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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

John Sevier, My Sixth Great-Grandpa

He was a dashing, daring, handsome man, in my humble opinion (not biased, of course, lol).
He represented the mountain folk, in Congress.
Thomas Denman was among the "deaths" of 1815; possible relationship to some of Sevier's descendants (like, me) and a very interesting person.
His interest in helping women through childbirth is very much like that of Huguenot doctors of the time.
John's father (grandfather was also named Valentine, Sr.).
A timeline of his life.

Carl Driver, John Sevier: Pioneer of the Old Southwest (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1932).

Samuel Cole Williams, Dawn of the Tennessee Valley and Tennessee History (Johnson City, Tenn.: Watauga Press, 1937), pp. 370-377

John Finger, Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2001).

Samuel Cole Williams, Tennessee During the Revolutionary War (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 1944).

Stanley Folmsbee, Robert Corlew, and Enoch Mitchell, Tennessee: A Short History (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969), p. 86.

Kevin Barksdale, The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009).

Mary Rothrock (ed.), The French Broad-Holston Country: A History of Knox County, Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, 1972), p. 487

Phillip Langsdon, Tennessee: A Political History (Franklin, Tenn.: Hillboro Press, 2000).

J.G.M. Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee, pp. 134, 712, e.g.

Mark Banker, Appalachians All: East Tennesseans and the Elusive History of an American Region (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2010), p. 61.
He lived in a log cabin / house.
John Sevier, Commonwealth Builder.
A Louisiana branch of the family, I gather.

FAMILY (Wikipedia):  "Sevier is a distant relative of St. Francis Xavier, the name "Sevier" being an anglicized form of "Xavier."  In the 17th century, some members of the Xavier family became Protestants (Huguenots).  In 1685, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Sevier's grandfather, Don Juan Xavier, moved to London, and changed his name to John Sevier.  Sevier's father, Valentine "The Immigrant" Sevier (1712–1803), was born in London, and moved to America in 1740.


"Sevier married Sarah Hawkins (1746–1780) in 1761.  They had ten children:  Joseph, James, John, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary Ann, Valentine, Rebecca, Richard, and Nancy.  Following her death, Sevier married Catherine Sherrill (1754–1836).  They had eight children:  Catherine, Ruthe, George Washington, Samuel, Polly, Eliza, Joanna, and Robert...


[NOTE: Our branch of the tree is descended from John and first wife, Sarah Hawkin's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who married John Clark (a prominent Tennessee citizen, state Supreme Court judge and American revolutionary).  Their daughter, Elizabeth Clark, married John Elston; and my third great-grandmother was their daughter, Neaty Elston, who married Blake Denman.  Neaty and Blake are buried side-by-side at the county cemetery in Alabama (I will find the link for it, later)]


"Sevier's grandnephew, Ambrose Hundley Sevier (1801–1848), served as one of the first U.S. senators from Arkansas. Sevier County, Arkansas, is named for him. The Conway family, which dominated early Arkansas state politics, were cousins of the Seviers. Henry Conway, the grandfather of Ambrose Sevier and Arkansas's first governor, James Sevier Conway, was a friend of Sevier, and served as Treasurer of the State of Franklin. Two of Sevier's sons, James and John, married Conway's daughters, Nancy and Elizabeth, respectively...

[NOTE:  My father's full name is Leon Conway Denman.  Of course, I'm not sure if that's why the name was chosen for him.  My Denman grandfather died in 1943, at the young age of 38; and much of our family history went with that loss.]


"A large family of Seviers in Madison Parish, Louisiana, also claim descent from John Sevier, among them State Senator Andrew L. Sevier of Tallulah, who served in the upper house in Baton Rouge from 1932 until his death in 1962."


Apparently, Tennessee is a Cherokee word.

Chickamaugas are Cherokees.

He was a magistrate (judge) of the Watauga Association.
Defended Fort Watauga against the Cherokee.
The old fort at Watauga has been reconstructed.  Also known as Fort Caswell.
At the outbreak of the War, he was chosen as a member of the Committee of Safety for the Association's successor, the Washington District.
A remote area of frontier, West of the Appalachians.
The only Governor of the short-lived State of Franklin, which he created.  Also known as the Free Republic of Franklin, or the State of Frankland.

Accused of the capital crime of treason by the Governor of North Carolina, he was arrested and imprisoned there, awaiting trial.  However, his many friends and supporters quickly rallied to his rescue and successfully argued for his release.  Although the case never really made it to court, artist Howard Pyle nevertheless presented this illustration of the scene, depicting John Sevier on the witness stand listening as one of his friends argued for the charges to be dropped.
He was Brigadier General (appointed by George Washington) of the Southwest Territory.
"Sevier served six two-year terms as Tennessee's governor, from 1796 until 1801, and from 1803 to 1809, with term limits preventing a fourth consecutive term in both instances.  His political career was marked by a growing rivalry with rising politician Andrew Jackson, which nearly culminated in a duel in 1803.  After his last term as governor, Sevier served two terms in the United States House of Representatives, from 1811 until his death in 1815." (Wikipedia)
Born in Rockingham Co., Virginia, then part of Augusta Co., near the town of New Market (which he founded himself before going to Tennessee).
"He was the oldest of seven children of Valentine "The Immigrant" Sevier and Joanna Goad.  His father was descended from French Huguenots, and had migrated to Baltimore in 1740 and gradually made his way to the Shenandoah Valley.
"Sevier's father worked variously as a tavernkeeper, fur trader, and land speculator, and young John initially pursued a similar career path.  At a young age, he opened his own tavern, and helped plat the town of New Market, near his birthsite (the town claims Sevier as its founder).  In 1761, he married Sarah Hawkins, and gradually settled into a life of farming.  Some sources suggest Sevier served as a captain in the Colonial Militia under George Washington in Lord Dunmore's War in 1773 and 1774."
He and Sarah moved from Virginia to the Carter Valley settlements near the Holston River of Tennessee.
They later moved to Elizabethton, in Carter County.
The Watuaga Association is in reference to the nearby Watauga River.  The lands were leased from the Cherokee.
The British king made it illegal for Colonists to live on Indian lands, such as that leased from the Cherokee tribe.  So, in 1775 John Sevier witnessed the legal purchase of those lands from the Indians.
Meanwhile, the British crown refused to recognize the transaction, insisting that they leave anyway.  Also around the same time, Dragging Canoe, a Cherokee chief who disagreed with the sale of their land, began making threats against the settlers.
Shortly thereafter, the Americans declared war on Britain.  In reality, we Americans rightly accused Britain of waging an undeclared war upon American Colonists.  One of their chief complaints, was that Britain had very unfair laws of commerce, which allowed Britain to take most of our natural resources overseas to England, where they were used in manufacturing and then exported back to the Colonies.  Of course, goods produced in that fashion were very costly.  Americans were forbidden by Britain to engage in any major manufacturing businesses.
Site of Fort Lee.
Commonly referred to as a "beloved woman" of the Cherokee, she nevertheless was a sort of double-agent, I guess.  She warned the settlers of an impending attack by Dragging Canoe and another Cherokee war chief, Old Abraham.
The settlers continued fighting the Cherokee even during the simultaneous tensions with Britain.  In fact, Britain funded Dragging Canoe's campaigns against them.  Sevier helped fend off a two-week long siege by Old Abraham on Fort Caswell.  Then after a Colonial invasion by William Christian into the Overhill Cherokee territory, the Indians sued for peace with the settlers.

John Sevier joined with other Patriots to successfully fight General Ferguson of Britain and the Loyalists (ie Royalists).  Ferguson was killed in battle; but unfortunately John's brother, Robert, was also mortally wounded.  When word got to John's son, also a soldier in the battle, that a Sevier had been badly wounded, fearing that it was his father, he lost control of his emotions and continued firing on the enemy, despite the call by his superiors for a ceasefire.  He vowed to avenge his father's death, by killing every last one of them.  Of course he was restrained from doing so, and finally calmed down after his father appeared by his side.

Robert was advised by a physician to rest for around two weeks or so before travelling, in order to give his wound a chance to heal up some (the slug was lodged near his kidney, and couldn't be removed right away).  But Robert longed to be home then, and so travelled anyway; exactly nine days later, he passed away in his own bed.

According to Wikipedia, Sevier helped bankroll that military maneuver, which is now known as the Battle of King's Mountain:  "To provide funds for the march, Sevier obtained a loan from John Adair, putting up his own property as collateral."

I'd be interested in knowing whether or not George Washington ever mortgaged his vast real estate holdings for his men.

After that battle, Sevier resumed fighting the Cherokee.
North Carolina then ceded the lands West of the Appalachians, to the Continental Congress; but Congress didn't immediately accept ownership of the property.  So then, Sevier helped create the State of Franklin, named for Ben Franklin.

North Carolina later rescinded the transfer of ownership, causing some conflicts which resulted in the warrant for John Sevier's arrest by the Governor of North Carolina, on charges of treason.

"As North Carolina and Franklin competed for the loyalties of the residents of the area, Sevier became involved in intrigues with Georgia to gain control of Cherokee lands in what is now northern Alabama, where Sevier had taken out claims on several thousand acres of land.  He even considered an alliance with Spain, whose Governor Esteban Rodríguez Miró, attempted to sway Sevier, though Sevier eventually abandoned the idea."  (Wikipedia)

[I find his connection to Spain intriguing, in light of the fact that the de Xaviers were originally Spanish Basques, prior to their becoming Huguenots and moving away, to France.  Also interesting is his connections in North Georgia, since his g-granddaughter Neaty Elston married our Georgia ancestor, Blake Denman.]

"In February 1788, the rivalry between Sevier and [Colonel John] Tipton came to a head in what became known as the "Battle of Franklin."  While Sevier was away campaigning against the Cherokee, Tipton ordered some of his property seized for taxes supposedly owed to North Carolina.  In response, Sevier led 150 militia to Tipton's farm, which was defended by about 45 loyalists.  Both sides demanded the other surrender, and briefly exchanged gunfire.  On February 29, two days after the siege began, loyalist reinforcements from Sullivan County arrived on the scene and scattered the Franklinites.  Sevier retreated, though not before several were killed on both sides.  Two of Sevier's sons were captured, but subsequently released."  (Wikipedia)

"Following the Battle of Franklin, support for Sevier and the State of Franklin collapsed in areas north of the French Broad River, and Governor Samuel Johnston issued a warrant for his arrest in July 1788.  In October, after he attacked Jonesborough store owner David Deaderick for refusing to sell him liquor, the Tiptonites managed to apprehend Sevier.  He was sent to Morganton, North Carolina, to stand trial for treason, but was released by the Burke County sheriff, William Morrison (a Kings Mountain veteran), before the trial began."  (Wikipedia)

And during all of his battles with both Britain and North Carolina, Sevier also continued fighting the Indians.  Wow, that must have been a stressful time.  No doubt a shot of whiskey now and then, was good medicine.

"In February 1789, Sevier took the Oath of Allegiance to North Carolina.  He was elected to the North Carolina state senate, and was pardoned by North Carolina Governor Alexander Martin.  When the senate convened in November 1789, Sevier worked in support of the state's ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  After it was ratified on November 23, Sevier helped engineer a second cession act, which passed with little opposition in December, essentially handing over what is now the state of Tennessee to the federal government.

"To administer the new cession, Congress created the Southwest Territory in the Spring of 1790, which would be administered under the Northwest Ordinance.  Sevier was appointed brigadier general of the territorial militia, and fellow land speculator and North Carolina politician, William Blount, was appointed governor.  In June 1791, Blount negotiated the Treaty of Holston, which resolved the land disputes with the Cherokee created by the Treaty of Dumplin Creek.

"In the Fall of 1793, following the Cherokee attack on Cavet's Station west of Knoxville, Sevier led the territorial militia south into Georgia, where he defeated a Cherokee force at the Battle of Hightower and destroyed several villages.  The following year, he was appointed by President Washington to the territorial council, a body which had a function similar to that of a state senate.  That same year, he was appointed to the first Board of Trustees of Blount College, the forerunner of the University of Tennessee."  (Wikipedia)


"In 1796, the Southwest Territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Tennessee.  Sevier missed the state's constitutional convention while serving on the territorial council in Washington, but was nevertheless elected the new state's first governor.  Sevier made the acquisition of Indian lands a priority, and consistently urged Congress and the Secretary of War to negotiate new treaties to that end.

"During his first term as governor, Sevier developed a rivalry with rising attorney Andrew Jackson.  In 1796, Jackson campaigned for the position of major-general of the state militia, but was thwarted when Sevier threw his support behind George Conway.  Jackson also learned that Sevier had referred to him as a "poor pitiful petty fogging lawyer" in private correspondence.  In 1797, Jackson became aware of massive fraud that had taken place at North Carolina's Nashville land office in the 1780s, and notified the governor of North Carolina.  When the governor demanded the office's documents, Sevier blocked their transfer, leading Jackson to conclude that Sevier was somehow involved in the scandal.

"After Sevier's third (two-year) term as governor, term limits prevented him from seeking a fourth consecutive term, and Archibald Roane was elected as his replacement.  Both Sevier and Jackson campaigned for major-general of the militia, and when the vote ended in a tie, Roane chose Jackson.  When Sevier announced his candidacy for governor in 1803, Roane and Jackson made documents from the Nashville land office scandal public, and accused Sevier of bribery.  Their efforts to smear Sevier were unsucessful, however, and Sevier easily defeated Roane in the election.

"Following his inauguration, Sevier encountered Jackson in Knoxville, and an argument ensued in which Sevier accused Jackson of adultery for his marriage to Rachel Donelson.  An enraged Jackson challenged Sevier to a duel, which Sevier accepted.  The duel was to take place at Southwest Point, but Sevier's wagon stalled at Campbell's Station en route to the duel.  As Jackson returned to Knoxville, he encounted Sevier's entourage.  The two loudly exchanged insults, and Sevier's horse ran away, carrying his pistols.  Jackson pointed his revolver at Sevier, who hid behind a tree.  Sevier's son pointed his revolver at Jackson, and Jackson's second pointed his revolver at Sevier's son.  Members of both parties managed to resolve the incident before bloodshed took place.

[Lol, that would make a good movie scene.]

"In 1804, Sevier helped William C. C. Claiborne get appointed governor of the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory, a position Jackson had sought.  Jackson again supported Roane in the state's gubernatorial election in 1805, but Sevier won with nearly two-thirds of the vote.  Sevier's last campaign for governor was in 1807, when he defeated William Cocke."  (Wikipedia)


"Term limits again preventing him from a fourth consecutive term, Sevier sought one of the state's U.S. Senate seats in 1809, but the legislature chose Joseph Anderson.  He then ran for the Knox County state senate seat, winning easily.  In 1811, Sevier was elected to the U.S. Congress for the state's 2nd district.  Sevier was a staunch supporter of the War of 1812, and President James Madison offered him a command in the army, but Sevier turned it down.

"In 1815, Sevier died in the Alabama Territory while conducting a survey of lands Jackson had recently acquired from the Creek tribe, and was buried along the Tallapoosa River near Fort Decatur.  In 1889, at the request of Governor Robert Love Taylor, his remains were re-interred on the Knox County Courthouse lawn in Knoxville.  A monument was placed on the grave in 1893, in a ceremony that included a speech by historian Oliver Perry Temple.  In 1922, the remains of his second wife, Catherine Sherill, were re-interred next to Sevier's.  A monument recognizing his first wife, Sarah Hawkins, was placed at the site in 1946."

Immediately following the birth of her tenth baby, my sixth great-grandmother, Sarah Hawkins Sevier, died shortly after or during the family's sudden flight from attacking Indians.  They were forced to flee by wagon and horseback from their log house to the Fort nearby, which Sevier had built for the community's safety.  In order to prevent the Indians from desecrating her grave, he hastily laid her to rest in an unmarked place in the woods somewhere; and because of all the associated stresses, he was never able to relocate her body later.  So, to this day her grave is lost and her body is unmarked.


"In his 2009 book, The Lost State of Franklin, Kevin Barksdale points out that while Sevier was driven, at least in part, by a desire to solidify his own land claims in the trans-Appalachian region, he nevertheless represents for many East Tennesseans, "rugged individualism, regional exceptionalism, and civic dignity."  For nearly a century after his death, historians such as J.G.M. Ramsey and Oliver Perry Temple heaped unconditional praise upon Sevier, and romanticized various events in his life.  These events were clarified by later authors such as Theodore Roosevelt (How the West Was Won) and Samuel Cole Williams (History of the Lost State of Franklin).

"Several historians argue that the rivalry between John Sevier and Andrew Jackson was the root of the factionalism that divided East Tennessee and the rest of the state in subsequent decades.  Pro-Sevier sentiment in East Tennessee gradually evolved into support for the Whig Party in the 1830s, and support for the Union during the Civil War.  Following the war, East Tennessee remained one of the South's few predominantly Republican regions into the 20th century."

Interesting, that pro-Sevier sentiment "evolved into support for the Union during the Civil War", in light of the fact that at least one of his gg-grandsons, William C. Denman (and I believe William's brother, Blake Jr.), fought for the South (Alabama regiment; their parents having lived and died in Alabama.

Then the Wikipedia article lists numerous monuments, etc., devoted to his memory.
Posted July 13, 2011
This blogger, Gordon Belt, has made numerous posts about my sixth great-grandfather.  He claims to have an objective view of the historical facts.  Hmm.
It's incomprehensible that this author got a fancy award for this.  I wouldn't be surprised if Belt is a descendant of Andrew Jackson, or just another "gentile"-bashing "Jew".  It's quite peculiar that this person who claims Tennessee as his home state, apparently hates the state's first Governor with such irrational passion.  All he really does here, is endlessly harp on Sevier with nothing substantial to support his criticisms.  He has seen fit to write roughly twenty blogs on the same subject: that in his opinion historical records (at least those surrounding the facts of John Sevier's life and career) are incredible, and for that reason John Sevier doesn't deserve the admiration he has long held both during his own lifetime and long since his death.  Even Belt himself expresses surprise on winning the John Thweatt award... and for good reason.

I'm astonished that the State pays this person and his "ordained minister" wife, to do nothing much more than talk trash.
Found some interesting historical details about Elizabeth Hawkins Sevier, William H. Clark, and Elizabeth Clark.  It says Elizabeth Clark and husband John Elston (my gggg-grandparents) lived at Owl Swamp in Northern Georgia for some time, before moving to the Creek Nation, where they remained until their deaths.  They're supposed to be buried on the old homestead of one of their sons, Allen Elston (or Alston, sps).  We're descended from their daughter, Neaty Elston.  It says also that John Elston was the son of David Elston -- of Elizabeth, NJ.
Gordon Belt is descended from Melungeons, lol.  His yDNA is from sub-Saharan Africa, go figure.
That's strange; Wikipedia stated that Tennessee was a Union state, lol... unless I read it wrong.
Andrew Jackson was a Freemason of the Tammany Lodge in Tennessee.  He waged political war on my ancestor, John Sevier; and now Tennessee has an official Historian (Gordon Belt) continuing the smear campaign against Sevier, who was Tennessee's first Governor and very popular with the citizenry of that state.  It begs the questions: 1) Was or was not John Sevier, a Freemason?  and 2) Is or is not Gordon Belt, a Freemason?

Because, it's fairly common knowledge these days, that Freemasonry has dominated US politics ever since around 1787, when they held the Federal Constitutional Congress in secrecy.  Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry, two of our most respectable founding fathers, spoke out in opposition to that legal maneuver, and I wonder now where Sevier stood on that controversy.  I would guess that he was not completely in favor of it.
This article on the Overton Lodge in Tennessee, mentions both John Sevier and Andrew Jackson by name; however, although it describes Jackson as a Freemason, it does not say the same about Sevier.  I would not be at all surprised to learn that my great-grand-daddy, John Sevier, a very fine gentleman (far better than Andrew Jackson, any day) -- was not a Freemason.
Finding more history; it's very long and complicated and I haven't had the time to thoroughly read through it, but it seems that John Sevier as Governor of Tennessee was involved somehow in a case of land fraud (at least, according to his vengeful arch-foe, Andrew Jackson).  However, Andrew Jackson was himself by no means any model of righteous morality, certainly.  This seems to be touching on the rumors I keep hearing concerning Jackson's unsuccessful attempts to smear Sevier politically and personally.

Of further concern to me, is that John Sevier died rather suddenly, unexpectedly and under mysterious conditions (alone in his tent) -- while on a land surveying mission for Andrew Jackson.  I really wonder now, if Jackson wasn't somehow responsible for Sevier's death.  As ruthless as Jackson was, and as politically and materialistically ambitious he was, I wouldn't put anything past him.  After all, it was Andrew Jackson who went against Congress by removing the Cherokee from their lands.  Jackson caused the Trail of Tears for my maternal people.  And he was my paternal ancestors' enemy too.
According to this source, a history of early American Freemasonry, John Sevier (who served under George Washington as a Congressional Representative for Tennessee) was a Freemason.  It is true that Washington promoted Sevier to the rank of Brigadier General, for what that's worth (considering that Sevier certainly earned that promotion).

Ok, I've discovered more evidence that John Sevier might have been a Freemason after all (links are provided in my article on Freemasonry, here on this same blogsite).  Nevertheless...;-more-east-west-feuding-(1798-1804).php
"In 1801, Jackson helped organize the Order of Freemasons in Tennessee. The Masons were a useful organization for a rising man.

"On April 1 1803, Justice Jackson campaigned again to be Major General of the Tennessee militia. John Sevier had just completed 3 terms as Governor, and could not serve again for 2 years, by the Tennessee law. He too wanted to be Major General, and thought it only fitting, as he was a Revolutionary War hero.  The two men represented the two political factions of Tennessee, and were on bad terms already."

Not sure what the names of the "two political factions of Tennessee" were, but there you have it:  they were constant political rivals.  And, it was Jackson (not Sevier, presumably), who helped organize Freemasonry in Tennessee.
He's been compared to George Washington in looks, but I like Sevier's eyes much better.  They were described as having been "bright blue" or "dark blue" (depending on the source) in color.

Gordon Belt and his friends at the Tennessee Libraries and Archives have opened a new blog.

An apparent goldmine of pedigree information.  However, the link isn't working properly; I googled "john sevier chapter dar" and found it that way.  There's an abundance of family tree background there, which I'm now transferring to my own chart.  This enabled me to fill in a lot of Sarah Hawkins Sevier's background.  She was John's first wife, and my sixth great-grandmother.

Copy of a letter written by John Sevier concerning the murders of two Cherokees.

John Sevier's paternal lineage is Basque (de Xavier).

Don Juan de Xavier ~ Marie Maris

Valentine Xavier ~ Mary Smith
Valentine Sevier ~ Joannah Goade
Gov. / Gen. John Sevier (nee Jean Xavier?) ~ Sarah Jane Hawkins
Elizabeth Hawkins Sevier ~ Major William H. Clark
Elizabeth Sevier Clark ~ John Elston
Neaty (Fernita) Elston ~ Blake Denman
William C. Denman ~ Sarah J. ("Sallie") Crankfield
Isaiah ("Isaac") Cran[k]field Denman ~ Lillian Virginia Bassett
Vernon Winters Denman ~ Lillie Yarbrough
Leon Conway Denman ~ Betty Jo Thompson
Debra Ann Denman (Me)
Odessa Lynn Denman
Barbara Alice Denman
So there is our lineage tracing back to first Governor of Tennessee, John Sevier, and even further back to St. Francis de Xavier and the Basques of Navarre, Spain.  Castle Navarre belonged to our family at one time (Francis inherited it and then donated it to the Jesuits, in whose possession it remains to this very day).  The village of Xavier, Navarre, France, was named after our family too.
Of course, John Sevier and William H. Clark were both magistrates and veterans of the American Revolution.  Sevier also fought in the Indian Wars.  Blake Denman was the son of an American Revolution veteran, and the father of a Civil War veteran (my gg-grandfather, William C. Denman, who was enlisted with two different Alabama companies).  I believe Isaiah Denman was somehow involved in WWI (perhaps on standby? not sure).  Vernon Denman died in 1943 under extremely spurious circumstances.  It smells of a cover-up and fraud on the part of the Florida State government, at least.  My father, Leon Denman, was a Korean War veteran of nearly ten years active duty in the Air Force (Itasuki AFB, Japan; and Eglin AFB, Florida, among other stations).  Like my grandfather he also died too young, a victim of medical neglect and malpractice.
And in light of the intense rivalry John Sevier endured from Andrew Jackson, I think that it is fair to seriously question the facts reported surrounding the circumstances of his own death, neary two hundred years ago.

I wish to go on record while on the subject, that I find the circumstances surrounding St. Francis de Xavier's untimely death highly suspicious as well.

"Although he was born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta in Navarre (present-day Spain), he came to be called Francisco Xavier because of his family castle named Xavier (or Javier, or Xabier). The name is derived from the Basque word etxaberri, which means “new house.” While studying in Paris, Francis met Ignatius de Loyola -- they and five others founded the Society of Jesus [Jesuits]."

Been looking through official lists of "famous Freemasons" and not finding John Sevier on any of them, so far.  Yet his arch-foe, Andrew Jackson is on all of them.  Sure, Sevier was never President, but I still think he rates a mention -- especially in light of the fact that there is a Lodge named for him (? I think, although I could be mistaken on that point)!  I guess it's safe to conclude that although he probably was a Mason, he was no doubt 'disowned' by the Brotherhood in favor of Andrew Jackson, for political or personal reasons.  If so, that makes me even more proud of my ancestor.
Ok, I got tired of wondering, and went straight to the self-proclaimed 'expert' on the life of John Sevier:  Gordon Belt.  I asked him point blank, whether or not Sevier was a Freemason; and also whether or not Sevier is on record regarding his personal opinions or attitudes toward the Constitution of 1787.  Belt answered that he knows of no evidence that Sevier was ever a Freemason; and knows of no documentation of Sevier's personal thoughts regarding the Constitution!  He was kind enough however, to suggest that the questions deserve further research, and he offered to do that research himself and eventually to publish his findings on his Blog, The Posterity Project.  As I told Mr. Belt, I look forward with anticipation to anything he should turn up on that subject.
But, that pretty much lays to rest my question regarding why John Sevier is not mentioned among "Famous Freemasons" of Tennessee.  He probably never was a Freemason, OR there's a slight chance that he was but later fell out of favor with that particular fraternity.  Hmm.  My ancestor was a very unusual man.  Most men of his caliber readily joined those types of organizations then, as now.  Most men enjoy the power and ego trips of belonging to such groups.  I'm actually quite relieved to know that he was not a Freemason, at least not one in good standing with the club.
Andrew Jackson, the "Famous Freemason", slandered him; and his 'friends' are still at it.
Another one riding on Neely's coat-tails; seems Belt rides on theirs (he refers to them often enough).
c1885; I actually prefer reading the thoughts and opinions of people who lived closer to the timeframes involved in the study of History.

"The Cherokee are Coming!", LOL, I'll never get over the sheer irony of it all.

"It was a patriarchal "reign," such as never before or since has been known in this country. Sevier's will was law; but it was law regulated by love, which every man, woman, and child recognized and accepted. For years there was no State prison, and the jail at Knoxville--sixteen feet square--never at one time had more than ten inmates. There were courts and judges and juries; but Sevier was the court of last resort, the supreme judge, the grand jury. Was any one aggrieved, he complained to the Governor; did two men differ, they submitted their controversy to his decision; were some of his old comrades in poverty or distress, they appealed to their old commander, and he always found some way--with only a meagre pittance of a thousand dollars a year--to give them relief and assistance. And so he lived, blessed by a love that was universal. In this age of greed among public men it is well to contemplate such a character."

It seems that most people during Sevier's time thought of him as a good, decent man; only Freemasons seem to differ in that opinion.

Now I'm really excited; found this letter written in Governor Sevier's own hand!  This one, dated 1810 is addressed to the late Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby, and refers to an incident through which a Colonel Campbell was ceremoniously presented by Congress a particular sword and some pistols.  Shelby and Sevier both seem to be of the opinion that Campbell did not deserve the service award as much as did Shelby and Sevier.  He states here that the enemy (the British) surrendered to Sevier and Shelby at King's Mountain, while Colonel Campbell was not present at the scene.  I suppose Campbell was busy elsewhere, and probably was of value for the cause, but the point being that the enemy actually officially surrendered to Sevier and Shelby.

In this same letter, he makes reference to the future war of 1812 with the British, by alluding to contemporaneous problems they were having with them in 1810:

"... unless we [have?] mean[s?] to make resistance against British insult and depredations, it is high time that insolent and perfidious nation was chastised for its past aggressions; and no doubt should a rupture with that nation take place, we shall have to cope again with the old Tory party, and perhaps much more strengthened [by now]."

About the ceremonial sword and pistols he says, "As to the value of the swords and Pistols we need not care, but in justice to ourselves and our posterity we ought to have them."

Then to the retired Governor of Kentucky, whom he seems to view as an advisor, he signs off as his "sincere friend" and "Humble Servant", lol.  That's so darn cute!

Obviously, there was some nasty politics going on in those days, just as now (in another letter to Governor Shelby):

"...I am no little astonished at their insolence, that they should have the effrontery, to say you were not in the Battle of King’s Mountain or that you were only a Lieutenant or Subaltern. It is well known you were in the heat of that action. I frequently saw you animating your men to victory during the engagement, and in every particular conducting in that gallant, brave manner that was truly characteristic of the Officer and the Soldier. At the surrender, you were the first field officer I spoke to, or that I recollect to have seen near the place where the British Commander, Ferguson, fell. I have no doubt you must recollect, that Col. Campbell was some considerable distance from that place at that time, and that you and myself spoke on that subject the same evening. I perfectly recollect on my seeing you towards the close of the action, that I observed your hair on one side of your head, I believe on the left, was very much burnt off, and that I swore by G_d they had burnt off your hair. In respect to your command, it is well known by some hundreds in the State of Tennessee that you were a Colonel, as I also was myself, and that we were the only persons who set foot on the expedition, and had considerable trouble to get Col. Campbell with his Virginia troops to join us. As to the plan of attacking the enemy, you were the only person who first named the mode to me, and the same was acceded to unanimously. No doubt you recollect we agreed on the manner of attack immediately after Ferguson’s spies were taken, while we were a little in the front of our army, and as we were returning back to see Campbell and the other officers...."

It's a terrible shame, and quite slanderous, to deny a man's real combat service to his country.  That sort of thing is totally hitting below the belt, back-stabbing.

To Andrew Jackson, the Famous Freemason, he had this to say (in 1803):

"I am again perplexed with your scurrilous and poltroon language. You now pretend you want an interview in this neighborhood, this evening, or tomorrow morning!! And all this great readiness after you have been so repeatedly informed that I would not attempt a thing of the kind within the State of Tennessee. I have constantly informed you I would cheerfully wait on you in any other Quarter and that you had nothing to do but name the place and you should be accommodated. I am now constrained to tell you, that your conduct, during the whole of your pretended bravery, shows you to be a pitiful poltroon and coward, for your propositions are such as you and every other person of common understanding so well know is out of my power to accede too [sic], especially you a Judge!! Therefore the whole tenor of your pretended readiness is intended for nothing more than a cowardly evasion. Now Sir, if you wish the interview accept the proposal I have made you, and let us prepare for the campaign. I have a friend to attend me. I shall not receive another letter from you, as I deem you a coward."

He is quite obviously PO'd at Jackson, judging by his signature, let alone the message here.
The youth, Andrew Jackson, at the Waxman Massacre.  Maybe that's when he developed a taste for blood; or maybe he was born that way.
A very old map of the Southeastern US.
This is somewhat irrelevant, but what a gorgeous antique historical print of Patriots fighting the Redcoats.

My ancestor stretches my own vocabulary, lol:

SQUALLY:  characterized by short periods of noisy commotion

PERFIDIOUS:  Deceitful and untrustworthy
No doubt, related to at least a few of these; at least distantly.

OK, was he or wasn't he?  YES, he was, lol... a Freemason, that is.  Finally, it comes to full light:


Regarding part one of your two-part question, I conducted a cursory search of the book, "The History of Freemasonry in Tennessee, 1789-1943" by Charles Albert Snodgrass. In the index there are several mentions of John Sevier, including one on page 46 which reveals the following:

"(Polk) Tennessee Lodge No. 2 (N.C. 41) Knoxville was chartered at Knoxville by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina November 30, 1800, naming as its first Master one of the most distinguished characters in Tennessee history--His Excellency General John Sevier, Governor of Tennessee..."

There is also a Masonic biography of John Sevier on page 415 of this book.

As I said in an earlier comment, I think this little-known aspect of John Sevier's life deserves further inquiry. Hopefully there will be enough information to write a blog post about it, but in the meantime I wanted you to have this information.

You can find this book at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Although you cannot check out books from the collection, you can view them in the South Reading Room. I'd encourage you to visit the TSLA website to learn more about the collection. You can also check out the Visitors Guide for hours, location, and parking should you choose to visit TSLA in person.
Jan 30, 2013

Thank you Gordon; I doubt I could have uncovered that info by myself.  I was beginning to believe he never was a Mason at all, lol.  Seems a little strange to me, that he isn't mentioned on their main website along with other "Famous Freemasons".

Going off your lead, I found the following online source:
[Page 25.]

"The Beginnings of Freemasonry in North Carolina and Tennessee" by Marshall De Lancey Haywood, c1906

"Tennessee Lodge, No. 41 of North Carolina, No. 2 of Tennessee, chartered November 30, 1800 by Grand Master William Polk.  This was called Polk Lodge while it was working under dispensation.  Possibly the latter title was not retained because the Grand Master felt a delicacy in creating by charter a Lodge named for himself.  The charter officers of this Lodge were:  Governor John Sevier, Worshipful Master; James Grant, Senior Warden, and George Washington Campbell, Junior Warden."
(Still looking forward to learning his thoughts regarding the Constitution, and wishing you success in finding something along those lines.)
Thanks always, Debra
While researching author Charles Albert Snodgrass, I found this excellent book on tailoring men's clothing by him!
North Carolina Masonry and the American Revolution.

Gordon Belt boasts that he "can't" wear "rose-colored glasses" when viewing history, but he sure doesn't seem very unbiased to me.  He completely disregards Sevier's characteristic fine points while taking every opportunity to smear him on the slightest suspicion, never backed by solid evidence.  Very weird and unprofessional behavior to be seen from a government paid "historian".  It actually appears he's on some sort of petty personal vendetta against Sevier.  He wasn't even aware that Sevier had been the Founding Master of Polk Lodge in Knoxville, until I brought the question to his attention.  He still hasn't made any report with regards to Sevier's thoughts, opinions on the Constitution of 1787; very strange indeed.
Mentioned on this website.
Page 244.
Mentioned in this Kingston, TN history.

From "Brief History of Tennessee Grand Lodge -- Masonic Education" (PDF, must google it to access online):

"Under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, Tennessee Lodge #2 was formed in Love's Tavern on Front Street, near the end of the Gay Street Bridge in Knoxville.  The first recorded meeting was held March 4, 1800.  In attendance was Andrew Jackson, then Justice to the Superior Court and a member of Harmony Lodge #1, Nashville.  The charter was granted September 30, 1800, with John Sevier, then Governor of Tennessee, as Worshipful Master."
Here's a gem; Tennessee, a Guide to the State, c1939 by the Federal Writers' Project.  Beginning around page 239-242, it covers the Blount Mansion and Chisholm's Tavern, which these authors claim was the location of the Lodge Sevier founded, instead of Love's Tavern (unless those two were one and the same entity, which is also a possibility).
Page 31... Now, why the hell couldn't I find any of these sources before needing to approach Gordon Belt about it?  Honestly I tried and tried, googling in vain.
Mentioned here.
Lodge number 638 in Tennessee is the one named for John Sevier.
This online excerpt of the book referred to me by Gordon Belt is missing the pages that mention John Sevier.
Speaks of some of the historical rivalries and politics surrounding Freemasonry in North Carolina.  This account seems to be from the Masonic point of view, with its idealization of Glasgow and devaluation of John Sevier.  (Glasgow and others were convicted for land fraud, Sevier was not.)
A c1995 investigation into the incident, which does not by any means serve to indict John Sevier or even to caste much suspicion on his activities.  It seems to me (so far, at least) that John Sevier was impeccable.

"john sevier worshipful master lodge" ... what I googled to get all this.


Another source which identifies Tennessee Lodge number 2's location being in Love's (not "Chisholm's") Tavern.  "On Front Street in Knoxville."

"Washington chose four Masons for his first Cabinet as follows: Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; Secretary of War, General henry Knox; and Attorney General, Edmund Randolph, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1788. (73) There can be no doubt that these men were chosen because of their fitness for public office but in the minds of such men as Washington, Masonic membership was another evidence of a man s reliability and fitness for trust. (74) Washington wrote as follows: being persuaded that a just application of the principles on which the Masonic fraternity is founded must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society and be considered by them a deserving Brother.


"One of Washington' s first duties was to appoint the first Chief Justice and four Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Four of the five were Masons as follows: John Jay, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices William Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, and John Blair. (76) There is a possibility that Associate Justice James Wilson may have been a Mason, but no evidence that he was has been discovered. "The first Congress elected under the Constitution had several Masons in its membership. In the Senate of the twenty-six members twelve are known to have been Masons: Oliver Ellsworth, James Gunn, William S. Johnson, Samuel Johnston, Rufus King, John Langdon, Richard Henry Lee, James Monroe, Robert Morris, William Paterson, George Read, Phillip Schuyler.  "John Langdon was elected as Presiodent of the Senate pro ternpore. Twenty of the sixty-six men who served in the House of Representatives are known to have been Masons as follows: Abraham Baldwin, Theodorick Bland, John Brown, Daniel Carroll, Elbridge Gerry, Frederick A. Muhlenberg, John Page, Josiah Parker, John Sevier, Nicholas Gilman, Thomas Hartly, James Jackson, John Lawence, James Madison, Roger Sherman, William Smith, John Steele, Thomas Sumter, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer."

So, John Sevier was one of the minority (20/66) of Congressmen who was a Freemason.  The first Congress convened in 1789; the Glasgow Land Fraud case came to light in 1797.

"In December 1797, the activities of the men came to the attention of North Carolina officials, and steps were quickly taken to stop the abuses and to ensure that they could not happen again.  Chiefly involved in the frauds was James Glasgow, North Carolina's Secretary of State from 1777 to 1798. Over the next two and one half years, North Carolina and Tennessee quarreled over the ownership of the records and the apprehension and return of some of the accused.

"To assist in the prosecution of the accused, the General Assembly passed a court law in December 1799 that created a special tribunal to try the men.  In June 1800, five of the twenty-one men originally accused of fraud came to trial.  Of those tried, only three, James Glasgow, Willoughby Williams, and John Bonds.  Having accomplished the goal for which it was created, the court continued in existence for the remainder of its original two year commission."

John Sevier was then made Worshipful Master of the Lodge in Knoxville (originally a NC, then later becoming a TN entity) in November, 1800.  Andrew Jackson, who had only recently started the whole Land Frauds scandal with evidence he allegedly uncovered, attended the first meeting of that Lodge, in March, 1800.  It seems that Lodge's first meeting preceded its charter, by a few months.  So, it's hard to say whether or not John Sevier was actually in attendance at the first meeting, along with Andrew Jackson; although I would expect he, as a Freemason, would have been there with the rest of the club.
"...public prosperity..."  I think this is the reason John Sevier is not revered by Freemasons as is Andrew Jackson; like George Washington and other US Presidents, he was not fabulously wealthy.  In fact, Sevier died penniless -- he's used all of his money to finance his country and its citizenry.  Instead of living in mansions, as US Presidents usually do, John Sevier lived in a simple, modest log house.
Andrew Jackson's mansion (large enough for plenty of servants, and I'm sure Jackson had slaves).
An old photographic postcard of Governor John Sevier's log house, his home in Tennessee, prior to its rehabilitation.

Around 1864, a grandson(?) of Sevier, Thomas Sevier, was made a Master Mason at this Lodge.
So far, I've yet to find any source (other than the word of Gordon Belt) which would suggest that John Sevier was in any way culpable with regard to the Land Frauds case(s).
I wonder if at any time anyone ever forged Sevier's name on any of those grants?  I suspect that would be quite probable.
Goes into some more detail about Tennessee and US politics, Land Speculation, and political rivalry between Jackson and Sevier.  Governor Blount is noted to have continued the business of land speculation while in office (something of which I do not approve: Moonlighting Politicians).  Sevier is noted to have continued to ally himself with land speculators, but not to have engaged in the business himself while in office.  This article makes absolutely no mention at all, as to whether or not Andrew Jackson was himself a land speculator (he was, in fact).

Also, this article points out the rivalry between Andrew Jackson and John Sevier over the appointment to office of General of the Tennessee Militia, something which Jackson dearly coveted but that Sevier (rightly) deemed him too inexperienced to handle.  Losing that political battle made Jackson extremely soreheaded, cranky and vengeful.  I'm sure he was quite nasty-tempered whenever he encountered Sevier (Jackson was notorious for being a truly mean and violent personality); and Sevier defended his own honor and pride as any normal man should:  he didn't put up with Jackson's verbal abuse, giving Jackson a taste of his own medicine.  As clever witted as Sevier was, that must have riled Jackson up even more.
Gordon Belt has recently admitted that he has Melungeon ancestry, and here is another attack by a Melungeon on John Sevier's character, dated 2004.  It would seem the Melungeons don't like John Sevier, despite the fact that some of them have also claimed to be descended from a "mistress" of Sevier (there's no way they could have been legitimate progeny, anyway).

I've also heard a rumor that John Sevier had a Cherokee mistress, too; but who knows?  It does seem very apparent to me, that John Sevier was far more compassionate toward the Indians whom he was forced to fight than was Andrew Jackson.  Jackson's abuses are well documented for the record, as are Sevier's gestures of goodwill (including many kind or at least fairminded statements on their behalf).  As Governor and military leader, Sevier often made orders which spared Indian lives, especially those of the elderly, women and children.
A Sevier descendant nobly (and with characteristic grace) answers the charges against my sixth great-grandfather.
Article on Geni, which gives Sevier's middle name as "Paul".  Also references the DAR here.
So, I have 256 sixth great-grandparents (128 male and 128 female), and John Sevier is just one of them.  Would love to know who all the rest were, lol.

Eight great-great grandparents; four female and four male.  Cely Bird was one of them.  I have to look up the rest, but I'm pretty sure a few of them are unknown to me.

One of John Seviers contemporaries, I think?  Anyway, I just included this painting of Davy Crockett, because I love how it looks!
Gordon Belt's latest smear of John Sevier.  I wonder how many slaves he had, compared to how many Andrew Jackson had?  And I wonder how he treated his "people", compared to how slaves were treated by Jackson?  Jackson was a mean-spirited, cranky sob; while Sevier was noted for his kindness toward all -- even toward his enemies, even toward Jackson.  John Sevier, descended from Basque nobility and European artistocracy, was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

On the bright side, Belt answered my question:  I'd wondered if Sevier had any servants or field hands at all.  I suspect he had very few though, in light of the facts that the Seviers had eighteen children of all ages and only thirty-five acres of land.

On the other hand, Jackson, born in one of the worst states for slavery, South Carolina, had the Hermitage with his wife (no children of their own, although they adopted several), an estate of over 1,000 acres.  It came with just nine slaves when he first purchased the Hermitage; but by the time of his death he had around 150 slaves, with separate slave quarters.

Wikipedia: "Jackson had three adopted sons: Theodore, an Indian about whom little is known, Andrew Jackson Jr., the son of Rachel's brother Severn Donelson, and Lyncoya, a Creek Indian orphan adopted by Jackson after the Creek War. Lyncoya died of tuberculosis in 1828, at the age of sixteen.

Tennessee Gentleman, portrait of Jackson, ca. 1831, from the collection of The Hermitage.
"The Jacksons also acted as guardians for eight other children. John Samuel Donelson, Daniel Smith Donelson and Andrew Jackson Donelson were the sons of Rachel's brother Samuel Donelson, who died in 1804.  Andrew Jackson Hutchings was Rachel's orphaned grand nephew.  Caroline Butler, Eliza Butler, Edward Butler, and Anthony Butler were the orphaned children of Edward Butler, a family friend.  They came to live with the Jacksons after the death of their father.
A biracial slave born on Andrew Jackson's plantation, a "relative of the Jackson family".
"Slavery was the source of Andrew Jackson's wealth."

I don't believe the same could be said for John Sevier.

And still no word on John Sevier's involvement with the 1787 Constitutional Congress.,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_4_Q_to_Z.htm
"Finally the territory was ceded by N. Car., and Sevier then took an oath of allegiance to the U.S., was commissioned brigadier general in 1789, and the following year chosen to Congress as the first representative from the valley of the Mississippi."

He's not listed on
Jenny (and the Reverend) have excellent insight, intelligence, reason.

Thankfully, I'm not the only intelligent person who recognizes Gordon Belt is a Governmentally backed "revisionist".

Life of General John Sevier, by Francis M. Turner, c1910
John Sevier as a Commonwealth Builder, James R. Gilmore, c1887
John Sevier, Citizen, Soldier, Legislator, Governor... by Oliver Perry Temple, c1910
Borrowable, but not available online, such a shame.
The Shields' family, of Tennessee.
Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume I
Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume II
Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume II, second edition
Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume III
Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume III
Red Belts, by Hugh Poindexter, c1919

"Why also, should we all be taught to revere the memory of Miles Standish, and pay but scant attention to that of John Sevier?"

I'm afraid I would never join such organizations, even if they would have me.

maria de azpilicueta (various spellings) xavier (royal blood, mother of St. Francis Xavier, etc.).  Husband was Don Juan de Jasse (various spellings).

According to Zella Armstrong, during the French Revolution when King Louis VI & Marie Antoinette were arrested, imprisoned, and eventually executed, Louis XVI's brothers, the Count of Provence and the Count of Artois (both of whom also eventually became Kings of both France and Navarre), visited America during their exiles. While here, George Washington sent them on a tour of the country which included Tennessee; and Governor John Sevier actually had them as guests and entertained them. Since Tennessee was considered very rural, rustic frontier in those days, I seriously doubt that was a coincidence. They must have known that there was some sort of family relationship there between those men. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I'd like to know. They were probably cousins to some degree.
That means that my own little family including myself are probably somehow related to the French Royalty (Bourbons, anyway), besides being related to the Navarra Basque Nobility.  Woo-hoo!! (Yet, they treat me like peasant crap, go figure).
Simplified Family Tree... they have some connections to the Habsburgs, I see.
Count de Provence (Louis XIII) was Louis Stanislas Xavier (oops, I said "Valentine").
We seem to be connected to the Ezpeletas, Peraltas, and Jassos.  These names have various spellings, of course.  And they are also known as the Xaviers, for the Castle which they owned in Navarre.  Really, I wish I could afford to have someone trustworthy to figure this all out for me; it's very difficult and confusing, especially since I'm not familiar with the languages (French, Spanish, and Basque -- especially the latter).  The Jasso family wasn't nobility, but were likely aristocracy.  I'm more certain of the Ezpeleta connection, than of the Peralta one; however, it wouldn't surprise me.
So, through the Denman branch of our Paternal lineage (which would be the one most directly paternal), a family which is supposed to have originated either in Normandy or Denmark (or perhaps even both, since those two are so closely associated) -- we seem to have somewhat vague relationship(s) to the Stuart dynasty.  If there is any relationship to the Danish monarchy, I simply don't know what it would be.  However, our family must have had some sort of ties to Nobility or Aristocracy anyway, for them to have been granted land by the king of  England following the Norman Invasions.  They may have been knights (warriors), I suppose.
And through the Sevier branch, Navarre and the Bourbons, I suppose.
This has letters to and from John Sevier and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson.
Neaty and Blake are shown on this pedigree.  My gg-grandfather, William C. Denman, was their son.
She was born in 1807 and would have been John Sevier's g-granddaughter (he was a teenager at his first marriage, and Neaty is descended from his oldest daughter, the fourth of his eighteen children).  She is buried by her spouse, Blake Denman, my ggg-grandfather.  The Elstons and my branch of the Denman family both moved to Georgia from New Jersey, and probably knew of each other in Jersey, too.
Neaty's mother must have been Elizabeth Sevier Clark [Mrs. John] Elston.  Her grandmother was John Sevier's daughter, Elizabeth Hawkins Sevier [wife of Major William H.] Clark.  She is our connection between the Denman and Sevier families.
This again shows Neaty as the daughter of Elizabeth Clark; and her father as John Elston of South Carolina.
This indicates that John Elston's parents were from New Jersey.  Blake Denman was born I believe in Georgia or Alabama.  The families in those days were very large, and they obtained land all over the South where the climate was conducive to growing crops.
Wow!! I was wondering how "Neaty" got such an unusual name... it derives from her grandmother's name:  Fernita!! :)  Fernita and David are buried on private property in Kentucky, apparently.  This says that David's parents were William Elston and Sarah Spencer.  David served in the NJ militia during the Revolution.  "He was a Blacksmith.  He was a Bondsman of Isaiah line..."  I'm not sure what that last part is supposed to mean.
William Elston's parents were presumably William Elston, Sr., and Elizabeth Cole.
William Elston, Sr., was the son of John Elston and Joan Clapp.
The Elston family seems to trace back to at least 1608, New Jersey (Woodbridge, Middlesex County).  There is some connection to Richmond, Staten Island, NY, too (via the Cole family).
Some Yarbrough marriages are listed here.  My father's mother was a Yarbrough.
Grandpa Johnny was always right on the cutting edge of the sword of Truth, God rest his soul.


  1. Hi, just wanted to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. John Sevier (1745-1815) is my sixth great-grandfather, also. I just finished reading the Gordon Belt book: John Sevier, Tennessee's First Hero. I concur with your opinion. It does seem as if he's purposefully down-grading John's impact on history. Smh. While I do agree that historians should report the facts without the hype, I think Mr. Belt has gone a bit too far. My lineage is through John and Sarah Jane's son, Valentine, who married Mary Arnett and had a son named John Sevier (1796-1863) and his first wife, Anna Friend. Again, thank you for this blog. :D

    1. So pleased to meet you, cousin! And your comment is much appreciated, too.

  2. Hi again. I have checked out the Cora Bales Sevier, "Sevier Family History" book again. Regarding the whole land fraud thing, there is a letter written by John Sevier to Gen. James Robertson dated, Nashville, May 30, 1803 that begins on page 149 of the above book and continues on page 150, "as to what has been so illiberally insinuated respecting titles for lands, I can answer that if there be any deficiency in mine, the laws can be readily employed to vitiate and annul them, and it is well known there are dealers enough in the article of land to rejoice at such an opportunity. I will observe to my friends that I am authorized to declare that I am fully possessed of documents and proofs to convince an impartial world that I have not procurred any titles for land, but such as I have fully paid monies for long previous to their being obtained. And whether or not there is a fraud in the obtaining titles under such circumstances, leave every candid person to put the question to himself and determine."
    He's either innocent or a very cagey and cunning liar. I think he was innocent.

  3. Thanks so much for your comment, good to hear from you again. I must try to find a copy of that book. Of course I personally don't doubt his innocence at all, and not only because he was family. I'm a pretty good judge of character, of evidence, and of the facts. And it is just too obvious that he was a good man. I'm very proud of him, as I'm sure you must be too.

  4. You can check it out on loan (or even purchase it) from OpenLibrary.
    There are now a few ways this can be done. Either by downloading, for free, Adobe Digitized Reader, or there is now a way to download it to a Nook or Kindle. Like most libraries, you can only check it our for two weeks at a time, and sometimes you have to be on a waiting list. This is my fourth or fifth time to check it out and the very first time I really only waited a matter of hours, instead of a couple of days! I'm creating a timeline, so I'm taking notes, jotting down page numbers, etc. Trying to make sure I've got the facts down correctly. Yes, I, too, am rather proud of him. I also don't buy into the notion he was a philanderer, or that he fell in love with Katherine in '76. What he said to Jackson, otherwise, would prove him a complete hypocrite. I believe he loved Sarah Jane with his whole being. I also came across an interesting tidbit on the 'net. It was a video newscast story on the Bonny Kate Elementary School in Knoxville, TN. They interviewed children and in one particular moment, they spoke to an adult who said rather easily that when John Sevier rescued Bonny Kate, he said to her "That was a bonny fine leap." I'm telling you those words leapt out at me and nearly knocked me off of my desk chair, they resonated so loudly to me. Interesting how words can be twisted and tangled about to mean something far different than intended. Was he attracted to her? Perhaps, he'd probably would've had to be dead, not to notice her. But, did he begin a romance with her? I don't think it was in his nature. It's easy to see how this story got blown out of proportion, given the siege the community had just passed through. I would love to know your thoughts on the matter. :) If you'd rather we discuss it more privately, let me know and I'll give you my email address.

    1. I found the book just now. Thank you so much for the link! Your comments here are very enlightening for me, and quite possibly to other interested readers as well. My youngest daughter (and mother of my young grand-daughter) recently informed me she is doing her own family research, and I love hearing about her own discoveries and delightfully fresh perspective on it. I'm trying to be careful not to overwhelm her with the torrent of random facts I've gathered and have yet to completely process for myself. I only casually mentioned to her that I've blogged about it some, but I don't think that has sunk in quite yet. She's so excited right now, but I'm sure she will eventually be ready to see what I've collected, and more significantly that which the elder historians, such as Cora and Nancy, collected so diligently and carefully for posterity. It's funny that when I first began writing about it I was just as excited and curious as she is now. It's been a truly enjoyable journey of discovery and investigation. And I'm certain there is a lot more to learn. Thank you for sharing, cousin!

      I too have pondered his marriages. I do believe he loved Sarah Jane, and I base that on several items of evidence. First of all, they married very young and had ten children together before her tragic death. He gave up an opportunity to receive a first-rate college education, choosing an early marriage to her instead. Men who follow their heads instead of their hearts wouldn't have done that, in my opinion. They must have been in love. And on her part, she must have trusted him fully to be the husband that I'm sure she realized she would need, despite being virtually a self-made man. He must have been incredibly charismatic; and likewise she must have been quite beautiful and intelligent herself. They were so courageous, to start a family at such a young age. For most young people, it would have been a foolish decision, but for them it all worked out fine... And he had a protective nature, which certainly must have extended to his own family -- probably was in fact rooted in his love for family. He was so protective, he built forts for them, fought for them, worked tirelessly for them... I believe he did all those things not only for himself, but mainly because he cared so much about people generally, and especially his wife and children.

      She died shortly after their tenth baby was delivered, after fleeing into the fort to escape yet another Indian attack. They couldn't live inside the fort 24/7, because they had to work their land, etc. in order to provide food and so forth for the family. Life inside a fort would have been crowded, noisy, dirty, and uncomfortable; and food would have been a constant concern for them. Attacks by Indians were fairly unpredictable, and they must have been trying very hard to keep the peace with their native neighbors.

      When she died, he took pains to hide her body from the Indians, who might have desecrated her grave as an act of terror. He cared for her and the children. And when he later was unable to find the unmarked grave, he must have felt terribly disappointed. But at least he could rest assured that she was safe from danger at last. I don't doubt at all that he grieved Sarah Jane. And yes, I too have wondered about it... But after she died he now had ten children (one a newborn infant) and no wife or mother to take care of them. I think he made the most reasonable decision under the circumstances, by remarrying to a very classy lady. Kate evidently was a wonderful stepmother and a good wife. She gave him eight more children while raising his with Sarah, additionally taking on the role of hostess as he became more politically prominent.

    2. And most importantly, his children and other family members as far as I know all loved and respected him throughout his life, including his second marriage. His sons and brother joined him at the Battle of Kings Mountain to fight against the British general who had specifically threatened his life. One of his sons became hysterical and refused to obey the order to cease-fire, because he feared John had been killed in action. They loved that man.

      I don't think they would have respected him so much, had he not been a truly good man. I think he would have preferred having just one wife, his first love, Sarah Hawkins. But he was also a very practical man. If he was going to have to remarry anyway, it makes sense he would choose someone lovely and kind. Someone he was already acquainted with, whom he could trust with Sarah's children. He would have chosen a woman that he could really love with all his heart, not merely for the conveniences of marriage. Because he was concerned about everyone's happiness and well being, not just his alone. And a woman who knows her husband truly loves her is far more likely to be loving and kind to his first wife's children. And she really took on quite a responsibility -- eighteen children! Three was enough for me...

      His political rivals had a different viewpoint, of course. But where is the evidence of truth in their several allegations? They said he was dishonest, said he cheated on his wife, said he was a drunkard. But the actual evidence doesn't support their claims: If dishonest, why did wealth and material possessions mean so much less to him than to his arch-foes, including Andrew Jackson? He used what he had to fund the Revolution! I believe the allegations of fraud were an attempt to ruin his political career. Andrew Jackson, but for the grace of God, would have killed John Sevier, sadly. Jackson fully intended to shoot him in the duel which Jackson himself instigated.

      If a philanderer, who did he cheat with? She seems to be a shadow, not a real woman... Does she have a name? His yDNA was R1b1a2, by the way. So paternity is easily *disproved, if not proved. As far as I know, those claiming to be his offspring by an Indian woman do not share the same yDNA. If I'm mistaken, someone please enlighten me.

      If he was a drunkard, how in the world did he accomplish so much in one lifetime? He was an incredibly dynamic person. You would never catch him lying about in a drunken stupor. His health was apparently very good too. And he had a great mind, and a big heart. Characteristics I've rarely seen in most alcoholics.

      If a drunkard, how could he have been such a fine military leader? How could he have made it through a duel with Andrew Jackson without injury to either participant?

      Every decision he made was rational, even brilliant, as far as I can tell. Courageous and adventurous, yes; but not fool-hardy... His decisions were based in solid self-confidence and probably a deep faith in God for all I know. He was from a family of Huguenots after all, some of the most steadfastly faithful people, historically. He did confess to believe in God, despite not joining church membership. Maybe he didn't feel the need to prove his faith to anyone, since that is something very personal between men and God...

      I think he was one of the finest examples ever, of a true Human being.

  5. Another little tidbit I came across, again on the 'net, in regards to 'customs' of the time period, is it wasn't uncommon in the least for a man to remarry very shortly after losing his wife. Sometimes as long as a two month gap, other times within a month's time. That taught me a valuable lesson. We, as genealogists/family historians simply cannot apply today's standards to times' past. Marriage in the 18th century was far more of a business arrangement. (I think Jean and Sarah Jane were an exception to this rule, given their ages.) Also, the notion of marrying for love didn't come into vogue until the mid- 19th century. The notion one had to remain single for about a year probably (to prove their devotion) followed this trend, too. In light of this, I find older historians or antiquarians probably bought into the notion Sarah Jane died in 1799, to cover-up what probably shocked their sensibilities. I know I was offended, at first, when one man (don't recall his name, sadly) suggested in his book, that John got married when he did because a man's thoughts will turn to such things, or how ever he put it. That was laughable. I kept screaming at the book, the man has a newborn baby on his hands! Some have Sarah Jane never leaving the great Colony of Virginia. What's up with that? I have done the unthinkable. I have allowed myself to make a few assumptions, that I've turned into a fictionalized account of their lives. But, it's through the research I did, that I found out things I might not have, otherwise. I'm no longer bothered that Jean married Kate within a couple of months of Sarah Jane's death. (She died in the Spring of 1780, as you no doubt discovered in the Cora Bales Sevier book.) Following the timeline, Jean was left behind to guard the Settlements, while the others, Isaac Shelby, Cleveland and Campbell went to assist their fellow patriots in the Revolutionary War. (Yes, I call him Jean, that was his baptismal name, and I do believe it's likely what Sarah Jane called him.) Yes, I agree with you I do believe he was one of the finest examples of a true Human being. And quite a man of Faith, according to his diary.

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  7. Hi, again. I just got back my autosomal DNA results, having taken the AncestryDNA kit. Running the RAW DNA through, I used the Eurgenes K36 Admixture Proportions and it shows, I too, have Basque DNA in me.

    I've got DNA Circles with a few closer ancestors, too. including Anna Friend, who was married to the Governor's grandson, John Sevier (1796-1863) through his son, Valentine and Mary Arnett.

    I did well in Science, but the DNA is another animal. LOL Just thought I'd catch you up.

    1. Good to hear from you cousin! I'm not at all surprised you found Basque DNA. I also recently ordered the autosome test from Ancestry, still waiting for the results. Yes, DNA analysis is quite challenging -- even for the experts, probably. I very much appreciate the tip; thank you, will try that on my own data. If the results are unexpected, I might have to seek a second opinion, lol. I'll let you know here, as soon as I find out something. My prediction is to find some Basque, and some native North American. Basque ought to be pretty straightforward; but the native American data seems to be subject to lots of dicey interpretation these days. So we shall see. Can't wait!

  8. Do you have a tree over at by chance? Would be helpful if we end up sharing a DNA Circle. Over at I think one of the tools may be useful toward the native American DNA, but I can't be positive. I just joined over there and really started playing around with it. I have a second cousin who put me on to it. Good luck and let me know when your results come in. :)

    1. I just started a tree on Ancestry (it's very sparse at this point). I have one on Geni and another on the Family Echo websites, both of which are more extensive. That's not to say they're perfect, and I'm not sure whether they're public or not. My daughter also began a tree on one of the genealogy websites, and one of my maternal aunts maintains a tree on Geni, too. I ought to get busy and tune mine up better. Nevertheless, they make good repositories for information that otherwise I would likely forget. Hopefully when I feel more comfortable with its accuracy, and can fill it in more, I'll link or post it here. Thanks so much, I will let you know as soon as I find out something.

    2. I just got my results from Ancestry, and they're about what I would expect from them:

      I'm not sure how to go about checking it with gedmatch, so this may take awhile.

  9. All you have to do is go to, register and they'll have instructions from there. To get your RAW DNA from, go to the DNA tab, click on your results then click on that little gear in the upper right hand side that reads Settings. Once you click on that you should see on the right under Actions Download RAW DNA DATA. Click that and AncestryDNA will send you an email to confirm what you're asking for. Do NOT unzip the file. From there you should be able to post it on GedMatch.

    1. You're an angel, I'd have been lost without your help! Thanks, so much. By the way, I searched among my Ancestry matches for "Payne", and got three pages of hits, although I didn't see yours and they were all 4th or more distant cousins. Today I'd like to explore GedMatch, and make a more systematic search of my known family surnames at Ancestry. By the way, "Payne" is one of many surnames that I've run across before, while rooting around for my family history. I'm sure we're related, however distantly.

      There are some Paynes listed on the 1790 census for Franklin county, GA -- along with my ancestor, James Denman (misspelled "Denmon" here, but I know that's my 4th paternal g-grandfather). That's exciting, in light of the fact this census list is rather short to begin with... and dates back to just after the Revolution. There are also some Clarks on this list.

      By 1820 and onward, my Denman and Clark families had moved over to Habersham county.

      There is also a Charles Payne on page two of this 1830 census of Habersham county... and my Denman ancestors, John Elston (Neaty's father or grandfather, Blake Denman's in-law), and some Clarks (Neaty's maternal relatives, descended from John Sevier) are found on page one of the same census.

      My username on Ancestry is supposed to be celybird, so if you see me in your list of matches, do contact me :)

  10. I'm over at Geni, too. (April Lee Payne).Just got confirmation they received my RAW DNA DATA. All of my trees are public, some more extrapolated than others. If there was a way to just press a button I'd have them all exactly the same. LOL I have Family Tree Maker, and love being able to sync my tree. So spoiled. My username at is AprilPayne98. My current tree: Dewdney/Herring. I've also joined the Wikitrees, since they're working on the Sevier family, too. I'm Dewdney22 over there.

  11. I just had a look at your ethnicity results. We're not that far off. LOL Here's mine:

    1. I'd love to look at it, but I'm not authorized to see that link. You'd have to provide your "public" sharing link for me to see it.

  12. I realize I probably didn't answer you question about as fully as I should have. Once you're registered and have the use of the tools, select Admixture (Heritage); Eurogenes, then select Eurogenes K36. Gives you a further breakdown. I was a tad surprised about mine. Wondering where the Italian came from. But the rest suggests to me that I'm on the right track as far as my tree is concerned. Hope so, anyway. :)


    Blake Denman (misspelled "Denmon"), page 208; number 76; seventh district, third section... published in the Cherokee Land Lottery lists, c1838

    Blake Denman from Habersham county, GA, was granted land in Murray county, GA. This book is a valuable record for early American genealogy. Prior to the Revolution, the Denmans and Elstons lived in the vicinity of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and were originally from New England (mainly Long Island and coastal Massachusetts). The War seems to have directly caused my Denman ancestors to relocate to the southern US. The Wellborns (in-laws of James Denman) are also listed in this book, as are many Clarks.

  14. Sorry about that. I found the 'share results' button and hit link. See if this works for you.

  15. LOL Payne if my married name. But there is a website that lists a connection via a Payne family. Not sure if it's my hubby's family or not. As far back as I've research his line (and I confess to have been overly obsessed with my Father's line) his family originated in Virginia. They ended up down in Georgia, however. My hubby's paternal grandfather was made an honorary Colonel during the Civil War. He named a son Colonel, Jr., my late father-in-law, and my hubby is the Third. Yeah, his name is Colonel. We had two chances to have a fourth, but I said, 'No. I won't have a son who outranks me.' If you open your DNA results in a different window than mine, you can see them side by side. It's eerily similar. I'm connected to the Seviers through the Herring family. Take a look at my public Dewdney/Herring tree. I'll send you an invitation. :)

    1. Lol, that is a cute story! I'm beginning to think there is some sort of soul connection between a lot of these old families. I recently met a cousin whose grandmother (my grandaunt Shirley Denman) married a Tidwell, in Florida. I then discovered that another Tidwell had married into the family (a Lucy Jane Crankfield) generations before, in South Carolina (ca1850). They're distant cousins (5th or more).

      At the moment I'm working with GedMatch, and I'm sure this will take some time. But I'll take a moment to compare our Ancestry data, too. I'll look at that tree, too. Thanks so much.

  16. Galactic Gal, I understand now, that we are probably 7th cousins, based on our common ancestor being John Sevier, Sr. I think I'm his 6th g-granddaughter; and if I remember correctly you said he was also your 6th g-grandfather. Give or take a time or two removed, in case I misunderstood.

    When I searched Dewdney on Ancestry, I found one distant cousin. For Herring I got three pages of hits, including one 4th - 6th cousin with High confidence.

    The calculator is indispensible for me, lol.

  17. Thanks for the cousin-finder link! I was going in reverse thinking we'd be fifth cousins, since our fifth great-grandparents were siblings. I have a chart but I'm thinking it's wrong. Who was your lone Dewdney hit? And do you need me to pronounce it for you? (Trust me, we got some doozy's in the scant 19 years I bore that name.)

    So, you've got Herring hits? I've got DNA Circles for Peyton and his son, Daniel Herring. How are you connected to the Herrings? This blows my mind. Daniel and Elender had John Wesley Herring, my second great-grandfather. Another connection is that Anna Friend who married John Sevier (1796-1863) is the father of Elender Sevier. Anna's younger sister married Peyton Herring after Daniel's mother died. So, Ludicia became her niece's mother-in-law. This family is convoluted in so many ways, on so many different levels. It's just a good thing there are no more aneurysms in my head waiting to explode, or I'd be in trouble. LOL

    How did you conduct your surname searched that reaped hits? I must be missing something.

    As for being a sixth great-granddaughter, (back when it used to give relationships) said I was his sixth great-granddaughter. His seventh child and fourth son, Valentine had a son, John Sevier, with his wife, Mary Arnett/Arnott. He married Anna Friend and so on and so on. I came down through John Wesley's first daughter/child through his second marriage, Eda (Edith) Pearl Herring who married my great-grandfather Arthur Dewdney and had six surviving children by the man before he was killed on the job. He was a section foreman for the Railway, enough said. Their sixth child and fourth son (one died very young), Frank, had my father. Direct line, as far as I can tell. Still trying to find the paper trail that irrefutably connects all of the dots.

    1. Yes, I'm sure we are both directly descended on different branches of the same tree. Being his 6th g-granddaughters makes him our 6th g-grandfather. The paper trail is most frustrating, with access to public records so restricted, and it can be especially difficult for families like mine, whose history was nearly forgotten without being clearly transmitted from the elders to the younger generations. I consider it miraculous that I ever discovered the truth.

      I'd pronounce Dewdney "Dude-knee", as it seems to be written. Hope that's right, lol. People never pronounce or spell my surname correctly either, for some reason... When you go into DNA results summary, you can click on "view all DNA matches" and then search for surnames by clicking on "search matches". Quite honestly, I got at least a few hits for nearly every surname I could think of, many of whom were just names of people I went to school with, etc. However, most of them were distant cousins with only moderate or good confidence of accuracy. On the other hand, there were quite a few of closer kinship with high or even extremely high confidence. It's a lot of fun to search, although I haven't contacted anyone so far.

      I'm not sure if this link will work, but the Dewdney person is cswood1192, of Staffordshire, England. She seems very interested in genealogy, but that's really all I know. How she is (or is not, maybe) connected to the Dewdneys, is anyone's guess. Ancestry tells me she is possibly my distant cousin, with "moderate" confidence. I think moderate is the lowest level of confidence. Moderate, Good, High, Extremely High...

      As for the Herring surname, the best match of all three pages of hits was deboraholiwa, of Wake Forest, NC. Ancestry has her as possibly a 4th cousin, with High confidence of accuracy. Their results are conveniently sorted with the most likely kinship at top of the list.

      Anyway, it seems our strongest connection is probably through John Sevier.

  18. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I think I'm going to go 'on a hunt'. ;) And, yes, Dude-knee is exactly right. It's utterly amazing how many people stumble over it, mangle it or say it completely correctly but uneasy, as if they lack confidence. Had a Science teacher back in the eighth grade who got it right. Which stunned me, since the man couldn't properly pronounce the Thames River. :O For those not in the know, it's Timmz. ;) Grew up surrounded by Scots.

    Did you read about how papers were stolen from VA during the Civil War? Court papers, land, et al. And that they were going to be returned. I don't know when, or even when they may be made available. But since there's broken bits of the paper trail we seek, I keep hoping I'll get lucky. I'm not convinced, my Valentine, the son of the Governor, was born in VA, as stated. Some have a December date 1773, which may well be a 'place-holder', as his date of birth. But, that's when the family arrived in the Settlements. I've played around with some calendars I've found online. I've got the entire calendar years from 1761 through 1780. Using the known dates of birth for the first three boys, I could calculate, guesstimate really, about how old baby was before Sarah Jane conceived again. Working this through, it seems as if Elizabeth may well have been born in February of the year, as did her cousin of the same name, born in the same year. Working this through, Val very well may have been born in December of the year. I peg August for Dicky. Cora Bales Sevier suggests the family moved to Little Limestone Creek in the Spring of 1780, making it possible that Nancy was born in the late Spring, and Sarah Jane died in the Late Spring, as well. I know, nothing but hard evidence is accepted, but I think I'm onto something. A hint, clue to follow at any rate.

    Again, thanks for the how-to. I'm off to go 'hunting'. :)

    1. "Did you read about how papers were stolen from VA during the Civil War? Court papers, land, et al. And that they were going to be returned. I don't know when, or even when they may be made available."

      That got my attention. I'm always moaning about how historical records were destroyed in the wars (Revolution and Civil, both). I hope they will allow public access to them.

      Our founding Denman ancestor had one sister, both born in the same year (1621), 11 months apart. Some genealogists mistook them for twins, for that reason.

      Happy hunting!

  19. I think I found your Denman ancestor when I did a search all names. I recall the year of birth being 1621. I was going to see if you knew of her. LOL Yeah, there are those who have Sophia Sevier and Joseph Sevier both born in 1764. He was given the 14 February 1764, so it's feasible his mother could have 'caught' another baby immediately. But, unless you have the full date of birth for two born in the same year, it's an easy mistake.