Weaks Family Gateway

William C Weaks Sr. moved to Stewart County, Tennessee from Henry County, Virginia and Hartford County North Carolina in about 1803. He purchased 388 acres near the mouth of Cub Creek from James Atkins on February 27, 1821. He and Mary were the parents of ten children and are believed to be buried in the Weaks Cemetery on Cub Creek.

For more information on the Weaks Family History click on the following link.

Data furnished by Carlisle Cook, great grandson of Robert Lee Weaks. ccookj@bellsouth.net

The following information has been shared by Thomas E. Weaks, Jr. and Dawn Morrill:

The Weaks Family History - updated September 2006.


Submitted January 11, 2016 by Thomas Elton Weaks, Jr.

Andrew Jackson (Jack) Weaks was born March 31, 1846, on the family farm in Stewart County, Tennessee. He was the second of ten children born to William Barney Weaks and Nancy Emily Gray Weaks (married October 4, 1842). The family home, where Jack grew up, was located on the western edge of their approximately 1100 acre plantation. This plantation extended north to the Cumberland River floodplain and approximately two miles east to include land along Little Elk Creek. While the land on both hills and along streams was tillable, the most fertile (bottomland) was located in the floodplain of Elk Creek. Bottom land in the area was planted almost exclusively in field corn while dark-fired tobacco and wheat were grown only on hills where there was no danger of flooding.

The Weaks farmhouse, a seven room, weather-boarded, log structure, adjoined the Weaks Cemetery and overlooked Elk Creek. While William was primarily a farmer, he also owned and operated a water-powered sawmill and gristmill that served the people of the community. According to Jack (Federal Government interview of Confederate veterans) , his mother Nancy Emily did cooking, spinning, and weaving. The family owned eight slaves that worked along side the owners in the operation of the farm. Jack stressed that work such as plowing and hauling "was considered respectable and honorable in the community, and there wasn't any idlers." He claimed to have started plowing at seven years of age. However, Jack's assessment of his contributions to the operation of the farm was somewhat different from those provided by his son, Elton. Judging from the stories that Elton had heard, his father's early life was mostly one of leisure spent fox hunting with his hounds and catfishing along the Cumberland River. He also greatly enjoyed chasing and hunting white-tail deer with his hounds over the wooded hills in the area. However, the deer population had been reduced to almost extinction well before Jack's time so it is doubtful that this sport often yielded meat for the table. If Elton's assessment was accurate, Jack's hunting and fishing activities apparently came first in his life while the matter of school and education lagged far behind.

Jack attended a public (free) school (probably Paul's Chapel School) that was located at approximately a two and a half mile walk from his home. The first Common School Law in Tennessee was passed in 1829 (Stewart County History, 1980). Taxes for the support of Common Schools were authorized by the passage of this law. Stewart County began receiving state school funds as early as 1830. The school Jack attended employed both male and female teachers and was in session for three months each year. The students, both boys and girls, attended on a regular basis but few learned more than the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Jack claimed that he attended school for a total of two years.

In September 1862, Jack and his older brother, James W. Weaks (b. October 8, 1844), volunteered at Cumberland City for service in the Confederate cavalry. Jack was only sixteen years of age at the time but was large for his age. The two brothers were recruited by Tom W. Lewis, a well-to-do plantation owner who lived at Cumberland City. Lewis raised a company in the area that was known as Company C, 2nd Kentucky Cavalry and saw action under General N.B. Forrest and several other commanders. The grandfather of Major Tom Lewis setttled in Stewart County around 1800 and served in the War of 1812 at the battle of New Orleans. It was recorded that in the heat of battle, he sprang upon the breastworks, waved his hat, blew his horn and hallooed to the Tennessee boys "to give it to them." For this conduct General Jackson promoted him to Captain.

Tom Lewis recruited sixty-five men for Company C, 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. By the end of the war, forty-three of these had been killed, disabled or deserted. Tom Lewis was commissioned major of his regiment and commanded this unit until its surrender at Washington, Georgia in 1865. The researcher who has an interest in gathering information about the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry should be made aware that there were several military units by this same name that saw service during the Civil War. Much of what is known about the service of Jack Weaks to the Confederate cause has been extracted from a Federal Government interview of Confederate veterans that was conducted long after the Civil War had ended.

Jack stated during this interview that the unit was sent to Columbia, Tennessee, soon after his and Jim's enlistments, and that they were engaged in battle a short time later. While General Forrest had advertised for "able-bodied men, mounted and equipped with such arms as they can procure (shot-guns and pistols preferable)", this was not what many volunteers actually showed up with for duty. Jack and Jim's regiment alone had 400 flintlock muskets. In response to a request for more detailed information concerning their involvement, Jack related, "The first fight was with a fleet of gun boats on Tennessee River. I was never in hospital or prison. I had a rough time. We slept where night overtook us and went without food sometimes 3 days and nights at a time. Second fight was at Ft. Donelson. First year with Gen. Forrest, I went to west Tennessee Cross Roads [Parker's Crossroads], near Jackson and was fighting... nearly all the time. We whipped and run the enemy with the exception of Cross Roads and they got reinforcements there. We had a fight near Triune, one at Farmington, one at Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Dalton, Ga., Atlanta and there we got in rear of army and fought every day until we got to Savannah, Ga., from there fought in front til we got to Raleigh, North Carolina. President Davis called for an escort of [the]best cavalry division and our division was selected. We escorted him from Raleigh, N.C. to Washington, GA." This division was commanded by General Joseph Wheeler. On May 10, 1865, a few miles west of Irwinsville, Georgia, the Presidential party was surprised and captured by a troop of Federal cavalry under the command of Colonel Benjamin D. Pritchard. A few days later, Wheeler and his men were captured at night while they slept in the woods. General Wheeler was taken to Athens, Georgia. Jack Weaks reported, "I came from Washington, Georgia, to Chattanooga horse back and to Nashville on a train and from Nashville to Cumberland City on a boat."

Members of C Company that Jack Weaks named included Jim West (Danville, TN), Major Tom Lewis, Capt. Henry Jackson, 1st Lt. Tom Batemon, 2nd Lt. Dave Martin, 3rd Lt. Joe Mathis, Ord. Sgt. James Ramey, 2nd Sgt. James W. Weaks, Corp. Willis Jones,and Privates John Henry Lewis and Hugh Bell. Jack listed as regimental division commanders: Commander Tom Woodard; General Williams, commanded first, second and ninth Kentucky Regiments; General Didrell commanded our division, General Forrest was Lt. General, second year I was transferred to General Wheeler [and] commander VanDorn. This later information may be of special interest to the reader in that it places Jack Weaks in General Joseph Wheeler's regiment during the years 1863- 65. Therefore, Jack could not have been a participant in the infamous slaughter of black Federal troops at Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864, by Major Forrest's regiment.

Jack was never wounded in battle but had some "close calls" such as the time when a lock of his hair was shot from his head at Dover. The men of his unit were armed with double-barrel shotguns that were charged in each barrel with a single round ball plus three buck-shot. He claimed to have killed several Yankee soldiers with his shotgun. On one occasion, he observed two Yankees in the corner of a rail fence and killed them both. Another time he engaged a Yankee, who was riding a white horse, in hand-to-hand combat and killed him with his saber. During the latter years of his life, he told and retold to anyone who would listen, the story of this encounter with the man on the white horse along with other war experiences. A friend and next door neighbor, Robert T. Gorham, who had fought in many of the same Civil War battles, made occasional visits to the Weaks home where the two old men sat before the open fireplace chewing tobacco and reminiscing about their war experiences. Jack's son, Elton, recalled that the two sometimes sat there and refought battle after battle until late in the night.

Jack Weaks returned home from the war to the family farm on Elk Creek. In 1874 he married Tabitha Emily Gray who lived in Dover but had grandparents on Elk Creek. She was the daughter of Peter F. and Mary Dunbar Gray. Peter was a brother to Nancy Emily Gray. Tabitha Emily was born November 8, 1846, in Stewart County. Her father owned a stage coach line that provided travelers with service from Paris and through Dover to Clarksville, Tennessee, until his death in 1860.

Jack and Emily moved to land on Elk Creek that had been inherited from her father Peter and settled into a life of farming. This farm, known locally as the Lemon's place, was located approximately one mile south of State Route 233 and on the east side of Elk Creek Road. In the year 2016, the now dilapidated log house still stands with strong evidence of long-term neglect. Its current structural condition undoubtedly makes it look very much different from what it did when Jack and Emily lived there.

Jack and Emily had six children; Mattie, Andrew, Thornton, Peter, Elton, and Emily. Three of these children, Emily, Thornton and Peter, died early in life. Mattie and Andrew remained single while Elton married Mary Bayer. The parents as well as their children were faithful members of Paul's Chapel Methodist Church and were active in community activities for many year.

The membership at Paul's Chapel was small, while Sunday attendance was yet smaller. At one point (around 1915) the members undertook a project to replace the windows of the church with stain glass. Various members, including Jack Weaks and William C. Bradford, purchased windows that were inscribed with their names and installed in the church. In 2016, the William C. Bradford window survives while the Jack Weaks window must have been broken as it has been replaced with plain glass.

The Jack Weaks family attended church at Paul's Chapel on a regular basis. Elton recalled that the church had a lot of dinners-on-the-ground and revivals that his family attended. Paul's Chapel did not have the good fortune to have the assignment of a full-time pastor by the Methodist Conference. The church shared a minister with several other small congregations in the general vicinity of Elk Creek. Sunday School was held every Sunday minus the part-time pastor, while preaching was scheduled for once or twice per month when he made the circuit to Paul's Chapel. An absence of hotels and restaurants in the community made it necessary for the preacher to eat and stay overnight with a church family of the congregation. The Jack Weaks' home was frequently selected as the place of convenience, undoubtedly, in part, because of its nearness to the church.

The Jack and Emily Weaks farm was formerly a part of the Joseph Gray plantation. This land was located approximately one mile from the home of William B. and Nancy Emily Gray Weaks. Jack and Emily's property, like most in the nation at that time, could accurately be described as a subsistence farm. However, if they had a good crop year, excess corn was sold plus cattle and hogs. Small quantities of dark-fired tobacco were kept for chewing and smoking while the major part was sold. The regional market for tobacco was in Clarksville, Tennessee, a small town approximately twenty-five miles by road from the Weaks farm. This was the destination for most tobacco crops in Jack's area.

The crops on Jack and Emily's farm were very diversified with corn, wheat, dark-fired tobacco, hogs, sheep and cattle representing the primary agricultural products. The few acres of wheat that were produced were taken to local mills to be ground into flour that was consumed in the home. Sheep were raised in part for the wool that Emily needed to spin and weave items of clothing for the family. Jack also had a high interest in bee-keeping and maintained a small number of gums as well as hives with movable frames. According to Elton, the family was kept well supplied with chunk honey (honey in the comb)that was used as a sugar substitute. In addition, Jack maintained an apple orchard, consisting of an assortment of varieties along the edge of the creek bottom and west of the house. The harvested fresh fruit was stored in a root cellar near the east side of the kitchen. A substantial quantity of apples was pressed in the making both fresh and fermented cider, both of which were common drinks in homes before the introduction of carbonated beverages.

Low production of most crops was to be expected on Jack and Emily's farm, as well as on other farms of the nation during that period, mainly because of the use of primitive equipment, along with a lack of commercial fertilizer,lime, pesticides plus poor farming practices. However, the relatively higher prices received for agricultural commodities at least partially compensated for these multiple deficiencies that modern farms no longer face. It should be pointed out that while the Jack Weaks' family worked very hard to make the farm produce, they also reserved time for the pursuit of receational activities.

Hunting and fishing were the principal recreational activities that the majority of boys and men of that time engaged in, especially if they lived in a rural area. While the participants considered the pursuit of wild game and fish to be a pleasurable activity, the fresh meat that they came home with also provided a welcome change from the usual salt pork diet. Several times each year, Jack and a neighbor took Andrew, Peter, and Elton on overnight fishing trips to the Cumberland River. Jack had an old flat-bottom, wooden boat that he had constructed for such occasions. The boat was loaded onto a mule-drawn, farm wagon along with bedrolls, food, fishing gear, plus the men and boys and the happy party headed for the river which was about a mile north of their home.

The Cumberland River was a free-flowing stream at that time. There were no locks or dams that created deep pools or erased riffle areas. The stream was heavily polluted with domestic and industrial wastes from both Clarkville and Nashville, but people of that time were unaware of the dangers to their health. Trapping, hunting, fishing, and swimming were good on the river and that was all that mattered. Elton recalled how they sat around the fire on the riverbank and talked for a while before spreading out their bed rolls on the ground for a brief stretch of sleep. The mosquitoes always seemed to be pesky around the river during the summer time when the fishing was good. Sometimes a very large species abounded that almost looked like small birds. There was no escaping the hungry bloodsuckers. A person could cower under the protection of heavy covers, but the pesky devils hung around and waited for the heat of the night to drive their "dinner" from hiding. Eventually, you ended up with red itching, whelps on your skin and if you were really unlucky, malaria.

Several times during the night the fishermen arose from their beds, got in the boat with coal oil lantern, and ran the trot lines to take off the fish. While there were several species of fish common in the river, such as buffalo, suckers, and catfish, the latter were, by far, the preferred catch. Blue and flathead catfish sometimes reached enormous proportions in the river but these giants were very difficult to catch. Elton never mentioned how many fish they caught but he recalled that the trips were a lot of fun. On one of these outings, a catfish was caught on a trot line in the middle of the night that was so large that when shouldered on a pole, its tail dragged the ground. For Elton, fishing on the Cumberland River along with hunting trips were undoubtedly the most memorial experiences that he shared with his father and brothers.

Possum hunting was also a very enjoyable activity that Jacks's family engaged in and in this respect, the family was far from unique. Young and old of both sexes found the night time strolls through the late fall woods and fields to be a pleasant alternative to straining to read or do needle work beside a dim kerosene lamp. A full moon and several hoots of an owl were all the encouragement needed to draw farm folks into the night for a few hours of walking the woods with a gummy sack and old Rover. Racoon hunting was also popular throughout the region, but this activity was reserved for the hardier souls who owned expensive hounds and didn't mind staying out until daylight in all kind of weather. Coon suppers as well as chitterling suppers were popular ways of entertaining around Cumberland City up until the 1920's. If a person wanted to draw a crowd, all he had to do was to give such a supper and friends as well as the unfriendly would come from miles around for the feast. Members of Jack's family never gave a chitterling or coon supper but did go when invited.

Coon was considered to be better table fare than possum, in large part because it was usually leaner meat and lacked the greasiness of possum. But a big fat possum shook from the top of a persimmon tree in late October provided a welcome change of pace from the smoked pork meat that had toughened up all summer while hanging in the smokehouse. Once you got past the grin on the possum's face and the thick layer of fat under the hide, the lean meat that covered the bones was sweet and tasty by any standard. To young minds, such culinary rewards undoubtedly made hunting seem more interesting than doing chores around the farm or buckling down to school home work.

Late in the year of 1908, Jack and Emily Weaks sold their farm on Elk Creek to Jack's brother, Brice, and moved to a larger farm (249 acres) which was located approximately two miles east and on Little Elk Creek. Half of this property had been inherited from Jack's parents and the other portion was purchased from his sister, Mary Weaks Holmes. This new home had the advantage of being a much larger track of land and included approximately 50 acres of creek bottomland. Bottomland was far superior to hill land as it was kept fertile by the accumulation of topsoil eroding from the surrounding cultivated hills. In addition, available water for plant growth was considerably higher on bottomland soils. Jack was undoubedly not only highly pleased by the greater acreage but, in addition, it also kept the family in the same neighborhood.

However, it is believed that Jack was in declining health at the time of their relocation. This belief is supported, in major part, by Elton's claim that he along with Andrew and Peter did the farm work. Jack was never mentioned as working out in the fields. In addition, the three boys added two rooms to the house and built a barn. Further support for the belief that Jack's health was poor was supplied by Mrs. Kate Ballard Duncan (still living in 2004). She stated that as a small girl she "often accompanied Mr. Weaks to their mail boxes down the road from her house." The year was around 1917. There were no fences back then, so horses, mules, cattle, and hogs were free to wander all around the countryside and feed on anyone's land. The horses sometimes became aggressive and chased small children so Kate frequently waited to walk with Jack Weaks for protection. She recalled that he was aged at the time and one of his hands shook badly, suggesting Parkinson's disease. Years later, Jack occasionally stated that his health had been ruined by the deplorable conditions (sleeping on wet and cold ground, stress, no food, etc.) that he endured while serving three years in the Confederate cavalry. Two other members of the Weaks family, Tabitha Emily and Peter, also experienced serious health problems during the approximately thirteen years that they lived on Little Elk Ceek. Several years after they moved there, Peter became very ill shortly after helping thrash wheat. His family believed that chaff from the thrasher had lodged in his throat and caused the problem. Up until that time Elton said that he "was full of life and could entertain a crowd.". The doctor who treated him thought he had typhoid fever up until two days before he died. Then the doctor changed his mind and said that he did not know what was wrong with Peter. Peter died on July 25, 1911, at the age of twenty seven.

Following Peter's death, his mother's health began a sharp decline. Emily died January 12, 1918, at home on Little Elk Creek. Her death certificate reported cause of death to be from pulmonary tuberculosis. Her health had probably also been affected by what was claimed by Mrs. Russell Duncan to be a broken hip that greatly reduced her mobility for the final few years of her life. However, as no family member was ever heard to mention her falling or having a broken hip, her frailty may have primarily been caused by her suffering from tuberculosis. It seems unlikely that the influenza pandemic of 1918 could be blamed as a contributor to her death as the disease was almost unknown until late 1918. Elton occasionally mentioned that much of his time during the winter of early 1918 was spent sawing wood (with a cross-cut saw) to keep his mother warm in the room that was heated with an open fireplace. He claimed that he hauled logs that, when sawed, produced 20 cords of wood. While the cordage he claimed to have sawed was probably an exageration, it was very cold that winter. Snow covered the ground continuously from December 1917 until March 1918. The neighbors strained to dig Emily's grave through frozen ground, ice and snow.

Following Emily's death, Jack, Mattie, and Elton moved in 1921 to Cumberland City to a home that Elton had purchased. Andrew moved to the residence of an uncle and aunt (Billy and Martha Thomas) in Cumberland City. Jack's health continued to decline from multiple problems associated with old age. He died on March 9, 1932, and was buried beside Emily at the Weaks Cemetery on Elk Creek.

Submitted by Thomas Elton Weaks, Jr.
Grandson of Andrew Jackson Weaks and Emily Gray Weaks
Date submitted- January 11, 2016
Address- P.O. Box 141, Cumberland City, TN 37050
Email address- teweaks@gmail.com

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