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Early American Dalzells and Delzells

William (1786-1837) Blount Co., TN

Detailed History

       We are pleased to present two Detailed Histories of this outstanding southern Delzell family. The first recently sent to Bob Delzell and authorized for this Website, the second excerpted from “Delzell Ties” by Bob Delzell.
       (Note: Just to remind the reader, John Delzell (1756-1807) and his wife Margaret, raised eight children on a farm in Eastern Tennessee). William (the subject of this family history), Robert (who settled in Illinois), David (who settled in Missouri), James (who settled in Indiana), Margaret (who married David C. Scroggs and settle with her brother in Indiana), John, (who may have married Elizabeth Blair), and Samuel Houston, and Gideon Blackburn. both of whom died early).

                                     The Franklin County Delzells
                                      Presented to this Website by j.w.payton.

      Five generations of Delzells lived in Franklin County beginning with John Delzell (1808-1870), who migrated from Blount County, TN. about 1828. John, his young wife Louisa, her father and uncle settled at the foot of the mountain between Greenhaw and Cowan.
John Delzell and Louisa B. Anderson were married on February 12, 1858 in Blount County, TN. by Dr. Issac Anderson, Pastor of the New Providence Presbyterian Church. They must have left soon for Middle Tennessee. In 1830 he is shown on the Franklin County, TN. census.
      Census records prior to 1850 were concerned only with numbers; consequently, the only name to appear was the head of the household. John Delzell was listed as head of household in both the 1830 and 1840 census of Franklin County with a wife and children of appropriate ages. In 1850 the names of the family are shown for the first time. John Delzell (42) farmer, born TN., Louisa Delzell (42) keeping house, born VA., children Elizabeth (21), William (20), Lucy Ann (17), Martha (15), Nathaniel (13), Margaret (12). All children born in Tennessee.
      At the October term of County Court in 1850, we find the following on page 130 of the report.
"Ordered that John Delzell appointed overseer of and that he proceeded to cut out a road recently viewed and layed off by jury on petition of Chapman McDaniel. The following hands... F.M. Darwin, Berry Bennett (one of Anderson Matthew's hands), James M. Morris, John P. Kennerly, Elijah Sanders, William Barns, Davis Barns and James Bratton."
The last record of John Delzell in Franklin County was a $2.00 Poll Tax he paid in 1852 and 1853. We cannot be sure if he died in Franklin County or moved away. No record of death or a will has been found.
      Since my primary study has been on John's son William, I will include only his immediate descendants.
      The 1860 census of Franklin Co., TN lists William Delzell (30) farmer and wife Nancy C. (25) living with children, Louisa F. (5), Mary E. (3), and John (1). Also living with them was William's youngest sister Margaret (18) domestic and John Tol Guess (16) farm hand. All born in TN.
      Minutes of the Franklin County Court for October 8, 1861 shows William Delzell was appointed administrator of the estate of Frances McKelvey. His bond was signed by, William G. McKelvey, Samuel McKelvey and Noah McKelvey. This shows the honored position that William had attained in the family. But, before the estate could be settled William left to join the Confederate Army.
      William Delzell joined Company D 44th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry on March 20, 1862. He was inducted in at Corinth, MS. for 12 months service. William's name appears on a list of "Killed, Wounded or Missing in Action". He had been wounded December 31, 1862 in the Battle of Murfreesboro, TN. Muster Roll for March - June, 1863 show him absent with the remark, "Detailed to work on railroad, April 8, 1863 by order of General Bragg." On the July - August roll he is again absent with this remark, "Sent to Hospital August 24, 1863 at Louden, TN. by order of Surgeon Jackson." He returned to active duty at the end of 1863. Muster rolls for January - December, 1864 show him present. He was captured on April 2, 1865 at Petersburg, VA. William Delzell is shown on the roll of prisoners received at Fort Delaware, State of Delaware, from City Point, VA. on April 4, 1865. He was described as, "brown complexion, dark brown hair, grey eyes and 6 ft. height." His residence was given as Franklin, TN. He was released June 10, 1865.
      After his return from the Civil War, William returned to Franklin County and his devastated farm. He was elected Justice of the Peace in the 10th Civil District in 1868, a position he held until his death The Justices of the Peace, when meeting, formed the County Court which governed the County. In January 1879 he bought a 275 acre tract (which later figured closer to 290 acres), for $1300., paid in two annual payments of $650 plus 6% interest. The property was on the Decherd-Greenhaw Road (known presently as Blue Springs Road), bordering Wagner's Creek and the McKelvey farm; there he built a two story log house where four generations of Delzells would reside. He deeded land for the Greenhaw School and Greenhaw Baptist Church.
      The children of William Delzell b: 1830 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: 1898 Franklin County, Tennessee, and Nancy Catherine McKelvey b: 1835 Franklin County, Tennessee:
      1. Louise Frances Delzell b: 1854 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: 1880 Franklin County, Tennessee. Married James Thomas Minton b: 1855 Franklin County, Tennessee d: 1930 Franklin County, Tennessee.
      2. Mary E. Delzell b: June 20, 1856 Franklin County, Tennessee d: January 03, 1934 Franklin County, Tennessee. Married Joseph S. Berryhill b: December 18, 1846 Franklin County, Tennessee d: December 24, 1914 Franklin County, Tennessee.
      3. John Delzell b: May 30, 1859 Decherd, Tennessee, d: February 12, 1938 Decherd, Tennessee. Married Sarah Ann Spencer b: October 31, 1858 Lincoln County, Tennessee d: January 11, 1944 Decherd, Tennessee.
      4. Joseph Delzell b: October 05, 1860 Franklin County, Tennessee d: August 15, 1923 Franklin County, Tennessee. Married Sarah A. McKelvey b: June 26, 1859 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: January 08, 1933 Franklin County, Tennessee.
      5. Temperance Delzell b: October 11, 1863 Decherd, Tennessee, d: January 25, 1908 Franklin County, Tennessee. Married Samuel T. Knott b: March 24, 1863 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: December 13, 1926 Franklin County, Tennessee.
      6. Robert Lee Delzell b: August 23, 1867 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: August 27, 1940 Franklin County, Tennessee. Married Ammah Fields b: August 07, 1866 Decherd, Tennessee, d: February 02, 1940 Franklin County, Tennessee.
      7. William McKelvey Delzell b: January 21, 1877 Franklin County, Tennessee, d: September 05, 1956 Chattanooga, Tennessee. Married Louie Ellen West b. June 13, 1895 in Franklin County, Tennessee, d: October 09, 1947 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
      The Delzell descendants have a long and proud history of public service. Upon the death of his father, William Delzell, John became the owner of the family farm and was elected to fill his father's term as Justice of the Peace. A post he held uncontested for the next 34 years. In his later years he served as Superintendent of the Franklin County Farm.
      John's son Hugh started teaching in small rural schools in Franklin County in 1909. While teaching he completed the requirements for a two year Teaching Diploma in 1917 and in 1926 received his B.S. Degree from Middle Tennessee State Teachers College at Murfreesboro. In 1929 he received his M.A. Degree from George Peabody College in Nashville, TN. He was Principle and taught at Southside School 1917-22, Normandy School 1922-24, Lavernge School 1924-27, Christiana 1927-33, Lynnville 1934-39, all in Middle Tennessee. In 1939 he became Assistant County Agent of Perry County, TN. and later County Agent of Perry. In 1955 he received the Distinguished Service Award (the highest award presented to County Agents), from the National County Agents Association at the convention in Lansing, Michigan. He retired December 31, 1957 and moved to Nashville, TN. Where he lived until his death.
      Another son Robert Spencer served in World War I with the AEF in France, 117th Infantry, 30th Division. After the war he became a Barber and continued in this trade until his death. He was elected and served as Justice of the Peace in 1936. Spencer and his wife, Jennie Ruth Williams, were instrumental in founding, and were active in, the Nazarene Church in Decherd, TN.
      Another son John Roy served during World War II with the A.E.F. in France, in Company H, 322nd Infantry, 81st Division. After the War he returned to Franklin County, TN. and lived in and around Decherd, working in Retail Stores. From 1950 to 1969, he owned and operated the Delzell Furniture Company, which was located on the southside of the Square in Winchester, TN. He also served as Mayor of Decherd. He and his family moved to Nashville where he eventually became Secretary of the Brotherhood of the Southern Baptist Convention, and was a well known and sought after speaker.
      Another of John's sons, Ernest, was for several years an Insurance and Automobile Salesman. From about 1942 he was Circulation Manager of the Baptist Reflector of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Later he was Executive Secretary of the Tennessee Baptist Brotherhood. From 1957 to 1968 he was an Examiner of Small Loans with the Tennessee Insurance and Banking Commission.
      The youngest son, Raymond Earl, bought the family farm near Greenhaw, in 1932, at which time his father John retired and moved into Decherd.
Two of William's sons, Joseph and William M. were Baptist preachers, pastoring numerous churches in Tennessee and Alabama. After moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1908, the brothers founded the Sherman Hill Baptist Church which both pastored at different times.
One of William M.'s sons, Joseph was also a Baptist preacher and pastored the Sherman Hill Church.
      This information is respectfully submitted by Billy G. Denham, son of Mary Louise Delzell, Rev. William M. Delzell's youngest daughter. Rev. Billy Denham has also served as a Baptist pastor and evangelist for the past 32 years.
Presented to this Website by j.w.payton.


                      The Story of John Delzell's First Son William

               (Most of this material is from Hugh Wayland Delzell’s book “Delzell Ties.”)

      William Delzell, the first son of John Delzell and Margaret McFaren, was probably born in 1786, one year after John and Margaret were married in Greenville, which at that time, was in the newly formed state of Franklin. William may have been born near Greenville but I have found no official record of his birth. Sarah Amanda Tarr, John Delzell's granddaughter, stated in a letter that all of John's children were born in TN except Uncle William. It is possible that this referred to the fact that eastern Tennessee was in the state of Franklin when William was born. She may also have known that Eastern Tennessee was really in North Carolina at that time.

     The first official record of William Delzell's existence was in his father's Will in 1807. He was also a witness to a deed for property purchased by his brother James in 1816, and on September 4, 1818 William received a deed for property in Blount County. William was listed in the 1830 Census of Blount County, and his will was dated April, 1836, and proved in court September 4, 1837. Parham in his papers, and Will A. McTeer in "History of New Providence Church" both stated that William was an original member of New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville and that he died July 6, 1837 at about 50 years of age.

  William's Inheritance

William was about twenty years old when his father, John Delzell, died in 1807 leaving his wife and eight children on the family farm on Nine Mile Creek. William, as the oldest, was directed in his father's will "to live on the farm until he pays himself for clearing the land." John Delzell was about 51 years old when he died and left the farm in the hands of his oldest son William.

                      William Signs His Brother's Land Purchase Agreement

On August 7, 1816 William witnessed his brother James' purchase of 124 acres on Six Mile Creek for $150 from Benjamin Taylor. Six Mile Creek was roughly three miles east of the original Delzell grant. This information obtained from "Blount County Deeds and Wills 1795-1866" which is in the Maryville City Library.

                                      William Purchases His Own Farm


In 1818, eleven years after his father died, William paid two hundred and fifty four dollars for a "plantation" in Blount County, TN. He was very likely setting himself up on a farm separate from the original Delzell homestead. The size of the farm is not indicated in the deed, nor is its location, but it was purchased from Polly Mayers et all and is listed on page 231 of Deed Book E. According to Hugh Wayland Delzell, the Deed was dated September 4, 1818. The Deed was witnessed by William's brother David Delzell.

                                       William's Church Membership

William is mentioned in Tennessee Cousins as a member of New Providence Church, along with his Brother David, George Ewing, Sibby McCullock and Major James Houston. This same reference stated "Many of the first members of New Providence also came from the same section of Virginia -- Rockbridge County."
William Delzell is also described in the "History of New Providence Presbyterian Church. Maryville, 1786-1921" published by New Providence Church in 1921 as follows "...names which were reported to be original members are as follows...William Delzell, died July 6, 1837." Since New Providence Church was established in 1786, the same year that William is supposed to have been born, it could be assumed that William was baptized in the New Providence Church shortly after he was born and remained a loyal member for life.
William was undoubtedly a deeply religious person as revealed in his will which stated: "Calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all. I will give and recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to earth to be buried in descent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the almighty power of God."

                                              Census Records

The 1830 Census of Blount County, Tennessee shows William and his wife between 40 and 50 years of age and three boys and five girls all under the age of twenty. The youngest, a girl, is under five. The Census record is listed as follows:

1830, William Delzell
1 M 5-10, 2 M 15-20, 1 M 40-50
1 F under 5, 1 F 5-10, 3 F 10-15, 1 F 40-50

The 1840 Census of Blount County TN shows a family headed by Elizabeth Delzell whom we believe to be the widow of William Delzell. She is now between 50 and 60 years of age and there is one young man and four young women in the household. The names of the children were not recorded in the 1830 or 1840 Census. It is listed as follows:

1840, Elizabeth Delzell
1 M 15-20, 1 M 20-30
1 F 10-15, 2 F 15-20, 1 F 20-30, 1 F 50-60

                                           William Delzell's Will

"In the name of God amen. I William Delzell of the county Blount & State of Tennessee being weak in body but of perfect and memory thanks be given unto make and ordain this my last will and testament..."
In his will William provided for his wife and children as follows:
"I bequeath to Elizabeth, my well beloved wife, the young sorrel filly, two of the milch cows such as she may choose, all the sheep and poultry and the full use and priveleges of the dwelling House the Barne and out Houses to be fully enjoyed by my wife while she remians my widow. I bequeth to my wife Elizabeth all the kitchen and Household furniture to be for her to use to her death and then to be divided equally amongst her daughters.
"John and William Orman to receive five dollars each plus a previously divided portion of the estate. And to my two sons Isaac and Robert, I bequeath my land to be divided equally by themselves when Robert comes of age, on the following conditions that Isaac A. pay one third of all the grain or produce he raises on the farm while while Elizabeth remains my widow or if that period should close before the children is raised the same obligation shall rest on him until they are raised. The grain or produce to be gathered and put up in the Barn or crib for the use or benefit of the family. I except from the two acres Isaac A. cleared this winter and spring together with what he may clear hereafter from rent."
The Will continues, "The conditions for Robert are as follows that he live and work to help support the family until he is twenty one years of age and then to pay one third of the produce he raises on the farm while his Mother continues as aforesaid and that Isaac A. and Robert furnish firewood so as to keep the family comfortably to divide land when Robert comes of age except two acres Isaac cleared the previous winter. And that they sow one acre of sutable land in flax and one acre of sutable land in cotton, the flax sowed and the cotton planted in proper season and in good order and well attended yearly. I further will that in layingoff the land for yearly cultivation that it be done so as to be fare and equil in quality."
"I bequeath to my daughter Polly (Mary) the pet filly and the new side saddle. I will that my son Isaac A. pay to Elizabeth my daughter fifty dollars to be discharged in a young horse beast valued at trade rates or a side saddle and the ballance in cattle to be paid in the year one thousand eight hundred & forty and that my sons Isaac A. & Robert pay my daughter Jane S. fifty dollars to be discharged in a young horse beast valued at trade rates or a side saddle and the balance in cattle this Isaac A. and Robert pays jointly twenty five dollars each in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty five. and that my son Robert pay my daughter Isabella in the year one thousand eight hundred forty seven to be discharged in a young Horse valued at trade rates or a side saddle and the balance in cattle all to be sold on a credit at the discretion of my executors for each and when collected pay to my sons John & William Orman five dollars each when applied for by them. the balance of the money to be divided equally to my daughters Polly, Elizabeth, Jane S., & Isabella, and also the claybank colt to be sold at the age of four years on a creditat the discretion of my executors and the money when collected to be divided equally to my four daughters as named above.I further will that this be considered a home for my daughters while single, the sorrel horse and hogs to remain for the use of the family while my wife lives and at her death all the increase from the two cows, hogs sheep and sorrel mare willed to my wife not used for or in raising the family to be sold and equally divided to all my children, except one colt from my wife's mare if there should I allow for Robert. My saddle I will to my son Robert and all my farming utensils to remain on the farm until Robert comes of age and then Isaac & Robert divide them as they chose. I will that Isaac A. & Robert jointly keep the fencing up and in good repair. I also constitute make and ordain John Means and David Delzell my sole executors of this my last will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fourteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty six. Signed sealed published pronouced and declared by the said William Delzell as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence and in the presence of each other."
From the will, it is clear that William ran a tight ship during his lifetime and that he planned to continue to control things in the same vein after his demise. We get a picture of a typical first-born son who takes over when his father dies and is all business, and of a whole family which is self-sufficient, hard-working and dedicated to maintaining a strong family structure.. My grandfather James Ellis Delzell took over his family farm when he was eleven years old because his father Solomon went blind as the result of his service in the Civil War. He demonstrated the same dedication to work and family.

                                  William and Elizabeth Delzell's Children

A family Group Sheet that I received in 1968 from Hugh Wayland Delzell lists the children of William and Elizabeth as follows:
Nancy Delzell, married 5 Sep 1826 to Henry McCulley, died
before Father's will with no children living.
John Delzell, born about 1808, married 12 Feb 1828,
in Blount Co TN to Louisa B. Anderson
William Irman Delzell, (Note: no information available, but often
the second son is name after the mother’s father).
Isaac Anderson Delzell, born before 1815,
died 26 Apr 1843.
Robert I. Delzell,
born after 1815.
Mary(Polly) Delzell, married (no record),
died about 1841.
Elizabeth Delzell, born about 1820, married 3 Sep 1846
to Samuel Ragan.
Jane S. Delzell, born about 1825, married (no record),
died about 1841-43.
Isabella Delzell, born about 1826, married (no record),
died 29 Feb 1846.

John and Elizabeth named their first son John which is in the Scotch-Irish tradition of naming the first son after the father's father. The second son is normally named after the mother's father so there is the suggestion that Elizabeth's father was named William Irman. There are no "Irmans" listed in the "History of Blount County" however. I do have one reference from the wife of William Newton Delzell (Mary Ogg) which states after Elizabeth's name "probably a Major." It is also possible that Elizabeth's maiden name was "Means" since John Means was a witness and one of the witnesses was often the woman's father to make sure she received her inheritance.

                           William's oldest son moves to Middle Tennessee.

To quote Hugh Wayland Delzell's "Delzell Ties" again: "John Delzell was apparently the oldest son of William and Elizabeth and born about 1808 in Tennessee. On 12 Feb 1828 he and Louisa B. Anderson were married in Blount County TN by Dr. Isaac Anderson. They must have left soon for Middle Tennessee. In 1830 he is shown in the Franklin County Census and there established [his family].

"This moving to Franklin County accounts for his father leaving him five dollars with the explanation of having apportioned his estate some time ago. In one settlement of the estate on 19 Nov 1840, the Clerk of the County Court, Jeremiah Kennan, acknowledged a receipt concerning this five dollars. There is no evidence that John ever called for the five dollars."

                                               William's Other Sons

Quoting again from Hugh Wayland's book: "We know nothing of William Orman Delzell, the second son who was left $5.00 in the father's will. A search of the receipts and settlements of the will did not reveal that his name was mentioned even once. It would seem that sometime between the time William wrote the will and the 13 Nov 1840 settlement (which listed the money held for John) word of William Orman Delzell's death without heirs had come to family or to the executors.
"Likewise we know very little of Isaac, who with Robert was jointly left the 181 acres of land of their father's estate and the responsibility for caring for the mother and four sisters. Isaac joined the New Providence Presbyterian Church 26 Aug 1833 and their records show he died 26 Apr 1843. We have no evidence that he married and he left no will.
"Robert seems to have held the land for several years until July 1849. In order to sell this land, his sister Elizabeth and her husband, Samuel Ragan, signed a deed conveying their rights, title and interest in the land to Robert. According to that deed dated 27 Jul 1849 Isaac had died intestate "leaving...Robert Delzell, John Delzell, Isabella Delzell, who has since died intestate and the undersigned, Elizabeth Ragan, formerly Elizabeth Delzell, his only brothers and sisters and heirs in law". This clearly shows that the family knew that all the children of William had died except Robert, John and July 1849. Since we have found no record of John conveying his interest or title to Robert, we imagine the family did not know where John was, and John did not know what was happening back in Blount County.
"Two days later, 29 Jul 1849, Robert Delzell sold the same 181 acres to Robert E. Montgomery. We believe this was the Robert Delzell who married Jane McQuage in Blount County 24 Dec 1846 and that after he sold this farm he went to Bradley County TN where he settled and raised a family.

                          The Daughters of William and Elizabeth Delzell

To quote again from Hugh Wayland Delzell: "In his will, William named four daughters. We believe there may have been another, Nancy, who married Henry F. McCulley on 5 Sep 1826. If so, she had probably died without children when the will was written in 1836. I have been unable to find any trace of this Nancy Delzell or of Henry McCulley, either in Blount County TN or in Carroll or White Counties IN.

"Settlements of the estate show that all four daughters signed individual receipts for "the balance of my part of the property now sold". These receipts are all dated 13 Nov 1840. Of the four, Polly (Mary) must have been the oldest, for William left her the "per filly", while the others were to receive their part at specified dates in the future. Mary was the first to die. Her will dated 15 Jul 1841, which she did not sign, reads as though she had not married. She left her personal possessions to her mother and three sisters. New Providence Presbyterian Church records show her death as 7 Sep 1841. "A note on the back of the will reads, "proved 4th Oct 1841 by witnesses believed to be of sound mind but not requested particularly to be witness to the same but wished someone personal to witness her declaration." Since William specified that Isaac was to pay Elizabeth "fifty dolars to be discharged in a young horse beast valued at trade rates, or a side saddle and the ballance in cash to be paid in the year 1840", we think she was next oldest of the girls. Elizabeth Delzell married Samuel Reagan in Blount County 3 Sep 1846. They had moved to Monroe County TN by July 1849 for they then gave that as their residence when they signed the deed to Robert.

"Jane S. Delzell, born about 1824, was to receive her share from Isaac and Robert in 1845. She must have died before March 12 1844 when Robert, Elizabeth and Isabella signed another receipt (probably even before Isaac Died). Unlike Isabella, who is listed as a survivor of Isaac, neither Jane nor Mary are listed in the deed given by Elizabeth and her husband to Robert. Jane was named in her sister Mary's will. "There is little else we can add about the youngest daughter, Isabella. Since she was to receive her share of her father's estate in 1847, we believe she would have been twenty one then. Thus she would have been born about 1826. The New Providence Church records show she joined October 16, 1842 and died February 29, 1846. She had died before the deed to Robert was signed in 1849. We have no reason to think that either Jane or Isabella ever married.

"To summarize, we believe the descendents of William Delzell and Elizabeth are limited to the descendents of: John Delzell and Louisa B. Anderson who moved to Franklin County TN about 1829; Elizabeth Delzell and Samuel Ragan who moved to Monroe County TN by 1849; and Robert Delzell and Jane McQuage who moved to Bradley County TN about 1849.


Letter from Sarah Amanda Tarr to Winnie Delzell Fram, 1940."My grandfather (John) must have gone to TN after the Revolutionary War, for all their children were born in TN except uncle William Delzell.
Deed Book #1 Blount Co., TN. Ref 108
The Dalzell, Delzell Family, Paper from Cheyenne."Children of John and Margaret,...4. William b. 1788, Blount County...."
Hugh Wayland Delzell, Family Ties."William, the oldest son, was born in 1786 as best we can estimate."
Inez Burns, History of Blount County,

                      The Descendents of William and Elizabeth Delzell

John and Margaret McFaren Delzell's oldest son William Delzell and his wife Elizabeth had many descendents, most of whom seem to have moved to Central Tennessee in Franklin Co. From there they spread out into Georgia and Texas. All of this family history is taken directly from "Delzell Ties" by Hugh Wayland Delzell, but arranged a little differently and condensed. For more information about these families one must consult "Delzell Ties" or the original records. The purpose of this record is to help you locate your place among the ancestors of William and Elizabeth Delzell, if they were your ancestors. If you can find any ancestors here, then you can trace your ancestry directly back to John and Margaret McFarren Delzell.

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