Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

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Joseph Griffith: Land Grant Settler of Brimstone

FNB Chronicle Editor

It was taxation without representation that caused the colonies to go to war to gain independence from the crown of England. JOSEPH GRIFFITH was only seventeen years of age when he enlisted in 1775. The war ended in 1781 and the treaty of peace for the Revolutionary War was signed in 1783.

A Revolutionary War land grant (filed in Anderson County, TN.) lured JOSEPH and his family from Virginia to the mountainous area called Brimstone in Tennessee. According to surveys dated in 1808 and 1809 JOSEPH GRIFFITH owned two tracts (126 acres and 64 acres) on New River. The long, fertile valleys along the banks of Brimstone Creek provided lush grasses for livestock, rich soil for crops and the hardwood trees that covered the mountains provided logs for houses and barns. It’s uncertain just where JOSEPH settled on Brimstone, but his descendants are many and are scattered throughout America. One of the most famous relatives of JOSEPH GRIFFITH is RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON, former President of the United States of America. His great, great, great grandmother was ANN GRIFFITH, a sister to JOSEPH GRIFFITH.

The Tombstone of Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Griffith, who was a land grand settler in Scott County

Researchers have proven that all the Scott County Griffiths originated from JOSEPH GRIFFITH, who was born October 22, 1758 somewhere in Maryland. His ancestors have been traced back to Wales, 1630, by some accounts, and possibly back to AD 948 by some documents. He was living in Brunswick County, VA. when he enlisted in the Revolutionary War. JOSEPH GRIFFITH was a personal "life" guard of General GEORGE WASHINGTON and witnessed CORNWALLACE surrender his sword to General WASHINGTON. His place of residence was listed as Morgan County, TN. when he applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1833. Scott County, TN. was formed from parts of Morgan, Campbell, Anderson and Fentress counties in 1849. An 1832 map of Tennessee surveyed by MATHEW RHEA shows the parent counties of the area later to become Scott County and all of the land area south of the New river (which encompasses all of the Brimstone area, as well as, the Glenmary area) lay in what was then known as Morgan County, TN.

The area known as Brimstone lies in the long valleys through which Brimstone Creek flows from its headwaters in the Rhoda Creek area northward where it empties into the New river between the settlements of Low Gap and New River. The valleys of Brimstone slope upward to Round Mountain, Signal Mountain, Gosnell and Flower Mountain on the eastern boundary and Wright Mountain and the Griffith Mountains bound the western side. The headwaters of Brimstone Creek flow from near the Hamby Gap through which travelers could get to the Emery section of Morgan County. The area of convergence of Rhoda Creek and Brimstone Creek is known as Rhoda Creek and may have been named after JOSEPH’s daughter, RHODA.

The main road to Brimstone begins at Robbins, TN. near G&K Hicks Grocery. Other ways to the Brimstone Road are by way of Low Gap to Mt. Pleasant Church, through Glenmary on the Wolf Creek Road to the Indian Fork Road to the Leon Walker Bridge, and by way of haul roads across the mountains from the Bull Creek and Smokey Creek areas.

Documents on file with the Pension Department of the United States show that on April 20, 1833, JOSEPH GRIFFITH applied for a Revolutionary War pension.

Tomb beside Joseph Griffith’s Revolutionary War marker in the Goad Cemetery on the Robert Byrge Farm at Brimstone.

The following is a transcript of the affidavit in connection with the application:

"State of Tennysee Morgan County. On the 20th day of April 1833 personally affirmed before me THOMAS JACK a justice of the peace and one of the justices of the Court of pleas and quarter sysion for the county of Morgan aforesaid JOSEPH GRIFFITH resident in the county of Morgan State of Tennysee. And at the house of the residence of the said JOSEPH GRIFFITH who is a very aged & affirm man & who not having any record of his age, & who from old age infirmity of years is unable to get to court and who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congrys paysed June 7th 1832, that he enlisted as a private regular in the Army of the United States the day & date cannot now from old age & consequent loys of memory be now recollected but it was about six years before the surrender of (CORNWALLIS) at York. He entered and served in the 7th Regiment of the Virginia Line his time of enlistment was to be during the war. Applicant lived in Brunswick County, State of Virginia and enlisted & entered in the service as aforesaid under the following officers to wit: Captain EDWARD YARBOWER Lieutenant name not now recollected Major LIN Col. JOSEPH (Crrokett) CROCKETT, Genl. WASHINGTON. Was marched to Peters Burg was in battle at Peters Burg was stationed there about six weeks. Was then marched to Richmond was in the battle of Richmond was marched to Divers Points (Different Points) all of which cant now be recollected but was in the service at Richard & was then at Dificrent points (different points). Wherever neysity called for him some three or four years. He was, then marched up the country after the Brittish Army in the State of North Carrolinia (Carolina) was in the battle fought with the Torries at Musgrove’s Mill where the Torries was defeated was marched & placed under the command of General GREEN was then marched to Guilford was in the battle of Guilford was then marched to Divers Points (different points) pursuing the Brittish Army until the seige of York was in the seige was one of General WASHINGTON’s Life Guards on the day that CORNWALLICE surrendered. Saw CORNWALLICE deliver his sword to General WASHINGTON. Applicant was then marched as one of the Guards over the prisoners to King and Queens county near Apple tree church was then honorably but verbably discharged. Applicant cant from old age & consequent

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loss of memory recollect the precise length of service but it was not less than six years and that as a private enlisted regular soldier applicant herby realizes his army claim to pension or annuity. Except the private, and he declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency of any State applicant makes oath that he is unable to get to court applicant has no documentary evidence by which he can prove his service nor is there any persons living whos testimony he can procure by whom applicant can prove his absolute services but the following persons citizens and neighbors of him can testify to his character as a soldier of the Revolution to wit ANDREW LEWALLEN JOHN PATTEN WILLIAM SEXTON ARCHILLUS GIBSON HENRY BEGLEY MOSES SEXTON, this applicant has lived ever since the Revolutionary Warm the states of Virginia, Tennysee, Kentucky, Indiania & Illinois applicant now resides in Tennysee, Morgan County.


JOSEPH GRIFFITH was inscribed on the Roll of East Tennysee at, the rate of 20 dollars—cents per annum to commence on the 4th day of March, 1831. Certificate of Pension ifsued the 17th day of June 1833 and sent to LEVI TREWHITT Morgan C.H. (court house)

Arrears to the 4th of March 40.00
Semi-anl. allowance ending 4 Sept. 10.00

JOSEPH died May 20, 1833 without knowing that he had been awarded the Pension. He is buried in the Goad Cemetery (on the ROBERT BYRGE farm) just off the Brimstone Road in Scott County. JOSEPH was one of eleven children born to ISSAC GRIFFITH and ANN BURSON. His brothers and sisters were:



HANNAH GRIFFITH b. 7/28/1752






ISAAC GRIFFITH, Jr. b. 1760?



Goto Joseph Griffith Lineage to see the Griffith Lineage information provided with this article.

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 2 – Winter 1995
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
(pages 1 & 4)

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