An American Family History

The Little Family of Sullivan County, Tennessee

  Also spelled Lightle, Litle.  

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

Thomas Little was born about 1704.

He married Mary Denton in New York. Mary was the daughter of Jonas Denton.

They moved to Shenandoah County, Virginia with the Denton family and other families who settled in Sullivan and Washington Counties. It was Frederick County when they lived there.

Thomas and Mary's children included:
Jonas Little (1735, married Rebecca Tipton),
George Little (1737)
John Little (1739)

In 1755, Jonah Little witnessed the will of John Denton in Frederick County and his mother Mary, who was a widow, was an executor.

George Little signed the 1777 petition of men living on the north Holston River complaining about the division of Fincastle County. They felt the line was not equitable and the court house was too far away.

Fincastle County, Virginia was created in 1772 from Botetourt County and abolished in 1776. It was divided into Montgomery, Washington and Kentucky Counties.

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.

The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.

Jonas Little (1735) was the son of Thomas Little and Mary Denton. Mary was the daughter of Jonas Denton.

He married Rebecca Tipton in 1759.

Their children included:
Jacob Little (1760),
Benjamin Little (1763),
Phebe Little (1765),
Hannah Little (1771, married Absalom Boring, son of William)
William Little,
John Little,
Ruth Little, and
Rebecca Little.


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.

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.

George Little (before 1750)
Andrew Little (before 1750)
Mathias Little (before 1750)

These kinsmen settled in Piney Flats, Sullivan County, Tennessee (was North Carolina) before 1771.

Andrew, George, and Matthew Little were on the list of tithables taken by Walter Crockett in 1771. Matthew could be Mathias.

In 1774 Valentine, George, Andrew and Mathias Little were in Looney's Company during Lord Dunmore's War.

In 1776, Andrew Little was in the Cherokee Expedition.

In 1778 George and Thomas Little took the oath of allegiance in what would become Washington County, Tennesee.

In 1778

Ord. that John Robertson, Bradley Gambril, James Abbott and Valentine Little serve as constable.

In 1782 George Little received a land warrant in Sullivan County. At that time it was in North Carolina.

In 1788 Mathias Little sold Nathan Lewis 200 acres in Washington County.

In 1788, Mathias received a warrant for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

George Little married Mary Jobe on January 26, 1791 (bond Isaac Tipton)

In 1794 a Thomas Little was on the 1794 Washington County Poll Tax-(Capt. Carriger's Company) in the part that became Carter County.

Mathias and Valentine Little appeared on the pay roll for Captain Jacob Womack's militia company in 1782 stationed at Womack's Fort in Fincastle County, Virginia which became Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Mathias and George Little were with the men who laid out the road from Shoats Ford on the Holston River to the Virginia border.

Fincastle County, Virginia, was created in 1772 from Botetourt County. In 1776 it was divided into three counties; Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky (which the state of Kentucky).

The Cherokeewere indigenous people who lived in the southern Appalachian mountains. European Americans called their towns in eastern Tennessee, the Overhill Towns. The towns included Chota, Tellico and Tanasi.

In 1776, the Cherokee planned to drive settlers out of the Washington District. The settlers were warned and stopped the first attack at Heaton's Station. The second attack was stopped at Fort Watauga. In response to these attacks, the militia burned Tuskegee and Citico.

In 1780, while the militia was away at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the Cherokee raided the setttlements. When the militia returned, Colonel John Sevier's men defeated the Cherokee at Boyd's Creek and destroyed most of the remaining towns.


Valentine Little was born about 1744 in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

His children included:
Mathias Little (1761),
George Little, Sr. (1763, married Mary Jobe),
Andrew Little (1765),
Matthew Little (1768),
Hannah Little (1773),
Mary Little (1775), and
Phebe Little (1778).

In 1774 Valentine was in Looney's Company.

In 1776, Valentine Little was in the Cherokee Expedition.

On October 23, 1782 Valentine Little purchased 100 acres in Sullivan County, Tennessee (then North Carolina) for 50 schillings for every hundred acres. The land was on the south side of the Holston River.

Valentine died in 1788.

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

  Martin Little (1780-1818, married Mary Polly Russell)  

Mathias Little was born about 1761.

His children included:
Valentine Little (1780-1876),
Mary Little (1800), and
William Little (1800).

On October 23, 1782 Mathias Little purchased acres in Sullivan County, Tennessee (then North Carolina) for 50 schillings for every hundred acres. The land was on the north side of th Holston River.

On July 10 1788, Matthias Little purchased 100 acres in Sullivan County, Tennessee (then North Carolina) next to Solomon Smith

Mathias died in 1841 in Sullivan County, Tennessee.


Most Americans were farmers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Valentine Little was born about 1780 in Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Valentine married Arry or Ory. She was not Ora Sams who was married to someone else and living in North Carolina.

His children included:
William Little (1805),
Martin Little (1809, married Sarah Perry),
Jesse Melvin Little (1815, married Julia Ann Massengill-daughter of James son of Hal Massengill),
Andrew J. Little (1820), and
Matilda Little.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, Valentine Little was on Captain William King's muster.

In the 1830 census, Valentine and William Little was in Piney Flats.

In 1850 Ora/Arry was listed with Valentine in the census.

Ora had died between the 1850 census and an 1858 land hearing. Arry Little was laid to rest in Riley Cemetery.

The 1858 land bounty hearing was for Elizabeth Lewis, widow of Emphrain Lewis. It was attended by Martin Little (1809) and Elizabeth Lewis (daughter of Elizabeth and Emphrain Lewis). They testified that widow Elizabeth Little had married Valentine.

In the 1860 census, Valentine was living with Martin and his wife Sarah.

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.

George Little, Sr. was born about 1763.

On October 23, 1782 George Little, Sr. purchased 240 acres in Sullivan County, Tennessee (then North Carolina) for 50 schillings for every hundred acres. The land was on the north side of the Holston River next to Samuel Smith and William Wallace.

In 1786 George Little signed the Petition for Division of Sullivan County.

George, Sr. died in 1794.

On April 27, 1819 George Little Jr. registered ? acres next to John Smith.

George Little appeared in the 1796 and 1812 tax lists of Sullivan County.

In 1840 George Little was in the Jonesborough area.
Jonesborough in 1857

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

Andrew Little was born about 1765.

On October 23, 1782.Andrew Little purchased acres in Sullivan County, Tennessee (then North Carolina) for 50 schillings for every hundred acres. The land was on the south side of the Holston River directly across from his brother George. The western point of his Andrew's deed included that island on the Holston at the entrance to Indian Creek.

In 1776 Andrew Little was in the Chreokee Expedition.


Watauga Pioneer Neighbors



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.

Carter County, Tennessee Deeds
Mathias Little to Nathan Lewis,
6 Mar 1788
Carter Co., Tennessee Deed Book A, p. 235:
Mathias Little to Nathan Lewis
Transcribed by: Robert W. Keyes Apr 12, 2005 Source: LDS FHL film #847621

This Indenture made this sixth day of March AD one thousand seven hundred and Eighty Eight Between Mathias Little of the County of Sullivan and State of North Carolina of the one part & Nathan Lewis of the County of Sullivan and State aforesaid of the other part,

Witnesseth that I Mathias Little have Bargained and sold & by these presents do bargain sell and convey all my right title claim & interest in & to a certain tract of land lying being in the County of Washington containing two hundred acres.

Beginning at a gum on the north side of the mountain past thence South one hundred and eighty poles to a maple thence West one hundred and seventy nine poles to a stake, thence North one hundred and eighty poles to a stake,

thence East one hundred and seventy nine poles to the Beginning together with all woods, waters, mines, minerals hereditaments, and appurtenances to the said land belonging or appertaining. . .

Mathias Little (seal)
[wit] John Scott and Benjamin Webb
Washington County August Term 1796
This deed was duly acknowledged in open Court and admitted to record
Jas. Sevier CC

The rod or perch or pole is a surveyor's tool equal to 5 1⁄2 yards.

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


from The Ridge Runners, Volumes 4-6 J

Jonas Little's parents were Thomas and Mary Denton Little who m Haverstraw, New York c 1734. Thomas Little d Frederick Co Va 1748 [in Tom's Brook].


from Funk Pioneers

Capt. John [Denton] (b. 1716) was deceased by 4 August 1767 when his will (dated 13 October 1755) was proved in Frederick County Court. . . He appointed his wife Sarah, Mary Little (widow) and Captain Samuel Odell to serve as executors.
Witnesses to the will were Abraham Denton, John Tipton, Jonah Little and Benjamin Denton.


Washington County, Tennessee marriages

Litle, Hannah married Borin, Absolam – 5 Oct 1793
Little, George married Jobe, Mary – 26 Jan 1791
Little, Mary married Sheffield, George – 3 Aug 1795
Little, Phebe married Boyd, Joseph – 20 Jan 1798
Little, John married Jain Rigsby, 25 Nov 1807 by Acy Rigsby

Little, Ruth married KING, William F on 15-FEB-1812
Little, Elizabeth married WHEELER, William Jr on 04-NOV-1813

Little, George married KELLY, Barbary on 14-OCT-1822
Little, John married Boren, Ruth on 11-DEC-1824
Little, John married DAVIS, N on 10-SEP-1840
Little, Loisa married BORING, Vincent on 13-MAR-1826

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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