COL. LEWIS TILLMAN (deceased) was born in Bedford County, August 18, 1816, being a son of John and Rachel P. (Martin) Tillman, natives of South Carolina. Both parents immigrated to this county when young. The father was born February 5, 1786, and came to Bedford County about 1810. He was a farmer, and was one of the prominent early citizens of Bedford County. He was a member of the State Legislature of Tennessee in 1820, but would never accept further political honor. His death occurred October 3, 1854. The mother was born May 16, 1789, and attained the age of ninety-two, dying in 1881. Both the grandsires of our subject were soldiers of the Revolutionary war.
Col. Lewis Tillman was reared on a farm, and secured but a limited early education because of the rude accommodations of the schools in his boyhood. At the age of twenty-five he married, and settled where he pursued farming till his death. In 1836 he served in the Florida war in the campaign against the Creek and Seminole Indians. He has held the commission of major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel in the Sixty-first regiment of State Militia of Tennessee. From 1852 to 1860 he was clerk of the Circuit Court of Bedford County, and for a few years immediately following the war he was clerk and master of the Chancery Court of Bedford County. Throughout the war he was a firm Union man. In 1868 he was elected to represent the Fifth Congressional District of Tennessee in the Forty-first Congress of the United States of America, without any solicitation on his part. Since then he never would accept any public office.
He was married, in 1840, to Mary Catharine Davidson, daughter of James Davidson, one of the early citizens of the county. Mrs. Tillman’s mother is still living, aged eighty-two years. Mrs. Tillman was born March 1, 1823. Col. Tillman’s married life was blessed in the birth of eleven children, seven of whom are now living, viz.: James D., a prominent attorney at Fayetteville; Lewis, a prominent attorney of Knoxville; Samuel E., professor of chemistry, mineralogy and geology in the West Point Academy, of New York; George N., United States marshal of the Middle District of Tennessee; Hattie A., residing with her mother; Edwin H., in the United States Naval service on the coast of Japan, and Abram M., a law student and clerk in the Internal Revenue Department at Washington, D. C. Col. Lewis Tillman’s private and public career was one of unimpeached integrity, undismayed energy and unsurpassed hospitality. The poor, especially, received bountifully from his hand, and no charitable institution went unaided by him.
Transcribed by Kathryn Hopkins
Goodspeed Publishing Co. History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford & Marshall Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Reminescences [Sic], Observations, Etc., Etc. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1988.