Benton County Tennessee

Early Settlers Biographies

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Namesake of Benton County David BENTON was the son of a consummate Revolutionary patriot of the same name who spent the entire war in the service of North and South Carolinian militias. The subject was born in the midst of the conflict about 1778. The family lived in several locales with both states following the war, counted among the rising tide of Tennessee- bound emigration just after 1800.

In middle Tennessee, David married Pheriba (Phebe), ca. 1775-born daughter of John MELTON and Elizabeth JONES, a native of Nash County, North Carolina, who has struck out for the new frontier with her siblings Mary (Mrs. Thomas HART), Matthew, Thomas Joseph and Cooper. All but Joseph were residing together in Warren County by 1812 where David and Cooper enlisted as "Tennessee Volunteers" and served in the push to drive the Creek Indians from northern Alabama.

Following his father's death in 1819, David returned to northern AL (Jackson County), joining others from his state "squatting" on Indian territory. He and Phebe became key players in the establishment of the region's first Baptist church, the Mud Creek Primitive congregation, where their names were inscribed first on the list of charter members. David's active role in the group's maintenance included penning church records and supplying the planking for the pews of the log-cabin meeting house.

Within a few years the inability to secure land titles and internal bickerings had made much of the community restless. When David's brother Samuel, who had previously settled in Humphries County passed word of Cherokee lands on the lower Tennessee soon to be available for settlement, many were ready to follow David down the River in 1825. One of the few to claim the required letter for transferring church membership was Mud Creek charter elder John HORN, later prominent in Baptist history within this county. Reunited with his brother, David and his closer relatives were welcomed into Adam HARMON' S neighborhood.

David appears to have been instrumental in generating public support for the creation of a new county in 1836. When a name was to be chosen, most citizenry opted for David's but another faction insisted on that of Ephriam PERKINS, foremost in the political duties for organization. To preserve local unity, David agreed to a compromise adopting "Benton" in honor of his second cousin, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart BENTON, and both David and Perkins were appointed magistrates in the county's first court. The legislature renamed the county in 1852 in recognition of David's contributions in the region's development.

David's children would include Martha Catherine (the first Mrs. J. Berry VESTER), John P., William Cross, a son (possibly Isaiah or Josiah) who died in late youth, and David Washington BENTON. Their father died of heart failure in April 1860 and was survived by Phebe until the early years of the Civil War. Both were interred in unmarked graves on the family's 423 acre farm on Harmon's Creek. Cedar trees on the site were transplanted by David from saplings originating from South Carolina.

Source: Families and Histories Benton County, TN 1836-1986, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, page 64.

Submitted by Barbara Reeves Whittaker (05/04/98)

David (D.W.) Washington BENTON

Son of the County's namesake David BENTON and Pheriba MELTON. David Washinton (D.W.) BENTON was born in Warren County in 1817, but residing on Indian territory in Jackson County, AL by age two. Brought to the Harmons Creek neighborhood in 1825, he dwelt on his father's farm 53 years before moving to Rambles Creek, where he remained until his death 19 August 1899.

Submitted by Barbara Reeves Whittaker (05/04/98)

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Green BIVENS, born in Humphrey County, Tenn., Sept. 19, 1830, moved in 1844, with his father, to Benton County where he lived and engaged in farming. He lived about two miles from Camden, Tenn. Green BIVENS m. Nancy Viola JOHNSON and had the following children: John Dudgeon m. Isdora SPALDING; Kate Estell, died young; Martha Isabelle; and William Franklin, died young.

Submitted by Rena McWilliams (1-5-98)

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Lewis BREWER (b. ca. 1784 in NC, d. 1870's), md. Mary "Polly" Alsup ca. 1807, was the son of James BREWER who owned land on both the N. & S. sides of Beaver Dam Creek straddling the dividing line between VA & NC. Lewis was the youngest of James' ten children.

Lewis, Nicholas & Thomas BREWER settled in 1808 in Stewart Co, TN, in the part which was later to become Houston Co. The relationship of these three men is not yet determined. In 1842, Lewis BREWER was the Administrator for Thomas BREWERs will. Nicholas is mentioned in the will, but no relationship was mentioned.

The 1830 Census records Lewis & Mary in Humphreys Co, in that part which was to become Benton Co. Lewis & Mary had 10 children who married & mostly remained in Benton Co. They, and the children of Nicholas & Sarah BREWER, were the progenitors of the many BREWERs who inhabit the area.

The first settlements in Benton County were made by Lewis and Nicholas BREWER in 1820 in Ramble Creek, 12 miles N. of Camden. Others quickly settled in this new area. Lewis received & registered the first Occupational Land Grant, in Benton Co. entry #34, July 20, 1820, for some 160 acres. In a few days, others began to register their land claims.

Lewis, Mary P., Thomas & Lidia BREWER are shown among the founders of Ramble Creek Primitive Baptist Church. This was the second Baptist congregation formed in the county. Lewis lived in the 8th District and was a county magistrate & commissioner who assisted in petitioning the Tennessee Legislature in 1835 for the original formation of Benton County from Humphreys County.

Submitted by Ben Brewer (7-19-97)

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Nicholas BREWER

Nicholas BREWER (b. ca. 1783 in NC, d. 5 May 1851 in Benton Co, TN.) and his wife, Sarah (b. 1783 in NC, d. 29 June 1860 in Benton Co, TN.), migrated to Stewart County, TN in the area of Hurricane Creek. Their migration may have brought them through Kentucky, and some of their children may possibly have been born there. Thomas & Lewis BREWER were also residence of the Benton County at the time, and it is generally assumed that Nicholas & Lewis were brothers. However, Lewis was the son of James BREWER who died in Brunswick County, VA.

Nicholas & Lewis, while still living in Stewart County, were the earliest to register (1820) land deeds in Henry County for that area that would become Benton County. They went into the area as early as 1819, possibly illegally, and staked out the land they wanted. The Brewer's established a family burial grounds across the way from their house. They are buried in the BREWER Cemetary, Benton County, SW of Big Sandy, just past Ramble Creek Baptist Church.

Nicholas & Sarah had 10 children who local folks & continued to live in the area. Some of their offspring however have scattered thru-out the US. Nicholas served a short period as a Private in the War of 1812 in the Tennessee Militia. He built a log house which incorporated the usual seperate kitchen and was still standing in 1970. He left most of his land to his wife upon his death. His son David later owned the home which still remains in the family.

Submitted by Ben Brewer (7-19-97)

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Malchijah BUSH

Malchijah BUSH was the son of Thomas Bush who died in Halifax County, VA in 1805. Malchijah moved to Spartanburg, SC by 1810, to Henry County, TN by 1827 and to Benton County where in died before November 1839 when his estate was settled. Most of his children married in Benton County and died young. Children of Malchijah & Elender Bush were: Thomas, Elijah M., James H., John J., Elisha P., Malchijah Brasentine & Joseph F.

Submitted by Brenda Wyatt (9-2-97)

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Thomas CRAIG

Thomas CRAIG was in Benton County in the 1850 Census with a wife and 5 daughters, 2 of them from a previous marriage. He was a miller by trade. He lived in District 6 and died before May 23, 1854 when his estate was settled. Not much is known about this family.

Thomas' daughters with his 1st wife were: Susan, Martha & M. Elizabeth. With his 2nd wife, Sarah Allen, they were: Angeline & Charlotte.

Submitted by Brenda Wyatt (9-2-97)

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