Note: This article was published in a booklet, Clay County Centennial - 1870-1970 Commemorative Brochure, and was reprinted from the March 19, 1970 edition of The Clay Statesman, a newspaper published in Clay County, TN.
I read one of the first articles on the history of Clay County. In the article you gave the names of the members of the first county court. John J. Miles was one of them. He was my second great-grandfather and lived at Miles Cross Roads--now known as Mt. Vernon.
He was born November 1, 1834, the son of George and Sarah Miles. His father was supposed to be half Cherokee Indian and his mother whole Cherokee.
John J. Miles was married six times. His first wife was Mary Bee Browning. They had eight or nine children. His second wife was Jane Browning. They had nine children. His third wife was Meadalice Roberts, his fourth wife was Luller Pickrell, his fifth wife was Attie Newberry and his sixth wife was a Miss Raines. He divorced all six wives, and only had children by the first two.
He was a Captain in the Civil War. During the war Miles and two of his brothers were in Kentucky near Gamaliel scouting for the Confederates. They came upon a house where some Yankees were meeting and tried to slip up and capture them. But they were spotted by a lookout who warned the other Yanks. The Yankees opened fire and killed both of his brothers before they had a chance to get away.
But John got on his horse and headed back to Tennessee. The Yankees gave chase out of Kentucky and into Tennessee through Hermitage Springs and up toward Miles Cross Roads. At that time John Miles owned most all of what is now known as Mt. Vernon community. When he reached his own land the enemy was getting too close for comfort. He then headed up a hollow that ran through his land. He came upon a high rail fence, and he knew he had to do something fast. He jumped off his horse into a corner of the fence and drew his pistol--a forty-five Colt Revolver.
The first Yankee to come riding up was known as Charles Reeves.* Miles aimed the old pistol at Reeves' forehead and fired. The bullet struck the rider in the head and he hit the ground. The next rider was Dr. Bobo. Miles took aim once more. This time at the rider's chest, and Dr. Bobo fell to the ground. The other Yankees turned and ran and as they left they shouted "We'll be back with more men and we will get you."
Miles waited in the fence corner until he was sure they were gone, then examined the two bodies. He had only creased the head of Reeves and knocked him unconscious but he had shot Dr. Bobo right through the heart. He caught his horse, threw the two men across the saddle and headed for home. He laid the men on the porch and told his wife to take care of Mr. Reeves and send word to Dr. Bobo's family to come and get him.
He told his wife that he must hide some place because the Yankees had said they were coming back to kill him. He pondered awhile on where he could hide and then decided to head for the hills. He rode his horse into the woods and hid on a high bluff.
Meanwhile, the Union men had wasted no time in getting more men and coming back. They searched for Miles but had no luck in finding him. At one time they passed right under the bluff where he was hiding, rode on down the hollow for a short distance and soon came back through.
Miles stayed in his hiding place until he was sure they had given up, then returned to his home. He was bothered no more by these men, but after the war was over Charles Reeves came back to Miles' house to kill him. Miles saw him coming grabbed his old pistol and ran upstairs.
Reeves rode up yelling for John to come out. John told him to go on home and forget what had happened between them because it happened during the war and he wanted no more trouble. Reeves, however, had come to fight and he didn't want to leave. After a lengthy argument in which Miles told Reeves he would kill him if he started anything, he gave up and left. They never met again.
Besides being a merchant and Postmaster, he was also active in politics. When Teddy Roosevelt started the Bull Moose Party, Miles served as one of the delegates from Tennessee. He came and got my grandmother, Mrs. Herod Birdwell, to stay with his wife while he was gone.
She told me she could still remember the way he was dressed when he left. He was wearing a real nice suit and hat, and as always a big gold pocket watch carried in his vest pocket with a long chain attached to the watch and to a button on his vest. He left riding a fine black stallion--headed for Washington D.C.
He lived the remainder of his life at Miles Cross Roads where he reached the age of 88 or 89. He is buried in the Mt. Vernon cemetery which he started by burying his daughter, Hester Ann, in 1822, on a hill overlooking Miles Cross Roads.
There are 129 of his decedents now living in Clay County. Our present County Court Clerk, Harold Carlisle, is his great-grandson.
This is just a few things about John J. Miles as told to me by his grandchildren and a daughter-in-law. -- Dayton Birdwell, Red Boiling Springs, Tenn.
*Editor's Note: This was undoubtedly my great-great-grandfather, Charles E. Reeves, father of Dr. Charles E. Reeves once a prominent physician in Jackson County. Charles Sr. was the son of Asa Reeves, who came to Jackson County in the 1840s. This story is of great interest to me because of the time of the shooting incident, near the end of the Civil War. This means it happened around 1865, which is significant because Dr. Charles E. Reeves, Jr. wasn't born until 1870. Many of us with the Reeves name are here today because John J. Miles and his wife nursed Reeves back to health.
A book entitled Genealogy of Sylvanus Fowler of Newbergh, New York, Jackson and Clay County, Tennessee and related families by Elise Donaldson Waters is available in Celina in the genealogy department of the Clay County Library. It is also available on microfilm from the LDS Family History Center. William Fowler immigrated from Derbyshire, England to New Haven, Rhode Island in 1637. His brothers, Joseph and Richard, immigrated about 1650. Also contains information on the Hamilton, Martin, Tinsley, and Ussery family. Check other libraries for availability of the book or interlibrary loan.
A book entitled The Plumlee Family edited by Robert D. Plumee on the Plumlee family of Jackson and Clay County is available at the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library in Gainesboro. It is available on microfilm through the LDS Family History Center. Contains info on the Plumlee, Armer, Brown, Eads, Osgatharp, and Pennington families. This book contains family histroy and genealogical information about the descendants fo William Plumlee who was born 8 October 1792 near Hendersonville, Burke Co., North Carolina. He was the son of John Plumlee and Elizabeth Neill. William married Elizabeth Moss about 1811 in Kentucky. They lived in Danvers, McLean Co., Illinois and were the parents of ten known children. Descendants lived in Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and elsewhere. Also check other libraries for availability of the book or interlibrary loan.
Tim Plumlee also sent some photos that belonged to his great-great aunt, a Plumlee and the daughter of Archibald Green. He reports he doesn't know who any of the folks are, so we're posting them in the hope they will be of assistance to those researching this family. And if you can identify any of those in the photos, we're sure Tim would appreciate the information.
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Jane Hembree Crowley
Charles Reeves, Jr.,
Clay County Coordinators
This page last updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2015