Tennessee Records Repository

Henderson Co. TN


Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith

Mr. Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith of Jackson has published seven genealogical miscellanies for Henderson County.  He wishes to share this information as widely as possible and has granted permission for these web pages to be created.  We thank Mr. Smith for his generosity.  Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2001

The primary governing unit in Tennessee counties was the court of pleas and quarter sessions commonly called the county court. It was composed of magistrates called justices of the peace. As a body the magistrates conducted the business of the county, including setting of the land and personal tax rates, road and bridge building, probate of wills, settlement of estates, appointment of guardians for minor, providing for the indigent; as individuals they could perform marriage ceremonies, hold JP courts in which civil cases such as minor debts could be heard and judgments made (and appeal from the JP court could be referred to the full county court). Justices of the Peace were nearly always men of prominence and trust in the county, some more highly regarded than others. From the establishment of Tennessee as a state in June 1795 the county courts evolved into what is now called the county commission.

From 1796 until 1836 each county was divided into captains' districts, called that because militia captains presided over companies which had clearly drawn geographical boundaries. Although no permanent records of these boundaries have survived they were known generally among the male citizenry of the county, especially those aged eighteen to forty-five, almost all of whom were assigned to a militia company. These boundaries were also recorded by the regimental judge advocate in his records.

By law each captain's company had two justices of the peace except for the company which included the county seat which was allowed representation by three justices. They were elected by the qualified voters of the captains' districts and served indefinitely or "during good behavior." If a JP resigned from his office he submitted his resignation to the county court after which the sheriff would hold an election for his replacement. (STATUTE LAWS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE by John Haywood and Robert L. Cobb, volume one, Knoxville, 1831, "Justices of the Peace," beginning at page 200).

Each year one of the JPs in each district would compile the list of taxpayers in his district; the sheriff then collected the tax revenue, local and state.

With the revision of the Constitution of Tennessee in 1835 some changes were made regarding justices of the peace. The counties were now divided into civil districts and two JPs (and a constable) were elected to represent the district by its qualified voters. The commissioners who laid off the boundaries of the civil districts were directed by statutory law to set these boundaries "by county lines, rivers, creeks, branches, mountains, ridges, rod (public and private), section or range lines of such other marks, natural or artificial" as thought appropriate by these men. The number of districts designated for a county was determined by a specific ratio based on the enumeration of 1833. (COMPILATION OF STATUTES OF TENNESSEE, by R. L. Caruthers and A. O. P. Nicholson, Nashville, 1836. The ratios are given on page 255, "Districts, 1835, Chapter l, section 2).

The new JPs were elected in March 1836 and their terms of office lasted for six years; they could be removed from office when "guilty of any crime or misdemeanor in office." In such an instance or when a JP resigned, an election was held in his district for his replacement who would serve "during the term for which is predecessor was elected and no longer " (ACTS OF TENNESSEE, 1835-1836, Chapter l, Sections 14, 15). The minutes of the county courts were kept by the county court clerks who were elected for four year terms. The transactions, judgments of each JP in his own court were kept by him in a docket book.

All of the Henderson County minutes prior to 1860 were destroyed in May 1863 when the courthouse in Lexington was accidentally burned during the Civil War. Those for 1860-1866 are extant and transcripts are available for research. The county offices were kept open during the war and the county court met regularly even in temporary quarters for several years until a new courthouse was built in 1867.

The appointments of the Justices of the Peace were recorded in the Tennessee Commission books from which the present writer has taken their names and dates of commission. These records are in the process of being re-microfilmed by the state in the spring of 2001.

Henderson County, Tennessee was created on November 7, 1821.


Commission Book Four

page 179. John T. Harmon, Abner Taylor, James Lewis, Robert Wilson, Thomas Black, John Crook, John Templeton, Duke Williams, Isaac Curry, James Baker, Samuel Wilson. November 14, 1821. (These were the official members of the first county court.)

page 185. John T. Harmon was also commissioned as sheriff, term beginning in December 1821. March 9, 1822. William Allison commissioned as county coroner on the same date.

page 193. Isaac Swan, Andrew Simpson, William Ray, Audly Alexander, Jeremiah Hendricks, Henry H. Brown. August 23, 1822.

page 234. Thomas Johnson, John Wilkes, James Reed. October 2, 1824.

page 259. Reuben Wilson, John Essary, James Lacy. November 8, 1825. page 292. John C. Walker. November 23, 1826.

page 295. John A. Gouf (Goff), Hezekiah Bradbury, James E. Jerdon. December 7, 1826.


Commission Book Five

page 7. William A. Barton (or Burton), William D. Carrington, Hugh Ross, Felix W. Henry, Abraham Derryberry, John Howell. October 7, 1827.

page 88. John Harmon, Augustus Hill, Samuel Wilson, Samuel Bell, James Maddum, William B. Reed, Robert Baker, Arnold Tommison (Thomason). November 5, 1829.

page 99. Roling Cook. December 29, 1829.


Commission Book Six

page 59. Milton McKinzie. October 19, 1833.

pages 123-124. John Bell, Kinson McVey, John H. Bonner, William A. Meacham, Job Dean, Samuel T. Edwards, Henry D. Collier, Ross Talbot, John Nanney, William Rhodes, Jr., James M. A. Jones, Edmond Knowles, ______ Lawler, Matthew J. Galloway, John Adams, William Meals, David Wilson, Samuel McClerkin, Samuel A. Wallace, Felix W. Henry, Adam M. Brown, Milton McKinzy, Anderson B. Smith, Samuel Barns, Ambrose Hutchison and Charles Austin, Jonathan Duck, George Rodgers, Joseph Essery, Abraham Derryberry, Samuel Billingsley. March 23, 1836.

page 186. William K. Kizer. February 9, 1837. Hartwell Temple. February 11, 1837.

page 190. William Hughey. April 8, 1837.

page 196. Edmond Goff. May 25, 1837.

Page 212. John T. Cavness. December 30, 1837.

page 216. Noah Douglass, Richard Johnson. February 25, 1838.

page 226. John Vanhook. May 5, 1838.

page 264. Thomas Morgan. March 7, 1839.

page 276. James Roan. May 8, 1839.


Commission Book Seven (1840-1845)

page 5. George Rogers, William Brown. March 17, 1840.

page 14. Eli Teague. June 1, 1840.

page 19. Frazier B. Hodge. September 15, 1840.

page 26. William B. Hall. January 23, 1841. page 34.

James M. Hemphill. May 22, 1841.

page 56. K. McVay, L. C. Smith, J. T. Cavaness, T. P. Philips, S. T. Edwards, W. B. Hale, H. D. Cullen, John D. Smith, N. McCord, Thomas M. Dodd, E. Kent , Eli Teague, M. J. Galloway, J. M. Hemphill , David Wilson, F. B. Hodge, F. W. Henry, W. H. McKinny, W. F. Kizer, J. K. Brown, John Pyles , James Long, T. Morris , J. Duck, C. Austin, S. Hair, S. Moreland, George Rogers, Thomas Bond. March 17, 1842.

page 67. R. Johnson, J. Essary, B. H. Collins. May 20, 1842.

page 87. A. M. Brown, A. H. Rhodes , William Wood, A. Lasater, John H. Galbreath. March 18, 1843.

page 95. William D. Key. February 6, 1844. John Autry. February 8, 1844.

page 96. Lachaigh Bevell, Even E. Hughes, William B. Rhodes, John L. Foster. March 14, 1844.


Commission Book Seven (1840-1856)

All listed together under the county's name:

George Rogers, William Brown. March 17, 1840.

Eli Teague. June 1, 1840.

L. C. Math___. December 28, 1840.

F. B. Hodges. September 15, 1840.

W. B. Hall. January 23, 1841.

Thomas B. Phillips. February 2, 1841.

John M. Hemphill. May 2, 1841.

R. McVay, L. C. Smith, J. T. Caveness, T. P. PhillipS, S. T. Edwards, W. R. Hill, H. D. Collier, John D. Smith, N. McLeod, Thomas M. Dodds, E. Runnels, Eli Teague, J. Galloway, J. M. Hemphill, D. Wilson, F. B. Hodges, F. W. Henry, W. A. McKinney, W. F. Kizer, J. K. Brown, J. Pi______, J. Long, S. Morris , J. Duck, C. Austin, S. Hare, S. Moreland, G. Rodgers, D. Bond. March 17, 1842.

L. C. G. Henry, J. T. Caveness, S. J. McNairy. April 12, 1842.

R. Johnson, J. Essery. May 24, 1842.

E. Gauff. November 1, 1842.

A. M. Brown, A. H. Rhodes, W. Wood, H. Lasseter, J. H. Galbreath. June 18, 1843.

William D. Key. February 6, 1844.

John Autrey. February 8, 1844.

L. Bevill , E. E. Hughes, William B. Flake, John L. Foster. March 14, 1844.

Carroll Beaver. December 4, 1844.

H. J. Morgan. March 1, 1845.

H. Powers. June 16, 1845.

S. H. M. Jeffrey. June 23, 1845.

J. M. Lawler. January 27, 1846.

W. R. Welch. February 21, 1846.

A. J. Johnson. February 23, 1846.

J. K. Hays. March 16, 1846.

J. L. Cawthon. April 13, 1846.

N. L. Glenn. April 27, 1846.

Thomas N. Black. September 4, 1846.

D. Wallace. March 24, 1847.

J. McClerkin. April 11, 1847.

Kinza T. Harrison, John A. Montgomery, Thomas P. Phillips, Eli Teague, Carroll Beavers, William W. Deberry, William D. Key, John D. Smith, Norman McLeod, Stephen Massengill, John S. Priddy, Micajah Joyner, James M. Lawler, Matthew Galloway, Dudley L. Flake, Jehial Lucas, James McClerkin, David Wilson, F. W. Henry, Robert T. Vawter, William H. McKinny, Thomas A. Smith, Isaac L. McCollum, John H. Galbreath, Edmund Gawf, Charles Austin, Jonathan Duck, Henry Powers, Alfred McCollum, Abraham Derryberry, Wyatt Scales, James H. Fuller, Samuel Hayse, Alexander T. Johnson, James R. Hays, George Rogers, John B. Davis. March 16, 1848.

John M. Cherry. May 6, 1848.

Abraham McCollum. May 27, 1848.

Caleb Ballow. February 22, 1849.

Isaac Douglass. May 17, 1849.

William F. Kizer. December 21, 1849.

William Shackleford, Griffith L. Ross. April 9, 1850.

Nathan Peoples. September 9, 1850.

Hugh Lasater. February 14, 1851.

Thomas Peeler. May 26, 1851.

Bartley E. Wilkerson. August 20, 1851.

William Stewart. January 9, 1852.

Henry D. Crook. January 26, 1852.

Daniel M. McCollum. March 10, 1852.

Edward D. Knowles. March 17, 1852.

Augustus Rawlings, Thomas N. Black. August 16, 1853.

John R. Clark. October 27, 1852.

Marcus M. C. Clark. December 24, 1852.

Thomas Noel, M. M. C. Clark, John Roberts, Gardner T. Webb. January 10, 1853.

Thomas Argo. February 11, 1853.

William Stewart, Thomas N. Black, Eli Teague, John H. McHaney, William W. Deberry, Jesse Duncan, G. L. Ross, John H. Trice, Stephen Massengill, Richard L. Hendrix, Edmund Knowles, James T. Greswel1, James McClerkin, John Teague, Thomas Peeler, Jehial Lucas , David Wilson, Thomas A. Noel , F. W. Henry, William R. Bird, William H. McKinney, Levi King, John Thomas, Daniel M. McCollum, Edmund Gauf, Charles W. Austin, P. Austin, Absolum McCollum, Henry Powers, Abraham Derryberry, Benjamin C. Phillips, John Bond. March 20, 1854.

James Hays, Willis F. Kizer, F. Howard, Hugh Lassater, John B. Davis, William F. Gardner, John Halbrook, James H. Fuller. March 20, 1854.

Stephen R. Chapin. March 25, 1854.

John Roberts. April 11, 1854.

Lawson B. Moore. April 25, 1855.

William Pearson. January 30, 1855.

Caleb Ballew. March 21, 1855.

Micajah Joyner. October 13, 1855.

Thomas A. Smith, Thomas N. Hart, Allen Azbell. November 25, 1854.

John Holbrook, James Hayes. October 27, 1853.

Samuel Hayes. December 20, 1855.

William Holmes. March 17, 1856.

John T. Teague. April 22, 1856.


The Henderson County court minutes, 1860-1866, indicate at least these JPs serving during that time:
Felix W. Henry, William F. Kizer, David M. McCollum, T. A. Smith, Samuel Howard, Robert J. Dyer, J. M. Rhodes, Jackson Anderson, B. J. Teague, W. P. Moore, John Teague, J. R. Teague, Alfred McCallum, John M. Smith, Ab McCollum, Lawson B. Moore, William Thomas, James F. Pinkston, John G. Carver, E. W. Carver, E. W. Walker, Matthew H. Brown, Peter Pearson, John K. Clark, Samuel McAdams, James H. Fuller, Joshua C. Evans, E. D. Smith.

Ibid., commissioned in August 1865:
William Stewart, Allen Threadgill, M. H. Brown, Edmund Knowles, John Teague, Stephen Thomas, John K. Clark, John R. Teague, Stephen Thomas, T. J. Bailey, R. J. Dyer, W. B. Rogers, E. W. Walker, John H. Sherrod, H. Fuller, John C. Evans. (As these men were appointed by the Radical Republican governor of the state, their appointment would indicate that they held to a unionist sentiment or had that reputation at any rate, during the late war.)


Return to Table of Contents for A Genealogical Miscellany Henderson County Tennessee

volume I · volume II · volume III · volume IV · volume V · volume VI · volume VII