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PAPERS OF JOHN NANCE (abt.1748-1813), dated 1756-1847

About these papers --  This group of over 100 old (1756-1847) papers was found in the attic of the old home of CALVIN NANCE, located on the Holston River near the small town of Blaine, in Grainger Co, Tennessee.   The papers were found in the early 1940's after the home was purchased by H. R. Duncan.    In 1944, the papers were loaned to the McClung Historical Collection, at the Lawson McGhee Library, Knoxville,  Tennesee,  by Mrs. Duncan.   Photostatic copies were made in 1946 by Mrs. Chas. F. Wayland, State Chairman of Genealogy Records, Daughters of the American Revolution National Society.  Later, Mrs. Duncan donated the original papers to the McClung.  At some point, a partial transcription of the papers was prepared, and that typescript copy is also available at the McClung.   However, not all of the papers are included in that transcription, and it is also not a full representation of the content of the documents.  What follows is my attempt at a truly complete transcription of these papers.  You can go direct to the transcriptions now -- but I suggest you stick around for a minute and read a little bit about them!

Who is involved --  These papers,  which consist largely of financial records such as receipts and store accounts, property transactions, and miscellaneous legal documents, appear to have been records which were kept by JOHN NANCE (abt. 1748-1813),  a brother of Reuben Nance and a son of William and Ann Nance. Specifically, the Nance family lineage which is involved  is as follows (this is adapted from "Nance Register"):

WILLIAM and ANN NANCE -- Children:
  1) Thomas (b. 29 Feb. 1736 - d. 1756)
  2) Sarah (b. 30 Jan. 1742/43) m. John Lanier 
  3) Reuben m.(1) Amy Williamson, (2)Nancy Brown 
  4) Isham m. Francis ? 
 +5) JOHN m. Mary 
  6) Mary m. Frederick Lanier, rem. to NC, then to
      SC. He was a Revolutionary soldier. 
  7) Elizabeth m. ? Glover.
  8) Tabitha m. Stephen Maybrey 1775, Mecklenburg Co. 
    Sec. Isham Nance, brother of bride. 

   JOHN NANCE (b. ca. 1748, Brunswick Co, VA  - d. 1813    
   Jefferson Co, TN) md. Mary ? -- Children: 
     +1) JOHN JR. (JACKIE) (b. ca. 1783 - d. 1852) 
         m. 1812, SARAH    ORR (b. Sep. 1786 - d. 15 DEC. 1872) 
      2) Reuben m. Rosana
      3) Polly m. ? Roach
      4) Betsy m. Allen Nance 
      5) Eleanor m. Obediah Garner
      6) Jane m. Ignatious Simms 
      7) Peggy md. Clement Nance

         JOHN NANCE (JACKIE) (b. 1783 - d. 1882) m. 25 FEB. 1812  
         Sally Orr. Res: Jefferson Co, TN. Children: 
           +1) CALVIN B.(b. 1813 - d. 1879) m. MARY SHIELDS 
            2) William E. (b.1815 - d.1879) 
               m. Jarnagan Mcanally 
            3) Claiborne (d. about 1844)
            4) Greenville P. (b. 1822) m. Mary Williamson
            5) Noah 1st m. Catherine Jane, 
               2nd m. Alice Williamson 
            6) Mary Elizabeth (b. 1830) m. Calaway McBee

              CALVIN B. NANCE (b. 1813 - d. 1879) 
               m. MARY S. ? (b. 1824) Children: 
                 1) Samuel S. (b. 1846 - d. 1862)
                 2) John (Cal.) (b. 1849 - d. 1925) 
                    m. Hattie Crumley  Children: 
                       a) Shields
                       b) Calvin
                       c) Cedric m. Jennie Northern
                       d) Ralph m. Iva Bowen
                 3) Eliza P. (b. 1851 - d. 1931) m. John (Noah) Nance
                 4) Mary Elizabeth (b. 1854 - d. 1858)
                 5) Franklin T. (b. 1863 - d. 1927)

Given names of NANCES found in these papers include: JOHN, JEFFERSON, CLAIBORNE, PRYOR, REUBEN, TABITHA, ALLEN, CLEMMANTINE, JOHN Jur., MARY, PETER, EDWARD, W. BIRD, THOMAS son of William, deceased, THOMAS son of Daniel, and WM.

How the records are reproduced here --  The original records consist of many individual sheets and of paper, some quite small and irregular, many with writing on both sides.    In preparing this transcription I have used dotted lines to show separations between separate pieces of paper.  Within each section defined  by dotted lines I have tried to reproduce the entire content of what is on that sheet of paper, front and back. I have also tried, insofar as is possible considering this format, to replicate the way the words are organized on the page. Finally, I have reproduced the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc., as found on the originals.

The records are arranged in reverse chronological order, i.e., most recent to oldest.

There are many cases in which the words are so unclear that they cannot be read at all.   In many other cases, the meaning of words is fairly clear but they are mis-spelled (at least by our modern standards!).  I have necessarily had to engage in a certain amount of guessing. In cases in which I am unsure of a letter or word, I have placed my best guess in brackets with a "?".  In cases in which I have no idea what a word or letter is, I have simply used a "?" in brackets.  There are also cases in which, while the letters appear to be clear, they spell out a word the meaning of which is unclear because the words are no longer in use.  In some cases, my old (1890's) "Encycoplaedic Dictionary" has enabled me to identify (or make an educated guess about) the meaning of the word, and in these cases, I have included explanatory notes. Finally, in many of the records here which are statements of account, I was unsure of the numbers, and in the many cases in which sums were expressed in British units (which I'm not very good at) I did not work backwards to try to figure out the numbers.  Therefore, I do not claim that the  figures all "add up".

What can these papers tell us? -- These papers involve a branch of the Nance family which has been pretty well worked out, genealogically speaking.   With one exception, the papers do not shed any new light on the question of who was related to who.

However, they provide an unparalleled look at the day-to-day life of a branch of our family in the latter part of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th.  In particular, the store accounts give a level of detail about how they lived that is remarkable.  And, in one case, the records do provide a very important clue to a difficult, unresolved issue in the genealogy of the Nance family:  the nature of the connection between the earliest known American lines (those of John & Sarah, Daniel and Elizabeth, James and Ann, and William and Ann).   Read on!

Account of Thomas Nance, Deceased --The oldest record in this group of papers, dating to 1759,  shows the account of  "Thomas Nance Son of William  Deceas'd"  with a storekeeper,  A. Love.  (A notation on the back, referring simply to "Thomas Nance deceased", makes it clear that it is Thomas who is deceased, not William).  It is clear that this is the Thomas Nance shown in the "Nance Register" as having been born  29 Feb. 1736 to William and Ann Nance, and as having died in  1756.  He was thus the older brother of the John Nance who accumulated these papers.  The account probably came into John's possession in connection with the administration of Thomas' estate.

On one side of this paper is a list of debits, i.e.,  purchases from A. Love on the account of this Thomas Nance, from June 1756 to June 1759.  (This may be seen as calling into question the date of death given in the "Nance Register".  I initially wondered whether it was possible that Thomas had a wife who continued to make purchases on his account after his death, while his estate was in probate, but consideration of some of the purchases made in 1757-59 -- such as "shott", powder and bullets -- suggest that the man of the house was still around.  I think that the 1756 date was taken from the incomplete typescript copy in the McClung, and a date of death of 1759 is more accurate for this Thomas).

The really interesting thing here, however, is on the back.  On the other side of this document is a list of credits, i.e., payments made to A. Love towards the account, showing the person who actually made the payment.   One of the persons listed there is "Thomas Nance Son of Danl.", who paid 6 pence towards the account on April 21, 1757.  

The fact that both of these Thomas Nances were described by reference to their fathers is a clue that they were close to the same age.  At this time, the terms "Junior" and "Senior" were commonly used without any intent to describe family relationship, but simply to denote relative age.  If there were two men in a community with the same name, the older would be referred to as "Senior" and the younger as "Junior", simply as a way of distinguishing them.  Obviously, though, if the men were about the same age, this system would not work -- some other distinction would have to be used.  It seems clear that in this case, they were distinguished by mentioning their fathers' names.

There were very few Thomas Nances this early.  In fact, there is only one person who could have been a "Thomas Nance", and a son of Danl. Nance, and of approximately the same age as William and Ann Nance's son Thomas (b. 1736).  It can only have been the Thomas Nance who was (according to the "Nance Register") born ca. 1740 to Daniel Nance (son of Daniel and Elizabeth Nance) and his wife, Mary.

But the question  then is -- why would this Thomas Nance have made a payment towards the account of another Thomas Nance?  Granted, it was not very much -- apparently only six pence -- but I think it shows that they must have been fairly closely connected.  Presumably, what was going on here with payments by other persons towards the account, was that if you learned that a friend or relative was going to be visiting the store and you had some extra cash that could be applied to your account, you would give it to them to have them give it to the storekeeper, who would apply it to your account but also show the source of the payment, i.e., who brought it in.   In the case of Thomas Nance's account, there are payments in 1757 by "Thomas Nance Son of Danl.", "David Ross" ( a friend?), and "Wm. Nance" (presumably, his father). (There was also a  payment in 1756, shown as "Deer Sear", presumably the "Dear Sir" salutation in a letter accompanying the payment). 

(I suppose it is possible, that one Thomas Nance left a payment, intending it to be towards his own account, and that it was credited to the other Thomas Nance's account by a mistake of the shopkeeper, A. Love.  However, I just can't bring myself to see this as probable...)

So is it likely that these two Thomas Nances just happened to be living in the same community, and were close enough that one would be entrusted to take the others' money to go pay his debts, and that yet they were only distantly related?  I think not.   Even if these Thomas Nances were no closer than second cousins, this establishes a connection between two Nance lines which have not been definitively connected: it would mean that the earliest Daniel Nance (who married Elizabeth) was a brother to the father of the early William Nance who married Ann.

But if these two Thomas Nances were first cousins -- that would establish that William Nance was a son of Daniel and Elizabeth Nance

That is contrary to the established thinking, which associates William with the William who married. a woman named Tinsley by 1692 -- but in fact there is no evidence supporting that association. The hypothesis that the younger William (who m. Ann) was a son of Daniel and Elizaeth Nance is equally plausible.  While it is known that Daniel and Elizabeth Nance had daughters Phebe, Eliza, Elinor and Lucy between 1712 and 1729, and it is generally accepted that they were the parents of the Daniel Nance who married Mary and who was probably born before 1712, there are no other known sons of Daniel and Elizabeth.   If you take a look at my chart of early American Nances, you can see that William could very easily have been one of their sons.  This would have created a first-cousin relationship between the two Thomas Nances (I have highlighted their names on the chart) that we see associated in the "account of Thomas Nance, Deceased".

Anyway, that's my speculation.  Anybody have any thoughts on this, pro or con?

PAPERS OF JOHN NANCE (abt.1748-1813), dated 1756-1847


Wm. Fuller C.C.
                A. [V.?] Nance is hereby authorized to 
receipt for the Firm of Blackburn & Burnett
May 6th 1847                      A. Blackburn


I this day Sell and confirm to JOHN NANCE a Small Ireland 
Caled the Calf Ireland on holston River Jefferson County 
East Tennessee for the Valuation of Sixty Dollars this 3d 
day of april 1847 
attest                    Joseph [? - apparently a surname]
[C ?] Nance                                        
[NOTE: The word is clearly spelled "Ireland"; however, from 
context, the intended meaning was probably "Island"]

Richard Thornburgh, Charles Cate, Hamilton Neil, Al 
Thornburgh, JOHN NANCE, Henry Lewis, Evan Lewis, Samen 
Bradshaw, Obed[ia]h Thornburgh

Take notice that on the 25th day of this present month 
October I shall take the deposition of William Brazelton at 
the office of the Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court in 
Dandridge  Also on the 21st day of November next, and 
succeeding day if necessary, at the shop of Dr. M. M. earle 
in the Town of Granville Granville District South Carolina  
I shall take the depositions of A. H. Wells & M. B. Earle 
all of the above depositions I shall read in evidence in the 
case now depending in the Chancery Court at Dandridge 
Wherein I am Complainant and you are respondents.
                     E. P. Earle
Octo. 7 1845         By his Attn.
                      Robert [?]


                   JOHN NANCE Jr.
To Blackb[?] & Burnett in Act         
August 10th  To visit to self & powders        $ 2.50
       11th  "  visit to self                    2.50
       27th  "  visit to boy James               2.50
  1845 "     "  Lancing abcess & 12 Cooks pills    25
Feby 7       "  bleeding Sam                       25
March 11     "  drawing tooth for boy             .25
                                               $ 8.25 
[on back] John Nance
          Act $ 8.25 


1841     Pierce W. Bradshaw  Db [Debit?]
                       To   JOHN NANCE
Apr 28  To 19 lbs bacon           @10     1.90
June 12 "  2 bushels corn                 1.00
July 9  "  1   do     do                   .50
"   12  "  28 lbs bacon           @10     2.80   
"   20  "  1 1/2 bus corn         
"       "  2 bushels Wheat for            1.75
        "  1 1/2 " corn          @3/-      .75
Septr   " 21 lb bacon            @10      2.10
"   27  "  Cash                          10.00
"    "  " 1 Waggon complete             100.00   
"    "  " 1 Sorrel mare                  67.50   
"    "  "  Cash                           1.00    
"    "  "  Do                            20.00   
"    "  " 1 Note of hand (to C B Nance)  12.75   
"    29  " Cash (silver)                200.00    
Oct 2      Cash                          10.00
"    "  "  Amt Pd Jefferson Nance         2.90  
"    "  "  Amt Pd G. B. Mitchell          5.27  
"    "  "  Amt Pd B E Gains               4.40  
"    4  "  Cash                          20.00
"    "  "  Cash                           5.00

[On back of this document]

              P. W. Bradshaw

[NOTE: Jefferson Nance (b. 1810 - d. 1872) was a son of John 
Nance's son Reuben Nance (1780-1860) and his wife Rosana.  
G. B. Mitchel is mentioned in the will of Squire John