In 1810, Tristram Thomas was listed as Lieutenant in the Militia of Hickman County. Known as the 36th Regiment, Tristram B. Thomas was further listed as Lieutenant for the years 1811 and 1812. Was this the Tristram Thomas that signed the 1806 Montgomery County petition to establish a new poling location? As for Benjamin Thomas, he eventually sold his land and disappeared from the records of Hickman County by 1820. I have not found him in the 1820 Tennessee Census. The folowing land transactions for Benjamin Thomas in Hickman County provide a glimpse into his life:
Deed (A-19) Hickman TN. Dated 18 Jan 1811, Benjamin Thomas purchased a 640- acre tract that was originally granted to Joseph Motheral on 20 Dec 1791. The land included "both sides of Pine River a branch of the Duck River and including the mouth of Garners Creek". Witnesses were Tristram B. Thomas, Jacob Humble, and Joseph Wilson.
Deed (A-81) Hickman TN. Dated 27 Dec 1811, Benjamin Thomas sold 180 acres situated on the East Side of Pine River to Shields Booker for $825.00. The land was originally granted to Ann Greer 20 Dec 1791. Witnesses were Hugh Ross, Pleasant Easley, and Frances Price.
Deed (B-59) Hickman TN. Dated 2 Jul 1812, Benjamin Thomas purchased a 200-acre tract that was granted to Henry Jones on 20 Dec 1791. For $7.45 owed in back taxes for the year 1808, Benjamin Thomas purchased land that adjoined land purchased by John Easley for taxes due. Witnesses were Hugh Ross, Robert Estes, and William Phillips (Sheriff).
Deed (A-84) Hickman TN. Dated 14 Jul 1812, and for $5.74, John Easley sold his 100- acre tract that adjoined Ann Greer Lands on Garners Creek to Benjamin Thomas. This was part of Henry Jones's Grant that was purchased by John Easley on 6 Sep 1811. Witnesses were William Phillips and Millington Easley.
Deed (B-77) Hickman TN. Dated 14 Jul 1812, the same day as the previous transaction, Benjamin Thomas sold 50 acres on both sides of Garner's Creek to Pleasant Easley for $400.00. Situated on the west side of the 100 acre tract that Benjamin purchased from John Easley, the land included "the plantation and Grist Mill where Pleasant Easley now lives and ….where Benjamin Thomas formally lives". Witnesses were Robt. Easley and Robt. Estes.
Deed (C-438) Hickman TN. Dated 7 May 1817, for $175.00, Benjamin Thomas sold 80 acres to Samuel Spence. Situated on the East side of the Piney River, and adjoining the lands of Ann Greer and Oliver Smith. This land was part of the 1791 Grant to Ann Greer. Witnesses were Jacob Dansby and James Eason.
Deed (C-520) Hickman TN. Dated 4 Aug 1817, for $500.00, Benjamin Thomas sold to Jesse White his remaining 380 acres. Situated on the west side of Piney River and the fork of Garners Creek, the conveyance "includes the whole of the improvements where Jesse Thomas and Benjamin Thomas now lives". This land adjoined that of Adam Wilson, Ann Greer, Daniel Easley, and the westerly line of the 100 acres deeded to John Easley.
As for the Benjamin Thomas 50-acre plantation and gristmill, on 14 Jun 1815 in Book B page 174, Pleasant Easley sold the land to Daniel Easley. Dated 12 Oct 181 John Easley, Sr., agent for Daniel Easley, Col., sold the 50 acre tract to Robert Easley for $500.00. On 3 Jun 1820, William Phillips, Sheriff, sold the land to Samuel Whitson. This execution arose from a judgement of $114.00, which was recovered by Jacob Humble, assee, against Robert Easley.
Thinking the creek and lands would be easy to find, I ventured up to Hickman County after spending several days at the Tennessee State Library. The land bounced along and was green with hills and trees. It did not take long to be directed to a good source of information. 84 years old, Mr. Yates lives just up Hwy 48 from Piney River Road. In order to reach his house, you have to cross an old wooden bridge that spans Garner Creek. Asking Mr. Yates about a mill, his eyes brightened as he began to tell me the story I had only read about in records. While a little boy, his mother told him that she used to play on an old milldam along the creek. Pointing in the direction of the old bridge, Mr. Yates continued to tell of the 1948 storm that revealed part of the mill remains. "Large white oak beams with pinion holes" were exposed and protruded from the cuts in the creek bank. Working with the tractor, he pulled out parts of a tub like water wheel that his wife later used as flower planters on their long front porch.
Across the creek in their neighbor's pasture, the Humble Family Cemetery is a quiet reminder of those who once lived along the banks of the River. I have not found any Thomas graves in the area. As for what happened to this Thomas family, I found Tristram B. Thomas listed as 000010, 00000 in the 1820 Census of Covington County, Mississippi. In the same county, John C. Thomas, Esq. lived nearby and was listed as 100010, 010100. Also listed in Covington County are William Thomas as 200010, 40010; and William H. Thomas as 000101, 14001. As for Benjamin, he could have disappeared into another County in Tennessee or removed down the road that carried off many of his friends, neighbors and family. By this time, he was an old man and is probably buried somewhere between Tennessee and Mississippi.
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