An American Family History

David Humphreys


"[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported.
We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us,
at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."

-- John Adams, 1765


East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

Carter County, Tennessee was organized from Washington County on April 9, 1796. Elizabethton is the county seat.

David Humphreys was born in about 1746. Dr. Samuel Masengill wrote that he was born in Londonderry, Ireland. I think he may be a son of John and Susannah Humphreys.

During the American Revolution, he served as a private on the Pennsylvania Line. According to his pension file (page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6), he joined the Continental army in 1776. He was in the First Regiment of Foot commanded by Colonel Edward Hand. He was enlisted by Captain John Holliday and Lieutenant James Holliday (killed September 11, 1777). At first he was in Captain Robert Cluggage's company of riflemen.

He served until 1778. Several times he participated in missions against the indigenous people in North Carolina. He was at Trenton and Monmouth. He received an honorable discharge from Dr. William Magaw. At one point he was in the hospital. He served 18 months under General Sineleary?

He married Elizabeth Hart in 1786. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on David and Elizabeth Humphreys.

He applied for a pension on August 10, 1818 in Carter County, Tennessee. His pension started at age 88. He was paid $376 and $96 year.

On October 30, 1823 the general assembly passed an act to pay $31 to David for being a brigade inspector of the 4th brigade of the Tenessee militia as required by the 1815 assembly. A brigade inspector was to

. . . distribute all orders from the brigadier general or commanding officer . . .
to keep an orderly book . . .
. . . keep a record of all appointments and resignations in his brigade;
he shall keep a roster of the field and staff officers. . .

On August 21, 1830, David Humphreys appeared in court in Sullivan County, Tennessee. He was 73 years old. He swore that he served in the American Revolution. He said he was no longer able to pursue his occupation of leather glove making. He said his son, John Humphreys, was settled in Carter County and that his daughter married John Smith of Sullivan County and that he lived with her.

He died June 27 1832.
Children of John and Susannah Humphreys
  • William Humphreys
  • David Humphreys
  • Richard Humphreys
  • Moses Humphreys
  • Mary Humpreys Tullis
  • Jesse Humphreys
  • Elizabeth Humphreys Greenway
  • Elisha Humphreys
  • George Humphreys
  • Carter County is in northeastern Tennessee. It was part of the Washington District of North Carolina organized in 1775. In 1777, the district became Washington County, North Carolina.

    Sullivan County is in far northeast corner of Tennessee between North Carolina and Virginia and was originally part of those states. It was formed in 1779 when it was divided from Washington County.

    Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796. It was initially part of North Carolina.

    North Carolina was one of the thirteen original Colonies. It was first settled by small farmers and grew quickly in the mid 18th century.




    Alison BarronBean BlevinsBoringBroylesCarrCobbColbaugh Cole CoxCross CrouchCurtisDeckDenton Dungan EmmertGreenwayHartHendrixHendryHicks Hunt Humphreys Isbell JacksonJobe King LattureLittle Looney MaloneMassengilMauckMcCorkleMcKinleyMillerMooreNavePitts RangeReneauRhea SevierSmithSmithStanfieldTipton TullisWaggoner Webb


    The Massengills, Massengales and Variants, 1472-1931 by Samuel Evans Massengill, M.D. The King Printing Company, Bristol, Tennessee, 1931.

    Some of the Humphreys descendants lived on Muddy Creek in Sullivan County, Tenn. Catherine knew a great many people on Garland's Branch near Watauga, Tenn., and it is likely that she was akin to the Humphreys who are mentioned frequently on the early records of Washington County, Tenn.


    The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

    First Pennsylvania Roll of Robert Cluggage's company October 5, 1776
    Colonel Edward Hand
    James Chambers Lieutenant Colonel
    Major Jas. Ross

    Thacher in his Military Journal of the Revolution states:

    They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are dressed in white flocks or rifle shirts and round hats. These men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance. At a review, a company of them, while on a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter, at the distance of two hundred and fifty yards. They are now stationed in our lines, and their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers who expose themselves to view, even at more than double the distance of common musket shot.

    From History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties

    . . .Colonel Thompson was promoted brigadier on the first of March, 1776, and Lieut. Col. Hand of Lancaster, succeeded him. The term of the battalion expired on the 30th of June, 1776, but officers and men in large numbers re-enlisted for three years or during the war, under Col. Hand, and the battalion became the first regiment of the Continental Line. It was at Long Island, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton, under Hand.

    Cluggage, Robert Captain resigned October 6, 1776
    Holliday, John first lieutenant promoted captain of Ross' company, September 25, 1776
    Burd, Benjamin first lieutenant from second lieutenant, September, transferred to Fourth Pennsylvania
    Burd, Benjamin second lieutenant promoted first lieutenant, September 25, 1776
    Holliday, James sergeant killed September 11, 1777
    Simonton, Alexander sergeant discharged 1781; wounded in battle of Brandywine; resided in Washington county in 1803
    Bainbridge, Charles private June 6, 1776; discharged July 13, 1776
    Bone, Joseph private discharged June 24, 1776
    Butler, Edward private May 18, 1776
    Campbell, Larison private May 18, 1776
    Connor, Philip private  
    Corbitt, Patrick private May 8, 1776; discharge August 8 1776
    Denmark, John private August 1, 1776
    Donelin, William private  
    Dougherty, Matthias private  
    Drew [Dreis], Thomas private July 17, 1776
    Hailey, David private July 24, 1776
    Humphries, David private July 20, 1776
    Irwin, James private July 16, 1776
    Irwin, William private  
    Kent, William private  
    Kerney, James private May 8, 1776; discharged August 15, 1776
    Kerney, Nicholas private May 8, 1776; discharged August 15, 1776
    Kirbey, James private June 6, 1776; taken prisoner August 28, 1776
    Laird, William private  
    Leonard, Patrick private  
    Lewis, Robert private June 6, 1776; discharged July 1776
    Long, James private July 21, 1l776
    McCarthey, Henry private July 12, 1776
    Mcclean, Daniel private  
    Mccord, Ezra private July 21, 1776
    McCune [McEwen], John private  
    McDonald, David private May 8, 1776; discharged July 18, 1776
    McNinch, John private May 11, 1776
    McRoberts, David private May 18, 1770
    Magee, Thomas private  
    May, William private discharged August 15, 1776
    Miller, Michael private  
    Morrison, John private August 1, 1776
    Plumb, Samuel private  
    Pughe, Thomas private June 15, 1776
    Reynolds, Michael private  
    Richardson, James private June 6, 1776; discharged August 28, 1776
    Richie, Philip private  
    Richie, Charles private June 15, 1776; discharged July 13, 1776
    Robinson, Thomas private June 6, 1776; discharged June 24, 1776
    Ross, Charles private July 14, 1776
    Sheehan, Thomas private July 14, 1776
    Sloan, Alexander private  
    Smith, John private July 21, 1776
    Steel, Francis private May 18, 1776
    Stevens, John private July 18, 1776
    Taylor, Hugh private July 20, 1776
    Vanderslice, Daniel private  
    Wallace, Samuel private  
    Ward, Thomas private  
    Warren, Edward private July 20, 1776
    Whitman, George private  
    The Battle of White Plains was on October 28, 1776 near White Plains, New York. The Americans retreated from New York City and the British landed troops in Westchester County to cut them off. The Americans attempted to establish a position in White Plains, but the British drove them from a hill near the village.

    Medical Men of Franklin County, 1750-1925 by Ambrose Watts Thrush, M.D.; Chambersburg, Pa.; Medical Society of Franklin County, Page 237

    Dr. William Magaw (1740-1829)
    William Magaw was born at Carlisle, Pa., a son of William and Elizabeth Magaw and was a brother of Colonel Robert Magaw. He was commissioned surgeon in June, 1775, serving with Colonel William Thompson's, afterward Colonel Hand's Battalion of riflemen. This Battalion was the first body of troops from west of the Hudson River and south of Connecticut to reach Boston and join General Washington. Dr. Magaw later was appointed surgeon in the Continental Army and served to the close of the war.

    After leaving the army Dr. Magaw located in Mercersburg, Pa., and practiced medicine in this town for many years. He became the owner of much valuable real estate in this neighborhood. When well advanced in years he went to Meadville, Pa., and lived in the family of his son, William, until his death. General Lafayette during his visit to the United States in 1824 spent a few hours with Dr. Magaw in Meadville. While a surgeon in the Revolution Dr. Magaw in one instance had dressed Lafayette's wounds. Dr. Magaw married in 1790, Mary McDowell, born 1756, died 1799. She was the second wife and there were no children. Dr. Jesse Magaw was a son by the first wife.

    Surgeons in colonial America were often barbers who used their cutting tools to perform surgery.
    Physicians were university trained.
    Midwives assisted women in childbirth.


    Bauman & Dreisbach

    ©Roberta Tuller 2017