A-B Goodspeed, 1887,
Dekalb County, Tennessee

Hon. James M. Allen, one of the prominent citizens of the county, was born September 25,1822, at Allen's Ferry on Caney Fork, seven miles from Smithville, the county seat of Dekalb County, Tenn. He is the youngest of eleven children born to Jesse and Nancy (Walker)Allen, both of whom were natives of Virginia. The father settled in what is now Dekalb County in 1801, being one of the oldest settlers. He died in 1857, and the mother in 1840. Both were members of the Baptist Church. Our subject was reared on the farm and became interested in agriculture. His education was acquired in the country schools and at the Fulton Academy in Smithville, his present home. He studied law, and in 1876 was licensed to practice. His public services began as a constable in the Ninth District of his native county, which position he held for twelve years. He was justice of the peace for twenty-two years, was engaged in the mercantile business in Smithville for five years, and also served as deputy sheriff. In 1884 he was elected to the State Legislature. The term was so satisfactory to his constituents that he was re-elected in 1886. October 22, 1846, he wedded Elizabeth M., daughter of Spencer and Araminta (Eddings) Talley, of Statesville, Wilson Co., Tenn., who was born January 2, 1830. To this union ten children were born, two of whom died in infancy. The others: Emma (born in August, 1850, Married A. T. Phillips, and died in April, 1878), Ada (born in 1853, married J. A. Marks, and died in August, 1878), Nancy W. (born in 1856, Married W. D. Carnes, and now resides in Texas), Elizabeth J. (born in 1858, is the Wife of W. B. Carnes, a resident of Trousdale County, Tenn.), James M. (born in 1862 and died in 1881), Jesse T. (born in 1865), William G. (born in 1868), John S. (born in 1872). The mother was a consistent member of the Christian Church, and died in September, 1886. Our subject is also connected with the same church, and is a member of the Masonic fraternity. He is a Democrat, and one of the county's most enterprising and worthy citizens.

Alvin Avant, Attorney at Law, of Smithville, was born in Dekalb County in 1856, a son of William C. and Nancy (Williams) Avant. The father is of French descent, Born in 1822 in Dekalb County. His father, Benjamin Avant, was a native of Virginia, who immigrated to Dekalb County at an early date. William C. married and settled in the Twelfth District of his native county, where he is a prosperous and respected farmer and possessor of 300 acres of valuable land. His wife was also born in Dekalb County, of English descent. She is now sixty-two years of age. Of their eleven children, Alvin is the fifth. His early education was received at Fulton Academy in Smithville. At the age of eighteen he commenced the study of medicine under the care of Dr. J. S. Harrison. In 1873 he entered the medical department of the university at Louisville, Ky., graduating in March of the next year as M. D. For one year he practiced in Smithville, at the expiration of which time he abandoned medicine and took up the study of law. His preceptor was M. D. Smallman, now judge of the Sixth Circuit of Tennessee. Mr. Avant was admitted to the bar in 1879. The same year he was elected county attorney, serving two years. January, 1881, he became superintendent of public instruction, holding the office four years, declining another re-election. Since that time he has given his attention to his profession. In 1881 he entered into partnership with Hon. B. M. Webb and Judge J. S. Gribble, the latter withdrawing in 1883, The firm being known as Webb & Avant. Our subject is a talented, able lawyer, enjoying a good practice. He is a gentleman in the full sense of the word, and highly esteemed by a large circle of friends. He is a member of the Christian Church, and a Democrat. His parents belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

J. M. Baker, a well known farmer of the Fourteenth District, was born March 31, 1830, in White County, Tenn. His parents were William H. and Lucinda (Erwin) Baker. The father was born about 1800 in Virginia, of English descent, a son of James and Mary (Holmes) Baker. The father was a brave soldier in the war of 1812. He died at Norfolk. His widow immigrated to Tennessee with her children, five daughters and one son. They located in White County, where she died in 1856. William H. died November 14, 1872. His wife was of Irish origin, a daughter of William and Jane (Dildine) Erwin. His Maternal grandfather held a prominent position in the Revolutionary war. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm, and educated at the Union Institute, Dekalb County, in which county he engaged in farming when about twenty-three years of age. Shortly afterward he moved to White County, where, about 1870, he was elected magistrate, and served two terms. In 1883 he returned to Dekalb County, and in 1885 was elected magistrate. He was married, in March, 1854, to Barbary, daughter of William and Zelpha Robinson. This Union resulted in the birth of Mary Viola (the widow of S. Simrell),Elizabeth C., William R., Susan M. (the wife of M. Davis), James M., Sarah Lena, Emma Florence, Barbary L. and Charles R. Mr. Baker is a worthy citizen and self-made man. He has accumulated his possessions by economy and judicious management. He has been an elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church since 1883. He is a member of the Masonic order and K. of H., and a stanch Democrat.

Col. J. H. Blackburn, attorney at law and solicitor of claims, was born in 1842 near Liberty, Tenn. He is the third of eight living children of William and Ann (Hayes) Blackburn, the former born in 1808 in South Carolina, and the latter in 1820 in Wilson County, Tenn. The father, when a during man, located near the present college home, Wilson County, where he afterward married. In 1846 he came to Liberty, and continued farming on his farm lately bought, and since 1885 he has lived in Dowelltown, in feeble age. For fourteen years before the war he was constable at Liberty and mail contractor for six years. The mother is also living. Our subject was educated at Liberty, and in 1861 enlisted in the Federal Army, Company A, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, and, though but eighteen, immediately elected captain. In November, 1864, he resigned his captaincy, and by order of Gov. Johnson raised a regiment at Liberty, known as the Fourth Tennessee Mounted Infantry, and served as colonel of the same until the close of the war, and was honorably discharged in August, 1865. He was in several battles, the most important of which were Nashville, Chattanooga, Snow Hill and Milton, where he defeated Morgan. He also cleared of guerrillas the counties of White, Putnam, Dekalb and Jackson by capturing Camp Ferguson, after which even rebel sympathizers felt more secure. He is said to have been in 217 engagements, in all of which he was successful. He was wounded at Liberty in a charge by a rifle ball in the left shoulder, and ruptured at Big Harbor. From the former effects he receives $10 a month pension. Since the war he has practiced some at Dowelltown, and now owns 500 acres of land in Dekalb County, and a house and lot at Dowelltown, and lost $12,000 in real estate on securities. In 1861 he married Jennie, daughter of Samuel and Cynthia (David) Barger, and born in 1844 in Dekalb County. Their two children are Caledonia (wife of R. Griffith) and Ulysses (a civil officer at Dowelltown). He is a Republican, and is adjutant of the G. A. R. at Dowelltown. His children are both members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and he and wife are professors though members of no church.

Prof. J. L. Boon was born two and a half miles north of Alexandria, in Smithville County, in 1855. He is the fifth of nine children of Jas. N. and Sarah (Barry) Boon. The father was of English descent, one of the same family as the Kentucky pioneer, Daniel Boone. Jas. N. was born in Wilson County in 1817. He was raised and educated mostly in Smith County. By close application to study, he was enabled to enter the teacher's profession, which he followed in connection with farming. He was one of the most efficient and successful educators of that day. He married about his twenty-seventh year. The latter portion of his life was entirely devoted to agricultural pursuits. He accumulated considerable property and means, although he began a poor man. He died in 1886. His wife was born in Smith County about 1826. Both were consistent and esteemed members of the Christian Church. Five of the children are living, all members of the same church, one of them a minister in the Christian Church at Joplin, Mo. Prof. James L. received his early education at Alexandria. After teaching several years, attended two years at the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, graduating in 1879, in the literary and business courses. In 1880 he began teaching at Alexandria, where he has since been. He is an intelligent, cultivated and thorough instructor, and is universally popular with both patrons and pupils. May 29, 1885, He married Miss Mattie, daughter of Lun and Jales Wood, who was born in 1865, and educated at Alexandria, completing a musical course at Cincinnati, and now teaches music in the Masonic Normal School. The Professor is a Democrat. He and his wife are active and influential members of the Christian Church.

Hon. J. W. Botts, Attorney at law, is the son of Aron and Sarah (English) Botts, and born on Smith Fork, Dekalb County, in 1830, one of eight children, five of whom are living. The father, of English ancestry, was born in North Carolina, and died in 1860 about sixty years of age. Left an orphan when a child, he was reared and married in his native State, and soon after removed to Kingston, Tenn., and afterward to Dekalb County, as it is known know. He settled at the mouth of Helton Creek where he resumed his business of hatter, until about 1831, since when he lived in Alexandria until his death. He was a tax collector one term and twice defeated as candidate for sheriff by only five and seven votes respectively. The mother, a native of North Carolina, died in Nashville about 1865. Our subject was educated at Alexandria, and at Gainesboro under Hon. William DeWitt, now of Chattanooga. In August, 1850, he married Cynthia, daughter of Dr. Thomas J. and Nancy Sneed, of Alexandria, where Mrs. Botts was born. Seven of their thirteen children are living: Robert A., undertaker at Alexandria; Lizzie, wife of Andrew Kersey; Sarah, wife of John Argo(deceased), of Nashville; John E., with the St. Louis Railway; Norman and Earnest, both at Dixon Springs, and Charley. Mrs. Botts died in August, 1883. February 23, 1884, he married Nora, Daughter of Louis W. and Sarah Manning, of Smith County. They have one child, Lena. A carpenter and cabinetmaker during his earlier years, our subject was for the fifteen years preceding the war, magistrate and mayor of Alexandria.

W. G. Bratten, Farmer, was born in 1823, in Smith County (now Dekalb), the oldest of two sons of Henry and Nancy (Givan) Bratton, The former of Irish origin, born in Maryland about 1798, and the latter of Scotch origin, born in the same State about the same year. The mother's parents came when she was a year old to Nashville by boat after reaching the Ohio River, and where three weeks in cutting a road to Liberty, which was named by her father in honor of their old home in Maryland, as he was something of a leader in the forty families which came there. The father's people were among the number, and about 1820 they were married, and in 1823 the father died. Joel Bratton, an ancestor, was one of the Mayflower Pilgrims. The mother afterward married Osburn Munlacks. Their three children were Mary, Sarah and Joseph. She died about 1831 near Liberty. Our subject, reared by his uncle, and with little education, married when twenty-two, Caroline, daughter of James and Lucretia Groom, of North Carolina, and began farming in Cannon County. After eight years he sold and bought his present farm near Liberty. Mrs. Bratton was born in 1826 on our subject's present farm and died in 1859. But one of their eight children is living, Thomas G.. Our subject married Martha, daughter of James and Nance (Branch) Young, in Wilson County, where she was born in 1832. Their four children are Annie, Nettie, Herschal A., (who has considerable artistic genius), Geneva and Minnie. Beginning life with but a horse, saddle and bridle, our subject now owns a fine residence on his two equally fine farms of 300 acres, and is in vigorous life even at sixty-four years of age. Formerly a Whig he is now a Democrat; has been a Mason since twenty-two years of age. His whole family are members of the Missionary Baptist Church.

N. M. Brown, of Brown & Donnell, Millers, was born in Dekalb County in 1856, the youngest son of six children of Isaiah and Rachel A. (Wood) Brown, both natives of Virginia. The father, of Dutch origin, was born in 1818 and died in 1885. He was the son of John brown, a tanner. Isaiah was reared and married in his native State, and in 1854 removed to Dekalb County, Tenn., Where he worked at his trade as cooper. The mother, born in 1823, is still living with our subject and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Our subject was educated at Alexandria, and at the early age of thirteen began life as an engineer, to which he has since devoted most of his time. He has had a varied practice under different persons and is a skillful engineer. During 1881 he was a merchant, but since then he has been in charge of the Alexandria mills, in which he has an interest and which are doing a profitable business. He and his brother are also owners of a saw mill in Warren County. June 18, 1885, he was married to Julia, a daughter of John and Julia Rollings, of Alexandria, where Mrs. Brown was born in 1861. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They have one child, Maud. Mr. Brown is a Republican, casting his first vote for Gen. Garfield.

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