An American Family History

Elisha 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



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

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

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

Elisha Humphreys was born on March 12, 1763. His parents were John and Susannah Humphreys.

Elish served in the American Revolution in place of his brother Jesse who had been drafted. He went by horseback with his own rifle to North Carolina in Colonel William Campbell's unit. They were to participate in the Battle of Ramsour's Mill on June 20, 1780, but missed the battle by one day.

After that their unit

marched through various parts of North Carolina and was engaged in suppressing the Tories and disaffected to our Government and frequently dispersed through the Country through the day as Scouting parties, and took many prisoners, but generally returned to the Camp at night

And on one occasion our horses were kept all night Saddles on that we might make a rapid March if necessary.

And on another occasion the Army was reduced to the necessity of living for fifteen days without bread to the best of his recollection

He married Susan Elizabeth Broyles in April, 1788. They were married by "old Reverend Samuel Doak." She was probably the daughter of Jacob Conrad Broyles and Elizabeth Yowell.

In 1792, Elisha was taxed in Washington County, Tennessee for 300 acres.

They settled in Carter County, Tennessee and lived on the Doe River three miles north of Elizabethtown.

Susan and Elisha's children may have included:

Moses Humphreys (1792, married Rebecca Boyd),
Elizabeth Humphreys Glaze (1793, married Lawrence Glaze),
Eleanor Humphreys Houston (1795, married James Houston),
Jehu Humphreys (1798, married Celah Bayless, daughter of John Bayless, son of Samuel Bayless),
John Humphreys (1799, married Mary Taylor),
Jemima Humphreys Scott (1800, married John Scott),
Jesse Humphreys (1803),
Susan Humphreys Carden (1808, married Ansel Carden),
Jefferson Madison Humphreys (1811, married Lydia Robinson),
Bluford Washington Humphreys (1813), and
Mary Lorina Humphreys (1813).

In the 1794 tax list, Elisha had 350 acres and one man of working age.

Elisha was on the 1798 tax list of Carter County.

In 1830 Elisha was in Carter County, Tennessee. The household consisted

of a man between 60 and 69,
a woman between 50 and 59,
a man and a woman between 20 and 29-
three boys between 15 and 19
a girl between 10 and 14

In 1832, two of their sons died.

Jonesboro, Tenn. Feb. 25.—Five or six young men in Carter county, about 15 miles from this place, were illy employed on last Sunday in chasing a fox, which they pursued to the mouth of a well known cave, not far from the residence of Col. Jas. P. Taylor. Four of the party entered the cave and never returned—it is supposed they instantly suffocated. Jesse Humphreys, Blufort Humphreys, Samuel M'Geeher and a Mr. Guin were their names. The cave was formerly used for making salt-petre and much frequented. There are, we understand, some particulars of interest in relation to this melancholy event with which we expect to be furnished in a few days for publication.—Journal.
(from North-Carolina Free Press, Tuesday, March 27, 1832, p. 4)

An Awful Occurrence
Knoxville Feb. 20
We have been furnished with the following extract of a letter dated February 24, 1832 from a gentleman in Elizabethton, Ten to a citizen of this place —

On Sunday morning the 19th inst about two hours before day three or four men having determined to take a fox chase started a fox which the hounds soon pursued into a cave three or four miles from this place.

Some of the company descended into the cave and built a bark fire with a view of driving the fox out with the smoke and then went to a neighbor’s house and took breakfast. They then returned in company with two others so that there were now six men to wit: Jesse Alfred and Bluford Humphreys, Wm Guinn, Samuel M'Keehan and Wm Boyd. The latter went into the cave but soon returned telling the others that he was very sick and advising them not to venture in — but M’Keehan observed that he had been in many times before and could go in again and stay till sun down.

He accordingly descended but was in a short time heard to exclaim —my light is out and I am dying! Bluford Humphreys and Guinn went to his assistance with another light but were soon heard to utter the same cry. This would have deterred ordinary men from exposing themselves to the same hazard but Alfred and Jesse Humphreys with the intrepidity which characterizes men of brave and fearless spirits rushed to the rescue of their unfortunate companions. They picked up Buford and attempted to make their escape but some twenty yards from the mouth of the cave their progress was impeded by a perpendicular ascent of six or eight feet at which place they laid their lights down in order to lift up their brother.

They now called upon Boyd who had remained at the cave’s mouth to bring them another light but the torches were all gone and he ran to alarm the neighborhood.

It was not long before it was known here and the greater portion of the neighbors repaired to the dismal tomb of their unfortunate friends. From the echo of the cave it was known that one of the persons who had gone in still remained alive — but no one seemed willing to under the risk of relieving him as it was believed four of tho individuals in the cave were dead and all were afraid that by going in a similar late would be experienced.

A man by the name of Thomas Harvey was at length daring enough to make the proposition that if any man would go in and hold the light for him— he would attempt to save the person whose groans were heard from the cave. Samuel Tipton Jr and a young man named Vaun had the bravery and hardihood to accompany Harvey into the cave and passed the four that was dead guided by the moans of him who wag still alive they found the latter and having fastened a cord around his body he was pulled by the men at the mouth of the cave by the assistance of those in it to the before mentioned ascent The three men becoming exhausted now had to leave the cave and Alfred Humphreys the gentleman whom they had assisted remained therein suspended by the cord until three other gentlemen entered it when he was drawn out with some difficulty.

By the timely procurement of medical assistance he has since recovered— and says the deceased were all certain that they must die and took each other by the hand and said they would try and make their peace with God and die together— that by some means he extricated himself and thought he would make one more effort to gain the entrance of the cave but instead of passing in that direction he went the contrary way and in a few minutes fell senseless He remembered nothing that took place from that moment until he was restored by the physician. Bluford Humphreys was taken out on Sunday evening but Guinn, M’Keehan and Jesse Humphreys remained in the cave until next day. (National Banner and Daily Advertiser, March 7, 1832)

In 1840, Elisha was in Carter County, Tennessee. The household consisted of a man between 70 and 79, a woman between 60 and 69, a man between 30 and 39, and a woman between 20 and 29.

In 1843, he applied for his Revolutionary War Pension.

Elisha died on April 18, 1844 in Carter County.

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.

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

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

    In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.



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

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

    Pension application of Elisha Humphries R5382 and Susan Humphries f22VA Transcribed by Will Graves May, 20, 2014

    State of Tennessee Carter County
    On this the 21st day of November 1843 personally appeared before me Malcolm N. Tolson an acting Justice of the Peace for the County aforesaid

    Elisha Humphries a resident of the aforesaid County aged Eighty or Eighty One years the 12th day of next March to the best of his recollection who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following the declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the Act of Congress passed 7 June 1832.

    That he substituted in the place of Jesse Humphries in the Army of the United States who was drafted to serve a Six Months Tour he being then a resident of the State of Virginia now Smyth County on or near the head waters of Holston River,

    he thinks to the best of his recollection in the spring of 1778 or 1779 and marched on horseback, mit [with] his own Rifle Gun, under Lieutenant or Ensign Leon Bishop the Captain's name not recollected and was Commanded by Colonel Campbell, with other Officers, their names not recollected,

    and was marched to North Carolina by forced marches for a few days to reach Ramsour's Mills to participate in a contemplated Battle, that was fought between the Tories who had assembled inconsiderable forces, and the American forces and arrived within nine or ten miles of the place when the news reached us that the battle had been fought the day previous [June 20, 1780],

    from thence we were marched through various parts of North Carolina and was engaged in suppressing the Tories and disaffected to our Government and frequently dispersed through the Country through the day as Scouting parties, and took many prisoners, but generally returned to the Camp at night,

    And on one occasion our horses were kept all night Saddles on that we might make a rapid March if necessary. And on another occasion the Army was reduced to the necessity of living for fifteen days without bread to the best of his recollection

    and deponent further saith that they were verbally discharged in North Carolina after having served the tour of duty and that he knows of no living witness whose testimony he can procure to establish the above facts. And that he is not on any pension list Roll of the United States and does relinquish all claim to any pension except the present. Further deponent saith not.

    Sworn to & subscribed before me on the day & year above written.
    S/ M. N. Tolson, JP for CC
    S/ Elisha Humphries, X his mark

    [Abraham Tipton & Joseph Taylor gave the standard supporting affidavit.]

    In 1607 the London Company established Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony.


    p. 4: On November 6, 1856 in Carter County Tennessee, Susan Humphreys filed for her bounty land entitlement as the widow of Elisha Humphreys, an applicant for service in the American Revolution and in the "subsequent Indian Wars"

    she states that she believes he entered the service in Washington County North Carolina, now Tennessee; that she married him in Washington County Tennessee in April 1788; that they were married by old Reverend Samuel Doak; that her name prior to her marriage was Susan Brayles; that her husband died at his residence in Carter County Tennessee in March 1848; that she remains his widow; and she signed her application with her mark.

    Reverend Samuel Doak

    The Battle of Horseshoe Bend was on March 27, 1814 in what is now central Alabama. U..S forces under Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Indian Red Sticks.

    from Goodspeed's History of Tennessee

    J. P. Scott, proprietor of the Watauga Woolen Mills, and one of the prominent citizens of Carter County, was born in that county August 19, 1834, and is the son of John and Jane (Humphreys) Scott.

    The father [John Scott] was born in Washington County in 1797, and was a soldier of the war of 1812, participating in the battle of Horse Shoe. He was a carpenter by trade, and also followed farming. He was quite prominent during his life, and served as a captain in the militia. He died in 1857. His father was Absalom Scott, a native of Scotland, who immigrated to Maryland, where he was married, and then came to Tennessee and settled in Washington County, of which he was one of the pioneers.

    The mother [Jemima Humphreys] was born in Carter County, on Doe River, three miles above Elizabethton in 1808, and was the daughter of Elisha Humphreys, a farmer of Carter County. She died in 1868. She was a member of the Baptist Church...


    Acts of the State of Tennessee Passed at the General Assembly

    An act to amend an act authorizing Ansel Carden to build a toll bridge, around Smith's Hill on Wautauga River.

    Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That the charter authorizing Ansel Carden to build and keep up a toll bridge around Smith's Hill, on Wautauga River, in Carter county, shall be so amended as to extend the puovisions of the charter ten years in addition to the time heretofore allowed by law. 3,1,1 of 1011

    Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, That the said Carden shall receive the same rate of toll as heretofore allowed, and shall be subject to the same rules, regulations and restrictions as required by the original charter; Provided, that the said Carden, his heirs, administrators or assigns shall be bound to keep the said Bridge in good repair, as required by the charter; and that the said Garden, his heirs or assigns, shall hereafter be bound to keep the road in good repair one mile south west of the above named Bridge.

    D, L. Barringer, Speaker of the House of Representatives. J. M. Anderson, Speaker of the Senate. Passed December 30th, 1843.

    Watauga Pioneer Neighbors
    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.
    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 2020
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