The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Isbell Family

James Richardson Isbell’s Find-A-Grave Memorial..

Find A Grave Memorial# 105684640

James R. Isbell
Birth:  Oct. 5, 1791
Sevier County
Tennessee, USA

Death:  Jun. 4, 1844
Lim Rock
Jackson County
Alabama, USA

James R Isbell  was born October 5, 1791 in Tennessee, and died June 4, 1844, at Lim Rock, Jackson Co., AL.

His name is given as James R. Isbell in some records.
Because he had a nephew (son of brother Levi) named James Richardson Isbell, some believe his name was James Richardson.

1813
James Isbell married Elizabeth Birdwell on Saturday, May 1,1813 by Rev. John Canterbury at Enon Baptist Church in Huntsville, Madison Co., Mississippi Territory — later Alabama Territory and State of Alabama (Madison County, Alabama Marriage Book 1, page 104: license issued Saturday, April 24, 1813). Enon is now the First Baptist Church of Huntsville. A family tree said they married on Saturday, May 1, 1813, which was May Day. Enon Church records (p.11) show Church Service was conducted Saturday, May 1.
Elizabeth Birdwell was the daughter of John Birdwell, one of the founders of Enon Church (Isbell Country by Odessa Morrow Isbell, pp. 19-20, 229; The Mitchells of Linn Flatt by Gwenneth Mitchell, p.215).

1816
His brother Levi Isbell married Sarah H. Birdwell.
John Birdwell offered slaves to his daughters and sons-in-law, James and Levi Isbell. Sarah Birdwell and husband Rev. Levi Isbell refused but Elizabeth Birdwell and James Isbell accepted theirs (Isbell Country, p. 20; The Mitchells of Linn Flatt by Gwenneth Mitchell; The Heritage of Marshall County, Alabama, p.199).

1818
24 Feb. 1818, Limestone County, Alabama: Moses Birdwell was assigned 158.60 acres by James Isbell (#1156) at cost of $317.20. Moses Birdwell paid $77.30 in stock and cash on 23 Feb. 1818. On 16 Oct. 1818 James Isbell completed the transfer of land to Moses Birdwell. (Recorded in Old Land Records, Limestone Co.; cited in Birdwell Family Tree by Velma Schonder.)

4 Sept. 1821, Moses Birdwell received certificate #664 in Limestone Co. outlining the installment payments he needed to receive the patent on the land he had purchased from James Isbell. Moses Birdwell bought the land with aid from Congress in a law that gave relief to purchasers of public lands prior to 1 July 1820. In 1821 Moses Birdwell owed $237.90.
27 Sept. 1822: Moses Birdwell paid the balance owing on this date and received the final certificate for this land, certificate #1156.
25 Oct.1826: Moses Birdwell sold for $1000 to Stephen Flinn, both of Limestone Co., the land (or a portion thereof?) he had been assigned by James Isbell (Limestone Deed Book 2, pp.278-9; Alabama Records by Pauline Jones Gandrud, vol.24, p.45). The land was the SW 1/4 of sec. 3, twp.4, range 4W.

1819
Before Statehood (1819) James Isbell and brothers John and Levi had bought several tracts of land in Madison County and present-day Jackson County. (Alabama Territorial Land Records.)

1820
James Isbell is in Lincoln County, Tennessee census:
1 m 26-44 (James Isbell, head of house)
1 f 16-25 (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, wife)
1 f -10 (Mary Ann b. 1816)
1 m -10 (William b. 1818)
NO SLAVES

1823
Before 1823 James Isbell staked claim to land in Township 4S Range 4E (NENE of Section 9), a mile NE of Isbell Cemetery and his brother John William Isbell’s property. James’s land here is shown on an 1823 survey as J.R. Isbell (I.D.#6998) and brother John’s is shown as J.W. Isbell (which adjoins a larger parcel in which his name is written “John Isbell.”

The survey map identifying James’ parcel is hard to read, but looks like J. r. Isbell.
But this same land patent was recorded in the name James R. Isbell in 1858, 14 after his death and acquired by his heirs. The estate of James R. Isbell was entered in the Probate Court of Jackson County in 1858 and the estate settlement lists all his heirs.

Interestingly, on this same survey dated 1823, a mile east of this property is a tract shown in the name of E. Conaway adjoining Wm. Gentle, Levi Isbell (m. Sarah Birdwell), Zachariah Isbell, B.B. Allen (who married Sarah’s daughter Mary Ann Isbell), and Culvers (inlaws). This same tract patent (#6944) was not recorded until 1860 when it was recorded in the name Elizabeth Conaway, who was the widow of James Isbell: Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conaway. As she did not remarry until 1846-47 to John Conaway (who died in 1853), the name of E. Conway on the 1823 survey appears to have been added in 1858-60.
The 1823 survey and 1860 patent map shows that the property of Sarah (Mrs. Levi) Isbell adjoined that of her sister, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway.
(Also see Family Maps of Jackson County, AL by Gregory A. Boyd, p.361.)

1828
In 1828, James Isbell was a delegate from Blue Springs Church to the Mud Creek Baptist Association (ref., The First Hundred Years, A History of Baptists in Jackson Co., Alabama from 1821 until 1921 by J. Nelson Varnell [Samford University Library, Special Collections], vol. 2, p. 19).

1830 census Jackson Co, AL
1 male 30-39 (James Isbell, head)
1 male 10-14 (1816-20) Wm b. 3 Dec 1818
1 male 5-9 (1821-25) John S. b.25 Nov 1820
1 male 5-9 (1821-24) Allen b. 23 Mar 1825
1 female 30-39 (1791-99) (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell b.1797-9)
1 female 10-14 (1816-1820) Mary Polly b1816 (married 1834)
1 female under 5 (1825-30) Susan b1827 (Sarah Amanda b1822 d1830 per a family tree)
1 female under 5 (1825-30) Margaret b1829
SLAVES
1 female 24-35
1 female under 10
From the Bible record, there should be 7 children shown in 1830, 4 girls and 3 boys, but one daughter seems to be missing, probably Sarah Amanda (a family tree says she died 1830). Mary Polly born 1816 did not marry until 1834, so both she and Margaret (born 1829) should be included.

1840 Jackson County, Alabama, census:
1 male 40-49 (James Isbell, head, age 49)
1 male 20-29 (1811-20) John S b1820
1 male 15-19 (1821-1825) Allen 1825
1 male 5-9 (1835-9) Benjamin 1831
1 male 5-9 (1835-9) James H 1833
1 male 5-9 (1835-39) Zachariah b1835
1 female 40-49 (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, wife)
1 female 10-14 (1826-30) Sarah b1822 (age 18–gone?) or Susan b1827
1 female 10-14 (1826-30) Susan b1827 (or Margaret b1829)
1 female under 5 Margaret b1829 (or Eliz b1838)
1 female under 5 Eliz b1838 (or Lucinda b1840)
SLAVE
1 female 10-23

William & Mary Polly were gone by 1840. Sarah Amanda born 1822 would be 18, was gone or dead. A family tree says Sarah Manda died 1830. She definitely was not named in the 1857 or 1890 probate records.

1844 DEATH AND BURIAL
According to James Isbell’s descendants, the Houk and Murray families, James R. Isbell was buried at Blue Spring Cemetery at Larkinsville. Other descendants said he was buried at “Larkinsville Cemetery,” which has caused some confusion as that is the cemetery that is also called Beech Grove. All these cemeteries are nearby and not far from the Isbell family cemetery.

1846
Jackson County, Alabama,
Will and Probate Record K, p. 108:
John Isbell, guardian of the minor heirs of James Isbell deceased, 1846, showing a payment by him to Elizabeth Isbell for “rent for 1845.” Note that this is obviously the widow of James Isbell.
Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, widow, married John Conway 1846-47. In the 1850 census they were listed in Jackson County. He died Sept 7, 1853.

Descendants qualify for membership in First Families of Alabama (through the Alabama Genealogical Society) and the First Families of Tennessee (through the East Tennessee Historical Society) #10,880, #10,881. Also the First Families of Kentucky (through John Miller), Colonial Dames of the XVII Century (through Capt. Zachariah Isbell), Sons of the Republic of Texas and Daughters of the Republic of Texas (through John Birdwell).

Jackson County, Alabama, Probate Court:
April 1857, pages 181-182
June 1857, pages 241-242.
These name heirs of James Isbell, including Susan Murray, wife of Jackson Murray.
These do not show the widow Elizabeth,
who Elizabeth had remarried by 1850, but was living with her daughter Lucinda Murray in Jackson County at the 1870 census.

Heirs of James Isbell are listed in his brother Zachariah’s estate administration in 1890 (Dekalb County, Alabama, Probate Minute Book K, pp. 582-586).

The children of James Isbell and Elizabeth Birdwell were:
1. Mary Ann “Polly” Isbell born 1 APR 1816 (probably named for maternal grandmother, Mary Allen Birdwell)
2. William Birdwell Isbell born 3 DEC 1818, d. 14 Feb 1856 White Co., Arkansas)
3. John S. Isbell born 25 NOV 1820
4. Sarah Amanda Isbell born 25 DEC 1822, died 27 Apr 1830 according to a family tree (taken from another Birdwell bible and a newspaper item; not on 1830-40 censuses nor 1857 and 1890 probate records)
5. Allen Isbell born 23 MAR 1825 (named for uncle Allen Birdwell)
6. Susan Isbell born 18 JAN 1827
7. Margaret Isbell born 24 MAR 1829
8. Benjamin Isbell born 6 MAY 1831
9. James H. Isbell born 25 AUG 1833
10. Zachariah Isbell born 25 JUN 1835
11. Elizabeth Isbell born 18 JAN 1838
12. Lucinda Isbell born 8 JUL 1840 (tombstone says 1841) m. John K. Murray
13. Levi Isbell born 17 JUL 1843 (tombstone says 17 July 1847)

Some internet genealogies confuse this James R. Isbell with his cousin Dr. James R. Isbell (c1761-1840) from Greene County, Tennessee, father of William M. Isbell (15 Jun 1816-2 Dec 1877) and James H. Isbell who were at the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas. Some family trees show Zachariah Isbell Jr. as the probable father of Dr. James R. Isbell, although Zachariah Jr.’s brother William most likely was his father, or another brother, Jason.

JAMES R. ISBELL’S WIFE:
ELIZABETH BIRDWELL,
Daughter of John Birdwell & Mary Allen.
Granddaughter of George Birdwell, as shown by First Families of Tennessee (East Tennessee Historical Society), #10.880 and #10.881.

One of Elizabeth Isbell’s sons and three grandsons were named Birdwell.

Elizabeth Birdwell was born in Tennessee Dec. 31, 1797 or Jan. 1, 1800 (1850-70 censuses prove Tennessee was birth place).
Tombstone and 1850 census give 1800 date while the James Isbell Bible and 1860-70 censuses give the 1797 date.
In 1813, Elizabeth Birdwell married James Isbell in Madison County, Alabama, three years before her younger sister Sarah Birdwell (born 1799) married James Isbell, indicating that the 1797 date in the Bible is the most likely correct date.

John Birdwell and family moved to Madison County in 1805 FROM TENNESSEE (see historic marker, Old Bethel Church, Marshall Co., AL).
The 1809 census shows he had 6 daughters.
Elizabeth fits as one of these. The other five known daughters born before 1809 were Mary/Polly, Nancy, Sarah, Susan, and Jane.

In 1812, John Birdwell’s brother Moses Birdwell moved FROM GEORGIA to Madison County and was the only other Birdwell family in the county in 1813. Moses lived in Georgia 1791-1812; all his children were born in Georgia and Alabama.
Moses and 2nd wife Hannah Falkindon had a daughter Elizabeth born 1822 in Limestone Co., AL.
In 1818, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell’s husband James Isbell sold land in Limestone Co., AL. to her uncle Moses Birdwell.

John Birdwell and his brother Moses were the only two Birdwell families in Madison County, Alabama, in 1813, when Elizabeth Birdwell married James Isbell there, and both Birdwell brothers were sons of George Birdwell.

Jan. 4, 1956 letter from Maud McLure Kelly to Ethlyn Rainey quoting Rainey’s previous letter (Dec 1955) in turn quoting MM Kelly’s earlier letter (probably Nov-Dec 1955) stating “Elizabeth Birdwell who married James Isbell (was) the daughter of John Birdwell and sister of Sarah H. Birdwell Isbell.”
Maud McLure Kelly, Acquisitions Agent and Asst. Dir. of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, was the first woman lawyer in Alabama and first woman lawyer qualified to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Isbell and Birdwell vertical files, microfilm, Alabama State Archives.)

Letter from Ethlyn Isbell Rainey dated Sept. 12, 1978, p. 7, again stated that Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell was the daughter of John Birdwell and sister of her great-grandmother Sarah Birdwell Isbell.
Ethlyn Rainey was a member of the Heroes of Kings Mountain Chapter DAR, along with two sisters, one of whom (Mrs. Dorsett Davis) was also Regent.
In 1954 Ethlyn Rainey was the GOP nominee for State Treasurer of Alabama.
Ethlyn’s grandfather Elijah Miller Isbell was a double first cousin of the children of Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell and, as the administrator of the estate of his uncle Zachariah Isbell, he documented all known children of James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell on his list of heirs. Ethlyn Rainey grew up in the home with Elijah Miller Isbell’s widow, her grandmother, and was well educated in the Isbell-Birdwell family histories so she was well qualified to state the family relationships correctly. She wrote of two family legends:
(1) that the two Isbell brothers worked for John Birdwell and married his two daughters; and
(2) that John Birdwell gave slaves to his children before moving to Texas, that Levi and Sarah Birdwell Isbell refused theirs but that James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell accepted theirs (also reiterated by Ethlyn’s sister Cora Walker, D.A.R. member, in Heritage of Marshall Co., AL. (2000), p.199; also, Families and History of Sullivan County, Tennessee [Vol. 1 1779-1992; Vol. 2. 1779-2006] (Holston Territory Genealogical Society, 1992), p. 349; and Isbell Country by Odessa Morrow Isbell, pp. 19, 20, 229; The Mitchells of Linn Flat by Gwenneth Mitchell).

The 1830 census shows James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell owned 2 female slaves, and the 1840 census shows 1 female slave (probably the younger of the two in 1830). These were probably housekeepers for Elizabeth.

Another great-granddaughter of Levi Isbell and Sarah Birdwell who wrote of Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell and Sarah Birdwell Isbell being sisters was Cora Helen Isbell Walker, Ph.D. (Library Sciences), member of the Heroes of Kings Mountain Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Guntersville, Alabama, NSDAR #754316. Cora H. Walker wrote the following, published in Heritage of Marshall Co., AL. (2000), p.199:
“John Birdwell … organized Birdwell Spring(s) Baptist Church near Moulton, AL… two Isbell brothers, James and Levi, who came from Tennessee to Madison County, they worked for Mr. B. Both brothers married Birdwell sisters. James married Elizabeth and Levi married Sarah (Sallie). When Mr. B. and family left Madison Co. for Rusk Co. Texas, he offered Elizabeth and James and Levi and Sallie slaves — James and Elizabeth accepted, but Levi refused as he did not believe in slavery, he and Sallie were given money instead.” Written by Cora H. Isbell Walker, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway Chronlogy Continued:
1846: John W. Isbell, Admn. of estate of James Isbell, paid rent for (widow) Mrs. Elizabeth Isbell for the year 1845.
1847-9 Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell married John Conaway.

1850 Jackson Co., AL Census:
John Conaway 60 VA
Elizabeth Conaway 50 TN (nee Birdwell)
Zachariah Conaway (Isbell) 16
Elizabeth Conaway (Isbell) 12
Lucinda Conaway (Isbell) 10
Levi Conaway (Isbell) 7

She was widowed in 1853.
By 1860 she was living with Elijah Murray family, uncle of her two sons-in-law Murray.

1860 census: Jackson Co., AL
E.A. Murray 23 (Elijah A.)
N.J. Murray 19 (Nancy J.)
M.A. Murray 1
Elizabeth Conaway 63 TN (nee Birdwell)
Levi Conaway (Isbell) 17

1860: The land staked in 1823 by James Isbell was patented in the name E. Conaway.
1858: The land patent (I.D.#6998)staled by James R. Isbell in 1823 was recorded in the name James R. Isbell, 14 after his death, and acquired by his estate. The estate of James R. Isbell was entered in the Probate Court of Jackson County and the estate settlement lists all his heirs.
The second tract (patent #6944), 1 mile east, and also adjoining Sarah Birdwell (Mrs. Levi) Isbell, was recorded 1860 in the name Elizabeth Conaway, who was the widow of James Isbell.

By 1870 Elizabeth was living with her daughter Lucinda Isbell Murray, widow of Elijah Murray’s nephew.
1870 Jackson Co, AL
Lusinda Murry 30 (nee Isbell)
Mary E Murry 10
Marian M. Murry 7 male
Elizabett Coneway 74 TN (nee Birdwell)

In 1872 she was believed to be living with her youngest son James Hugh Isbell in Colbert County where she died.

Lucinda Isbell Murray’s death certificate lists parents Jim & Elizabeth Isbell.
Her brother Levy (sic) Isbel’s death certificate lists father James Isbel.

James Hugh Isbell married Clarissa Elizabeth Crittenden, the daughter of his first cousin Martha Birdwell Crittenden of Crittenden’s Crossroads. Martha’s father John A Birdwell was a brother of Elizabeth Isbell Birdwell.

Family links:
Parents:
William Zachariah Isbell (1769 – 1826)
Sarah Richardson Isbell (1775 – 1845)

Spouse:
Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway (1800 – 1872)

Children:
Mary Ann Isbell Talkington (1816 – 1889)*
William Birdwell Isbell (1818 – 1857)*
Susan Anna Isbell Murray (1826 – 1892)*
Benjamin Isbell (1832 – 1906)*
James Hugh Isbell (1833 – 1902)*
Zachariah Isbell (1835 – 1863)*
Elizabeth Catherine Isbell Peters (1838 – 1865)*
Lucinda Isbell Murray (1841 – 1910)*
David Levi Isbell (1842 – 1918)*
David Levi Isbell (1842 – 1918)*

Siblings:
John William Isbell (1789 – 1873)
James R. Isbell (1791 – 1844)
Levi Isbell (1797 – 1876)
Miller Isbell (1800 – 1859)
Elizabeth Isbell Summers (1804 – 1872)
Hannah Isbell Mershon (1805 – 1892)
Jemima Isbell Summers (1807 – 1842)
Nancy Margaret Isbell Baker (1814 – 1846)
Zachariah Isbell (1814 – 1890)*
Rebecca Isbell Bruton (1816 – ____)

Burial:
Blue Spring Cemetery
Larkinsville
Jackson County
Alabama, USA
Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]
Created by: Ray Isbell
Record added: Feb 23, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105684640

Advertisements

Give that boy a good whooping and he will run away from home…

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: 

Watauga Settlement

  • Watuaga Association

In the spring of 1768, a few adventurers, from the neighborhood of Raleigh, in North Carolina, crossed the mountains, westwardly, in search of a new place of residence. And, having explored the country on the Watauga River, they selected a spot there, made some preparations, returned, and, the same year, moved over their families, ten in number, to live in the interminable wilderness. At the head of this little colony was James Robertson, afterwards so extensively known by the title of General; whose name the early history of Tennessee, if ever written in detail, will exhibit on many a page.This now became a place of rendezvous to all who followed their footsteps over the same stupendous heights. And so many gathered in, from the Carolinas and Virginia, that, within three years, they could muster nearly three hundred soldiers. But , in the very infancy of the settlement, by a treaty with the Cherokees, held under the authority from the government of the last mentioned province, a boundary was established to run from the White Top Mountain in a west direction to Holston River, on a parallel of latitude of about 36 1/2 degrees. The inhabitants of Watauga were, consequently, left on Indian ground, in no better condition than that of trespassers. And it was not long before they were ordered by Alexander Cameron to move off. Cameron was deputy agent for the government of England, resident among the Cherokees. But part of the Cherokees, notwithstanding his zeal, expressed a desire that the trespassers might be permitted to remain, provided they would make no further encroachments.This favorable symptom was not long neglected. But Robertson and John Bean we re deputed by these tenants at will, in 1771, to treat with their landlords, and agree upon articles of accommodation and friendship. The attempt succeeded. For, though the Indians refused to give up the lands gratuitously, they consented, for a stipulated amount of merchandise, muskets, and other articles of convenience, the value of the whole estimated at five or six thousand dollars, to lease for eight years all the country on the waters of the Watauga. After this the settlement increased with still greater rapidity than before.  The property paid to the Indians in fulfillment of these covenants was compensated for, in both cases, by sales of the lands. Those who advanced it reimbursed themselves from the settlers.Thus a nursery of population was planted in East Tennessee never to be eradicated.But, far removed from the parent provinces, separated not only by trackless forests, but by numerous ranges of mountains, they were as little protected, controlled, or recollected, by any government whatever, as their co-tenants, the bears. What people ever approached nearer to the imaginary state of nature? Yet they lived in extraordinary harmony among themselves, and in perfect amity with the Cherokees, the only power by which they were recognized.The political history of Tennessee begins with a convention of the settlers on the Watauga River, 1772, which organized the Watauga Association, and appointed a court consisting of five members, which was entrusted with the entire administration of its laws. And, accordingly, a code of laws was drawn up to be signed by every individual. If any one should refuse he was to be debarred from its benefits. But there was no recusant. This became known as the Watauga Association. Its military history commences some three years later, when a joint convention of the Watauga and Nollichucky settlements met in 1775, and unanimously declared for the American cause, and appointed a committee of safety of thirteen members, authorized to pledge the settlements for their part of the continental expenses, to cooperate with the United Colonies, and to direct and control the military affairs of the settlements. The members of the committee of thirteen were:

John Carter, chairman

William Been

Charles Robertson

John Jones

James Robertson                 

George Russell 

Zach. Isbell

Jacob Womack

John  Sevier

Robert Lucas

James  Smith

William Tatham

Jacob Brown

Thus organized, their affairs continued prosperous, till the commencement of the Revolutionary war. And so great had been the augmentation, that, in 1776, they could have raised seven or eight hundred riflemen.But , when it appeared that this great conflict would inevitably become universal, Cameron sent very enticing letters to them, endeavoring with many fine promises of protection in case of their loyalty, to attach them to the British interest. The peril of their situation was too obvious; but they unanimously resolved, whatever the issue should be, to participate in the struggle for independence. As soon as Cameron had ascertained this determination, a project was devised to spread desolation over the whole settlement at once, by making a sudden incursion, and attacking it on all sides by surprise. But the barbarous design was happily frustrated. The electrical flame of liberty, so spontaneous, so efficacious, was not confined to the atmosphere of civilization. Four white men, having long sojourned among the Cherokees, were entrusted with the bloody secret. But, true to the cause of humanity and freedom, they made escape, and gave seasonable notice of the meditated invasion.These tidings produced no inconsiderable terror. A large proportion of the people recrossed the Allegheny, and fled back for shelter to the several places of their nativity.But the panic was not universal. Enough remained to man and maintain a garrison, situated on the Holston, near the Sycamore Shoals. Yet so sensible were they of their comparative weakness, that they delegated John Carter and Geo rge Russell, to repair to North Carolina, make a representation of matters, and solicit the interposition of that state, and the necessary assistance. The application was attended to, and measures adopted preparatory to their relief. All this country was erected into a county by the name of Washington. And the little republic, which originated not in opposition, but convenience, now became an integral part of the great commonwealth, within the chartered limits of which it was situated.The Act of Assembly for this purpose bears date in December, 1777. But the settlers at the suggestion of Robertson, had called their territory Washington District several years before.In the fall of the same year, troops arrived from North Carolina and Virginia, who were joined by Robertson and seventy men from the garrison; the whole amounting to about eighteen hundred. They marched rapidly, struck home upon the Cherokees, vanquished wherever they came, ruined many towns, and destroyed stocks and provisions, and so crippled those savage enemies that they were obliged to submit to terms. A treaty was agreed upon; and poor Cameron hurried himself to Pensacola.Th e treaty was held in the spring following, at a place in the Holston called Long Island, under joint authority of Virginia and North Carolina. Peace was mutually promised and Robertson was appointed agent, to reside at some central place in the Cherokee Nation, in behalf of the two associated states.A powerful Cherokee chief had refused to join in the treaty, persisting in his attachment to the British; and, with a few adherents, went down the Tennessee River, dissatisfied, and commenced a new settlement at a place called Chickamauga. Numbers followed him, prompted by a disposition to plunder and carnage. Discord ensued; and injuries to the whites, perpetrated by this mischievous party, became so frequent, following almost in contact with each other, that chastisement could no longer be delayed. Accordingly, in 1779, an expedition for that purpose was undertaken commanded by Isaac Shelby, the late governor of Kentucky, then a resident of Washington County. It was directed especially against Chickamauga. Peaceable Indians were not to be molested. It proved effectual. Chickamauga fell; and the hostile wretches, partly disabled and partly intimidated, were for the present innocuous.Th e Watauga Association was semi-autonomous government established in 1772 by pioneer settlers in what is now northeastern Tennessee. The settlers, having leased their lands from the Cherokee, were beyond the bounds of an organized government. They organized a homespun authority under what was called the Watauga Compact; it is believed to be the first written constitution adopted by native-born Americans. The document was not preserved but seems to have provided for a court of five judges, a clerk, and a sheriff. In 1775 the Wataugans were able to transform the lease of their lands into an outright purchase. With the beginning of the American Revolution that year, they supported the patriot cause and created a 13-member committee of public safety. Faced with the threat of attack by Native Americans in 1776, the Wataugans asked for and obtained annexation by North Carolina. They were thus included in Washington County, which was created the next year for all of the state’s western claim.  Washington County was erected by the General Assembly of North Carolina, in November, 1777. It was formed from Washington District which had been detached from Wilkes and Burke counties and included all the present State of Tennessee, although a part of it, as we have seen, was thought at the time to belong to Virginia. This county has the distinction of being the first political division in the United States which was named in honor of George Washington. From it all the other counties in Tennessee have been carved. It is, therefore, the oldest county in the state and was the theatre of the important events which occurred in its early history.At this session of the Legislature, provision was also made for opening a land office in Washington County, permission being given that each head of a family might take up six hundred and forty acres, his wife and his children one hundred acres each, all at the rate of forty shillings per hundred acres. The facility with which settlers might obtain lands caused a large influx of pioneers immediately, although no wagon road had been opened across the mountains.John Carter, who had been chairman of the court of the Watauga Association, appointed colonel of Washington County.The county was organized on February 23, 1778, with the following named magistrates in attendance: John Carter, chairman, John Sevier, Jacob Womack, Robert Lucas, Andrew Greer, John Shelby,  George Russell, Wm. Been, Zachariah Isbell, John McNabb, Thomas Houghton, William Clark, John McMahan, Benjamin Gist, John Chisholm, Joseph Willson, Wm. Cobb, Jas. Stuart, Michael Woods, Richard White, Benjamin Wilson, James Robertson, and Valentine Sevier. On the next day the officers were elected as follows: John Sevier, clerk; Valentine Sevier, sheriff; James Stuart, surveyor; John Carter, entrytaker; John McMahan, register; Jacob Womack, stray-master; and John McNabb, coroner.When that claim was ceded and then taken back in 1784, the Wataugans took the lead in organizing the short-lived state of Franklin.The State of Franklin was an autonomous state, now included in the eastern part of Tennessee, formed in 1784 and dissolved in 1788. In 1784 North Carolina ceded to the U.S. government the western lands, a portion of which had originally been governed by the self-constituted Watauga Association. The cession was to be accepted within one year, but North Carolina repealed the cession before the year expired. Before learning of the repeal, however, the settlers in the eastern counties had organized the state of Franklin, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, and elected John Sevier as governor. North Carolina attempted to conciliate the westerners by creating a Washington District with Sevier as brigadier general and David Campbell as judge, thus removing the necessity of taking court cases across the mountains for trial; the settlers, however, decided to continue the separate-state movement. The U.S. Congress failed by two votes to gain the two-thirds majority necessary for passage of a resolution to accept the North Carolina cession. North Carolina refused, until 1789, to remake the cession and encouraged opponents of Sevier, led by John Tipton, to maintain North Carolina government in the Franklin area. For three years the governments of North Carolina and Franklin attempted to govern the same people and region. The government of Franklin had a constitution providing for the payment of taxes and salaries in the produce of the country. An even more democratic constitution, which would have renamed the state Frankland, was rejected through the influence of Sevier. The feud between Sevier and Tipton reached the point of hostilities, and Sevier was arrested by North Carolina on a charge of high treason. The charge was later dropped, and Sevier was seated in the North Carolina legislature and in Congress. The legislature ceded the Tennessee country a second time; Congress accepted the cession in 1790 and created The Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio (commonly known as the Southwest Territory), which became the state of Tennessee in 1796.

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.

San Jacinto Memorial plagueWilliam and James H Isbell names on Soldier of San Jacinto plague

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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).

CITATION

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.