E-G Goodspeed's
Biographical Sketches of
Dekalb County, Tennessee

E. J. Evans, commercial traveler for Weel, Connell & Riddle, dry goods, shoes, clothing, etc., Nashville, was born in 1850 in the District of Columbia, and now resident of Smithville. He is the son of John G. and Lucinda (Vick) Evans. The father, born in 1819, in Dekalb County, Tenn., is the son of Joseph Evans, a native of Maryland, who, when a boy, came to Tennessee and settled where Liberty, Dekalb County, is located, among the very earliest white settlers. John G. had learned the carpenter trade under his father, and after his marriage in 1844, he settled in Liberty. In 1861 he moved to Dry Creek, and in 1881 to Smithville, where he was elected to his present position of register in 1866. His wife, born in 1822, in Dekalb County, is still living. Our subject, educated in Liberty, began reading law in 1872 under Hon. J. B. Robinson, and was admitted in 1873. The following year he was elected county clerk of Dekalb County, and served one term. In 1879 he established a dry goods store in Smithville, and after two years sold out and became traveling salesman for Settle & Kinnard, and two years later for Pigg, Manier & Co., then twelve months after for Tracy & Co., with whom he remained until he was employed by his present firm. In August, 1875, he married Virginia, daughter of Watson and Sarah webb, and born in Warren County. Their children are Sherrell J., Herschel, and Sarah. Mr. Evans has two residences, three store buildings and a livery stable in Smithville. He is a fine salesman and business man. In politics he is a Republican, and is a member of the K. of H. order. His wife is a member of the Baptist Church.

Capt. J. T. Exum, merchant, was born December 4, 1842, in Smith County, Tenn. He is the son of Kinchen D. and Elizabeth (Allen) Exum, the former born in 1821, in Smith County, and the latter in 1821, in Wilson County. His grandfather, William a native of North Carolina, was one of the earliest pioneers of Smith County, where he died. Reared on a farm, our subject was educated at Cumberland Institute, in White County, and soon enlisted in the Federal Army as private, then corporal, then second lieutenant and recruiting officer for the Fifth Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry. He was soon promoted to first lieutenant, and in 1862 was made captain at Nashville. In March, 1865, he resigned his commission and for about two years was engaged in merchandising at Laurell Hill, Tenn. Then after about seven years in Buffalo Valley, Putnam County, in the same business, he was made United States storekeeper and gauger for the Fifth Internal Revenue District. In 1881 he was deputy United States marshal, under Marshal Tillman, and a year later was appointed United States commissioner for the middle district of Tennessee, but resigned in 1883. For four years previous to 1884 he was chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of the Fourth congressional District. After a year's travel in the West he returned to Dekalb in 1886 and engaged in merchandising for a short time. In 1868 he married M. S. Maddox,who died in 1876, in which year their two children, James R. and John D. died also. In 1882 he married Alice McDonald, who lived but about seven months after. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Exum is a Republican and a member of the I. O. O. F. Lodge.

T. W. Fitts, a farmer and stock dealer of the Tenth District, was born March 4, 1832, in Smith County. He is the youngest of six children of Wootson and Tabitha (Winfrey) Fitts. The father was born in 1787, near Halifax, Va. He was lieutenant of a company in the war of 1812, was under command of Gen. Jackson at New Orleans; he came to Tennessee about 1822, and died near Eddyville, Ky., about 1850. The mother was born about 1787 near Petersburg, Va., and came to Tennessee after her marriage. Our subject had but limited educational advantages, but is a man of good practical understanding and business qualifications. In 1840 he married Miss Isabell Foster, who was born about 1812. She is still active and robust. To this union eight children were born of whom six are still living: Sanford(deceased); Jasper Newton; Durinda, now Mrs Taylor; Golden; Nancy, afterward Mrs Winfrey(deceased); Delia now Mrs. Williams; Sarah, now Mrs. Hayes, and Martin. Mr. Fitts and children are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The first year after marriage Mr. Fitts rented; he then bought an old Soldier's right to 640 acres; the following year he purchased 200 more, and finally became owner of 1,300 acres of excellent land. Besides what he has given his family, he still has 1,000 acres, cultivated and improved, located in Cove Hollow, on the Smithville and Temperance Hall road, three miles east of the latter place. He has always been a successful farmer and stock raiser, and made money rapidly, but has had security debts to settle, amounting to about $10,000. He has traveled quite extensively through thirteen States of the Union. He met with a severe accident before the war, which prevented him from entering the service. While riding a race horse, the animal fell, dashing Mr. Fitts' head against a rock. Thirteen pieces of bone were taken from his forehead by Dr. Gray of Nashville, who received $1,000 for the operation. Although Mr. Fitts is not a church member, no man in the community has contributed more liberally to religious institutions and charity. He built and donated on church, and has given two building sites for others. During the war he supported seven families besides his own. He lost considerable stock and $8,000 in Confederate money. He has owned some of the most famous horses inn the country. He raised "Dock Alvin," "Tom Hal," "Elizabeth Hill," and partially raised "Queen Ariel." He paid $1,000 for "Elizabeth Johnson" in Utah. When only two years old she won a famous race in Mississippi.

Hon. J. J. Ford, attorney at law, was born in Dekalb (then Smith) County November 22, 1822. He is one of ten children of Daniel and Mary (Fite) Ford, the former of Irish origin. The father, born about 1794 in South Carolina, was the son of Daniel Ford, Sr., of Virginia, who became one of the earliest settlers of Tennessee, when Daniel, Jr., was but a small boy. He settled in Smith County near what is now Temperance Hall, where he remained until his death. With ordinary education in his youth, Daniel, Jr., married about 1818 and spent his life in Smith and Dekalb Counties. He was an able man and served as magistrate and constable several years. He died in 1864. The mother, a native of tennessee and of Dutch descent, died in 1836. She was a daughter of Rev. J. Fite, an early Tennessee settler from New Jersey, who spent the early years of his settlement in a cane tent on Smith Fork, and who with his brother cut a road through the cane to Nashville. He made some money by dealing in the skin and flesh of bears. He was a Baptist minister for nearly sixty years and a historic character of early Tennessee. With no educational advantages our subject began the blacksmith trade when fifteen years old, and, when of age, purchased the property of his overseer and continued until 1859, having in the meantime served as magistrate six years. He was elected to the memorable General Assembly of 1859-60, in which he so distinguished himself that Judge R. Caruthers and other able jurists persuaded him to enter his present profession, in which he has since so well succeeded. He is the oldest practitioner in Alexandria. He again represented Dekalb County and in 1877-78 Dekalb, Wilson and Trousdale Counties, making in all seven sessions. He is one of the foremost criminal lawyers with a practice second to none, extending into all the adjacent counties, Nashville, Tuscumbia, Alabama and Cincinnati, Ohio. For eight years he was an equal partner with Judge Cottrell, of Lebanon, and is an able and honorable man. In March, 1846, he married Mary E., daughter of Aaron and Sarah M. Botts, natives of North Carolina and among the earliest settlers of Tennessee. Mr. Ford, although sixty-five years of age, has the vigor of his earlier life, a fact which he attributes to his care of himself and abstinence from liquor and tobacco. Always an active Democrat, his first vote was for Clay. Of considerable wealth, he owns 500 acres, 100 of which are in Wilson County. Mrs. Ford is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

H. D. Foust, of Foust & Jones, carriage manufacturers at Alexandria, was born in Wilson County in 1845, a son of William E. and Betsey (Luster) Foust. The father, born in Wilson County about 1818, was the son of William Foust, a native of Germany. William E. was married in 1844, and was all his life a blacksmith and carriage manufacturer in his native county. He was sheriff of the county four terms. The mother was born in the same county about 1829, and both were members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Educated at Lebanon, our subject at fifteen entered Company A, in the Forty-fifth Tennessee Infantry, and operated in the extreme South for about eighteen months, when, under the conscription act, he was rejected on account of age. He then returned home, and soon after joined Gen Forrest's command, and afterward Gen. Morgan's on his Indiana and Ohio raid, but was captured on reaching the Ohio River. He was soon recaptured, and went home and south to join Gen. Wheeler at Dalton, Ga., with whom he remained until his surrender at Raleigh, N. C., and then returned home. In December , 1865, he married Catherine, daughter of W. A. Robinson of Lebanon, where she was born in 1844. Their six children are living: William E., Jr., Bettie, Henry D., Malinda, John L. and Etta. Mrs. Foust, died in 1880, and in 1881 he married Mary J. Lannon. They have one child, Lillian. Mr. Foust was a blacksmith and carriage-maker at Lebanon for several years, when after some time in Shop-Springs he removed to Alexandria and entered the present firm, which is the only large enterprise of the kind in the county. For seven years M. Foust was marshal of Lebanon. He is a firm Democrat, first voting for Seymour . He and his wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. His first wife and two children were members of the Missionary Baptist Church.

Hon. John A. Fuson, an eminent practicing physician and surgeon of the Fourth District, was born in 1815, in Champaign County, Ohio. He is the third of seven children (three living) of James and Martha (Sneed) Fuson, both of whom were natives of Patrick County, Va. The father was of English descent, born in 1792. Two years after marriage he moved to Champaign County, Ohio, where he engaged in farming, occasionally preaching. He died in 1863. The mother was of French origin, born about 1795, and died in 1885. The subject of this sketch received a limited education in the common schools of his native county, remaining with his parents until he was twenty-two, when he came to Tennessee, and settled at Alexandria, Dekalb County, where for three years he studied medicine under direction of Dr. Thomas J. Sneed, at the expiration of which time he began practicing at Liberty, in 1842. In 1847 he married Martha L., Daughter of John W. and Lucy W. (Flowers) Allen, near Rome, Smith County. Mrs Fuson was born in White County, in 1826, and became mother of eleven children. The eight surviving ones are James; Lucy Jane,Wife of Chas. McCaverty of West Virginia; John A.; Elizabeth, Wife of Isaac N. Fite; George M.; Wm. Francis; Josephine, Wife of Chas. Williams, and Joseph Benjamin. In 1856 the Doctor purchased a farm in the Fourth District of Dekalb County, and moved his family there. He has always had an extensive patronage; is one of the most skillful and popular practitioners in the section. He has accumulated considerable property and wealth, but has lost heavily by security debts. He owns 300 acres of well cultivated and improved land. His son, William Francis, is now taking a large portion of practice off the Doctor's hands, and has been successful and prosperous. In 1854 the Doctor was elected to represent Dekalb County in the General Assembly of 1855-56. He was elected in 1865, for 1865-66. He was senator for Dekalb and Wilson Counties one term. His official career was satisfactory and highly creditable. He was the author of the Small Offense law. Previous to the war he was a Whig, casting his first presidential vote for Wm. H. Harrison in 1840. He was a stanch Union man, and now a Republican. He and his wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and the five eldest children are Methodists.

Pat Geraty, a merchant of Dowelltown, was born in 1832 at Castle Bar, County Mio, Ireland. He is one of six surviving children of a family of nine born to John and Catherine (Conway) Geraghty. The father was born in 1795, same place where Pat first saw the light. Early in life he was a carpenter, afterward a farmer. He died about 1880, in the vicinity in which he had always lived. The mother was born about 1798, in the same county, at Clare, and died in 1883. Our subject was educated in the common schools of his childhood's home. After attaining his majority he came to America, landing in New York, where for six or eight months he lived in the suburbs. He then went to Canada; for six months he was engaged in farming. He move to Rock Island, Ill., in 1857, and became a United States soldier, serving as such eight years. In the late civil war he was in Company G, Fourth United States Cavalry. He took part in the famous battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Lookout Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and in numerous skirmishes. He was honorably discharged at Gravely Springs, Ala., March 13, 1865, from the army in which he had so bravely fought for the preservation of the stars and stripes. He was very much enfeebled in health, from the hardships and exposures common to a soldier's life, and remained delicate several years. Immediately after the restoration of peace, he established himself in the mercantile business in Clear Forks, Cannon County, Tenn., where he remained fourteen years, when he sold out and moved to Dowelltown, again embarking in the same business. About 1870 he married Sally Melissa, daughter of John and Julia (Knights) Hale, of Cannon County. Mr. Geraty is a selfmade Man; he landed in New York without a penny, but a stout heart and firm determination. He now owns a valuable farm of sixty acres at Dowelltown, and his store has a first-class stock, valued at about $3,500. He is a worthy citizen, and much respected. He is a Republican, and cast his first presidential vote for A. Lincoln, in 1864. He is a member of the G. A. R., Floyd Post, No. 16. He is a Roman Catholic, and his wife a Missionary Baptist.

Prof. H. L. W. Gross, Principal of the Masonic Normal School, Alexandria, and the associate principal, Prof. James L. Boon, are well and favorably known throughout the country. Prof. Gross is the son of Milton and Clara P. C. (Lincoln) Gross , and a native of White County. The father was of German descent, Born in Sullivan County, Tenn., and a son of Jacob Gross, a native of North Carolina and pioneer settler of Sullivan County, where he was engaged in farming and gunsmithing. He died about 1880. His widow, who is ninety-five years of age, enjoys the best of health, is robust and vigorous as a young woman, and never had a serious illness in her life. Milton went to Sparta when about eighteen years of age, and engaged in the saddler's trade. He married about 1838, and died about 1854. His wife was born in Hardy County (now West),Va., in 1815, is still living at Sparta, where he received his early education. After attending Buritt College at Spencer, lacking only a term of five months, finishing the course, and two years' teaching in Alexandria , he entered the Vanderbilt University course in English. He returned to Alexandria and entered upon the duties of his present position, which he has discharged to the satisfaction of all, winning the confidence and esteem of the community. In 1886 he made an extended tour through the North for mental improvement. He attended the two weeks' session of the eminent Dr. Parker's, and visited the Cincinnati schools. He is a Democrat, and for fourteen years has been a faithful member of the Christian Church.

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