yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Ledger from Dunbar Cotton Gin - 1879

from the research of Jerry L. Butler

Surname Index

A ledger book dating from 1879 to 1888 for the Dunbar Cotton Gin has been scanned and is available for browsing.  It contains many names of cotton farmers from the Dunbar area during this time frame.  A surname index has been prepared to allow you to go directly to the pages that contain people of interest.  Blank pages were not scanned so some pages are missing from these scanned images.  A few loose receipts and a printed market report were found inserted in these pages and are included in the scanned images.

This ledger book originally belonged to Jesse Johnson Parish Lancaster (1831-1898) who lived in Decatur and Hardin Counties but died in Henderson Co. in 1898.  He is buried in the Lexington Cemetery in Henderson Co.  The probate of the estate of J. J. Lancaster is documented on later pages of this ledger book.  These pages have not yet been scanned for viewing on this web site.  The ledger book was probably obtained from an estate sale for one of J. J. Lancaster descendants.  Jesse Johnson Parish Lancaster was the father of Tillman Achilles Lancaster and William Henry Lancaster who were merchants, lawyers and judges in Lexington, Henderson Co. TN.

Not much is known about the Dunbar Cotton Gin.  Apparently, J. J. Lancaster operated the gin from 1879 to 1888 and documented his transactions in this ledger book.  Some of the pages seem to indicate that mortgages were held on the cotton crops since several farmers reporting cotton that belonged to R. F. Keeton, Elicha Wyatt, C. C. Howell, Alexander & Br., J. J. Lancaster, Tate & Welch, G. F. Keeton, E. E. Talbot, R. T. Simmons, and T. J. Maness.  This was a common practice during this time frame to loan money for planting supplies with payment due upon harvesting of the cotton.  Apparently, the Dunbar Cotton Gin served as the point of settlement of the debt associated with these mortgages.  Click here for an index of the surnames found in the ledger.

According to Calvin Kelley, William David Kelley married Nancy Walker and operated a cotton gin at Dunbar, TN.  They later moved to Westville, OK and had a cotton gin in Sallisaw and Stillwell, OK then they moved by Coweta, OK where they are buried at the Vernon Cemetery.  W. D. Kelley is listed as one of the cotton growers in the J. J. Lancaster ledger.

Clint Brasher, prior to his death in 2004, indicated that his family was the last owner of the Dunbar Cotton Gin.  They operated the steam powered gin near a stream on the Brasher property on Brooksie Thompson Road near Highway 114.  The gin apparently was portable and was moved to the Brasher property from another location.  The gin was not in very good shape and fell into disrepair after being operated by the Brasher family for a short time.

Surname Index

Sources:  Carl Butler, Jr.; Calvin Kelley.

Additional information is needed on the Dunbar Cotton Gin.  Please contact me if you can help.

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