An American Family History

Catharine Humphreys Smith

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.

Catharine (Kate, Granny, Granny Katie) Humphreys Smith was born March 17, 1781 according to the John Smith family Bible. She was born in Washington County, Virginia. Massengill questions this date because of later census and pension records. Her parents were David Humphreys and Elizabeth Hart.

She married John Smith on September 4, 1808 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Catharine Smith.

At the time of the 1850 census, she was living with the Deck family and remained there until her death.

She applied for her husband's military pension on December 5, 1853 when she was 65 years old.

in her last years it made her head swim to ride in a wheeled vehicle, and in order that she might visit among her descendants that they would place a feather bed on a sled and take her that way.

She died when she was 94 years old on July 3, 1881 was buried with her husband in the Smith-Cross Cemetery in Sullivan County. The Reverend James Knicely Hancher preached her funeral service.


Smith-Cross Cemetery is located near Piney Flats on private property at Boone Lake, Tennessee


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.

Washington County, Virginia was formed from Fincastle County in 1777. It originally contained Sullivan County, Tennessee.

The American folk hero, David "Davy" Crockett (1786 – 1836), grew up in East Tennessee.




The State of Franklin was an unrecognized, independent state in what is now eastern Tennessee. It was created in 1784 with the intent of becoming the fourteenth state. Its first capital was Jonesborough. It existed for about four and a half years and then North Carolina re-assumed control.

The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser

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

p. 883 This year [1781] is plainly written, but it is evidently an error, for in giving her age when the Censuses of 1850 and 1860 were taken, and also in her application for a pension, she gave her age in each instance as such that would establish her birth in 1787. Further, if she had been born in 1781 she would have been 27 years old when she married which would not have been according to pioneer custom.

The Humphreys Connection with the Smiths
(Old spelling Umphreys or Umphres.

This connection began with the marriage of Catherine Humphreys, Sept. 4, 1808 to John Smith son of Henry Smith.

p. 888 His [Dr. John D. Masengil's] grandmother drew a small pension on accout of the military service of her husband, John Smith and her generosity in helping him during those days of Reconstruction was timely. She always held a warm place in his heart. He named one of his children, Nancy Catherine, for his mother and grandmother. In the delirium of his last illness he often referred affectionately to her.

One incident above all others that the writer recalls in connection with this great-grandmother is the fact that in her last years it made her head swim to ride in a wheeled vehicle, and in order that she might visit among her descendants that they would place a feather bed on a sled and take her that way.

I have been told that she and my grandfather, Samuel Evans, dearly loved to engage in conversation during her visits to our home. She was a devout Lutheran in religion and the Rev. James K. Hancher, her pastor, preached her funeral service.

She was buried in the old Smith Family Cemetery, south of the Holston River, a few hundred yards northeast from the site of the old home in which she lived many years. Some of her descendants have placed a small granite marker. Geo. W. Smith has owned and lived on said farm nearly ever since the Civil War. Her husband was also buried in the same cemetery.

Watauga Pioneer Neighbors

American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.

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

Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2023
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