of Madison county as long as he resided in the county. His enthusiasm was so great for James K. Polk, for president that on the day of the election in 1844, he rode a white bull into Jackson striped with Polk berry juice from head to tail. Major Sevier, while he was an active partisan in politics, was never a candidate for office. He was a prosperous farmer and lived within four miles of Jackson.

            Among the early settlers of West Tennessee, there was quite a spirit prevailing to be known as a "bully." In those days no weapons were used and frequent fist fights occurred. While Major Sevier was not a quarrelsome man, when he was aroused, he was a perfect Hercules in strength, and his name was not only confined to Madison, and adjoining counties, for it is said that a "bully" from Kentucky who had heard of Major Sevier concluded he would visit Madison county and test the strength and nerve of Major Sevier. The party arrived in Jackson and was told that ??? Sevier lived a few miles south ??? of Jackson. The Kentucky fighter proceeded to the farm of Major Sevier and met him in the road as he was loading some wood. After telling Major Sevier what the object of his visit to Madison county was, Major Sevier told him to alight and hitch his horse. While the Kentuckian was hitching his horse, he looked around and saw Major Sevier lift the hind end of the loaded wagon and place it out of the road as if it was a toy wagon. No sooner than the "bully" from Kentucky saw him toss this wagon from the road he jumped into his saddle, and with lashing and spurs, was soon out of sight, cutting air with the swiftness of lightning, and I dare say he didn't stop until he got to his "Old Kentucky Home." How true this story is I cannot say, but it is tradition that is handed down.

            There was born to Charles Sevier and his wife, fourteen children, but I have only space enough to mention his oldest son, Robert, who married and had three children. All of this family have passed away and are buried in Riverside Cemetery.

            Major Sevier lived within four miles of Jackson until 1854, when he decided to go to Texas. The long trip in private conveyance so told on his strength that he and his wife did not live long to enjoy their new home. They died within a few weeks of each other during the fall of 1855 at the residence of their son, Valentine Sevier, near Milford, Ellis County, Texas.

            Major Charles Sevier was the grandfather of Mr. Valentine B. Sevier (deceased) who was United States mail transfer clerk in Jackson for twenty-six years. He was called by all who knew him by the name of Vol Sevier, and no man ever lived in Jackson that was more beloved than he. He died in 1905 and is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Whitehead Sevier, and five children namely: Mrs. Finis Lack and James Sevier of Paducah, Ky., Mr. Charles W. Sevier, agent of the Illinois Central Railroad at Dyersburg; Mrs. H. W. White and Robert Sevier of Jackson.

            The children of Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Sevier mentioned above, also the grandchildren of Jesse Russell, Sr., mentioned in Wednesday's issue, are all great-grandchildren of Maj. Charles Sevier, and H. W. White, Jr., and his cousin, Frederick Lack, of Paducah, Ky., are great-grandchildren.

            P. S. - In next Sunday's issue will appear the biography of Dr. Wm. E. Butler, who at one time owned most of the land where the city of Jackson now stands.


From the T. M. Gates scrapbook, Tennessee Room, Jackson-Madison County Library. Transcribed by Laurel Baty.