An American Family History

Henry Smith

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

Henry Smith (Heinrich Schmidt) was born about 1749 in Pennsylvania or Germany.

He was a farmer, carpenter and land owner and was known for having well tended cornfields.

His wife was named Mary. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Henry and Mary Smith. Mary was NOT Mary Honaker.

He made his will on December 22, 1820 in Sullivan County Tennessee. He was buried with his family at Smith-Cross Cemetery in Sullivan County.

Deery Inn
The Deery Inn
Blountville, 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.

Children of Henry and Mary Smith
  • John Smith
  • George Smith
  • Mary (Polly) Smith Malone
  • Magdalene Smith Cox.



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

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

    He [James Cole] gave the information that Henry Smith, the head of our Smith family was German that he came to Holston country from Pennsylvania, but that he thought in his earlier life he had come direct from Germany. He continued to use the German name Heinrich Schmidt, at least a part of the time after he came to the Holston section.

    Among the relics spoken of one is a conch shell used as a door stop in his house which he brought to the interior with him. The other relics are a small Bible of his son John Smith, S. E. Massengill's great-grandfather, and the powder horn carried by the same John Smith at the battle of Horse Shoe Bend during the Creek Indian War.

    The Smiths, the same as most people of that period, were farmers. David Smith, a son of John Smith and a grandson of Henry Smith owned a farm adjoining the Evans farm on Evans' branch, and was noted as always having the best tended cornfields in that section.

    Henry Smith bought land along the south side of Holston River, in what is now, no doubt, the eighth civil district of Sullivan County, from Elizebeth Barber, Nov. 18, 1798. This land contained 1000 acres and was part of the 640 acre tract which the State of Tennessee granted to the heirs of Benjamin Cobb. As his will was made in 1820 it is likely that he was a man past middle age when his first land transaction in this section was made in 1798. His will was made Dec. 22, 1820, and his property was given to his wife Mary, sons John and George, and daughters Mary Malone and Magdaline Cox.

    Planter is an archaic term for a settler. Plantation was a method of colonization where settlers were "planted" abroad. A plantation is also the kind of large farm that was the economical basis of many American Colonies and owners of these farms were also called planters.

    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.

    A joiner is a carpenter skilled in finished woodwork.

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

    Will of Henry Smith
    In the name of God Amen. I Henry Smith of the County of Sullivan and the State of Tennessee being sick and weak of body but of sound and disposing mind and memory (thanks be to God) calling to mind the uncertainty of life and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly substance as it that pleased God to bless me with; I give and bequeath the same in the following manner and form that is to say-

    In the first place to my wife Mary Smith I leave the plantation whereon I now living during her lifetime or widowhood allowing my two sons the privilege of farming and living on the said plantation by paying to their mother such a part of the proceeds of the same as will be sufficient to afford her a comfortable support so long as she remains my widow--likewise such part of the household furniture as may be necessary for her use, also I allow my two sons to find and keep their mother a good cow and such other stock as she may need during the time aforesaid.

    After my wife's death or intermarriage I allow my son John Smith one half of the plantation whereon I live including a survey... said plantation on the upper end...both tracts to be divided in such a manner as may be most convenient and to the mutual advantage of him and his brother George Smith, also one half of a lot in the town of Blountville, one half of the waggon, one half of the farming utensils and Joiners tools to be at his immediate disposal, and at his mother's death or intermarriage one half of the balance of all my personal or moveable property.

    And to my son George Smith at his mother's death or intermarriage I give one half of the plantation and survey aforesaid one half of the town lot, waggon, farming utensils and Joiners tools to be at his disposal at the time and manner aforesaid, together with one half of the balance of all my moveable estate at his mother's death or second marriage making him an equal sharer in all respects with his brother John.

    And to my two daughters Mary Malone and Magdaline Cox I allow at their mother's death or intermarriage one hundred dollars each one half to be in money and the other half in good trade, also such a part of the household furniture as their mother in her lifetime may think proper to give them.

    And lastly I do hearby constitute and appoint my two sons John Smith and George Smith Executors of this my last Will and Testament, hearby..ching all other or former wills or testaments, by me heretofore made. In witness whereof I have heareunto set my hand and seal this 22 day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and twenty.

    Signed sealed published and declared to be the last will and testament of the above named

    In the presence of us
    John Smith, Senr,
    Isaac McKinely [McKinley]

    The witness, John Smith, Sr. was perhaps a brother, and the "Sr." was likely used to designate him from Henry's son John.

    Under Henry Smith's will his son John was to take care of the widow Mary Smith. On Nov. 19, 1827, an agreement was made by the widow Mary Smith and the son-in-law, Godfrey Cox, of the one part, and the son, John Smith, of the other part, that this obligation should pass to Godfrey Cox for a certain consideration. The instrument was witnessed by Abraham Gregg.

    April 19, 1820, a deed for 60 acres lying in the forks of the Watauga and Holston Rivers, was made by John Smith to Godfry Cox, consideration $252.00, but this deed does not appear to have been recorded.

    Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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