and maybe, just maybe, turn out to be a hero in the end. In this case William M Isbell and brother James H Isbell were heroes of the battle of San Jacinto.
The Isbell family line in the Shoals area runs deep. One of the Isbell sons was William. The history of his life is so compelling.
William M Isbell was born in 1816 in Greenville, Green County, Tennessee on the 15th day of June and died 2 December 1877. When just a boy, William Isbell’s father, Dr James R Isbell, gave his son a good whooping after he caught him in a lie. William ran away from his homeplace and went to Abington, Virginia where he lived until fall of 1834. He traveled to Texas and established himself a farm on Cummings Creek. A number, too many, researchers give Dr James R Isbell’s wife’s name as Elizabeth Birdwell which is in error. The Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell is my line and she was married to a different James Isbell. Neither Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell or her husband James Isbell ever set a foot in Texas.
William M Isbell and James H Isbell’s grandparents were Zachariah and Elizabeth Isbell of the Watauga Settlement which of itself is very historic as well as his participation at Kings Mountain. William Zachariah Isbell was born in the year 1769 in Fort Watauga, Warren, Tennessee/North Carolina and died 1825 in Warren, Tennessee. It is unclear whether William Zachariah Isbell was a brother or a first cousin of Dr James R Isbell. who was the father of the San Jacinto heroes. James R. Isbell was probably a son or grandson of Zachariah Isbell Sr. An Isbell family researcher, Sarah Coon commented on a genealogy forum with this statement,“ It is thought that James R. Isbell may have been a son of Zachariah Isbell, Jr. But of course, there is no proof.” Ray Isbell, a cousin and avid researcher of the Isbell families provides this insight: Zach Isbell Jr. may have been too young to be James R.’s father. One of his older brothers Jason or William was more likely James’ father.
Jason Isbell also lived in Greene County, Tennessee for a time, as did brother William. Their sister Hannah Isbell (b. c1747) lived in Greene County, Tennessee when her first husband Samuel Williams died there 1788 and in 1791 when she married second to James Taylor. Brother William Isbell was bondsman at that marriage.
William Zachariah Isbell and Sarah Richardson Isbell were also the parents of Levi Isbell who married Sarah H Birdwell and James Isbell who married Elizabeth Birdwell. Levi and James Isbell and their families are the ancestors of many Shoals area Isbell families. Because it is an important facet of our history, a synopsis of the settlement from the Watauga Association follows:
During the spring of 1835 William M Isbell enlisted in Captain Robert M Williamson’s company of Colonel John H Moore’s regiment at Gonzales, Texas. Captain Williamson was referred to as “Three-legged Willie”. The enlistment was for a two month campaign against the Indians on the upper Brazos River. In October of the same year he joined Captain Thomas Alley’s company and was engaged in December in the Siege of Bexar.
He then went about his business and planted a crop of corn on Mill Creek in Guadalupe County, Texas. He then joined Captain Moseley Baker’s regiment as a soldier in Company D. That was part of Colonel Edward Burleson’s First Regiment of Texas Volunteers. He participated in the battle of San Jacinto as a private. His older brother, James H Isbell, served in the same unit as a private. James H Isbell enlisted in Nacogdoches on the 14th of January 1836. There is documentation located to prove James H Isbell’s service. It follows:
Soldiers of the Battle of San Jacinto
ISBELL, JAMES H. — Born in Tennessee. He was a son of James R. Isbell who died in Austin County, September 6, 1840. In the Headright Certificate issued to him February 3, 1838 by the Harrisburg County Board for one-third of a league of land, it is stated that he come to Texas in January, 1836. He subscribed to the oath of allegiance to Texas at Nacogdoches, January 14, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 1380 for 320 acres of land June 23, 1840 for having served in the army from March 1 to June 1, 1836. He was a member of Captain Moseley Baker’s “San Felipe Company” at San Jacinto. On August 20, 1838 he received Donation Certificate No. 516 for 640 acres for having participated in the battle. On January 31, 1838 he received a Bounty Certificate, unnumbered, for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from July 20 to November 20, 1836. The Deed Records of Fayette and Harris Counties show Mr. Isbell as living in Fayette County in 1845 and Harris County in 1853. Isbell died in Bell County in 1858. Mr. James H. Isbell left a widow, Mrs. Amanda Isbell, and three minor children, Ann, Kate, and James Isbell.
According to Johnnie Belle MacDonald in her book, The Soldiers of San Jacinto published in 2008, this is recorded: At four o’clock one April afternoon 172 years ago, 934 men, unwashed, underfed, caked with mud and dressed in rags, began a slow walk through knee-high grass. A half hour later they crested a low hill. What they did in the next eighteen minutes made our world possible. These were the Soldiers of San Jacinto.
James H Isbell is buried at South Belton Cemetery in Belton which is in Bell County, Texas. William M Isbell is buried at Tehuacana Cemetery in Mexia which is in Limestone County, Texas, USA
Having left the army, William Isbell, went back home to Mill Creek and dutifully harvested his crop. During the winter of 1836 he worked at Jan Long’s tavern in Brazoria. There he tended bar. During the period of time he lived in Houston, Texas (1837-1840) he “wagoned” west for Major Bennett” and in 1841 William Isbell campaigned against Indians under Mark B. Lewis and Thomas Green. After returning to San Antonio he served for six months as a Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hays.
William Isbell removed to Washington County, Texas sometime during the winter of 1842; and then removed to Caldwell, Burleson County, Texas. In Caldwell by 1860 he owned a farm valued at $600 and $2,700 in personal property.
Isbell married Olivia Elvira Jackson on January 13, 1843. They had eight children, three of whom died at an early age. Olivia died in 1865, and in 1867 William married Mary Jane Woods Franklin, a widow. They had six children, three of whom died young. Isbell was blinded in an accident in 1856. “I have never seen my present wife and younger children,” he ended his personal narrative, published in the 1872 Texas Almanac, “as I have been entirely blind for fourteen years.” He died at the Burleson County community of Prairie Mound on December 11, 1877.
The known children by his wife Olivia Elvira Jackson Isbell are: Martha Jane Isbell 1846-1900; Emily Cemantha Isbell 1848-1848; James Reed Isbell 1850-1865; Euphemia Catherine Isbell born 1852; William Douglas Isbell 1855-1866?; John Isaac Isbell 1857-1928; Alexander Marens Isbell born 1861; Julia Isbell born 1864. The known children by his wife Mary Jane Wood Franklin (widow who was half his age) are: William Isbell born 1867; James Isbell 1869-1880; Greenville Tennessee Isbell 1870-1951; Simon M Isbell 1873-1886; Kittie Isbell 1875-1886; Lucinda H Isbell 1877-1888.
William Banta and J. W. Caldwell, Jr.., Twenty-seven Years on the Texas Frontier (1893; rev. by L. G. Parks, Council Hill, Oklahoma, 1933).
Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986).
Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto(Houston: Anson Jones, 1932).
Homer S. Thrall, People’s Illustrated Almanac: Texas Handbook and Immigrants Guide for 1880 (St. Louis: Thompson, 1880). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas(St. Louis: Thompson, 1879).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.
Thomas W. Cutrer, “ISBELL, WILLIAM,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fis03), accessed July 05, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
were very important to American history and to our Peebles family history. There are several William Menefee’s and there seems to be some confusion about our William Menefee. The article below came from the Bulletin of the Giles County Historical Society, it reads:
Bulletin, Giles County Historical Society,Volume III, Jan 1979- Oct 1981.Soldier-American Revolution Buried in Giles County, TN
[submitted by Mrs. Urban Smith in 1981]
William Menefee Sr was born in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1750, son of Jarrett Menefee [Re War soldier b 1720, died in KY 1811] and his wife, Agnes [Sutherlin] Menefee.
William Menefee Sr settled at Elkton, Tennessee [first settler in the area] and with him came Benjamin Long, Thomas Philips and Jonathan Ridgway, who settled just over the line in what became Limestone Co AL.
William arrived from Lincoln County, KY in the fall of 1807 and died the
following spring, 8 March 1808.
He was married 1st in Virginia but her name is unknown. He had three sons by
this marriage; Thomas, George and Richard [Dickie] Menefee.They stayed in Kentucky.
William Menefee Sr. married 2nd 19 Dec. 1774 in Fincastle Co VA to Elizabeth Vardeman, daughter of John Vardeman [born in Sweden in 1718], [ Sol of Am Rev War] and his wife Elizabeth Morgan of Bedford Co VA. Elizabeth Menefee died at Elkton, Giles Co TN in 1820.
William Menefee served in Col. Benjamin Logan’s Company as Sgt. and also
served as private in the Company of Capt. Boyles in April, 1780, stationed
on Dix River in Lincoln Co KY.
Children of William and Elizabeth [Vardeman] Menefee were;
4. John b Lin Co KY in 1783, married there in 1892 to Mary Rentfro of KY and
VA, died in Limestone Co AL in 1875.
5. Nancy born in 1778 in KY, married Dec 19, 1792 to Benjamin Long; came to
this area and settled near the present site of Delrose.
6. William Jr. born in KY in 1781, married Lavinia ___ in KY, died in Giles
7. Lucinda born 1788 in KY, married in Giles Co to Alexander Laughlin in
8. Renlar born 1796 in KY, twin of Laban.
9. Laban born 1796 in KY, twin of Renlar, married Lucy Amanda Young and went
to Texas and joined the Austin Colony about 1835.
10. Elizabeth born 1778, married in Lin. Co KY June 17, 1792 to Jonathan
Ridgeway; lived in Limestone Co AL in area of Shoal Creek and Blue Springs.
11. Jarrett came from Lincoln Co KY in 1809 and bought land in dist. no 1,
Giles Co but sold it about 1835 and went to Texas when his brother, Laban
went. Jarrett married Sally Simpson in Davidson Co, TN
According my research findings, Jarret (sometime listed as Jarrod) Menefee is not his parent. In fact, there is no evidencefound that suggests that Agnes Sutherland was ever married to Jarret Menefee although definitely kin to him through her husband. My research shows William Menefee as his father and his mother as Agnes Sutherland. William Menefee was born 11 May 1796 in Knox County, Tennessee and died 29 October 1875 in Flatonia, Fayette County, Texas. His first wife was named Mildred Gaines and were married in 1746, and they had the following children: Nancy Menefee 1758 – 1840, Richard Dicky Menefee 1767 – 1815, Thomas Menefee born 1770, George Menefee 1771 – 1840 and John Menefee 1777 – 1824. There was a second marriage to Amelia Milly Scruggs 1750 – 1773, whom he married in Kentucky in 1769. The graphic below has a photo of William Menefee. There is one researcher that has this photo attached to his father who is also William Menefee. The dates on the graphic have now to be corrected: Lucinda Menefee was born 1779 in Lincoln, Kentucky, United States and died Aug 1880 in Giles, Tennessee near Elkton.
William Menefee’s third wife was Elizabeth Vardeman as written above. Virginia Marriages to 1800 the following information on the marriage: Spouse 1:Menifee, William; Spouse 2: Vardeman, Elizabeth; Marriage Date: 19 Dec 1774; Marriage Location: Virginia, Montgomery County. There are some researchers that have a twelfth and a thirteenth child, Bathsheba Menefee. A Bathsheba, sometimes written as Barsheba, married twice; first to James Duncan rightly spelled Dunkin and secondly to John Cowan. There is also another daughter that many researchers have in their family history and that is C Dorcas Vardeman Menefee born 2 September 1802 in Lincoln County, Kentucky and died 20 April 1883 in Marlin, Falls County, Texas. She married David Barclay or Barkley in Giles County, Tennessee and later moved to Texas. It is possible both girls are their children, but that has not been proven yet.
William Menefee was a Soldier during the Revolutionary War. That has been proven. His father was a soldier and many of his male kin were also, some of them quite heroic. An interesting aspect is that William and Elizabeth Vardeman are named in a genealogy done that purports to be for Muhammed Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, who was born in Kentucky. The connetion to them is through their daughter, Barsheba Menefee who married James Duncan; they are given as Muhammed Ali’s great-great-great-grandparents. A disclaimer on the data reads: Ancestry of Muhammad Ali compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner; The following material on the immediate ancestry of Muhammad Ali should not be considered either exhaustive or authoritative, but rather as a first draft. Here’s the punch line, and if you dance like a butterfly and sting like bee, then you know know how. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) publishes a Patriot Index, a list of persons whose honorable service in the cause of independence during the American Revolution renders their female descendants eligible for membership in the NSDAR. Several ancestors of Muhammad Ali appear in the Patriot Index, including
- William Duncan (number 228)
William Menefee (number 230)
- Charles Morehead (number 112)
- Mrs. Kerrenhappuch Norman Turner (number 227)
John Vardeman (number 462)
The following excerpt came from A Brief Sketch of the Settlement and Early History of Giles County Tennessee by James McCallum, 1876
William Menefee, Sr., and his sons, John and William, and his son-in-law, Benjamin Long, were among the first settlers. They came from Lincoln County, Kentucky; traveled what was called the Kentucky trace; came over the Cumberland Mountains, crossed Elk River near the head of it; came along [Page 42] the State Line and the old man Menefee stopped on the South side of the river opposite Elkton and settled above the ferry where Samuel Fain afterwards put up a distillery. This was about the middle of November, 1808. The old man died the following March. John Menefee settled soon afterward on the Huntsville road three miles South-east of Elkton where William S. Ezell now lives. William Menefee Jr., settled one mile North of his brother John. Benjamin Long settled half a mile North of Elkton where Dick Baugh lives at the Big Spring, near where Hanserd lives. No person then lived in Elkton. Benjamin Long was the first to settle near the town. Mrs. Lucinda Laughlin, who is a daughter of William Menefee, Sr., and a sister of Benjamin Long’s wife says she was nearly twenty years of age when her father came; that there was not a “cane amiss” where Elkton is situated. She says, at the time her father came, John Shoemaker was living at the ferry on the river above Elkton called Shoemaker’s ferry near where the old McCutcheon trace crossed the river. She was married the eighth of March, 1810, to Alexander Laughlin by Wm. Phillips, Esquire. The license was the first issued by German Lester, Clerk of the County Court, etc., and is now in the possession of Captain George Bowers. She was twentyone years old when she married Alexander Laughlin; then lived on the South side of the river at Shoemaker’s ferry, and was here a year before her father came. He kept salt and flour to sell. He came from East Tennessee, came down the Holston in a boat and brought salt and flour. He and two of the Massengales, brothers of his first wife, owned a boat; they lived on the Holston and boated down salt, flour, and other commodities and Laughlin sold for them. Of the first settlers now living (1876), Mrs. Laughlin was older when she came than any I have conversed with in the last year. I have conversed with none who has a more vivid and distinct recollection than she has of early times. She states that at the time her father moved to this County, her brothers Renlar and Laban were boys living with her father, and her brother Jarrett Menefee came out the next Fall. William Phillips and Benjamin Long were appointed Justices of the Peace in 1809. They were the first Magistrates in the Southern part of the County. Captain Thos. Phillips built the first house in what [Page 43] is now the town of Elkton the latter part of 1810.
The Lucinda Menefee mentioned in the book above was Lucinda Menefee, seventh child of William Menefee the Revolutionary Soldier. And she was the same Lucinda Menefee who married Alexander McLaughlin. The McLaughlin named has been spelled variously as Loftin, Laughland, McLaughland, etc. Lucinda Menefee and Alexander Laughlin had the following known children: Priscilla M Laughin born ca 1811 and Elizabeth Octavia McLaughlin 1813 – 1870. It is through Elizabeth Octavia Laughlin that is my family’s ancestor; she married John M Peebles in Limestone County in 1833. John M Peebles and Elizabeth Octavia Menefee Peebles died in Giles County, Tennessee, but their graves have not been located to date.
This William Menefee’s father, William Menefee, was an amazing man – a true hero. William Menefee and his brother John were listed as early settlers in Franklin County, Virginia with John Menefee located at Rocky Mount and Wiliam Menefee located near Old Pleasant Hill Church. This information came from the Settlement Map of Franklin County, VA, that was prepared for the January 1, 1976, Bicentennial Celebration. It should also be noted that while the original map indicates that settlers are listed from 1786 to 1886, in actuality they are listed from 1743 to 1850.
Wiliam Menefee, the elder, was born 11 May 1796 in Knox County, Tennessee and died 28 October 1875 and was first interred near his home in Flatonia, Texas. In 1936, the remains of William Menefee and his wife, Agnes Sutherland Menefee, were re-interred with full honors in the Texas State Cemetery in recognition of his service to the Republic of Texas.
No information on his early life is unknown until 1824. That is when his family moved to Alabama, by this time he was a practicing lawyer. In 1830 he, his wife Agnes Sutherland Menefee, and their seven children moved to Texas, settling in Colorado County. Their seven children were probably John, Nancy, William, Lucinda, Laban, Elizabeth, and Jarret. It is presumed that son, Renlar a twin to Laban had died at an early age. William and son Laban made quite a name for themselves, each fighting for the Independence of what would become the Republic of Texas.
William Menefee was well respected in Texas, being one of the few lawyers in the territory; there he was elected judge in January of 1836. William was one of the two delegates from Colorado County selected to attend the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos to discuss the coming secession and war with Mexico; it was there he became one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He returned home, later that year being appointed the chief justice of Colorado County. The next year, he began taking greater steps in establishing the new Republic. He served in the Texas Congress from 1837 to 1841, and served again from 1844 to 1845. He was one of five commissioners who selected Austin as the new capital in 1839. In 1840 he was nominated as Secretary of the Treasury, although the nomination was later withdrawn. He moved to Fayette County in 1846 and represented them in the State House of Legislature. William Menefee died on October 29, 1875 and was buried near his home in Flatonia, formerly known as Oso. Agnes Sutherland Menefee, wife of William Christian Menefee, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Virginia, possibly Pittsylvania County, on August 22, 1794, to John Sutherland, a captain in the American Revolutionary War, and Agnes Shelton.
On February 28, 1859, at the age of 64, Agnes passed away. She was buried in Pine Springs Cemetery in Oso, the community that arose around the Menefee’s land. Some 16 years later, William passed away on October 29, 1875, and was buried next to his beloved wife. As a part of Texas Centennial celebration in 1936, William and Agnes Menefee, along with numerous other Texas heroes, were re-interred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on Sunday, March 22, 1936. Their final resting place should make the whole family of descendants proud for generations. Texas State Cemetery is in Austin and the plot’s location coördinates are: Republic Hill Section 1 Row U Plot 8 GPS (lat/lon): 30.15921, -97.43646
The William Menefee listed above as having an accepted DAR application is the husband of Agnes Sutherland. Her father, John Sutherland also fought in the Revolutionary War. He was born 19 Jul 1752 in Pittsylvania, Virginia and died on 7 Sep 1836 in Tuscumbia, Colbert, Alabama, USA. He is buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama. Photos related to him with follow.
John Vardeman, Amaziah Vardeman, Laban Menefee, and Wiliam Menefee are just some of those of the family of Menefee/Vardeman who served during the Revolutionary War. More history follows:
Photos pertaining to Agnes Southerland Menefee’s father, the Revolutionary War Soldier, who is buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Colbert County, Alabama. Robert Duncan Peebles (and his wife Betty Drue Jane Tolbert Peebles) are also buried there. Robert Duncan Peebles is a descendant of the Southerland, Menefee and Peebles allied lines.