An American Family History

The Isbell Family of Washington County, Tennessee


Washington County, Tennessee,was established in 1777 as Washington County, North Carolina. From 1784 to 1788,it was part of the State of Franklin.

The French and Indian War lasted from 1754 to 1763 and was the North American phase of the Seven Years' War. The British and French were fighting over claim to the territory between the Appalachians and the Mississippi.

During the American Revolution a Tory or Loyalist was used in for those who remained loyal to the British Crown.

Zachariah Isbell was born about 1722 in Virginia.

His wife's name is not known for sure. He was a sheriff, magistate, and justice in Virginia.

Their children included:
Louvisa Isbell Carr (1743, married John Carr)
Zachariah Isbell, Jr.

He was a captain in the French and Indian War.

On March 7, 1759, he received a land grant for 250 acres in the Craven District (later Camden District) of South Carolina. He was a tax collector, Justice of the Peace, and a magistrate there.

In 1762 he was on the tax list of Rowan County, North Carolina.

On July 16, 1766, in Camden District, South Carolina, Zachariah Isbell, Sr. sold land to Jeremiah Potts and Zachariah's wife, Elizabeth Isbell, signed to release her dower rights.

In 1771 and 1772 he was on the tax list of Surry County, North Carolina.

They moved to Washington County, North Carolina (later Tennessee) where he was a magistrate judge. He was one of 13 commissioners appointed to form the Watauga Settlement. In 1772 he served on the first court in Tennessee.

On March 25, 1775 he witnessed the deed for the Watauga Purchase of the East Tennessee lands from the Cherokees and soon after bought land from Jacob Brown.

In 1778 he served on the first court in Washington County. In November, 1778

Ord[ered]. Jacob Womack, Jesse Walton, Geo. Russell, Jospeh Willson, Zach. Isbell, and Benjamin Gist appointed to lay off the place for erecting the Court house, prison stocks, and the said return is ord. filed in the court office.

Ord. that Patrick Murphy be fined for 20 lbs. for insulting Zachariah Isbell a member sitting on the bench.

State vs. Patrick Murphy for stealing two hogs the property of Zach Isbell and Thomas Evans. Jas. Crawford and Wm. Murphy witness for the State, John Smith, Richard Travillian and John Redding withess for Murphy. Sworn. The Court ord. that Murphy pay to Zach Isbell for his hog 26 lbs., and for Evans hog 10 lbs. and receive on his bare back well laid on by the Sheriff, 20 lashes.

Zachariah Isbell and his son Zachariah, Jr. both served in the government of the Watauga Association, and they both fought the British with Colonel John Sevier in the Battle of King's Mountain, October 7, 1780.

Zachariah and Elizabeth Isbell signed as witnesses to a deed for Jacob Brown on October 9, 1781.

In 1784, Zachariah Isbell, John Sevier and Jesse Walton were appointed to confiscate the properties of Tories in Washington County.

He died about 1788 and is believed to be buried at Cherokee Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

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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.

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



The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive battle of the American Revoluton. It took place on October 7, 1780, nine miles south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The Patriot militia defeated the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson.

The King's Mountain Men: The Story of the Battle by Katherine Keogh White

Isbell. James Francis, Livingston, Thomas and William were brothers, and are said to have been in the same company at King's Mountain.

Zachary, an early Watauga settler, was in the battle. He was one of thirteen commissioners elected by the convention of 1772 to formulate laws . . .Zachary Isbell was a justice of Washington in 1778 and a signer of the Halifax petition.

Godfrey was under Sevier. . .

Henry, pensioned in Kentucky as a Virginia militia man went to Kentucky in 1818 when seventy-eight. He is not claimed as a King's Mountain man.

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



Bauman & Dreisbach

©Roberta Tuller 2017