Revolutionary War Pensioner John Williams of Roane, Morgan and Anderson Counties, Tennessee

John Williams, son of Matthias Williams Senior of Cumberland County, Virginia, presents another set of mysteries. Without his pension file, even less would be known.

John was born 30 June 1761, Cumberland County, Virginia. He died after 1855, probably Anderson County, Tennessee. However, like brother Matthias and brother-in-law Henry DeShazer, John gave no family information in his record.  In looking at the 1830, 1840 and 1850 censuses, it appears that John married (1) Unknown, c1782, probably in Virginia.  His probably first wife was born 1760-1770, probably also in Virginia and died 1840-1850, probably in Morgan County, Tennessee where John was living at the time and (2) Elizabeth, born c1784, Tennessee (or elsewhere since that is a very early birth date for Tennessee). She died after 21 Oct 1851, probably Morgan County, Tennessee, when their son-in-law, John Russell, was bound to care for John and Elizabeth in their old age.

John’s family was a bit unconventional, I think, for the time period.


  1. Elizabeth, born c1784, Virginia; died after 1870, probably in Morgan County, Tennessee.  No marriage record has been found for her, but she was the mother of daughter Mary who married Ezra Russell, probably in Anderson County, Tennessee. Elizabeth has descendants.
  2. ?Nancy, born 1780-1790, probably in Virginia. No further record is found for Nancy after her marriage to Joseph McPherson, 4 Aug 1816, Roane County, Tennessee. John Williams was the bondsman and it could have been either her father, or more likely, her brother. Joseph McPherson was born c1776, Virginia; died after 1850, probably Roane County, Tennessee. Joseph’s wife in 1850 was (2) Jane, born 1780, Tennessee, according to the census, but in reality, not likely. She died after 1850, probably also in Roane County. Since Jane is about the same age as Nancy Williams, and there are no extant marriage records found, it is impossible to date when they married, but it was likely in Morgan or Anderson Counties since records are lost for that time period. The McPhersons had ties by marriage to the Rectors, who, in turn, had ties to the Williamses by marriage.  The families obviously knew each other. In 1830, Joseph McPherson’s household had one male, 50-59, one female, 40-49 and one female, 15-19. It is not known if Nancy has any descendants today.
  3. John, born c1791, Virginia; died after 1860, probably Morgan County, Tennessee. He married (1) Elizabeth Duncan, born c1790; died c1852 and (2) Amy Harbin Crenshaw, mother of his daughter-in-law, Eliza Jane Crenshaw. However, it also appears from early court records that John had at least two illegitimate children, one daughter by Joasy Farmer and a son by Aza Morgan.
  4. ?Judah, born c1796, Virginia; died after 1860, possibly in Anderson County, Tennessee. Judah married Humphrey Thacker, 2 Jan 1832, Roane County, Tennessee. Humphrey was born c1791, Virginia; died after 1860, possibly in Anderson County, Tennessee. Benjamin Thacker lived next door to John Williams in 1830, so it is possible that this Judah is a daughter of John.  John had a daughter in Judah’s age range still at home at that time. Humphrey and Judah are also an interesting couple in a nontraditional sense. I don’t have the notes at my fingertips, but there are mentions of the Thackers in an early court record where they are accused of allowing somewhat of a house of ill repute to operate on their property. Humphrey and Judah had two known daughters, Nancy who married Frederick Seiber in 1854 and Eunice (aka Nicey), who married Benjamin Parker in 1858, both in Anderson County, Tennessee. Fred and Nancy Seiber had several children and have descendants today. It appears that Nicey might have died giving birth to a daughter, Rebecca, in 1859. Benjamin died on 2 October 1863 and is buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery. No further record has been found pertaining to Rebecca after the 1860 Bradley County, Tennessee census.
  5. Susannah, born c1805, Tennessee; died after 1870, probably in Anderson County, Tennessee. She married John Russell, c1828, probably in Anderson or Morgan County, Tennessee.  In Volume 1:63 of Roane County, Tennessee deeds, John Williams bound himself to pay John Russell $1200. It further states “John Russell purchased of me for $600 the following payments: $200 in bond for maintenance of myself during life, $50 being his wife’s part as an heir of his landed estate, $350 for his note executed to John Williams for a tract of land in Dist. 1 (60 acres). On page 204, dated 21 Oct 1851, John Russell was bound for the penal sum of $400 to John Williams to care for and furnish a home for John and Elizabeth Williams. Susannah and John Russell had ten children and have many descendants today.

One thought on “Revolutionary War Pensioner John Williams of Roane, Morgan and Anderson Counties, Tennessee”

  1. 3 John…. This John is not the John that married Elizabeth Duncan nor Amy Harbin Crenshaw. It was John Benjamin Williams(buried in Clear Creek Cemetery with the headstone indicating he was the “son of Matthias”, date of death April 27, 1865 ) who married Elizabeth Duncan and then Amy Harbin Crenshaw after the passing of Elizabeth. John Benjamin Williams died April 27, 1865 according to the family bible which also notes that Elizabeth Duncan Williams died April 21, 1852 and is “buried past Bill Goldberg’s place at the corner of a rail fence”.

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