Dekalb County, Tennessee
Court Records


Submitted by LaVelda Faull of
Glasgow, Ky.

I am a descendent of WILLIAM AND MARTHA (HUNT???)TAYLOR SR. of Smith Co, TN (now DeKalb Co, TN). My line went north to Indiana and Illinois. About ten to fifteen years ago I worked with Ardis Taylor and helped her do research on her second book, "Taylor Legends", sequel to "On The Taylor Trail". At that time, I mainly researched the line that went north. Since that time, I moved down to southern Kentucky and live only about an hour away from Smith County, Tennessee. I drove down to Carthage and found a very interesting court case involving some of the Taylors that also mentions a number of other Smith/DeKalb County people. I wrote up the story of this case and it has just been sitting in my files, so I thought it might be of interest to both the Smith and DeKalb County researchers. I call it, "The Case of the Snatched Note".

"The Case of the Snatched Note"

In the early 1830's, a family feud between members of the TAYLOR family in Smith County, Tennessee (now DeKalb County, Tennessee) resulted in a court case, arrest, and flight from the State. The records of this case can found in Smith Co, TN Loose Chancery Papers (Case File No. 1548, Box 31) and in Smith Co., TN Chancery Court Enrollments 1831-1873 (Microfilm Roll #227).

To the Taylor family historian, this saga has much human interest as well as humor. In order to fully understand the events that took place, it is necessary to recall a few TAYLOR family relationships in that part of Indian Creek, now DeKalb County, Tennessee. In approximately 1829-30, a daughter of DAVID TAYLOR SR's, whose first name still remains a mystery, married a young man from Burke County, North Carolina, named ROBERT GARRETT whose parents and family were "highly respected in that State". He had apparently moved from North Carolina a number of years before while still a child. At the time of his marriage to DAVID TAYLOR's daughter, he was only between the ages of 15 and 20 according to the census records. His bride was also only about 15 years old. Robert's parents remained in North Carolina where they were friends and neighbors to a man named DAVID STROUD. This man was born ca 1777 and was therefore much older than ROBERT GARRETT and his wife. The 1805 Burke Co., NC list of taxables records DAVID STROUD, JORDAN STROUD, WILLIAM STROUD, PETER STROUD SR, and PETER STROUD JR living in Capt Armstrong's District. At the time, the only GARRETTliving in Burke County was a KILLIAN GARRETT enumerated in Joseph Dobson's Company. He was taxed for 110 acres and may have been ROBERT GARRETT's father. The 1830 census for Smith County, Tennessee does not record a ROBERT GARRETT, but does list RICHARD GARRETT and wife living neighbors to DAVID, EZEKIEL, and . Also living nearby were ANDREW ALLEN, HUGH SMITH, RICHAD MCGINNIS, JOEL CHEATHAM, and several HAYES families. RICHARD and ROBERT GARRETT were apparently one and the same man.

DAVID TAYLOR SR had a son named HENRY TAYLOR (born 1801 in Georgia) who married ca 1824 to SARAH TAYLOR, the daughter of JOHN TAYLOR, son of WILLIAM TAYLOR SR., and nephew of DAVID. HENRY died young in approximately 1831. His widow then remarried in 1832 to DAVID STROUD of Burke County, North Carolina who had moved to the Indian Creek area in July of 1831. SARAH (TAYLOR)TAYLOR STROUD had, among others, two half-brothers named JOHN T. TAYLOR and JOSEPH C. TAYLORDAVID TAYLOR SR. ROBERT GARRETT and DAVID TAYLOR SR had been engaged in a number of cattle and hog drives to the State of Alabama for the previous four years (since 1828) and usually made about two drives a year (per Robert's court statement). It might appear that DAVID TAYLOR, if indeed he did choose sides in this feud, was on the side of his daughter and her husband. Perhaps he also felt some degree of resentment towards DAVID STROUD for taking over the family of his deceased son. This, of course, is only speculation.

The "Case of the Snatched Note" begins on 16 July 1832 when DAVID STROUD filed a bill of complaint at the Chancery Court of Smith County in Carthage, Tennessee against ROBERT GARRETT, Robert's brother HEZEKIAH GARRETT and PETER STROUD. The latter was DAVID STROUD's nephew. STROUD took out a bond for 500 dollars. His securities included his two much younger brother-in-laws JOHN T. TAYLOR and JOSEPH C. TAYLOR, JAMES HENDRICKSON and JOEL CHEATHAM. From the court statements made by DAVID STROUD and the defendant, the sequence of events can be pieced together.

DAVID STROUD had come to Tennessee from North Carolina with three negro slaves. At the time of his arrival, he had no land was anxious to convert the value of his slaves into land and stock. After much search, he located a tract of land on Cany Fork which he wished to purchase. Stroud had not seen ROBERT GARRETT since Garrett was a child in North Carolina, but he was the only person in the area with whom he was acquainted at the time of his arrival. As David knew Robert's family well, he agreed to sell his slaves to him at Robert's proposal This was in April of 1832. STROUD may have already married SARAH TAYLOR by this time. GARRETT paid off some small debts for STROUD which included $300 to JOSHUA TAYLOR and $7.00 to EZEKIEL TAYLOR. He then wrote to his brother, HEZEKIAH, still living in North Carolina, to "buy one of the notes". These notes were evidently contracts involving the sale of the salves or may have been debts that GARRETT was to pay for STROUD. Shortly after this, ROBERT left for North Carolina to "take up the notes of complainant agreeable to the original contracts". Robert returned to Tennessee after directing his brother to "buy them and bring them to this country". HEZEKIAH GARRETT did bring the notes to Smith County and stayed at the home of his brother and his family.

Some time later, GARRETT went to DAVID STROUD and said that he could not afford to pay the rest of what was owed for the slaves and that he wished to cancel the contract. It appears from the record that Robert still owned him about forty dollars. STROUD said in his petition that GARRETT was "absent for some time and returned in company with his brother HEZEKIAH GARRETT and PETER STROUD, nephew of your orator". Both GARRETT and STROUD gave accounts of the incident in which the "note" was snatched. This note was evidently the original contract or agreement between the two men. The note in controversy was "snatched away' from STROUD at the home of ROBERT GARRETT.

DAVID STROUD gave the following account:

"HEZEKIAH told your orator(Stroud) that his brother ROBERT had designs against your orator and that as a brother he dare not betray him..that if he could get the note to bring him (GARRETT) they would destroy it, and he would give him a certain grey horse that belonged to DAVID TAYLOR, Robert's father-in-law, and if HEZEKIAH would give him aid in the matter, he would also pay him another horse then belonging to DAVID TAYLOR...said ROBERT at several times sent word to your orator to come to his house and exchange papers and cancel the contract... (neither) your orator nor ROBERT could read. GARRETT wished his wife to take the papers and read it...PETER STROUD came to your orator and said if your orator would go with him to ROBERT GARRETT's that he would see that no advantage was taken against him...your orator not suspecting the combination of fraud entered into between said, ROBERT, HEZEKIAH and PETER, went with said PETER to the house of said ROBERT....ROBERT agreed at the rquest of your orator to go to ESQUIRE HAYES and exchange the papers and cancel the contract as to the negroes....He (ROBERT) states that he did not believe your orator had the papers and he wished his wife to look over the the presence of the three defendants, the papers were handed to the wife of the said ROBERT who when she was asked by her husband if that was it (the correct papers), replied it was. HEZEKIAH immediately snatched the note out of her hand, stepped out of the house, and made off. Your orator requested that PETER STROUD pursue him and get the note. PETER followed on but both were absent about three days..PETER(?) returned and said that the said HEZEKIAH and PETER had gone to the state of North Carolina taking with him formerly DAVID TAYLOR's great horse.."

ROBERT GARRETT's account of the incident is as follows:

"In the month of of August 1832, defendant was lying on his bed when PETER STROUD came and roused him and HEZEKIAH GARRETT to come and make a settlement about the note as he wanted his forty dollars At this time complainant(DAVID STROUD) was not present nor did defendant know he was about the plantation. After PETER STROUD, HEZEKIAH GARRETT had been there a short time talking about the note, and about settling it, DAVID TAYLOR rode up to defendant's house and while there remarked that complainant was lying under a sycamore tree some distance from the house. Defendant then mentioned to PETER and HEZEKIAH the circumstances and asked them what it meant. PETER STROUD then went and brought him to the house..." ROBERT GARRETT denied that the note had been taken by his design.

In 1833, several depositions were taken from witnesses who all appear to agree that the GARRETTS were indeed guilty of fraud and theft In May of 1833, a Sheriff's note reads: "ROBERT GARRETT is not in this county and I am informed he has gone to North Carolina".

HUGH SMITH was summoned as a witness but no deposition was recorded in the loose paper files. ANDREW ALLEN, age 27 (born 1806) gave his deposition on 20 May 1833. He calls DAVID STROUD - "UNCLE DAVID". Since STROUD himself indicated that GARRETT was the only one he knew in Smith County, the relationship of ANDREW to DAVID STROUD remains a mystery. He may have been referred to a relationship through a TAYLOR connection in some manner, but it is not currently known what that may have been. ANDREW's wife was LYDIA J. ___ born 1816 in Tennessee. He was the son of HEZEKIAH ALLEN. ANDREW indicated that sometime before the note was snatched, HEZEKIAH GARRETT proposed that he buy ANDREW's horse. ANDREW told him that he would sell him one for cash, but HEZEKIAH said he didn't have any money and would get a horse from DAVID TAYLOR and ROBERT GARRETT for sntaching the note from "Uncle David Stroud". Hezekiah told him that he would trade horses with him before he left the country. ANDREW stated in his deposition that ROBERT GARRETT, PETER STROUD and HEZEKIAH had not been seen in the area since and "It is reported that they have run away". HEZEKIAH was seen by RICHARD MCGINNIS "going towards Warren County riding the grey horse formerly the property of DAVID TAYLOR who is the father-in-law of ROBERT GARRETT". RICHARD MCGINNIS, age 50, swore to this on 11 Aug 1832.

Also in August of 1832, ROBERT GARRETT and his wife (first name again not stated) were brought before ESQUIRE JOEL CHEATHAM and DAVID WINFREY (age 54) to be tried for robbery and other misdemeanors. The charge was that they had robbed DAIVD STROUD of a 675 dollar note, and that while MRS. GARRETT was reading it, HEZEKIAH GARRETT snatched it out of her hand.

DAVID TURNER, age 21, testified to a plan that GARRETT had to frame STROUD. He said that ROBERT GARRETT had asked him to slip some money into DAVID STROUD's pocket. ROBERT said that he would take the money and some whiskey to STROUD's house at night time to frame him. He would pretend to be drunk and fall down on the floor (asleep). Then, in the dead of night, he would slip the money into a basket that DAVID had under his bed in which he kept all his papers. The next morning, GARRETT would go off and get a search warrant to search STROUD's home. The paper would be found and STROUD would have to give up the note he had for the negroes.

A search warrant was issued, only it was issued for the arrest of GARRETT, his wife, his brother, and PETER STROUD. This warrant was put into the hands of THOMAS HARPER (age 31) as an "officer". HARPER went to GARRETT's house and arrested him and his wife. However, before he was allowed into the house, HEZEKIAH and PETER hid under the floorboards of the cabin. They were let out by Robert's negro woman. HEZEKIAH GARRETT drew a knife on HARPER who decided he had better go get more help. He stated that as he was leaving, he "heard ROBERT GARRETT call out to the other boys that HARPER was going for a stronger guard and to clear themselves out". Evidently when the law returned, PETER and HEZEKIAH had escaped.

HARPER called upon JOHN HAYES (age 40) to help guard the defendants (ROBERT and his wife), while holding them in custody at their home, ROBERT GARRETT pointed up on a mountain and said "the boys" were there and he had taken them a whiskey or two that he must go and take them some more. Then GARRETT's wife spoke up and said that she had "sent or took" HEZEKIAH and PETER some "victuals and bed clothes" and that she would do the same again if they needed it.

From the record, it is not clear what happenened after this. In May of 1833, the Sheriff noted that all the GARRETTS and PETER STROUD had left he country and gone to North Carolina. I think it is possible that they went west towards Missouri, Illinois or Arkansas instead. Robert and his wife, dau. of DAVID TAYLOR SR, had a baby daughter named BETSY born in 1831 in Indian Creek. She evidently stayed there or perhaps came back later as she married JOHN C. TAYLOR, her first cousin. It appears that she was living in the household of DAVID TAYLOR and was mentioned in his will. He may have raised her. The 1850 census of DeKalb County lists a PETER GARRETT (born 1837) and ROBERT GARRETT (born 1839) in the household of WILLIAM and ELIZA TAYLOR. These two boys were born in Missouri. Were they also sons of DAVID TAYLOR's daughter?

A search of Smith County records revealed no deeds for either Robert Garrett or David Stroud. DeKalb county records revealed two deeds for DAVID STROUD dated 1839 and 1851. There were no deeds to show what land he had acquired in 1832. The two deeds located in DeKalb are:

Deed Book D p 89-90, 21 Dec 1839
JOHN FISH to DAVID STROUD, for $150, 200 acres, survey dated 14 April 1838, Camp Branch of Indian Creek, adjoining the conditional line between JOHN FISH and BENJAMIN TAYLOR
Wit: JOHN C. (his mark) TAYLOR, FARIS (his mark) TAYLOR.

Deed Book D p 328, 7 July 1851
DAVID STROUD to GEORGE A. EVANS, for $300, land on Indian Creek purchased of JOHN FISH Survey No 6708.