An American Family History

The Alison Family of Sullivan County, Tennessee

  also spelled Allison  
The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.

Robert Alison was born in 1749 in Frederick County, Maryland. He was the son of John Alison and Hannah McClure.

Robert served under Captain Paxton and was in the battles of Long Island and Fort Washington. He was taken prisoner and kept on a British ship.

He married Martha McKinley.

Robert and Martha's children probably included:

Susannah Alison (1792),
Francis Alison (1796),
Jannett Alison (about 1796, married Abraham Gregg),
Sarah Alison Hodges (married Allen Hodges),
Elizabeth Alison Deery (1802, married William Deery),
Joseph Alison (1798),
John Alison (1800)

Robert died on March 2, 1826.

Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796. It was initially part of North Carolina.


Settlers often built log cabins as their first homes.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

John (Captain Jack) Alison was born in 1755.

In 1780, John served under Colonel Isaac Shelby at the Battle of Kings Mountain. He was wounded in his knee.

He married Martha Hodge in 1790. Martha was the daughter of Francis Hodge.

Martha and John's children included:
Mary Alison (1791, married John Scott),
Susannah Alison (1792, married Samuel Scott),
Martha (Patsy) Alison (1793),
Robert Alison (1795, married Elenor Hodges and Mary McConnell Chester),
John Alison (1799, married Susannah Hodges and Nancy Pritchett),
Joseph Alison,
Jesse Alison (1802, married Clementine Shell),
Elizabeth Alison (1804, married Joseph McCorkle),
Isaac Alison (1812), and
George Washington Alison (1812).

In 1793, John Alison substituted for William Bean in the Sullivan County Militia.

They lived in a log house that was near an unusually large spring about a half mile southwest of the New Bethel Presbyterian Church where he was one of the first ruling Elders. Soon after moving into this house it was completely destroyed, along with silverware, silver coins, furniture and valuable papers, by fire.

John died on February 2, 1832. He was buried in the New Bethel Cemetery.

rocky mount

Rocky Mount
Piney Flats, Tennessee
Originally built by William Cobb.
Served as the territorial capital from 1790 to 1792. 
The present house was buiilt in the late 1820s.

The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive battle of the American Revoluton. It took place on October 7, 1780, nine miles south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The Patriot militia defeated the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson.


Francis Allison

John Allison

John Allison Junior

John Allison

John Allison Senior

Robert Allison

Robert Allison Esquire

Robert Allison Esquire



Francis Alison
Samuel Alison
Francis Allison
Jessee Allison
John Allison
Joseph Allison



American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.

from Genealogy of the Sanders, Alison and Collateral Families of Sullivan & Washington Counties Tennessee by William R. Sanders

The following is a quotation from the family record pages of Francis Alison and Jane Irvin's bible: "September 15, 1796 Francis Alison was born, a true copy from my father, Robert Alison's record. Was baptized by Rev. M. (or W) Lake. On Thursday, 20th of May, 1841, Francis Alison and Jane Irvin were married by Reverend Samuel Doak."

Early in life Francis Alison removed from his home, in the Forks [Piney Flats], and settled in the Reedy Creek section of Sullivan County. He purchased a 250 acre tract from Mr. Tom White which was situated on the banks of Reedy Creek, 5 miles North of Blountville, and was living here at the time of his death, July 9, 1845.

At the time of purchase the residence, on this 250 acre tract, was an old hewed down log structure...

Francis Alison met a very untimely death. Family tradition says the order of succession of events in connection with his death are as follows:

Early on the morning of July 9, 1845, he left his Reedy Creek home, horseback, with Kingsport as his destination. His mission, on the particular occasion, was the collection of a sum of money due and payable that same day. The two interested parties met, according to prearranged time and place, and the entire indebtedness, approximately $1,000.00 was satisfied, payment being made in cash. The place of meeting was a public boarding house in Old Kingsport, and it was reported a number of strangers witnessed the entire tranction, including that of counting the money and Mr. Alison placing the money in his billfold.

On his return home it was necessary he ford Reedy Creek, which was out of banks that particular day due to a heavy rainfall that afternoon. Soon after sunset, Mr. Alison's horse showed up at the stable riderless. The neighbors were summonded, and after a hasty discussion as to what could have happened, it was decided Francis could possible have encountered trouble at the ford of Reedy Creek and a well organized search was started in this vicinity. Nothing developed that evening but the next morning, early, after the waters had subsided, the body was found five miles below the ford in Lessley's bottom, drowned. The purse, in which the strangers saw Mr. Alsin place the money collected at Kingsport, was on his person but the contents were missing.

It was an established fact Francis Alison was an excellent swimmer. This, and the fact the contents of the purse were missing, was sufficient evidence to convince everyone Francis had met foul play. However, a thorough investigation failed to produce convincing evidence that such was the case.

Deery Inn
The Deery Inn
Blountville, Tennessee



The State of Franklin was an unrecognized, independent state in what is now eastern Tennessee. It was created in 1784 with the intent of becoming the fourteenth state. Its first capital was Jonesborough. It existed for about four and a half years and then North Carolina re-assumed control.

Robert Allison
26 Apr 1792
Wife: Anne Allison to be executors with the assistance of son Robert Allison. She is to continue living on the plantation with son Robert.
Younger daughters Jean Allison and Polly Allison with son Robert and wife Anne will equally divide the estate.
To daughter Anne all that is now called her own, 2 cows and calfs, one four year old horse, colt and her own clothes, bed and bed clothes.
To youngest son Robert: the plantation, 1 mare, 2 year old horse, colt and also the wagon and all implements belonging to the farm.
To each married child the sum of six shillings and that they assist in dividing the whole estate.
Witnesses: Robert K. Allison, John Anderson, George Bell

Page 2 James Allison 14 Sep 1794

Appoint my friends Robert Allison, Nathaniel Davis and James Charter my administrators.
To my wife Jane: 1 two year old horse, 1 gray horse, two cows, bed and furniture, chest and clothing.
To Elizabeth Scott: 1 horse and saddle
To Hannah Scott: 5 pounds
To Rachel Sharp: 5 pounds
To Ethen Allison: 5 pounds.
To daughter Elizabeth Allison: all remainder of my estate after debts are paid.

Witnesses: Elizabeth Allison, Frank Allison, John Adams, Michael Harrison.
[There was no notation as to who Elizabeth, Hannah and Rachel were.]

American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.

from USGenWeb Archives by Joy Fisher

Robert Allison lived in Sullivan County, Tenn., where his widow, Martha McKinsley (?) Allison applied for pension April 22, 1844. He died March 2, 1826.

He served under Capt. Paxton and was in the battles of Long Island and Fort Washington. He was taken prisoner and kept on a British ship. He married Martha McKinsley (the name is indistinct and one can not be positive of the spelling). Her pension was not allowed as soldier's service was not on record and the widow could not prove it. Her children were:

Sarah, married Hodges;
Elizabeth, married Deery;
John; and
Martha, married Gray.

Sullivan County is in far northeast corner of Tennessee between North Carolina and Virginia and was originally part of those states. It was formed in 1779 when it was divided from Washington County.


Washington County, Tennessee

Allison, Isabella married Strain, John – 12 Dec 1787
Allison, Ann married Stuart, David – 25 Jun 1792
Allison, Robert married Hodge, Elleanor on 23-NOV-1818
Allison, Nancy married Ruple, William on 31 January 1821
Allison, Rachel married Russell, James on 07-FEB-1826
Allison, Mary Ann married Conley, Josiah on 04 August 1829
Allison, Robert married Williams, Margaret on 27-MAR-1833

An indenture is a legal contract for labor or land. Two copies on the same sheet were separated with a jagged edge so that the two parts could be refitted to confirm authenticity. An indentured servant worked without wages for a specified time to pay a debt and was bound to the employer. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of settlers came as indentured servants to pay for their passage.
East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

from Sanders, Alison and Collateral Families, pp. 125-128
John Alison 2nd, the second son of John Alison 1st, was born in the year 1755, and died February 2, 1832. He is buried in the New Bethel Cemetery. He was a Revolutionary soldier serving as a captain in the regiment of Col. Isaac Shelby at the battle of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780. In this battle he received a knee wound causing him to walk lame ever thereafter. No record has been found where he applied for or received a pension. He was commonly known by his acquaintances as “Captain Jack Alison."

In the year 1790, he married Martha Hodge, a daughter of Francis Hodge 1st. The date of Martha’s birth and death is unknown. . .

His first home was a log structure located near the unusually large spring approximately one-half mile southwest of New Bethel Church, and 500 yards northwest of his brother Finley’s brick house. We assume that John Alison 2nd was not the owner of the property on which he made his first home and where seven members of his family of ten were born.

We base this assumption on the reference, in the following indenture, to the “land where John Alison 2nd lived"

This Indenture made this 9th February, 1805, ....Robert Alison obtained a judgment against William Hughes and Jon Boiden... at the September term in 1804, directed ...Thomas Rockhold, Sheriff, ... levy upon the property of William Hughes a certain piece or parcel of land ... on the North side of the Watauga river ... bounded by land of Finley Alison ...and lands of Peter Harrington. The same tract of land where John Alison lived, supposed to contain 100 acres.

And according to law on the 6th of February, 1805, did expose the said tract of land to public sale to the highest bidder and at the sale said Robert Alison was the highest and best bidder and in consideration whereof the sum of $108.00.. Robert Alison his heirs and assigns forever all the right and title and interests ...in the aforesaid tract of land.
Signed: Thomas Rockhold, Sheriff of Sullivan County.

May 22, 1798, John Alison 2nd, purchased a 115 acre tract from Alexander Torbett. This was a part of a 200 acre tract grant dated November 10, 1784, No. 640 to Jacob Hedrick, which Mr. Hedrick sold to Alexander Torbett under date of November 3, 1784. John did not move his family to this tract until the year 1804.

The location of his log house on this acreage was directly across the road from the cousin Gertie and Carlie Alison brick house. This was a large “double" house. A “double" house in frontier architectural parlance was two pen type log houses placed end to end with an open passageway between, all covered with a common roof. This open passageway was used for storing wood for the large open fireplace, to accommodate a shelf for the indispensable cedar water pail, the old reliable tin wash basin, and a roller type handtowel nailed on the wall close by.

Soon after moving into this house it was completely destroyed, along with silverware, silver coins, furniture and valuable papers, by fire. John 2nd, his wife Martha, daughter Martha and son Jessie were all living in this house at the time it was destroyed.
August 7, 1800, John Alison 2nd purchased ...property from Frank Alison....

Children of Martha and John Alison 2nd:
1. Mary m. John Scott
2. Susannah m. Samuel Scott
3. Martha
4. Robert m. (a) Elenor Hodges (b) Mary McConnell Chester
5. John 3rd m. (a) Susannah Hodges (b) Nancy Pritchett
6. Joseph
7. Elizabeth m. Joseph McCorkle
8. Jessie m. Clementine Shell
9. Isaac
10. George W.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser

Alleson [Allison], John
01 May 1798
150 acres
Warrant No. 9826
dated 12 Dec 1781
waters of Beaver Creek a north branch of the Holston River
adj: Alleson’s settlement tract, Culnet [Cornett], Barrens, side of Gravelly(?) Ridge
Assistant Washington County Surveyor: Elijah Gillenwaters

There were two Beaver Creeks in early Washington County, Virginia. One (also called Shallow Creek) flowed through Bristol and emptied into the South Fork of the Holston River in Tennessee. The other was a south branch of the North Fork of the Holston River in current Smyth County.

Carter Co. Tennessee Deeds Books A-B
29 May 1820,
Finley Alison of Sullivan Co. TN to Benjamin Dunkin of Carter Co.,
$300, bill of sale for slave.
Wit. Thos. Cawood, Robert Stuart, Elijah Hathaway, Frances A. McCorkle.