An American Family History

Moses Humphreys

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,
and, under a just God cannot retain it."
― Abraham Lincoln

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

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

Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee was founded in 1779. In 1784, it became the capital of the State of Franklin.

Johnson City, Tennessee is in Washington, Carter and Sullivan Counties. It was known as Brush Creek for the Creek than runs through it.

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

A tithable was a person for whom a head tax was to be paid. The definition varies over time and place, but generally included members of the potentially productive labor force.
A poll tax is a tax levied on every poll. The definition of a poll also varied, but was generally a man of legal age.

Moses Humphreys was born on December 3, 1749 in Virginia. He was the son of John and Susannah Humphreys.

On February 10, 1779 in Washington County, Tennessee, Moses Humphreys bought a 25 year enslaved man named Peter for 100£ from Kemp Strother of the Camden District, South Carolina.

In 1789, Moses and his brother, Jesse, served as administrators of their father's estate.

On March 15, 1790, Moses witnessed the will of David Matlock.

On July 13, 1792 Moses purchased a tract of land on the north side of Boones Creek in Washington County from William Ellis for 50 "current money."

In 1792, Moses was the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Matthew Talbots. Moses lost the case whose subject matter was not recorded.

On December 28, 1793 Moses was the bondsman for the marriage of his brother Richard's daughter, Elizabeth Humphreys and Edward Weston in Washington County.

On September 11, 1794, John Woods, of Burk County, Georgia sold John Tedlock, a nineteen year enslaved man named Isaac for 75 pounds. Moses was the witness.

Friday, February 20th 1795 the Washington County Court met and heard the William Campbell vs Moses Humphreys case and found for the plaintiff 8 pounds 9 shillings and 6 pence damages.

In 1797 Moses Humphreys was on the tax list of Sullivan County.

According to court records in August, 1799

Moses rode from his cabin in Carter County to Jonesboro, where he encountered a former drinking companion, Abraham Blevins of Sullivan County. After a few drinks, Blevins boasted the The Collector, a horse owned by Henry Massengill, would beat any other horse. Moses bragged that Paul Jones, belonging to his brother, Richard, could not be beat. Moses pressed Blevins for a race, but Blevins knew he would have to buy The Collector and refused.

When they stopped at the fork in the trail, one leading to Carter and the other leading to Sullivan, Blevins agreed to race at the Watauga Turf, a renowned frontier tract, on the first day of November, 1799, at 12 noon, and according to Blevins a wager of $500 was made. Moses later denied the wager, except one made in jest while intoxicated.

Blevins called at the house of Henry Massengill and was told The Collector could be bought for $500. Blevins, thinking Moses would withdraw from the race, sought him out and told of the high price of the horse, but Moses refused positively to withdraw.

Again in September, Blevins unsuccessfully tried to get Moses to cancel and again was refused. When Moses later heard that Blevins had bought the horse, he said the whole thing was a jest.

Before the scheduled race, Moses brought Paul Jones to the Watauga Turf, and during a purse race, the horse was injured and became lame. On the appointed day, Blevins and The Collector waited in vain for Moses and Paul Jones. When they did not arrive, Blevins sued Moses for the bet, but Moses refused to appear in court and judgment was rendered in favor of Blevins.

On March 30, 1801 Moses filed an injunction against Blevins. The case dragged on until September, 1803, and again the court found for Blevins.


By virtue of a writ of Fieri Facias to me directed from the superior court of law for the district of Washington, will be exposed to sale, for ready money, at the court house in Greene, on the 28th day of April next, one tract of land containing ninety acres about fifty or sixty acres cleared, two cabins and a good peach orchard, the property of Moses Humphreys, living in the county of Greene on the south side of Nolichucky river, about a mile below the mouth of Sinking creek, adjoing Daniel Cresour's plantation to satisfy an ex.. obtained against him by Armstead Blevens where due attendence will be given by me.
John Newman Sheff.
February 17, 1801

In 1803 Moses was sued by Thomas Stuart for 3£ and 3s for "divers goods, wares and merchandise." After the trial in February, 1804, the court found for Moses. That year he also bought one muley heifer and one red and white heifer at his future wife's father's, David Jobe's, estate sale.

On May 10, 1804 a Moses Humphreys married 18 year old, Sarah Jobe, according to Washington County Deeds, Volume 8, p. 39. Moses was 55 at this time.

said Joel Cooper hath intermarried with Elizabeth Joab, and George Sheffield also intermarried with Mary Joab, and Moses Humphreys hath intermaried Sarah Joab, all the daughters of David Joab, Deceast....

Sarah was the daughter of David Jobe and Abigail Denton (daughter of John Denton). She was born January 18, 1780 in Washington County.

Sarah and Moses' children included:
John J. Humphreys (1807, married Sarah Donahue),
Nathaniel T. Humphreys (1809, married Mary Hammontree),
David J. Humphreys (1811, married Louise Caroline Carr daughter of William Carr),
Abraham Jobe Humphreys (1812), and
Elizabeth Emaline Humphreys (1819, married William Harrison Plumly (Plumlee)).

Sarah and Moses were named in her father's estate papers in 1804.

Abstract of Title by Mildred Kossuch
to properites of Methodist Episcopal Church, South, consisting on the lot on which the old church stands, all in the 9th civil district of Washington Co., Tennessee, in the town of Johnson City, lyikng at the corner of Roan and East Market Streets in said town and as to the last named lot of East Market Street

2. Warranty Deed
Joel Cooper, George Sheffield and Moses Humphreys, or Humphries to Abram, Joshua and John Job

Dated May 10, 1804, Properly acknowledged.
Registered Aug Session, 1803, of the County Court of said county, Vol. 8, page 39, Consideration: $1800 paid.

These grantos intermarried with Elizabeth, Mary and Sarah Job, and, by this deed, they undertook to convey the shares of their wives in the property descended from David Job, deceased, which they could not do. However, this deed divested the husbands of their martial rights, all they had in property, and their wives conveyed by deeds shown hereafter.

In 1805 Henry Hammond sued Moses in Carter County, Tennessee and the court found for Moses.

In 1807 Moses sold a tract of land in Carter County to Zachariah Green and Moses' brothers and brother-in-law sold their interest in the land of John Humphreys to John Houston.

On December 13 Moses purchased 120 acres from John Houston.

The 1811 Washington County tax list included Moses Humphreys. He had 1 white poll, 1 black poll, 251 acres, and a stud horse.

During the War of 1812,, Moses was a private under Jesse Cole in East Tennessee Militia.

In 1812 Moses was granted 50 acres on Cedar Creek in Washington County.

On August 27, 1812 Moses was bondsman for marriage of Isaac Floyd to Margaret Thorp in Washington County.

In 1814 Moses was on the tax list of Washington County and was a member of the Carter County court which decided to buy salt to resell with the state lottery proceeds.

On August 1, 1815, Moses sold a tract of land to Jonathan Carouthers in Washington County.

In 1819 Moses Humphreys was on the tax list of Washington County.

On November 14, 1820, Moses petitioned the Carter County court to declare Jesse Humphreys, a lunatic.

October 8, 1825 Mr. Henderson introduced a bill for the relief of Moses Humphreys of Monroe County.

Moses died in 1827 in Monroe County and was buried in BelltownMonroe CountyTennesseeUSA


In 1827, John J. Humphreys was appointed guardian pendente lite (temporary) of Nathaniel, David, Emaline, and Abraham Humphreys, the minor heirs of Moses Humphreys, deceased.

On November 10, 1831, Sarah sold the properties of the Johnson City Methodist Episcopal Church, South,

consisting on the lot on which the old church stands, all in the 9th civil district of Washington County., Tennessee, in the town of Johnson City, lying at the corner of Roan and East Market Streets in said town and as to the last named lot of East Market Street

to Abraham Jobe, for $200.

On January 30, 1833 a notice in Republican Paper indicated that Moses had 530 acres in Monroe County on the Tellico River,

being the same on which the said Humphreys died and where Widow Humphreys now live[s].

In 1842 the Humphreys children sold land to Isaac Stephens

John J., Nathaniel T. and David J. Humphreys and William H. Plumley and wife Elizabeth Emeline formerly Humphreys, children and heirs of late Moses Humphreys, all of Monroe County to Isaac Stephens of mouth of Cane Creek in same Co.
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
  • postcard
    Jonesborough in 1857

    Watauga Pioneer Neighbors

    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.

    Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.
    Guardianship is when a court gives an adult custody of a child and/or the responsibility of managing the child's property. Before women could own property, guardians were appointed for their minor children if their husband died.
    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.

    Boones Creek is a tributary of the Watauga River.

    Alcohol played a significant role in the daily lives of colonists; even children. They feared polluted water and believed in alcohol's nourishing and medicinal properties.




    Humphreys, N.T. John W. Strutton
    3-3-1852 6-22-1852
    Nathaniel T. Humphreys to Strutton and Asa Anderson.
    Right to cut a road and erect mill. Dam on SW corner of farm where Humphreys lives on double branch and near where Humphreys lives on double ranch and near where Daniel Plumlee [Plumly] had a still house.
    Wits: John Strutton, Abraham T. Burris.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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