Benton County Tennessee

Early Settlers Biographies



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George Francisco

The Francisco family name in Benton County, TN no longer exists but they have many descendants remaining. The Francisco family descended from Peter Francisco of Virginia. He arrived
in America under mysterious circumstances which has never been resolved. He was abandoned by a ship's captain at City Point, VA in the year 1765. No one knows his age or where
he came from, but his clothing and silver buckle shoes would suggest that he was of a prosperous family, apparently from Portugal and undoubtedly he had been kidnapped.

Captain Anthony Winston took him home and cared for him. Anthony Winston lived in Buckingham County, Virginia and became the foster-father of Peter Francisco. Captain Winston was a sheriff of that county, member of the first conventions of 1775, Burgess of that county in 1775 and a Revolutionary War soldier.

Peter Francisco grew up to be a man of enormous size and strength. He was said to have been six feet and six inches in height and to have weighed 260 pounds. He volunteered for service in the Revolutionary War when very young and was noted for a number of single-handed exploits. On the battlefield of Gilford Courthouse there is a monument marking the spot where he killed eleven men in fierce combat. He made many exhibits of his enormous strength and valor that are on record. There is a place in Nottoway County, VA, for example, that marked where he defeated single-handed nine of Tarleton's British dragoons soldiers in July of 1781.

Early in the war he complained that the regular swords were not big enough for him and one was specially made at General Washington's direction over five feet from hilt to point. A massive sword given him by Colonel Mayo is in the Virginia State Library. After the war he served for many years as door-keeper of the House of Delegates.

Peter Francisco was married three times. The names of his first wife and third wife are not known. But his second wife was Katherine Fauntleroy Brooke of Essec County, VA. Their children intermarried with families in Louisa County, Virginia where the name is still remembered.

His known children from all three marriages were:
1. George Francisco.
2. Peter Francisco (Junior).
3. Susan Francisco, who married Colonel E. Pescud.
4. Benjamin M. Francisco.
5. Catherine Fauntleroy Francisco.
Peter Francisco (Senior) died 16 January 1831 and was given a military funeral at the Shockoe Cemetery in Richmond, VA.

George Francisco born about 1773 in Virginia was a son of Peter Francisco' 5 first marriage. He married Dianah Haygood and moved to Tennessee. They were among the early pioneer settlers along the north side of Sandy River on land that became the old Sixth Civil District of Benton County, TN. When the county line between Benton and Henry county was later settled, this land was in Henry County, TN.

George and Diana Francisco both died between 1850 and 1860 and were buried in the Francisco Family Cemetery on their land overlooking the Sandy River.

George and Diana Francisco known issue:
1. George Francisco (Junior) born ca. 1807 in Tennessee and married ca. 1830 to Margaret, whose maiden name is not known, married second to Lavina E. Honey on 7 December 1878.
George and Margaret Francisco known issue:

  1. 1. Mahala Francisco born ca. 1831.
    2. Dianah Francisco born ca. 1833 and married John C. Hstony on 23 November 1854 in Benton County, TN.
    3. Robert Francisco born ca. 1835.
    4. William Francisco born ca. 1837.
    5. Peter Francisco born in February of 1840, died in 1934 and buried in the Liberty Community Cemetery. He married Mariah Louisa Rowe on 24 January 1861 in Benton County, TN. She was born 1 April 1842 a daughter of William and Vinia Rowe, died in 1878 and buried in the Rushing Creek Cemetery.
    Their known issue:
    1. 1. Robert Francisco born in 1865 and died in 1888.
      2. John Francisco born ca. 1866.
      3. Lee T. Francisco born 18 August 1869 and died 26 May 1921. He married Sallie Eudor Whitfield on 17 January 1897. She was born 29 December 1879 and died 2 March 1967.
      4. Nevada Francisco born ca. 1870.
      5. Dianah Francisco born ca. 1872.
      6. George Francisco born in 1874 and died in 1880.
      7. Alice Eudora Francisco born in 1876 and died in 1922.
      8. Mary V. Francisco born 2 March 1878 and died 4 December 1955.
      9. Enastage C. Francisco born in December of 1881.

2. Peter Francisco born in 1809 and died 15 July 1884.
3. Haywood Francisco born ca. 1811 and married about 1837 to Margaret, whose maiden name is not known.
Their known issue:
  1. 1. William Francisco born ca. 1838.
    2. James Mack Francisco born 12 May 1841 and died 11 July 1914. He married Mary C. Crews on 12 August 1869 in Henry County, TN. Mary was born 6 January 1848 and died 26 December 1915.
    Their known issue:
    1. 1. Margaret Ann Francisco born 4 November 1870.
      2. Jesse Luco Francisco born 3 August 1872.
      3. William Riley Francisco born 4 January 1875.
      4. James Walter Francisco born 17 April 1879.
      5. Emma Alabama Francisco born 25 May 1882.
      6. Ether Andrews Francisco born 23 January 1886.
      3. Jessee Francisco born ca. 1844.
      4. Martha Ann Francisco born ca. 1847.
      5. J.P. Francisco born ca. 1850.
      6. Dianna Francisco born in 1852 and died 193?.
      7. Winnie Angeline Francisco born in 1853. Her second marriage was to Benny Chilton.
      8. Mahala Francisco born ca. 1856 and married John Malone.
      9. Andrew Francisco born ca. 1859.

4. Nancy Francisco born ca. 1815.
5. Mary Francisco born ca. 1817.
6. Martha Francisco born ca. 1820.


East side of Court House Square, Camden, Tennessee
This picture was made by Peter Francisco, the son of George Francisco Junior. He made this picture about 1900. If you can make out the wagon and a empty lot to it's right, it is the location where Ernest Hawkins Smothers built his theater.


Submitted by E. J. & Frances Sims



James Wyly

James (Jim) Wyly was born 13 January 1799 in Franklin County, Georgia. He was a son of Harris K. and Artemissa (Taylor) Wyly and married Mary, whose parents have not been identified. Their Bible records simply states James Wyly and Mary Wyly were married 9 May 1822. Mary was born 14 August 1801 in Georgia. They moved to Humphreys County, TN and obtained a grant in 1824 for fifty acres of land near the confluence of the Duck River and the Tennessee River. They later moved across the river and settled on land near the confluence of Bird Song Creek with the Tennessee River.

James Wyly was an aggressive farmer and by 1850 owned some 11,000 acres of land, much of it was rich bottom land along the Tennessee River. He also bought a general merchandise store on the northeast corner of the court square in Camden, TN in December of 1838. His brother Christopher K. Wyly entered into partnership with him to manage the business while James attended to his farm investments throughout the county.

James Wyly was a democrat and represented Humphreys County in the House of Representatives in 1837 through 1839. Then Benton and Humphreys counties in 1843, and again in from 1847 through 1849.

Mary Wyly died 29 November 1851 and was buried in their family cemetery on a crest of a hill near Bird Song Creek. James Wyly died of pneumonia on 8 May 1857, having made a will two days earlier, which was recorded in Will Book 1, pages 140-143. A codicil set aside four acres of his land for the family cemetery.

James and Mary Wyly had issue:
1. David Wyly born 19 July 1823 and died 9 June 1832.
2. Artemissa H. Wyly born 7 January 1826, married Fredinand Phinizy Saunders on 6 January 1845 in Benton County and died 27 November 1913.
3. Eliza Wyly born 19 July 1828, married George W. Reaves on 7 October 1847 and died 3 October 1848.
4. Mary Wyly born 22 October 1830, married Dr. James Moses on 30 October 1847 and died 25 February 1885.
5. Camille Wyly born 29 August 1833, married Dr. Sanmartin Barnett, who died in 1858, married second Iverson L. Crockrell in 1859, divorced in 1871 and died 7 April 1872.
6. Thomas K. Wyly born 6 May 1836, married Mary Barfield on 13 February 1867 and died 10 August 1880.
7. Victoria Wyly born 12 July 1839, married Thomas Alonzo Napier in 1859. He was killed in 1862 at Parker's Crossroads near Lexington, TN while serving General N. B. Forrest in the Confederate Cavalry. Victoria married second Robert W. Cooley and died 22 August 1881.
8. Theodocia Wyly born 3 February 1845, married Abraham Gosset on 10 April 1873 and died 28 January 1879.


Submitted by E. J. & Frances Sims



Sion Melton

Sion was the second child of Joseph Melton. There is reason to believe that his mother was an Indian woman, from North Carolina. (Note: Family rumor has always been that Sion was Joseph's half- breed son, he brought to Tennessee from North Carolina.) There is no known document to prove this is true or false, but my research has led me to agree with the fact that Sion Melton was from an Indian bloodline. Sion appears in the 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 Benton Co., TN census. Sion was a farmer in the Harmon's Creek Community. Sion stated in the census that he was born in 1802 in Tennessee. (Although his father appears to still be in North Carolina in 1804. In the Nash Co., NC land sale transfer book # 7,p.206 lists Joseph Melton sold 333 acres of land to Ann Jones.)

Sion married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was to Lucretia Farmer about 1820.Lucretia was born about 1795 in North Carolina to Conrad Farmer and Mary Huffines. Lucretia died about 1870, her burial location is unknown.


Sion and Lucretia had five children.

1. Narcissa Jane Melton was born in 1821 in Tennessee. She married twice, first to Wyly Walker on March 24, 1839 in Benton Co., TN, by Berry Vester, JP and second to William Cole between 1850-1860. (No marriage record could be found for her second marriage.) Narcissa had no children by Wyly Walker or William Cole. William Cole was born in 1833 in Tennessee and appeared in the Benton Co., TN census in 1860. (Note: As with so many of the Indian descendants, I've been unable to find her death date or burial place.)

2. Charity Melton was born in 1822 in Tennessee. She married Hiram Warnick about Oct.28, 1848 in Benton Co., TN. This license was issued, but never registered. Hiram was born in 1818 in Tennessee to David Warnick & Elizabeth (unknown). Charity and Hiram had one child, Araminta (Minta J.)Jane Warnick. Charity died sometime after 1880, her burial was in the old Melton Cemetery on Harmon's Creek in Benton Co., TN in an unmarked grave. Hiram Warnick died sometime after 1880 and also was buried in an unmarked grave in the Melton Cemetery.

3. Conrad J. Melton was born in 1827 in Tennessee. He married Lucretia Holland on April 10, 1844 in Benton Co., TN, by John Pafford, MG. Lucretia was born in 1820, possibly in Tennessee. (Her parents are unknown.) Conrad and Lucretia had three known children; William in 1840, Martin in 1844 and Mary in 1850. All three children were born in Tennessee. They are listed in the Benton Co., TN census in 1860, but do NOT appear in the 1870 Benton Co., TN census. Nothing further is known.

4. Unknown male Melton Child was born between 1835 and 1840. This child died before the 1850 Benton Co., TN census was taken.

5. Analiza Melton was the last child of Sion Melton and Lucretia Farmer. She was born about 1838 in Tennessee. She married twice. Her first marriage was to Alfred Myers between 1850 and 1858. (No marriage record could be found.) Alfred was born in 1837 in Tennessee to John Myers and Elendor (unknown). Alfred died between 1860 and 1863. His burial place is unknown. Analiza and Alfred had one child, Lucretia P. Myers in 1859 in Benton Co.,TN. Analiza married her second husband, William W. Davidson on March 15, 1863 in Benton Co., TN, by J.P. Arnold, JP. William died between 1865 and 1870. Analiza & William had one child, Mary J.C. Davidson in 1866 in Tennessee.

Sion Melton married his second wife, Lucy Rop in December of 1871 in Benton Co., TN. (Their marriage license was issued but never registered. Her name on the license is very difficult to read, but appears to be ROP or ROPE.) Lucy was born in 1844 in Tennessee. (Her parents are unknown.) Lucy & Sion had no children. Sion Melton died in 1886 in Benton Co., TN, his burial was in an unmarked grave on the Woody Hollow Ridge on Harmon's Creek in Benton Co., TN. (Note: His grave has since been located and is presently marked.) After Sion Melton's death in 1886, Lucy married James H. Jenkins on Dec.10, 1891 in Benton Co., TN. Lucy and James appear in District #5 in the 1900 Benton Co., TN census. Lucy (Rop) Melton Jenkins died on July 3, 1924, her burial was in the Flatwoods Cemetery in Benton Co., TN.


From Our Branch - to Yours
Submitted by Doris M. Hightower



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