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Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185286060000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Gentry, Hembree, Emory, Ridge, Watie, Heffington, Harnage
Seeking more information about the James Hembree and I.N. (Isaac Newton) Hembree who were living in Illinois Township, Washington County, Arkansas, in 1850.

On the 1850 U.S. census, James is shown as age 80, born South Carolina, while I.N. is shown as age 23, born in Tennessee. Apparently I.N. is a son of James.

The next-door neighbor of I.N. Hembree and his three children is John D. Little and family.

John D. Little was a brother of Angeline Little, who was attending Sophia Sawyer's "Indian School" in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1850 (as shown in the Fayetteville census, and by oral tradition).

John and Angeline's mother was Nancy Gentry, said to be of Cherokee descent. The Gentrys' roots were in upper South Carolina; Franklin County, Georgia; and the Cumberland Mountains of middle Tennessee.

Nancy Gentry was a daughter of Tyre Gentry, who appears on the 1790 census in Spartanburg, S.C. I am a direct descendant of Tyre Gentry's oldest son William.

On the 1790 census of Spartanburg, a close relative of Tyre is Samuel Gentry, who is shown as a near neighbor of Abraham Hembree, Joel Emery, Rebecca Sullivan, and several others. Tyre and Samuel Gentry were likely either brothers/first cousins/uncle-nephew.

Samuel is a common name in the Tyre Gentry line, such as Samuel Rector Little (son of Nancy) and Samuel Gentry Heffington (nephew of Nancy).

Samuel Gentry Heffington and Samuel Rector Little both served in Stand Watie's 2nd Cherokee Mounted Volunteers.

Samuel Gentry Heffington married Sarah Caroline Harnage, who was part of the Cherokee Treaty Party community.

A David Gentry is also shown on the 1790 census in Pendleton District, S.C. He may be related to the David Gentry who married into the mixedblood Emory line among the Cherokees, circa 1800. This David Gentry moved from Hiwassee, Tennessee (Cherokee Nation) to Arkansas Territory in 1817.

Do any of you Hembree researchers know of any connections between the Gentry and Hembree families of upper South Carolina? Or is this close proximity of Hembree and Gentry family members 60 years later in northwest Arkansas merely an example of the "small world" that our ancestors lived in?

Illinois Township (later renamed Cincinnati) was located about one mile east of the Cherokee Nation's border with Arkansas. Other people with Cherokee connections (like Ambrose Harnage) also lived in this community during this time period. Harnage was the grandfather of Samuel Gentry Heffington's wife Sarah Caroline Harnage.

The Harnage and Nancy (Gentry) Little families were near neighbors in Illinois Township on the 1840 census. Major Ridge, leader of the Treaty Party, spent the night with his friend Ambrose Harnage on June 21, 1839. The next morning Ridge was executed by other Cherokees for signing the Treaty of New Echota.

Major Ridge employed Sophia Sawyer as a private teacher for his mixedblood grandchildren. Sawyer moved from the Cherokee Nation to Fayetteville and opened the Fayetteville Female Seminary in July 1839, following the execution of Major Ridge's son John Ridge, also on June 22, 1839. Sawyer lived with the John Ridge family. John Ridge was the first cousin of Stand Watie; Watie's uncle was Major Ridge.

Thanks for your help.

Patrick Pynes

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185286739000
Classification: Query
Patrick, There is no doubt that the Gentry's were connected to the Cherokee....many of their records so this. The connection to the Hembree's should show in the Abraham Hembree data project at behind RECORDS Scroll down to 'H'. Look for the Four Hembree data projects.
The party that left here in 1817 was the group who left with John JOlly. Chief Jolly was living on Hiwassee Island at the mouth of the river where it hits the Tennessee. His half brother, Tahlonteeskee, left with the initial group of Old Settlers into Arkansas in 1809. Jolly went into Arkansas about the time of his brothers death to become Chief of the Western Cherokee. Yet another group left here in 1825 with Capt. John Rogers who have Emory/Hembree connections. Rogers is accreditied with founding Fort Smith Arkansas.

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185378473000
Classification: Query

Thanks for your reply. I greatly appreciate your help.

I have read quite a lot of Larry Petriskey's work on-line (which you apparently edited), and it is amazingly complex and fascinating.

The Gentrys of upper South Carolina (Spartanburg and Pendleton Districts) were definitely part of the social matrix that included the Hembrees and related families (Pettit, et. al.), many of whom had Cherokee connections of one kind or another.

Although it took a while to get there, it has not been difficult to document the Tyre Gentry family's relationships to Cherokees in Arkansas. It has been much more difficult to document that the Gentrys were ethnic Cherokees themselves. Apparently they were not citizens of the Cherokee Nation, but they may have lost their citizenship when several of them moved to Arkansas Territory in 1817, likely from Tennessee. The Cherokee Nation passed a law revoking the citizenship of Arkansas emigrants, to try to stem the tide of westward migration.

David Gentry is well-documented in E. Starr and in various federal records, as you mentioned. Many researchers have also noticed that Tyre Gentry's son William Gentry and Tyre's son-in-law James Ward moved to Arkansas at virtually the same time as the Rogers/Jolly group moved to Arkansas (late 1817-early 1818) from Hiwassee. Rogers/Jolly settled along the Arkansas River, while the Gentrys settled south of the Hot Springs, outside of the Cherokee Reservation in Arkansas Territory.

David and Tyre Gentry were related in some way, but we don't know how exactly. Perhaps their kinship was related to each group's movement to Arkansas Territory at the same time.

The Gentry/Hembree/Emory connections that go back to upper South Carolina make the Arkansas part of the story even more interesting.

First, we know from Starr that David Gentry married a daughter of Elizabeth Emory (Jennie Due) and a granddaughter of Elizabeth Emory (Diana Rogers).
My understanding is that Abraham Hembree and his brother Drury were brothers of Elizabeth Emory and her two sisters, Mary and Susannah. All were children of Mary Grant (Cherokee daughter of trader Ludovic Grant) and William Emory. Abraham and Drury lived in Spartanburg among the Gentrys associated with Tyre.

However, Petriskey's research includes a reference to a land record that shows Abraham Hembree and David Gentry as next-door neighbors (or at least adjacent land owners) circa 1790. They received grants for this former Cherokee land (near Keowee/Ft. Prince George) after the Revolution.

There is a David Gentry in the Pendleton District on the 1790 census, while Abraham and Drury Hembree and Tyre Gentry are shown in Spartanburg.

This land record is a strong suggestion to me that the David Gentry who married into the female Grant/Emory line (Cherokee Long Hair/Twister clan) is related to the David Gentry of Pendleton District, 1790. I have not seen Petriskey's Hembree/Gentry land record in any of the Gentry-related research I have read, so it may be a new and illuminating piece of the puzzle. No one seems to know who "Cherokee" David Gentry comes from, but most agree that he came from the South Carolina Gentrys of this time period.

Then there is the Emory/Buffington/Gentry connection.

I mentioned the Nancy Gentry/James Little family members, who were next-door neighbors of James Hembree and Isaac Newton Hembree in Washington County, Arkansas, in 1850. These two Hembrees are apparently direct descendants (son and grandson) of the Joel Emry who is living close to Abraham Hembree, Samuel Gentry, and Rebecca Sullivan in Spartanburg, 1790.

Another very close neighbor of the Littles in Illinois Township in 1840 was Jonathan Newman, a white man. He was the Judge of Washington County during this time period. In fact, Judge Newman designated Presley R. Smith to be Angeline Little's guardian after the death of her mother Nancy (Gentry) Little and her father James Little.

As mentioned in my previous post, Angeline attended Sophia Sawyer's "Indian School" in Fayetteville. Presley R. Smith was the clerk of Washington County, and a close friend of Sawyer's. He was the executor of her will.

Jonathan Newman's daughter Louisa married Reverend Ellis Buffington, Cherokee grandson of Ezekial Buffington and Mary Emory--sister of Elizabeth and Abraham. The Cherokee Ellis Buffingtons lived just across the border from Illinois Township, Arkansas, (where Gentry/Little; Harnage; Newman; and other people with Cherokee connections lived). The Buffingtons lived in the Going Snake District.

So, as you can see, all of these British Americans with South Carolina Cherokee connections in the eighteenth century are still woven together somehow in northwest Arkansas after the Trail of Tears. It looks to me like many of the mixedblood Cherokees and intermarried whites settled themselves in Arkansas communities along the border before and after the Trail of Tears.

Some of them may have "retreated" back into Arkansas after the intratribal violence that followed the Trail began in June 1839, as did Sophia Sawyer and Sarah Ridge and family. Others may have stopped right on the border of the Cherokee Nation after moving west, before the Removal and the Trail actually commenced back east. They would have been the second wave of Cherokee immigrants or refugees, following the Old Settlers, but preceding the Ross Party, the main body of the Nation, who held out the longest, refusing to give up their homelands.

Maybe that way they could have "the best of both worlds." Given the disadvantages on both sides of the line, the Arkansas border might have been a good place to be....

Anyway, thanks again--sounds like you live in east Tanasi. I first became aware of my maternal ancestors' Cherokee connections while living near Rockford, not two miles (as the raven flies) from the Sam Houston School House. That was where and when (1987) I first heard of the Gentrys in my mother's line, and of their claims of Cherokee ancestry. A few years ago I made a trip back to east Tennessee, which included a side trip to the Hiwassee Agency/Ferry area where the Rogers/Jolly community lived.

As you noted, that was where Gentry/Jolly/Rogers left for Arkansas in 1817. There is a mention of a Moses Price in the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee Records. Price's home was located near Jolly's "Ferry place on Tennessee River," and "where [Price's] kinsman now live near Gentry." A Samuel Murphy purchased Moses Price's improvements.

Please let me know of any other records you know of that mention the Gentrys in a Cherokee context, and also is it possible to contact Mr. Petriskey? I would like to find out more about the primary sources he used to do much of his South Carolina-based Hembree research, but haven't been able to contact him.

All the Best,
Patrick Pynes

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185407202000
Classification: Query
I'm trying to find out if anyone knows how to contact Larry Petresky. I haven't heard from him in a long time and I have tried to contact him in reference to something he and I descussed about my great-grandfather Noah Emory/Hembree. Anyone with the any information please let me know.

Thank you
Deborah Lockwood

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185410808000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hembree
I can give you the last email I have for Larry if you would care to email me.

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1185416318000
Classification: Query
Hello Isbell, I tried the email you have listed and it didn't work. Here is mine
Thank you so much I do have an e-mail for larry but it isn't working or I was beginning to wonder what happened to him. I'm glad it is probably that his e-mail changed.

Deborah Lockwood

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1201212338000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Hembree/Gentry/Heaton/Rainwater/Day/Bowen/Milton/
I have a Asenath Felton Gentry [1759-1850] who married Rev. James H. Hembree [1759-1849]

Asenath was born in Virginia and James was also born in Virginia and they had the following children:

+ 2 i. Hepzibah HEMBREE was born 1785, and died 1849.
+ 3 ii. Didma HEMBREE was born 1788 in Pendleton District,SC, and died 1860 in Milton County, Georgia.
+ 4 iii. Mahala HEMBREE was born 1793, and died 1860.
+ 5 iv. Sarah Sally HEMBREE was born 6 Aug 1795, and died 1856.
+ 6 v. Mary HEMBREE was born 29 Sep 1797, and died 31 May 1856.
+ 7 vi. Amariah HEMBREE was born 7 May 1781, and died 13 May 1855.
+ 8 vii. James HEMBREE was born 1791 in Pendleton District,SC, and died 20 Jan 1867 in Milton County, Georgia.

Re: Hembree/Gentry/Cherokee connections: Washington County, Arkansas, 1850

Posted: 1368124011000
Classification: Query
John seems to be missing from some of the lists of children, I came across Rev James Hembree's will, which mentions a son John.

In the name of God, Amen. I, James Hembree, Minister of the Gospel in Anderson District, SC being now in good health and of a sound disposing mind and memory and knowing that my earthly house of this labor made must be dissolved, that mortality may be swallowed up of life and to be ever with the Lord, I do make and ordain this, my last will and testament.

First--If my wife should be the longest liver my will is that my whole estate, real and personal, without exception, remain with her for her support enduring her natural life and at her death to be disposed of in the following manner. My will is that my black woman, Peggy, and her son, Grief Presley, have the liberty to choose their master, and that one of the executors gives them a pass for five days, to look out a person of their choice and as Peggy is near forty seven years old and is not very sound and Grief will be twelve years old on the 25th of August, next, I value them myself - the purchaser to give six hundred dollars or have them valued, the purchaser to have the same credit and terms as those who buy at my public sale - the money to be paid over to my executors as part of my estate, the ballance [sic] of my whole estate to be sold to the highest bidder consisting of two hundred acres of land, less or more, whereon I now live. Stock-horses, cows, hogs and sheep, household and kitchen furniture, plantation tools and every article I may possess - and as for Peggys household and kitchen furniture that don't belong to my estate, I have no claim to anything in her house, except the cotton wheel and cards and old table and now for the division.

Four of my children has been advanced above the rest - John and James Hembree, Winney Heaton and Polley Bowen. I have gave land to these four, therefore I bequeath to my son, Amariah Hembree, one hundred dollars and to Job Rainwater who married my daughter - Didama, one hundred dollars and to Daniel Gentry, who married my daughter Mahala, one hundred dollars. I also bequeath to William Heaton, who married my daughter - Hephzibah, five dollars and to his daughter, Betsy Lavinia, my grand-daughter - twenty dollars and for my beloved daughter Sally Day - she lives far off in Texas, I therefore bequeath unto her one dollar. When these bequeaths of three hundred and twenty six dollars are counted out with all the lawful expenses,the ballance of my estate to be equally divided amongst my three sons and four daughters(viz) Amariah Hembree, John Hembree and James Hembree, Winney Heaton, Didama Rainwater, Mahala Gentry and Polley Bowen and lastly, I do nominate and appoint my two sons John and James Hembree, executors of this, my last will and testament and as my wife is not capable of trading and doing business for herself, I appoint my son, James,guardian for his mother and I authorize him to sell any part of the stock or household furniture for her support as needed and I do hereby revoke amd make void all other testaments and executors by me in any wise before named, willed or bequeathed testifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the fifth day of May in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Seven.

Signed,sealed and pronounced by the said, James Hembree to be his last will and testament in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names.
Jno. C. Griffin, James Hembree, S. D. Gailand, J. T. Whitefield

Personally appeared John C. Griffin and made oath the he did see James Hembree, Senr sign the above and foregoing as and for his last will and testament and state at the time of his signing the same,he believed he was of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding and that C. D. Gailland and J. T. Whitefield, with his understanding, witness the same, and that they all signed in the presence of the testator and of each other. Sworn to and subscribed before me the 20th day of August 1849.
Jno C.Griffin

I Herbert Hammond, Ordinary of the district, aforesaid do hereby certify that the last will and testament of James Hembree, Senr, deceased, was admitted to probate in common form, on the oath of John C. Griffin, one of the witnesses to the same on this 20th day of August 1849 and that on the same day James Hembree qualified as executor of the same.
Given under my hand and seal this 20th day of August 1849
Herbert Hammond [Seal]

Transcribed and contributed by Glidie Rainwater Mobley
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