An American Family History

Buffalo Ridge, Tennessee
Washington County, Tennessee

Watauga Pioneer Neighbors

A group of Baptists from Sandy Creek, North Carolina relocated in Washington County, Tennessee, where they established the Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church. Its first pastor was Tidence Lane.

The early members included:
Joseph Crouch,
Isaac Denton,
Anthony Epperson,
Nicholas Hale.
Peter Jackson,
Reverend Jonathan Mulkey,
William Nash,
David Parry and




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

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

Teter Nave

The Nolichucky River flows through Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. It is a tributary of the French Broad River. During the 1770s, European Americans established the "Nolichucky settlements" in what is now Greene County, Tennessee.

The Village Messenger 
Fayetteville, Tennessee
06 Oct 1824, Wed  •  Page 2

Selections from Petitions For Iron Works from Washington County, Tennessee, Genweb

1816 Washington County, Tennessee . . . The petition of William P. Chester to your worships respectfully sheweth that he is now about to build iron works in Bumpus Cove [just south of Jonesborough]. . .prays your worship to grant him a Jury of view to lay off . . . [3,000 acres].
Reuben Bayles
Daniel Bayles
John Hampton
John Shannon
Jacob Brown
Wm. Colyer, Sen.
Wm. Colyar, Jun.
Jacob Gyer
William Templin
Joseph Rodgers
John May
Samuel Keplinger

Petition to improve the works
. . .Wm. P. Chester . . .is Desireous of Improving said seat . . . [requests] a Jury to lay off & condemn for him three thousand acres . . .on the East or Lemon line of Lemon tract and to run with Jonathan Tucker land so as to include Vaddy Creek from the river to Embree upper corner of creek in two or more tracts & return a report to the next Session of the Court & your Petitioner will be in duty bound.
Jan. 12th 1824
William P. Chester
Reuben Bayles, Sr.
Samuel L. Bayles
Jacob Maruen (?)
Wm. Colyer, Esq.
Alex Colyer
George Hundly
Isaac Hartsell
Thomas More, Sr.
Joseph Rodgers
John Keplinger
Reuben Rodgers
John Shannon
James Sevier

The Petition William Blair to your worship respectfully sheweth that he has now the iron work built by William P. Chester on Nolichucky. . .prays your worship to appoint him a Jury of view to lay off for the use of said works the residue of three thousand acres on Actons Branch on the Mill Stone branch or both and that said lot so laid off was the north Side of Said river so as aforesaid covered by older title be set aside and your petition prays.  

John Hampton.
Reuben Bayles

Daniel Bayles
John Shannon
Wm. Colyer, Sen.
Wm. Colyar, Jun.
Jacob Brown
Joseph Rodgers
Jacob Gyer
William Templin
John May, Jr.
Wm. P. Chester

April Sessions 1816 ordered by Court that the prayer of the petitioner be granted and the above named persons be a Jury to lay off the same.  

Report of the Jury on Elijah Embree's Petition
We the Jury summoned & sworn in persuance of an order of the County Court of Washington County to view Three Thousand acres of land for the benefit of Elijah Embree. . .
this July 5 1823.

Jacob Brown
James Sevier
Reuben Rogers
John Dekins
Wm. Colyar
John Shannon
George Hunly
Jonathan Tucker
John Bayles
Joseph Crouch
Dan'l L. Bayless
Henderson Clark

State of Tennessee
To the worshipful Court of Washington County now convened
Please to grant your petition, a Jury of review, on the road running through the land where Abraham Tipton formerly lived, and Leading from Jonesborough to Embree's Iron Works and to North Carolina.. . .July 8th, 1822.
John Tipton 

The prayer of the within granted and ordered, that
Abraham Jobe [son of David],
Jas. R. Young,|
Jas. Robison,
John Cleper,
John Harvard,
Chaney Boring,
James Price &
Thos Price
be Juror to view of said road.

State of Tennessee
Washington County
April Sessions 1824

Spencer E. Gibson having presented a petition to the Court praying the appointment of a Jury to lay off & condemn three thousand acres of land for the benefit of his intended Iron Works. It is therefore ordered by the Court that
Thomas Brown,
Alex Colyar,
John Bayles,
James Cloyd,
Robert McKee [MacKay],
William Slemmons,
Jacob Brown, Jr.,
Gabriel Brown,
John Booth,
Samuel Cloyd,
Henry Sliger,
George Hendly,
Daniel L. Bayles,
Reuben Bayles, Jr.,
Jacob Hartsell,
Isaac Hartsell,
David Robertson,
John May,

William Templin, Srn., & Philip Rinehart be nominated but of whom the Sheriff is to summons twelve to be a Jury. . .

Landon Carter Enters 1500 acres of land as a Boundry for Iron Works in the fork of Wataugah and Doe River Joining the Land of said Carter also
Isaac Lincoln,
Godfry Carriger,
Teter Nave,
Leonard Bowers,
William Duggard,
Elisha Humphreys,
David Matlock, Deceased and
Emanuel Carter, Deceased.

Also 1500 acres on the South of Doe River Joining the lands of
Sam'l Tipton
Michael Tullis
David Matlock,
Thomas Millsaps,
William Sharp,
Rich'd Kite,
Isaac Eden, Sen.,
Wm. Bundy,
Josiah Clarke,
Ralph Humphreys &
Joshua Houghton, Sen. . . .

Jonathan Buck,
Julius Conner,
Pharoh Cobb,
Abraham Sevier,
Geo. Emmert
Andrew Greer, Sen.,
Andrew Greer, Jun.,
Alex'd Greer,
Godfrey Carriger, Sen.,
Nicholas Carriger,
Michael Carriger, &
Godfrey Carriger, Jun.

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.

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


4 May 1824. Sheriff Carter also gave notice that John Stuart's 130-acre plantation on the south side of the Watauga River adjoining lands of Isaac Tipton and James P. Taylor would be sold to satisfy eight judgments. The judgments had been recovered by
(1) John King and Joseph Torbit, adm.,
(2) George Smith
(3) A. and William McKee,
(4) Carter Taylor,
(5) John Carriger,
(6) Solomon Ellis,
(7) John Sanders,and
(8) Moses Humphreys for Elijah Hathaway's use.


April Term , 1839-Washington County

Ordered by the court that David Kitsmiller overseer of the road from Sullivan line to the west corner of J. Fitzgeralds field and have the following hands;

B. Ford,
F. Ford,
Russell Chandler,
James Jackson,
Z Chandler,
G. Ford & hands,
W. Ford,
James Cooter,
Jefferson Ford,
A Miller,
Jacob Devault,
James Cunningham,
A. Adams,
N. Jobe,
C. Cox,
P. Ford,
George Easley,
E Chandler,
A. Goforth,
M. Milben,
John Ford and hands,
Lloyd Ford and hands,
C. Stone,
E. Chenouth,
Elias Arterburn,
Joseph Hammett,
T. Jackson,
Wm. Cox,
J. Easley,
James Easley. Issd.

Jonesborough in 1857

Buffalo Ridge
A post village of Washington county, in the eastern extremity of the State, situated on Solomon's creek, and near the line of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, 375 miles by railway east from Nashville, and 100 from Knoxville.

It contains a male and female high school, a colored Baptist church, two general stores, several flouring and saw mills and varied professions and trades [including] Hamilton, Pitts & Isaac, coopers. from Tennessee State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1860-61, Issue 1, John L. Mitchell

A sawmill was an important developmental step in a community. Before sawmills, boards could only be sawn by two men with a whipsaw. In a sawmill, the circular motion of a water wheel was changed to the back-and-forth motion of the saw blade with a pitman arm.
Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.
The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser
Source: Watauga Association of Genealogists - Upper East Tennessee. History of Washington County Tennessee 1988. Walsworth Press, 1988.

Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church
Many of the earliest Baptists in Washington County came from Sandy Creek Baptist Association in North Carolina. Many came to the Holston and Watauga Settlements after the Battle of Alamance in May 1771, when there was a mass migration of settlers from central North Carolina to the frontier regions. During this period, Sandy Creek was reduced from 606 to 14 members. One group of Baptist moved to Boones Creek in Washington County.

In 1779, under the leadership of Tidence Lane, they established the Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church, located eight miles north of Jonesborough. Often referred to as the first Baptist church in Tennessee, Buffalo Ridge is acknowledged by most secular historians as Tennessee's first permanent church. According to Paul M. Fink, Buffalo Ridge was the first meeting house (church building) to be constructed in Washington County. In 1785, Jonathan Mulkey succeeded Lane as pastor, serving until his death in 1826.

The first church was constructed of logs with a clapboard roof. A single window provided the light for the pastor to read his text and "line off" his hymns. There was a large fireplace, one window placed high in the end of the building out of the range of Indian gunfire, and a heavy wooden door. The seats were of split logs and had no backs.

By 1817 the church had a membership of 300, but for many reasons, membership declined over the next several years. Around 1815 some preachers began preaching what they called a "Reformation". This change in doctrine caused a division in the church and a loss of many members. It came at an unfortunate time. The church was without a pastor after the death of Jonathan Mulkey in 1826 and without a leader, membership declined to 23 in 1828.

Better times returned to the church with the selection of Rees Bayless [son of John Bayles] as pastor. Membership increased over 300 percent during his pastorate.Several newly organized Baptist churches sprang up over the next few years, including Limestone and Union. Some members left Buffalo Ridge to join these churches, causing another drop in membership.

In the1854 epidemic of cholera, Buffalo Ridge lost 19 members and the association reported 168 deaths overall.On top of Buffalo Ridge in the Buffalo Ridge Cemetery is a marker telling all who visit there that they are standing on very historical and memorable ground. This marker is inscribed:

Here stood Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church 1778 First Baptist Church in Tenn. Pastors Tidence Land, organizer 1778-1785, Johnathan Mulkey 1785-1826. Baptist Historical Society & E. Tenn. W.M.U. Golden Jubilee memorial 1938.

By 1848 a new building was needed and a committee was appointed. Church minutes record that "Reverend Martin Kitzmiller preached the first sermon that ever was preached in the New Brick Church, March 22, 1851." The debt on the new brick church was settled in July 1858.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine. It can be mild, but one in 20 infected persons experiences rapid loss of body fluids leading to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.


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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