From South Carolina To Montgomery Tennessee

Listing a 27 Nov 1793 issue date, on 22 Jul 1797, Benjamin Thomas of now Montgomery County, Tennessee, sold to Samuel Leigh his grant # 578 (C-866, Richmond NC). This land was situated on Panther Creek and adjoined the land of Robert Thomas. Notice that in the previously mentioned court records, the Mar 1796 entry indicated a need for the county to pay or reimburse either Benjamin Thomas or his Attorney. Preparing to move, Benjamin sold his remaining land and took care of collecting due monies.

In the early Legislative Acts of Tennessee, Benjamin Thomas was appointed Commissioner of Palmyra in 1797. Palmyra is situated along the south side of the Cumberland River in lower Montgomery County. Considered the first navigable port in the state of Tennessee, a fascinating article is found in the "Notebook" at the Montgomery County GENWEB Page. In a community of American Patriots, the 1797 Roll of Montgomery County Militia listed Benjamin Thomas as Captain. Robert Prince, Esquire, compiled the 1798 Montgomery Co. list of taxable properties for Capt. Benjamin Thomas's Company. Entries indicate Benjamin and John Thomas owned 114 acres each while Stephen Thomas owned a "Town Lott". Before continuing with the story of this Benjamin, I must first provide some background information on other Thomas relatives in Tennessee.

Probated Oct 1800 in Richmond County NC, William "Ram Billy" Thomas wrote his Last Will and Testament. A son of Stephen Thomas, Sr., William is likely the brother to this Benjamin. William Thomas mentioned children William Thomas, Nathan Thomas, John Thomas, George Thomas, Easter Thomas, Jane Thomas, Martha Thomas, Samuel Thomas, Robert Thomas, Mary Everette, Stephen Thomas, Elizabeth Ratliff, and Sarah Moorman. Of these, it is known that Elizabeth Ratliff and Nathan, John, George, and Stephen Thomas were documented in the early records of Montgomery County TN. On 10 Mar 1796 Stephen Thomas and his wife Mary sold 200 acres (C-645, Richmond NC). Brother Nathan sold his holdings in Richmond County on 5 Mar 1803 (F-190, Richmond NC).

From the 1798 list of taxable properties, it is known that Stephen Thomas owned a town lot in Montgomery County TN. Other land transactions are as follows:

Deed (B-417) Montgomery TN. 28 Jul 1801. John Powell Vaughn sold 210 acres situated on the Long Branch of Budd's Creek to Stephen Thomas for $75.00. This land was part of 420 acres that John P. Vaughn purchased from James Ross.

Deed (B-611) Montgomery TN. 28 Dec 1803. After selling his holdings in Richmond County, Nathan Thomas purchased 75 acres of the above land from Stephen Thomas. Nathan later sold his land in Montgomery County and moved a short distance west to Stewart County. The town of Cumberland City was built upon the lands that Nathan purchased from his brother-in-law Zachariah Ratliff. Stephen Thomas continued to live in Montgomery County.

Other records attributed to this Stephen are as follows. On 25 Jul 1803, Stephen was appointed guardian of the children of William and Hannah Cobb. As a Justice of the Peace, he witnessed numerous transactions in Montgomery County. In the Sep 1806 Session of the Montgomery County Court, Stephen Thomas registered his stock mark as follows: "a Swallow fork in the left ear and & under half Crop right". In Vol. 1 of the Court Minutes, Stephen was listed in a 21 Dec 1809 entry as "Esquire on the Bench". Dated 19 Apr 1813, a court record (5-217 & 219, Montgomery TN) indicated that Stephen Thomas, John Thomas, Nathan Thomas, George Thomas, Zachariah Ratliff and Elizabeth Ratliff deeded land in Richmond County to William Thomas. This was a settlement between the children of William "Ram-Billy" Thomas pertaining to 96 acres in North Carolina.

Dated 14 May 1814, Mathew Morgan deeded one acre (1-556, Montgomery TN) situated on the East Fork of Yellow Creek to Stephen Thomas and Selmon Edwards, "Trustees of the Baptist Church".

Dated 12 Aug 1817, Stephen Thomas made an inquiry at Palmyra pertaining to a Revolutionary War Pension. From his file, it is known that Stephen was a Revolutionary soldier while residing in Richmond County NC. In 1787, at age 22, he received a disability pension while living in North Carolina. In 1796, he moved to Tennessee. On 24 Jun 1820 the soldier lived in Montgomery County TN. The record states that Stephen Thomas died 10 May 1825.

The only known Thomas family member listed in the 1820 Montgomery County TN Census was Stephen Thomas. He was listed as over 45 and living with a female over 45 years of age. Described as "the tract of land whereon the said Stephen Thomas at present resides", on 10 Nov 1822, Stephen Thomas sold his remaining 130 acres (L-492, Montgomery TN) to James Easley. Stephen wrote his Last Will and Testament on 20 Aug 1824. Probated Jul 1825 in Dickson County, Stephen Thomas mentioned his wife Mary, and sons William and John C. Thomas. He further mentioned that whatever estate remained after the death of Mary was "to be sold and equally divided between my three surviving sons and daughter". Let's take a look at some of the records pertaining to the children of this Stephen Thomas and others. First, the following are transactions made in Montgomery County by Stephen's son John C. Thomas. I have also included deeds for John (no C) Thomas who may be the older John C. Thomas, the brother of Stephen, or son of Benjamin Thomas.

Deed (C-13) Montgomery TN. 24 Sep 1805. John C. Thomas purchased 100 acres from William Broom. Adjoining Stephen Thomas land on "Budd's Creek, formerly called Lick Creek", this land was originally granted to Lieut. John Campbell and later conveyed to Epps Broom and then to William Broom. On 21 Feb 1806, John C. Thomas sold this land (H-53) to Absolom Bagget.

Grant # 1298 Montgomery TN. Iss. 7 Dec 1809. Entered 17 Aug 1808 as an occupant claim under "The Act of 1807", John Thomas, Sr. received 104 acres adjoining John Campbell's land and situated on Golden Horn Creek. This land was originally granted to Timothy Lissonby. The use of Senior most likely distinguished John from a younger John Thomas. This could be a son of Benjamin or the brother of Stephen.

Deed (I-64) Montgomery TN. Dated March 1810, John Cocke - Sheriff and Hugh McCLure and James Elder of the county for judgement against John C. Thomas by Samuel King, Vance and Bradly for the sum of $27.15. 100 acres of John C. Thomas were sold to pay debts. Test: George Gibson and James McCLure.

Deed (I-391) Montgomery TN. Dated 14 Dec 1812. Benjamin Thomas of now Hickman County TN, to John Thomas of Montgomery County TN. Tract 1, being 109 acres on Golden Horn Creek adjoining Anthony Foster Land and was the Gully Moore Assignee Grant. Tract 2, being 30 acres and part of the 114-acre Timothy Lissonby assignee grant 1811, and adjoins the first mentioned land on the northwest side. Also, a 150-acre tract that adjoining Campbell and Broom lands. Witnesses were Stephen Thomas and William Thomas.

Deed Montgomery County TN. 10 Jan 1818. William Broom sold fifty acres to John (no C.) Thomas for $10. Situated near the head of Golden Horn Creek, the land adjoins that of Annanias Boatright and Campbell's original west boundary. From the metes and bounds, the land also connects with the southeast corner of John Thomas's 104-acre occupant grant.

Wondering what happened to the land purchased by John Thomas, I searched the Grantor index for sales in his name. I did not find any record indicating it had been sold. The 1820 Covington County, Mississippi Census lists John C. Thomas. Covington County divided several times. In 1850, John C. Thomas is listed as living in Jasper County MS. Among his children are Stephen and Mary Thomas.

At least two William Thomas's were in the area of Budd's Creek, Golden Horn Creek, or Yellow Creek. One of these is clearly William, the son of Stephen of Montgomery TN. (Note: these three creeks are easily locatable using Tiger mapping service as found on the Internet.) Deeds involving this William are as follows:

Deed (unknown) Montgomery TN. 28 Dec 1814. Benjamin Thomas sold 84 acres to William Thomas. The land is situated on Golden Horn Creek and adjoined lands of John Thomas and Anthony C. Foster. Not found in the records, this information comes from the later sale of the land (I-802, Montgomery TN). The transaction further identifies the land as "part of a tract of land granted to Benjamin Thomas …and conveyed to William Thomas" on 28 Dec 1814.

Deed (I-802) Montgomery TN. 26 Oct 1815. William Thomas sold the 84-acre tract to William Hubbard. Witnesses were B. M. Williamson and Stephen Thomas.

At this time, the reader should be able to see that there was a connection between the above Benjamin and known descendants of William "Ram Billy" Thomas. Let's back up and take a further look at Benjamin and his record in Tennessee. In Montgomery County, deed records go back to 1796. The earliest County Court records began in 1804. In these early Court records, the name of Benjamin Thomas was entered for various reasons including his service as juror. On page 61 in minute book 1, and dated Dec 1805, it was"ordered that Benjamin Thomas be appointed overseer in the place of John Thomas". Who was this John Thomas? Was he the son of Benjamin or possibly the son of William "Ram Billy" Thomas? Another such record provides a glimpse as to the age of Benjamin Thomas and to his connection with a clearly defined relative. On Thursday and dated 25 Sep 1806, it was "ordered that Stephen Thomas be appointed overseer of the road that Benjamin Thomas formerly was & that Benjamin Thomas be exonerated as he is overage". This appointment identifies Benjamin as overage, living near the younger Stephen, and both as living near the mentioned road. If indeed this were the Benjamin born in 1756, then in 1806 he would have been 50 years old. In North Carolina, a man stopped paying poll tax at age 50. I am not sure as to the standard used for overseer of roads, but if you believe in round numbers, this entry provides a good benchmark.

Early Legislative petitions in the region covered everything from requests for divorce, to the need for protection from the Indians that raided some of the communities. On 12 Jul 1806, a petition of the inhabitants of lower Montgomery County requested that the General Assembly pass an act allowing the Sheriff to hold elections in the town of Palmyra. Since the Cumberland River was often "high and.. …troublesome", it was difficult for the petitioners to reach the county seat of Clarksville. The following Thomas's were early signers: Tristram, John, James, Benjamin, George, and John Thomas. Since Stephen Thomas was a Justice of the Peace and representative of the county, he was probably forbidden to sign the petition. Curious to see the signature of Benjamin Thomas, I was surprised to find out that his resembled that of Tristram Thomas as found in court records in Marlborough County SC.

The earliest recorded purchase in Montgomery County TN for Benjamin came on 11 Jan 1803. He bought land situated on Budd's Creek, Golden Horn Creek, and Yellow Creek. Some related land records in Montgomery County Tennessee are:

Deed (B-534) Montgomery TN. 11 Jan 1803 Reg. 19 Apr 1803. James Ross of Logan Co, KY, to Benjamin Thomas. For one-half dollar per acre, a conveyance of 287 acres on the west fork of Budd's Creek adjoining lands of Benjamin Hicks and Joseph Ackes. Witnesses were John P. Vaughn and Edward Carter.

Deed (B-631) Montgomery TN. 17 Mar 1804, Reg. 15 Sep 1804. Henry Lawson sold 200 acres to Benjamin Thomas for one hundred dollars. This was part of 3840 acres originally granted to the heirs of Capt. William Goodman, Sr. The land was situated near the Brushy Fork of Yellow Creek. Witnesses were James C. Brown and Elisha Cottingham.

Deed (B-664) Montgomery TN. 25 Aug 1804, Reg. 6 May 1805. Benjamin Thomas sold to George Thomas 150 acres for one half dollar per acre. Situated on Budd's Creek, the metes and bounds began on Hick's southern boundary. John Copeland witnessed the transaction. Being part of the 287 acres deeded by James Ross, Benjamin now had 137 acres remaining in this tract. Was this the son of Benjamin or the son of William "Ram Billy" Thomas?

Deed (D-H-211) Montgomery TN.25 Dec 1806. For 300 hundred dollars, George Thomas sold to James Powers the 150 acres earlier purchased from Benjamin Thomas. Indicating a change in neighbors, the metes and bounds now began on Foster's south boundary and adjoined Cobb's land. Witnesses were Abraham and Mica Bagget.

Grant # 2503 (I-228) Montgomery TN. 6 Sep 1810. An occupant grant, Benjamin Thomas was an assignee of 109 acres, being part of a military grant previously issued to Gulley and James Moore. Adjoining Goodman's line, this land was situated on Golden Horn Creek. Of interest, Gulley Moore and Benjamin had once served together as jurors in Marlborough County, SC.

Grant # 3206, (I-230) Montgomery TN. Entered by Benjamin Thomas on 11 Jan 1810 and issued 13 Jul 1811, Benjamin Thomas was the occupant and assignee of a military grant previously issued to Timothy Lissenby on 9 Feb 1797. Beginning at a dogwood on the northeast corner of Benjamin Thomas's occupant claim of 174 acres, this grant was for 114 acres situated on Golden Horn Creek. There is no record of a 174-acre occupant grant or a piece of land containing a northwest corner marked by a dogwood.

Deed (I-330) Montgomery TN. 14 Oct 1811. For $125.00, Benjamin Thomas to Absolom Rye, 200 acres on the Bushy Fork of Yellow Creek. A final note on the deed mentions the land was part of 3840 acres granted to the heirs of Capt. William Goodman. This is the selling of deed (B-361) above. Witnesses were Solomon Rye and Benjamin Rye.

Deed (I-391) Montgomery TN.Dated 14 Dec 1812. Benjamin Thomas of Hickman County TN to John Thomas of Montgomery County TN. Tract 1, being 109 acres on Golden Horn Creek adjoining Anthony Foster Land and was the Gully Moore Assignee Land Grant. Tract 2, being 30 acres and part of the 114-acre 1811 Timothy Lissonby assignee grant that adjoins the first mentioned land on the North West side. Also, a 150-acre tract that adjoins Campbell and Broom lands. Witnesses were Stephen Thomas and William Thomas.

There being no further land transactions registered in Montgomery County in the name of Benjamin Thomas, the above conveyance of several tracts signaled a move to Hickman County TN. Providing access to Louisiana and Mississippi, there were two trails that ran through the region. While the more notable Natchez Trace ran further east, a well traveled route followed the settlements situated along the Piney River. Benjamin Thomas settled along the Piney River at the mouth of Garner's Creek. Located in Hickman County Tennessee, he may have made a living filling the needs of travelers heading south. While those who dared to travel farther west ran the risk of attacks by Indians, I can only imagine the life that beheld Benjamin in Hickman County TN.

To view the records of Benjamin Thomas in Hickman County, click on:
Benjamin Thomas moves from Blount County TN to Hickman County TN.


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