Tennessee to Arkansas
The Quest to Push West, Part II
I have had several replies after I had written the first article on The Quest to Push West. One of these replies gave me a unique insight into the reason why these young farmers chose to pull up their roots to push westward after decades of settling in the Sequatchie valley and the fertile lands of Tennessee.
My family having such deep roots in Tennessee, and Arkansas, from an early time made me ask questions that I could never seem to find the answer to. One such question is how, did they learn of this new place known as Arkansas. Why would they leave the security of the lands that they grew up in to push west to a place that was unknown.
Could this have been just an adventurous spirit, or was there more to the story than what meets the eye. Yes we know that in the late 1830â€™s the Cherokee Indians were pushed west to what later became the state of Oklahoma. Yes we know that the Arkansas, landâ€™s opened to new settlement and was selling for around $1.50 per acre. But still what sparked the dreams to push westward and risk life and limb to go to Arkansas.
Much could be written and has about the romantic dreams and aspirations of the early adventurers and settlers who migrated to all parts of the United States. Most of these men were single, with few ties to one certain place some were pure land speculators looking to make their fortunes.
But for the most part we are dealing with the regular farmer and his young family, males between the ages of twenty to early thirty, married with one or two children who braved the trek to Arkansas and a land that was unknown to them, or was it?.
A very nice lady named Amy shared with me a letter that she had in her possession from a family member Dated, January 11, 1850 from a man named James McClain (McLain) her email was in response to my first article.
The following is a copy of her email to me with regards to James McClain. Keep in mind that she transcribed the parts of the letter as it originally appeared.
Brian, Thanks for the great info- interesting! I think I have something more I can add! My family was probably pretty close with your Walkers. I am related to Hicks and Easterly, but I am referring mainly to the Barkers and Deakins.(Thans Chapel Cemetery is their burying ground). I have a letter (original)dated January 11,1850 from a James McLain to some of my Barkers and Kells (cousins). The letter is from "Darysaw Arkansas" and says, "when you rite Direct your letter to Dary saw PO Jefferson County". One of the Barker girls' brother was also with the party that went to Jefferson County, Arkansas. He is also mentioned in the letter (Howell Barker) and both boys
were working for, and living with a man named "Meaclung". (I wonder if it is David McClung?) The letter states "we are working four months and then we are gowing to work on our lands howel and myself has got us a good pease of land which we do expect to improve and live on with us we are a bout 6 miles a part we tennesseans have all settled all in the same neighborhood"
Howell came back to Sequatchie County, but I don't know what became of James McLain. Maybe you have seen his name in Arkansas? Amy
This letter at first glance appears to be just a letter home to let friends and family know that they arrived and were all well. A peak of what life was like in the early days. But to me it was a treasure trove of information as to why the settlers came to the area. How they knew that this land, Could be the answer to their dreams of starting a new life full of possibilities.
Being forced to research the early families of Jefferson County Arkansas, as a way to find my own family roots in Tennessee, I learned a great deal about many other families from the Sequatchie valley and just how close many of them are tied together. Among these settlers that came to Jefferson County Arkansas, in 1849-50 were James and John Bennett from Marion County, George W Brown Marion County, James McClain Roane County, The Hayden, Martin, Burk, and Raider families.
All the above can be found in the 1850 census for Jefferson County, Arkansas, Darysaw, township. I will attempt to tie all this together and I ask that the reader bear with me as I cover some of those who I have named, and where they settled with relation to Darysaw, township.
Darysaw being the nearest post office, is used in the census to mark the location of these early settlers, in fact in 1850 Darysaw, township had a population of only 399. The Tennesseanâ€™s as mentioned above in the letter home, actually settled near the town of Junet. Searching the land deeds and maps will prove this to any researcher who is interested.
To show the relationship of these families I will go to the 1850 census of Darrysaw, in Jefferson County to show just how these families are tied together.
Amy; had asked the question about James McClain and this is where I will start as it relates to the letter home. Note 1850 Census taken in Jefferson County, September 8, 1850
Family #504 James A McClain b. 1827 TN, living with James is John Bennett b.1825 TN, wife Harriet b.1823 TN, sons James b.1842 and Joseph b.1847 TN. James Bennettâ€™s father is John Bennett born about 1800 in Tennessee. He is found in Marion County in 1840 and is not to be confused with the John Bennett who is in Roane County and born in South Carolina.
Household #505 is brother to John Bennett above, James S. Bennett b.1827 TN wife Thursday b.1826 TN, son Leroy (or Larry hard to read) b.1847 daughter Mary E b. June, 1850 AR. (Note I believe that Washington Martin may be the brother to Thursday Bennett. This is based on proximity and my experience with genealogy you must draw your own conclusions. James Bennett purchased 40 acres near Clarksville in Johnson County, Arkansas on May 1, 1860. Deed #5711.
Household #506 is Washington Martin b. 1820 TN, he is single. Research note there is another Washington Martin living in Darysaw, township who is born in 1824 with an unknown place of birth. The Washington Martin listed above comes from the family from Marion County, Tennessee. They are both listed on the 1850 Census and most likely are cousins.
Listed as family #507 is Isaac B Easterly b.1826 TN, whom has close ties to my Walker family wife Sarah b.1824 TN son George S. b.1845 TN Martha J. b.1846 TN, and Moses E. b.1848 TN. Land and information on the Easterly family can be found in part one of this series.
Family # 508 is George W Brown b.1820 TN. George is from Marion County, and I believe that his wife is the sister to Isaac B Easterly. (This is not confirmed) I have written to some of the Easterly family for confirmation and as yet have not received a reply. Georgeâ€™s wife is Rebecca b.1820 son William H. b.1841 TN, Isaac J. b.1842 TN, daughter Barbary B. b.1845 TN, sons Samuel B. b.1847 and John b.1849 both in Tennessee.
George W Brown purchased 122.12 acres in Jefferson County, on July 1, 1857 this being near the town of Junet. Deed #7136
Now the tie in to all this banter comes with the help of the letter above and becomes very clear as to what drew these young farmers and their families to this area in 1849-50. The letter speaks of a Mr. McClung who James mcLain and Howell Barker are working for.
Listed as household #503 is one Joseph McClung b.1812 in Tennessee, and wife Jane Wilson McClung b.1819 in KY, and their four children. This is most likely the McClung that was written about.
Above Joseph McClung in household #502 is William McClung b.1822 AL, wife Matilda M Black McClung and their four children.
In Household #500 is David L McClung b.1825 in the Limestone County, Alabama, area with his wife Mary Harrison McClung b.1825 Alabama and their three children.
These three McClungâ€™s are brothers. Joseph and William came to Arkansas around 1845 brother David arrived about 1850 from Alabama, most likely after receiving a letter much like the one mentioned above these McClungâ€™s are a part of my family. David L McClung was my 3rd great grandfather. Their father was James A McClung and mother was Phoebe Hubbert. James McClung left the Sequatchie valley for Alabama early in about 1815, his wife Phoebeâ€™s father was Col. James Hubbert AKA Hubbard who is of Revolutionary war fame and also served in the Indian wars. He died in 1824 in Warren County Tennessee.
Now what could have driven the Walker party to Arkansas is this, John Walker had a cousin Green H Walker whoâ€™s family was also from the Sequatchie valley area, Green Walker left Tennessee about 1839 for Desoto County, Mississippi where he stayed for only a few years before leaving to Arkansas, and in particular Darysaw, township Jefferson County about 1846,it seems to me that with family already in the area letters home flowed in to tell the good news of this new promised land that held the keys to a new and exciting frontier for all who would come.
Dreams flowed with the good news of free or cheap land only limited by a supply of working hands to till the fertile soil, and so it was the quest to push west. Not as romantic as some may hope but like most everything else the truth is always less dramatic than fiction.
By the 1860 Darysaw, township in Jefferson County, had grown to a population of 536 persons.
By 1860 James McClain is gone from all the census records, no trace to date has been found of him. The Barkers as stated by Amy returned to the Sequatchie valley. This would have been before the 1850 census was taken. Note the letter dated January 1850 the census was taken in September of 1850. No land deeds exist for any of the Bakers or for James McClain.
Isaac B Easterly continued on in Jefferson County and by 1860 had two more children Mary E. b.1853 and Absolum S. b.1857.
John Bennett by 1860 moved to Shoal Creek, Johnson County, Arkansas. And has four more children in the home, they are Mary b.1853, Moses b. 1856, John b. 1858, and Sarah b.1860
(Note Harriet wife to John may be an Easterly)
Johnâ€™s brother, James Bennett, moved to Clarke, Pope County, Arkansas, and has four more children to add to the brood. They are John b.1850, Floriene b.1852, Isabell b.1855, and Joseph b.1857 all born in Arkansas. (Note it is unknown why James Bennett Moved to Pope County, no record of the sale of his lands have been found, and yet his brother is in Johnson County on his land. Also no deed has been found for a new land purchase in Pope County.
Both of the Washington Martinâ€™s listed on the 1850 census are gone from Jefferson County by 1860 and nothing more is known of them.
George W Brown is still in Darysaw, and is listed in 1860 as G W Brown he now has four more children but wife Rebecca is presumed dead as she is not listed in the census. It is possible that she died during child birth from their last child. The four new children listed are, Nancy J. b. 1852, James J. b.1855, Moses E. b.1857 and Franklin J. b. 1859. Now I made a statement that I believed that Rebecca wife of George was possibly the sister of Isaac B Easterly, and here is why.
When lack of records are available one must resort to other means of research this includes proximity and name combinations. It is likely that Isaac, son of George Brown was named after Isaac B. Easterly, Rebeccaâ€™s brother, and also son Moses E Brown was named after Moses E Easterly the father of Isaac Easterly. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions. I believe that this is highly likely. Also look at the names of Isaac Easterlyâ€™s children George, named after George Brown?
Anyone seeking information on the early Tennessee settlers who moved to Jefferson County are welcome to contact me as I have lots more information on these families. The information that is contained here has been proven thru all available records. Including census, Marriage where available, Bibles, News papers and biographies, Court records tax and land deeds. Proximity is not proof so please check your research. I have stated all speculation where noted.