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A.2.1.c. Thomas Berry

 

     Thomas Berry was born about 1741, most likely before his parents had moved into Virginia. Indirect evidence suggests that this extended Berry clan of Scotch-Irish pioneers, after emigrating from Northern Ireland or Scotland at an unknown date, were probably living in central Pennsylvania, possibly Lancaster County, by the late 1730s or early 1740s, where a significant contingent of Scotch-Irish families had already settled. (Figure 29) Since Thomas Berry’s parents are known to have lived in Augusta County until the late 1760s or early 1770s, young Thomas’ boyhood home was probably the family farm on the upper reaches of Kennedy Mill Creek in the Borden Grant in Augusta County, Virginia. (Figure 10) He married Mary ? (Unknown Last Name), and, although the date of his marriage is not known with certainty, they appear to have tied the knot sometime in the four year period between 1763 (about the time he turned 21) and 1767 (when their first child was born). It seems logical to assume that it would be closer to the latter date, about a year before their first child was born, which approximates the date of their marriage sometime in 1766. The marriage more than likely took place in Augusta County, Virginia. During the late 1760s and early 1770s Thomas Berry spent time in what would eventually become Washington County, in the southwestern part of the sate, apparently completing the requirement for actual settlement in 1769. He eventually spent the rest of his life on land he had selected that year and maintained a persistent, though not necessarily consistent, presence in the area during the early 1770s.

 

     Over the approximately 38 years of their marriage, and actually, within a time span of twelve years, Thomas and Mary had eight children, all boys, and while there is little direct documentation for Thomas Berry during the early to mid 1770s, his life experiences can be approximated from the flow of well-documented historical events. In 1769 Thomas claimed squatter’s rights on a chunk of land located along 15 Mile Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Holston River and part of the Wolf Hills settlement located about six miles south of the modern day town of Abingdon, Virginia. At that time the area was part of Augusta County, Virginia. It then fell under the jurisdiction of Botetourt County, Virginia from 1770 through 1772, which corresponds to the time period the Shawnees temporarily expelled most of the settlers in southwestern Virginia. About the time they returned, the area was reorganized to become part of Fincastle County, and for the next four years, particularly during the time of the 1776 Cherokee uprising, his land remained in that county.  In late 1776, not long after Col. Christian’s punitive expedition against the Cherokee, the counties reorganized again, and Thomas Berry’s land became part of Washington County. (Figure 65) As soon as Washington County was formed Thomas Berry began appearing somewhat regularly in the county court records. When the Virginia land offices opened back up after the Revolutionary War, he purchased his 15 Mile Creek property, so, in all probability, this location is where he, his wife and five young sons lived through the entire decade of the 1770s and into the early 1780s. This was also a time of great threat to the frontier settlers living in the Holston, Clinch and Powell valleys due to Cherokee and Shawnee opposition to the expansion of European settlers into the area. It is inconceivable to think that Thomas Berry, or any of the other Berry families living in this area at this time, did not take up arms as part of the local militia. Although some of the evidence is sketchy, somewhat conflicting and confusing, it is quite clear that Thomas Berry served in the Fincastle and Washington County militias during this time, participating in military actions against the Cherokee, as well as the Kings Mountain Campaign against the British. He was also commissioned as a militia officer and was wounded in action by Cherokee.

 

     Beginning in 1782, and continuing to his death, Thomas Berry can be traced through Washington County tax records. This data set can be divided into a number of categories, mostly dealing with who paid the taxes, how much was paid and what items of personal property were taxed. Consequently, it yields a rich source of information. Changes for Thomas Berry within the various data categories can be tracked through a time span of 29 years, allowing inferences and analytical conclusions to be drawn about elements of Thomas Berry’s life that cannot be derived from any other sources. This data also presents a thorny interpretation problem. Multiple Thomas Berrys were listed in this data set, and accurately determining which individuals were represented by the individual entries is critical in order to effectively analyze the associated tax data and draw correct conclusions about the lives of the individuals they represent. Within the two Washington County tax districts, the county clerks had to be able to uniquely identify each individual for tax purposes, so they used discrete identifiers, such as Jr. or Sr., jockey, knobs, river and forks to differentiate same-named individuals. The Senior designation typically represented the oldest Thomas Berry within a specific tax district with multiple Thomas Berrys, while the junior designation generally referred to the youngest individual. The Jr. and Sr. designations, however, did not always define a father and son relationship, and, in some cases, referred to grandfather and grandson. Knobs, river and forks represented conspicuous geographic locations in the Holston River Valley near the home of a particular Thomas Berry, and the jockey designation, which was assigned by the tax district officials more than likely represents a unique hobby or past time of this Thomas Berry which was well known by the local population. The Thomas Berry of this report was designated either as Thomas Berry Jr. or jockey from 1782 through 1799, and his father was identified as Thomas Berry Sr. After his father’s death Thomas Berry Jr. became the oldest Thomas Berry and was then identified as Thomas Berry, Sr.

    

     Thomas Berry was also a slave owner, as documented by tax and court records, the latter primarily comprising his estate appraisal. The data clearly shows that Thomas Berry owned a small number of slaves. When taxes were first recorded in Washington County, Virginia in 1782, Thomas Berry was 40 years old and already a slave owner, so there is no telling when his slave-owning days actually began. He could easily have owned African slaves through the 1770s and first two years of the 1780s. This data also reveals a pattern of the periodic selling of individual slaves, the probable occurrence of an enslaved African family and the sale of that family to convert their value into a cash inheritance for his sons and wife. Thomas Berry seems to have been in the habit of buying and selling a small number of young African slaves on a somewhat regular basis, and the fact that this pattern happened repeatedly almost sounds like it represents a speculative money-making operation.

 

     Thomas Berry can also be identified, located and traced from the 1770s through the time of his death in southwestern Virginia via court records, real estate transactions, as well as militia and tax records. At some point he acquired property in central Tennessee, although he never lived there. All of the parcels that he purchased were originally North Carolina land grants based on military service, but only one of the tracts was originally awarded to Thomas Berry. All of the others were granted to other people, who then assigned (sold) their grant to Thomas Berry. North Carolina compensated its veterans with its western lands based on their term of service. Since he was awarded 429 acres, he would had to have served for just over 56 months, which amounts to just over two and a half years of North Carolina military service. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to have been that much time for him to have served that amount of time in the North Carolina Continental Line. The Revolutionary War began in 1776 and ended in 1783, and, given what appears to be a long-standing and continuous membership in the Washington County militia from 1776 through 1781, there seems to be very little time for him to have served in North Carolina’s military. Furthermore, from late 1781 through 1783, Thomas Berry appeared in Washington County court records, buying land, serving on juries and appraising estates, all, of which makes it appear that he was actually living in Washington County Virginia during this time period rather than serving in the North Carolina militia at some remote location far from his home. The only exception to military service was to serve as a surveyor, laying out those lands, or to the guards who protected them. On two occasions, once in 1777 and again in 1781, Washington County records document that Thomas Berry was a land surveyor. Although it is not clear when he actually performed these surveying duties for North Carolina, it seems highly likely that his original North Carolina land grant was based on his services as a surveyor, and not as a soldier. Unfortunately, the North Carolina grants do not specify which service was performed, and lumped them all into the same category.
 

     Thomas Berry remained married to Mary ? (Unknown Last Name) from about 1766 until about 1804, as documented by a number of Washington County records. After that date, however, they appear to have gotten a divorce and Thomas married a widow, Prudence Rowlett Dickinson, who had also been through a prior marriage. When Thomas wrote his will in April 1812 he made sure to note that Prudence would have the use of a slave, kept the personal property she brought into the marriage, and received income from the sale of livestock and crops from his estate. Apparently, she found another husband a few weeks after Thomas’ death.

 

     As was the usual custom after the death of a household head, by court order, Thomas Berry’s personal property was identified and all items were appraised in preparation for an estate sale. Analysis of the content of the estate appraisal reveals his personal property can be broadly divided into five categories: Crops & Farm Products, Household Items, Livestock, Slaves and Tool & Farm Items. What clearly stands out is the immense value of the enslaved human property, which constituted nearly two thirds of the value of the entire estate. Second in value were the animals, which comprise nearly a quarter of the estate’s value. Combined, the living property, both human and livestock, form an overwhelming 86% of the personal property wealth of Thomas Berry. The other categories, basically, the inanimate objects needed to conduct daily life on a farm, combined, make up only 14% of the estate, a rather pitiful amount in comparison to the value of his living property.

 

     Among the personal property items listed in Thomas Berry’s estate appraisal, a number of them are of particular interest since they cast a uniquely focused light on Thomas Berry’s lifestyle. Most of these items demonstrate that Thomas Berry, his family and his slaves lived rather labor-intensive lives. The bulk of them show that much of their time must have been devoted to operating a farm and livestock operation without the benefit of many modern labor-saving conveniences. Prominently differentiated from this labor-driven universe, however, are a small number of books, which, quite clearly, identify an intellectual side to Thomas Berry’s character that can be seen in few other source data points that document his life. It should not be forgotten that he was a land surveyor, so he definitely was able to master basic trigonometry. The fact that he owned a small number of books clearly indicates he was not illiterate and was, in fact, actively interested in intellectual pursuits.

 

     Thomas Berry wrote and signed his will on 25 April 1812, and by the 21st of May the document was presented in court to execute, so Thomas passed away sometime during the 26 day period between these two dates. Although the site of his grave is not known, it is a safe bet to assume that he was buried in Washington County, either at a local cemetery or on his farm.

 

Timeline of Thomas Berry, Jr. (Jocky), Mary ? (Unknown Last Name)
and Prudence (Rowlett) Dickerson

 

~174112,256

Transcription of Esther (Berry) McCord Family Record

Augusta County Courthouse, Staunton, Virginia Deed Book 11, page 242
Birth of Thomas Berry, Jr. in Augusta County, Virginia

21 June 176321,256

Augusta County Courthouse, Staunton, Virginia Deed Book 11, page 242
{Margin Notation: Examined and Delivered James Berry __ April 1765}
THIS INDENTURE made the Twenty first Day of June in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Three Between Thomas Berry of Augusta County and Colony of Virginia and Esther his wife of the one part and James Berry Son to the said Thomas of the other part Witnesseth that for and in Consideration of the sum of twenty five pounds Current Money of Virginia To the said Thomas Berry and Esther in hand paid by the said James Berry at or before the Sealing and Delivery of these presents the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge and thereof doth release acquit Exonerate and discharge the said James Berry his heirs Executors & Administrators by these presents They the said Thomas Berry & Esther have Given Granted Bargained Sold Enfeoffed Aliened Released and Confirmed and by these presents doth give grant Bargain Sell Enfeoff Alien Release and Confirm to the said James Berry and to his heirs and Assigns forever one Certain piece or parcel of Land containing one hundred and Sixty eight acres to the same more or less being the land which the said Thomas Berry purchased in fee Simple of Arthur Kennedys situate lying on both sides of Capt. Joseph Kennedys Mill Creek Within the bounds of a large tract of land Commonly Called and Known by the name of Burdens Tract in Said County of Augusta and more particularly Described and bounded as Follows Viz Beginning at a large white oak by a Small Dogwood on the East Edge of the Creek Corner to Robert Grays Land and runneth thence with his lines South Thirty Deg.s East five poles to a Post South four Degrees west nineteen poles to a white oak below a Spring head by a road South twenty eight Degrees West ninety two poles to McNutt’s line to two small hiccorys Corner to Robert Grays Land North fifteen Deg.s West with Said McNutts new line to the Corner Sugar tree on the s.d Creek & thence North fifteen Degrees West two Hundred and Eighty [rest of this line unreadable] with a line of McNutts old Survey to a white oak and an hiccory Saplin by a Dry Valley South Seventy five degrees East one hundred and Sixty poles to a hiccory and white oak Corner to Francis Beatey’s Land thence with his line South fifteen Degrees East Sixty poles to a black oak and hiccory South Seventy five Degrees West twenty four poles to a two white oak Saplins Growing out of one Root South fifteen Degrees East fifteen poles to a Walnutt by the fork of said Creek in Said Beatey line and thence down the Several Courses of the said Creek to the Beginning and all Houses Buildings Orchards Gardens Inclosures Improvements woods Trees Marshes Swamps Meadow Ways Waters Water Courses Easments Profits Commodities Hereditaments and Appurtenanus hereto Belonging in any wise Appurtaining and the Reversion and Reversions Remainder and Remainders Rents Issues & Profits thereof and also all the Estate Right Title Interest use trust property claim and Demand whatsoever of them the said Thomas Berry and Esther Either in law or Equity of in and to the said premises and all Deeds Records Evidences and writings touching or in any wise Concerning the Same TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Described one hundred and sixty eight acres of Land Hereditaments and Premisses be the same more or less and all and Singular other the Premises hereby Given and Released and every Part Parcel and Member thereof with their parts Priviledges Incomes Advantages and Appurtenances unto the said James Berry his heirs & Assigns forever to the only Proper use and Behoof of him the said James Berry and of his heirs and assigns forever and they the said Thomas Berry and Esther for themselves their heirs Executors and Administrators doth Covenant Promise and Grant to and unto the said James Berry and his heirs and assigns by these presents that they the s’d Thomas Berry and Esther have and done Committed or Suffered any act Matter Cause or thing whatsoever whereby the said one hundred and sixty eight acres of Land Hereditaments and Premises or any Part Parcel or Member thereof are is may or shall be Impeached Charged or Incumbred in Charge Estate or otherwise however and that the s.d Thomas Berry and Esther have good and sure power and lawfull and absolute authority to grant and convey the same to the said James Berry his heirs assigns in Manner and Form afores.d And Further that the said James Berry and his heirs and assigns Shall and may forever hereafter HAVE HOLD USE OCCUPY POSSESS and Enjoy the said Described one hundred and Sixty eight acres of Land Hereditaments and Premises without any let hindrance Disturbance or Molestation Whatsoever of them the said Thomas Berry and Esther their heirs or assigns or any other Person or Persons whatsover Lawfully Claiming from by or and him them or Either of them and that the said Premises now at the time of Sealing and Delivering of these Presents are free and clear and freely and Clearly Acquited and Discharged of and from all arrearages of Quit Rents and Incumbrances whatsoever/the Quit Rents hereafter to grow due and payable to our Sovereign Lord the King his heirs and Sucessors for and in Respect of the said premises only excepted and proposed AND LASTLY that the said Thomas Berry and Esther and their heirs all and singular for the primeses here by Granted and Released with their and every of their Appurtunances unto the said James Berry his heirs and assigns against them this said Thomas Berry and Esther and their heirs and all and Every other person and persons whatsoever Shall and will warrant and forever Defend by these presents IN WITNESS whereof the said Thomas Berry and Esther his wife have hereunto set their hands and affixed their Seals the Day month and year first above written.
Thomas Berry (L.S)
Esther Berry (L.S.)
SIGNED SEALED & DELIVERED IN PRESENCE OF
Alexander McNutt
Jas. McNut
Thomas Berry Jun.r
At a Court held for Augusta County Ju__ 21st 1763
Thomas Berry and Esther Berry his wife She being first privately examined acknowledged this their Deed of Feoffment to James Berry which is Ordered to be Recorded.
Teste: John Madison

~1763 – 1765491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of Thomas Berry III in Augusta County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate based on his first appearance in own household in county tax records)

~1767491

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of William Berry in Augusta County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate based on his first appearance in own household in county tax records)

176969

Washington County, Virginia Survey Book, page 180
Thomas Berry moved from Augusta County, Virginia to Washington County, Virginia. Documentation can be found under the date of the survey 10 Aug. 1781, farther down in the timeline.)

~176969,491,520,521

Washington County, Virginia Tax Lists and Survey Records
Birth of John Berry in Botetourt County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate partially based on “fact” that John Berry was born in present day Washington County, Virginia, and that he appears as one of the younger tithable males in his father’s household in the tax records).

~1771491, 522

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of James Berry, probably in Botetourt County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate partially based on his first appearance in own household in county tax records)

~1774491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of George Berry, probably in Fincastle County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate partially based on his first appearance in own household in county tax records)

04 Sept. 1776570

History of Southwest Virginia 1746 - 1786 by Preston Lewis Summers
Thomas Berry
Wounded by Indians

01 Aug. 1776570

History of Southwest Virginia 1746 - 1786 by Preston Lewis Summers
On the first day of August, 1776, the Virginia Council ordered that a commission issue appointing William Christian, Esq., colonel of the first battalion and commander in chief of all the forces raised for use in the expedition against the Cherokee Indians. It was decided to send two battalions of troops upon this expedition which were offered as follows:
Commander in Chief, William Christian, Colonel, first battalion, William Christian, Major, first battalion, Evan Shelby, Surgeon, first battalion, Joseph Starke, Colonel second battalion, Charles Lewis, Surgeon, second battalion, George Hart
Captains: John Campbell, William Russell, Robert Boggs, John Sevier, James Thompson, Isaac Bledsoe, John Montgomery, Daniel Smith, Aaron Lewis, Jacob Womack, William Cocke, Benjamin Gray, William Preston, Thomas Madison
Privates: Robert Campbell, Thomas Hobbs (wounded), Thomas Berry (wounded), Christopher Warren, Matthew Allison, John Finley, Andrew Wallace, Humphrey Higgins, James Sawyers, William Crawford, James Buford, Joshua Renfro, William Hogart, Ephraim Dunlap, Michael Ocheltree, Benjamin Thomas, John Wood, Robert Finley, William Wills, Jacob Gardner, Samuel Ewing, George Caldwell, Jacob Early, James Berry, Henley Moore, Jacob Anderson, John Adair, James Robinson, William Hicks, David Getgood, Samuel Gay, Isaac Riddle, David Smith, Edward Ross, Gideon Farris, J__ Womack, John Furnham, William Frogg, William Milum, Lance Woodward, Francis , Katherine, Daniel Henderson, Amos Eaton, David Rouncessal?, Samuel Douglas (wounded), ? Duncan (killed), George Berry (wounded), John Reburn, Abraham Crabtree, David McKenzie, Christopher Irwin, John Cochran, James Young, William Meade, David Wallace, Stephen Holston, Patrick Murphy, Isbea Talbert, James Campbell, Matthew Scott, Thomas Logwood, Robert Preston, Robert Campbell, Jacob Cogor, Daniel Kidd, John Goff, Cuthbert Jones, Samuel Campbell, William Markland, Joseph Russell, Jonathon Martin, Gideon Morris, William Ingram, Robert Stewart, James Berry, Daniel Smith, William Haynes, John McClanahan, James Arnold, Hanrist Carlock, Andrew Little, Thomas Berry, John Latham, William Ramsey, James Bradley, Lambert Lane, John Rice, Joab Springer, Onsby Carney, John Crane, Benjamin Drake, Benjamin Rice, David Irwin, George Miller, Thomas Ramsey, Thomas Fowler, Thomas Smith, George Coon, William Rice, Isaac Rounceval, James McFarland, William Ross, Philip Love, David English, James Tuttle, Meredy Rains, Michael Gleaves, Christina Schultz, Samuel Ingram, James Newell, William Bennett, Littleton Brooks, Michael Rowland, William Mitchell, William Rice, Philip Williams, James Harris, Arthur Onsbey, William Nettles, John Harris, Jr., William Lane, David Hunter, Michale Ohair, John Walker, Ebenezer Meads, Samuel Campbell, Francis Hamilton, James Daugherty, Frederick Frasly, William Edmiston, David Carson, James McCain, James Steel, Robert Gambell, Daniel McCormack, Jonathon Jennings, George Parker, William Peoples, valentine Little, Samuel fair, Alexander Butler, William Brown, Leonard Helm, James Greer, Samuel Ewin, Richard Thomas, Robert Stephenson, Robert McElheney, Isaac Thomas, John Craig, Adam Brazsteter, Michael Dougherty, James McCarthy, William Henson, Charles Rice, Jesse Henson, Jonathon Mulhey, Moses Winters, John Harris, Sr., James Beats, John McFarland, Nicholas Edwards, James Kelley, James Richardson, James Hamilton, George Newland, James Williams, Henry Whitner, Henry Richardson, John Muldrough, Michael Francisco, James Mason, Solomon Kendrick, William White, Charles Cocke, John Craig, Robert McNutt, Jacob Stearns, John Simpson, Thomas Price, Peter Hoff, Henry Rice, William Lane, Philip Mulhey, Sr., Lewis Crane, Isaac Lindsay, Samuel Martin, James McClern, James Smith, Lewis Whitner, William calvert, Samuel Eason, James McDonald, Samuel Montgomery, William carr, John Gibson, James Walker, Philip Mulhey, Jr., Andrew Cowan, John Adair, James Cameron, George Scott, Joseph Perrin, Nicholas Edwards, John Houzshel, Adam Bransteter, James Deran, George Caldwell, Jeremiah Rush, Robert Hardwicke, Joseph McReynolds, Benjamin Logan, Robert Cowden, Andrew Irwin, John Gordon, Thomas Goldsby, Peter Turney, Anthony Bledsoe, John Walker, Evan Williams, Edward Piggett, Jacob Vance

~1777491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of Robert Berry in Washington County, Virginia

29 April 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that Thomas Berry Junr. Mark for his Cattle and Hogs which is a Crop off the left ear and a crop & slit in the right be Recorded.

27 May 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that William Montgomery, William MaGahey, Adam Kerr, James Doran and Thomas Berry Jun. or any three of them being first sworn appraise the Estate of Michael Montgomery and make return to next Court.

27 Aug. 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
On motion made for a Road to be cut from the Court House to the Wataga Road near Phillips Mill. It is ordered that Thomas Berry, Adam Keer & Josiah Gamble being first sworn as the Law directs do view the lands whereon the said Road is proposed to go and make report to next Court of the convenience and inconvenience of said Road.

30 Sept. 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
The report of Thomas Berry, Adam Kerr & Josiah Gamble of a Road to viewed from the Court House through the great Knobbs to intersect the Watauga Road opposite to Phillips Mill find there can be a wagon Road got on the proposed way. Ordered that the Road be cut from the Court House through the Knobbs agreeable to the above report.

30 Sept. 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that Thomas Berry Jun. be surveyor of the Road from the Knobbs to the Watago Road & that James Montgomery, Gent. give him a list of Tithables.

27 Aug. 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a court continued and held for Washington County August 27, 1777 Ordered that a certificate be given to Thomas Berry representing his receiving a wound in his Breast Sept. 4th 1776 by a shot from the Indians when in the service of his country and continued ill to the first of June 1777.

27 Aug. 177756

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800 by Preston Lewis Summers
At a court continued and held for Washington County
On a motion for a Road to be cut from the Court House to the Wataga Road near Phillips Mill. It is ordered that Thomas Berry, Adam Kerr & Josiah Gamble being the first sworn as the Law directs do view the lands whereon the said Road is proposed to go and make report to next Court of the convenience of said Road.

18 Mar. 177856

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
A Jury sworn to try the cause depending between the Common wealth of Virginia Plantiff & Peter Reazor Defendant Viz: William Bowen, James Kerswell, Robert Wilson, David Ward, James Fowler, John Rodgers, John Logan, Abraham Goodpasture, Thomas Price, Thomas Berry, John Cusick and George Finley, Returned Verdict for Plantiff and assess the Damage at one Hundred pounds and two years imprisonment and his expenses to be discharged out of his fine which is ordered to be recorded.

18 Nov. 177856

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
The last Will & Testament of Benjamin Gray exhibited in Court and proved by the oaths of Joseph Lusk, William Davison and Thomas Berry witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.

~1779491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Birth of David Berry in Washington County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate partially based on his first appearance in own household in county tax records)

18 Aug. 177956

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Nicolas Brabstone Plt against James Herris Defendant in Case.
This Day came the parties by their Attorneys and thereupon came also a Jury to wit John Blackmore, David Looney, James Fulkison, James Berry, John Anderson, John Kinkead, Thomas Berry, Patrick Porter, Robert Crow, William Beatie, Abraham McClelan and Westley White who being elected tried and Sworn the truth to spake upon the Issue found upon their Oath do say that the Defendant is not guilty in manour and form as the Plantiff against him hath complained therefore it is concedered by the Court that the Plaintiff take nothing by his Bill but for his false Clamour be in Mercy & C, and the said Defendant go hence without pay and recover against the plantiff for his Costs by him about his Defence in this behalf Expended.
This day came the parties by their Attorneys and thereupon came also a Jury to Wit John Blackmore, Andrew Greear, James Fulkison, James Berry, John Anderson, John Kinkead, Thomas Berry, Patrick Porter, Robert Crow, William Beatie, John Jamison and Westley White who being Elected and tried and Sworn the Truth to Spake upon the Issue Joined upon their Oath do say that the Defendant is guilty in manour and form as the Plantiff against him hath complained (therefore it is concedered by the Court) and they do assess the Plantiff Damages by occasion of the Defendants nonperformance of a certain bargain and agreement to twelve Hundred pounds and Costs therefore it is concedered by the Court that the plantiff recover against said Defendant his Damages in form aforesaid assesses and his Costs in his behalf Expended and the said Defendant in Mercy & C.

21 Mar. 178056

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that Thomas Berry, James Doran, Joseph Alexander and James Allexander being first Sworn Appraise part of the Estate of Robert Lowry Deceased and make Return to the next Court.

23 Nov. 178056

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that Robert Edmondson Gent. be recommended to his Excellency the Governor as a fit and proper person for Captain of the Militia of the County of Washington and that James Huston, Alexander Montgomery & Patrick Campbell be recommended for Lieutenants and Samuel Buchanan, Thomas Berry, Henry Smith, Robert McFarland, William Greer & John Kennedy be recommended for Ensigns.

1777 - 1780570

History of Southwest Virginia 1746 - 1786
Washington County 1777 - 1870
Washington County, Virginia Militia Officers
Ensign Thomas Berry

~1781523

Williamson County, Tennessee, Deed Book A1-166
Birth of Bazil Berry in Washington County, Virginia
(Birth date estimate based upon his name being mentioned by his father in an 1802 Tennessee land transfer.)

15 May 178156

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a court held for Washington County
We present Jacob Hise, Abraham Leafavour and Widow Meek for keeping Tipling Houses on the Information of Joseph Snodgrass. Also Abraham Leafavour and Thomas Berry Junior for keeping Tipling Houses on the Information of James Montgomery. Also Thos. Berry Junior surveyor of the Main Road from Wataga for neglect of Duty on the Information of James Montgomery. Josiah Gamble, Thomas Berry and Adam Kerr being duly sworn have viewed the Road from the Great Knobb to the Court House and find that a good Road can be had from Mr. Acklands along the main cross Street by William Davisons field from thence a sleight Course to Josiah Gambles and from thence to the Great Knobbs

10 Aug. 178169

Washington County, Virginia Survey Book, page 180
Surveyed for Thomas Berry Jun.r Three hundred and Seventy four acres of land in Washington County by virtue of a Certificate from the Commissioners for the district of Washington and Montgomery Counties and agreeable to an act of the General Assembly of Virginia passed in May 1779 lying on the Fifteen Mile Creek.
Beginning on a hiccory & white oak under the knobs corner on Thomas Hills land;

S. 50 E. 60 poles

to a hiccory and white oak on Hills line & with his line

S. 22 E. 58 poles

to a white oak S.E. side waggon road;

N. 54 1/2 E. 21 poles

to a white oak and small black oak sapling;

S.31 E. 80 poles

to a white oak leaving Thomas Hills land thence down the knobs;

S. 51 W. 166 poles

to two white oaks & chestnut in Berry’s Gap;

West 44 poles

to two white oaks N.W. side of the knobs;

N. 74 W. 70 poles

to a white oak on 15 Mile Creek;

West 84 poles

to two white oaks by the knobs;

S. 52 W. 86 poles

to two white oaks by the knobs;

S. 23 E. 22 poles

to a black oak in a draft;

S. 58 W. 50 poles

to two white oaks below the head of a spring;

N. 10 W. 76 poles

to two small white oak saplings by the waggon road;

N. 35 E. 80 poles

to a chesnut on the west end of the knobs;

N. 55 E. 324 poles

to the Beginning

10th June 1782 David Carson, D.S.
Robt. Preston, S.W.C.
We the Commissioners for the district of Washington and Montgomery counties do certify that Thomas Berry is entitled to four hundred acres of land in Washington County by a settlement made in the year 1769 on the fifteen Mile creek the place where the sd. Berry now lives. As witness our hands this 10th day of August 1781
Teste: James Reid, C.C.C. Jas. Cabell, Harry Innes, R. Cabell, Commrs.

20 Nov. 178156

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
A Grand Jury Sworn (Viz) William Scott foreman, John Berry, Thomas Berry, Alexander Breckenridge, George Edgar, Andrew Davis, David Gatgood, James Logan, James Herrald, Robert Preston, William McMullen, James Craig, Samuel Duff, James Carswell, George Finley, William Gilmore, Charles Hays, Samuel Edmondson, Simeon Cotrell, John Diskins.

20 Mar. 178256

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Ordered that John Lowry, Thomas Berry, Alexander Breckenridge and Samuel Evans or any three of them being first sworn appraise the Estate of Thomas Hill Deceased and make Return to Court.

22 May 178256

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a court continued and held for Washington County 1782
Ordered that John Berry, Alexander Doran, Adam Kerr and Thomas Berry Junior appraise the Estate of Michael Montgomery Deceased and make return to next Court.

1782491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Capt. James Montgomery’s Precinct
Thomas Berry
1 Tithable      Thomas (~ 40)
1 Slave
9 Horses
16 Cattle

21 Mar. 178356

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
This day came the Parties by their attornies and thereupon came also a Jury (to-wit) David Beatie, Jr., David Beaties Sr., Alex. Brechenridge, Jas. Berry, Wm. Lowrey, Robt. Huston, Robt. Trimble, Wm. Beatie, Sam. Vance, Thomas Berry, Jas Carswell and David Gatgood.

May 178374,524

Washington County Judgement Book 1, page 14
John Ried for the Commissioners of the Kings Mountain Plunder Dr. Writ vs Johnston & Berry
suit against Thomas Berry
suit against John Berry
suit against Samuel McChesney
suit against McCauley
suit against McFerren
suit against Billingsley Gibson
suit against William Willox
suit against James Gilleland

1783491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Capt. James Montgomery’s Precinct
T. Berry Jr.
1 Tithable      Thomas (~ 41)
2 Slaves
19 Horses
11 Cattle

20 Aug. 178356

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Jacob Young Plaintiff) against Israel Harmon Defendant)
This day came the parties by their Attornies and thereupon came a Jury to wit John Walker, Hance Hamilton, William Craig, Thomas Berry, Alexander Breckenridge, Ricard Poston, Samuel Scott, William Greet, William Keer, John Kerr, James Roberts and Frederick Friley who being elected tried and sworn the truth to speak upon the issue joined upon their Oaths do say that the defendant is guilty in manner and form as the Plaintiff against him hath declared and that they do assess the Plaintiffs damages by Occasion thereof to thirty five pounds besides his Costs therefore it is considered by the Court that the Plaintiff recover against the said defendant his damages aforesaid in form aforesaid assessed and his Costs by him in this behalf expended and the defendant in Mercy & c.

1784491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Alexander Montgomery’s Return
Tho.s Berry Jun.r
1 Tithable      Thomas (~ 42)
2 Slaves
14 Horses
15 Cattle
Tax 3. 1.9

18 May 178456

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
Esther Rafferty, Plaintiff) against Samuel Kincart, Defendant) In Debt
This day came the parties by their Attornies and thereupon came also a Jury To wit: James Crow, Thomas Berry, Thomas Hardwick, Archelaus Brumley, David Gatgood, Joseph Vance, David Beaties, William Hiter, George Clark, John Campbell, Exekial Kelley and William White who being elected tried and sworn the truth to speak upon the issue joined upon their Oaths do say that the defendant doth owe to the Plaintiff one thousand five hundred and Sixty pounds by the Scale of Depreciation twenty one pounds seven shillings and Costs. Therefore it is considered by the Court that the Plaintiff recover against the said defendant Fourteen pounds with Interest for the same to be computed after the rate of five per Centum per annum from the thirtieth day of October 1781 until the time of paymet and her Costs in this behalf Expended.

20 May 178456

Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769 – 1800
At a Court continued and held for Washington County
This day came the parties by their attornies and thereupon came also a Jury to-wit Alex. Breckenridge, Thos. Berry, George Clark, Elijah Smith, Mathew Wiloughby, Robert Kennedy, Thos. Hardwick, Thos. Stewart, Alex. Moore, Thos. Montgomery, David Beatie and William Kerr.

20 June 1785574

The Library of Virginia Land Office Grants S, 1785-1786, p. 7, (Reel 59)
Margin Notation: Thomas Berry Jun.r, 374 Acres, Washington
Patrick Henry Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting. Know ye, that by Virtue of a Certificate in Right of Settlement Given by the Commissioners for adjusting the Titles to unpatented lands in the District of Washington and Montgomery and in Consideration of the Ancient Composition of Two pounds Sterling paid by Thomas Berry Junior into the Treasury of this Commonwealth, There is Granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said Thomas Berry Junior a Certain Tract or parcel of Land Containing Three hundred and Seventy four Acres by Survey bearing date the tenth day of June one Thousand Seven hundred and Eighty two lying and being in the County of Washington on fifteen mile Creek and Bounded as followeth. To wit,

Beginning at a Hickory and white oak under the Knobs corner on Thomas Hills land, South fifty degrees East Sixty Poles to a Hickory and white oak on Hills line and with his line South twenty two degree East fifty eight poles to a white oak South Eastside of a Waggon Road, North fifty four and a half degrees East twenty one poles to a white oak and Small black oak Sapling South twenty one degrees East Eighty poles to a White oak, leaving Thomas Hills land, thence down the Knobs South fifty one degrees West one hundred and Sixty Six poles to two white oaks and Chesnut in Berrys Gap, West forty four poles to two white oaks north West side of the Knobs north Seventy four degrees West Seventy poles to a white oak on fifteen Mile Creek, West Eight four poles to two white oaks by the knobs, South fifty two degrees West Eighty Six Poles to two white oaks by the knobs, South twenty three Degrees East Seventy two poles to a black oak in a draft, South fifty eight degrees West fifty poles to two white oaks below the head of a Spring North Ten degrees West Seventy Six poles to two small white oak Saplings by the Waggon Road, North thirty five degrees East Eighty poles to a Chesnut on the West end of the Knobs, north fifty five degrees East three hundred and twenty four poles to the Beginning

With its appurtenances. To have and to hold the said Tract or parcel of Land With its appurtenances to the said Thomas Berry Junior and his Heirs forever. In Witness whereof the said Patrick Henry Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia whereof the said Patrick Henry Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia hath hereunto set his Hand and Caused the Lesser Seal of the said Commonwealth To be Affixed at Richmond, on the Twentieth day of June in the years of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Eighty five and of the Commonwealth the Ninth.
P. Henry

24 April 178680,525

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 114
In the name of God, Amen. That I Samuel Henry of Washington County, Virginia being weak in body but of sound memory and Judgment blessed be God for all his mercies Calling to mind the mortality of the body and that it is appointed for all ment once to die do recommend my soul to God who gave it & my body to be buried in a decent Christian manner at the discretion of my Executors and as for what worldly Estate goods and Chattels it has pleased God to bless one with in this life at this time I do order and bequeath in following manner; and first I order that the Land I bought from Archibald Maginnis be sold at the discretion of my Executors and my other effects that can be spared, and all my lawful debts to be paid. I leave and bequeath to my beloved wife Elizabeth the thirds of the plantation I live on and the third of the plantation I bought from George Berry, during her widowhood and in she marries her third part afterwards to be valued by men what it is to be, and her to be paid what is just and one Cow and year old heifer her choice, the black horse & her saddle & bridle one bed and furniture the dresser furniture her own pot and little Over her wheels & Reel and one Chest and two Sheep her choice. I leave and bequeath to my two sons Robert and Charles to them their heirs and assigns the plantation I bought from George Berry equal chares according to Quantity and Quality and the plantation I now live on I leave to my son James to his heirs and assigns. I leave to my three daughters Mary, Sarah and Jean a ten pound horse saddle and bridle and a Cow to each of them to be paid as follows (to wit) Robert to pay Mary, Charles to pay Sarah and James to pay Jean two years after said Robert, Charles and James are come of age and if it should be that another lawful heir should appear I desire allow and appoint James Henry my brother, James Berry Robert Kinhead and my beloved wife Elizabeth to make it an equal share which my sons Robert Charles and James are to pay when it comes to age, and I further allow that my children be raised Schooled and cloathed out of my personal Estate and if it should be that any of my heirs should die under age I allow that their share shall fall to the other of the same sex females to females the Males to the Males and further I allow my brother James Henry, James Berry, Robert Kinkead and my beloved wife Elizabeth to Execute this my last Will and and I do hereby revoke & disannul all other Wills & Testaments and Testament and do Ratify and confirm this to be my Last Will and Testament. In Witness my hand and seal this twenty fourth day of April one thousand seven hundred and Eight six.
Samuel Henry (seal)
Witnesses present
Adam Hope
Thomas Berry
Mary Berry

17 Aug. 1786525

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 114
At a court held for Washington County
The last Will and Testament of Samuel Henry deceased exhibited in Court and proven by the Oaths of Thomas Berry and Mary Berry Witnesses thereto, and Ordered to be Recorded.
Test. John Campbell C.W.C.

1786491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Alexander Montgomery’s Return
Thomas Berry
1 Tithable      Thomas (~ 44)
12 Horses
13 Cattle

5 June 1787491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry
1 White Tithable > 21            Thomas (~ 45)
2 White Tithables 16 - 21      Thomas III (~20 ?), William (~20)
1 Black < 16
15 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules
20 Cattle

15 Sept. 1787526,527

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book A, page 199
Thomas Berry, North Carolina Patent No. 547
By an Act for the relief of the Officers and Soldiers of the Continental Line, in consideration of the bravery and zeal of Thomas Berry, a private in the said line, granted unto said BERRY 429 acres in Davidson County on the north fork of main Harpeth about one mile and a half above where the west fork and main Harpeth meet. Adjoining land of Thomas Edmondson’s entry. Surveyed for said Berry 28 Dec 1785 by Isaac Roberts, D.S., in consequence of Military Warrant No. 711. Located 23 Feb 1785. Reg. 23 Apr 1788.

15 Nov. 1787526,527

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book A, page 198
Thomas Berry, North Carolina Patent No. 640.
By an Act for the relief of the officers and Soldiers of the Continental Line, in consideration of the bravery and zeal of Azariah Massey, a private in the said line, granted unto Thomas Berry, assignee of Azariah Massey, a tract of land containing 640 acres in Davidson County on a small creek that empties into the Tennessee River on the north side of said river known by the name of Indian Creek. Surveyed for Thomas Berry 1 Apr 1786 by Isaac Roberts, DS in consequence of Military Warrant No. 1112. Located 23 Nov 1785. Reg. 23 Apr 1788.

15 Nov. 1787526,527

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book A, page 199
Thomas Berry North Carolina Patent No. 639.
By an Act for the relief of the Officers and Soldiers of the Continental Line, in consideration of the bravery and zeal of William Morgan, a private in the said line, granted unto Thomas Berry, assignee of William Morgan, a tract of land containing 274 acres in Davidson County on a small creek that empties into the Tennessee river known by the name of Indian Creek. Surveyed for Thomas Berry 8 Jan 1786 by Isaac Roberts, DS, in consequence of Warrant No. 1398. Located 23 Dec 1785. Reg. 23 Apr 1788.

16 Nov. 1787526,527

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book A, page 200
Thomas Berry North Carolina Patent No. 638.
By an Act for the relief of the Officers and Soldiers of the Continental Line, in consideration of the bravery and zeal of John Conner, a private in the said line, granted unto Thomas Berry, assignee of John Conner, a tract of land containing 274 acres in Davidson County on a small creek that empties into the north side of Tennessee River known by the name of Indian Creek. Joining Thomas Berry’s entry No. 1398. Surveyed for Thomas Berry 20 Jan 1786 by Isaac Roberts, DS, in consequence of Military Warrant No. 1397. Located 23 Dec 1785. Reg. 24 Apr 1788.

20 Oct 1788491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry ‘Jakey’
1 White Tithable                  Thomas (~ 46)
1 White Tithable 16 - 21      John ? (~19)
1 Black 12 - 16
16 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

4 July 1789491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~47)
1 Black 12 - 16
18 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

4 Sept 1790491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable                    Thomas (~48)
2 White Tithables 16 - 21      George (16), James (~19)
1 Black 12 - 16
18 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

25 July 1791491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable                  Thomas (~49)
2 White Tithables 16-21      George (17), James (~20)
1 Black 12 - 16
2 Blacks > 16
13 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

8 June 1792491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jocky)
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~50)
1 White Tithable 16-21      George (18)
2 Blacks > 16
8 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

Jan 1793491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~51)
1 White Tithable 16-21      George (19)
1 Black > 16
5 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

1794491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~52)
1 White Tithable 16-21      George (20)
3 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

1794527

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book A, page 193
Thomas Berry (--) 1794, 1600 acres, N District, Grant # 354, Warrant #2035; Middle District-- North side of Elk River

1795491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry (Jockey)
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~53)
1 White Tithable 16-21      David (~16)
1 Black > 16
2 Horses, Mares, Colts & Mules

16 Feb. 1796251

Washington County, Virginia Guardian & Administrators Bonds, page 25
Know all Men, by these Presents, that we Thomas Berry, James Kincannon & John Stewart are held and firmly bound to A. Campbell, Wm. Edmiston, James Dysart Gentlemen, Justices of the Court of Washington County, now sitting, in the Sum of five hundred Dollars to the Payment whereof, well and truly to be made to the said Justics and their Successours, we bind ourselves, and each of us, our and each of our Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these Presents. Sealed with out Seals, this 16th Day of February Anno Domini One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Six and in the 20th Year of Independance.
The Condition of the above Obligation is such, that if the above bound Thomas Berry Guardian of James Philips his Executors, and Administrators, shall well and truly pay and deliver or cause to be paid and delivered, unto the said James Philips Orphan of James Philips deceased, all such Estate or Estates as now is, or are, or hereafter shall appear to be due to the said Orphan, when, and soon as he shall attain to lawful Age, or when thereto reuired by the Justices of the said County Court, as also keep harmless the above named Justics, their and every of their Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, from all Trouble and Damages that shall or may arise about the said Estate, then the above Obligation to be Void, otherwise to remain in full Force.
Thomas Berry (seal)
Sealed and Delivered
in the Presence of
Jas. Kincannon (seal)
John Stewart (seal)

1797491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Jun. Jocky
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~55)
1 White Tithable 16-21      David (~18)
3 Horses, Mares, Colts Mules

16 Jan. 1798528

Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book D, page 375
Indenture between Thomas Berry Sen. of Washington County, VA, and Thomas Berry Junr., of Davidson County, TN, a tract of land containing 429 acres in Davidson County on the north fork of main Harpeth about one and a half miles above where the west fork and main Harpeth meets adjoining Thomas Edmondson’s entry.
Wit: John Hope, John Walker.
Rec Apr Term 1798.

10 April 1798529

Davidson County, Tennessee, Court Minutes 1792-1799:447
Deed Thomas Berry Sen to Thomas Berry Junr. proven by John Hope.

1798491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Jocky
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~56)
1 White Tithable 16-21      David (~19)
1 Black 16-21
4 Horses Tax of Horse: .35
10 Stud Horses Rate of Covering: .36
Total Amt. of Tax .75

16 Dec. 1798120

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 2, page 209
In the name of god amen, the sixteenth of December one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight. I, Thomas Berry, of the County of Washington and State of Virginia, being weak in body but sound in mind and knowing that all flesh must yield to death when it shall please god to call, I do hereby make constitute and ordain and declare this to be my last Will and Testament in manner and form following revolking and anuling by these present all and every testement or testaments will or wills heretofore by me made and declare either by word or writing and this to be taken only for my last will and testament and none other and now for the settling my temperate estate and such goods and chattals and debts as it pleased god for above my deserts to bestow on me. I do order, give and dispose the same in manner and form following, And first I do will that all my just debts be paid within convenient time after my decease by my executors hereafter named and seconded, I do give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Esther the third part of all the moveable Estate except the negros as I have left her the third part of the price of my land already. I do leave to my son George a negro named Adam and all my wearing apparel and George is to give to my daughter Rebeckah fifty dollars. I do also leave to my daughter Esther a negro girl named Phili to her and her heirs and if the girl has any children they are to go to Esther and her heirs, also my negro woman named Tawney I do allow her to be free and I leave her a milch cow. I also leave to my son John, four dollars. I also leave the rest of my estate to my children hereafter named, son James, son Thomas, my daughter in law Mary Berry, wife to son William deceased, my daughter Mary, my daughter Barbara, daughter Rebeckah, my daughter Elizabeth, my daughter Susannah, my son Francis to be equally divided among them. I also leave to my grandson Thomas Dryden my best saddle. I also will that David Dryden and Samuel McChesney and David Lowry shall be my Executors given under my hand and seal this sixteenth of December 1798.
Witnesses present
Jonathan Dryden Thomas Berry LS
William Palmer

20 Aug. 1799120

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 2
At a court held for Washington County
The last will and Testament of Thomas Berry deceased was exhibited into court and proved by the oaths of Jonathan Dryden and William Palmer the witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of David Dryden, David Lowry and Samuel McChesney the Executors thereon named who took the oath of Executors presented by law and together with David Craig, David McCord and James Maxwell their securities entered into and acknowledged their bonds in the sum of four thousand dollars with conditions as the law directs. A certificate for the probate of the said will is therefore granted them in due form excud. Teste Andrew Russell

20 Aug. 1799492

Washington County, Virginia Deed Book 2, page 208
THIS INDENTURE made the twentieth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine between Thomas Berry Sen.r and Mary his wife of the one part and James Wilson of the other part both of the County of Washington and State of Virginia WITNESSETH that the said Thomas Berry and Mary his wife for and in consideration of the sum of forty dollars current money of Virginia the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge the said Thomas Berry hath granted bargained and sold and by these presents doth grant bargain and sell unto the said James Wilson and his heirs one certain tract or parcel of Land containing twenty acres be the same more or less lying in the said County and State aforesaid and is part of the tract the said Berry now lives on and is bounded as follows BEGINNING at a black oak and white oak on the old line South fifty two degrees West twenty poles to two white oaks South twenty three degrees East twenty two poles to a red oak in a draught South fifty eight West fifty pole to two white oaks below the head of a spring North ten degrees West seventy six poles to two white oak saplings by the waggon road thence North thirty five East twenty five poles to a hiccory thence South fifty three degrees West fifty poles to a hiccory thence South fifty three degrees West fifty seven and a half poles to the BEGINNING together with its appurtenances TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances unto the said James Wilson and his heirs forever And the said Thomas Berry and Mary his wife and their heirs do covenant with the said James Wilson and his heirs the said tract or parcel of Land they the said Thomas Berry and Mary his wife and their heirs the said tract or parcel of Land will forever warrant and defend against the claims of all persons whosoever. In Witness whereof the said Thomas Berry and Mary his wife hath subscribed their names and affixed their seals the day and year above written.
Thomas Berry SS
Mary Berry SS
At a Court held for Washington County the 20th day of August 1799.
This Indenture of bargain and Sale was acknowledged in court by the above named Thomas Berry and Mary his wife she having been first privily examined as the Law directs and ordered to be recorded.
Teste. Andw. Russell DC

1799491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Jockey
1 White Tithable                Thomas (~57)
1 White Tithable 16-21      David (~20)
1 Black >16
1 Black 12-16
6 Horses
1.60 Total Amt. of Taxes

23 Oct. 1799492

Washington County, Virginia Deed Book 2, pages 229, 230
KNOW all men by these presents that I Samuel Duff of the county of Pendleton in the State of South Carolina for divers causes and considerations me hereunto moving have made constituted and appointed and by these presents do make constitute and appoint my truly friend William Doran of the county of Washington in the State of Virginia my true and lawful attorney with full power and authority for me and in my name to make sign, seal and deliver unto William and James Berry late of the county of Washington in the state of Virginia, sons of Thomas Berry, a good use and sufficient conveyence for one hundred and thirty nine acres of Land in the said county of Washington on both sides of Wolf Creek the waters of Holstein river, being the same tract of land wheron I lived in the said county of Washington and sold by me to the said William Berry and James Berry, for which they have my bond with John Duff my security in the sum of five hundred pounds bearing date the first day of August 1791 with condition to make them the said William & James Berry their heirs or assigns a good sufficient Right to said tract of Land on or before the 1st day of August 1793 -- With proper covenants for warranting the said back of Land to the said William & James Berry and their heirs forever; On these William Doran my said attorney may make the conveyance of the said tract of Land to the assigns or assignees of the said Wm. Berry & James Berry. Hereby ratifying and confirming, all and every thing done and performed by said attorney by virtue of these presents holding his acts herein as obligotary upon me as if I had been personally present and had done and performed the same myself. In witness whereof I the said Samuel have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal this twenty third day of October one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine.
Sealed and delivered
in presence of
John Duff Samuel Duff L.S.
John Duff

1800491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr.
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~58)
1 Black >16
1 Black 12-16
6 Horses
1.60 Tax

20 May 1800406

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 2, page 273
To all whom it may concern know ye that I Thomas Berry having lost or mislaid Mary Philips Bond We give this my receipt against said Bond and for the delivery of my Bond Executed to her Now rec.d by me. I do give the said Mary Phillips a full discharge of the obligation in her Bond to me given under my hand this 20th day of May one thousand eight hundred.
Thomas Berry
Test: Cha.s Carson
At a court held for Washington county the 21st day of May 1800
This receipt was proved in court by the oath of Charles Carson a witness thereto and ordered to be recorded.
Attest: And.w Russell D.C.

27 Oct. 180021

Augusta County, Virginia Circuit Court Causes Ended
Simon Eli vs. Robert and William Davis and Alexr. Wiley--O. S. 36; N. S. 12--Bill 27th October, 1800.

In 1771 William McGhee (McGaughey) made a settlement in the Turkey Cove in Powell's Valley in present Lee County, and obtained a certificate from the Commissioners in 1779. James Arbuckle as assignee of Jephtha Messay also obtained a certificate for lands adjoining settled in 1776 which was transferred to defendants. Vincent Hobbs deposes that he first became acquainted with the lands in 1773, and he moved his family into the Cove in 1780 and found Rachel Arbuckle and her family there on a tract she claimed by Jeptha Messay's improvement. In the Spring following all the families moved away because of the Indians being troublesome. John Thompson deposes that in February, 1778, he came to the Turkey Cove to look at a tract he expected to buy. Joseph Head's deposition: Peter Cloud first began to improve the land. Thomas Berry deposed that he knew of McGehee's improvement in 1771. William Collier deposes that in the winter and spring preceding Christian's campaign he remained at the Camp of Thomas Lovelady. William was a hunter and trapper. Thomas Sowers, now called Soward, came in with Messey. The Indians became troublesome and the people had to leave.

1801491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr.
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~59)
1 Black >16
4 Horses
1.24 Tax

11 Jan. 1802531

Williamson County, Tennessee, Deed Book A1-166
Deed of Gift (Plat shown) Thomas Berry of Washington County, VA, for love and good wishes for my sons William Barry, James Barry and Bassel Barry of Williamson County, TN, tract of 640 acres in said county on both sides of Big Harpeth and bounded on north by John Wilson’s land and south by William Wilson, east by John Edmonson and William [Wingate], west by Thomas Taylor. Wit: William McGaugh, John Batty.

~1800 - 180421

Augusta County, Virginia Circuit Court Causes Ended
Simon Ely vs. James Thompson--O. S. 36; N. S. 12--(See Eli vs. Davis, supra; same case.) Robert Davis deposes, 1802, that in 1779, he and Alex. Wiley drove cattle to Turkey Cove in Powell's Valley where they found Peter Cloud living, tending stock for James Thompson. He and Alex continued on to the Cumberland country and then returned. William Collier deposes. David Dryden deposes that in 1771 he removed to the country now called Washington, and came to the house of Thomas Berry. William Blanton deposes, September, 1803, that he has been acquainted with Powell's Valley since 1770 and was on a hunting party there in 1771-1772. He has now been living in the Valley 11-12 years. Vincent Hobbs deposes 1803, he first became acquainted with the land in 1773 and settled there in 1780. Nathan Richardson deposes, 1804, that he became acquainted with the land in 1770 or 1771 on a hunting trip and met there Thomas Berry and McGehee. Philip Catrine deposes, 1804, that he had been acquainted with the Valley 25 years. Arbuckle was living there then. Vincent Hobbs deposes, 1804, that he first became acquainted in 1770-1771; has lived on the land 17 years. Collier was always called Lying Bill Collier. Robert Preston deposes (brother to Walter Preston). Thomas Berry deposes, September, 1803, that in 1770, or 1771, he went to Powell's Valley with William McGahee, who was then a stranger in the county and went with Thos. on a hunting party. Thomas went up the country after some Buffaloes and when he returned he saw some trees deadened which McGahee claimed as his improvement. McGahee when they went on the hunting party owned a place on Holston bought from one Walling, where he lived about 70 miles from Powell's Valley. Thomas Soward deposes, 1802, is about (56) fifty-six years old; in Russell County; in 1776 he and Jephta Massey, his brother-in-law, settled at Turkey Cove, planted corn, cabbage, peach stone, apple seed and remained on the land until obliged to remove on account of the Indian War. John Hoover deposes, 1804

1802491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~60)
2 Blacks >16
6 Horses

1 June 1803407

Unfiled Court Papers, Washington County Historical Society
It is agreed between Thomas Berry of Washington County in the State of Virginia and his son David of the same place that they will cultivate the whole of the plantation wherein the said Thomas now liveth in the said county of Washinton, at their mutual and equal opences, including the charge of farming utensils horses for working the same, and the labour of hands & then that they will take equal portions of the profets and produce thereof. Witness our hands and Seals this first day of June one thousand eight hundred and three.
Thomas Berry [seal]
David Berry [seal]
Attest:
William Dryden
Roger Keys

21 June 1803532

Washington County, Virginia Deed Book 3, page 55
Know all men by these presents that I Thomas Berry of the County of Washington in the Commonwealth of Virginia for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which I have for my son David Berry of the County and State aforesaid, and as an inducement for him to remain with me upon a certainty, and having heretofore provided for all my other children, do provide for him in the following manner, first, I do give, and by these presents hath given unto my said son David Berry and his heirs forever one undivided moiety of the tract of land whereon I now live in the said County of Washington to include one half of the cleared land on the said plantation, and to be laid off and separated from the other moiety in such a manner as not to interfere with or include the mansion house on the said plantation, or any of the out houses or the spring appurtenant thereto. Secondly I give unto my said son David Berry one male slave named Edmond and to heirs forever. Thirdly, After the death of my wife Mary, my son Jonathan and myself my said son David is to have all the residue of my said plantation and the same is then hereby given unto him should he be then living but if not then the same is hereby given unto his heirs and their heirs and their heirs forever. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this first day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three.
Thomas Berry S.S.
Sealed and delivered in
presence of
William Dryden
Rodger Keys
At a Court held for Washington County the 21st day of June 1803
This deed of Gift from Thomas Berry to David Berry was acknowledged in Court by the said Thomas Berry and ordered to be recorded.
Attest D. Campbell D.C.

28 Sept. 1803521

Thomas Berry Deposition, Abington, Washington County, Virginia
Simon Ely vs. James Thompson--O. S. 36; N. S. 12
Augusta County, Virginia
Thompson vs Ely In Chancery Holder at Staunton
Pursuant to a Commission so as directed for the Chancery district Court holder[?] at Staunton we met at the house of James Allen in the Town of Abington on the 28th day of September 1803 and caused Thomas Berry to come before us a Witness in behalf of James Thompson being sworn according to law deposeth and says -- that in the year 1770 or 1771 he went to Powell’s Valley in company with William McGahee (McGaughey) who was then a stranger in the country and went out with this Deponent on a hunting party.
Ques. by the Off. How long did you remain there?
A. O and McGahee stayed a few days & then returned home
Ques At that time did McGahee make any improvement in the Valley?
A. I went up the valley after some Buffaloes and when I returned to the Camp I saw some Trees down and some brush heaped and McGahee said that was ‘his’ improvement.
Ques. What sort of a place was the improvement?
A. It was at a large Spring near the Mountain however it was the nearest Spring to the mountain about 2 miles from the River & nearer to the Mountain than the River as well I now recollect.
Ques. Do you recollect to have seen any other smaller springs about that big spring?
A. I recollect one other that runs into the branch of --?-- spring spring about which is a little marshy place covered with grap[e]
Ques: Did the big spring rise out of a butt of a M---?-- or large Ridge -- or did it arise in a flat plane?
A. It did not rise out of any hill but was is a pretty flat place.
Ques. Was McGahee over at the Valley after that time when you were with him?
A. He was not, to my knowledge.
Ques. When did McGahee live at the time of your said hunting party?
A. He had bought a plantation on Walling in the --?-- & lived about seventy miles or upward from the Valley -- but I will not be certain or to the district.
Ques. Did he McGahee build a Cabbin; or raise any crop whatever to your knowledge?
A. He did not.
Ques. Were you there afterwards?
A. I think I was in the year following & returned there.
Ques. Did you then discover any improvement there?
A. I did not, more than I have before described.
Ques.When McGahee obtained his Certificate from the Commissioners was it contested by any other person?
A. It was not or I think he would not have got it.
Ques. At the time he obtained the Certificate did he not know, or did he not tell you that the land was cl--?-- [claimed] by another person?
A. He might but I do not recollect perfectly.
Ques. Was the place he deaded those Tree at called Turkey Cove?
A. I do not know whar it was called -- I know it was in Powell Valley -- I afterwards understood it was called the Turkey Cove and further says not.
[signed] Thomas Berry
Sworn by and subscribed before us the said ?? day of Sept 1803 at James Allen in Abington
James Keys
Abrm. Hayter Jr.

1804491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thos. Berry, Jockey
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~62)
2 Blacks >16
5 Horses

~1800 - 180421

Augusta County, Virginia Circuit Court Causes Ended
James Fugate deposes, 1804. Henry Hoover deposes, 1804, that in 1782 he drove Gen. Shelby's stock to range in Turkey Cove. Nathan Richardson aged about sixty-five (65) years, deposes, 1802, that in 1771 he was on a hunting expedition in Powell's Valley and met Thomas Berry, David Carson and William McGahee. Answer states. Jephta Massey made the first settlement, who invited Thomas Sowers to come there who made a settlement. Massey sold to Rachel Arbuckle, who although a married woman, being separated from her husband by mutual consent, lived and transacted business as a single woman. Jephtha Massey deposes in Monroe County, 5th November, 1802, in April, 1775 or 1776, he made an improvement on Turkey Cove and remained there until June, when everybody was driven away by the Indians, but returned in the fall.

21 Aug. 1804532

Washington County, Virginia Deed Book 3, pages 171, 172
THIS INDENTURE made this twenty first day of August in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and four between Thomas Berry of the County of Washington in the State of Virginia of the one part and John Berry of the County aforesaid of the the other part WITNESSETH that the said Thomas Berry for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred and fity pounds current money to him in hand paid DO bargain and sell to the said John Berry and his heirs one certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred and fity nine acres in the said County of Washington lying on the North side of Holston river and bounded as followeth to wit BEGINNING on a white oak corner for William Duff and said Berry and thence for a dividing line N52 E60 poles crossing a draught to a large poplar N75 E110 poles to a black oak on the patent line N 26 poles to a White oak N33 W144 poles to two chesnuts in a sink hole N57 W161 poles to three white oaks on the south side of a knob with Adam Hopes line S20 E102 poles to a black oak S33 E44 poles to the begining with all its appurtenances TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said tract or parcel land with all its appurtenances unto the said John Berry and his heirs to the sole use and behoof of him the said John Berry and his heirs forever And the said Thomas Berry for himself and his heirs do covenant with the said John Berry and his heirs that he the said Thomas Berry and his heirs the said tract or parcel of Land with all its appurtenances unto the said John Berry and his heirs against all persons whosoever will Warrant and shall defend. IN WITNESS whereof said Thomas Berry have hereunto subscribed his name and affixed his seal the year and day first above written.
Thomas Berry (seal)
At a Court held for Washington County the 21st day of August 1804.
This Indenture of bargain and sale was acknowledged in Court by the within named Thomas Berry and ordered to be recorded.
Attest. D. Campbell D.C.

1805491

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr.
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~63)
2 Blacks >16
5 Horses

1806530

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~64)
2 Blacks >16
4 Horses

1807530

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr.
2 White Tithables      Thomas (~65), David (~28)
2 Blacks >16
3 Horses

14 Sep 180723

The Marriages of Washington County, Virginia 1781-1853
Thomas Berry married Prudence Dickinson
[Rev. Stephen Bovell, Minister]

1809530

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~67)
2 Blacks >16
1 Black 12-16
3 Horses

1810530

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry Sr.
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~68)
2 Blacks >16
4 Horses

1810538

US Census, Washington County, Virginia, page 214
Thomas Berry
1 male > 45      Thomas (~68)
1 female > 45   Prudence (55)

1811530

Washington County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
Thomas Berry
1 White Tithable      Thomas (~69)
3 Blacks > 16
4 Horses

25 April 1812532

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 3, pages 280, 281
I Thomas Berry of the County of Washington in the State of Virginia sick and infirm in body but of sound mind disposing memory do make this my last will and testament in the following manner. I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of my estate by my executors. I give to my beloved wife, Prudence all the property which be in my possession at my decease which was hers at the time of my marriage with her. I also give and bequeath to my said wife her choices of one cow and three sheep out of my stock. I also give to my said wife my female slave Chriss during her life or widowhood, and after the decease or marriage my said wife, the said slave shall be sold on a credit of eighteen months and the money arising therefore shall be equally divided between my sons Thomas, James, John, George & Bazil. I also give to my said wife the sum of three hundred and thirty three dollars 33 1/3 cents which shall be paid to her out of the first money collected out of the sale of my estate. I direct that my bay horse Charley be sold by my coexecutors on a credit of twelve months & that the amount of his prices when collected shall be paid to my said wife Prudence. I also give to my said wife one hundred bushels of corn, twenty bushels of wheat and four barrows out of my stock of hogs. I hereby order and direct that all the lands which I may own and possess at my decease in the State of Tennessee shall be sold under the direction of my son James at publick or private sales either in large or small grants as may in his discretion best suit purchasers on such credit as he may think will be most beneficial and he is hereby authorized to convey the land thus sold to the purchasers thereof. I give & bequeath a mare which was taken by my former wife to Tennessee and now in possession of my son James, to my Grand daughters Polly and Betsey Berry, two of the daughters of William Berry my son. I give and bequeath the sum of Thirty three dollars and 33/3 cents to each one of the children of my son William Berry which he had by his first and second marriages, there being ten of them in numbers. I hereby direct that all my personal estate and the and the remaining part of my slaves shall be sold by my executors to Publick sale on a credit of Eighteen months. After the payment of my death and the following legacies I hereby order that all the residue of my estate of whatever kind it may be shall be equally divided between my sons Thomas, James, John, George & Bazil. Having made all the provision which I intended for my sons David and Robert I hereby give each of them the sum of one dollar only. My last request to my son David is that he may treat my said wife Prudence with innocent kindness and good will & permit her to dwell in my mansion house or some other house which may be convenient for her on the plantation where I now dwell. I hereby appoint my friends Andrew Russell and David Campbell executors of this my last will and testament and revoke all former wills made by me, declaring this only to be my last will and testament. Witness my hand and seal this twenty fifth day of April one thousand eight hundred and twelve. The words “Thomas” interlined on the first page in the 12th line from the top before signing. signed sealed published and pronounced by the said Thomas Berry as his last Will & Testament
Thomas Berry (seal)
James Reed

21 May 1812532

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 3, pages 280, 281
At a Court held for Washington County
The last Will and Testament of Thomas Berry dec.d was produced in Court and proven by the oath of James Reed the subscribing witness thereto --- Andrew Russell being sworn states that he was present when the said Will was executed that he saw Thomas Berry sign the same and heard him acknowledge it to be his last Will and Testament and that he (next page not copied)

18123

Holston Intelligencer and Abingdon Advertiser 1812
Married: On Saturday last by the Rev. James Harper, Major William Love, age 62 to Mrs. Prudence (Rowlett Dickinson) Berry, age 57. It is hoped she will find some consolation in the society of her new husband for her painful widowhood, which lasted the dreadful period of seven weeks.

23 June 1812532

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 3, page 289
An Inventory and Appraisement of the estate of Thomas Berry dec.d made this 23rd day of June 1812.

1 negro man named Sam

 

450.

1 negro woman named Nancy

 

350.

1 negro child named Nelson

 

50.

1 negro woman named Chriss

 

200.

1 Brown bay horse

$30

 

1 Bay horse call Charley

$40

70.

1 Brown mare

$55

 

1 Brown horse colt

$20

75.

1 Sorrel horse colt

$30

30.

1 Black cow with white face & back & her calf

 

111.

1 Brindled & white cow & her calf

 

12.

1 Cow with bell on

$12

 

one brindled cow with white back

$10

22.

1 Red brindled heifor

 

5.

1 Red brindled heifer with a white back

 

5.

1 Pided Bull

$4

 

1 Brindled Bull

$4

8.

1 Black bull white back

 

 3.

20 hogs

$18

 

5 fat pigs

$1.25

 

4 small pigs

.66

19.91

16 sheep

 

$19

1 shovel plough with colter

$2 20.

 

1 Bar share plough

$2.50

 

2 horse collars

 $1

8.50

1 pair drawing chains

$0.75

 

2 paid gears

$4.25

5.

2 hoes

 $0.25

 

1 old shovel of a plough & hammer

$0.50

.75

1 Grindstone

$0.17

 

13 Geese

$1.25

1.42

3 Chains

75 cents

 

1 looking glass 

50 cents

1.25

1 chest with drawers

 $4

 

1 buckle

$1.25

4.25

1 bed stead and cont

$1.75

1.25

1 feather bed, under bed bolster & pillow blanket counterpane not quilted

 

20.

3 1/2 print blanket

$3

 

old sheet

50 cents

3.50

1 feather bed 2 homemade sheets blanket cover lid bedsteads bolster and pillow

 

15.

1 coarse sheet

 

67 cts

1 Coffee mill 

 

$1

1 wool shears

 

1.17

Steelyards

$2

 

Jug

25 cents

 

Reed & Gears

83 cts

3.18

tin bucket

75 cents

 

2 glass mugs with handles

.25 cents

1.00

1 hat

$7.50

 

home spun great coat

$10

12.50

1 vest & pantaloons

 

 $5

1 coat waist coat & pantaloons

 

$10

1 coat & jacket mixt home spun cotton

 

 $2 17.

Corded pantaloons & black jacket

 

.75

1 pair fire irons

$4

 

1 large pewter basons

$3

7.

3 old pewter dishes

$1.50

 

5 tin cups 

50 cents

2.

3 pewter plates

75 cents

 

7 delft plates

75 cents

1.50

1 coffee pot

25 cents

 

2 tumbler & 2 stock glasses 

$1

 

large bowl

12 1/2 cents

1.37

Sundry delft ware

$2

 

Candlestick

21 cents

2.21

Knives & forks

$1

 

large tunbler

25 cents

1.25

Bailey’s Dictionary

 

.75

Jones’s Geography 2 Volumes

 

2.

1 number of small books

 

2.

Snuffrs

12 1/2 cents

 

Churn 

25 cents

.3

pot and hooks

$1.75

 

Auger

75 cents

2.50

large iron shovel

30 cents

 

small churn

50 cents

.80

Auger & skillet

$0.50

 

old iron

25 cents

75

1 Churn 

$1

 

large kettle & hooks 

$5

6.

1 Scyth and hangings

$2

 

1 fat tub

50 cents

2.50

saddle & sursingle*

$3

 

1 smoothing iron 

50 cents

3.50

leather

$6

 

old iron 

150 cents

7.50

1 womans saddle blanket & bridle

 

15.

1 pair saddle bags

$1.25

 

1 Reel

75 cents

2.

24 bushels of ryes (?)

$10 –

 

19 1/2 bushels of wheet at 50 ea

$9.75

19.75

1 Halter chain and collar

$1

 

1 loom

$4

5.

Weeding hoe & mattlock

$1

1.

Wheat and rye growing in the fields

 

28.

1 axe

$1

 

Barrel 

75 cents

 

hogshead

$1

2.75

1 strainer

25 cents

 

Vessel with soap 

$2

 

trowel

25 cts

2.50

8 lbs Wool

   

70 1/2 lbs Bacon at 6

$5.87

 

Element of Logick

75 cts

6.62

Property devised to Mrs Prudence Berry

   

1 Dark

$18

 

1 table

75 cents

 

2 Windsor chairs

75 cents

19.50

4 split bottom chairs

$1

 

 looking glass

$1

 

1 Cert

$4 .

6

2 bed stands cord beds & bedding

$45

45.

large pewter bason

$1.50

 

small bason

25 cents

1.75

1 tea kettle

 $1

 

1 pewter tankard

$1

 

Bowl

17 cents

2.17

2 tumblers with handles stock glass & tumber without a handle

$1

 

3 tea cups 3 saucers 4 tea spoons Cream jug

50 cts

1.50

Small Coffee pot

50 cents

 

1/2 bushels

.25

.75

Shovel, tongs and flat iron

75 cts

 

Frying pan

50 cents

1.25

double barrel

25 cents

 

small oven

25 cents

.50

small pot

$1

 1.

   

79.47

Andrew Russell John (his mark) Steel
Executor Robt. Edmondson
Samuel Duff

18 Aug. 1812532

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 3, page 289
At a Court held for Washington County
This Inventory and appraisement of the estate of Thomas Berry dec.d was returned to Court and ordered to be recorded.
Attest D. Campbell DC

13 Jan 1815534

Williamson County, Tennessee, Court Minute Bk 2-218
Petition of Rebecca Berry, widow of James Berry, Dec’d, for dower of 240 acres, which is the tract on which said deceased formerly resided and being Lot 2 of 640 acres deeded to said James Berry, Dec’d, Basil Berry and Wm. Berry, Dec’d, by Thomas Berry, said lot bounded ------ ...down Harpeth...adjoining Wm. Berry’s Lot 1

12 July 1816531

Williamson County, Tennessee Deed Book D D-482
Basil Berry deed to Richard Rudder for $1000 a tract of land on the Big Harpeth River containing 227 acres and 149 poles, it being Lot 3 of a tract deeded by Thomas Berry, late of Virginia, to his three sons William, James and Basil Berry, bounded by William Wilson and crossing the Big Harpeth River. Reg 12 Dec 1816.

4 Sept. 1816535

Williamson County, Tennessee Bonds 1819 - 1851, page 7
Letter of Attorney. Basil Berry do appoint my brother, Thomas Berry, as my attorney (I am intending to remove from said state of Tennessee) so that he may convey my estate which has descended to me by the will of my father, Thomas Berry, Dec’d.
Wit: Lawrence Thompson, John Bell.

17 Mar. 1817536

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 4, pages 218, 219
The Estate of Thomas Berry dec.d in account with Andrew Russell

To amount paid Prudence Berry

519.42

To the amount devised to the children of William Berry decd

333.33

To Cash paid James Orr for crying the _?__ sale

6.

To Cash paid the Clerk of Washington for fees

5.59

To Cash paid Peter Deckherd 2 1/2 days for hauling corn @ $7.50 and for hand

3 1/2 to help to load

8.75

To Cash paid Peter Deckhard for his account

3.

To Cash paid Henderson Trigg & Co for acct.

10.44

To Cash paid Charles Tate for fees & taxes

8.36

To Cash paid Peter Deckherd further sum for hauling

4.50

To Cash paid David Berry for a bridle used by the intestate

2.

To interest paid on the price of the sale Chriss by agreement of the residuary bequest

31.

To interest paid on the bequest to nine of Wm Berrys children in Tennessee

42.

Taxes paid on lands of this intestate in West Tennessee & interest thereon

75.06

Taxes paid by James Berry on lands of the intestate

23.

To Cash paid Thomas, James, Bazil, John & George Berry the residuary Legatees the sum $190 each

950.

To Cash to be pd. Edward Campbell as Counsel for the Testator in suits in the District Court vs Thompson & Davis

10.10

To a resonable recompense to the Executor for his personal trouble

219.19

 

2257.74

By amount of sales of the estate of 23 June 1812 including cash on hand

447.17

By sales of the personal items of the 2nd Nov

112.16

By sales of the slaves on the 2nd Nov 1812

1332.

By the hire of Chriss to Major Love

3.

By a saddle delivered Wm Berry at appraisement

15.

By _?_ $150 spinning wheel $167 wool to taken by Mrs. Berry

7.17

By $30 worth of corn delivered Mrs. Berry out of crop growing paid as part of a spc legacy

30.

By specific legacies delivered Mrs Berry

60.

By property devised to Mrs Berry brot with her at the marriage with the intestate

70.62

By interest on Thomas Berrys bond

23.74

By interest on James Berrys bond

15.66

By John Crawfords notes

12.

By interest on the residue of the estate

36.61

By cash of John Lawless omitted in the account of sale of the 2nd Nov 1812 as accounted for before

1.91

By interest on bond & for the price of the famale slave Chriss

4.

By leather purchased at the sale by Robert Montgomery (accounted for before)

3.25

By the hire of slaves to John Duff $18.28 interest thereon 50 cents

18.64

 

2251.74

Having carefully examined the accounts of Andrew Russell executor of the last will and testament of Thomas Berry dec.d with the estate of testator it appears that the executor has rendered a just account of all the estate which has come into his hands or with which he could be chargeable and that he has delivered the same in the payment of debts or specific legacies, vouchers for the greater part of which it is herewith submitted. The recompense for the personal trouble of the executor being 219.09 has been deemed reasonable for your commissioner when it is taken into view that the devisees or most of them resided in West Tennessee whereby it became necessary for their convenience and to avoid useless expense to furnish them with various statements and to write several letters. The executor did also make the account of each devisee and made a fair and just distribution of the estate, a work of considerable labor amongst the residuary legatees. He also had considerable trouble in taking care of the estate given out in the sale. Given under my hand this (blank) day of (blank) 1814. After making the foregoing it was discovered that a debt due from John _?_ for $1.91 another debt due from Robert Montgomery for $3.25 making $5. & has been twice accounted for by the executor through mistake. Deducting this error from the recompense, it will leave $213.93 as the actual compensation to the executor in addition to this it is said by the executor that Thos. McChesney has a claim against the testator for seven dollars or thereabouts, yet unsettled which if found to be just will reduce the recompense to the executor in the sum of $206.93.
Given under my hand this 17 day of March 1817
Edward Campbell

18 Mar. 1817536

Washington County, Virginia Will Book 4, pages 218, 219
At a Court held for Washington County
This settlement of the estate of Thomas Berry dec.d with Andrew Russell Executor of the estate of the said Thomas Berry dec.d was returned to court examined and allowed and ordered to be recorded.

July 1817537

Williamson County, Tennessee Will Book 2-351
Division of Estate of James Berry, Dec’d. Commissioners: John Bostick, Nicholas Scales, Joseph H. Scales, Edward McNail and Alexander Johnson. Divison of the land that James Berry lived on before his death. Heirs: widow Rebecca Berry, having had her dower previously laid off. Beginning for the resurvey of the whole residence of the tract at a walnut, on which Richard Rudder who purchased of Basil Berry, corners, and running south with Rudder’s line; in the west boundry of the original survey which was deeded by Thos Berry to his three sons, William Berry, James Berry and Basil Berry; to a stake in the Harpeth River; the northwest corner of the Widow’s dower; containing 258.5 acres. To be divided into five parcels for the following legatees: Mary Wall - Lot 5, 51 acres; William Berry - Lot 4, 60 acres; Robert Berry - Lot 3, 47 acres; James Berry - Lot 2, 47 acres; Thomas Berry - Lot 1, 51 acres.

2 Dec. 1832539

Knox County, Tennessee Revolutionary War Pension Application of William Alexander (S1785)
On this first day of December 1832 personally appeared before me Samuel McCaleb one of the acting Justices of the Peace for the County of Knox aforesaid.
William Alexander, a resident in the County of Knox and State of Tennessee aged eighty one years, who first being duly sworn according to Law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress, passed the seventh day of June 1832.
(1st) That he entered the service as a Drafted Militia man in the early part of the month of September 1774 under the Command of Capt. James Ewing and Lieut. George Gipson in the County of Augusta and State of Virginia where he then resided, that he marched with the Company to the Warm Springs in the State of Virginia and remained there a few days, from there to Warwicks Fort on Greenbrier River and from there to George Westfalls Fort on a Branch of the Monongahala River in Tiger Valley where he with the balance of the Company remained sometime to guard the fort. There was no field officers along. There being but one company. He was in service on this expedition six weeks.
(2nd) About the last of July 1776 he entered the service as a Volunteer under the command of Captain John Lyle, Lieut. William McCutcheon and Ensign Joseph Long on Augusta County, Virginia and marched by way of Andersons ferry on James River, Englishes ferry on New River, and Fort Chissel to Major Anthony Bledsoe's on the waters of Holston, he remained there a short time and marched to Long Island on Holston River where the troops built a fort, when he arrived at Long Island Colonel Russell was the commanding Officer and after a short time Colonel William Christian arrived and took the command. (My impression is that they both were regular officers) The object of this expedition was against the Cherokee Indians, he remained in service until the last of the month of November of the same year, making his term of service four months.
(3rd) In the year 1778, he moved to Washington County in the State of Virginia, and in the month of August 1780 or 81, he cannot now recollect which, he entered the service as a drafted militia man under the command of Ensign William Davidson who was engaged with a detachment in hunting a celebrated Tory named Isaac Lebo, who had done considerable damage to the inhabitants, and also in hunting and taking said Lebo's stock of horses and cattle, he having a large stock of both, all of which that the detachment could find was sold for the benefit of the United States, he was engaged at different times in this service, but was in actual service six weeks.
(4th) In the same year that he performed the 3rd tour of duty as above stated and in the month of September, he entered the service as a Volunteer under the command of Captain David Beatty, he does not now recollect who was the Lieutenant but is under the impression his name was Robert Edmunson and Ensign Nathaniel Dredden, who was killed in the Battle of Kings Mountain. Col. William Campbell commanded the Regiment, Col. John Sevier and Col. Isaac Shelby was along. We marched by way of Holston and Watauga River, Yellow Mountain, Green River, Broad River, at the Cherokee ford and within about four days march of Kings Mountain, where the Mounted troops were ordered to go on ahead of the foot troops who were to follow, but after marching a day or two we met the troops returning, the Battle of Kings Mountain having been fought. The troops then marched to the Island ford on Catawba River where the mounted troops were ordered to escort the prisoners taken in the Battle at Kings Mountain to Salisbury in North Carolina and the foot men returned home, he was in service on this expedition until the last of October or beginning of November, he is positive the time was as much as six weeks.
(5th) On the first of December of the same year as the 4th expedition, he entered the service as a drafted militia man to go on an expedition against the Cherokee Indians under the command of Capt. James Montgomery, Lieut. Alexander Montgomery and Ensign Thomas Berry. Lieut. Montgomery was appointed by the Captain and the men objected, he marched along but done no duty, but we had no other Lieutenant. Col. Arthur Campbell of Washington County VA commanded the Regiment, Col. John Sevier was also along. The troops marched from Washington County Virginia to Honeycutts ford on Holston River where they remained several days waiting to get a supply of provisions, from there to Boyds Creek crossing French Broad River at the Island ford where Col. Sevier joined the army with a detachment he had gone before with, he having had a Battle with the Indians on Boyds Creek. The troops then marched by several Indian towns to Highwassee River crossing little Tennessee at Toquo town, on this expedition the troops were fired at several times by the Indians in crossing rivers and from the mountains but had no battles. Several prisoners were taken and eighteen Indian towns destroyed, the troops marched back from Highwassee to an Indian town on little river called Cahtoo and remained there a short time waiting for a supply of provisions, and then returned home. He was in service on this expedition until about the middle of January say at least six weeks, making the whole service he performed during the War of the Revolution nine months and eighteen days, allowing thirty days to the month, all of which he perform as herein stated, but that he has no documentary evidence by which he can prove the same, never having received a written discharge and that he knows of no person now living whose testimony he can procure, who can testify to his service, and that his situation puts it out of his power to make any search, having been afflicted with Rhematic pains for several years so that he is entirely unable to stand alone and has not walked for the last five years. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the Pension Roll of the Agency of any State.
Sworn and subscribed before me the day and year aforesaid
Signed: Samuel McCaleb, one of the Acting Justices of the Peace for the County of Knox and State of Tennessee
Signed: William Alexander
Amos Hardin, a clergyman, residing in the County of Knox and State of Tennessee and Anthony Smith, residing in the same, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with William Alexander who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing declaration; that we believe him to be eighty one years of age, that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides, to have been a soldier of the Revolution, and that we concur in that opinion, and we further certify that the aforesaid William Alexander is now and has been for a long time been unable to walk and that he is entirely unable to appear in Court, without injuring him, he living twenty miles from the town of Knoxville where the Court is held.
Sworn and Subscribed to the day and year before written before me.
Signed: Amos Hardin, clergyman, and Anthony Smith
And I Samuel McCaleb, Justice of the Peace as aforesaid do hereby declare my opinion, after investigation of the matter, putting the interrogatories prescribed by the war Department, that the above named William Alexander was a Revolutionary soldier, and served as he states and I the said Samuel McCaleb further certify that Amos Hardin, who has signed the preceding certificate, is a Clergyman, resident in the County of Knox and State of Tennessee, and that Anthony Smith who has also signed the same is a resident in the County and Sate aforesaid and is a reliable person, and their statement is entitled to credit, and I do further certify that I live in the same neighborhood with the above named applicant, and from my knowledge of him and the general impression in the neighborhood do concur in opinion with the persons who have signed the above certificate, and I further certify that I am clearly of the opinion he could not get to Court, a distance of twenty miles, without considerable injury, he being unable to walk or ride, and also afflicted with the Gravle.
Signed: Samuel McCaleb, Acting Justice of the Peace for Knox County
I Charles McClung Clerk of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for the County of Knox and State of Tennessee by my Deputy William Swan, do certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings in the matter of the application of William Alexander for a pension, and I do further certify that Samuel McCaleb has signed the certificate above is an acting Justice of the Peace for the County of Knox and State of Tennessee and that the signature is genuine, and that Amos Hardin is a Clergyman - In testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal of office this 2nd day of December 1832
Signed: Charles McClung

 

Analysis of the Timeline

 

      Thomas Berry’s birth date is estimated to be about 1741, based on a family history record from one of his sisters and a 1763 Augusta County land transfer record. A late 19th family history record that ultimately can be sourced to Thomas Berry’s youngest sister, Esther (Berry) McCord, provides the birth date of Thomas’ father (Thomas Berry, Sr.), the identity of both of his wives and all of the children from both marriages, as well as their birth order. This record identified James Berry as Thomas Berry Sr.’s oldest child, followed, in order, by Barbara Berry and Thomas Berry. Although no birth dates were given, an analysis of a 1763 Augusta County, Virginia deed record can be used to accurately approximate the birth dates of the first three children. In this land transfer, Thomas Berry Sr. sold a recently purchased parcel of land to his oldest son James on 21 June 1763, and the conveyance was legally witnessed by James’ younger brother Thomas Berry. The importance of this record lies in the fact that, in order to legally serve as a witness in a sanctioned county government proceeding such as this, the younger Thomas Berry must have been at least 21 years of age. Consequently, since Thomas was at least 21, his brother James Berry had to have been several years older, and the date of the land sale can be used to calculate a close approximation of not only their birth dates, but also that of their sister, Barbara Berry, who was born between them. Basic biology requires an absolute minimum time of nine months between the births of James and Barbara, as well as between Barbara and Thomas, so, at a bare minimum, the least amount of time between the birth of James Berry and his younger brother Thomas, was 18 months. From a practical point of view, however, new pregnancies probably did not commence immediately after a birth. Some time, perhaps a few months, most likely separated the birth of a child and the onset of pregnancy for the next child. Assuming a minimum interval between pregnancies of three months, which might be an underestimate, the time between the birth of James and Thomas Berry can be extended from 18 months to a bit more reasonable time span of 24 months. Given this assumption, the younger Thomas Berry, in order to have been at least 21 years old in 1763, could have been born no later than 1742, his older brother James could have been born no later than 1740, and, within this logical construct, Barbara Berry must have been born in 1741. If the interval between pregnancies was more than three months, then the birth dates of each of these children could be pushed back in time another year to 1739, 1740 and 1741, respectively. The totality of the indirect evidence, thus, provides a logical framework for concluding that James Berry was probably born about 1739, his next youngest sibling, Barbara Berry, in 1740 and his next oldest brother, Thomas Berry, in 1741.12,256
 

     This analytical process combined with Virginia military data also has some bearing on identifying Thomas Berry’s birth place. Based on the fact that militia membership in the Virginia colony was compulsory for all free white males, the absence of any Berry males in the 1742 Augusta County militia lists (Table V) strongly suggests that families from this Berry lineage were not yet living in Virginia at that time. If Thomas Berry’s father was not in Virginia, where was he? The answer can, at least partially, be found in the family history of William MaGill, a closely related Scotch-Irish family that married into this Berry lineage, as well as their Scotch-Irish Virginia neighbors.
 

     James and William Berry, sons of the elder John Berry, who was, most likely, a brother of Thomas Berry Sr.’s father, the elder James Berry, each married a daughter of William MaGill. William MaGill has a connection to the Scotch-Irish settlements of southeastern Pennsylvania through his second wife, Margaret Gass, who was living in that area in the late 1730s. This is probably where her marriage to William MaGill took place after the death of her first husband, John Gass, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sometime between 1734 and 1738. Since the oldest children from both of these Berry-MaGill marriages appear to have been born in the late 1730s and early 1740s, the marriages of these two Berry boys to the two MaGill daughters must have taken place prior to 1742, probably near the William MaGill residence, who was not yet living in Virginia. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (and it's predecessor, Chester County) was a temporary stopping point for many of the Scotch-Irish families that eventually moved to the Beverley and Borden Grants in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. (Figure 29) The Buchanan, Walker, Cathey, Houston, Kennedy, Patterson, Patton, Fulton, Gilmore, Anderson and Jameson families all can be documented as passing through Lancaster County. Furthermore, families that married into these Berry families (or, conversely, that Berry family members married into), such as the Cunninghams, Halls, Givens and Campbells, can also be shown to have traveled the same route. All of the families were participants in a well documented mass movement of Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania to the valley of Virginia in the 1730s and 1740s. While there is no definitive source material placing any Berry family members in Pennsylvania prior to their move to Augusta County, Virginia, the preponderance of existing evidence allows the logical assumption to be made that not only were all of the Berry family members in this Scotch-Irish lineage living in Pennsylvania prior to 1742, but they also made the move sometime, possibly not long after, 1742. The first record for Thomas Berry, Sr. is a tax record from the spring of 1748, which brackets the date of his arrival in the Augusta County area to have occurred between 1742 and late 1747 or early 1748, so the birth of his son Thomas certainly did not take place in Virginia, but more likely in the Scotch-Irish settlements of southeastern Pennsylvania. 1,12,21,33,56,69,93,94,98,99,107,108,110,111,112,113, 115,116,117,126,129,169,204,226,265,321,323,335,336,337,342,343,344,

345,346,347,348,351,352,353,354,355,356,357,358,360,369,381,382,384,385,386,387,388,389,390,391,392,393,394,395,423,424,497,567,866,1151

 

     The first actual historical footprint of Thomas Berry, Jr. occurred when he served as a witness for a land sale from his father and step-mother to one of his older brothers, James Berry. This data point also serves as the basis for the estimate of his birth date. The fact that he qualified to serve as a witness suggests that he was, in all likelihood, at or over the age of 21 at the time. If he had recently turned 21, then he would have been born in 1742 before the middle of June.

 

     Thomas Berry got married at an unknown date to Mary ? (Unknown Last Name), probably in Augusta County, Virginia. Their first two children, Thomas Berry III and William Berry, were born about 1767, based on the 1787 Washington County tax records where they appeared as males between the ages of 16 and 21 in their father’s household. Since there is no evidence that they were twins, the birth date of the younger son is assumed to have occurred a year later in 1768. Consequently, Thomas and Mary must have gotten married sometime in the four year period between 1763, about the time he turned 21, and 1767, when their first child was born. It seems logical to assume that it would be closer to the latter date, about a year before their first child was born, which approximates the date of their marriage sometime in 1766.

 

     Two court records document the presence of Thomas Berry in southwestern Virginia on three separate occasions in the late 1760s and early 1770s. His first verified presence in that area was in 1769, the second occurred either in 1770 or 1771, and a third a year later (1771 or 1772), so, quite clearly, not long after he got married and started a family with his new wife, Thomas Berry was already ranging far from his home base in Augusta County, Virginia on hunting and land acquisition trips, possibly even moving there with his young family. In the late summer of 1781 he was granted a Certificate of Settlement for 374 acres along 15 Mile Creek just south of present day Abingdon, Virginia in Washington County, Virginia (Figure 22). The certificate was granted based on proof of settlement in 1769, consisting either the planting of a crop or evidence of a settlement, which, at the time meant marking trees or building a rough shelter on the spot. A settlement, in this case, could either represent an actual settlement or merely an intent to settle. In 1803 Thomas Berry gave sworn testimony in a Washington County court supporting the land claims of James Thompson in a lawsuit that appears to involve competing land ownership claims. In his deposition Thomas stated that he first came to Powell’s Valley in 1770 or 1771 on a hunting expedition with William McGauhey, who lived about 70 miles upstream at the time. They stayed for only a few days, and while Thomas Berry was off hunting some buffalo, William McGauhey spent the time “improving” a tract of land by heaping up some piles of brush and trees near a marshy area around a large spring between a river and a mountain at a place that he later learned was called Turkey Cove. Thomas testified that he returned to the same area a year later, possibly on another hunting expedition. While the evidence is not definitive as to whether he was actually living in the area at the time, it does appear that Thomas Berry had a presence in the Washington County area as early as 1769. He eventually settled on land he had selected in 1769, and maintained a persistent, though not necessarily consistent, presence in the area for the next several years.

 

     During the time period before their living location can be definitively identified, several more children were born into their household. In 1769, Mary Berry gave birth to their third child, and third son, John Berry, who was born in Augusta County. Where in Augusta County is unknown, however, since, at that time, all of southwestern Virginia was included in Augusta County. For the next two sons, an exact determination of their place of birth cannot be made with confidence, since the location of Thomas and Mary’s homestead at that time cannot be definitely confirmed, as will be shown below, until about 1776. However, a reasonable assessment of their birth places can be made. When he finally acquired the property in the early 1780s, the documentation indicated that he had actually lived on the land that he had identified in 1769 for at least one year between 1769 and late 1777. He probably lived there the entire time. It is certain that he was living in the area by 1776, since he served on Colonel Christian’s punitive campaign against the Cherokee in that year. It was also around this time that he was wounded in a skirmish with the Cherokee, so the year of occupation must have occurred prior to 1776.

 

     Their next child, another son, James Berry, was born about 1771, and yet another son, George Berry, was born in 1774. As will be shown, James was probably born in Botetourt County and George was more than likely born in Fincastle County. Robert Berry, their sixth son, was born about 1777, since Thomas Berry had already been involved with the Fincastle County militia by that time, and the counties had been reorganized in late 1776, as will be shown below, Robert Berry must have been born in Washington County, Virginia. A seventh son, David Berry, was born in 1779 in Washington County, their eighth and last son, Basil Berry, came into the world in 1781 in Washington County, Virginia. Within a space of twelve years, Mary, Thomas’ wife, had given birth to eight children, all boys. One can only imagine the amount of work involved in that effort, as well as the busy household. For some reason, no more children were born after 1781, and Mary was still alive as late as 1803. The county boundary changes in the area during this time period are shown in Figure 65.

 

     As noted in the section of the report on Francis Berry and his brother in law James Trimble, many settlers from Augusta County, and elsewhere, had been moving into the Holston and Clinch River valleys between 1769 and 1771. These dates suggest that the early records documenting Thomas Berry’s presence in southwest Virginia could very well represent such a homesteading action. Basically, these early settlers were squatters, looking for unoccupied and free land where they could start a new life in less crowded conditions than the territories where their families had lived for about a generation, so no land ownership documents were yet being recorded. James Trimble, who married Francis Berry’s sister, Rachel Berry, first moved to the Holston River area in 1771, taking up land on the south side of the South Fork of the Holston River, not far from the ground Thomas Berry settled. He, along with all or most of the other settlers in the area were then forced by Shawnee raiding parties to abandon their new home sites and flee to the safety of the older settlements back east by late 1771. When the security situation improved, by early to middle 1772, many of the previous white settlers, plus many new ones, re-entered the lands of southwestern Virginia. It is not inconceivable that Thomas Berry and his family were some of those early settlers who were chased out in late 1771 and returned in mid 1772. Further substantiation for Thomas Berry’s home being in the area at an early date is provided by David Dryden, in one of the Simon Ely court cases, where he noted that he had that moved to Washington County in 1771 and, at that time, came to the house of Thomas Berry. Although this seems to confirm Thomas Berry was living in the area at the time, it certainly could represent the cabin of Thomas Berry’s father, Thomas Berry, Sr. Since the younger Thomas Berry’s land was nearby, it seems quite logical to assume that the younger Thomas Berry could and probably would have moved to the area with his father. It was not uncommon for pioneer families from this era to moved together in order to provide more personal security. 21,521,885,970,972

 

War and Thomas Berry's Militia Service

 

     Thomas Berry’s activities in southwestern Virginia are sketched out in one of the legal depositions where he noted that he was part of a hunting party in the Turkey Cove area in 1770 or 1771. Thomas Berry testified that he was hunting for buffalo while one of the men in the party sought to claim some land in Powell Valley. Thomas Berry, apparently, was not looking for land, since he had already made his selection on 15 Mile Creek in what would eventually become Washington County. Instead, he was hunting, but the purpose of the hunting trip is unknown. He could have been hired as a hunter for another party, acquiring skins for the fur trade or providing meat for his family. About the only reasons to hunt for others would be to supply food for a garrisoned militia force or for a group of traveling land speculators. The string of defensive fortifications built by the Holston militia would not appear in the area for several more years, and there’s no indication that he was working for a group of land speculators, since the Loyal Land Company had legal claim to all of the land in the area. People who settled on land in this area were, essentially, squatters, so it doesn’t seem likely that an organized group of hired men, who would be requiring a food source, would be operating in the area marking territory. In addition, the era of the Long Hunters, those solitary or small groups of hunters who acquired animal skins in order to generate income, was near an end and the bulk of these men were most likely operating farther west in Kentucky and Tennessee where the population density was even less than in southwestern Virginia. Of these three explanations, then, supplying food for his family seems a most logical explanation, and, very indirectly, suggests that Thomas Berry was living in the area at that time.

 

Historical Background

 

     Following the eviction of the French from most of the North American continent following what’s known in America as the French and Indian War, the British king issued the Proclamation of 1763, which restricted English settlement to the river basins that drained into the Atlantic Ocean. The ban was widely ignored, and recognizing that westward expansion could only be slowed, not stopped, a follow-on treaty was negotiated in 1770, pushing the line significantly westward. Settlers immediately rushed into southwestern Virginia, and Thomas Berry appears to have arrived in the area right around this time. As noted above, Shawnee and to a lesser extent, Cherokee opposition temporarily pushed back most settlers from the area in 1771, but by 1772 most had returned. Shawnee resistance continued, culminating in the late 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, the only sizeable conflict in what became known as Dunmore’s War. Thomas Berry does not appear on any of the Fincastle County militia lists from this battle, so, in all likelihood, he was not a participant, most likely remaining at home, protecting the settlements in the area from Indian attacks while the militia was deployed, although a Thomas Berry, presumably his father who lived nearby, supplied the militia troops with sundry goods.462,570,865,866,885

 

     With the Shawnee temporarily out of the picture, the Cherokee became increasingly involved in the efforts to thwart the European advance, and it was the American Revolution that provided them with the impetus to execute their goals of territorial reoccupation. Through the early to mid 1770s, relations between the American colonies and Great Britain rapidly deteriorated to the point of open revolution. By the time war finally broke out, the British had instigated a strategy of using British and Loyalist troops to attack the rebels from the sea while simultaneously taking advantage of their already aggrieved Indian allies to pressure the American rebels from the frontier. Consequently, numerous British agents visited the western tribes with arms, supplies and cash, inciting them to take up arms against the English colonists. The Cherokee, being eager to regain their lost territories, readily agreed and became increasingly aggressive. This, of course, greatly alarmed the settlers in the Powell, Holston and Clinch valleys of Botetourt and later Fincastle counties, who responded by organizing into militia units.462,570,865,866

 

     In July 1776, as open conflict between the American rebels and the British homeland erupted, the British, along with their Indian allies, developed a plan to eradicate settlers from these valleys once and for all. An assembled force of 700 warriors, predominantly Cherokee, but also including Shawnee, Delaware and Mohawk warriors, was split into two groups. The dissident Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe was to attack the Nolichucky and Watauga settlements with half of the warriors while Raven was to lead the rest up the Clinch and Holston valleys to break up those settlements. Getting word of the impending attacks, the southernmost settlements along the Nolichucky River were abandoned and the refugees fled northward to the protection of the only nearby fortified positions -- Eaton’s Fort near the Long Island of the Holston River and the fort on Watauga Creek (Watauga Fort). Finding the Nolichucky settlements abandoned, Dragging Canoe split his force again, sending Old Abram to lead an attack against the settlements on the Watauga Creek while he took the bulk of his force, nearly 200 warriors, to assault Eaton’s fort. (Figure 66) At this time the North Carolina settlements were governed by Virginia authority, so they looked to their neighbors in Fincastle County, Virginia for assistance. As the Nolichucky refugees poured into the two fortifications, word of the Indian onslaught was sent out to the nearby Virginia militia units at Thompson’s Fort, Edmiston’s Fort, Cocke’s Fort, Shelby’s Fort and the settlements near Wolf Creek. The next day, 20 July 1776, 170 members of the Virginia militia from in and around these locations quickly concentrated at Eaton’s Fort. Rather than wait for the inevitable defensive battle, or worse yet, sitting behind walls as the Cherokee looted their properties and killed stragglers, the militia army opted to go on the offensive and attack the approaching force. Two divisions marched toward Long Island, about seven miles away. Several miles short of their target a small group of Indians, loaded with plunder was encountered and attacked. As the Indians fled back to the nearby main Cherokee force, the militia, expecting a quick attack, fell back about a mile toward high ground. The counter attack came quickly as the main Cherokee force soon caught up with the settlers. Finding the settlers in apparent retreat, the Indians attacked, expecting an easy victory from an enemy that appeared to be in retreat already. The militia quickly formed a quarter mile long line of battle along the crest of a small ridge as the Cherokee attacked their center and left flank. The fighting soon devolved to bitter hand to hand combat, lasting from 30 to 45 minutes, but ending as quickly as it began with the rapid withdrawal of the Indian force. The militia suffered no losses and only two four minimally wounded men, while Indian losses were somewhat higher, with at least 13 known dead and many more wounded. Dragging Canoe was seriously wounded during the clash and soon withdrew his force from the field. Meanwhile, after an initial unsuccessful assault on Fort Watauga, Old Abram’s force settled into siege, but failed to overcome the fort’s defenses, and after two weeks, gave up. This battle of Long Island Flats, was the first clash of the Revolutionary War that took place west of the mountains and, especially coupled with the follow-up campaign, was considered to be an overwhelming victory for the settlers.462,570,867

 

     The militia returned to Eaton’s fort immediately after the battle, but with Raven’s force wrecking havoc throughout the lower Holston and Clinch River valleys, the Virginians quickly headed back to defend their homes and families. The only safe zone in the vicinity was now Black’s Fort, situated where the present city of Abingdon, Virginia is now located. For the next few days, Raven’s warriors killed and scalped settlers, looted and burned their homes and scattered their livestock, as they made their way through the area, eventually reaching as far north as 7 Mile Ford. Refugees from the affected areas streamed into the fort and on the eve of the battle of Long Island Flats, at least 400 men, women and children had left their homes for the safety of the fort. The Cherokee were mostly an unorganized force, roving the countryside in small bands, and one such band that was busy burning and plundering homes in the Wolf Hills settlement about eight miles south of the fort was attacked by Virginia militia members that had ventured out from the fort. Eleven Indians were killed in the encounter and their scalps were brought back to the fort where they were attached to a tall pole at the gate of the fort.462,570

 

     Eventually, after the Watauga siege was lifted, the Cherokee withdrew from the area, and the settlers quickly reoccupied the territory. In early October of 1776, Col. Christian, leading a force of 1,800 Virginia and North Carolina militia, launched a punitive raid against the Cherokee, coordinated with similar raids by the North and South Carolina militias. From October through December Col. Christian’s army marched southward into the heart of Cherokee territory, burning villages, destroying crops, capturing British supplies and killing livestock as a force of North Carolina militia and another force of South Carolinians, approached from farther south and to the east, doing the same in a giant pincer movement. All of the major Cherokee towns were destroyed in the process with obviously devastating effects due to the oncoming winter season. Another, much smaller punitive expedition was mounted in April 1777. The Cherokee sued for peace, which ended the expedition, and made additional territorial cessions that were formalized in a treaty with the North and South Carolinians in May 1777 and the Virginians in July 1777. In these agreements, the Cherokee gave up all of their claims to contested lands in the Nolichucky, Watauga, Holston and New River valleys in addition to other territorial cessions with North and South Carolina. Col. Christian’s casualties were very light, resulting in only one killed and several wounded.570,868,869,870

 

Thomas Berry During the 1770s

 

     The development of the southwestern Virginia counties during the 1770s is also important in understanding this portion of Thomas Berry’s life journey. (Figure 65) Assuming that he lived on the same plot of land on 15 Mile Creek during the 1770s, a fairly safe assumption, his land, which he “settled” in 1769, would have originally been part of Augusta County, Virginia when his son John Berry was born. It then fell under the jurisdiction of Botetourt County, Virginia from 1770 through 1772, during the time when the Shawnees temporarily expelled all of the settlers in southwestern Virginia and when his next son, James Berry, was born. About the time they returned it became part of Fincastle County, and for the next four years, particularly during the time of the Cherokee uprising, his land remained in that county. He was still living there when his son George Berry was born in 1774. In late 1776, not long after Col. Christian’s punitive expedition against the Cherokee, the counties reorganized again, and Thomas Berry’s land became part of Washington County. As soon as Washington County was formed, Thomas Berry began appearing in the court records.56

 

     While there is little direct documentation for Thomas Berry during the early to mid 1770s, his life experiences can be approximated from the flow of documented historical events, described above, that took place around him. From all available evidence, it is fairly clear that Thomas Berry was living in Fincastle County during this time period. In 1769 he claimed squatter’s rights on a chunk of land located along 15 Mile Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Holston River and part of the Wolf Hills settlement located about six miles south of the modern day town of Abingdon, Virginia. Due to a change in Virginia land laws in 1779, which will be discussed below, he eventually purchased the property in 1783, so, in all probability, this location is where he, his wife and five young sons lived through the entire decade of the 1770s. This approximate location fix places Thomas and Mary Berry and their five children, ranging in age from two through nine, right in the middle of the area that was subject to the roving bands of Raven’s Cherokee warriors. No doubt Thomas Berry and his family formed part of the mass of frightened masses of settlers seeking shelter in Black’s Fort. Furthermore, it is inconceivable to think that Thomas Berry, or any of the other Berry families living in this area under these conditions, did not take up arms against these mortal threats as part of the local militia. Although some of the evidence is somewhat conflicting and confusing, it is quite clear that Thomas Berry did, indeed, serve in the Fincastle and Washington County militias at this time, in the lead-up to these events, as well as in the Col. Christian’s raid on the Cherokee settlements several months later, in the Kings Mountain Campaign in the fall of 1780 and another punitive raid against dissident Cherokee in December of 1780. These events provide some insight into the dangerous conditions endured by the frontier settlers living in the Holston, Clinch and Powell valleys at this time, as well as the response of the settlers to these threats.

 

     When Dunmore’s War sparked up in 1774, Fincastle County drafted a number of the local men to serve in the campaign, while the rest remained behind to protect the settlements. Since Thomas Berry’s name does not appear on any of the militia lists from this event, which are quite complete, it is clear that Thomas Berry must have been among the men who remained behind. Two years later, at the time of the Cherokee Uprising of 1776, however, there is more direct evidence of Thomas Berry’s involvement. Washington County court records reveal that Thomas Berry was shot in the chest by Indians in the service of his country on 4 September 1776, which clearly indicates that he was serving in the Fincastle County militia at the time. Since the Cherokee raid occurred later in the same month, the shooting incident must have occurred during the hostilities that led up to the raid. It also noted that it took nearly a year for him to recover from the wound, so it must have been somewhat serious. Thomas Berry’s name appears on the list of local militiamen who served on Col. Christian’s punitive raid on the Cherokee in early October 1776, and the source also notes that he was wounded during the campaign. Whether this actually refers to the earlier incident or not is unclear, so either he was wounded once, in the lead-up to the Cherokee invasion or during Col. Christian’s campaign or both. Either way, during 1776 Thomas Berry served in the Fincastle Militia, since he was living in the area, and was wounded by enemy fire in an engagement during his term of service.
 

 

Thomas Berry's Probable Involvement in the Kings Mountain Campaign

 

     The only documentation for Thomas Berry’s involvement in the Battle of Kings Mountain, which took place on 7 October 1780, is a court document indicating that he and several others, were being sued for their actions, or actions they allowed, specifically, plundering, most likely after the battle had taken place. This piece of evidence firmly documents that Thomas Berry was one of the Overmountain Men who responded to a call for Virginia and North Carolina militia from the settlements over the mountains to assault British forces marauding across the Carolina coastal plain. The only real question to resolve is which Thomas Berry does this represent, and Washington County tax records pretty well solve that issue. From 1782 through 1786 only two Thomas Berrys appear in Washington County Personal Property tax records, Thomas Berry Sr. and his son, Thomas Berry Jr. In 1780, the elder Thomas Berry was 62 years old, while his son was only 38. Given his relative youthfulness, his father’s somewhat advanced age, as well as the fact that the younger Thomas Berry was already deeply involved in the local militia, it seems much more likely that the Thomas Berry who participated in the Kings Mountain engagement was Thomas Berry, Jr. Despite the fact that, other than this brief court record, no other primary source can be found that could verify Thomas Berry’s involvement in this event, a glimpse into what Thomas Berry, Jr. experienced during this campaign can be obtained by examining the well documented activities of the OverMountain Men in the days leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and their return to the settlements across the mountains afterwards. Consequently, a portion of Thomas Berry’s life can be viewed through the lens of the generalized experience of the entire group, as illustrated in the following narrative:
 

     Flush with success from their guerilla campaign against British troops east of the mountains, North Carolina militia leaders requested assistance from the Washington County Virginia militia for an offensive aimed to eliminate the continuing threat from the east. Col. William Campbell, the Washington County militia commander, at first was willing only to contribute half of his available troops, amounting to 200 men who had just returned from east of the mountains in successful service against North Carolina Loyalists. On 25 September 1780 this group of militia soldiers arrived at Sycamore Shoals on Watauga River, to concentrate with the North Carolina militia already gathering there for the upcoming campaign. The rest of the Washington County militia, another 200 men, were to remain behind to defend against potential Cherokee attacks. After further consultations, however, it was determined that the expeditionary force was not sufficient, so the rest of the Washington County militia, another 200 troops, was committed to the cause. It was most likely from this group that the bulk of the Berry men who participated in the campaign, including Thomas Berry, were drawn.441,462,570,872

 

     These citizen soldiers did not have the orderly look of a typical army. Being grizzled veterans of a dangerous pioneer life positioned at the edge of civilization, they were dressed in the attire of the woodsmen and farmers that they were - fur skin caps and woolen clothes manufactured by their wives and daughters. In addition, they brought only minimal baggage – a water cup, blanket and small satchel of provisions, primarily consisting of parched corn meal mixed with maple sugar. An observer described their appearance as follows:441,462,570

    

Their fringed and tassled hunting-shirts were girded in by bead-worked belts, and the trappings of their horses were stained red and yellow. On their heads they wore caps of coon-skin or mink-skin, with the tails hanging down, or else felt hats, in each of which was thrust a buck’s tail or a sprig of evergreen. Every man carried a small bore rifle, a tomahawk and a scalping knife. A very few of the officers had swords, and there was not a bayonet nor a tent in the army.
 

Every member of this little army was equipped with a Deckard rifle, and they were not only splendid horsemen but excellent marksmen; and the warfare that they had been carrying on with the Indians they were accustomed to every kind of danger and hardship.

 

     On 26 September 1780, with the last minute arrival of the remaining Washington County troops, the small army, organized into companies, then mounted their horses, and headed up into the forested mountains on a long and arduous march. A herd of cattle was driven behind them for additional food. From Sycamore Shoals they proceeded up Gap Creek, across the divide to the Little Doe River valley, then up that valley and across a low divide to the Big Doe River, a clear, fast-slowing mountain stream. Their first night’s camp was at a place called Shelving Rock, a distance of about 20 miles from their starting point that day. At this place, many of the horses were shod by a blacksmith who lived nearby. Unbeknownst to the Overmountain Men, COL. Ferguson, at this time, was in Gilbert Town, North Carolina. (Figure 69)441,462,871,872,874

 

     Next morning, 27 September, they decided to eliminate the cattle herd which had been slowing them down, so they slaughtered and cooked what they needed and sent the rest back, which delayed their march some. Eventually, they returned to their mission, continuing upstream along a well known path known as Bright’s Trace, which made a relatively easy ascent to a gap between the snow-covered Yellow and Roan Mountains. At the top of the pass they encountered an open area covered by ankle-deep snow where they took lunch and conducted military drills. The units fired off a volley with their rifles and noted the muted explosions in the thin mountain air. During roll call it was discovered that two men with known Loyalist tendencies had deserted one of the North Carolina units, and were probably on their way to Ferguson with news of the approaching army. As a result, the route of march was changed to a more northerly approach in order to throw off anyone looking for them on the originally planned trail. The group then proceeded a few miles downhill for their second night’s camp – this time near the mouth of Brights Branch as it emptied into Roaring Creek. The Overmountain Men were still unaware of Ferguson’s location, who, on this day, had left Gilbert Town in pursuit of a Georgia militia unit under the command of a Col. Clarke. He had just laid siege to a British garrison at Augusta, Georgia, located about 50 miles south of the garrison at Ninety Six, which contained arms and supplies for the Cherokee to be used in their attacks on the Watauga and Nolichucky settlements. After the battle Clarke headed north toward the mountains. Ferguson hoped to intercept Clarke before his force melted into the countryside, and was completely unaware of the new rebel force in pursuit of him (Figure 70).441,462,871,872

 

     The next day, 28 September, the Overmountain Men descended the valley of Roaring Creek to the North Toe River, passing Bright’s place along the way. As they headed downhill the weather became more summer-like and enjoyable. After encountering some rough terrain, they eventually ended up at the mouth of Grassy Creek, near the present day town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina, where they camped for the night. Col. Ferguson at this time was still in pursuit of Col. Clarke, and had crossed Mountain Creek, around ten miles southwest of Gilbert Town. (Figure 71)441,462,871,872

 

     The next morning, Friday, the 29th of September, the march took the Overmountain Men up Grassy Creek to its head, a place called Gillespie’s Gap, located along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fearing a British ambush, they decided to divide their forces at this point. Col. Campbell led his Washington County militia south about seven miles to a place called Turkey Cove, located near the North Fork of the Catwaba, where they bedded down for the evening. The North Carolina troops headed easterly down another valley about the same distance to a place called North Cove, near the confluence of Honeycutt Creek and the North Fork of the Catawba River, where they camped for the night. Each group had traveled about 15 miles that day. Intelligence reports indicated that additional militia forces from North and South Carolina were converging on the area and that Col. Ferguson was currently encamped about 30 miles away at Gilbert Town, unaware of the approaching military forces. All of this news greatly encouraged the overmountain men. Unfortunately it was only partially true. Col. Ferguson was not yet aware of their presence in the country, but he was no longer in Gilbert Town. This information suggests that the source of the intelligence had last been in Gilbert Town on or before the 26th of September. (Figure 72)441,462,871,872

 

     When the next day dawned, Saturday the 30th, the North Carolina Overmountain units encamped at North Cove headed eastward, across the North Fork of the Catawba River, then over Linville Mountain and down Paddy Creek to the Catawba River, where they reunited with the Washington County militia who had a longer haul from their starting point at Turkey Cove, and took a different route. They marched down the North Fork of the Catawba until it joined the main stream, then headed downstream to the mouth of Paddy Creek. The latter group had traveled 31 miles that day while the North Carolina troops had to cover 23 miles. After reuniting, the combined force moved downstream a few miles to Quaker Meadows, located near the present city of Morganton, North Carolina. This was the home of Col. McDowell, a North Carolina militia leader, and it was on his grounds that they united with other North Carolina militia troops from the area, led by Col. Cleveland, which boosted their force by 350 men. On 30 September, two days after they had left the camp of the Overmountain Men, the two North Carolina deserters caught up with Ferguson and relayed the news of the approaching rebels. At the time, Ferguson had furloughed many of his Loyalist allies, so he was undermanned, and being located about halfway between Charlotte, North Carolina, where General Cornwallis was located, and the garrison at Ninety Six in South Carolina, so he was some distance from immediate help. Consequently, he sent urgent messages to the Ninety Six garrison and to Cornwallis, requesting reinforcements and informed Cornwallis that he was headed that way. Suspecting that the Overmountain men were in the vicinity, he then feinted a withdrawal toward the garrison at Ninety Six in order to draw in the approaching rebel forces in the wrong direction, as well as to continue his pursuit of Col. Clarke and give his Loyalist forces time to return. (Figure 73)441,462,871,872

 

     The next day, 1 October 1780, presented the Overmountain Men with continued good weather, and the united force marched southwestward skirting the base of the South Mountains along a good road, which allowed them to make better time. They passed Pilot Mountain, a landmark for travelers in the area that could be seen for miles, then continued on until a thunderstorm struck later in the afternoon. The storm caused them to call a halt to the march for the day along the headwaters of Cane Creek and to make camp after marching 18 miles. Meanwhile, Col. Ferguson, now somewhat alarmed, as well as reluctant to give up the chase of Col. Clarke, began a slow march in the general direction of Charlotte. He made it as far as Denard Ford’s on the Broad River, located about five miles southwest of Gilbert Town. (Figure 74)441,462,871,872

 

     The next day, 2 October, proved to be rainy, so the Overmountain army remained in camp. Meanwhile, Col. Ferguson was located south of Gilbert Town on the Broad River and was still reluctant to give up the chase, eager for the return of his furloughed troops and for reinforcements from Cornwallis. As yet he did not know the location of the approaching Overmountain force, but he must have thought they were within striking distance for his forces crossed over to the north side of the Broad River and remained on full alert that night. The fact that he crossed over to the north side of the river to form his defensive line indicated that he suspected the attack to come from the south, which was the direction of approach reported by the two North Carolina deserters. A position with the river in the rear would have been militarily indefensible. In all likelihood, the rain affected his movements that day, as well.441,462,871,872

 

     On the 3rd of October, the Overmountain Men were grumbling, being unaccustomed to military discipline and long marches. That, plus the fact that they were only about 16 miles from Gilbert Town, where Ferguson’s location was last reported, and that the Overmountain force was composed of elements from different states, the corps commanders determined that a single commander was needed. After much discussion, Col. William Campbell, the only colonel from Virginia, was selected. Sensing that the pivotal encounter that they sought was now at hand, and that it would probably be taking place in the vicinity of Gilbert Town, all of the men were called to form a circle and Col. Cleveland, one of the North Carolina commanders, made the following speech to stir up the men.441

 

Now, my brave fellows, I have come to tell you the news. The enemy is at hand, and we must up and at them. Now is the time for every man of you to do his country a priceless service – such as shall lead your children to exult in the fact that their fathers were the conquerors of Ferguson. When the pinch comes, I shall be with you. But if any of you shrink from sharing in the battle and the glory, you can now have the opportunity of backing out, and leaving; and you shall have a few minutes to considering the matter.

  

     After a few minutes, Col. Shelby, another overmountain North Carolina colonel said:441

 

You have all been informed of the offer, you who desire to decline it, will, when the word is given, march three steps to the rear, and stand, prior to which a few more minutes will be granted you for consideration.

    

     When the word was given not a man took the three steps back, and immediately a round of applause arose from the gathered citizen soldiers. Being quite pleased by this, Col. Shelby again took center stage for some final directions:441

 

I am heartily glad to see you to a man resolve to meet and fight your country’s foes. When we encounter the enemy, don’t wait for the word of command. Let each one of you be your own officer, and do the very best you can, taking every care you can of yourselves, and availing yourselves of every advantage that chance may throw in your way. If in the woods, shelter yourselves, and give them Indian play; advance from tree to tree, pressing the enemy and killing and disabling all you can. Your officers will shrink from no danger – they will be constantly with you, and the moment the enemy give way, be on the alert, and strictly obey orders.

 

     Following the speech, orders were given to break camp and march in three hours, and to have two meals in their satchels. Two of the colonels had gotten their hands on some whiskey, and ensured that the men had a treat as they began their march. The army headed down Cane Creek only a few miles and camped for the night. On the 3rd of October, Ferguson had, apparently, given up on his pursuit of Col. Clarke, as well as waiting for any reinforcements from South Carolina, and was making a beeline toward the safety of Cornwallis’ base at Charlotte. He left his position on the Broad River, proceeded eastward and crossed the Second Broad River, then traveled overland, crossed Sandy Run and by the end of the day had crossed Buffalo Creek. While the American patriots were preparing for a probable battle at Gilbert Town, their quarry was rapidly escaping eastward. (Figure 74)441,462,871,872

 

     The Overmountain Men resumed their march on the morning of the 4rth of October, spending the day crossing and recrossing Cane Creek as they headed downstream to Gilbert Town. They fully expected a fight with Ferguson when they arrived, but, finding him gone, they set up camp for the night. Intelligence reports had Ferguson moved in a southerly direction toward the Ninety Six garrison, located about 100 miles away. That evening the Overmountain Men took advantage of some available cattle, and had steaks for their dinner. About this time a small group of men from Col. Clarke’s band joined up with the Overmountain Men, bringing fresh information. Many stragglers from Clarke’s band, including old men and some children, had been captured and hideously tortured by both the Loyalists and by their Cherokee allies, which greatly incensed the Overmountain Men, and drove them to continue their expedition. Col. Ferguson and his troops remained at a Loyalist plantation near Buffalo Creek for the next two days, no doubt gathering intelligence on on the whereabouts of the various armed factions hot on their trail. (Figure 75)441,462,871,872

 

     On the 5th of October, the Overmountain Men followed Ferguson’s pathway to Mission Creek and Denard’s Ford at the Broad River, where they temporarily lost his trail. Eventually they picked it up again and finally ended up at Alexander’s Ford on the Green River, where they set up camp for the evening. Meanwhile, a Patriot spy had visited Ferguson’s camp near Buffalo Creek during the day, then made his way to the camp of the South Carolina militia, located near Gilbert Town, with updated intelligence on their quarry. This fresh information pinpointed Ferguson’s position, indicated that he was aware of the army chasing him, had requested the assistance of Col. Tarleton (the commander of the right wing of the British army), and was selecting a suitable battle ground for the inevitable fight. With Ferguson within reach and not yet reinforced, Col. Lacey, one of the South Carolina leaders, made a night journey to the encampment of the Overmountain Men camped at Alexander’s Ford, and relayed the information. It was agreed that the two forces would merge at the Cowpens the next day, whereupon the Col. Lacey made the return trip to his troops. This fresh intelligence had come just in time to reinforce the lagging feelings of many of the Overmountain Men, who were beginning to doubt the soundness of continuing a seemingly endless pursuit of Ferguson. Many of the horses were limping, the men were tired and many were having second thoughts about leaving their families incompletely protected from a certain Cherokee assault. The Overmountain Men got little sleep at their camp, spending the night selecting the best men, horses and equipment for the climactic phase of the campaign. It was decided that about 700 men and horses would continue on, while the rest would have to remain behind with the weaker animals at the Cowpens. Despite their lack of adequate horses, many of these “footmen” (armed men on foot) continued on. (Figure 76)441,462,871,872

 

     In the early morning of 6 October Col. Lacey returned to his men and the additional force of about 350 South Carolinia militia men began their march to the Cowpens, reaching there around sunset, just before the Overmountain Men arrived. Both groups remained there for the night. After waiting for reinforcements for two days near Buffalo Creek, Ferguson’s army resumed marching on the 6th. He sent a message to Cornwallis telling him he was heading toward King’s Mountain, then marched along the divide between Buffalo and King’s Creeks. After he crossed King Creek, he took his troops on up to the top of King’s Mountain, the highest ground in the area. While it was a commanding eminence, it was not at all well suited for defensive purposes, being narrow and stony with a flat open summit and heavily wooded steep sides. It was here that he settled in for the night and waited for reinforcements as the deadly Overmountain force closed in. After receiving the latest intelligence on Ferguson’s position, placing him about six miles from King’s Mountain, the combined American militia forces, consisting of 900 mounted men and an uncounted number of footmen – all armed with rifles, began a night march toward their target around 9 pm. A drizzly rain fell from the dark sky throughout the night, making the journey both unpleasant and difficult. (Figure 77)441,462,871,872

 

     The Virginia contingent took the wrong trail during the night , becoming lost and dispersed in the woods, and by morning found themselves only five miles from the Cowpens before they were able regain their bearings and reunite with the main force. The entire group reached the Broad River at dawn, where they discovered a field of corn which they used to feed their horses. The rain continued and became very heavy by late morning, so the men wrapped their flintlocks with their bags, blankets and shirts. By noon, though, the rain finally stopped. As they proceeded, they gathered intelligence on the latest disposition of Ferguson’s forces from Loyalist families living in the area, a few soldiers they captured and a prisoner who had been paroled by Ferguson. From all of the sources they were able to deduce that Ferguson’s force was now camped out on the top of King’s Mountain, so a plan of attack was quickly formulated. They would surround the mountain, cutting off Ferguson from any escape pathway, then shoot up to Ferguson’s troops camped at the top, which should eliminate the possibility of friendly fire. (Figure 78)441,462,871

 

     For the march from the Cowpens the men had been marching in whatever order they wanted, but when they were about a mile away from their target, the men were split into two divisions, Col. Campbell leading the right flank and Col. Cleveland the left flank, and instructed to do no talking at all from this point, which they faithfully obeyed. Just over 900 armed men and their horses, plus an unknown number of men on foot were now padding in complete silence through the forest on a deadly mission. A halt was called at 3 pm, and the men ordered to dismount. Here, they were ordered to remove all great coats and blankets and tie them to their saddles. Most also removed their hats, replacing them with headbands so they could more easily move through the trees. Then the final orders were given by Col. Campbell:441,462,871

 

Fresh prime your guns and every man go into battle firmly resolving to fight till he dies.

 

     Ferguson’s troops, consisting of 100 British regulars and around 1,100 Loyalists, had absolutely no idea that their enemy was now upon them. As they arrived at the mountain, they split into two groups and filed around the flanks of the mountain to completely surround Ferguson. (Figure 79) The Virginia militia units were placed along the southwestern flank. Since they had the longest circuit to make, when the center element of the rebel militia force was in place, the plan was that they would initiate the attack by firing their rifles and screaming a frontier war whoop in the manner of the Indians they had so often battled. Before they were in place, however, elements of the left flank were discovered and fired upon by Ferguson’s troops. At that point Col. Campbell yelled as loud as he could:441,462,871

 

Here they are my brave boys; shout like hell, and fight like devils!

 

     Upon hearing this, the woods erupted in deafening fire and yelling. The part of the mountain where the Washington County militia was assigned was the steepest, rockiest and roughest part of the ridge, which greatly slowed their progress. They continued upward, however, firing and moving from tree to tree until they reached the top, where they were able to fire long shots along the flat, treeless summit. It was here that Ferguson’s main body of troops were located, so he quickly directed a fixed bayonet charge against this threat with deadly results. Soon, the Virginians broke their line and retreated down the mountainside, running down to the valley and up the next hill, being hotly pursued by the blade-wielding British soldiers. Before they reached the bottom, however, the British turned and headed back uphill. The Washington County men were then rallied by their officers and returned to the fight, chasing the British back up the hill until they had regained the summit in desperate hand to hand combat. Immediately after the Virginians were pushed off the mountain, Ferguson directed his force to the North Carolinians on the opposite side of the mountain, who were also forced to retreat under fire, firing as they pulled back. When they reached the bottom of the hill, like the Virginians, they too began fighting their way back up. Both flanks soon found themselves back on top of the mountain, at the edges of the summit, pouring deadly fire into the British lines, which presented easy targets for the riflemen. The battle soon engulfed the entire top of the mountain with deafening rifle fire combined with the flash of firing barrels and choking powder smoke. During the course of the battle the Washington County militia, as well as the North Carolinians on the other side of the hill experienced three bayonet assaults that drove them back down the hill, only to fight their way back up again. As soon as the British charges ended, the patriots returned to firing from behind trees and rocks and chased the British back up to the top. The steady losses, repeated ineffective charges, combined with the fact that they were running low on ammunition began to take a toll on Ferguson’s troops, who began to yield ground, some of them waving white flags. Ferguson’s force was now isolated into two groups, one at the northern end of the mountain at Ferguson’s command post and the other at the southern end, and all attempts at mutual support ended in failure. Sensing the inevitable, Ferguson’s second in command advised surrendering to end the slaughter. Ferguson refused, and, to avoid capture, made a desperate, last minute attempt to break out with a select group of men. Seeing this, the mountain men quickly cut them down with accurate rifle fire. Very shortly thereafter, scattered soldiers began raising white handkercheifs and were picked off, the Overmountain Men, giving what they referred to as “Tartleton’s Quarter”. Col. Tarleton, in battles with American forces earlier in the year, had ordered his men to continue shooting after white flags were raised, so the slaughter continued for some time until the men were brought under control. After just over an hour of intense combat and twelve days of cross country chase, the firing finally ceased and Col. Patrick Ferguson, along with his entire command, was defeated.441,874

 

     On the return trip to the overmountain settlements, the victorious militia was burdened by their wounded, as well as a large number of prisoners, the latter, of which were not treated well. In addition, many militia members split off into separate groups and plundered the homes of Loyalists as they proceeded homeward. It became enough of a problem that Col. Campbell felt the need to issue the following general order:441

 

It is with anxiety that I hear the complaints of the inhabitants on account of the plundering parties who issue out of the camp, and indiscriminately rob both Whig and Tory, leaving our friends, I believe, in a worse situation than the enemy would have done.

 

     He went on to say the the officers should

 

exert themselves in suppressing this abominable practice, degrading to the name of soldiers.

 

     It is of some interest to note that two years later Thomas Berry, along with several other Washington County residents of the Wolf Hills settlement (John Berry, Samuel McChesney, McCauley, McFerren and James Gilliland) were sued in Washington County court for plunder that occurred during the Kings Mountain Campaign. This lawsuit not only documents their participation as members of the Overmountain Men who pursued and defeated Col. Ferguson, but it also appears to indicate their involvement in some of the post battle looting and plundering of Tory (Loyalist) and Whig (Patriot) homes on the return trip. James Gilliland was a next door neighbor of Thomas’ cousin John Berry, and William McFerrin and Samuel McChesney were next door neighbors in the same area. Another court record notes that the plundering, at least in the case of John Berry, appears to have consisted of the acquisition of a hog by an element of the Washington County militia under his leadership. A further closeness of these men is indicated by the fact that three of John Berry’s children married children of John Gilliland and William McFerrin. In addition, Samuel McChesney was married to Susannah Berry, Thomas Berry’s half sister. The Washington County militia suffered the highest casualties in the battle, so it is not a great surprise that some of these men are listed, who lost their neighbors, friends and relatives, were among the revenge-seeking plunderers.100

 

More Militia Service Documentation

 

     Another bit of documentary evidence of Thomas Berry’s militia service, and, indirectly, some of his life experiences, comes from William Alexander’s 1832 application for a federal pension based on his service during the Revolutionary War. He declared that in early December of 1780, while living in Washington County, he had been drafted into the Washington County Militia to serve on a campaign against the Cherokee, and among the officers leading the expedition he identified Ensign Thomas Berry. William Alexander describes marching to a ford on the Holston where they waited several days for supplies. From there, they marched down to the French Broad River where they were reinforced by troops led by Col. Sevier, fresh from an engagement with the Cherokee. The combined contingent continued marching southward to the Hiawassee River, and crossed the Little Tennessee River. As they were crossing the rivers they often received incoming fire from Indians, most likely from the dissident Chickamauga Cherokee, who had left the main tribal group and moved to the vicinity of present day Chattanooga. They destroyed numerous Indian towns, took a few prisoners, then marched back to an Indian town, waited for supplies, then returned to Washington County.539

 

     In the late fall of 1780, Thomas Berry was awarded a commission to the rank of Ensign in the Washington County Militia by the governor of Virginia. Ensign is the lowest commissionable officer rank, and officers serving in such a status would do so until they resigned, were replaced or promoted. Undoubtedly, it represents recognition and compensation for significant military service during the Shawnee and Cherokee Uprisings, the subsequent punitive campaigns, as well as his participation in the Kings Mountain battle. It also indicates that he had been enrolled in the militia for some time, and had served, at least for the most part, honorably. While the war ended in 1781, no further documentation of Thomas Berry’s militia service has been found after his late 1780 promotion and commission.1069

 

The Land Issue

 

          To deal with the flood of settlers streaming into the Virginia frontier territories and squatting on any lands of their choosing, the Virginia General Assembly in Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia, developed a land patenting process that sanctioned and secured legitimate land ownership for these risk takers. The Virginia Land Law, Part A, entitled “An Act for adjusting and settling the titles of claimers to unpatented lands under the present and former government, previous to the establishment of the commonwealth’s land office” was approved by the Virginia General Assembly in May 1779. The law was passed, ostensibly, to solve land disputes and generate funds to discharge the public debt, as well as to establish rules and guidelines for determining land ownership. As shown below, it defined the circumstances under which the land ownership issue developed, the time and geographic constraints defining where and when this settlement had to have occurred, and how much land could be claimed.1070

 

And whereas great numbers of people have settled in the country upon the western waters, upon waste and unappropriated lands, for which they have been hitherto prevented from suing out patents or obtaining legal titles by the king of Great Britain’s proclamations or instructions to his governors, or by the late change of government, and the present war having delayed until now, the opening of a land office, and the establishment of any certain terms for granting lands, and it is just that those settling under such circumstances should have some reasonable allowance for the charge and risk they have incurred, and that the property so acquired should be secured to them: be it therefore enacted, that all persons who, at any time before the first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, have really and bona fide settled themselves or their families, or at his, her, or their charge, have settled others upon any waste or unappropriated lands on the said western waters, to which no other person hath any legal right or claim, shall be allowed for every family so settled, four hundred acres of land, or such smaller quantity as the party chooses, to include such settlement.

 

     The law also loosely defined what qualified as settlement:1070

 

And to prevent doubts concerning settlements, it is hereby declared, that no family shall be entitled to the allowance granted to settlers by this act, unless they have made a crop of corn in that country, or resided there at least one year since the time of their settlement. All persons who, since the said first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, have actually settled on any waste or unappropriated lands on the said western waters, to which no other person hath a just or legal right or claim, shall be entitled to the preemption of any quantity of land, not exceeding four hundred acres, to include such settlement at the state price to other purchasers. And all those who, before the said first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, had marked out or chosen for themselves, any waste or unappropriated lands, and built any house or hut, or made other improvements thereon, shall also be entitled to the preemption upon the like terms, of any quantity of land, to include such improvements, not exceeding one thousand acres, and to which no other person hath any legal right or claim; but no person shall have the right of preemption for more than one such improvement; provided they respectively demand and prove their right to such preemption, before the commissioners for the county, to be appointed by virtue of this act within eight months, pay the consideration money produce the auditor’s certificate for the treasurer’s receipt for the same, take out their warrants from the register of the land office within ten months, and enter the same with the surveyor of the county, within twelve months next after the end of this present session of assembly; and thereafter duly comply with the rules and regulations of the land office.

 

     To summarize, anyone who had settled themselves or their families on unclaimed lands lying on the western waters, rivers that did not drain into the Atlantic Ocean, prior to 1 January 1778, AND who had planted a corn crop OR lived on the settlement site for at least a year (before 1778), qualified for a preemption up to 400 acres of land in and around the actual settlement site. The price of the land was not to exceed the going state price. Furthermore, if unclaimed land had been marked or selected AND either a hut or cabin had been built OR some other unspecified improvement had been made prior to that date, the settler was entitled to purchase an additional 1,000 acres. Additional required paperwork involved presenting settlement documentation to the county land commissioners and paying for the certificate which was then issued by the county land commissioners, filing a land warrant at the land register’s office within 10 months of the end of the 1779 legislative session and submitting the warrant to a surveyor within a year of the end of the same session.
 

     The paper trail for Thomas Berry’s property acquisition consists of a certified surveyor’s record issued on 10 Aug. 1781 and a land patent issued by the Land Office several years later on 20 June 1785 for a 374 acre tract of land (just under the 400 acre maximum) lying on the waters of 15 Mile Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Holston River. The Holston and French Broad Rivers merge to form the Tennessee River, which ultimately drains into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, so it is definitely a western river. Apparently, Thomas Berry had presented sufficient evidence to the Washington and Montgomery District Commissioners to show that, beginning in 1769, he had either planted a corn crop or had lived on the property for at least year sometime in the nine-year period between 1769 and 1 January 1778. Upon their approval of his evidence he then paid a fee of 2 sterling and was issued a Certificate in Right of Settlement by the commissioners in compliance with the act passed by Virginia’s General Assembly in May 1779. The price he paid for the land, if indeed he paid anything, was not defined in any of these records.

 

Thomas Berry in the Washington County Court Records

1777 - 1800

 

     Once the Washington County government was organized, the court began holding regular sessions, and Thomas Berry first appears in these records in the spring of 1777 where his specific livestock markings were officially noted in the records. The crops and slits in the ears of cattle and hogs served as the equivalent of a brand widely used by cattle ranchers today, marking the ownership of these animals. Apparently, these markings were officially recognized, approved and sanctioned by the county government. This record also clearly shows that Thomas Berry was living on the land by at least late April 1777, and probably had been there for some time, probably several years, prior to that. This record also demonstrates that he owned livestock, most likely for home consumption. In all likelihood he was also a farmer, but these records don’t speak to that part of his life. About a month later, in late May of 1777, Thomas Berry, along with several other local men, William Montgomery, William McGahey, Adam Kerr and James Doran, were ordered to appraise the estate of a neighbor Michael Montgomery, no doubt a relative of William Montgomery. William McGahey is probably the same William McGahee/McGaughey who, according to an 1803 deposition by Thomas Berry in a law suit, accompanied Thomas Berry on a hunting trip to the Powell Valley in 1770 or 1771. This is an interesting entry since about six years later, in May of 1782, the court records identified Thomas Berry and Adam Kerr, along with several new people, John Berry and Alexander Doran, and leaving out William Montgomery and William McGahey, in an appraisal of the same estate. What seems likely in this case is that the estate of Michael Montgomery was caught up in a dispute over the final distribution, and the case was finally settled in 1782, whereupon the appraisal was allowed to go forward.

 

     In late August of 1777 there began a series of court proceedings in which Thomas Berry was ordered by the court to view lands in the vicinity of their property where the county planned to construct a road from the court house of present day Abingdon through the Great Knobs to a location near Phillips Mill on the road leading to the Watauga settlements. A month later their report had been submitted, indicating that a road along that route was possible, so the court ordered road construction activities. In the same record Thomas Berry was ordered to survey that section of the road, and a list of the taxable landowners along the way was to be generated by James Montgomery. These landowners would provide the labor force for the road construction, and were required to eventually be responsible for the maintenance of this section of the road. From this entry it can be seen that, in addition to his farming occupation, he also had another skill – that of land surveyor. No doubt he generated some income from the county to compensate for his surveying duties. Apparently there was some bad blood between Thomas Berry and James Montgomery, the man who was responsible for the tithable list along the road construction route, since the latter reported to the court in the May 1781 not only that Thomas Berry ran an illegal tippling house, an unlicensed liquor establishment, but he was also negligent in his surveying duties. In the same court entry, though, Thomas Berry, Adam Kerr, and Josiah Gamble, the same group of three road reviewers from four years earlier, were ordered to view a road segment in the vicinity of the growing town of Abingdon. The reason that Thomas Berry, apparently, had neglected his duties is not addressed in these records, but the tippling house certainly could have kept him busy. As will be shown, he could also have been busy with surveying duties in other places.1071

 

     From the spring of 1778 through the spring of 1784 a Thomas Berry appeared in Washington County records, participating on several juries, serving as a witness to the last will and testament of a neighbor, Benjamin Gray, and appraising the estate of several other neighbors, Robert Lowry and Thomas Hill. Since this individual is not identified as Thomas Berry Jr., whereas most other county court records from this time clearly identify him with the Junior moniker, it seems likely that these records could actually represent the activities of his father, Thomas Berry Sr. During this time period three more sons were born to Thomas and Mary Berry. Robert Berry was born about 1777, David Berry was born about 1779 and Basil, their last child, came into the world sometime in 1781. Since Thomas and Mary Berry were living in Washington County at this time, their place of birth can de definitively stated.

 

     Thomas Berry continued to appear sporadically in Washington County records until 1800. In 1786 he served as a witness for the will of Samuel Henry who had married Elizabeth Berry, a cousin who lived very close to Thomas Berry’s homestead (Figure 22). When James Philips, another neighbor (Figure 22), passed away in 1796, at least one underage child was “orphaned”, so Thomas Berry served as a guardian for the child. The elder Thomas Berry, Thomas’ father, passed away in 1799, so Thomas was identified in the will and the subsequent probate court proceedings. In 1799 Thomas sold a small chunk of his land to an adjacent neighbor, James Wilson (Figure 22) and in 1800 Thomas discharged Mary Philips from a bond requirement. She was most likely related to Thomas’ neighbor, James Philips, who had died a few years earlier.

 

Thomas Berry in the Washington County Tax Records

 

      In 1782, immediately after the end of the Revolutionary War, Washington County initiated the collection of taxes. In that year Thomas Berry Jr. was about 40 years old, and owned some taxable livestock (horses and cattle). Since a previous Washington County record indicated that he also owned a number of pigs, he was clearly running a farm operation. He also owned one slave, most likely of African origin. At this time this Berry family consisted of Thomas and Mary and eight young boys, ranging in age from one to 15. The Washington County tax records provide a great deal of detailed information on Thomas Berry’s life, but there are some confusing elements of the data that need to be understood before an accurate analysis can be conducted.

 

     From 1782 through 1800 there were multiple individuals named Thomas Berry appearing in the Washington County tax records. Table XLII shows how each Thomas Berry was identified within this data set through this time period. Within the two Washington County tax districts, the county clerks had to be able to uniquely identify each individual for tax purposes, so they used discrete identifiers, such as Jr. or Sr., jockey, knobs, river and forks. The Senior designation represented the oldest Thomas Berry within a specific tax district with multiple Thomas Berrys, while the junior designation generally referred to the youngest individual. As will be seen, the Jr. and Sr. designations did not always define a father and son relationship, and, in some cases, it referred to grandfather and grandson. Knobs, river and forks represented conspicuous geographic locations in the Holston River Valley near the home of a particular Thomas Berry. The knobs Thomas Berry probably lived near a line of sharp, steep hills within the county often referred to as the knobs as shown in the following tract written on 4 December 1859 by John Berry McFerrin, a grandson of another Berry family living in the same area.854

 

Monday morning, being furnished with an excellent horse, and accompanied by Dr. Heikell and Brother Wexler, we took a direction south of Abingdon, through what is technically called “the Knobs”. These are very singular elevations. They rise abruptly to a considerable height, and are covered with timber. You soon pass through these, and enter the valley of the “South Fork of Holston river.”

 

     The other geographic identifiers, forks and river, most likely refer to the Thomas Berry who lived conspicuously close to a major river fork. In this area the Middle Fork of the Holston River empties into the South Fork not far from several Berry properties in the Wolf Creek settlement area, but it could also refer to the location of a minor tributary. Jockey may refer to a well-known occupation or past time of one of them. When there was only one individual with that name within a tax district he was merely referred to as Thomas Berry, since there was no need to differentiate him.

 

     Between 1782 and 1786 the Washington County clerks only had to differentiate between two Thomas Berry’s, father (1718 - 1799) and the son (1742 – 1812), and they generally designated them either as Thomas Berry Sr. or Thomas Berry Jr. In 1787 there were four individuals named Thomas Berry in the same tax district for the clerks to deal with, so, from this year until 1799, they assigned specific identifiers to each man, although one of these Thomas Berry’s only appeared in the tax records for one year. From 1788 until the death of his father in 1799, Thomas Berry, son of Thomas Berry Sr. and previously referred to as Thomas Berry Jr., was shown in the records as Thomas Berry (jockey), while his father continued to be identified as Thomas Berry Sr. The change in identifiers became necessary since another Thomas Berry, a grandson of the original Thomas Berry Sr., came of taxable age in 1787, and, since he was the youngest Thomas Berry in the bunch, he became the new Thomas Berry Jr. From 1791 through 1794, this new Thomas Berry Jr. was also referred to as Thomas Berry (knobs), which clearly meant to show that he lived near the prominent Washington County topographic feature known as “The Knobs”. In 1795 the knobs identifier was dropped, and he was again called Thomas Berry Jr. By 1797, however, this Thomas Berry was gone, having moved to Davidson County, Tennessee. For the next three years, from 1797 through 1799, the original Thomas Berry Jr., who had been re-identified as jockey when the younger Thomas Berry became old enough to tax, was again called Thomas Berry Jr., but the jockey identifier was kept, possibly in an attempt to avoid even more confusion. Upon the death of his father, Thomas Berry (jockey), the original Thomas Berry Jr., became the most senior Thomas Berry in the Washington County records and was, from then on, was identified by the county clerks as Thomas Berry Sr.1072

 

     In 1787, another Thomas Berry in one of the tax districts was identified as “Thomas Berry Capt.” This man was the son of Francis Berry Sr., who lived near Thomas Berry Jr. (Figure 22), and who married Jane Wallace in 1786. This is the only year that Captain Thomas Berry appears on the Washington County tax lists, since he moved westward after that year, and while there is no documentation that he was actually promoted to the rank of captain, it is certainly clear that this identification was used to distinguish him from the other Thomas Berrys in the same tax district.491

 

     Also first appearing on the county tax rolls in 1787 was Thomas Berry, son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutchen. James Berry was another son of Thomas Berry Sr. (1718 – 1799) and a brother of Thomas Berry Jr. (jockey). He, as well as his son named Thomas Berry, lived in a separate tax district from the other Berry family members, at least until 1790. Since there was no there other Thomas Berry in that district, the clerks did not need to distinguish this Thomas Berry from any other same-named individual and he was simply identified as Thomas Berry in 1787 and 1788. There is no data for that tax district in 1789, but since there is no change in the identifiers for the other two Thomas Berrys, it is assumed that the data for the second tax district is missing from the 1789 records. By 1790 these two tax districts were merged, so a unique discriminator was now needed for the Thomas Berry son of James Berry. Rather than establishing a new Thomas Berry Jr., the clerks opted to identify this Thomas Berry by his geographic location. Since he must have lived near a major river fork, he was referred to either as Thomas Berry (river) or Thomas Berry (forks). In the year 1798 his entry is crossed out, so he must have started out the year in Washington County, but moved out of the area before the year was up. Court records show that he sold his Washington County properties and moved to Blount County, Tennessee.1073

 

     In 1799 the original Thomas Berry Sr. was still alive and his son Thomas Berry Jr. (jockey) are both identified in the records, as well as an additional individual referred to only as Thomas Berry Jr – clearly a younger man than both of the above Thomas Berrys. By 1800, the original Thomas Berry had passed away, and his son Thomas Berry Jr. (jockey) was now the oldest Thomas Berry and became the new Thomas Berry Sr. as far as the county clerks were concerned. The younger Thomas Berry Jr., possibly the same one as in 1799, was also present.

 

     Differentiating these Thomas Berrys is a case study in the danger of relying upon county tax records to provide accurate information on family relationships by means of the Jr. and Sr. identifiers. Where tax records are concerned, these identifiers were merely convenient tools to differentiate same-named individuals and did not necessarily represent father and son relationships.

 

Table XLII

Thomas Berrys in Washington County Tax Records

1782 - 1800

 

Year

Names Recorded in Tax Records

Relationship to Thomas Berry Sr (1718 - 1799)

Tax List/Owner Book #

1782

Thomas Berry

self

CAPT James Montgomery

 

Thomas Berry

son

CAPT James Montgomery

1783

Thomas Berry Sr

self

CAPT James Montgomery

 

Thomas Berry Jr

son

CAPT James Montgomery

1784

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Alexander Montgomery

 

Thomas Berry Jr

son

Alexander Montgomery

1785

unreadable tax records

 

 

1786

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Alexander Montgomery

 

Thomas Berry Jr

son

Alexander Montgomery

1787

Thomas Berry

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry

son

Book 1

 

CPT Thomas Berry

first cousin of Thomas Sr.

son of Francis Berry Sr.

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 2

1788

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jackey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 2

1789

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

1790

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (river)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1791

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr. (knobs)

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (river)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1792

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr. (knobs)

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1793

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (knobs)

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (forks)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1794

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (knobs)

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (forks)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1795

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson of Thomas Sr. (1718 - 1799)

son of Thomas Berry (jockey)

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (forks)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1796

Unreadable Tax Records

No Data

 

 

1797

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (forks)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1798

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (forks)

grandson

son of James Berry/Elizabeth McCutcheon

Book 1

1799

Thomas Berry Sr

self

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry (jockey)

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

son of John Berry and Jane Campbell*

Book 1

1800

Thomas Berry Sr.

son

Book 1

 

Thomas Berry Jr.

grandson/son of William Berry

Book 1

* John Berry (married to Jane Campbell) was a son of James Berry (? - 1749) who was a probable first cousin to Thomas Berry

Italics represent Thomas Berry (1742 - 1812)

 

      The rest of the data from the Washington County Personal Property Tax Records reveal some interesting and unique details about Thomas Berry’s life. Information recorded within this data set falls into four categories: data on the age categories and number of taxable white males in the household, the number, race and general age categories of at least some of the slaves he owned, the amount and type of some of his livestock, and the rates and amount of taxes he paid for all of this taxable property. For the last category, there is such a small amount of information, that no analysis was conducted on this data. Changes within each of the remaining categories can be tracked through a time span of 29 years, allowing inferences and analytical conclusions to be drawn about elements of Thomas Berry’s life that cannot be derived from any other sources. Before that information is explored, however, a brief explanation of colonial tithables is in order.

 

     The term ”tithable” refers to a potentially productive member of the labor force. Originally, in ancient English law, the term referred to someone who paid ten percent of their livestock and crops to support the church. By the time it was used in colonial America in 17th century, however, it had developed into a tax on each “head”, and during the 18th century it came to denote a person who paid taxes to support the colonial government. The tax was imposed on all free Caucasian males at least 16 years of age, a small number of women, typically widows, and while all slaves over the age of 16 were also counted as taxable workers, their taxes were paid by their owners. For that matter, taxes on males between the ages of 16 and 21 were paid by the head of the household. In this case, the term household does not mean a household in the sense of typical federal census enumerations or even a family unit, but a group of people composed of a unit head who paid the tax for himself plus any people whose taxes he was responsible for – some were family – some were not. Consequently, a tithable household can represent a family unit, but not completely. Young free males under the age of 21 and slaves formed the household. When a son reached the age of 21 he was taxed as the head of an individual taxable household even though he might still live in the same house as his parents. Tithable lists for these colonial household did not include anyone under the age of 16 or women unless they were designated as the head of a household. To appear in the records, free white males had to be at least 16 years old, and when they were listed on their own instead of being a part of another household, they had to be at least 21 years old. Consequently, a young male should appear in a household when he turned 16, tracked through the next few years as a tax liability for the head of the household and then appear as an independent tax payer when he turned 21.1074, 1075, 1076, 1077

 

Table XLIII

White Tithables in Thomas Berry's Household

1782 - 1800

 

Date

White Tithables

 > 21

White Tithables

16 - 21

1782

1

 

1783

1

 

1784

1

 

1785

No Data

No Data

1786

1

 

5 June 1787

1

2

20 Oct 1788

1

1

4 July 1789

1

 

4 Sept 1790

1

2

25 July 1791

1

2

8 June 1792

1

1

Jan 1793

1

1

1794

1

1

1795

1

1

1796

No Data

No Data

1797

1

1

1798

1

1

1799

1

1

1800

1

 

1801

1

 

1802

1

 

1803

No Data

No Data

1804

1

 

1805

1

 

1806

1

 

1807 2  
1808 1  
1809 1  
1810 1  
1811 1  

 

     Table XLIII summarizes the tax data available on the white tithable males in Thomas Berry’s household. Through about half of the time period covered by these tax records, Thomas Berry Jr. was the only white tithable male in his household. For the other half of that interval, a small number of young males between the ages of 16 and 21 were recorded in the household. While there certainly is the possibility that these males could represent extended family members or even unrelated individuals, with a house full of young boys, it is quite reasonable to suspect that these white males represent his sons. As they reached the age of 16, they began appearing in the tax records of their father’s household, and when they reached the age of 21, they were taxed in their own right. As they left the nest, or at least became old enough to pay their own taxes, the next younger son would come of taxable age and begin appearing in the records. Probably the most important nugget of information that this data sets yields on Thomas Berry’s life is that it serves as an approximate record of when his sons turned 16 and 21, both, of which, in turn, can be used to make a reasonably accurate estimate of their birth dates. Furthermore, knowing where Thomas Berry Jr. was living at that time of these births establishes the birth place of the various sons.

 

     From 1782 through 1786 there was only one tithable male in his household – Thomas Berry Jr. himself. None of his sons were old enough to qualify as being taxable according to the records. In 1787, however, two of his sons, presumably the oldest boys, Thomas Berry III and William Berry, appear as males in the 16 to 21 age category. Since the year before, in 1786, there were no males 16 or older, it seems that both had turned 16 by late spring of 1787, which places both of their birth dates at 1771. However, the following year, in 1788, both Thomas Berry III and William Berry, Thomas’ oldest sons, were taxed on their own, which means they had just turned 21, so their birth dates must have actually been 1767. If this birth date calculation is correct, then both of these boys would have turned 16 in 1783 and should have appeared in the 16 to 21 age bracket as taxable males from then through 1787. Either they were not actually living in the household at the time, or their presence in the household was purposefully not reported in the records. Without any collaborative information, it is impossible to determine why they didn’t show up in the records from 1783 through 1786, but it is certain that they were identified as separate and independent tax payers from 1788 onward. While Thomas and William both reached tax “maturity” in 1788, another brother must have reached the age of 16, since there is one such male in Thomas Berry’s household that year. The next son in line is John Berry, so this tax entry probably represents him. There is a John Berry that appears in Washington County tax records from 1789 through 1801, but there are at least four other John Berrys living in the county at the time, and these tax records could easily refer to any one or more of them. Consequently, determining when Thomas Berry Jr.’s son named John turned 21 cannot be easily determined. If he turned 16 the year he showed up in his father’s tax household, he would have been born in 1772, but, given the uncertainty in regard to his older brother’s absence in the tax records when they SHOULD have been there, there is no guarantee that this John Berry was actually 16 that year.

 

     In 1789 no sons were recorded in the 16 to 21 age bracket, but for the next two years, 1790 and 1791, there are two sons in this bracket. The next sons in the Thomas Berry family are James and George Berry. James appears as an independent tax payer in 1792, so he must have been one of the two males in 1790 and 1791. After James Berry came of taxable age only one son remained in the 16 to 21 bracket – George Berry, and he appeared as an independent tax payer in 1795. In the same year there was still a young male in the 16 to 21 year bracket, David Berry, and he can be tracked through the records in his father’s household until 1799. The next year he appeared on his own, and no more young males appeared in Thomas Berry Jr.’s household after that time. Unlike their older brothers, both George and David Berry can be tracked in their father’s household from the time they turned 16 to when they began being listed as independent taxpayers at age 21.

 

     If this analysis of tax records illustrates anything, it is that great care should be taken when determining the ages of males by using the 16 to 21 year age bracket. The accuracy and completeness of the data is sketchy at best. On the other hand, the first appearance of a son as an independent tax payer, particularly after having appeared in the 16 to 21 year bracket in the year or years immediately prior to is a much more definitive and reliable tool for estimating birth dates.

 

     The African slaves, at least the taxable slaves, owned by Thomas Berry from 1782 through 1811, are shown in Table XLIV While the data is incomplete and rather minimal in nature, a number of observations and conclusions can be drawn from an analysis of these records. In the first place, the data is not continuous - there are several breaks in the continuity of the records. In 1785, 1796 and 1803 no county tax data is available at all, perhaps due to loss of the original tax records or the lack of tax data being recorded. Three other breaks in the record stream, in 1786, 1794 and 1797, are not related to a lack of tax records, but rather to the lack of any slave data in Thomas Berry’s household during those years. This could mean that he still owned slaves but they were but not recorded for some reason. A common practice was to remove them from the parish or county just prior to tax time. On the other hand it could be that they were not recorded because he owned no slaves at that time, perhaps having sold them. If he sold them, then he quickly purchased more, since he always seems to have one or two in the next taxable year. In addition, the fidelity of the information changed over the 29 year time span covered by this data set. From 1782 through 1784 only the presence of taxable slaves is shown – not even broad age range categories or the fact that they were African in racial origin are provided in this data set, so the only conclusions that can be drawn for this time period are that Thomas Berry was, indeed a slave owner and that he owned a small number of them. One more conspicuous fact from this time frame is important. When taxes were first recorded in Washington County, Virginia in 1782, Thomas Berry was 40 years old and already a slave owner, so there is no telling when his slave-owning days actually began. He could easily have owned African slaves through the 1770s and first two years of the 1780s.

 

Table XLIV

African Slaves in Thomas Berry's Household

 

Date

Slaves

Blacks

< 16

Blacks

12 - 16

Blacks

 > 16

Blacks

16 - 21

1782

1

 

 

 

 

1783

2

 

 

 

 

1784

2

 

 

 

 

1785

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

1786

 

 

 

 

 

5 June 1787

 

1

 

 

 

20 Oct 1788

 

 

1

 

 

4 July 1789

 

 

1

 

 

4 Sept 1790

 

 

1

 

 

25 July 1791

 

 

1

2

 

8 June 1792

 

 

 

2

 

Jan 1793

 

 

 

1

 

1794

 

 

 

 

 

1795

 

 

 

1

 

1796

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

1797

 

 

 

 

 

1798

 

 

 

 

1

1799

 

 

1

1

 

1800

 

 

1

1

 

1801

 

 

 

1

 

1802

 

 

 

2

 

1803

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

No Data

1804

 

 

 

2

 

1805

 

 

 

2

 

1806

 

 

 

2

 

1807       2  
1808       2  
1809       2  
1810       3  

 

      From 1787 through 1811 general age categories are provided for the enslaved Africans, and the fact that they are African in origin is clearly noted, since they are referred to as “blacks”. The age categories, at least for Thomas Berry’s slaves, were either greater than or less than 16, between 12 and 16 and between 16 and 21. From 1787 through 1791 Thomas Berry paid taxes on one African slave under the age of 16. Between 1788 and 1791 this person was specified as being between 12 and 16, placing his or her birth between 1772 and 1776. From 1792 through 1798, no slaves under the age of 16 appear in Thomas Berry’s household. The obvious assumption is that this individual was quite young when first appearing in the records as Thomas Berry’s slave, then reached the age of 16 and so appeared in the older age category. However, 1791 was the last year a slave under the age of 16, at least for the next six years, was recorded, but two slaves over 16 were also recorded that year and in subsequent years, so it does not appear that the young slave remained in Thomas Berry’s household and merely grew older. It seems more likely that this person either passed away or was sold. In 1791 and 1792 there were two slaves over 16, but from 1793 through 1801 there is only one slave in Thomas Berry’s household over 16. As in the previous case, it seems likely that either the second slave passed away or he or she was sold. In 1799, one slave under the age of 16 appears briefly in Thomas Berry’s taxable household, but, after 1800, that slave is also gone. As in the previous case, there is also a slave in the older age category, so the young slave does not appear to have remained in the household, but disappears, most likely either passing away or being sold. The same thing occurred again in 1809. If this interpretation is correct, then Thomas Berry seems to have been in the habit of buying and selling a small number of young African slaves on a somewhat regular basis. The fact that this pattern happened repeatedly almost sounds like it represents a speculative money-making operation. From 1799 through 1811, Thomas Berry gradually increased the number of African slaves over the age of 16 that he owned, which sounds like purchases of additional slaves were made every few years.1074

 

     Other than the tax records, the only other occurrences of the slaves in Thomas Berry’s records are related to their identification in a deed gift to his son David Berry and in estate distribution documents. In 1803, in an effort to ensure that his son David Berry would receive his share of the estate, Thomas Berry awarded a male slave by the name of Edmond to him. Presumably, in order to obtain the monetary value of the gift, Edmond would have to be sold. Tax records from this time, however, do not reflect the loss of a slave from Thomas Berry’s household.

 

     Thomas Berry, who must have been very near death at the time, wrote his will in April of 1812 and had passed away by late June of the same year. In his will he bequeathed his female slave, Chriss, to his second wife, Prudence with the stipulation that Prudence could maintain ownership until her death or remarriage. Upon either outcome, Chriss was to be sold and the money divvied up among Thomas Berry’s sons. Since Prudence remarried a short seven weeks after Thomas Berry’s death, the money, quite clearly, stayed in the family. In estate appraisal documents, Chriss was referred to as a family slave, which means that she must have performed household chores rather than tending the fields. Prior to her sale, she was loaned out to other households to generate cash for the Berry family. In his will, Thomas Berry instructed that the rest of his slaves were to be sold and the income generated from their sale be distributed to his sons. An inventory and appraisal of Thomas Berry’s estate was completed in late June of 1812, identifying four slaves: Sam, Nancy, Nelson and Chriss, which seems to corroborate the tax records which showed that Thomas owned three slaves in 1811. Apparently, he had acquired another slave in late 1811 or early 1812. The appraisal records indicate that one of the four slaves was a child by the name of Nelson, which solves the issue of where the extra slave came from. He appears to have been a result of the “natural increase” in a slave owner’s slave inventory. The estate appraisal also identified one male slave, Sam, and two female slaves, Chriss and Nancy. It seems quite reasonable to assume that Sam is the father of Nelson, and that either Chriss or Nancy is the mother, so this small group of slaves, at least three of them anyway, appears to represent an enslaved African family. While all of the adult slaves were appraised at values of several hundred dollars, Nelson, being a baby, was worth significantly less – under $100. The slaves were appraised at a total value of $1050, and sold at the estate auction, which took place on 02 November 1812, for $1332. The documentation of Thomas Berry’s slaves, culled from tax and court records, reveals a pattern of periodic selling of individual slaves, the probable occurrence of an enslaved African family and the sale of that family to convert their value into cash for his sons.

 

Thomas Berry's Land in Davidson/Williamson County, Tennessee

 

     Thomas Berry can be identified, located and traced from the 1770s through the time of his death in southwestern Virginia through court records, real estate transactions, militia and tax records, but, at some point, he acquired land in central Tennessee. He lived in Virginia all of his life (except for a possible brief time after his birth), and much of that time, at least his adult life, appears to have been spent in Washington County, which makes his acquisition of lands in central Tennessee seem rather odd and difficult to understand. More confusing is the way he appears to have acquired the land – through military service in the North Carolina Continental Line. Through four separate transactions during 1785 Thomas Berry came to own 1,617 acres of land described as being on the north fork of the main Harpeth about a mile or so above the point where the west fork and the main Harpeth join, and along Indian Creek, a small creek that empties into the north side of the Tennessee River. (Table XLV, Figure 102) Two of the land tracts along Indian Creek were described as being adjacent. All of these lands were in Davidson County, Tennessee, and all were surveyed for Thomas Berry by Isaac Roberts, a licensed surveyor. All of the parcels were originally North Carolina land grants based on military service, and the entire paper trail from initial location of the tract to the final award of the patent took right around three years. Only one of the tracts was originally awarded to Thomas Berry. All of the others were awarded to other people, who then assigned (sold) their grant to Thomas Berry. The very odd part of this when could Thomas Berry served in the North Carolina Continental Line? In 1776 he participated in Colonel Christian’s punitive campaign against the Cherokee, presumably as a member of the Washington County militia, in 1780 he was promoted to the rank of Ensign in the Washington County militia, which strongly suggests his continued membership in that Virginia county militia and in 1781 he participated, as an officer in that military organization in the Kings Mountain campaign. North Carolina paid its veterans with its western lands based on their term of service. A private, which was the stated rank of Thomas Berry in his North Carolina land grants, was entitled to receive 7.6 acres for each month of service. Since he was awarded 429 acres, he would had to have served for just over 56 months, which amounts to just over two and a half years of North Carolina military service. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to have been that much time for him to have served that amount of time in the North Carolina Continental Line. The Revolutionary War began in 1776 and ended in 1783, and, given what appears to be a continued membership in the Washington County militia from 1776 through 1781, there seems to be very little time for him to have served in North Carolina’s military unless he served there almost immediately following his Kings Mountain experience. Furthermore, from late 1781 through 1783, Thomas Berry appeared in Washington County court records, buying land, serving on juries and appraising estates, all, of which makes it appear that he was actually living in Washington County Virginia during this time period rather than serving in the North Carolina militia at some remote location far from his home. The only exception to military service was to serve as a surveyor, laying out those lands, or to the guards who protected them. On two occasions, once in 1777 and again in 1781, Washington County records document that Thomas Berry was a land surveyor. Although it is not clear when he actually performed these surveying duties, it seems highly likely that his original North Carolina land grant was based on his services as a surveyor, not a soldier. Unfortunately, the North Carolina grants do not specify which service was performed, and lumped them all into the same category.1078,1079,1080,1081

 

Table XLV

Thomas Berry's Land Acquisitions in Davidson County, North Carolina/Tennessee

 

Located

Surveyed

Granted

Registered

Acres

NC Patent #

Military Warrant #

Original Assignee

23 Feb 1785

28 Dec 1785

15 Sept 1787

23 April 1788

429

547

711

Thomas Berry

23 Nov 1785

1 Apr 1786

15 Nov 1787

23 April 1788

640

640

1112

Azariah Massey

23 Dec 1785

8 Jan 1786

15 Nov 1787

23 April 1788

274

639

1398

William Morgan

23 Dec 1785

20 Jan 1786

16 Nov 1787

24 April 1788

274

638

1397

John Connor

 

Distribution of Thomas Berry's Land in Tennessee and Virginia

 

     From 1785 through 1788 Thomas Berry acquired 1,617 acres of land in Davidson County, Tennessee, as noted above. Beginning in 1797 four of his sons moved there from their home in Washington County, Virginia and were either given or purchased some of these land tracts from their father. In 1798 Thomas either sold or gave the 429 acre parcel to his son Thomas Berry, and, in early 1802 he, essentially, gave the larger 640 tract to his sons William, James and Basil. At about the same time the sons began moving there. Thomas left Washington County and moved to the area in 1797, the year before he received the land from his father. William Berry was living in the area by 1800 and possibly moved there as early as 1798, but definitely by late 1799. James Berry also left Virginia for the same area in by late 1799 and Basil Berry appears to have moved there with his brothers sometime in the late 1790s. Mary Berry, his ex-wife left him and moved in with her sons in Tennessee by 1803 or 1804.

 

     Thomas Berry had acquired several parcels of land on the north side of the South Fork of the Holston River in Washington County, Virginia, and from 1799 through 1804 he distributed those lands, mostly to his sons, David and John, who had remained in Washington County. In 1799 he sold a small chunk of land to a neighbor, James Wilson (Figure 22), and in the same year Samuel Duff sold back some land (139 acres) along Wolf Creek that he had purchased from two sons of Thomas Berry, William and James, back in 1791. Those sons were now living in Tennessee. While there is no evidence that Thomas Berry had ever owned this plot of land, he was identified as being the father of William and James. In 1803 a legal agreement was reached between Thomas Berry and his son David, to work Thomas’ land together and to share in the profits. Later in the same year, though, Thomas Berry gave David partial ownership of the land. He further stipulated that his wife should live there for the rest of her days, and that, after Thomas, his wife Mary and their son Jonathon passed away, full ownership would pass to David. Finally, in 1804, Thomas sold 159 acres of land to John Berry. This land parcel is described as being on the north side of the Holston and abutting the properties of William Duff and Adam Hope. Both of these men owned land along 15 Mile Creek just downstream from Thomas Berry’s known property. No record of this land acquisition has been found, and it is not clear which John Berry purchased it from him.

 

Thomas Berry's Two Marriages

 

     Thomas and Mary Berry did not appear together in Washington County records very often, but, as shown in Table XLVI, critical data entries from land and will records, that show when they did and didn’t occur together, as well as other details, can be used to approximate when their marriage broke apart, when Mary left for Tennessee to live with her sons and when Thomas remarried. From Table XLVI it can be seen that Thomas and Mary were still husband and wife through 1799. During this era, dowry laws required that the wife be taken aside, out of reach of the husband, and questioned on whether or not she agreed with any land sale negotiated by her husband, since land was one of the few things in a marriage that a woman could actually claim some control over. As late as 1799, Mary agreed to a land sale when privately questioned by the judge, thus indicating that they were still married. From 1802 through 1803 two deed gifts were made by Thomas Berry to some of his sons, and he entered a contract with one of them in land/labor agreement. Mary mentioned in only in one of these documents, a mid 1803 deed gift. In this document, Thomas noted that one of his sons will inherit his Washington County land after the death of Thomas himself, Mary and one other son. This record appears to represent a line of land inheritance – a documentation of how the land will be passed down to a specific son, and, since Mary is mentioned as one of the key players, it seems likely to assume that they are still married. By 21 August 1804, however, Thomas Berry sold a parcel of land and, not only was no mention made of Mary, she was not questioned as to her dowry rights. Her absence from this land sale is quite conspicuous and strongly suggests that she and Thomas were no longer married. Following a divorce, a woman no longer enjoyed the dowry rights of marriage, so they must have been divorced sometime in the year and a half period between the spring of 1803 and the late summer of 1804. In the final record, Thomas Berry’s will, he specifically states that his wife rode to Tennessee, presumably to live with her sons, at some point in the past, although no date was specified. From the Washington County tax records, and other associated records, it can be seen that some of Thomas Berry’s sons moved to Williamson County, Tennessee to occupy and own the lands that Thomas Berry had acquired on the Harpeth River, and it appears that their mother soon left her husband and moved in with them. In addition, in the spring of 1807, Thomas Berry married Prudence Rowlett Dickinson, the widow of Archelous Dickenson, who was 13 years younger than Thomas. In his will, Thomas took care of his second wife, ensuring that she received one of the slaves, kept her property, which she may have inherited from a previous marriage, revenues from the sale of a horse, some harvested crops and some livestock and cash derived from the sale of his estate. Apparently, she did not remain a grieving widow for long, since a newspaper article from the time sarcastically commented on how quickly she remarried.

 

Table XLVI

Thomas and Mary Berry

Key Actions in Washington County Records

 

Date Main Players Action/Mary's Involvement
24 April 1786 Thomas and Mary Mary - Will Witnesses
20 Aug 1799 Thomas and Mary Mary - Consulted in Land Sale
11 Jan 1802 Thomas Berry & sons Deed Gift - No Mention of Mary
1 June 1803 Thomas Berry & son David Labor Agreement - No Mention of Mary
21 June 1803 Thomas Berry & son David Mary Mentioned in Deed Gift
21 Aug 1804 Thomas Berry Land sale  – Mary not consulted
25 April 1812 Thomas Berry Will - notes that former wife went to Tennessee

 

Estate Appraisal

 

     As was the usual custom after the death of a household head, by court order Thomas Berry’s personal property was identified and all items were appraised in preparation for an estate sale. Analysis of the content of the estate appraisal, summarized in Table XLVII, reveals that they can be broadly divided into five categories: Crops & Farm Products, Household Items, Livestock, Slaves and Tool & Farm Items, facilitating an understanding of the relative values of Thomas Berry’s property. What clearly stands out is the immense value of the enslaved human property, which constituted nearly two thirds of the value of the entire estate. Second in value were the animals, which comprise nearly a quarter of the estate’s value. Combined, the living property, both human and livestock, form an overwhelming 86% of the personal property wealth of Thomas Berry. The other categories, basically, the inanimate objects needed to conduct daily life on a farm, combined, make up only 14% of the estate, a rather pitiful amount in comparison to the value of his living property.


Table XLVII

Thomas Berry's Estate Appraisal

Categories and Percentages

 

Category

Percentage

Crops & Farm Products

3%

Tools & Farm Items

4%

Household Items

 7%

Livestock

23%

Slaves

63%

 

     Among the personal property items listed in Thomas Berry’s estate appraisal, a number of them are of particular interest since they cast a uniquely focused light on Thomas Berry’s lifestyle. Table XLVIII shows the items that are considered to be lifestyle indicators, the general category into which they were classified and an assessment of the type of work each represented. From the bulk of these items it can be seen that Thomas Berry, his family and his slaves lived rather labor-intensive lives. The bulk of these items and associated assessments shows that much of their time must have been devoted to operating a farm and livestock operation without the benefit of many modern labor-saving conveniences. Prominently differentiated from this labor-driven universe, however, are a small number of books, which, quite clearly, identify an intellectual side to Thomas Berry’s character that can be seen in few other source data points that document his life. It should not be forgotten that he was a land surveyor, so he definitely was able to master basic trigonometry. The fact that he owned a small number of books clearly indicates he was not illiterate and was, in fact, actively interested in intellectual pursuits. Of particular interest are three books whose authors and titles are specifically identified, thus attaching a higher level of significance to them than the other books which are merely generically referenced as a collection of small books. Those three books are Bailey’s Dictionary, Elements of Logic and two volumes of Jones’ Geography.

 

     “Bailey’s Dictionary”, which is a shortened version of the book’s actual title: “Dictionarium Britannicum: or a more compleat universal etymological English dictionary than any extant”, a very popular reference manual during the 19th century, was written by Nathan Bailey and originally published in 1730 in London. As explained in its introduction, the book’s purpose was to explain the “hard and technical Words, or Terms of Art, in all the ARTS, SCIENCES, and MYSTERIES following. Together with ACCENTS directing to their proper Pronuntiation, shewing both the Orthography, and the Orthoepia of the English Tongue”. The introduction goes on to list the topics it covered, which included “Algebra, Anatomy, Architecture, Arithmetick, Astrology, Astronomy, Botanicks, Catoptricks, Chymistry, Chiromancy, Chirurgery, Confectionary, Cookery, Cosmography, Dialling, Dioptricks, Ethicks, Fishing, Fortification, Fowling, Gardening, Gauging, Geography, Geometry, Grammar, Gunnery, Handicrafts, Hawking, Heraldry, Horsemanship, Hunting, Husbandry, Hydraulicks, Hydrography, Hydrostaticks, Law, Logick, Maritime and Military Affairs, Mathematicks, Mechanicks, Merchandize, Metaphysicks, Meteorology, Navigation, Opticks, Otacousticks, Painting, Perspective, Pharmacy, Philosophy, Physick, Physiognomy, Pyrotechny, Rhetorick, Sculpture, Staticks, Statuary, Surveying, Theology, and Trigonometry.” Quite simply, this was book was a reference manual that summarized the technological advances of the day for the general public, and appears to have supplied a great deal of information that would be quite useful for a pioneering life style.1083,1084

 

     “Elements of Logic” appears to be a book on logic and reasoning, explaining the basis of philosophical inquiry and a sort of guide to the correct and logical application of common sense. A book of the same title published in 1854 by Richard Whately explores these topics, and, although that book appeared after Thomas Berry’s death, it’s logical to assume that an earlier author could have covered the same ground. While no book entitled Geography by an author named Jones could be found from this time period, it does seems quite probable that a two volume set of books on this subject sets the owner apart from many of his neighbors. The fact that Thomas Berry owned this collection of books and that they were specifically identified during his estate appraisal testifies to the intellectual curiosity of Thomas Berry. He does not appear to have been a mere farmer, but an intelligent man capable improving his understanding of the physical world, perhaps in an effort to take advantage of the benefits of what was then modern science in his everyday life.1082

 

Table XLVIII

Lifestyle Indicators in Thomas Berry's Estate

 

Category Use Item
Household Items General Lifestyle candlestick
Household Items General Lifestyle snuffers
Household Items General Lifestyle looking glass
Household Items General Lifestyle smoothing iron
Household Items General Lifestyle pair fire irons
Tools & Farm Items General Lifestyle leather
Household Items Intellectual Development Bailey's Dictionary
Household Items Intellectual Development Jones's Geography
Household Items Intellectual Development Element of Logik
Tools & Farm Items Manual Labor - Plowing shovel plough with colter
Tools & Farm Items Manual Labor - Plowing bar share plough
Tools & Farm Items Manual Labor - Wood Working auger
Tools & Farm Items Manual Labor - Wood Working auger & skillet
Tools & Farm Items Manual Labor - Wood Working axe
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse saddle & sursingle
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse womans saddle blanket & bridle
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse halter chain & collar
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse pair saddle bags
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse horse collars
Tools & Farm Items Power - Horse pair drawing chains
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual paid gears
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual old shovel of a plough & hammer
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual grindstone
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual chains
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual large iron shovel
Tools & Farm Items Power - Manual trowel
Household Items Production - Butter churn
Household Items Production - Butter small churn
Household Items Production - Butter churn
Household Items Production - Cloth home spun great coat
Household Items Production - Cloth coat jacket mixt home spun cotton
Household Items Production - Cloth feather bed, 2 homemade sheets, blanket
Household Items Production - Cloth reed & gears
Household Items Production - Cloth loom
Tools & Farm Items Production - Cloth reed & gears
Tools & Farm Items Production - Crops hoes
Tools & Farm Items Production - Crops scyth & hangings
Tools & Farm Items Production - Crops weeding hoe & mattlok
Crops & Farm Products Production - Crops 24 bushels of rye
Crops & Farm Products Production - Crops 19 1/2 bushels of wheat
Crops & Farm Products Production - Crops wheat and rye growing in the fields
Crops & Farm Products Production - Livestock 70 1/2 lbs bacon
Tools & Farm Items Production - Measuring steelyards
Household Items Production - Soap fat tub
Tools & Farm Items Production - Soap vessel with soap
Tools & Farm Items Production - Storage barrel
Tools & Farm Items Production - Storage hogshead
Crops & Farm Products Production - Wool 8 lbs wool
Tools & Farm Items Production - Wool wool shears

 

     A number of household and farm items testify to the labor-intensive nature of these pioneer families. Of particular interest are the butter churns, a reel and loom and the associated reed and gears, as well as the various clothing and bedding items listed as being home spun or homemade. The butter churns clearly demonstrate that Thomas Berry’s family operated a farm with cows whose milk was processed by hand in the churns to make butter, which, more than likely, was a valuable household staple. The fact that he owned a loom clearly shows this family had the ability to make their own cloth, probably ultimately derived from the wool of sheep. The fact that he owned a small herd of sheep, a pair of wool shears and the eight pounds of sheared wool clearly documents the fact that this family must have harvested wool from their sheep to make the thread for their clothing items that were processed into cloth with the loom. The reel was used to create thread from which cloth could be made in the loom, so, in light of this, the hand-made clothing items were probably made in the Berry household every step of the way from scratch – growing the wool, processing it into thread with the reel, then using these materials in the loom to create the clothing they wore, and probably their bedding, as well. No doubt the women also sewed and quilted, creating the other clothing and bedding items. The candlesticks, as well as the candle snuffers clearly place this family in the pre-electric age when candles were a critical source of light after the sun went down. The smoothing iron was, quite clearly, an iron used to press clothes, possibly their more formal church-going and special occasion garments, and, of course, the looking glass or mirror for checking out one’s appearance. Also listed in the estate inventory was a fat tub and a vessel containing soap, all, of which, strongly suggests that they made their own soap. The process for making soap starts with collecting pig fat to create lard. Included in his estate were a total of 29 hogs and pigs and over seventy pounds of bacon, so he clearly raised pigs, slaughtered them for food and used some of the remaining parts. Lye, derived from the ashes of wood fires is rapidly mixed with lard and stirred over a fire for hours to produce a thick soap in a very labor-intensive effort. All of these items, the churn, the loom, the homemade clothing and the evidence of soap production document a home life dominated by manual labor comprising numerous time consuming and laborious tasks needed to not only survive, but to sustain a degree of comfort within a pioneering lifestyle.1085

 

     The various tools and farm equipment that showed up in his estate appraisal further testify to a pioneering farm family oriented around a life of manual labor. The fire irons show that the family utilized wood fires, and the ax and auger are definitely wood working tools. His shovel plough with coulter (a sharp wedge located on the front of a plow that actually cuts the soil), old shovel of a plough and bar share plough cannot be mistaken for anything other than equipment for plowing land and planting crops. They were most certainly horse drawn plows, and, if anything, Thomas Berry can be definitively documented as being a horse owner as testified by his combination of an obviously breeding herd of horses and colts. There was also plenty of horse-related equipment documented in the appraisal, including various types of saddles, saddle blankets and bridles, saddle bags and horse collars, and the fact that there was a woman’s side saddle included in his personal property shows that it wasn’t just the men who rode horses. Of course the associated chains and gears show that the horses were relied upon to perform heavy duty work. The hoes and scythe were undoubtedly used to harvest and process the crops, and the grindstone was used to sharpen the various steel tools. It is also quite clear that, at least in his final years, Thomas Berry was planting, growing and harvesting rye and wheat. In the spring of 1781 Thomas Berry was accused of keeping a tipling house, which probably means that he had a still to make some homemade whiskey, which he, apparently, sold on the side without a government license. No doubt he also grew the grains to make the whiskey. In his estate appraisal a hogshead was identified, which was a barrel used, among other things, to store alcoholic beverages. It certainly could be that he continued with his whiskey-making, but on a legal basis.

 

     In his will, Thomas made a special point that the property that his second wife, Prudence, brought into the marriage would remain with her. In the estate appraisal those items, mostly household items and furniture, were identified, appraised and officially turned over to Prudence during the estate settlement. He also stipulated that she should receive a cash payment of $333, the proceeds from the sale of one of his horses in addition to 10 bushels of corn, twenty bushels of wheat and four barrows of hogs. In the final estate distribution, Prudence received $519.42, a $150 spinning wheel from her deceased husband’s estate, $167 worth of wool and $30 worth of corn. Prudence married Major William Love not long after the death of Thomas Berry, and, as noted earlier in the report, a local newspaper made a rather sarcastic comment on her quick remarriage. It is rather interesting to note that a Major Love paid Thomas Berry’s estate to rent a slave woman named Chris, who, according to Thomas Berry’s will, was “assigned” to Prudence by Thomas in order to provide for in her widowhood.

 

     One of the more interesting facets of Thomas Berry’s final estate distribution records is the information provided on the income generated by the labor of his enslaved Africans after his death. Apparently, during the interim period between his death and his final estate distribution, the estate managers were not idle in utilizing the assets available to them. As shown in Table XLIX, significant income for the estate was derived not only from the “leasing” or “renting” of the slaves, but also from interest on the sale of one of the slaves, which indicates they were purchased by a buyer on credit.


Table XLIX

Slave Generated Income

 

Interest Paid on Sale of Chris $31
Sale of Slaves 2 Nov 1812 $1332
Hire of Chris to Major Love $3
Interest on Bond & Price of Chris $4
Hire of Slaves to John Duff $18.64

 

      Until the estate was settled in 1817, about four years after Thomas Berry’s death, the estate assets generated income and costs were paid out, the income primarily being interest payments and the latter mostly being taxes. Table L shows the monetary inheritance distributions to Thomas Berry’s family members and the taxes paid on Thomas’ land in central Tennessee, as well as interest income from loans made by Thomas Berry.


Table L

Taxes, Land Sales & Monetary Distribution to Descendants

 

Interest paid on the bequest to nine of William Berry's children in Tennessee $42
Cash to Prudence Berry $19.42
Cash to the children of William Berry, deceased $333.33
Cash Paid to David Berry for a bridle used by Thomas Berry $2
Saddle delivered to William Berry at appraisal $15
Taxes paid on Thomas Berry’s lands in West Tennessee  $75.06
Taxes paid by James Berry on lands of Thomas Berry $23
Cash Paid to Thomas, James, Bazil, John & George Berry $950
Interest on Thomas Berry’s Bond $23.74
Interest on James Berry’s Bond $15.66

 

      By 1815 two of Thomas Berry’s sons, James and William Berry, had passed away. In the case of William Berry, Thomas Berry’s estate records show that William’s children received their father’s share of his inheritance. Rebecca, the widow of James, was granted ownership of the Tennessee lands that had been bequeathed to her deceased husband, James Berry. This also happened to be the location of James and Rebecca’s homestead. From the estate records it can also be seen how some of Thomas’ land in central Tennessee land had been distributed. (Table LI) While no records have been located on the 274 acre tract he had purchased, the 429 acre parcel was “sold” to Thomas Berry, and the division of the three-way split of the 640 acre tract can be calculated. When Basil Berry left Tennessee he sold his share, which amounted to 227 acres, and Rebecca Berry, James Berry’s widow, gained control of 258.5 acres from her widow’s dower. That leaves 154.5 acres to William Berry. It should also be noted that David Berry inherited his father’s land in Washington County, Virginia.


Table LI

Division of Thomas Berry's Land in Central Tennessee

 

Lot ID Bequeathed To Acres Other Notes
Lot 1 William Berry 154.5 part of 640 acres on Big Harpeth
Lot 2 James Berry 258.5 part of 640 acres on Big Harpeth
Lot 3 Basil Berry 227 part of 640 acres on Big Harpeth
  Thomas Berry 429 north fork of main Harpeth

 

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