yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


B. R. Jennings

Some twenty years ago I visited, with several other family members, the Hiram Jennings farm which I assume he inherited from Doctor Jennings. On a small hill just south of the house is a tree, under which I was told the old family graveyard was located. We walked out to this site, and found a few medium sized rocks, without any inscriptions on them. Also propped against the tree were a couple of gravestones, probably marble, with the following inscriptions on them.

Son of
Robert & Mary
Sept. 13, 1827
Sept 30,1840

Son of
Robert & Mary
Apr. 25 1822
Aug. 26, 1842

I took down this information and went up to the house to talk with the present owner of the farm. As we stood outside discussing the markers, he mentioned that there was another stone behind the house that he was currently using for a stepping stone at the side door of the house. We examined this stone and found the following inscription.

of Doctor Jennings
Born May 4, 1793
Died Sept. l, 1853

Needless to say, this created a mystery, as all the information I had indicated Doctor Jennings was married to Rhoda Wiley. I was also very curious as to who the Menzies' children were. I assumed, because of the early dates on the stones, they were former inhabitants of the farm, from whom Doctor may have purchased it.

After my visit to the farm, I told a cousin who lives in Parsons, TN, about the markers. He later went to the farm and the owner gave the Mary Jennings marker to him. He is now deceased but his widow tells me the marker is still in her home in Parsons.

I asked my uncle Alley Jennings, who was still alive at the time, who this Mary Jennings was. He had no idea. This was further confounded by the following marriage contract:

1854-1857 Index Deed Book Decatur County Tennessee, p.96 (T929.3 D29d No.3)

State of Tennessee, Decatur County, Date Apr. 30, 1855. Doctor Jennings to Mary Parker, Marriage Contract.
The said Doctor Jennings on his part agrees that said Mary Parker shall hold and possess all property of which she may be possessed of at time of their marriage both real and personal to dispose of as she may think and further agrees to and with the said that if she be the longest liver and should survive him that she should have out of his estate some of $500.00
S. A. Yarbro Clerk, A. M . Yarbro, R.D.C.

Decatur County Deeds, p4, on page 45

State of Tennessee
Oct. 16, 1854
Wm. H. Storm to Doctor Jennings 25 acres of land in Decatur Count, 9th District, 8th Range, 10th Section, North East corner of entry number 808, pd $6.25.
S. A. Yarbro Clerk
A. M. Yarbro RDC.

I also found that the 1850 census shows a Doctor Jenings (sic), 80 living with a Mary Jenings (sic), 45. No other family member were listed.

In the 1840 Census of Perry County, Doctor Jennings is listed with 2 males in his household under 15 years of age, but over 10, 1 males over 60, 1 female over 15, and 1 female over 40 but under 50.

I tried to make the dates work to fit Mary Parker, without success. This continued until about two weeks ago when a cousin, who is related through the Thomas family, called me and informed me of an article appearing in the Journal of Rockingham County History and Genealogy. The article concerned the earliest letter know to exist from the town of Leaksville, Rockingham County, NC. The letter was written to a Mr. Robert Menzies, who was a prominent citizen there. At the close of the article it mentions that Robert Menzies' widow move to Tennessee to be with her children around 1833. About 1838 she married a Dr. Jennings and lived until 1852 or 1853. Her son R. G. Menzies settled in Dyer County, Tennessee in 1870. An account of R. G. Menzies can be found in the Dyer County edition of Goodspeed's History of Tennessee.

I spoke with the author of the Rockingham paper as well as the lady who provided the reference to Mary Hill Menzies. She informed me of the notes she got her information from and further stated that Mary moved to Decatur County, Tennessee, where she married a Dr. Jennings. (They assumed Doctor was a physician rather that a given name.) It seems that Doctor Jennings married three times, if the contract with Mary Parker was fulfilled. According to Doughtie, Doctor went to Utah where he died in 1856.


Carter, Robert W., " The Leaksville Letter: 1802," Journal of Rockingham County History and Genealogy, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, June 1998.

Doughtie, Beatrice Mackey, "Documented Notes on Jennings and Allied Families." Bowen Press, Inc. Decatur, GA. (929.2 J54D)

Information provided by Linda Vernon from the notes of Irene B. Webster.

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