Benton County Tennessee

Early Settlers Biographies

Send your "Early Settler's" biography for inclusion on this page to

County Coordinator

Richard Petry Haley

Richard Petry Haley was born February 21, 1824 in VA. Richard and family lived in Benton County, Camden, for a while on Birdsong Road where he grew tobacco and later moved into city limits on Poplar Street. He was County Court Clerk after the War Between the States. He married December 19, 1849 in Petersburg, VA to Catharine Womack Mingea, born November 27, 1832 in Petersburg, VA. He died June 18, 1910 and is buried in Camden City Cemetery. Catharine died February 28, 1903 and is buried in Camden City Cemetery.

Their Children:
Ada born 1852, married 1876 to GreenBerry Greer, died 1881;
Lilly born 1853;
Mary born 1856, married 1885 to GreenBerry Greer;
Cora M. born 1862;
Richard M. born 1864;
John Samuel born June 7, 1870, married December 22 1896 to Eudora Hall, died February 4, 1961

The following is Richard Petry Haley's Obituary:


R.P. Haley Has Joined the Silent Majority.

R. P. Haley died at the home of his son-in-law, G.B. Greer, about 4a.m. last Saturday morning, aged 86 years. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. F. Acuff and the burial, which was under the auspices of Camden Lodge No. 210 I.O.O. F., took place Sunday afternoon in Camden Cemetery in the presence of a large gathering of sympathizing friends.

Mr. Haley was a man of generous impulses and never forgot the hospitable way of the pioneer. The stranger, even though a beggar, never failed to reach his warm heart, and he was at home by the bedside of the sick and delighted in all kind and neighborly offices. He had enjoyed prosperity quietly and borne adversity bravely. He had filled the various relations of life, as husband, father, friend, and filled them well. Who can do more?

But he is gone! Another name is stricken from the ever lessening roll of the old settlers, and loving children are left to attest how sadly they will miss him. It must be so, these tender human ties can not be severed with a pang. Yet in such a death there is really no cause for grief. His life work was done and well done. He had passed the age generally allotted to man, and wearied with life's duties and cares, weary of suffering and waiting, he lay down to rest.

"Tired! ah yes! So tired, dear.
I shalt soundly sleep tonight.
With never a dream and never a fear,
To walk in the morning light."

He was a man who united sound sense with strong convictions, and a candid, outspoken temper, eminently tilted to mold the rude elements of pioneer society into form and consistency, and aid in raising a high standard of citizenship in our young and growing State. How much this community owes him and such as he, it is impossible to estimate, though it would be a grateful task to trace his influence through some of the more direct channels of the church and Sunday School, to hold him up in these degenerate days in his various characters of teacher and father, of neighbor and friend; to speak of those he has reared to perpetuate his name, those who have been influenced by his life and emulate his virtues. But it comes not within the scope of the brief article. Suffice is to say, he came to Camden from Virginia in 1859. He had been an Odd Fellow since 1855, and a Mason for thirty odd years. He became a Christian in early manhood, and lived nobly and died peacefully at the advance at age of 86 years. The storekeeper found him "as a shock of corn, fully ripe for the harvest."

Not for him be our test rather let us crown his grave with lands; few of us will live as long or as well and still fewer yet will the Angel of Death greet with such a loving touch.

Submitted by Peggy Haley Ferguson 05/04/98

Return to top of Page


Burwell Lashlee/Lashley was born ca 1775 in Wake Co. NC, the son of Lewis Lashley, Sr. and Mary Holland. Burwell first married Elizabeth Olive on 14 April

1798 in Wake Co. NC. They had at least 3 children:

(1) Gilla who was born 18 June 1799. She married William H. Miller, they lived in Gibson Co. TN in 1850 and 1860. Their children were Eliza, Martha, Delila and Julia.

(2) Cynthia sometimes called Lydia/Siddy born ca 1801 in NC. She was the second wife of Robert McCracken and they lived in Carroll Co. in 1850 and 1860. Robert was listed as Mayor in Huntingdon in 1860. Robert and Cynthia had 3 children: William "Bill", Lycurgus, and Josephus "Joe". (In addition Robert had 6 children by his first wife before marryint Cynthia)

(3) The most well known child of Burwell and Elizabeth (Olive) Lashlee was Anderson, who was born 3 Apr 1803 in NC. He married Eliza Ann Petty on 8 March 1825. Anderson and Eliza lived in Humphreys and Benton Cos. they had 11 children: Isabella married #1 Redd Ruff #2 Mr. Nance a steamboat captain, Catherine married James Gray Ruff, George Albert married Ann Brown, Frank/Francis married Isabelle Wilson, Elizabeth married Holden Rushing, Anderson Jr., died young apparently, Rufus married Rhoda Williams, James "Jim Batch" never married, Dr. Horace married #1 Lou Wyly #2 Nell Harmon, Orville was indited by a grand jury for burglarizing the mansion home of Mrs. Ann Bringham in 1871 and left the country, no further info! and Oscar Wilder, married Mary Ann Hawley.

Burwell later married Mary "Polly" Sarratt, the daughter of John and Mary (McMurry) Sarratt. The exact date of Burwell's second marriage has remained a mystery, but their first child, Lewis, was born 22 Aug 1821. Burwell and Mary had at least 8 children: (1) Lewis married Susan Clayton/Claxton, (2) William Pinkney married Emily Cathrine Johnson, (3) Temperance married John Moses Browning, (4) Peyton S. married Elizabeth Capps, (5) Burrell, Jr. married Jereline Ballard, (6) Sarah married Samuel Akin/Askew, (7) James Calvin married secondly to Elmira Arnold, and (8) John T. married Mary Jane Wood.

Submitted by Jean Gilley (03/30/98)

Return to top of Page


Cooper MELTON received a land grant in Warren County, TN in 1817. It is believed that he served in the War of 1812 from Dekalb County in that part that is now Wilson County, but no record of him can be found. In 1821, he took out a land claim in that part of Humphreys County that would become Benton County. Three of his brothers; Joseph, Mathew & David, all born in Nash County, NC, came with him to Benton County. Joseph, apparently the oldest, moved to Benton County in 1820 after first settling in Northern Alabama and Middle TN. An old deed states that Joseph "crossed the Tennessee River on a raft with a pair of oxen, some farming tools, and a scant amount of household furnishings". He settled near Harmon Creek while Mathew settled near Big Sandy in the northern part of the county.

Cooper lived on the east Beaverdam Creek Tributary in the Harmon Creek area. In 1849, he deeded four acres for a Missionary Baptist Church. The will of Cooper Melton was filed under "Milton" until discovered by Herman Melton in the 1960s, proving the family link back to Nash County, NC.

Submitted by Will Melton (9-19-97)

Return to top of Page


David C. Matheny was born about 1827, probably in North Carolina. I don't have positive documentation, but the evidence points to him being the son of Charles Matheny, b. about 1790 in NC. David married Keziah Pierce, daughter of John and Rachel Ross Pierce, March 5, 1846 in Henry Co., TN. The 1850 Census shows David, Keziah and sons John R. & William living in Benton Co., TN.

According to court records I found settling the estate of David, he died sometime between Jan. 10 and March of 1862. January 10, 1862 he saw Dr. Whitfield for "blisters." March 1862 the court was petitioned to set aside provisions for his widow and dependent children. The records also showed that David owned a blacksmith shop at the time of his death. Hence, I would also assume that he earned his living working as a blacksmith.

David and Keziah were the parents of seven children: John R. "Berry" b. 1847, married Sarah Elizabeth Alsup Nov. 2, 1872; William R. b. 1848; Netty E. b. 1852; Rachel Louisa b. 1854; Isaac Alexander b. Sept. 12, 1856; Keziah E. b 1858; Martha Addie b. 1862.

If you need any more information, please contact me. I will gladly share what I have. I also have information on the spouses of David's children, but don't know if you are interested in this. If you are, please let me know and I will send.

Submitted by Lillie Cotham
Updated 06/22/99

Return to top of Page

Malcomb McKENZIE

Malcomb was born in 1774 in North Carolina. He migrated to Stewart County, TN about 1810 where he married Nancy Beaton on February 13, 1812. Nancy is believed to be the daughter of Charles Beaton of North Carolina and was born in 1793. Nancy & Malcomb settled in Lewis Branch and started a family. Malcomb took a 6 months break in 1814 to fight in the War of 1812.

Malcomb & Nancy relocated to Benton County in 1825 and homesteaded a farm on Sugar Creek just north of Big Sandy. Their children were: Margarett, Nancy, John B., Gilbert, Christian B., William L., Christopher, Malcomb, John C. & Effie. Malcomb died in September of 1834 before Benton County was formed. He is believed to be buried in Willow Point Cemetary on New Hope Road along with many of his descendants. The McKenzie family has remained in Benton County to the present day with many inter-marriages among the Brewer, Pierce, Beaton, Graham, Stockdale & Cooper families in the local area.

Submitted by David Snow(10-12-97)

Return to top of Page


Abel RUSHING was born in 1787 in Anson County, NC. He moved to Stewart County, TN., served in the War of 1812 and crossed the Tennessee River to claim a land grant by December 4, 1820 in the area which became Benton County. Able, along with relatives Willis & Dennis, settled along Rushing Creek near the Big Sandy River.

His children with wife, Sarah Jane Herrin, were: Jackson, Nancy, Joel Travis, Robert T., William G., Noah Tennesee, Jemima & Sarah Ann.


Descendants of Abel Rushing

1 Abel Rushing b: in Anson co,NC d: August 26, 1835
. +Sara Jane Herrin b: March 20, 1788 d: November 29, 1857 m: July 22, 1807
2 Jackson Rushing b: in Humphreys Co,TN d: 1849
2 Joel Travis Rushing b: July 01, 1810 in Humphreys Co,TN d: June 29, 1892 in Madison Co,TN
.... +Emily Griffin b: Abt. 1809
... 3 Elizabeth Rushing b: 1832
... 3 Pervilla Rushing b: 1835
... 3 Andrew J. Rushing b: 1836
... 3 Able Rushing b: 1837
....... +Mary Elizabeth Giles
... 3 Keziah Rushing b: 1839
... 3 Sara Jane Rushing b: 1840
... 3 Moses Griffin Rushing b: 1843
... 3 Simeone Bolivar Rushing b: 1845
... 3 Abner Samuel Martin Rushing b: 1847
... 3 Joel Travis Rushing b: 1848
2 Robert T. Rushing b: February 29, 1812 d: February 21, 1854 in Benton Co,TN per. Court Records pg-583
.... +Sara (Sally) Walters
... 3 Thomas J. Rushing b: 1840
... 3 William L. Rushing b: 1842
... 3 America Jane Rushing b: 1844
....... +James C. Lindsey
... 3 Elizabeth Rushing b: 1846
... 3 Mary B. Rushing b: 1850
....... +William H. Brummit b: Abt. 1850
2 Nancy Rushing b: 1817 in Humphreys Co, TN
.... +John Wesley Utley
2 William G. Rushing b: August 08, 1819 in Humphreys Co,TN d: July 27, 1838 in Benton Co,TN
2 Noah Tennessee Rushing b: January 22, 1822 in Humphreys Co,TN d: December 23, 1907 in Benton Co TN
.... +Sara A. Young
*2nd Wife of Noah Tennessee Rushing:
.... +Margaret Francis Danley
2 Jemima Rushing b: 1826 in Humphreys Co,TN d: 1874 in Henry Co,TN
.... +Obediah Walters
2 Sarah Ann Rushing b: June 17, 1829 d: February 19, 1863
.... +William Armour b: May 27, 1818 d: July 01, 1888 m: March 09, 1845 in Benton Co,TN By: Hezekiah Greer JP

Submitted by Dallas Greer from the files of Norma Watson

Return to top of Page


John SARRETT was born in 1760 in Caswell County, North Carolina. He married Marry McMURRY in Caswell County on March 18, 1783. He migrated first to Smith County, TN, then to Rutherford County, to Davidson County and finally to Humphreys County by 1819.

John & Mary had the following children: Elizabeth, Salley, Joseph, Wilson M., Mary (Polly), Parthena, John B., Charles M., Attilla, Sarah & Mahala.

John was a Revolutionary War soldier who, among several battles, was engaged in the Battle of Livingston's Bridge & the Battle of Brown Marsh at Baldwin's Plantation. John died on September 7, 1834 in Benton County, and is buried in the Chalkhill Baptist Churchyard, on old Eva Road in an umarked grave. Mary died on October 19, 1843 and is buried in the same Churchyard as her husband.

Submitted by Jean Gilley (10-10-97)

Return to top of Page


David WATSON, Sr. was born in SC in 1767 and by 1807 was listed in the Stewart County, TN Tax List. In the 1830 Census, he was in Humphreys County, TN. He is listed in the 1840 & 1850 Benton County Census after which he has disappeared. His descendants have been traced to AR, IL & MO.

His son, David Watson, Jr., had land grants in Range 6, Sections 4 & 5, which places him in Cedar Grove Community. Many of the older generations of Watsons are buried in the Cedar Grove Methodist Church Cemetery located off Big Sandy River Road.

David, Jr.'s known children with his first wife (thought to be a Cottingham) were: James, David, Isaac, Alfred, Mary Jane & Elizabeth. Children with his 2nd wife, Mary Presson, were: Thomas A., Nancy Rudediah, Martha Dora, Benjamin S.P. & Charles.

Submitted by Brenda Wyatt (9-2-97)

Return to top of Page


James WHITE, was born July 17, 1789, near the home of General Jackson, south of Nashville. In 1808, with his parents, John WHITE and Martha (Patsy) PYEATT, he moved to Waverly Blue Creek, south of Waverly, Tenn., and north of Duck River, where they farmed and raised cattle until the Jackson Purchase in 1818. It is thought in 1820 he moved near Sugar Tree and settled on Morgans Creek, now Benton Co., Tenn., where he engaged in farming until his death on April 6, 1879. He was buried near Sugar Tree.

James WHITE married first Mary (Polly) McSWAINE. Their children were Andrew W., who married Sophia Woodward MURPHREE; and Martha (Patsy) who married John Craig McDANIEL. Andrew died in Victoria Co., Texas.

James WHITE married second Elizabeth MATLOCK, who was born December 12, 1806, and is thought ot have been born at or near Nashville, Tenn. With her parents she later moved west near the Tennessee River and about 1820 moved near Sugar Tree, Benton County. Here she died on March 13, 1874, and is buried near Sugar Tree. Their children were: Hugh Lawson m. Josephine Octervine WALKER; Thomas m. Martha JOHNSON; Mary m. Joe PEACOCK; Veturia m. Dr. John Devergie SMITH; Ellen m. James WALKER; Eliza m. Clark HUBB; Florilla m. Clinton WALKER; Caroline m. BALLOWE; and James Clay who never married.

In a letter dated 1871, James WHITE stated that he had fathered 17 children, eight of whom were still living (some in Missouri, Alabama and Kentucky - the rest in Tennessee). He also stated that all were married but his youngest son, who lived with him. He also stated he had 54 grandchildren and eight g-grandchildren. In addition, he mentioned his granddaughter, Martha FRY, daughter of Andrew's sister.

Submitted by Rena McWilliams (1-5-98)

Return to top of Page

New Biographies will be added regularly. Please check back frequently.

Return to Early Settlers page.

If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write:

Brian Nichols

Please come back again soon! Happy Hunting!!!

Return toTennessee Genealogy County page
Return to top of Page

Server space for the TNGenWeb Project is provided through the generosity of US Internet.

The TNGenWeb Project makes no claims or estimates of the validity of the information submitted and reminds you that each new piece of information must be researched and proved, or disproved by the weight of evidence.

You are welcome to copy information found on the Benton County TNGenWeb site for personal use, and share information with other researchers or genealogical organizations, but this information may not be sold or used in a commercial project without expressed permission. All material submitted by individuals for inclusion in this site remains their property.

Copyright 1998 - 2002