yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


[The following was compiled originally for the Rushing family national reunion in 1982 which was held in Benton County, Tennessee--David Donahue 1997]

From the research of Francis Thomas

[This information was contributed to the Rushing Round Robin by Grace Goodall, who acquired her copies from Charles "Cuz" Rushing in Webster, FL.]



J. K. T. Smith, C. G.

The four principal progenitors of the family of Rushing in Benton County, Tenn., were: Willis and Dennis Rushing, brothers, from Anson County, N. C.; Abel and Robert Rushing, brothers, from the same place.


Born about 1792, Anson Co., N.C.; died May 1853, Benton County, Tenn. He was the first permanent settler of the latter, selecting land on Rushing Creek (named for his family), several miles north of Camden, in 1818-19. The Rushings were residents of Stewart Co., Tenn. Willis Rushing served from Nov. 13, 1814 to May 13, 1815 in Capt. James Gray's company of militia from Stewart Co., Col. John Cock's 2 Regt. Tenn. Infantry. (His brother Dennis and his cousin Abel Rushing also served in the same outfit, as shown in the War of 1812 records.) The Rushing men and others made hunting expeditions into Benton County, when Indian territory, years before it had been purchased from the Chickasaws. Willis Rushing bought a great acreage of land in this county, owned slaves; operated a tavern in his brick dwelling on the Paris-Reynoldsburgh Road. (House town down about 1871.) He married Mary (Polly) Rasberry, who died in 1862. They are buried in the family graveyard on the homeplace, now called the Hudson Cemeter. The list of Willis and Mary Rushing's children is given in Chancery Court Enrollment Book 1, pp. 57-98, in the U. S. census records; births listed in the W. C. Rushing Bible, published in Philadelphia, 1849, by James A. Bill, No. 253 Market Street. It is now owned by Mrs. Ruth P. Lockhart, Camden, Tenn.

Children of Willis Rushing:

1. Robert Rushing, born 12 March 1810.

2. Richard P. Rushing, born 23 May 1812, died 1 Aug. 1882; married Mahala Ashcraft and had a numerous family.

3. S. J. Rushing, born 1 Oct. 1814.

4. Elizabeth Rushing, born 7 Feb. 1817, died 18 April 1853; married George Washington L. Hudson (born 15 June 1811, died 3 Aug. 1894), one of the early and lifelong prominent men of the county. He wrote, or furnished the information for a sketch of Benton County's history in June 1878, which is now in the manuscript collection at the State Library and Archives, Nashville. When Rushing died, his sons, R. P. and Alfred, assumed control of the estate; Hudson took them to court in the fall of 1853; finally the Supreme Court at Jackson in April 1857 ruled in favor of Hudson in the case for his children and the estate was more equitably settled.

(Chancery record quoted above contains full details.

As S. J. and Robert were not mentioned, presumably they had died.)

5. Lucindy Rushing, born 25 April 1819, married James P. Dorris.

6. Alfred Rushing, born 23 July 1821; served in Co., E, 5th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A., died in service, Jan. 1862; well-to-do farmer of the county; married.

7. Mary A. Rushing, born 29 Jan. 1824.

8. Willis Crawford (Croff) Rushing, born 28 Jan. 1826; died 7 Jan. 1916; one of the prominent farmers of the county. The ruins of his large log (weatherboarded) house still stand on Paris-Reynoldsburgh Road near Henry County line. He had bought his father's homeplace and contiguous tracts for $3257.50 from the other heirs, Dec. 1865, where he had lived and did so until he moved to the other place mentioned above about 1869. (See Deed Book G, p. 487) Life-sketch given for W. C. Rushing in Goodspeed's History of Tennessee (Benton County biographies, p. 951.) His family is still numerous in the county.

9. John H. Rushing, birth not known; 2d lieutenant, Co. E, 5th Tenn. Inf., C.S.A.

10. Arabella Rushing, born 15 May 1835; probably died young.


Born about 1786, Anson Co., N.C., died 1860, Benton Co., Tenn. Followed his brother to Benton County. He was still in residence in Stewart Co., Tenn., as shown by his presence in the 1820 Census there. He lived a neighbor to Willis Rushing. The ruins of his old homeplace stand (now used for farm storage building) on Paris-Reynoldsburgh Road. For much detail concerning the early settlement of Willis and Dennis Rushing in Benton County, see this writer's article in the Camden Chronicle 15 March 1972. Dennis and his wife, Keziah, had following children (listed in his will, Wills 1855-1916, p. 391):

1. Elizabeth Rushing, married Abner Smalley.

2. Richard B. Rushing (buried on Comb's Hill, north of Camden).

3. Zilpha Rushing, married Roland Rushing.

4. Milley Ann Parthena Rushing, born 24 Feb. 1822, died 19 Oct. 1859; married 11 May 1839 to Allen T. Corbitt (born 1817, died 1880). Their children: James Newton (1842); William Dennis (1844); Amos Jackson (1847); George Wheeler (1849); Lucinda Elizabeth (1853); Roland Gilbert (1855); Dempsey Allen (1858). Names and dates from Corbitt Bible, furnished the writer by Col. James S. Corbitt, Martin, Tenn., in 1971.

5. Asa Rushing.

6. David Lilly Rushing, born 1825; died 1904; numerous descendants.

7. Willis J. Rushing, born about 1830. He sold his father's last residence to which he had fallen heir in Jan. 1868. (Deed Book H, p. 282.)

8. Joel Rushing.


Born 1788, in Anson Co., N.C., died 26 Aug. 1836 in Benton Co.; settled on a fine tract off Rushing Creek sometime before 1824 (Benton Co. Survey Book A, p. 71: 160 acre entry, entered May, surveyed July 1824 for him). The biographical sketch of his son Joel Rushing appeared in the aforementioned Goodspeed's account, Madison County biographies, p. 901, in which is related that he "was born 1810, son of Abel and Sarah (Griffin) Rushing, who were North Carolinians and came to Tennessee in 1804. They lived in Middle Tennessee until 1819, when they came to the western portion of the State. The father was one of the hardy pioneer woodmen, and for forty years was a farmer. He was in the war of 1812, and Rushing Creek in Benton County derived its name from him and Willis, Dennis, and Philip Rushing, they having built the first cabins in West Tennessee, on that stream. He died in 1835, and his wife in 1857." Actually, the tombstone of Abel Rushing in Rushing Creek Baptist Churchyard gives 1836; his wife's dates are 20 March 1788 - 29 Nov. 1857. Their children as given in Benton Co. Circuit Court Mintues Book A, pp. 117-19:

1. William G. Rushing, died unmarried 27 July 1838; born 1820.

2. Jackson Rushing.

3. Jemima Rushing, married Obediah Waters, 1 Jan. 1845. (See Benton Co. Deed Book C, p. 137.)

4. Joel Rushing, born 1810; sketch quoted above indicates that he lived in Henry County for years, then moved to Madison County. He married (1) 1831 to Emily Herron (died 1857), leaving ten children; married (2) 1859 to Mrs. Sarah P. Vick, of Virginia (died 1875), no children; married (3) 1876 Mary Goodell.

5. Sarah Ann Rushing; probably married William Armour, 9 March 1845.

6. Noah Rushing, born 22 Jan. 1822, died 23 Dec. 1907. He married and had large family. He deeded the land for Rushing Creek Baptist Church and burial area to its trusteen in Oct. 1876. (Deed Book K, p. 20).

7. Robert Rushing, born 29 Feb. 1812, died 21 Feb. 1854.

8. Nancy Rushing, married John Wesley Utley; moved to Prairie Co., Ark., by June 1850. Deed involving them showed that Joel Rushing was living at that time in Henry Co., Tenn. (Benton Co. Deed Book C, p. 199.)


Born 8 Jan. 1799, Anson Co., N.C., died 27 June 1855; married Lively Webb, who died 18 May 1868, aged about 71 years. Both buried in Rushing Creek Baptist Churchyard. Came to Rushing Creek community 1824. Large farming operation. Robin Rushing became depressed and hanged himself in his carriage-house, where he was found. (Mr. J. D. Melton, a Benton County historian, related to the writer that his grandmother, Malissa Cuff, lived near Rushing and remembered this melancholy event well.) Children, as listed in Benton Co. Deed Book H, p. 563:

1. Salina Rushing, born 22 May 1819, died 24 Feb. 1876; married (1) Spencer Bomar, 1839; married (2) John W. Boman; married (3) Alexander McCullough, Henry County, Tenn.

2. Calvin Rushing, born 23 Nov. 1820, died 14 Dec. 1882; married (1) _____ Rushing; married (2) Nancy Warren; served in Company E, 5th Tenn. Inf., C.S.A.

3. Jemima Rushing, born 3 Jan 1823, died 8 Sept. 1908; married Albert Jefferson Hudson; parents of Dr. F. G. Hudson.

4. Holden Rushing, born 1825, died 6 Jan. 1887. His biographical sketch appeared in the Benton County biographies, Goodspeed, 1887, p. 950, and relates of him, "He remained with his parents till thirty-one years of age. In 1855 he located at Point Mason and engaged in his present business. In April of the same year he married Elizabeth Lashley, a native of Benton County, Tenn., born March 1835, and the daughter of Anderson and Eliza Lashley. To our subject and wife were born six children: Robert, Horace, Eliza (Mrs. Goodlin), Lillie, Lucy, and Lissie. Mr. Rushing has lived at Point Mason for the past thirty-six years, where he has been actively engaged in merchandising and superintending his large farm. In 1870 he erected a two-story brick store-room at a cost of $3,000. Mr. Rushing is the possessor of upward of 5,500 acres and is the largest land holder in Benton County. In politics he has been a life-long Democrat...." Holden Rushing was called the "merchant prince" of the county. His obituary in the Camden Herald, 27 Jan. 1887, relates that one of the county's most substantial and influential citizens, Holden Rushing had died at Pt. Mason; he "was known far and near as being one of our most generous and accommodating men, and his death causes deep regret to the entire county."

Mrs. Gertrude C. Rushing, 135 Hastings, Redlands, Calif., 92373, owns the H. Rushing family Bible. It gives: Robert Anderson Rushing, born 1 Dec. 1857; Horace Rushing, born 22 Dec. 1860; Eliza Ann Rushing, born 17 April 1863; Lilly Rushing, born 29 July 1866; Lucy Rushing, born 16 April 1869; Lizzie Rushing, born 27 Aug. 1871; Holden Rushing and Elizabeth "Lashlie" married 23 April 1855, she was born 26 March 1835. Holden Rushing died 6 Jan. 1887; Robert A. Rushing, died at Paris, Tenn., 20 Oct. 1888. Elizabeth Rushing died 13 March 1890 at Faxon, Tenn. This family is buried at Point Mason. Sophia Rushing, born 22 March 1828; died 23 June 1913; married her cousin, Willis Crawford Rushing, son of Willis Rushing.

6. Leonidas (Lee) Rushing, born 1831; married Bell McCullough.

7. John M. Rushing, born 22 May 1836; married (1) Nancy Diggs, March 1861; she died 6 June 1876, leaving: J. Oscar Rushing, B. W. Rushing, Bobbie H. Rushing, and Lillie Rushing. He married (2) 23 Dec. 1877 Sue M. Beasley, by whom he was father of Nannie Rushing and a son. Rushing was owner of 700 acres farm in 1887 when he was listed in that county's Goodspeed biographies, p. 920. He served in Co. G, 7th Tenn. Cavalry, C.S.A.; merchant and farmer.


Roland Rushing is listed as an early settler of Benton County. The county's quarterly court minutes, Book A, page 304, dated Dec. 1847, relate that he had been serving as county tax collector, but had become somewhat "deranged in mind" and his accounts were confused and his securities would have to make good his fiscal deficiencies. Isaac Anderson took his office then.

Mrs. W.R. Knoefel, Jr., P.O. Box 101, Wilmot, Arkansas 71675, informed the writer that Abraham Rushing left a will, executed 28 May 1805, in Anson County, NC (Probated July 1806, Book 2, p. 141), in which he listed sons: Philip, William, Peter, Thomas, Jason, and Abraham, Jr. One Philip and one W.H. Rushing were listed in the 1830 census of Humphreys Co. These people along with Roland Rushing settled about 16 miles northwest of Camden, Arkansas, in the Steel Chapel settlement.

Humphreys County, Tenn., Deed Book E, pp. 120-121: Abraham Phillips sold to Willis Rushing, 95 acres in that county, adjoining Rushing's 200 acre tract, "whereon said Rushing now lives," 8 May 1832.

Humphreys County, Tenn., Deed Book D, p. 206: Abel Rushing bought 100 acres in Humphreys County, Range 7, Section 5, 2 Aug. 1827. (Both of these entries from Humphreys County records were located in what became Benton County in 1835.)

A fragment from Mrs. Joseph Smith (Neppie Mae Rushing, granddaughter of W.C. Rushing) indicates that Richard Rushing, born about 1747, was the father of Willis Rushing of Benton County, Tenn. The former had a brother Philip Rushing, 1756-1839, of Perry County, whose Revolutionary War pension papers have been given in this publication, i.e., The River Counties, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1972, pp. 5-7.

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