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

(Page 83)

Sometime in the 1820s Bryant Douglass settled in northern Henderson County, at first in old civil district nine where his family was still living in 1836-1837 when he appears on the tax rolls of those years in that district. Douglass then claimed a modest 102 acre holding and a slaveholding of three. In the 1840s the family was situated further west, in civil, district eight, on a large farm, located principally west of what is now Union Cross Road and north of Interstate 40.


The arrow points to the general location of Bryant Douglass' farm. The dotted line between Lewis Lane and Palmer Road indicates the former roadbed, .9 mile long, that lay between these two points before being eradicated when Interstate 40 was laid out in the 'sixties.

Douglass was credited with being a progressive farmer and an able farm manager; his slave-hold fluctuated; ten, mostly quite young in 1840; seven in 1850, chiefly young adults; eleven in 1860, including an older female, at least one couple in their late twenties and several children, one of whom would grow up to be Dr. Louis S. Douglass (after emancipation). These blacks lived in three cabins.



From his tombstone in the Douglass family graveyard, Bryant Douglass' vital stats are given as born September 8, 1798; died February 18, 1867.

The cost of this tombstone was given in A. G. Douglass' estate settlement report, April 20, 1871 (Henderson County Administrators Executors Book 1, 1867-1881, page 210):

To reach this burial ground drive about five miles west/southwest of Parkers Cross Roads via Rock Springs and Union Cross roads. Approach is off Union Cross Road west onto Lewis Lane to a field-gate about .5 mile, then through a field to the site about .2 mile.


Bryant Douglass was twice married. His family unit, as it appeared in the U.S. Census, 1850 (October 18), Civil District 8, Henderson County, page 168:


(Page 84)

This census entry indicates a North Carolina origin for Bryant Douglass as well as for his wife, Abigal. With them are his younger children, the older ones having already established their own homes by the fall of 1850.

The U.S. Census, summer 1830, Henderson County, page 112, indicates that Bryant Douglass and his wife had two sons, born 1820-1825 and two sons, born 1825-1830; his wife was the only female in the household. This suggests a marriage date of about 1820 for the Douglass couple. The U.S. Census, 1840, Henderson County, page 354, indicates the presence in the Douglass household of Bryant, the two males born 1820-1825; three males born 1825-1830 (possibly one of whom was born late in 1830, allowing for the one more male born in that period and unaccounted for in the 1830 census); a male born 1830-1835 and a male born 1835-1840. Two females were born 1835-1840; one female born 1830-1835; one female born 1820-1825 and one born 1800-1810.

From the 1850 census entry (on previous page) it may be seen that Gray Douglass, age 16, was the male born 1830-1835 (in 1840 census); William, age 13 was the male born 1835-1840 (in 1840 census); Nancy, age 10, was one of the females born 1835-1840 (in 1840 census), the other one having possibly died; from among the other three females, Abigal is ostensibly present but the other two, one older, one young, cannot be accounted for. By 1850, the five older males are no longer in Bryant Douglass' household.

One of Bryant Douglass' sons already grown was John T. Douglass, who the 1850 and 1860 censuses consistently suggest was born in Tennessee in 1825. According to the Civil War federal pension application of his widow, Martha Jane Douglass (National Archives: #2214808) he was married to her, a Miss Meals, September 8, 1847; they had surviving children: James Gray Douglass, born October 21, 1852; Lewis Bryant Douglass, born October 26, 1855; John Newton Douglass, born April 5, 1861; Tennessee Grant Douglass, born December 11, 1863; that he had enlisted in the Federal army, Company B, Third West Tennessee Cavalry at Corinth, Mississippi, in July 1863; that he was taken prisoner during an engagement at Como, Tennessee, October 7, 1863 and was sent to POW camp at Danville, Virginia, where suffering from dysentery, he was hospitalized and died February 26, 1864. Among the depositions in this application was that sworn May 23, 1876 by Abigal Douglass who identified herself as John T. Douglass' stepmother. Her deposition in full:


(Page 85)

John T. and Martha's first child, Rhoda, born 1849, appears in their household in 1850 (U.S. Census, 1850, Civil District 8, Henderson County, page 167); she died in childhood.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that the Bryant Douglass of Henderson County was the person of the same name who took out a marriage bond to marry Rhoda D. Johnson in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, May 28, 1821. (MARRIAGE RECORDS, 1811-1853, MECKLENBURG COUNTY, VIRGINIA, published by the Prestwould D.A.R., South Hill, Virginia, 1983 edition, page 51) A record survey of southside Virginia and North Carolina reveal no other Bryant Douglass and Rhoda Johnson that would "fit" the period.

Patrick Henry Douglass lived and died in the section of Henderson County, indeed on adjoining or nearby farmland where Bryant Douglass settled. His tombstone dates: June 20, 1822-April 22, 1900. To reach this burial ground, turn west off Union Cross Road onto Palmer Road; drive west 1.6 mile to a gravel road; turn east on it and drive .3 mile to the cemetery. The censuses consistently give his birth state as Virginia. He was one of the bondsmen on the bond that Arch Gray Douglass posted with the Henderson County court to administer the estate of Bryant Douglass on March 14, 1867. (Henderson County: Administrators Record 1, 1861-1899, page. 87)


(Page 86)

Found in the J. A. Douglass and others v Emily Douglass and others, 1900, an estate packet on file in the County Court Clerk's office, this December 22, 1845 deed from Isham Boyce, Gibson Co., Tenn. to Bryant and Patrick Henry Douglass of Henderson County:


(Page 87)




The information in this packet reveals that P. H. Douglass died owning about 1211 acres, which was put up for sale and the proceeds divided among his living heirs. His widow, Emily, nearly blind, senile, through her representative, J. A. Douglass, a son, relinquished her dower and homestead shares. Surviving children were James A. Douglass, Frances Douglass McCoy, wife of Sam E. McCoy; Charles H. Douglass, Jerome Douglass Replogle, wife of J. M. Replogle; Silas Douglass. The daughter, Sarah Ann Douglass Joplin had died leaving three children who were her heirs; William H. Douglass. A son, John B. Douglass (1849-1850) is buried beside his parents.


(Page 88)

In view of the genealogical evidence, Bryant Douglass (born 1798) married, first, Rhoda Johnson; that two of their older sons were Patrick Henry and John T. Douglass; that she died in the early 1830s and he remarried, to Abigal (Lessenberry?), with whom he had surviving children: Arch Gray Douglass (1834-1888), a prominent figure in Henderson County; William J. (Buck) Douglass, whose tombstone dates (he having been buried near his father) are: September 21, 1835-February 13, 1863. An unmarried man, his vocation was given as blacksmith in the U.S. Census, 1860, Civil District 8, Henderson County, page 258. (His age was given as 13, not 15, in 1850; his tombstone birth date places his and A. G. birth years very close, and the tombstone may be in error.) Benjamin Franklin Douglass was born in January 1842; he married Eliza Hannah Pearson (died May 23, 1880) with whom he had three children, one surviving, Levi Lytle Douglass (1880-1948), who was raised by his aunt, Nancy Walker. Frelinghuysen (Hyson) Douglass, born in 1846, namesake of the Revolutionary War patriot, Frederick Frelinghuysen, who married and had a family.

Nancy Douglass (February 15, 1840-March 26, 1911) first married Peter Rosser, August 19, 1856 (three sons); then married Levi Walker (five children). In her obituary appearing in the LEXINGTON PROGRESS, March 31, 1911, she was identified as the daughter of Bryant Douglass and sister of Gray Douglass. She is buried in New Hope Cemetery in nearby Carroll County, Tennessee.

A. G. Douglass' four estate settlement reports were filed with the county court (April 20, 1869, April 20, 1871, January 19, 1872, February 8, 1874). (Henderson County Administrators-Executors Settlements 1867-1881, pages 150-151; 210; 216-217; 259) Unfortunately, after all the credits and debits of the estate had been tabulated there was almost no money left to be distributed among the heirs (hence their names are not listed in the final settlement). Bryant Douglass' land was ordered divided among his heirs by the county court in 1867 but as the county minutes were destroyed by fire in July 1895 the disposition of funds arising therefrom is unknown.

Abigal Douglass was living on her 150 acre dower-homestead in 1880 with her son, Benjamin F. Douglass and his infant son. On March 28, 1882, Frelinghuysen (Hyson) Douglass and his wife, Nancy, sold his interest in his mother, Abigal Douglass' 150 acre tract and a 50 acre tract adjoining that had been set apart for him, representing his one-eighth interest (indicating the number of heirs surviving Bryant Douglass, which would include offspring of deceased children). He sold this acreage to Benjamin F. Douglass. (Henderson County Deed Book 7, pages 112-113; registered March 28, 1882)

On December 22, 1883, Benjamin F. Douglass sold his two-eighths interest in these tracts, some 200 acres, to Dr. Louis S. Douglass (IBID., pages 591-592, registered December 22, 1883). His mother was still living but it is not known how much longer Abigal Douglass lived.

In his January 19, 1872 settlement report of his father's estate, A. G. Douglass noted the credit of $63.50: (Henderson County: Administrators-Executors Settlements, 1867-1881, page 216)

In the U. S. Census, 1850 (September 21), page 198, Moore County, North Carolina, John Douglas, living alone, was given as age 77, native of North Carolina (farmer with real estate valued at $1200). He was still living and appeared in the census of that county, at Long Street Post Office, at age 87 years, in the U.S. Census, 1860, page 281; a farmer whose real estate was valued at $2100 and personalty at $1000. Hence John Douglass, a widower, may very well have lived into his nineties.


(Page 89)

John Douglas and his son, Raburn, had acquired several tracts of land in adjoining Chatham County which "Raburn Douglas and John Douglas his father" sold to Richard Cross for $1300, November 20, 1833; comprising 209 acres on Mount Branch, 170 acres on Buckhorn Creek and 18 acres off both streams. (Chatham County Deed Book AD, page 2; registered February 1834).

Raburn Douglas, born about 1802, moved into Chatham County but he soon sold out hits Bear Creek farm-homeplace to Gorman Guthrie for $1000, September 21, 1836 (IBID. Deed Book AE, page 114 registered February 1838) and migrated that fall to Henderson County, Tennessee, establishing residence there near his older brother, Bryant Douglass. The 1872 settlement entry suggests that Raburn Douglas had returned to get his and his brother, the late Bryant Douglass' shares of their father's estate.

Surviving records indicate that John Douglas and his family had moved into Moore County sometime before 1820 where they appear in that year's census, with a male born before 1775 (John); a male born 1794-1804 (Bryant); two males born 1802-1804 (one of whom being Raburn); two females born 1804; one female born before 1775 (John's wife) (Census, page 309) The Douglases appear in the Moore County censuses of 1830 (page 475) and 1840 (page 186). John Douglas' slave-holding increased from one in 1800 to sixteen in 1840.

It is evident that the Douglasses moved into Moore from Franklin County, North Carolina where they appear in the 1800 census, page 488, with one male born 1790-1800 (Bryant); 1810 ditto, page 780, possibly with five children, one male born 1794-1800 (Bryant) and one male born 1800-1810 (Raburn). John Douglas was likely the private of his name, in Franklin County, serving in the 14th Regiment of Detached Militia during the War of 1812. (MUSTER ROLLS OF THE SOLDIERS OF THE WAR OF 1812, a state publication of 1851, reprint 1926, page 104) John Douglas appears in Captain Stone's District, Franklin County, in 1815. (THE NORTH CAROLINA GENEALOGICAL JOURNAL, volume 14, #2, May 1988, page 94)

Bryant Douglass struck out on his own as a young man, searching for a home for himself and a young family. They may have lived briefly in Rockingham, North Carolina, on the Virginia border, not far from where he and Rhoda Johnson married, before moving to Tennessee, as there is a tradition in the John T. Douglass descendancy that their forebears had lived in that county for a time. (Interview, Jonathan Smith with Ruth Morgan Parham, a great-granddaughter of John T. Douglass, Jackson, Tennessee, August 11, 2001)

Further research among the public records of Franklin, Moore and Chatham counties in North Carolina and in Mecklenburg County, Virginia might reveal more about the back-east origins of this Carolina family.


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