By: John L. Kiener, General Sessions Judge, Washington County
***NOTE: THE JGS DOES NOT HAVE ANY OF THESE BOOKS FOR SALE!
Loraine Rae’s book Washington County, Tennessee Deeds 1775-1800 (Copyright 1991 by Southern Historical Press, Inc. 275 Broad St., Greenville, South Carolina 29601 ISBN: 0-89308-689-4; $30.00 per copy) is more than a valuable addition to the growing body of genealogical materials available in this area. Deeds, 1775-1800 needs to be on the bookshelf of anyone seriously interested in Tennessee history.
Loraine did not copy – she found, and in a three-step process – has made the real estate transfers of the founders of this land available to us. On page 21, in the material under the heading “Watauga Purchase,” she tells us: “This volume is a photostatic copy of the original and is in the office of the County Court Clerk, not the Register of Deeds. The story I have heard is this: The original volume was taken to Nashville for some historical celebration and never returned. The late Mary Hardin McCown found it in the state archives. She was not permitted to bring it back to Washington County but was allowed to make a photostatic copy, which she had bound and placed in the Clerk’s office. This is actually a copy, which she had bound and placed in the Clerk’s office. This is actually a copy of ‘Old Book A.”
Where else can you find this information? If you have not yet put down your newspaper in order to find a copy of this book, read on, here is Loraine’s first entry: “p. 1-4 March 19, 1775 ‘Oconistoto, Chief Warrior and first representative of the Cherokee Nation or Tribe of Indians & Amacullicully and Savanuka otherwise Coronok” to Charles Roberson/Robertson of the settlement of Wataugah; on Wataugah, Holston and Great Canaray or New River. CONS: (meaning consideration, the amount of money paid for the land) 2000 lbs. (pounds). SIG: (Seal and/or signature of seller). Oconistoto X, Atticullicul X, Tenesy Warior X, Willinawaugh X. WIT: (witnesses) John Sevier, Wm. Bailey Smith, Jesse Benton, Tilman Dixon, William Blevins, Thos. Price. OTH: (other data of interest) Wm. Bailey Smith and/or James Smith were the surveyors for the following tracts of the Watauga Purchase.”
This 194 page volume (plus index) is loaded with the names of the persons who founded Tennessee – and the names of many Washington County pioneer families. Let me go from A to Z with only a sample list: A, Adams, Allison, Anderson; B, Bacon, Bailey, Brown, Broyles; C, Campbell, Cantrell, Carson, Carter, Clark; D, Davis, Depew, Duncan; E, Ellis, Embree, English; F, Fain, Fitzgerald, Ford French; G, Gallagher, Gann, Gentry, Glascow; H, Hale, Hammer, Harris, Haws, Hodge; I, Inman, Irwin; J, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Jordan; K, Kennedy, King, Kincheloe; L, Lewis, Love, Lyle, Lyons; M, Martin Massengill, Mathews, Miller, Mitchell, Moffit; N, Nelson, Neely, Nichols, Norwood; O, Odell, Oldham, O’Neal, Orr Owens; P, Paine, Painter, Prichard; Q, Quinn; R, Ragan, Ramsey, Randolph, Range, Rea, Robertson, Russell; S, Sample, Sevier, Shanks, Shaw, Shipley, Sloan, Smith, Stone; T, Taylor, Thompson, Thornton, Tipton; U, Underwood; V, Vance, Vincent; W, Waddell, Waggoner, Walker, Wallace, Ward, Wiley, Wilhoit, Wilson, Wood; X, all the signatures of our relatives who simply could not read or write – or even sign their names; Y, Young, Yancy, York; and Z, Zarpa. Loraine includes the variety of spellings she found in the Deeds, as for example, Smith/Smithe/Smythe.
Names are also listed by occupations, as in this list of attorneys: “Daveson/Davidson, Joseph Hale, Mashack; Hughes, John: Kelly, Joshua; McGinty, Alex; Murphy, William; Stewart, James; Rags, David; Talbot, Matthew.”
The heritage of the area rings from the surnames. Listen to the Scottish lilt in “Mc”; McAdams, McAfee, McAdow, McAllister, McAmmon, McAnear, McBach, McBath, McBee, McBride, McBryant, McCallister, McCammin, McCartney, McCall, McClachlin, McCloud, McClue, McClung, McCoan, McConnal, McCord, McCorkle, McCown, McCoy, McCracken, McCray, McCubben, McCue, McCuline, McCuluck, McCumings, McCurdy, McCutchin, McDonald, McAdoo, McEfee, McElwaine, McEnis, McEnturf, McEwen, McFall, McFarrin, McFerson, McGee, McGinness, McGinty, McGladen, McHaws, McHereis, McInturf, McIver, McKneavres, McKain, McLaughlin, McLin, McLoud, McLovely, McMacken, McMahej, McMan, McMeen, McMin, McNabb, McName, McNave, McNear, McNit, McNutt, McOard, McPeak, McPherson, McQuan, McRay, McPerry, McVear and McWhorter.
The “Table of Contents” reveals the scope of this book: “Tips for the Genealogist Using Land Records, Note on the Use of This book, From North Carolina’s ‘Western Lands’ to Washington County, Tennessee, Plat of Jonesborough, Watauga Purchase, Deed Books 1 through 7, Deed Book E, Data from other Sources, an Addenda with Maps of Washington County, Brownsborough & Leesburg, Some Books on Tennessee History” and those valuable “Indices.”
If you have never quite understood the development of what is now Northeast Tennessee before statehood, Loraine’s 15 page explanation is a must reading. She describes the development of the area “As early as 1673 . . . through Tennessee Statehood on June 1, 1796.” From these column headings, the scope of Loraine Rae’s treatment of the subject is made clear: “Early Settlement, Watauga Association, The Watauga (or Transylvania) Purchase, Relations with the Indians, Government by North Carolina, Overmountain Men and the Battle of King’s Mountain, Indian Problems and the Cession Act, The State of Franklin, The Territory South of the River Ohio, and From Territory to Statehood.”
The development of currency is traced through these deeds from 1775-1800. From shillings and pounds (sometimes specified in Virginia or North Carolina money) we get to the birth of the United States and purchases in dollars. You will discover the worth of land in East Tennessee – and be fascinated!
I also learned some genealogical facts in reading the book. I never understood how a relative listed as “junior” could become “senior” or how persons with the same given or Christian name were distinguished by our ancestors. Loraine has the answers (and these are only two examples from page 1 and 2): “Junior’ did not necessarily mean ‘son of,’ but was a designation for a younger man of the same name in the same area. A man could be a ‘junior’ atone at one period and ‘senior’ at a later period, as today.” And “In German families when the sons all have the same first name, it should be understood that they went by the second name.”
What I have given the reader in this review is a mere introduction to the mass of material contained in Washington County, Tennessee Deeds, 1775-1800. I urge you to look at the book yourself. It is my understanding that Loraine Rae has donated the books to the Washington County Jonesborough Library. Copies are $30.00 at the library and proceeds to the genealogical section of the library.