An American Family History

Hal Massengill

When a mark is used for a signature, the person was probably illiterate, but may not have been able to sign because of age or infirmity.

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.

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

Henry (Hal) Massengill was born in 1758.

Hal was in the Fincastle County, Virginia militia.

He married Penelope Cobb, daughter of William Cobb. William Cobb and his wife, Barsheba, left Rocky Mount to their daughter, Penelope.

rocky mount

Rocky Mount
Piney Flats, Tennessee
Originally built by William Cobb.
Served as the territorial capital from 1790 to 1792. 
The present house was buiilt in the late 1820s.

He married Mary McCorkle.

James Massengill was born in 1795.

In 1799 Abraham Blevins made a bet for $500 with Moses Humphreys that Henry Massengill's horse, The Collector, could beat any other horse. Humphreys claimed his brother, Richard Humphreys', horse, Paul Jones, could beat The Collector.

Abraham had to buy Massengill's horse for $500, but Humphreys failed to appear on the appointed day of the race because Paul Jones had become lame in an earlier race. Abraham sued Moses and won for the amount of the bet.

Mary and Henry divorced in 1811. The divorce was recorded in the acts passed at the first session of the ninth session of the General Assembly.

Wilson's Knoxville Gazette 
Knoxville, Tennessee
25 Nov 1811, Mon  •  Page 1

He married Elizabeth Emmert.

Elizabeth and Hal's children included:

Felty Devault Massengill (1815, married Deborah Webb),
John Massengill (1816, married Mary Scott, Nancy Ann Cross Smith, and Mary Jane Colbaugh), and
Joseph Massengill (1817, married Rachel Webb).

At the time of the 1830 census, Henry was living in Piney Flats, Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Henry died on September 17, 1837

Watauga Pioneer Neighbors

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



Click on image to enlarge.

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

from Historical Southern Familes, Volume XII by Mrs. John Bennett Boddie, 1968, pp. 190-91.

Henry [Massengill] was the son of James Massengill and his wife, Judith of Scurry county, Virginia and Northampton county, North Carolina. They lived on the boundary line of Southampton county, Virginia and Northampton county, North Carolina. Henry's last deed on record was made to his son, Henry, Jr. (Hal) in November 17, 1798 at Jonesboro, Tennessee. 

They were among the first settlers of the Watauga Valley arriving in  1769. He was elected a member of the Watauga Association in 1775; was appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the Revolutionary War. He erected the Massengill House of Worship in 1777; was chairman of the Committee of Safety in 1778; served two years as Sheriff of the Watauga District; was on the staff of Captain William Edmiston in the expedition against the Chicamauga Indians in 1779. . .

[He married Mary Cobb.] The children of Mary Cobb and her husband, Henry Massengill, Sr. were:

1. Michael Massengill, born 1 March, 1756, Northampton county, North Carolina; died October 1853, Grainger County, Tennessee;  married Dorcas Stone. Their children: Solomon, Robert, Aisley, Mary, Eliza.

2. Henry Massengill, Jr. was born 1 October 1758

3. Aisley (Ailsey) Massengill [Cobb] born in Northampton county, North Carolina. [married Arthur Cobb]

4. Elizabeth Massengill , born in Northampton county, North Carolina; married 1st a Mr. Timothy; 2nd, Isaac Thomas, famous Indian Scout.  Their children: Ellis, Isaac, John (who came to Dallas County, Texas, and was the first County Judge of Dallas County), Henry, Dennis, Lucretia, Elsie, Betsy.

5. Solomon Massengill, was born in Southampton. . .

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


p. 269 Hal Massengill became a large land owner, as the grants and deeds of Washington County show, and was a wealthy man. He enslaved a number of people. He has been described by those who knew him as a small man of positive character, black eyes, heavy eye-brows, high tempered, but generous and just. He usually wore short breeches (knickerbockers) with the accompanying hose, slippers and buckles that was usual for the gentry of that day. He was evidently a man of pride, for one time when his arm was disabled and he had to make his mark to a deed he required that a written explanation be made of the reason.

He was married three times. First to Penelope Cobb, daughter of William Cobb; second to Mary McCorkle, from whom he was soon divorced, and from which union there were no children; and third to Elizabeth Emmert. . .

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.

from Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 50

Massengale. From a letter received in 1914 from Mr. Wm. T. Massengale of Birmingham, Ala. then 83 yrs. old, I find the following:

My grand-father Solomon Massengale, was 12 or 14 yrs. old at the time of the Rev. He was b in Va. moved to N. C. and then to Sevier Co. Tenn. He m Miss Tabitha Cobb b May 20, 1768, d Nov. 11, 1853. He was a farmer.

He had five sons:
Stokeley and
Farrer [Pharaoh].

He had also three daughters. The eldest, I think was
Eliz. who m George Lay; Wm. Christian also m one of the daughters; and
Sarah m James W. Burk and moved to New Orleans. Ab. 1854 they moved to N. Y. My grandmother,

Tabitha, lived with my father in Autauga Co. Ala. until her death and was buried at Deatsville. She was 85 yrs. of age when she died.

It is probable that Solomon was the son of Lucas Massengale and Mary Cobb, his wife, who received a patent for land in the Watauga settlement in May, 1775. They had the following:
Michael, b Mch. 1, 1756,
Henry, who with Michael were Rev. pensioners;
Mary m Wm. Atkinson;
Solomon; (probably Daniel);
Eliz. who m Mr. Thomas; and lived on Pigeon River, Sevier Co. Tenn.;
[from] Ailsey who m (1) Mr. Murphy; m (2) Mr. Booth of Knoxville, Tenn.
Mrs. Penelope J. Allen, Tate Springs, Tenn.

To this we add the following from History of Tenn. Sullivan Co. pp 913 and 1308: Henry Massengill, Rev. soldier
m (1) Penelope Cobb, dau of Wm. Cobb in Fort Womack, and their marriage was among the first in the state. Fort Womack was built ab 1771 by Jacob Womack and afforded protection to people living in the vicinity.
Henry's second wife was Eliz. Emmert, dau of Jacob Emmert.
[from] Mrs. W. C. Clemens, Elizabethton, Tenn.

During the Civil war many citizens of East Tennessee opposed secession, but the area was under Confederate control from 1861 to 1863. Some citizens engaged in guerrilla warfare against state authorities and joined the Union army, while others were loyal to the confederacy. It was a heartbreaking case of neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother.


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

p. 889 Nancy (Smith) Masengill, the wife of John Masengill, Sr., died and left a young family, and the children were placed among the relatives. Father, age 5 years was taken by his grandmother, Catherine [Humphreys] Smith, and his aunt Elizebeth (Smith) Deck, and a new home was established with Simon Deck, who was of Dutch descent and an excellent man of high character.

As would naturally occur under the circumstances, Dr. John D. Masengill, who accomplished more than the average man, was a great favorite in this family, and their pride in his advancement was evident. When his enlistment as a Confederate soldier expired, by the collapse of the Confederate government, he began to prepare for the profession of medicine.

His grandmother drew a small pension on account of the military service of her husband, John Smith and her generosity in helping him during those days of Reconstruction was timely. She always held a warm place in his heart. He named one of his children, Nancy Catherine, for his mother and grandmother. In the delirium of his last illness he often referred affectionately to her.


The Confederate States of America (CSA), also known as the Confederacy, was a government set up by southern states during the Civil War. The states who left the Union were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

from History of Tennessee

J. T. and B. F. Masengill, proprietors of Masengill’s livery and feed stable and dealers in live stock and grain, are the sons of F. D. and Deborah (Webb) Masengill, the former born in this county April 30, 1815, and one of its oldest residents.

The grandparents were Henry and Elizabeth (Emmert) Masengill, the former a native of South Carolina, and a pioneer of East Tennessee. He was a soldier of the Revolution and a distinguished Indian fighter. His first wife was a daughter of William Cobb, a pioneer of this State, and the marriage was among the first in this State, and occurred in the old Wommach fort.

The Masengill farm was the one on which Gov. Blount called a meeting to organize the territory of Tennessee, and the farm was owned by Henry and his father-in-law. Henry’s second wife was a daughter of Jacob Emmert.

Their children, are F. D., John and Joseph.

F. D.[Felty Devault Massengill] received the usual country advantages, and besides farming, boated down the Tennessee and Holston Rivers, but is now engaged as a farmer in the Sixteenth District, About 1856 he represented his county in the Legislature, and has been a prominent Democrat more or less all his life.

His first wife, Deborah [Webb], to whom he was married May 17, 1836, was a daughter of Nathan Webb, of the distinguished family of Revolutionary times. She was born March 19, 1811, in this county, and died March 24, 1874.

December 16, 1875, he married Martha [Mauck], a daughter of E. T. Mauk, who was born May 1, 1844, in this county. By his first marriage he had seven sons and one daughter, and by the second one son and two daughters.

J. T. was born July 23, 1849, in this county, and was educated at King’s College, Bristol. In 1872 he married Mary A. [Faw], the daughter of George P. Faw, of Washington County. They have two sons and two daughters. B. F. was born in this county August 11, 1854, and was educated at the Bluff City High School, and at King’s College. In 1874 he married Fannie [Worley], a daughter of J. B. Worley, and has three sons and two daughters.

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

from Tennessee: The Volunteer State, 1769-1923, Volume 4 by John Trotwood Moore, Austin Powers Foster

The Massengill family is of Welsh origin. Lucas Massengill, great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Christian in the maternal line, was a member of the Watauga Association. His son, Michael Massengill, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, becoming a private in Captain Jacob Womack's company in June, 1776, and serving for four months. In 1777 he became a private in the company of Captain James Shelby, while in July, 1780, he joined Captain Bean's Company. He participated in the battle of Musgrove's Mills and in the battle of Blackstock. His son, Benjamin Massengill, was the father of Mrs. Susan (Massengill) Miller, who became the mother of Mrs. Alice (Miller) Bishop.

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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