Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The history of the Smith-Webb Farm

     John D. Webb and Mattie Elizabeth Smith lived on the farm that Mattie inherited from her father, George Rutledge Smith. George had  inherited the land from his father, John M. Smith, and John M. Smith had inherited it from his father, John Smith. Mattie left a shoebox full of "Pappers and Wills of this Place". Included in the box were various documents related to the farm including surveys, a land grant, many tax receipts, an insurance policy, and three generations of wills.
     The oldest survey of the farm's property contained in the box is dated May 1, 1850. This survey was done to establish the boundaries of John M. Smith's property. John M. Smith inherited the 190 acres which made up "the plantation whereon he lives" from his father John Smith. John M. Smith apparently paid taxes for his portion of the land as early as 1835. Here is his 1835 tax receipt. He paid £37 Domestic in taxes that year.
     When John Smith died, his will directed that his approximately 506 acres of land be divided up between four of his children: John, Solomon, Samuel and Margaret. When and from whom did John Smith originally obtain the land? Did he inherit it from his father? Or did he purchase it? Or obtain in in some other way? I don't know the answer to that question, but I someday hope to. Any information on this would be gratefully received!
     Below are photos of the May 1, 1850 survey of the land that John M. Smith inherited from his father John Smith.
Title side of 1850 survey of John M. Smith's land

May 1850 survey of John M. Smith's land near Piney Flats, Sullivan County, TN
    My transcription of the above photographed document is below.
    Side one:
John Smiths

Survey of 190 Acres

    Side two:
          100 poles to an inch [text above diagram of property in upper left corner of page]
          John Smith [text inside diagram of property]
          190 acres
Pursuant to the last Will, and Testament of John Smith decd, I have surveyed 190 more or less Acres of land for John Smith, situated in Sullivan County, in the fork of Holston, & Watauga Rivers, beginning at a Poplar on Jas Campbells line, thence a new line S 34 1/2° E 259 1/2 p. [poles] to a planted rock, on Thos Hughes's line, thence with the same, S 42 1/2° W. 43 p. & 10 links, to a White Oak, Margaret Smith's line; W 43°. W 75. p. to a double White Oak; thence with her line S. 50 1/2°. W. 98. p. to two Sour Woods, White Oak, & dogwood, thence with Jonathan Smiths line. W. 42°. W. 131. p. to a White Oak, and double dogwood, thence with an old conditional line N. 30°. E. 94 1/2 p. to a Chestnut on the top of a Ridge; thence W. 31. p.to two hicorys, and a Sassafrass; thence with Jas Campbell's line, W 46°. E. 111. p to the beginning.     Surveyed May 1st. 1850.               Henry Anderson C S                                                                                       of Sullivan County

     John M. Smith died on September 8, 1884. On March 21, 1884, just a few months before he died, John filed an entry for his land at the Entry Taker's Office of Sullivan County. I assume he did this so there would be no question as to his ownership of the land after his death. His land was surveyed and the state of Tennessee issued a land grant to him that was signed by William B. Bate, then governor of Tennessee, on January 20, 1885, a few months after John's death. Photos of the document issued are below.

     My transcription of the above documents are below.
No. 41014


John M. Smith
John M. Smith hath
title to the within described tract of land.
W. T. Jones Register.
Land office for East Tennessee,
_____[blank]__D. Reg.
   This Grant is recorded in Vol. 33
at Page 192, Records land office for
East Tennessee, at Knoxville. This 7
day of March 1885.
    W T Jones Register.
Register fee Pd      125
On reverse side: 
No. 41014

To all to Whom these Present Shall Come.---Greeting:     Know Ye, That in consideration of an entry made in the Entry Taker's Office of Sullivan County of No. 70 dated the 21st day of March 1884 By John M. Smith.There is granted by the State of Tennessee unto the said John M. Smith and his heirs a certain tract of land containing 190 3/4 acres lying and being in the County aforesaid, in District No. 9 on the South side of the Holston River. Beginning at a Poplar on William Jone's heirs line, then S. 31 1/2 E. 258 poles to a planted rock on Hughes' line with the same, S 44 1/2 W. 43 poles to a planted rock, N. 43 W. 75 poles to a White Oak, S. 52 1/2 W. 98 poles to a White Oak, then N. 39 W. 131 poles to a White Oak, and double Dogwood, N. 32 E. 94 1/2 poles to a dead chestnut and planted rock on top of a ridge, then S. 88 W. 31 poles to a Hickory and planted rock, then N. 48 1/2 E. 110 1/2 poles to the Beginning.Surveyed the 21st day of March 1884, with appurtenances, to have and to hold the said Tract or Parcel of Land with its appurtenances, to the said John M. Smith and his heirs and assigns forever,IN WITNESS WHEREOF, William B. Bate, Governor of said State of Tennessee has hereunto set his hand, and caused the Great seal of the State to be affixed, at Nashville, on the 20th day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Eighty five and of American Independence the one hundred-ninety.By the Governor:                                        Wm. B. Bate 
D. A. Nunn, Secretary.

     In John M. Smith's will, he left his land to his wife, Francina Colbaugh Smith, for her use during her natural life. He then directed that his land and the buildings thereon go to his son George Rutledge Smith and the heirs and assigns of George Rutledge Smith.
     George Rutledge Smith predeceased his mother. He died in 1894 and his mother died in 1899. In his will, dated May 23, 1894, he left his farm to his second wife Martha Spahr Smith and his daughter Mattie Elizabeth Smith. If Martha died without heirs, Mattie was to inherit all of the farm.
     Sometime before 1910, Martha and Mattie had sold 54 acres of the farm, probably to help support themselves and Francina Colbaugh Smith before Mattie married John D. Webb in 1901. The below 1910 property tax receipt shows that the farm then consisted of 136 acres and was valued at $1150.00. John and Mattie's personal property was valued at $130. The total taxes paid were $17.66.

     Martha Spahr Smith never remarried and she never had any children. Therefore, when she died in 1926 Mattie became the sole heir to the remaining 136 acres of her father's land. By the time Mattie gained full ownership of the farm, she and John D. Webb had been married for a quarter of a century.
     In 1941, John D. Webb had a map drawn of his and Mattie's farm. At that time, the farm totaled 126 acres, of which consisted 116 acres of fields, 8 acres of woods and waste, and 2 acres of lots and lanes. This "Farm Map" of the Smith-Webb farm is shown below.

     John D. Webb was a good farmer, and he and Mattie raised all their children on their farm. The children grew-up, married and moved off the farm, but John and Mattie continued to live there. John died on the farm in 1958. Mattie stayed on the farm a short while longer, and then she went to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Lydia and Lewis Jones, in Johnson City, Tennessee. The farm was sold out of the family in 1962. Mattie died in 1972. She and John are buried in the Poplar Ridge Christian Church cemetery which is located near their old home land.
Smith-Webb Farm
Piney Flats, Sullivan County, Tennessee

       John D. Webb, Mattie Smith, George Rutledge Smith, John M. Smith and John Smith can be found on the Webb Family Chart.

Will of George Rutledge Smith (1838-1894) of Sullivan County, Tennessee

Will of G. R. Smith
In the name of God Amen.
I George Rutledge Smith of Piney Flats Sullivan Co Tenn of the age 56 being of sound mind and disposing memory calling to mind the frailty and uncertainty of human life, and being desirous of settling my worldly affairs while I have strength and capacity so do do make and publish this my last will and testament and to my worldly estate and all the property real personal or mixed of which I shall die seized and possessed or to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease I divide bequeath and dispose them of in the manner following, in premisis.
     My will is that all my just debts and funeral charges shall by my execuator here in after named be paid out of my estate as soon after my decease as shall by them found convenient. Then I devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Martha J. Smith and my daughter Mattie E. Smith and to her heirs my home place. Known as the John M. Smith farm the same to be held and controlled by my wife Martha J. till Mattie arrives at the age of 21 years or shall marry at which time I advise that the farm be divided between the two as follows. Beginn[i]ng at a planted rock in the lane near Kate Smith house at the end of a middle fence thence a straight line splitting said fence south west to W. M. smiths line Martha is to have the north end and further, Should Martha J. die heirless all bequeathed to her reverts to Mattie E. and to her heirs and if both die without heirs the whole possessions both real and personal is to be sold and the proceeds to be divided one half going to the heirs relatives of Martha J. and the other half to my nearest Kins folks.
     Household and kitchen furniture and fixtures is to be held by Martha till maturity or marriage of Mattie E. when it is to be divided equally between the two.
     I give to my wife Martha J. one young bay mare and to my daughter Mattie E. one bay mare & colt and the other horse stock to be disposed of by my executor as instructed. My wife Martha J. is to keep as many milk cows other stock and farming implements as she may deem necessary for her convenience and comfort. My beloved wife Martha J. is at all times to have free access to the water on the north end of the farm. Martha J. is to see that Mattie gets a liberald education.
Item. My age Mother is to be properly cared for and supported by the farm and I look to the welfare of all concerned do suggest and advise that should the condition of my mother warrant it a guardian be appointed for her by the court.
     Lastly, I do nominate and appoint my friend Hiram Hughes to be the execuator of this my last will and testament and case he failed to serve then I appoint James C. Brown my execuator. My execuator is to consult with my wife Martha J. and see that the farm is rented to a proper person and carefully cultivated ground and kept in proper condition.
     I advise hime to sell on twelve month time with good security the following
     One set black smith tools, two head of horses and one mule and any other property set aside by my wife Marth J. Smith.
     I have in my possession belonging to my fathers estate two horses which are to be sold and the money put at interest till finally settled which is two years after my mothers death.
     My execuator is to make ample provisions to pay all legacies as stipuladed in my fathers will less all accounts prepaid by me with interest on same from date of payment it falls due, two years after my mothers death.
     And finally I reccomend that my wife Martha J. sell her property which is in Va. her part of her fathers estate and if necessary use a part of the proceeds to liquidate the above named legacies and her money with interest on same to be paid by my execuator from the proceeds of the sale of the Uncle Michael Colbough tract of land which is advise to be sold as follows.
     As soon as practicable after the death of both my Uncle Michael and Aunt Katy Colbough the farm is to be sold on the following terms: 1/3 third cash in hand and the ballance in equal installments of one and two years each and after caring for the two old folks and refunding money as above reminant is to be applied to the use of my family or divided between Martha J. and Mattie E. Smith.
     In testimony where of I George R. Smith this the 23rd day of May A. D. 1894 affix my signature and acknowledge this to be my last will and testament in the presence of the subscribing witness.
                                   G. R. Smith
S. M. Warren prove Sept 3/94
G. M. Torbett  "       Oct. 1/94
Proven before me by the oath of S. M. Warren, subscribing witnesses Sept. 3rd 1894 and by the oath of G. M. Torbett subscribing witness on the 1st day of Cot. 1894 and the same was ordered by the cort to be recorded in the book of will
     This the 1st day of Oct. 1894
            J. M. Fain Clk
           By L. H. Drury D. C.
State of Tennessee
Sullivan County
     I J. M. Fain Clerk of the County Court of said County do hereby certify that the within is a full true and perfect copy of the last will and Testament of G. R. Smith decd taken from the original will now on file in my office which said will has been duly probated in the county court of said County of sullivan and is of record in Book of Wills No. 1 Page 700
     Witness my hand and official seal at office in Blountville this the 2nd day Oct. 1894
                           J. M. Fain Clk