Adams Family of Johnson County, TN

(Left to right): John Adams, Emma (Northington) Adams, Walter, Samuel, Wynn, Bruce, Jesse, Hattie (Brown), Edgar, (Mattie Pearl not in picture)

Benjamin Adams, father of John Adams, was born in Wilkes Co, NC in 1817. He moved to Johnson County in 1827. Benjamin married Rhoda Goodwin of Butler, TN in 1843 in Mountain City, TN. Nine known children were born to this union but only 3 lived to adulthood. They were Martha, Smith and John.

Martha married Thomas Blevins in 1873. Their children were Riley, Oscar Blevins.

Smith married Elizabeth Luttrell in Mountain City in 1875. Smith was a school teacher, blacksmith and wagon maker. Known children were Samuel (b.1877), James (b.1879), and Robert Stanley (b. 1881), Martha Ellen (b. 1884), Clinton Victor (b. 1888), Clyde (b. 1891), Annie (b. 1893), Glenn (b. 1895), Rhoda (b. 1899).

Glenn served in the US Army during WWI and was wounded in action and captured by the Germans and held prisoner for 5 days.

Rhoda was a telephone operator in Mountain City for many years.

Robert Stanley married Lillie Jenkins in 1902 and known children are Clarice (b.1904), Victor Kent (b.1906), Nellie Bryant (b.1909), Virginia (b.1909), Robert Stanley (b. 1915).

John was born in Mountain City in 1853. He married Elizabeth Northington, from Pandora, in 1873. John taught school in Johnson Co, for 43 years. The union yielded seven children.

Walter, b. 1879 who married Nora Wilson in 1904 in Mountain City and moved to Oregon. Their children were Ruth and Walter.

Samuel, b. 1881, married Mary Jenkins and moved to Kansas City, MO. Samuel was a railroad conductor for many years. Their children were Mary and Hazel.

Wynn, b. 1884, married Ina Underwood in 1906 in Knoxville, TN. He operated a grocery store in Appalachia, VA for years. His children were, John H. (b. 1907, d. 1923). Jesse (b. 1910, d. 1990), Wayne (b. 1911), Charles (b. 1913), Bertha (b. 1916), Hazel (b. 1917), Carl (b. 1919, d. 1988). Francis (b. 1921), Doris (b. 1925).

Mattie Pearl (b.1890, d. 1924 in Oakland CA). She married James Logan Gentry in 1905. They moved to Oakland, CA and their children were Gail (b. 1911), Gladys (b. 1913), Georgia (b. 1915), Grace (b. 1917).

Hattie (b. 1895, d. 1995 in Conyers, GA), married Robert Brown in Mountain City. Robert owned and operated the Mountain City Monument Works for many years. Their Children are Virginia b. 1914, Evelyn b. 1910, Earl b. 1923.

Jesse, b. 1893, went west and married Eve Franzen in 1916 in Tacoma, WA. Jesse worked for Union Oil Co. for years and bought a large fruit orchard. Their children are Ella Mae b. 1917, George b. 1919, d. 1964, Wayne b. 1924.

John Edgar (b. 1898), married Lucy Wilson at Mountain City, TN. Edgar served in the US Navy during WWI ans was in France. He and his brother Bruce operated a grocery store in Mountain City until 1946 and Edgar started to work for the Veterans Administration. Their children are Donnelly who resides in Blountville and Leon who retired from the California Department of Highways and now lives in Oregon.

Bruce M. (b. 1886, d. 1963) went to work on a wheat ranch in Washington and returned to Mountain City. He married Stella Mae Wills in Mountain City in 1917. Bruce bought the Benjamin Adams homestead and farmed it while operating a grocery store. In 1942 he sold his interest in the grocery store to his brother Edgar and continued to operate the farm. In 1945 he opened another grocery store and operated it until failing health forced him to retire in 1961. His children Mary Ruth and Lena Kate both died in infancy.

Walter Gail (b. 1920) married Eula Howard in 1942. He served in the US Army during WWII at Camp Lee, VA. He graduated from the University of Tennessee and worked for the US Government in AL, NC, and Ohio. He is retired and living in Fairborn, OH. Their children are William b. 1945, Joe b. 1950, Trudy Kittle b. 1952, and Greg b. 1953.

Paul (b. 1921, d. 1976) married Edna Rambo in 1949 in Mountain City. He went into the Merchant Marines in 1944 and was released in 1947. He worked for Tri State Growers and with his father in the grocery and feed business. Their children are Paula b. 1953 and Donna b. 1955.

Irene b. 1923, married James E. Shoun Jr. in 1941. James served in the US Navy in the South Pacific during WWII. He graduated from the University of South Carolina as a pharmacist and operated drug stores in Columbia, SC where Irene worked for the Gas and Electric company until retirement and now lives in Greenwood, SC.

Johnnie (b. 1927) married Margaret Coym in 1953 in Wheeler, TX. Johnnie went west in 1945 and enlisted in the US Air Force and served in Germany during the Airlift. While attending the University of Colorado he enlisted in the Colorado Air National Guard and reitired in 1987. Their children are Bruce b. 1958, d. 1980, John b. 1966, Rodney b. 1955, Brenda b. 1970.

Samuel (b. 1929, d. 1994) married Lois Ann Howard in Mountain City. Sam went west in 1947 and returned in 1949 and started working at Farmers State Bank. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1953. After discharge he worked again at the bank and retired from there in 1991 as Vice-President. Their children are Ronnie b. 1955, d. 1996, Samuel Jr. b. 1965.

Lucille b. 1930 married Ralph Glenn Apple in Cincinnatti, OH in 1953. Lucille graduated from Miligan College and taught elementary school for 35 years. Their children are David Apple b. 1955.

Elizabeth (Betty) b. 1931 married Raymond GArland, grandson of Matthew Garland, in Mountain City in 1954. Betty graduated from Miami University in Oxford, OH and taught in the elementary school system in Butler County, OH until her retirement. Raymond was Vice-President for a large machinery company until his retirement.

Worley (b. 1933) married first Jean Wheatley (b. 1936, d.1999) in Cincinnatti, OH. He married second Ann Hill in 1985. After high school and attending Tennessee Tech he served in the US Army at Ft. Gordon, GA. He was discharged in 1956 and moved to Cincinnatti and became an engineer for the Kroger Co. He also worked for Stroh Brewing and Belcan Corp. By his first marriage he had two sons, Steve b. 1960 and Ken b. 1962. He retired and moved back to Mountain City in 1998 where he and Ann operate a craft supply store.

Eva (b. 1935) married Max Brannon in Mountain City in 1955. Max served in Korea 1950-1952. He taught school in Florida for several years and became an Industrial Engineer for several companies. Eva works in school administration in Greenwood, SC. Their children are Michael b. 1957, Susie b. 1961, Bruce b. 1963.

Sources: Family Records, USD Census Records, TN Marriage Licenses

Contributed by:

Johnnie Adams

1837 24th Ave. Ct.

Greely, CO 80634


H. B. Wills, farmer, was born in Johnson County, April 4, 1857, the son of Russell B. and Elizabeth R. (Duff) Wills, the former born in this county July 7, 1820, the son of Lewis and Catherine (Winsell) Wills, pioneers of East Tennessee. The mother was born in 1828, in Washington County, Va., the daughter of David B. and Sarah Duff. Our subject is one of six sons and three daughters, and was reared on the farm be now owns and cultivates-a fine farm of 158 acres on the headwaters of the Laurel, in the First District. In 1882 he married Sarah E., daughter of James D. and Frances C. Donnelly. They now have three children-Girtie, Robert H. and Francis H. He and his wife are Methodists, and he a respected member of the I. O.O. F. lodge.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)

WILLS, James N.

James N. Wills was born in Johnson County, November 3, 1858, the son of Peter D. and Sophia J. (McQuonn) Wills. The father was born in this county, January 16, 1816, the son of Lewis, who was of German descent. The mother was born in Washington County, Va., August 20, 1821, the daughter of Thomas McQuonn, who was of Scotch origin. Our subject was reared on the farm and attended the common schools of this county, and since early manhood has been a most successful farmer. He has served as trustee. elected by the county court in 1881, to fill an unexpired term. He is a Republican and a member of the I. O.O. F. lodge.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)

WILLS, Norman H.

Norman H. Wills, farmer, was born in this county October 18; 1847, the son of Peter D. and Sophia J. (McQuonn) Wills, the former born January 16, 1816, in this county the son of Lewis, who in turn was son of Lewis, Sr., a native of Strasburg, Germany, and a pioneer of this state. The father was an extensive farmer, and accumulated property. His death occurred July 14, 1878. The mother was born in Washington County, Va., August 20, 1821, the daughter of Thomas and Mary (Wilson) McQuonn, the former of Scotch-Irish descent, born in Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas, Sr., also a farmer. The mother died March 2, 1877, and had the following children: Macon H., Norman H., Virginia C., James N., Francis C. and Sarah H. Our subject was educated at LibertyHall, Virginia, and was reared on the farm. Martha A. Hawthorn, of Washington County, Va., became his wife October 13, 1870, and died January 17, 1874. He next married Martha C., a daughter of Maj. James and Harriet M. (Farthing) Brown, December 11, 1877. She was born in this county July 19, 1852, and their children are Lura J. and Lewis Karl; the former born October 4, 1878, and the latter July 22, 1885.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)


D. W. Wills, clerk and master in chancery, was born in this county March 11, 1835, the son of John D. and Mary D. (Neel) Wills, the former born in this county December 28, 1808, the son of Peter, a native of Virginia, who came to this county about 1799. He was a large land owner and farmer. The father, a successful farmer also, died December 17, 1856. The mother was born near Abingdon, Va., about 1811, the daughter of Bartholomew Neel, and was a Methodist, as was her father. Our subject grew up with rural advantages, and farmed up to the war. In 1865 he became deputy sheriff for eight years and in August, 1882, became magistrate, and in September, 1885, was appointed to his present position by Chancellor St. John. In October, 1853, he married Mary, a daughter of Samuel Cress, who died in January, 1873, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They had six children. Nancy, a daughter of Moore Robinson, became his wife October 17, 17, 1875. One of their three children is deceased. His wife is a Baptist.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)


Kemp Murphey, the most extensive merchant of this county, was born here July 21, 1841, and is the son of Abraham and Mary Murphy. The former was born in Orange County, N. C., May 18, 1796, and the latter in Caswall County, N.C. Abraham Murphey was the son of John Murphy, a native of Orange County, N. C., who immigrated to Claiborne County, Tenn., in the year 1798, and died in his eighty-second year. He was married three times; first to Sarah Purvine in the year 1813, who bore him two sons and one daughter; secondly to Mary Walker, who bore him three sons; and thirdly to Catherine Wills, September 13,1857. He removed from Claiborne County, Tenn., to New Market, Jefferson Co., Teon., about the year 1833. Thence he removed to Eiizabethton, Carter Co., Teon., and engaged in the mercantile business; thence to Dugger’s Ferry In the laet named county; thence into this (Johnson County), where he engaged in the manufacture of iron; and in merchandising, which two callings he pursued until the beginning of the war in 1861. After the war he settled at Mountain City, then called Taylorsville, and engaged in the mercantile business in partnership with two of his sons, Kemp and Elbert, under the firm name of Murphey & Sons. He retired from thefirm in the year 1875, after which the two brothers continued the business uritil July 27, 1884, when Elbert one of the brothers died, and since then Kemp, the surviving partner, has continued the business in his own name, and has carried a stock of $8,000, doing an annual business of $20,000. He also owns and operates a large tannery at Mountain City. He was educated at Holston College, New Market, Jefferson Co., Tenn. In the late war he espoused the Union cause, and enlisted in Company B, Fourth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, and was captured at McMinnville, Tenn., in October, 1862, but was paroled and joined his command at Lexington, Ky. Re was mustered out at Knoxville, Tenn., in 1865. In 1869 he married Susan C. Wills, a daughter of James H. Wills, horn in April, 1853, in this county. They have seven children living. Ha and his wife are Methodists. His father was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, from about the year 1822, continuously, up to his death, which occurred February 6, 1882.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)

MOCK, Emanuel Hoser

Emanuel Hoser Mock, farmer, was born in Washington County, Va., January 19,1838, the son of Henry and Nancy (Gibbs) Mock, the former horn in Surry (now Davy) County, N.C., September 8, 1794, the son of Henry Sr. and Katy (Black) Mock, of German origin. In 1820 the father married Nancy Gibbs, and in 1840 married Mary Katron; Mary K. Wright became his wife in 1857. He is the father of thirty children, and now lives in Virginia. Our subject grew up on the farm, working with his father, until eighteen years of age, when he became a millwright. He continued this thirteen years, and since 1869 has been successfully farming, at his present home, where he now owns 400 acres, although be began life with little capital. In 1869 he married Levenia F. Wills, a daughter of H. B. and Rebecca (Duff) Wills, and born in this county August 26, 1851. Their children are Edwin M. L., horn October 31,1870; William H., born October 8,1872; Lewis E., born Apr11 6, 1875; Sophia A., born November 9, 1877; Nancy E., born September 17, 1880; Bessie J., born July 24, 1883, and Charles II., born July 2, 1886. He and his wife are Methodists.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)


H. T. Grant, farmer, was born in 1848 in Washington County, Va., the third of ten children of Archibald S. and Margaret (Orr) Grant, natives of that county, and of English origin. He was a farmer and stock dealer, and both were active Methodists. The grandparents Archibald and Jennie (McGinnis) Grant, natives of England and Washington County, respectively. The former was brought to this country when a child; first to Kingston, NC., then to Maryland, and finally to Washington County, Va., where he died, as a farmer. His wife was the daughter of Archibald afid Polly (Hope) Orr, natives of the same county, the former, a son of James, a native of Ireland, and a weaver by trade, one of whose instruments is owned by H. T. Our subject was thirteen years old when they came this county, and after his education, when twenty years old, he began for himself, with a little inherited property. In 1862 he enlisted in Company A, Fifth North Carolina Confederate Cavalry, and served at Chickamauga, and until the surrender of Johnston’s army. August 28, 1877, he married Frances, a daughter of Peter and Sophia (McCowan) Wills, natives of this county and Virginia, respectively, and of German and Irish origin. He and his wife are Methodists, and he is a Democrat.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)

BERRY, Robert E.

Robert E. Berry, county court clerk of Johnson County, Tenn., was born near Abingdon, Washington Co., Va., February 1, 1831, the son of Moses and Dorcas (Edmondson) Berry. The father was horn in Washington County, Va., the son of Thomas, a native of Virginia. Moses and family moved to Clay County, Ill., in 1831 where he died in 1836. The mother was a native of the same county, the daughter Robert and Mary (Glenn) Edmondson. Our subject, the eldest of three sons, was educated, and taught school about five years. He became a citizen of Johnson Co Tenn., July, 1856. In July, 1865, lie was elected county court clerk of Johnson Co. Tenn., and served as such up to October, 1869, meanwhile acting as deputy clerk and master in chancery; was clerk of circuit court for said county from November, until November, 1878; was appointed storekeeper and gauger in the second collection district, Tennessee (internal revenue Service) in 1878, and served as such up to 1881, and was graded as first-class; was again elected county court clerk of Johnson County, Tenn., in July, 1881, and has continued in said office up to the present time, September, 1887. His present term of office expires September 1, 1890. He married Mrs. Rachel A. McQuown, of Carter (now Johnson) County, the daughter of Lewis and Catherine (Vincell) Wills, on September 27,1857. Mrs. Berry was born in July, 1826. only child, Alexander T.; was born October 21, 1858.

Transcribed from Godspeed’s History of TN (1896)