C-D Goodspeed, 1887,
Dekalb County, Tennessee
J. L. Colvert, retired merchant, was born in 1828 in Culpeper County, Va., the son
of William I. and Harriett (Weedon) Colvert. The father, born in the same county
in 1791, was a farmer and a soldier in the war of 1812, on duty in his native State. In 1828
he came to Warren County, Tenn., Thence to Alabama for a few years, and about 1840 returned to
Cannon County, Tenn. He finally settled in Dekalb County in 1848 and bought a home of 150
acres, where he lived the greater part of his life. He died in Nashville in 1859. The mother,
born in 1801 in Fairfax County, Va., is still living, receiving a pension for her husband's
services in 1812. Our subject, one of seven children, came to Tennessee when an infant, and
was reared and educated in Cannon County. At the age of sixteen he served a year's
apprenticeship in a tannery, then farmed a year, and in 1848 sunk a tannery in Dekalb County
with his brother as partner. In April, 1846, he Married Johanna Matthews, born in
Cannon County in 1830. Their two children are Mary E., wife of S. D.
Blankenship, and Harriett. In 1852 he engaged in farming and merchandising besides
tanning. In 1854 he sold his tanyard and store and established a store in Smith County. After
six months here he bought 500 acres in District No. 14 and farmed for three years. He then
moved to Nashville, where he ran a lumber and woodyard and as contractor built Carroll and
Wharf Avenues, rebuilt Market Front and built a sewer from the river to the Maxwell House. He
also owned a third interest in a wholesale and retail grocery on Market Street. In 1862 he
returned to Dekalb County and in 1864 settled in Smithville, where the next year he began
merchandising at which he was engaged until January, 1886. He then sold to his son-in-law,
Blankenship. Mrs. Colvert died in 1855, and in Janurary 1858, he married
Martha M. Tysee, born in Dekalb County in 1839. Mr. Colvert is the oldest
continuous merchant in Smithville business, he was in the grocery business in Nashville. In
politics he is a Democrat, first voting for Fillmore. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, while his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal
J. R. Corley, a well known farmer and stock raiser of the Fourth District, was born
in Dekalb County in 1848. He is one of seven children of John and Elizabeth (Upton)
Corley. The father was born in Virginia in 1802, and immigrated to Dekalb County when a
young man. He was a farmer. His death occurred in 1875. His wife was born in Smith County in
1816 and died in 1880. Our subject received his education in the common schools of Dekalb and
white Counties, and attended the Cumberland Institute. At the age of nineteen he began
clerking in the dry goods store at Temperance Hall, where he remained five months. The next
four years were spent in Putnam County in same business. He then returned to his native county
and gave his attention to farming. He has been very successful, and owns 185 acres of highly
cultivated and improved land. He is a stanch Democrat; cast his first presidential vote for
Horace Greeley. He is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, and respected, worthy
citizen. In 1869 he married Sarah F., Daughter of James A. and Eliza
Scruggs. Mrs Corley was born in Smith County in 1846. She is a member of the
Methodist Episcopal Church. To their union have been born George S., James R.
(deceased), Carrie L., William M., and John R.
Maj. W. G. Crowley, An ex-judge and attorney at law of Smithville, was born in Smith
(now Dekalb) County in 1830. His parents, John J. and Elizabeth Crowley, were
both natives of Virginia. The father was of Scotch-Irish descent, a farmer by occupation. He
married in his native State and in 1830 came to Tennessee by way of the Cumberland River. He
died in Smith County in May of the same year, when but twenty-two years of age. His wife was
born in 1810. Her second marriage was with Mr. Peter Adams,, who is also dead. Mrs.
Adamsdied in 1866. Our subject was the only child, and but one month old when his father
died. When a mere lad he was ambitious to gain information, as his step-father was poor, and
there being but little benefit derived from public schools, his advantages were indeed limited.
He labored and saved a few dollars which enabled him to enter school. At the age of sixteen he
began teaching in the neighborhood. He attended school at Alexandria as well as other schools
at different places, and in this way he was in debt $500 and taught school and paid it. In
1850 he commenced reading law under guidance of Col. S. H. Colms of Smithville. In
March, 1851, he was admitted to the bar, and immediately entered the profession, buying his law
books on a year's credit. He first formed a partnership with Samuel Turney in Dekalb
County business, and at the same time a partnership with Col. S. H. Colms in the Cannon
County practice. He soon had a lucrative practice. July 4, 1853, he married Rebecca,
daughter of Martin and Polly Foutch, who was born in 1837 in Dekalb County.
Their union resulted in the birth of ten children: Mary E., wife of Judge W. W.
Wade; Martha E.; Martin A.,who is clerk and master of the chancery court of
Dekalb County; John B., a farmer and miller; Jessie Frances, Wife of John B.
Tubb, a lawyer of Smithville; William L., a farmer; Kate, wife of W. B.
Foster, a merchant of Smithville; Pleasant C.; Prudence and
Leslie(deceased). In June, 1861, Mr. Crowley enlisted in the Twenty-third
Tennessee Infantry (Confederate Army), and at the organization of the regiment he was appointed
Sergeant major. He was in the battle of Shiloh, which he was severely wounded April 6, 1862,
by a canister-shot, just above the left knee. He was taken to Corinth and afterward to
Jackson, Miss., in a helpless condition. September 7, 1862, he reached home, greatly to the
surprise of his family, who believed him to have been killed at Shilo. In 1863 he moved to the
western portion of Dekalb County and taught a subscription school until hostilities ceased. In
1866 he returned to Smithville and resumed his practice in partnership with Col. John H.
Savage, afterward with Joseph Clark and M. D. Smallman, now circuit judge.
In 1872 our subject was elected chancellor of the Fifth Division of Tennessee, Col.
Colms being one of his competitors. In 1878 he was re-elected. Judge Crowley is
now engaged in the law practice and has many friends. He is also one of the county's eldest
native citizens. He has been unusually prosperous in life, considering his opportunities and
will do well in his profession. His residence is a half mile east of Smithville on the Sligo
Ferry Turnpike. He has been a member of the Christian church since 1860. Pervious to the war
he was a Whig, voting the first time for Fillmore in 1852. He is now a Democrat.
Dr. Thos. P. Davis, one of Alexandria's most respected citizens, was born in Smith
County, August 31, 1858. He is the youngest of ten children of Benjamin and Kittie
(Whorley) Davis. The father was born in North Carolina about 1817, and moved to Tennessee
when a young man; afterward married and settled in Smith County. He was one of the most
substantial, enterprising and industrious farmers in the section. His death occurred about the
close of the late war. His wife was a native of virginia and came to Tennessee with her
parents; she died when the Doctor was an infant. Of her children eight are living. Her
mother lived to the unusual age of one hundred and two. Her father was a soldier in the
Revolutionary war. Mr. and Mrs. Davis were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church
South. Our subject was raised by the elder members of the family, receiving his literary
education at the country schools and Alexandria. In 1876 and 1877 he read medicine with Dr.
E. Tubb, and entered the medical department of the Vanderbilt University, graduating in
1879. He immediately returned to Alexandria and began to practice. He has received an
extensive and liberal patronage, and is now recognized as one of the leading physicians of the
D. W. Dinges, a notary public, and a leading business man of Alexandria, was born in
1836, in Warren County, Va., the youngest of five children of Wm. M. and Clara P. E.
(Lincoln) Dinges, both natives of Virginia. The father was born about 1810, of Scotch-
Dutch descent, a son of Mortica Dinges. He was a blacksmith, and spent his entire life
in his native State, where he died in 1837. His wife was born about 1814, and is living in
White County. She moved to Tennessee soon after her husband's death. She has been three times
married; is a consistent member of the Christian Church. Our subject received rather limited
educational advantages at Sparta. He taught school about three years. In 1861 he enlisted in
Company K, Sixteenth Tennessee Infantry, serving principally in Tennessee, West Virginia and
South Carolina. In 1862 he took part in the battle of Perryville, and was captured near
Barbersville, Ky.; in a few hours was paroled, returned home and about three months later
joined the Eighth Tennessee Cavalry under Gen. Dibrell. He participated in the battle at
Sparta, was again captured and paroled, and returned home after serving his country gallantly,
for three and a half years. In 1865 he moved to Alexandria and began merchandising, in
partnership with W. H. Lincoln, the firm being known as Dinges & Lincoln. They
did a flourishing business. In 1872 he purchased Mr. Lincoln's interest, and in 1881
R. B. Floy became a partner. They discontinued their business about three years later.
In 1885 he established the firm of D. W. Dinges & Co., which has an extensive trade. It
is one of the best general merchandise houses in this place, carrying a stock valued at about
$5,000. During his commercial career he sold as high as $40,000 worth of goods in a year. In
1883 he erected the first livery stable in the town; it is large, well stocked and prosperous.
He began life with little or no capital, but by industry and good management has accumulated a
considerable amount of this world's goods, being one of the wealthiest citizens of the county.
He owns 450 acres besides other valuable property. He is a firm Democrat, casting his first
presidential vote for John C. Breckinridge. In 1884 he represented the Fourth District,
in the Democratic Convention at Chicago. He is one of the directors of the Bon-Air Coal,
Lumber & Land Company; was formerly a member of the I. O. O. F. and is a strong advocate of
general education. March, 1873, he married Miss Norah, daughter of John and
Bettie Crutchfield, formerly of Wilson County. Mrs. Dinges is a member of the
Methodist Episcopal Church South.
James A. Donnell,United States commissioner of internal revenue for the middle
district of Tennessee, and an influential citizen of Alexandria, was born August 13, 1834, in
Wilson County. He is the eldest of two children of Allan and Casandria H. (Britton)
Donnell. The father was a native of Gifford County, N. C., born in 1806, of Irish
ancestry, a son of Adlia Donnell, a native of North Carolina, whose father came from
Ireland. Allan came to Tennessee about 1832, and a year later married and located in
Lebanon, where for some time he taught school, afterward engaging in the mercantile business at
the same place, then at Center Hill and finally at Commerce, where he died in 1838. He was a
man of ability and influence, successful in all his undertakings. His wife was a daughter of
Lanie Britton, a native of East Tennessee, and an early settler of Smith County.
Mrs. Donnell was born in 1813 and died in 1876. Both were members of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, highly respected by the entire community. The subject of this sketch was
educated in the common schools in Wilson County. At the age of twenty he went to Missouri,
where for two years he engaged in farming and stock raising. He returned to Wilson County. At
the outbreak of the civil war, he enlisted in Company A, Seventh Tennessee Infantry, was in
Virginia and all the great battles. He was captured at Gettysburg, Penn., July, 1863, and
taken to Baltimore, then to Point Lookout. After seven months' imprisonment he was exchanged
and joined the army in the Southwest. In the spring of 1864 he was sent to Tennessee to look
after some absentees of the original command; he was again captured and took the oath of
allegiance. In February, 1866, he married Mrs. Nannie M. Ward, a native of Alabama, by
whom he had one child, Robert G. Mrs. Donnell died in 1867. The same year he
wedded Miss M. E., daughter of William and Mary Swann, who was born in
Wilson County in 1844. Four children were born to this union: Jane Annette, Minnie
C., Mary E. and Ann Lou. After living in Smith County Mr. Connell
returned to Wilson County in 1872, and resumed his farming. In 1878 he removed to Alexandria
and purchased a half interest in flouring-mills, now owned by Brown & Donnell, and since
that time has been engaged in his present business. For one year he served as constable of the
Twelfth District of Wilson County, and in October, 1886, was appointed by Judge Howell E.
Jackson to his present office. He is a strong advocate of general education, and is
trustee of the Masonic Normal College. Previous to the war he was a Whig, casting his first
presidential vote for . Fillmore, in 1856. He is now of the Democrat party. For nearly
twenty years he has been a Mason. He and his wife are esteemed and earnest members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church South.
Return to Goodspeed's History of Dekalb County