Thomas Amis, Pioneer Settler

Thomas Amis (in Ramsey’s Annals pronounced “Amy” and of French origin), son of John and Mary (Dillard) Amis, was born January 1, 1744 in Northampton Co., North Carolina.

Thomas married, first, Alice Gale (1744-1784), daughter of Thomas and Mary (Marshall) Gale, on January 27, 1763. Thomas and Alice came to what is now Hawkins Co., Tennessee — then Sullivan Co., Virginia — in 1781 after the Revolutionary War.

At the mouth of Big Creek, Thomas built a stone house on a thousand acres granted him by the government. A store, blacksmith shop, distillery, saw and grist mill, and a palisade to guard against Cherokee assaults were constructed. A post office, school, and church were added later.

Thomas Amis opened an Inn and operated a tavern, which became a public stage stop-over for many notables such as Andrew Jackson, Governor John Sevier, the elder Michaux, and Bishop Francis Asbury. The good Bishop noted in his journal that he spent the night at Amis’ tavern…was well entertained for his money, but that he rebuked Amis for bragging about how much money he made off of his brew. Evidently the two engaged in some heated debates, for Asbury commented that “it was out of necessity and not choice that he was there.”

According to Dr. George E. Mellon of the University of Tennessee, “In his day, Thomas Amis was a man both of substance and official distinction.” During the Revolutionary War, on December 22, 1776, Thomas was commissioned Commissary for the Third Regiment, North Carolina Continental Troops, under Colonel Jethro Sumners, and given the rank of Captain. In Volume 2, page 586, North Carolina Colonial Records, by Saunders, Amis wrote to his Excellency, “I have been the only acting commissioner and have supplied all the troops since the departure of our Army northward. Have already mortgaged my own property for the loan of a few hundred pounds.”

Thomas Amis represented Bladen County, North Carolina, in the Provincial Congress in 1776, and in 1788-89, he represented Hawkins County, North Carolina, where his votes were in favor of separation of the western territory from North Carolina.

In 1786, while trading in the west (Natchez, Mississippi), Thomas Amis’ boat was confiscated on the river by the Spanish Commandant and, despite a letter of strong opposition from Amis, evidently was never returned to its rightful owner.

In 1787 Thomas married, second, Lucy Haynes, daughter of Francis and Anna Haynes.

Thomas Amis’ Will was the first one recorded in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He and both wives are buried in Amis Cemetery near the stone house in which they resided, three miles above Rogersville, Tennessee.

Children of Thomas and Alice (Gale) Amis:

  1. Tabitha, 1764-1832, m Capt John Cox; descendant, Wendy Jacobs.
  2. Frances, 1766-, m Richard Grantham; descendant, Millard Miles.
  3. Mary, 1768-, m Joseph Rodgers; descendant, Elizabeth S. Owings.
  4. Elizabeth, 1770-1776.
  5. John, 1773-1807, m Catherine Bowlin.
  6. Rachel, 1774-____, m James Hagan.
  7. Willis, 1777-___.
  8. Lincoln, 1778-1868, m Ann Nicholson.
  9. Alice Gale, 1780-1864, m John Gordon Jr.
  10. Thomas Gale, 1782-1803.
  11. Penelope, 1784-1785.

Children of Thomas and Lucy (Haynes) Amis:

  1. Haynes, 1788-1848, m Mary Howell.
  2. William, 1789-1809.
  3. 3. James, 1790-1871, m Mary Armstrong.
  4. Nancy, 1793-1834, m English Jesse Howell.

The information above was contributed and copyright ©1998 by descendant Wendy Pickering Jacobs.  Minor edits for grammar and clarification were added by B. R. McNamara in 2014.

Thomas Amis’ Will

In the name of God, Amen, I Thomas Amis of the State of Tennessee and County of Hawkins, Knowing that it is ordained for all men once to die and being sick and weak but of sound mind and memory, Do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and force following.

Firsh (sic), I bequeath myself to Almighty God fully believing in his Almighty wise providence and mercy to all his Creation, after this life rest in peace, And as to my worldly goods and chattels that he has been pleased to put in my care in this life, I dispose of in manner and form following:

Item: I give and bequeath unto my wife Lucy all my cash in hand at my decease with all my stock of every kind and species. Also all my plantation tools and utensials including wagons and all my household and kitchen furniture of every kind and all the frescut crop of all sorts whatsoever to her and her heirs forever. And also lend to my said wife all my land on Big Creek containing three hundred and fifty acres in three tracts including the place wherever I now live. Also the tract of land whereon Polly Brooks now lives containing Two Hundred acres adjoining the land my son Willis lives on, with my mills, stills and the utensials. thereunto belonging and my Smith Tools all of which said loan I bid her during the time she remains my widow and at her death or marriage I give the same to my son Haynes Amis and his heirs forever.

Item: I give to my son John Amis what may be received from the Cargo seized from me by the Spanish Commandaun at Fort Natchez in June 1786. I also give him the tract of land he now lives on adjoining the town of Rogersville and lying the East side of the main road. Also the lower tract of my six hundred and forty acre tract of land, to be laid off by a line to run square with the upper end of the tract he now lives on, to him and his heirs.

Item: I give unto my son Willis Amis the upper part of my six hundred and forty acre tract of land, it being the balance of what I give my son John in the said tract.

Item: I give to my son Lincoln Amis the five lots in the town of Rogersville which I purchased of Daniel Hamblen. I also give him all my lands being the West side of the main road and adjoining the town of Rogersville.

Item: I give unto my son Thomas Gale Amis all the certificates by me funded in the Continental Loan Office in North Carolina the 22nd of August 1791. Number 106(?) amounting to twenty one hundred and sixty two dollars and forty cents. to him and his heirs forever.

Item: My will is that the rest of any estate consisting of slaves, bonds, notes, judgements book accounts etc shall be equally divided between my wife Lucy Amis and my children, except Thomas Gale Amis and Haynes Amis and consider the legacies to be made equal other ways with the rest of my children. Also the following deductions to be made (viz) oech of my daughters Tabitha and Mary’s shares six hundred and sixty six and two third dollars each and oech of my daughter Fanny and my son John’s share three hundred thirty three and one third dollars each. I make the deductions for negros already given them. It is my will and desire that my friends John Ray Esquire, Col. James Aruston(?), William Armstrong Esquire, Joseph McMinn Esquire and William Stoward (surveyor) on a majority of them do make the division of the above mentioned slaves, bonds, notes, judgements book accounts and such division when made to be made of record in asuch which shall stand good in law. And if any of my children should die without leaving a lawful heir then I will their legacy to be equally divided amongst those children who have a share in the last mentioned legacy of slaves, bonds, notes, book accounts or their lawful representatives. It is also my will and desire that my library of all my books be kept together for the use of my school.

And lastly I do appoint my wife Lucy my Executrix to that my last will and testament. Revoking all other will or wills by me made. In witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of November, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Seven.

Signed and sealed in presence of:

Milton Ford (Jurat) Isaac

Lambertz, James Herbarrs Inien

Spencer Ball (Jurat)

Signed: Thomas Amis

This will was transcribed by Jackie Robinson from Hawkins County Will Book I, page 1, located in the Hawkins County Courthouse.

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