An American Family History

John Smith

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.

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

Deery Inn
The Deery Inn
Blountville, Tennessee

John Smith was born October 18, 1786 in Tennessee. His parents were Henry and Mary Smith.

He wrote in his own words (found in John's papers that were in the possession of S. E. Massengill)

John Smith son of Henry Smith to Mary his wife was born in the year of our Lord 1786, Oct. 18th. He was dedicated to God in Baptism while an Infant. He was married to Catharine Humphreys Sept. (4?) 1808, by whom he had 12 children, 7 sons and 5 daughters,--2 of the daughters are in Eternity. He was Confirmed A Member of Christs Church in 1829 in which faith and order he died--

He also wrote in his Bible

John Smiths Bible he will Read Good in it if he can & this is John Smiths Hand and pen any person that can best that Righting Let him come on for there is no man can best it, Any man that will Read this book and understand the Reading Will Doe Good. Jh Sm 1805.

He married Catharine Humphreys on September 4, 1808 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Catharine Smith.

During the War of 1812, he was a private in the Tennessee Militia. The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions records indicates that he served from January 6, 1814 to May 2, 1814. He served under Captain William King. He participated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in, Alabama on March 27, 1814. They defeated the Red Sticks who were part of the Creek tribe.

In 1820/21 when his father died he inherited

... one half of the plantation whereon I live including a survey... said plantation on the upper end...both tracts to be divided in such a manner as may be most convenient and to the mutual advantage of him and his brother George Smith, also one half of a lot in the town of Blountville, one half of the waggon, one half of the farming utensils and Joiners tools to be at his immediate disposal, and at his mother's death or intermarriage one half of the balance of all my personal or moveable property.

He and his brother were executors of his father's estate. He sold 60 acres to his brother-in-law, Godfrey Cox, while settling the estate.

April 19, 1820, a deed for 60 acres lying in the forks [Piney Flats] of the Watauga and Holston Rivers, was made by John Smith to Godfry Cox, consideration $252.00, but this deed does not appear to have been recorded.

John died March 10 1829 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. He was buried in the Smith-Cross Cemetery in Sullivan County.

Children of Henry and Mary Smith
  • John Smith
  • George Smith
  • Mary (Polly) Smith Malone
  • Magdalene Smith Cox.
  • Smith-Cross Cemetery is located near Piney Flats on private property at Boone Lake, Tennessee


    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.

    Learn more about Piney Flats.
    A militia is a military unit composed of citizens who are called up in time of need.
    The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
    map by Kmusser



    In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.

    The Massengills, Massengales and Variants, 1472-1931 by Samuel Evans Massengill, M.D. The King Printing Company, Bristol, Tennessee, 1931.

    John Smith's Will
    In the name of God Amen, I John Smith being in a bad state of health but of sound and Disposing mind and Knowing that it is appointed unto man once to Die I hereby arrange my Temporal affairs in the following manner.

    To Wit after paying all my just Debts I give and Bequeath to my wife Catharine all my property Personal and Real During her widdowhood and after her Death or second Marriage to be Equally Divided Between all my Children Namely George, Elisabeth, John, David, Nancy, Samuel, Josiah, Mary and William.

    I wish no sale or publick Vendew no further than will be necessary to may my just Debts If the Debts cannot be paid without I authorize my Executors to sell one young horse and Forty Acres of land adjoining the lands of Harmon Latture and John Smith Senr at private sale and make Conveyance for the said land I make and ordain this my last will,

    I Further Constitute my Friends Francis Hodge Junr and Abraham Gregg my Executors
    In Testimny hereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 22nd day of February 1829.
    John Smith (Seal)

    In the Presence of
    Abraham Gregg
    Samuel Latture
    Samuel Dawalt

    The American folk hero, David "Davy" Crockett (1786 – 1836), grew up in East Tennessee.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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