Fairwix – what kind of a name is that?
I’ve never been able to figure out where it came from, literally or figuratively. I can’t find it’s derivative, Fairwick either, or Farwix, or Farwick or even Farwich or Fairwich. I’m sure if I could figure out the derivative of the name itself, there would be a huge hint there as to where the family came from – at least one of his ancestral families – whichever one Fairwix inherited the name from.
They didn’t just make a name like that up.
I mean, with a name this unusual, he had to have been named after someone. But who? I’ve spent years now looking for anything Fairwick or Fairwix or any derivative…and so far…nothing. The only Fairwicks I’ve found are his descendants.
In his honor, I’ll be changing how I spell both his first and last name every sentence or two – because – well, that’s what this family did!
Fairwick was probably born in then Claiborne, now Hancock County, TN around the turn of the century – that would be the 1799/1800 century. If the 1800 census was existent, we would know a lot more about this family, but it isn’t and we don’t. His parents were James Lee Claxton/Clarkson and Sarah Cook. Who were reportedly married on October 10, 1799. If so, then Fairwix was likely born in 1800. He was their oldest child.
Fairwix died on February 11, 1874, possibly in the very same house he was born in – assuredly on the very same land he grew up on. How many people can make that claim? Given that he died in February, and we know from later depositions that he was age 74 – it’s most likely that he had his 74th birthday in 1873, so born in 1799, or he was born between January 1 and February 11th of 1800.
In 1815, Fairwix’s life would be forever changed. His father, James Lee Claxton, died on February 20, 1815, in the service of his country, at Fort Decatur, Alabama in the War of 1812. One has to wonder if James had a father/son talk with Fairwix before he left. Maybe he asked him to help his mother with the chores, the farm work and the younger children while he was gone. They probably never imagined that gone would be forever – just thought it would be for a few months. The War of 1812 militia groups in East Tennessee were generally mustered for about 90 days.
The family didn’t even get to have a funeral. I wonder how, and when they were notified of his death. James was buried beside the fort where he died. Fairwix would have been 15 when his father died. Certainly old enough to work the farm, but awfully young for the full brunt of responsibility that would fall upon his shoulders. Fairwix was the only male child until his youngest sibling, Henry, was born sometime between 1813-1815. In essence, Fairwick became the man of the house.
Fairwick married Agnes Muncy in about 1819 because their first child, James, named in memory of his father, was born about 1820. Agnes was born in 1803 in Lee County, VA and died sometime after 1880.
Fairwick and Agnes Muncy Claxton/Clarkson had 8 children:
- James R. 1820-1845/50, unknown spouse, their 4 children living with Fairwick and Agnes in the 1850 census
- Henry Avery 1821-1864, married Nancy “Bessie” Manning, died in the Civil War
- William “Billy” 1815-1920 (that is not a typo), married Mary Walker, widow of Henry Claxton (son of James Lee Claxton and Sarah Cook) married second to and Eliza J. Manning
- Samuel 1827-1876 married Elizabeth “Bettie” Speaks
- Sarah “Sally” 1829-1900 married Robert Shiflet
- Nancy 1831/33-before 1875 married John Wolfe
- Rebecca 1834-1923 married Calvin Wolfe
- John 1840-1863 never married, died in the Civil War
If the 1810 or 1820 census were existent – we’d know more about this family….but we don’t.
Fortunately, until about 1845 or so, this part of Hancock County was in Claiborne County, and Claiborne’s records didn’t burn. Hancock lost part of their records during the Civil War, and then the courthouse burned…twice. Miraculously, some records survived at least the second fire.
Fairwick didn’t wait long after his marriage to begin to build his land holdings. On Monday, November 12, 1821, in the Claiborne County Court notes, in the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 1821-1824, Fairwick Claxton obtains a deed from Enos Hobbs for 30 acres and the deed was ordered to be recorded. That deed is never found in the deed books.
I love court records, because they speak to the normalcy of community life, whatever that was, wherever they lived. In early Appalachia, court days were big social events. The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was held just like it says – quarterly – four times each year, beginning in January. Everyone went to town, to participate, to watch and to commune with the neighbors. Well, not everyone – most women and children stayed home. But the men attended and often imbibed. In one session, the court had to be adjourned because the judge and jurors were so drunk they fell out of their chairs. Yes indeed, court days were very interesting. Reality TV before TV.
The following records were transcribed from the Claiborne County court and minute books. Spellings have been, for the most part, retained.
On Monday, November 11, 1822, Farrwix Claxton is appointed a juror to the next court session (page 167).
1825 – Farwise Claxton (sic), deed from Harmon Houston, 1825, Deed Book I-187 for $120 – original states March session 1826 – Oct 8th 1825 between Farwix Claxton and Harmon Hutson of Claiborne County, said Fairwix for $120, 30 acres granted by the state of TN on the North side of Wallens Ridge, on the waters of Powels river beginning on a spur of said ridge near John Grimes old sugar camp. Farwix Claxton signed in the presence of William Rogers, register by his deputy Walter Evans.
In his lifetime, Fairwix seemed to have accumulated quite a bit of land, although without the Hancock County deeds, we can’t fully understand his land transactions.
This photo is taken from the neighboring McDowell lands, called Slanting Misery, looking across the Powell River and onto the Clarkson/Claxton lands.
As you can see, this territory was anything but tame. The Peter Parkey land survey, below, shows the locations of the family lands involved, with Claxton’s bend labeled to the left of the Parkey land survey – the square in black on the river.
Dec. 19, 1826
Page 45 – Fairwick Claxton juror
Page 47 – Fairwick Claxton constable in the bounds of Capt. Mcnight’s company – he gave bond and security
Dec. 20, 1826 – page 63 – Fairwick Claxton ordered to next court as constable
March 19, 1827 – page 72 – Henry Cook overseer of the road from Waggon Ford on the Powell River to 4 mile creek and have hands Thomas Lawson, Gabriel Ayres, Drury Lawson, Reuben Lawson, John Riley (2 hands), Henly Fugate, (2 hands), William Fugate, Hugh Montgomery, James Dooley, Enoch Townsen, Henry Grimes, John Overton, Shadrack Moore, Thomas Hobbs, Fairwick Claxton and John Plank
Road orders are actually very interesting. During this time in history, all taxpayers were required to provide “road hands” for the maintenance of public roads. These road orders tell us who lived in the neighborhood and used that road. They were the people assigned to work on the road – to keep it free of potholes and brush and fallen timber. Henry Cook may well have been related to Fairwick through his mother, Sarah Cook. Road records are a wonderful way to establish neighborhoods, in addition to or when census records are lacking.
March 20, 1827
Page 87 – Fairwick Claxton constable appointed by the court to attend at the grand jury at the present term
Page 109 – Fairwick Claxton to attend court as constable this term to attend grand jurors
Sept 1827 – Page 152 – Farwick Claxton constable appointed to attend at the present session
September 15, 1828
Page 203 – Fairwick Claxton overseer of road from Powell’s River to 4 Mile Creek near McDowell’s in stead of Henry Cook, hands Hugh Montgomery, James Montgomery, Peter Riley, John Plank, Henry Cook, Joheal Fugate, Thomas Lawson, Arnor Lawson, Gabriel Ayres, Riley and Figate hands (road of 2nd class)
Page 283 – Fairwick Claxton overseer of road from Powells River to 4 Mile Creek near McDowells instead of Henry Cook.
December 15, 1828
Page 320 – In Capt. McNight’s company Farwick Claxton duly elected constable
Page 1829 – March – Martin Reace of Claiborne County to Joseph Campbell of Hawkins County for $300, 40 acres north of Clinch River beginning at a line that Johnson conveyed to James Givens, line between Reece and John Rhea. Signed Martin Rease. Witnesses were John McNiel and Farwix Claxton (Claiborne Deed book I page 101-103)
March 18, 1829 – Fairwick Claxton to attend court as constable
June 16, 1829, Page 402 – Fairwick Claxton constable
June 17, 1829
Page 415 – Fairwick Claxton constable again for 2 years
December 21, 1829 – Page 31 – Fairwick Claxton overseer of road from Powell River to 4 Mile Creek near McDowell’s instead of Henry Cook
Page 38 – Farwick Claxton allowed $4.68 for stone hamer to ?? out of the ?? ??
May 15, 1830 – Page 57 – Fairwick Claxton, ? Vandeveter, Joseph Mahan, Jonathan Teepey, Abner Hatfield, John Skidmore, Stephen Wilborn lay off road from Abner Hatfields and leaving Mulberry road crossing Wallen’s Ridge at Bales Gap then best way to VA line near Nedham Iron Works
Page 60 – Fairwick Claxton a constable to attend court of present term
December 20, 1830
Page 176 – Farwick Claxton constable in bounds of Capt. Ward’s company for ensuing 2 years
The 1830 census shows Fairwick with the following:
- Fairwick 20-30
- Male 10-15 (James R.)
- 2 males 5-10 (Henry and William)
- 1 male under 5 (Samuel)
- wife age 30-40 (Agnes)
- female 50-60 (possibly Agnes’ mother)
- female under 5 (Sarah)
The only names that appear in the 1830 census are those of the head of household. I have added the names of the family members who are known to fit those dates, in parenthesis.
September 20, 1831 – Page 304 – Farwick Claxton testified 2 days as witness for state in trial of St vs Samuel H. Gully (paid $1)
Page 307 – Fairwick Claxton witness for state – 2 days – $1
June 18, 1832
Page 363 – Fairwick Claxton constable to attend present session
Cousin Dolores send me a wonderful gift some years ago, back before the days of the internet. Imagine how pleased I was to open a letter, one from the real mailbox by the road, and find Fairwix’s signature.
Furthermore, it looks like Fairwix was the sheriff. It also appears that he signed his name as Fairwix Clarkson.
In 1832, 25 acres was surveyed for Farwix Claxton on the Powell River adjoining his mother’s land. His brother, Henry, was a chain carrier for the surveyor.
In 1833, 50 acres was surveyed for Fairwix Clarkson. This land abutted both Henry Clarkson, his brother and the land of Sarah, his mother, as well. Again, Henry was the chain carrier.
You know that Fairwick was right there when his land was being surveyed. There are very few days in the life of an ancestor, especially in the 1830s, more than 180 years ago, where we know exactly where they were. The 1832 survey was in May. This is the Clarkson land and barn in May 2006.
The 1833 survey was taken on January 10th. It was likely cold then. The average temperature in Hancock County is 25-44 in January.
This is snow on the pinnacle overlooking Cumberland Gap. It does snow in this part of Tennessee, and when it does, it’s quite ugly – although people didn’t have to worry about cars and mountains back then. Hopefully, they just stayed home. Generally, the snow doesn’t last long and melts rather quickly because the ground generally doesn’t freeze.
In the 1833 tax list Fairwick is listed as free white and 21 or older.
Jan-June 1833 – Page 4 – Fairwick Claxton allowed $3 to serve on traverse jury
A traverse jury is a trial jury – a jury impaneled to try an action or prosecution, as distinguished from a grand jury which reviews evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determines whether a person should be charged with a crime (indictment.)
Dec. 16, 1833 – Page 159, 161 – Fairwick ordered to sell land at public sale (probably as constable.) I note that Sarah is also mentioned on page 159 so it is very likely James Claxton’s land. Here is the entry:
Hugh Graham vs Fairwick Claxton – Fidelie S. Hurt JP returned with warrant judgement and execution for sum of 38.30 with the following returned endorsements on said execution to wit: There being no goods or chattels of def in my county I have levied this execution of F. Claxton “undivided interest in 100 acres of land on Powels River whereon Sarah Claxton now lives – June 16, 1834”. Order of sale issued.
Page 174 – Fairwick Claxton reports on laying out road
December 27, 1833
Page 80 – mentions Claxton’s company
In 1834, Fairview Claxton (now we know this has to be Fairwix) bought land from Sarah Claxton, deed book O, page 233, for $70. This would have been his parents land, probably the land adjacent his own. He apparently bought it just 3 months before the court order for the land to be sold.
1834 – Fairview Claxton from Sarah Claxton, 1834, O-233 for $70.00 – original reads March 27th, 1834, between Farwick Clarkson, Andrew Hurst and wife Mahala, John Plank and wife Elizabeth, Levi Parks and wife Susannah, John Collinsworth and wife Rebecca, Jacob Parks and wife Patsy, heirs at law of James Clarkson deceast of the one part and Sarah Clarkson widow of the aforesaid James Clarkson decd of the other part, all of Claiborne Co. Tn. In consideration of:
- Farwick Clarkson, $70 (signs – but all of the rest make marks. Fairwix wife is not included for some reason.)
- Andrew Hurst and wife Mahala – $70
- John Plank and wife Elizabeth – $70 or 20 (Debra’s note – marked through)
- Levi Parks and wife Susannah – $70
- John Collensworth and wife Rebecca – $20
- Jacob Parks and wife Patsy “Polly” – $20
From Sarah Clarkson, widow aforesaid, 100 acres, in Claiborne county on the N side of Powell river where Sarah lives and land that was conveyed to James Clarkson from John Hall of Sumner Co.. Tn. – beginning at Hobbs line, bank of Powell river. Witnessed by John Riley and Johiel Fugate. Registered Jan. 12, 1841
Note that the order to sell the property was issued three months after this deed was made. However, this deed wasn’t recorded until in 1841, so it apparently still was relevant at that time. Was this sale the children’s attempt to keep their mother from losing her land? There’s certainly a story here…if we just had access to a time machine.
March 18, 1835 – Page 319 – Fairwick Claxton reports as juror
Page 345 – Fairwick Claxton no longer overseer of road
Page 353 – juror – Fairwick Claxton
In 1836, on the Claiborne County tax list, the surname has been misspelled Clanton, and was surely supposed to be Claxton. Fairwiss, Sarah and the heirs of Henry are shown on pages 139 and 140. Then Farwick Claxton is shown as well on page 133. Henry is paying taxes on two separate parcels of land.
In 1839, Fairwix, Sarah and the heirs of Henry Claxton are all three on the Claiborne County tax list.
1840 – Page 181 – Settlement made with Johile? Fugate admin to the estate of Henly Fugate, decd, sales of property to Farwix Claxton $34.25 and second, Farwix Claxton’s act proven July 16 1839 (Yearry)
In the 1840 census, Fairwick’s children align the same except for the following changes that are inconsistent with 1830.
- Fairwick is 40-50
- female not his wife is 70-80
- additional male under 5 (John)
- additional 2 females 5-10 (Nancy and Rebecca)
The female, age 70-80, based on the 1850 census, is very likely Fairwix’s mother-in-law.
In the 1850 census, we find 4 additional people with Fairwick plus Nancy (Workman) Moncy (Muncy) age 81 born in Va. This is definitely Fairwick’s mother-in-law. However, it took me forever to figure out what G. Chile was. Care to guess? Think southern. Say it out loud.
Gran chile or grandchild. These were Fairwix’s grandchildren through son James and an unknown wife. James wife died after 1842 and probably before 1845 and James died between 1845-1850.
- Nancy G. Chile 13
- John Chile 10
- William G. Chile 10
- Fernando G. Chile 8
The census says that Fairwix was born in Virginia. If so, it was probably in Russell County, just before James Lee Clarkson moved to the Powell River area on the Lee County/Claiborne County border.
In addition to living with his grandchildren, Fairwix is also living beside sons William and Samuel Claxton. That relationship would turn ugly and William would move away, for unknown reasons, causing a rift between father and son and eventually between the two brothers as well. We don’t know if the rift was the reason for moving, or the result.
On February 17, 1851, Fairwick Clarkson was received by experience into the Rob Camp Church. His wife, Agnes has been received by letter in 1850, so the family was attending Rob Camp at this time. Within a few months of Agnes joining the church, children Sary, Rebecca and Henry A. Clarkston were received by experience. Fairwix followed a few months later.
Rob Camp church was located about 2 miles from where Fairwick lived, indicated by the red balloon, below.
On August 2nd, a Saturday in 1854, Farwick Claxton and John Bolton were delegates to the Mulberry Association which would meet at Chadwell Station in Lee County. They were to bear a letter and a contribution of $1.50.
Settlement of the Estate of William Graham, deceased. Notes returned in the inventory: Fairwix Claxton note $19.50
Notes returned insolvent: Fairwix Claxton $19.50
The Graham administrator’s report is dated December 2, 1854
Survey Book 29 – page 693, Claiborne Co. TN number 28765 March 16, 1826 – Farwix Claxton assignee of JP Shackleford, assignee of Farwix Claxton, assignee of Sarah Claxton – 100 acres granted to Farwix Claxton and his heirs lying in the county aforesaid adj Sarah Claxton on the north side of Powell’s river, crossing a public road, Sarah’s old corner. Surveyed October 14, 1826, filed June 4, 1853, chainers Henry Cook and John Plank
This probably wasn’t filed for 27 years because Sarah and then Fairwix didn’t have the money.
On Saturday, February 2, 1856, in the Rob Camp church notes, Fairwick Claxton was reported for drunkenness.
On March 2nd, the case of Brother F. Claxton was deferred until May “in order to give the brother time to become reconciled in his feeling.” In May, the case was deferred to June, but in June, Brother Fairwick Clarkston was “restored by giving satisfaction to the church.”
In August 1858, Fairwix’s sons Samuel and William were both received by experience into the church as well as daughter Nancy, within three days of each other. This sounds very much like a revival was held. There was a note in the church records a few days later that “converts were baptized by church elders.”
The 1860 census is extremely difficult to read. Fairwick still claims a birth in Virginia as does his wife Agnes. Grandchildren John, Nancy and William are still living with them, but all of their children have flown the coop. However, as amazing as it seems, Agnes’s mother, Nancy Muncy, age 99, shown as “feeble,” is living with them. She too is born in Virginia.
Next door, we find Sary Clarkson, age 85. Sarah is Fairwick’s mother. With her is living Robert Shifley (Shiflet) and wife Sary along with Elizabeth, age 1. This is Sarah “Sally,” daughter of Fairwix and Agnes, and they are clearly living with their grandmother, next door, to help out. She probably helps them too with the baby. The picture below is of Sarah Clarkson Shiflett.
Sarah H., known as Sally was born on May 8, 1829, and died on June 28, 1900, married Robert H. Shiflet about 1857 in Hancock County, TN. They look to be in their 60s, below.
We only have pictures of two of Fairwick’s children, Sarah, above, and Samuel’s Civil War photo, below.
I must admit, I look at the two of these photos because their common features would be those of their parents, Fairwick and Agnes…and seeing these two photos is as close as we’ll ever come to seeing Fairwick and Agnes.
On May 4, 1863, William Claxton, the grandson that Fairwick and Agnes had raised since their son James death, nearly 20 years before, was killed in the Civil War. He mustered in on March 13, 1862 and his record states the following:
Left in hospital sick at Camp Division Ohio December 28, 1862. Reported dead May 4, 1863. Died in hospital at Camp Denison May 4, 1863 – 22 years old. Record of death and interment: William Clarkson, grave 199 – then it says number 287, not sure what this number is. We know this is our William, because in 1876, his sister Nancy states that she is going to get money for her dead brother from the government.
Their grandson John also disappears from all records about this time. He died, without heirs, sometime between the 1860 census and when the chancery suit was filed in 1875. I did not find John in the 1870 census. Family oral history states that he was a war casualty as well.
Mount Zion Baptist Church
On the second Saturday of April 1869 Rob Camp Baptist Church released the following from their fellowship:
- H. Clarkson (Fairwix nephew through Henry, decd)
- Mary Clarkson (Mary Martin, wife of E.H. Clarkson, through Margaret Herrell and Anson Martin, Margaret Herrell remarried to Joseph Bolton)
- William Mannon
- Elizabeth Mannon
- Mary Muncy (probably Agnes Muncy Clarkson’s relative)
- Clarissa Hill
- Sarah Shefley (Fairwix daughter, married to Robert Shiflet)
- Farwix Clarkson
- Agnes Clarkson
- Nancy Furry (Fairwix granddaughter through son James, decd)
- Elizabeth Clarkson (Elizabeth Speaks, wife of Samuel Clarkson, son of Fairwix)
- Margaret Clarkson (daughter of Samuel Clarkson and Elizabeth Speaks Clarkson, Margaret would marry Joseph Bolton Jr. in 1873)
- William Bolton (son of Joseph Bolton)
- James Bolton (son of Joseph Bolton)
- John Grimes
- Catherine Grimes
- Joseph Bolton (husband to Margaret Herrell Martin, father to William and James)
Fairwix was related in one way or another to almost everyone in the new church.
These members were released for the purpose of constituting Mount Zion Baptist Church. On the third Saturday of May 1869 these brothers and sisters met, along with representatives from Cave Springs, Big Spring Union and Chadwell Station to officially constitute a church. The church would be located on a parcel of land belonging to William Mannon. A short time later William deeded over to the church without reservations 3.4 acres of land where today (three buildings later) the church still stands. The property is now in the NW corner of district 5.
Initially I thought that they would have formed a church closer to where they lived, but that wasn’t the case, so there must have been another reason. The new church was about twice as far as the old one, 4 miles distant.
There is no date on the record, but at some point, Fairwick is noted in the church records as deceased, as is Agnes.
Fairwick’s Final Years
In the 1870 census, Fairwick is age 70, a retired farmer and Agnes is 66 and keeping house. Women never get to retire.
In the 1870 census, a Nancy Furrah, age 30, and a child Janah or Sarah age 5 of the same last name, are found living with Fairwick. This is Fairwix’s widowed granddaughter. She may have lost her husband in the Civil War as well.
Son Samuel is living next door. Son William has apparently moved as he is not found in 1870 in Hancock County.
On February 11, 1874, Fairwick Clarkson/Claxton dies and is buried in the cemetery on his farm.
Estate of Melbourn Overton, after Fairwick’s death, shows 1 “note of hand” on Farewick Claxton for $2.
The Chancery Suit
Our big find…meaning breakthrough… in the Clarkson family research was a suit filed by William, Fairwick’s son, against two of Fairwick’s other children, Samuel Clarkson and Rebecca Wolfe and a grandchild, Nancy Furry. Chancery suits are a genealogists dream, although they were probably very clearly a seemingly never-ending nightmare for the people involved. These suits include a great deal of family history information and depositions that, cumulatively, allow us a peek into their lives. In this case, we get to view Fairwick’s final days with an amazing lens of clarity. I can just envision these scenes, especially having visited the actual locations. The vivid descriptions allow us to sit by his bedside as a silent, invisible visitor some 140 years later.
In a way, it’s much like reading the script for a soap opera, but it’s our own personal family soap opera!
I am including all of the depositions and filings in this case except for minor things like receipts and notifications of service of paperwork. To read these documents in their entirety gives one a sense of the situation and allows us to be present in some small way. However, I have bolded the important sections of the testimony.
On January 19, 1875 in Hancock Co., a Chancery Suit was filed as follows:
William Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson, etal
Enrolling docket – chancery court – Page 167 – January 19, 1875 – To the Honorable H.C. Smith chancellor for the first chancery district of Tennessee sitting at Sneedville…your orator William Clarkson, a resident of Union Co., Tn., that on the 11th day of Feb. 1874, his father Fairwix Clarkson died intestate in the said county of Hancock. A few days before the death of said Fairwix and while on his death bed, and in his last sickness, he was by means of undue influence induced to sign deeds which purported to convey his real estate to his son Samuel Clarkson and one of his granddaughters, Nancy Furry, and a daughter Rebecca Wolfe, each getting a separate tract by a separate conveyance. The deed to the said Samuel Clarkson conveyed a tract lying in the 14th civil district of said county of Hancock adjoining the land of Melburn Overton, James Overton and others, the tract conveyed to said Nancy Furry lies in the same civil district and adjoins lands of Montgomery and Clarkson and others and the tract conveyed to Rebecca Wolfe lies in the same civil district and adjoins the lands of Rhoda Shiflett, Henry Yeary and others. Said lands are valuable and are worth $2000 or more. The consideration named in each of said deeds in the sum of $150 but nothing was paid. These lands constituted almost the entire estate of said Fairwix. He left a widow surviving him and several other children and grandchildren who were in no way provided for by said intestate.
(page 168)Your orator shows dates and expressly charges that the two said deeds were pretended to have been made and executed, the said Fairwix Clarkson was so enfeebled in mind that he was incapable of doing any binding act, and that therefore the said pretended conveyances were not his acts and deeds and that he really died the true owner of said lands and the same of rightly belong to his heirs-at-law.
He left a widow Agnes Clarkson and two other surviving children aside from your orator and said Samuel, viz, Sarah Shiflet, wife of Robert Shiflet and Rebecca Wolf wife of Calvin Wolfe. He had a son James Clarkson who died some years ago leaving two children viz the said Nancy Fury a widow and Fernando Clarkson.
He also had a son Henry Clarkson who died in his lifetime leaving 4 children, viz. Elizabeth Harris, wife of Burrell Harris, Hugh Clarkson, Jerusha C. Clarkson and Sarah C. Clarkson.
He also had a daughter Nancy Wolfe who died in his lifetime leaving two children, viz., Sterling Wolfe and William Wolfe. The above noted children and grandchildren were the only heirs at law of the said Fairwix Clarkson.
The said Sterling Wolfe, William Wolfe, Jerusha C. Clarkson and Sarah C. Clarkson are minors without a general guardian. The said parties all reside in Hancock Co. except your orators and the said Sterling Wolfe who lives in Claiborne Co and William Wolfe who lived in Union County in said state. The premises considered your orator prays that all of the above named parties that process issue, that the defendants be required to answer fully, but an answer an oath is expressly named, that the said Samuel Clarkson, Nancy Furry and Rebecca Wolfe be required to file with their answers said pretended deeds, which rest as a cloud upon the title to said land, that a guardian ad litum be appointed to defend for said minors, that….the rights of said widow be declared in said land and dower assigned her in case she is entitled, therefore that commissioners be appointed to portion said lands among the parties entitles thereto or in case it is necessary, that the same be sold for partition and if in anything he is mistaken in his proper ?? for relief he prays for all such …(page 169) and further and general relief that equity and good conscience will entitle him to. Vincent Mayers and F. M. Fulkerson def for complaintant.
William Clarkson swears at to the truth of his statements and signs with his mark.
Answer to Complaint
(page 184) June 2, 1875 – The answer of Samuel Clarkson, Nancy Fury, Rebecca Wolf and Agnes Clarkson to the bill of complaint of William Clarkson filed in the chancery court in Sneedville…these respondents reserving all the benefits of exceptions to the complaints said bill answering say – They admit the death of Fairwick Clarkson as stated and that he died intestate – that 5 days before his death he executed the deeds mentioned in the bill and while in his last sickness and in his proper mind. That some 12 months or two years before his death, (page 185) he expressed the same feeling and agreed to the same contracts as mentioned in the deeds as being his free and voluntary act and such as he intended to carry out. He was in his proper mind all the while during his last sickness and equally so 12 months or two years before the execution of the deeds mentioned in the bill and the deeds only carried out his expressed contract two years before his death and without any undue influence or inducement of any kind whatever. These respondents admit the conveyance were made to them and made in good faith and for a valuable consideration – Respondent Samuel Clarkson’s 100 acres more or less lies in the River Bluffs and is of little value. Respondent Nancy Furry has about 100 and 20 acres on the top of the river bluffs in the limestone and cedar and Rebecca Wolfe has about 56 acres on the same lonts? of land. These respondents state they have paid fully for the land and will probably have to pay more than their contracts on the debts on matters the deceased much desired should be paid and hence said deeds were executed in good faith and for the purposes stated. Respondents have lived with the deceased and his wife, now his widow, for at least 7 years working hard for his support and his hers?, who has relinquished her dower interest to these respondents. The lands are properly bounded and located by the bill, but the estimated value is too much. Respondents admit the number of heirs stated, respondents now repeat and state that their Father the deceased was properly at himself when the deeds were executed and only executed a contact contemplated 12 months before that time – the there was no undue influences used or persuasion to induce the execution of the deeds, that they were freely and voluntarily executed by the deceased. Respondent also shows the estate was indebted and no personal estate to payment and these respondents has paid up the debts. Respondents here file therein deeds as required in the bill. Jarvis and David – solicitors for respondents – filed June 2, 1875.
Answer of Sterling Wolfe, William Wolfe, Jerusha Clarkson, and Sarah Clarkson by their Guardian
(page 248) March 15, 1876 – The answer of Sterling Wolfe, William Wolfe, Jerusha Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson by their guardian ad litum, Isaac W. Campbell to the bill of William Clarkson filed against them and others in the chancery court at Sneedville – Respondents answering say they admit the death of Fairwix Clarkson, that he left the children and grandchildren named his heirs at law, that he ? the pretended deeds mentioned and they admit that they (page 249) were signed at a time when the said Fairwix was incapable of doing any binding act. They admit that the said pretended deeds were the result of undue influence brought to bear upon said Fairwix in the enfeebled condition of his body and mind and that the same were not his acts and deeds. Respondents ask that the court will protect their interests in this case and having answered they pray to go home.
Robert and Sarah Shiflet Depositions
January 26, 1876 Wm Claxton vs Samuel Claxton, Rebecca Wolf, Nancy Furry, Agnes Claxton – In the Chancery Court of Hancock County and State of Tennessee. Depositions of Robert Shiflet and Sarah Shiflet, M. B. Overton, Henry Yeary, J. T. Montogomery, Ferdinand Clarkston, Williams Owens, James Owens, Calvin Brown, Rhonda Shiftet, Granvile Shiflet, Narcisses Bottom, and witnesses for Plantiff in the above case taken upon notice on the 26th day of January 1876 at the dwelling house of Emuel Stafford Exq. In the presence of the plantiff (Defer).
The said witness Robert Shiflett age forty eight years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant – State if you were well acquainted with Farwick Clarkston and if you served him during his last sickness.
Answer – I was well acquainted with him for 25 years. Yes sire I was there pretty near every day and some of the nights ??? to his death claimed him.
State whether or not the said Fairewick Clarkston was in his proper mind for the last week before his death…(page 2) and coming to his sickness was he in a condition to do business properly.
Answer – He was Not – He was Not.
By same – State all about the condition of his mind during his last sickness and up to his death.
Answer – He was out of his mind for about 10 days before his death at times and as he grew weaker he was more so.
By same – State if you were with said Fairwick Clarkston on Saturday before he died and Wednesday following and if so when was the condition of his mind.
Answer – I was there part of the day. I don’t consider that he was in his proper mind on that day.
By the same – State if you are well acquainted with the lands owned by said Farewick Clarkston before his death and the land mentioned in the Bill and if so.. What would be a fair valuation of the rents by the year.
Answer – I was well acquainted with it. It suppose it to be worth one hundred dollars a year.
By same – Would that amount have been sufficient to have supported the said Clarkston and his wife. (page 3)
Answer – I suppose that it ought to support them.
By same – State who cultivated that land for the last seven or eight years before the death of the said Clarkston.
Answer – Samuel Clarkston apart of the time or about seven years also Calvin Wolf a part of the time and the old man Clarkston tended it apart of the time.
Cross Examination by Defendant – Question are you any way related to Farwick Clarkston.
Answer – I am his son in law.
Question – Are you intrusted [interested] in this suit.
Answer – My wife is.
Question – Who cultivated the land for said Clarkston.
Answer – He had Calvin Wolf’s boys two years.
Further more this deposat say it not…. Robert X Shiflet (his mark)
Sarah Shiflet next examined aged 48 years being duly sworn deposed as follows. States she has heard the fore going deposition of Robert Shiflett and adopts the same as her sworn deposition and further thus deponent sath not. Sarah X Shiflett (her mark)
William Owens Deposition
(page 4) William Owens aged 40 years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question – State if you seen Fairwick Clarkston during his last sickness and if so state if you seen him out of his right mind during that time.
Answer – I saw him in his last sickness and saw him out of his write mind one time.
By same – State if you was present a few days before his death and seen the said Clarkston see give the deeds to the spaitrer? mentioned in the Bill.
Answer – I did.
By same – State if the deeds were read and there contents fully explained to the said Farewick Clarkston at the time he assigned them.
Answer – They were not read in my presents, but said Clarkston acknowledged to the contents though the contents were not explained to him.
Question by complainant – At the time of the execution of the deeds mentioned in complete bill did you consider Fairwick Clarkson the maker of the deeds of sain and disposing mind.
Answer – According to my judgement I consided him capable of transacting business as any sick man and that he’s my uncle and was well acquainted with him.
Further more this deponent deposeth further. Signed William Ownes
M.B. Overton Deposition
M.B. Overton age 52 years and after being sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant – State if you was present and seen Farewick Clarkston during his last sickness.
Answer – I was there during his sickness frequently.
By same – State if you seen him Clarkston sign the deeds mentioned in complainants bill and if so was the deeds read to him and the contents explained to him.
Answer – I saw him sign the deeds. The deeds were not read to him at that time and the content was not explained.
By same – State if you are or was one of his administrators and if so what amount of debt came against the state.
Answer – I was one of his administrators and there was some where seventy five or a hundred dollars.
By same – State whether or not there was any consideration paid for the lands conveyed at the time the deeds was executed.
Answer – The wasn’t any that I know of.
Cross examination – Question by respondent
State how long you had been acquainted with Fairwick Clarkson the maker of the deed mentioned in complete bill.
Answer – I have been acquainted 40 years.
2nd question – Was he a schooled man capable of adding and considerable …..
Answer – He was a man of considerable business, capable of riting and understanding a deed.
3rd – State all you know about this circumstance as of the execution of the deeds mentioned in the …..
Answer – I was there when Mr. Yeary came in with the deeds. He went to the bed and spoke to him and he said not until after breadfast. Not long after that he was raised in the bed and said to Mr. Yeary to bring them deeds or….. and he said to me Burg I want you to come here and witness this deed and Mr. Yeary unfolded one of the deeds and laid it down on the books.
Mr B. Overton
Deposition of Granville Shiflett
Granville Shiflett age 24 years being sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant. State if you was with and seen Farewick Clarkston during his last sickness.
Answer – I was there a portion of the time.
2nd by same – State whether his mind was good all the time or was he out of his mind any of the time.
Answer – I don’t think that he was write at all times.
3rd by same – Are you well acquainted with the land mentioned in the pleading and if so what is the value of the lands.
Answer – I am ??? well acquainted with the said land – a thousand dollars is as much as I would give for it.
4th by same – What would be a fair valuation for the rents of the lands by the year.
Answer – One hundred and twenty five dollars a year.
Further more this deponent sayeth not. Signed Granville Shifilet
James Owens Deposition
James Owens aged 30 years old being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant – State if you are acquainted with the lands mentioned in the pleadings and if so what is the value of said lands.
Answer – yes, I am acquainted with the land and I recond it would be worth twelve hundred dollars.
2nd by same – What would be a fare valuation of the rent of said lands by the year.
Answer – I recond something like one hundred dollars.
Further more this witness sayeth not. James X Ownes (his mark)
Calvin Brown Deposition
Calvin Brown age 39 years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant – State if you are acquainted with the lands mentioned in the pleadings and if so what is a fair valuation of said land.
Answer – I am tolerable well acquainted with it and I would not give more than one thousand dollars.
2nd by same – What would be a fare valuation for the rents of said lands.
Answer – I would not give more than fifty dollars for it. Further this deposed sayeth not.
Calvin X Brown (his mark)
E. H. Clarkson Deposition
E. H. Clarkston age 40 years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by complainant – State if you was well acquainted with Fairwick Clarkston and if you seen him often in his last sickness.
Answer – I was well acquainted with him and stayed there two knights.
2nd by same – if you seen him in his last sickness out of his proper mind.
Answer – I did not consider him in the later part of his sickness in his write mind. He called the doctor that night 6 or 7 different names.
3rd by same – What is the value of the lands mentioned in the findings.
Answer – I think it would be worth fifteen hundred dollars.
4th by same – What would be a fair valuation for the rents of said lands by the year.
Answer – Well the way the land is I would put it at one hundred dollars.
Cross examiner – Question by respondents – Was you present at the time the deed mentioned in the pleadings was executed.
Answer – I was Not.
2nd – at the time you say you think Fairwix Clarkson was not in his proper mind was that before or after the execution of the deeds.
Answer – Before and after the deeds were signed.
3rd – What kin are you to Wm Clarkson the complainant in this case.
Answer – Cousin and step son.
Further more this witness sayeth not. Signed E. H. Clarkson
Deposition of John Montgomery
Depositions of Henry, John L. Montgomery, Isaac Parky, Fernando Clarkson, Narcisus Bolton, taken on the grant of the complainants by ?? on the 11th day of February 1876 before Emuel Shafford Esq. at his residence in Hancock County to be ?? in said court.
The said John F. Montgomery aged 44 year being duly sworn deposes at follows:
1st question of complainant – State whether so not you was with Fairwick Clarkston repeatedly during his last sickness.
Answer – I was.
By same state – What was the condition of his mind for the last weeks before his death was he in a condition to do business?
Answer – I could state that he was out of mind at any when I saw him at every time that I saw him.
By same state – If you are acquainted with the lands owned by the said for Fairwick Clarkston and the lands mentioned in pledings and if what is said lands worth?
Answer – I was what was it worth it was worth and Thousand Dollars.
By same State – What would be a fare valuation of the rents of said lands by the year.
Answer – It was worth sixty dollars.
Question 1st. Did Fairwix Clarkson tell you at any time what disposition he was going to make of his lands and of at what time was that.
Answer he told me that he intended to give Nancy Ferry beginning at ferry it Montgomery loine with the bigrade to the cross fence to graveyard. Then with that crop fence this being the lands on which she now resides. Not being long before his last sickness.
Examination by complainant – State if the title executed by Clorvernt? Clarkston to Nancy Snavely alias Furry cover the same lands as shown and pointed out to you by said Fairwick Clarkston that he said he intended to convey to said Nancy Furry or does this here cover more land than said and pointed out by said Fairwick Clk.
Answer – It covers more land than should he pointed out to me according to the Calls of the Deeds it must go leave where he shade me.
2nd by complainant – do you know who waited upon Fairwix Clarkson and attended to his affairs for some years before he died and for who?
Answer – I have a knowledge of Samuel Clarkson and family cropping him would and doing his milling.
Oral Examination of complainant – state if Samuel Clarkston lived on the land so mentioned and cultivated the same during the time.
Answer – he was living on the place and cultivated part of it.
Farther this oath – John T. Montgomery
Isaac Parkey Deposition
The said Isace Parkey after being duley sworn age 37 years deposes as follows:
1st question by complainant. State if you was with Fairwick Clarkston during his last sickness and if so was he out of his proper mind any of the time.
Answer – I was there Saturday before his Death. I went in and spoke to him and don’t think he made me any answer. I don’t think that he was not calculated to do himself he was suffering a grate deal.
By same state if you are acquainted with the land mentioned in the pledings and if so what is it worth?
Answer – now the land it is worth the hold land is worth eighteen hundred dollars.
By same state – What would be a fair valuation for the rits [rents] of the lands to mentioned including the orchard by the year.
Answer – I think it is worth from seventy five to one hundred dollars farther more….
Witness oath Isacc Parkney
Fernando Clarkston Depositio
Fernando Clarkston next examined aged 30 years being duly sworn deposed as follows:
1st question by complainant. State if you was with Farewick Clarkston repeatedly during his last sickness and state if he was out of his proper mind any of the time.
Answer – I was with him during his last sickness from the talk he used I don’t think he was on Saturday, before he died on, Wednesday ??? in his write mind this was about a week died on Wednesday weake.
By same state if you are acquainted with the lands in the pleadings and if so what is said land worth.
Answer – I am acquainted with it I was raised on it. It worth from eighteen to two thousand dollars.
By same state what would the rents of said lands be worth by the year.
Answer – its worth one hundred and twenty five dollars a year.
No. 204 Filed March 13, 1876
Deposition of Henry Yeary
Taken March 1876 at the hotel of Joseph Brooks of Sneedville. Henry Yeary about 65 years of age deposes as follows:
I was at Fairwix Claxton’s while he was sick and he called me to his bed and told me he wanted me to write a deed from him to Nancy Furry. I asked him how and he said he wanted to begin at or near the lower end of his land near the upper side of the road, then with the road to the second cross…the well…include the peach trees at Wolfe’s, then with the hollow as to divide the well(?). So at to leave Fernando Clarkson 50 acres.
He said he wants to preserve the full use and benefit of the same for life. He said he would give me a deed to write by and that I could go home to do the writing. He then called some member of the family to give him his box containing his papers and he got the deed and give it to me. I asked him what was the consideration. He told me $150. He told me when I got the writing done he wanted me to write some more. I got the deed done and took it back to him next morning when he said he wanted me to write one to Rebecca Wolfe and Samuel Clarkson. I know he wanted them written and he said he wanted Rebecca to have the land above the road and Samuel to have the land below the road and the consideration was to be $150 and that he wanted to reserve the use of the lands during his life.
I omitted a sliver of land from Samuel Clarkson’s without being instructed to do so for Fernando to have access. I took the deeds back to Fairwix the second day and he told me to keep all 3 of them. I told him I had all 3 deeds with me and that B. Overton was there if he wished to sign them. He said “very well” and he called to his son Samuel and Calvin Wolfe to prop him up in the bed, which they did. He called for his spectacles and a pen and ink and a docket book to write on and I opened the deeds one at a time and handed them to him and he signed them. When he had finished signing, I asked him if he wished M. B. Overton and myself to witness them and he said that he did.
I asked him is he ? the deeds for the purpose herein contained and he said he did. We then witnessed them. There was nothing said between us about the strip I had left out. I understood from Fairwix that Fernando was to have a passway but I never heard him speak of it that I remember. I lived about a half mile from Fairwix and lived about that distance from him some 35 or 40 years and knew him during that time. He could read and write and was a very good judge of business. He was a Justice of the Peace at the time of his death. I considered by the way he acted and done at the time he signed the deeds that he was in his right mind so far as anything was called to his attention. Oweing to the weakness of his body, he may not have given attention to everything as a man would in good health. I considered his mind good at the time. ??? I was well acquainted with the land and knew its location according to the way he told me to write the deeds.
The day I wrote the first deed I did not leave it he told me to keep it until I wrote the others. He did not read the deed. The day I brought all the deeds, M. B. Overton was there when I went there. Fairwix did not read the deeds. I don’t think he took the time. He might have read some of the first part of them. We did not read the deeds to him. I left out a little piece of the deed to Nancy Furry to make a passway for Fernando Clarkson. There was a piece left out of Fernando Clarkson’s for the same purpose. He spoke to me about writing the first deed on the 5th of July, 1874. I wrote the other 2 deeds on the 6th and he signed on the 7th. I suppose he was somewhat weaker on the day he assigned the deeds than on the day he first spoke to me to write them. I don’t know that there was a material difference. He was rather going down all the time. I reckon he was sick some 2 weeks. I don’t exactly recollect. It might have been a little longer. I think the doctor said his disease was stricture of the bladder.
Nancy Furry lived with him and had lived there several years. Samuel Clarkson had lived on the place some years before that time and lived there when the deeds were executed. Rebecca Wolfe lived on the place when the deeds were executed and had lived there some 2 years before. The plaintiff William Clarkson had moved out of the county some years before the execution of the deeds. I did not see or know of any of the consideration mentioned in the deeds having been paid. Myself and M.B. Overton…the land is worth ? hundred dollars, the 3 pieces together.
The ??? of said three deeds have paid some of the debts of the estate of Fairwix Clarkson to between $60 and $80. I do not know of the complainant paying anything on the debts of the estate.
Filed March 13, 1876
Deposition of Jonathan Boles
June 14 1876 – William Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson et. al – In the Chancery Court at Sneedville, Hancock County, Tennessee
Deposition of Samuel Clarkson & Jonathan Boles witnesses for the defendant in the above cause taken upon notice on the 9th day of June 1876 at the Clerk & Master’s office in Sneedville Hancock County Tennessee in presence of plaintiff and defendant Samuel Clarkson and their attorney.
The said witness Jonathan Boles aged 52 years old being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by respondent. State if you were acquainted with Farwick Clarkson in his life time and how long and the distance you lived from him?
Answer – I was acquainted with Farwick Clarkson in his lifetime, for thirty years, lived four miles and one half from him.
2nd question by respondent – State how long before his death you saw him last?
Answer – Two or Three days before he died, on Sunday, before hid died. I think he died on Tuesday or Wednesday after I was there on Sunday. (page 2)
3rd question by respondent – State if Farwick Clarkson was in his proper mind when you last saw him?
Answer – I thought he was.
Deposition of Samuel Clarkson
The said witness Samuel Clarkson aged about 49 years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
Please state if you are the son of the said Fairwick Clarkson and one of the defendant in this case.
Answer – I am said to be the son of Fairwick Clarkson and am one of the defts in the case.
2nd question – State if you were well acquainted with your father before his death and for what length of time?
Answer – I was well acquainted all of my life with him.
3rd question – State where you lived at the time of your father’s death?
Answer – In the 14th Civil District of Hancock County Tennessee on the lands I got of my father.
4th question – State how far you lived from your father? (page 3)
Answer – I live some two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards from father.
5th question by defts – State who provided for your father before his death and how long?
Answer – I provided for my father about seven years before his death. I made the grain and took care of it for him, and paid the rents of my own crop. And I also got his firewood for him, that is the principal part of it – and prepared it for the fire place and put it on the fire for him.
6th question by respondent – State if your father was properly in his mind up to the time of his death?
Answer – To my knowledge he never was out of his proper mind.
7th question – State how long before your father’s death he contracted to you the part of the land you live on, and any thing you may know about the balance owned by the other defendants?
Answer – My father contracted the land to me that I now live on in the year 1867. And he died in the year 1874. He said that he was going to strike off the lands on the side of the road he lived to Nancy Furry and Rebeca Wolfe except fifty acres to Furnando Clarkson.
8th question – State if at any time (he) your father ever showed you any of the lines and what he said about them?
Answer – (He) my father showed me a corner tree to the part I got of him. He said that was the corner to which he was going to make me deed. He said he was going to go and show deft Wolfe his line he said that his wife had paid him for it and was going to make them a deed to it. He said he was going to cut-off to Rebecca Wolfe about fifty acres, and deed the other to Nancy Furry. He said she had paid for it value received and he was going to make her a deed to it. The deeds were after words made to Defts. This talk all passed before he was taken down sick. The deeds were made after wards.
9th question – State if you paid for your part of the land and how?
Answer – I did pay for it… In pure hard labor. I am still paying for it by taking care of my mother as was my contract. I paid about thirty five dollars and Calvin Wolfe and wife and Nancy Furry paid about forty-five dollars. On fathers debts since his death.
10th question by same – State if the above payments were part of the consideration of the deed mentioned.
Answer – No they were not (page 5)
Deposition of Agnes Clarkson
July 15, 1876 – Wm Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson et al – In the Chancery Court of Sneedville, Hancock Co., Tenn – Deposition of Agnes Clarkson, Nancy Ferry others with Nancy Snavely.
Taken by agreement on the 15th day of July at the house of Agnes Clarkson in the ?? and their attorney before H. F. Coleman a Justice of the Peace for Hancock County to be read as evidence on the trial of said case and behalf of the defendants.
The said witness Agnes Clarkson aged 74 years being duly sworn deposes as follows:
Question 1st by defendant. What relationship are you to the parties of this said and are you the widow of Fairwic Clarkson dec’d.
Ans – I am the mother of William & Samuel Clarkson and the widow of Farwix Clarkson.
Question 2 by defendant – Were you with your late husband Fairwix Clarkson during his last sickness and up to the time of his death?
Ans – I was.
By same – What was the condition of his mind during his last sickness was he cognizant of his business and of sane and disposing mind?
Ans – He seemed like he was I never saw him out of his mind but one time a little and that was from the effect of medicine and that was but a few minutes his sister came in during the time and he knew her.
By same – Was the time you speak of being a little out of mind before or after the execution of (page 2) the deed by Fairwix Clarkson decd to defendandts for the lands in controversy in this case?
Ans – It was before.
By same – Did you hear the decd Fairwix Clarkson say any thing about the disposition he had made of the lands in dispute in this case as what he intended to make of said land and at what time did you hear him talk about the matter?
Ans – I have years ago heard him talk about what disposition he intended to make of it.
By same – Please state what he said before to the disposition of said lands.
Ans – He and my self were alone and he said he wanted his business wound up that he intended to make three deeds one to Samuel Clarkson, one to Rebecca Wolf and one to Nancy Ferry (was then). I asked him what he intended to do with his other children and he said he would do by them as they had done by him they had left him in a bad condition and he had nothing for them. I persuaded him to leave same land for them and he said I need not talk to him for he would not.
By same – Did Fairwix Clarkson die say any thing to you about the matter after the deed was made to the lands in controversy and if so state what he said?
Ans – He did, he said he had his business as he wanted it that he had left Rebecca a little home on the other side of well hollow next Rhonda Shifletts and Samuel the old home place below the road and Nancy the west side of the well hollow this was on Sunday morning after the deeds were made.
(page 3) Cross Examination by complainant – Question – State if you can the day of the week and the day of the month that Fairwix Clarkson died.
Ans – He died on Wednesday morning the 11th day of February I think.
By the same – State whether or not Fairwick Clarkson sold them the lands mentioned in the pleadings or give it to them.
Ans – He sold the land to them.
By the same – At what time did he sell the lands to them and what did pay him for the land.
Ans – I cannot tell at what time he sold the land. They paid him in various ways there was a right smart of money paid, but I do not know who paid the money now nor do I recollect any thing else they paid him in particular. They made him a crop every year and paid him the rent own there own crop besides.
By the same – State if any one besides your self heard the conversation that Farewick Clarkson had to you about what disposition he had made of his lands after the execution of the deeds.
Ans – Clementine Clarkson came in when he was talking to me and I think she heard the conversation.
Agnes X Clarkson – Her mark
Nancy Snavely Deposition
Nancy Snavely aged 39 years after being duly sworn deposed as follows.
Question 1st by defendant – State if you are one of the defendants in this suit and (page 4) where you resided at the time of the death of Fairwix Clarkson decd.
Ans – I am a defendant in this suit I resided with Fairwix Clarkson when he died as one of the family.
By same – What was the condition of his mind during his last sickness and at the time he executed the deed to the lands mentioned in this case.
Ans – I did not see any thing wrong with his mind at the time he signed the deeds.
By same – State which payments you made upon said lands deeded to you by Fairwix Clarkson decds. In what you paid the same and at what time as you can.
Ans – I paid a good portion in money. I paid him sixty five dollars at one time at other times paid him small amounts. And other things that he accepted of as payments.
Cross examination by complainant – 1st question by complainant. State at what time you purchased the lands from your grand father and what amount you was to give for the same and where you paid the same.
Ans – I do not remember the time but I think it was about eight years before his death. I was to give one hundred and fifty dollars for the land and have paid for it. I paid back flour & lard besides what money I paid.
By same – state whether or not when you went to your grandfathers to live you had child and if so how old was the child.
Ans – I did and it was seventeen months old (page 5)
By same – state what amount of means you possessed or had coming to you available at the time you went to live with your grandfather.
Ans – I had nothing but my house plunder? But had money coming from the Government that was due my deceased brother and received one hundred and two dollars and some cents.
By same – State if your child is still living and what has been your occupation since you have lived with your grandfather.
Ans – My child is still living. I have followed working in the house and out of doors.
By same – State if you hold a note executed to you by Farewix Clarkson and if so for what amount.
Ans – I did have one for sixty dollars
By same – State whether or not that note was executed to you by Farewix Clarkson for money loan him and was the money the same that you speak of drawing from the government and what has he came of that note.
Ans – He gave me the note for the money above spoken of and said I could hold it until he made me a right to the land. I have the note yet.
Reexamination of defts – Do you hold the note you say you have against Fairwix Clarkson decd now as a claim against the estate or do you consider the (page 6) note paid by the execution of the deed to you. State also if you have ? claimed any thing from said estate – only the land described to you by said decd.
Ans – I consider the note paid by the execution of the deed and do not hold it as a claim against the estate.
Re Cross Examination by complainant – State whether or not you have presented the note since the death of Farewix Clarkson to the Overton or Henry Yearry the administrators of Farewix Clarkson for acceptance and payment.
Ans – I presented the note to M.B. Overtan one of the Administrators of Farewix Clarkson decd but I don not know wheather he excepted it or not but I do not hold it as a claim against the Estate.
By same – State if you did not call on Overton to pay off the note and did not Overton agree to pay the note. Please produce the note now.
Ans – I did not call on him to pay off the note and he did not pay it off.
Nancy X Snavely (her mark)
The foregoing depositions were taken before me as stated in the caption and reduced to wrting by me and I certify that I am not of him nor course to either of the parties nor no wise interested in the cause. And that I delivered them to Henry Tyler C & M without being out of my possession or altered since they were taken. Given under my hand this July 15th 1876. H. F. Coleman, Justice of the Peace for Hancock County.
Deposition of Robert Sandifer
August 9, 1876 – William Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson estate in the Chancery Court Hancock County, Tennessee. Deposition of Robert Sandifers witness for defendant in the above case taken by agreement of the plaintiff an defendant on the 9th day of August 1876 at the dwelling house of James Brown Esq. in the presence of the plaintiff and defendant. The said witness Robert Sandifer aged 45 forty five years being duly sworn deposed as follows.
1st question by defendant – Are you acquainted with Fairwick Clarson if so how long.
Answer – I was acquainted with him about three years before his death.
2nd question – Was you there before his death in the time of his sickness.
Answer – I was from Saturday evening until Tuesday morning next before his death.
3rd question – Was he in his rite mind in during ……… he seem to be as much as a man could be in the fist he was in and suffering as he was.
4th question – please state what conversation he had to you when you went there.
Answer – he said he was in his rite mind. He seem to answer me correctly in all the talk I had with him.
5th question – What conversation did he have with you about a certain piece of land he pouinter? His lands and showed to you previous before his sickness.
Answer – I was at his house, he saw his granddaughter Nancy Furry had been staying there and waiting on him the intended for her to have a home at his death. Them that do the most for him he intended to do the most for them.
Cross examination by plantiff – State whether during the time of his sickness while you was there if the old man Clarkson was speechless.
Answer – He was speechless on Saturday & threw the day on Sunday he could talk.
Signed Robert S. Sandiefer.
The fore giving deposition were taken before me as stated in the caption and reduced to writing by me and I certify that I am not interested in the cause nor of kin or council to either of the parties and that I sealed them up and delivered it to James Snavley with out being altered after it was taken given under my hand this 9th day of August 1876. signed James C. Brown, J. P.
Deposition of James Smith
Fairwix was at my house and while there told me that he had divided his land among three of his children. He said he given his son Sam all that lay on the south…rest between Bethey Wolfe his daughter and Nancy Furry his granddaughter.
Did Fairwick say anything about the ? or payment for said lands.
I asked him if the other heirs would not complain and he said that he had made deeds or would make them for $150 in hand paid. He said that he would do nothing for them that did nothing for him. This was about a year before his death
Filed Aug. 22, 1876
Samuel Clarkson’s Death
(Page 27) March 13, 1877 – In this case the death of the defendant Samuel Clarkson is suggested and admitted to be true and the deft left a widow Elizabeth Clarkson and several children viz., Margaret Bolton wife of Joseph Bolton, Rena Clarkson, Clementine Clarkson, Jane Monday wife of Luke Monday, Catharine Clarkson, Matilda Clarkson, Jerusha Clarkson, Mary Clarkson, Elizabeth Clarkson, John Clarkson, Henry Clarkson and the two first named children being adults. Thomas McDermott solicitor of said minors, Elizabeth, Rena and Joseph Bolton and wife Margaret Bolton enter their appearance and waives service of process. It is therefore ordered and decreed that this cause be and the sheriff is ordered to summon Luke Monday and the other children of said deceased to appear at the next term of this court to show cause if any why this suit should not be revived against them.
(page 53) August 21, 1877 – In this cause it appearing that at the last term of the court the death of the def Samuel Clarkson was suggested and admitted of record and scire facias awarded to reddie the cause against his surviving children namely Clemenoria (all Clarksons), Catharine, Matilda, Jerusha, Mary, Elizabeth, John and Henry and Sarar scire facias was subsequently issued and duly served upon them notifying them to appear at the present term and to present any cause why this suit should not be filed upon them. Be it further mentioned that said children are minors without guardian, a motion is ordered that William B. Davis, a solicitor at the bar be hereby appointed guardian at litem to make defense on behalf of the children. (Note – the married children are not listed here.)
(page 63) August 22, 1877 – William Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson et al – On the cause scire facias having been awarded at the last term to bring Luke Monday and wife Jane Monday, Clementine Clarkson, Catherine Clarkson, Matilda Clarkson Jerusha Clarkson, Mary Clarkson, Elizabeth Clarkson, John Clarkson and Henry Clarkson before the court of the present term to show cause why this suit should not be revived against them….the cause is revived against them. The complainants may retake the deposition of M.B.? Overton and Fernando Clarkson provided the same should be done at Sneedville during the next January term of the court and that the complainant may take by service notice alone on James Snavely. And the marriage of def. Nancy Furry with James Snavely being suggested and admitted to be true by consent this cause is revived against James Snavely and wife Nancy Snavely, formerly Nancy Furry.
Fernando Clarkson Deposition
State of Tennessee, Hancock County
(Page 1) This the 2 day of March 1878 I have on this day proceed to take the deposition of Fernanado Clarkson and M. B. Overton witnesses for the plantiff. Fernando Clarkson aged 32 years and M. B. Overton aged 54 years taken by agreement of the parties at Breeding & Parkey’s Store in presents of the plantiff and defendents to be read as evidence in a suit now pending in the Chancery Court in Sneedville Hancock County and State of Tennessee where in Wm Clarkson is plantiff and Rebecca Wolf and Nancy Snavely and others is defendents. The said Fernando Clarkson and M. B. Overton after being duly sworn on the Holy Evangilist to speak the oath and the hole truth and nothing but the truth considering the matters in dispute between the said parties. Deposes as follows.
Fernando Clarkson deposes as follows.
Questions by the plantiff. State the number of cross fences there is along the road and if the line (Page 2) claimed by Nancy Snavely does not go to the fourth cross fence.
Ans – They was four cross fences when the line was done.
Ques – State whether the line claimed Nancy Snavely goes to the fourth cross fence.
Ans – It did at the time the line was run.
Ques – State all you know about the note that Nancy Snavely held on Fairwix Clarkson.
Ans – I heard her say it was and my understanding it was money that she deserved from the government that her brother. What was in the army and I heard her different times tell Fairwix Clarkson that he aut to give her his note for the money.
Question by the defendants. Please state if a fence has been moved since Nancy Snavly obtained a deed for said land.
Ans – I do not know.
Question – Did you ever hear Farwick Clarkson say that he intended his home place for Nancy Snavely.
Ans – I heard him say that if Nancy stayed at home and did as she had done that he intended to give her a little home.
(Page 3) Question – Did you hear Fairwix Clarkson say that he intended Rebecca Wolf to have the land she now lives on?
Ans – He said that he intended to give Calvin Wolf a home if he staid where he there was, if he done right –
Furthermore this witness deposeth at…….. Fernando Clarkston
M. B Overton Deposition
M.B. Overton Deposed as follows:
Question – Did Nancy Snaveley present to you after the death of Farwix Clarkson a note for him to pay off as the adm. of Farwis.
Ans – I was at Nancy Snaveley’s one day and she asked me what she must do with the note she held on her grandfather (Farwix Clarkson). I asked her what she wanted to do with it she said they had them sued for the land and if they taken the land a way from her she thought she ought to have the money. She said she did not intend to collect the money if she held the land. I said to her to present the note to me as administrator and I would mark on it presented and if she lost the land she could collect her money.
(Page 4) Question – What was the amount and date of the note.
Ans – The amount I think was sixty dollars
Question – What became of the note.
Ans – I gave it back to Nancy Snaveley.
Question – Did Nancy Snaveley present an acct and call for the note an account.
Ans – She came to my house and proved the account and stated if she lost the land she intended to have pay for what she done, as to the amount I can’t recollect but I think it was between two and three hundred dollars
Furthermore this witness deposedth not. M. B. Overton
I certify that the foregoing depositions are all written under my controle. That I am in no wise related to either of the parties. That the same were taken before me on the day at the place in the presence of the parties set forth in the case and it has not been out of my possession or in any wise altered added to or changed since it was signed by the said M. G. Overton & Fernando Clarksons till it was delivered to Fernando Clarkson. The said day of March 1878.
William Hest, J. P.
Partial deposition of Dr. Bales
How long have you been practicing as such?
I’ve been practicing about 6 years…attended Fairwix Clarkson in his last sickness till a few days before he died. I believe I saw him on Saturday preceding his death on Wednesday. He was of sound mind and disposing memory. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think he was entirely rational by same state if he was very low and weak and he as low but he had rite smart strength.
(page 76)March 14, 1878 – Final Decree – Be it remembered that this cause to be finally heard…upon the pleadings….proof ?? the deeds made by Fairwix Clarkson to the defendants Samuel Clarkson, Nancy Furry and Rebecca Wolfe which were filed with and as parts of defendants answers and are hereby ordered to be made a part of the record in this cause. From all which it appears to the satisfaction of the court that the execution of said deeds was not procured by the said ?? y the exercise of any undue influence or improper means but that the said Fairwix Clarkson was of sound mind when he made the same and that the bill attacking said deeds on the grounds appeared and misstate imbecility on the part of the maker the ?? as the date of their execution is not sustained by the proof. And it is therefore ordered and adjudged and decreed by the court that complainant is entitled to no relief, that his bill and the same is hereby dismissed and that defendents recover of complainant costs. The cost of the cause for which execution was awarded – and it appearing that Jarvis and Davis and McDermott and Kyle solicitors for the def have entered their certain services in this cause in ?? defending their titles to the lands in controversy and their application the court is pleased to declare a ?? in their favor respectively to secure the payment of such fees as may be due them for their said services, and it further appearing that some of the defendants are minors and incapable of contracting with said solicitors in reference to the claim for said services it is ordered that the matter be referred, the matter to ascertain and report what would be reasonable compensation to said solicitors for their said services, and the cause is retained in court for the purpose of enforcing the lien? Heretofore declared in their favor. And from its decree discussing his bills the plaintiff prays and appears to the next term of the superior court late held at Knoxville on the second Monday of September 1878 which is granted on condition that he execute a proper appeal bond or otherwise (page 77) comply with the law within one month close of the present term. Upon the hearing the def. objected to the deposition of Robert Shiflet and wife on the ground that they are incompetent witnesses for or against each other and the same were excluded by the court and will not be included in the transcript for the supreme court. As parties to the cause, def also objected to court evidence of all the witnesses (except the subscribing witnesses to the deeds and the physician in attendance) who gave their opinions as to whether the maker of said deeds was of sound or unsound mind, unsupported by any facts observed by themselves, and on the hearing of the cause the deposition of Agnes Clarkson was excluded on the application of the complainant, and will be excluded from the transcript to be made out for the superior court. In this case the complainant submits a bill of exceptions which is signed and sealed by the court and ordered to be made a part of the record of the cause.
March 1881 – Order Clarkson vs Clarkson et al – an application of the defendants unto leave is given them to withdraw their title papers filed in this cause by leaving a receipt for paid title deeds with the clerk ……..
And off they went to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The cemetery played a part in the case of Fairwix’s land division. This cemetery is part and parcel of the Claxton/Clarkson family land, the heart of it, along with the hand dug well that nourished the family for generations. Fairwix’s mother, Sarah Cook Clarkson and his mother-in-law, Nancy Anne Workman Muncy both rest here, as do Fairwick and Agnes and their son Samuel and his wife Elizabeth along with some of their children. Rest assured that babies and children of earlier generations are here too, some never known to those who live today. This cemetery remained under the watchful eyes of all the family. Everyone walked by this hallowed land every day as they did their chores. Their ancestors, several generations of ancestors and kinfolks, were never far removed. Burials started here, probably with any children lost by James Lee Clarkson and his wife Sarah Cook Clarkson after they arrived in the area not long after 1800 and before James’ death in 1815.
We know that Fairwick’s son James is probably here too, because Fernando deposes that he was raised on this land.
Here is a picture of Fairwix’s tombstone with its broken corner, looking at the barn and the location of the house which stood between the cemetery and the barn. In the Google satellite image, below, the arrow points to the fenced cemetery.
The cemetery is on the historic Clarkson land, of course, at the junction of River Road and Owen Ridge Road. It is at the farm right on the corner and it is fenced and behind the barn. You can see it from the road. There is a newer Owen cemetery within view just up from it on River road. You can access the Clarkson cemetery through the barnyard. In 2005, J. Howard Cavin ( rhymes with gave in) and his wife owned the property. Just up Owen Ridge Road is the Jubilee Camp run by the Ronnie Owen Evangelical Ministeries and if you follow the signs you’ll find the farm at the corner of River Road and Owen Ridge Road. Mrs. Cavin said the original road ran right beside the cemetery, but they moved the road when they paved it and it is further away today. She also said that the original house sat behind the cemetery in the clearing, shown below, and that there were three different families who lived in the general area.
There was a spring back in the holler, looking up Owen Ridge Road from the barn/cemetery and the families dug a 20 foot well or so and it always flowed into the basin. The women went down there to wash clothes.
Those three original families were likely Samuel, his sister and his niece – and their descendants – those three deeds executed by Fairwick just days before his death. The 1900 census tells us that Elizabeth, Samuel’s widow was still living in her own home in that area at that time.
This was James Lee Clarkson’s original land and in the deeds and chancery suit it states that what is now known as River Road is the main road from Tazewell to Jonesville. Fairwick bought this land along the road from his mother and more than 40 years later deeded the “old home place,” “below the road” to Samuel.
Ironically in 1891, Fernando Clarkson deeded land to Joseph Bolton, who had married Margaret Clarkson, daughter of Samuel Clarkson. It’s very possible that the land that Joseph Bolton bought was originally the land that Samuel Clarkson had deeded Fernando. Stranger things have happened, especially in my family.
Clarkson/Claxton by Whatever Name – Origins
We’ve learned so much about Fairwick or Fairwix Clarkson or Claxton or Clarkston in death, due to the chancery suit, but we haven’t learned a thing about where his family was from. That wasn’t relevant to the land in Hancock County in the 1870s. However maybe we can still discover something about the genesis of the Clarkson family from those who have passed before and those who are living today.
I decided to look at the matches for the Clarkson family men in the Clarkson/Claxton DNA project. This is the matches map from one of the Claxton men in the match group that includes the Hancock County family.
At 37 and 67 markers, there were no matches other than to other Clarkson men, but at 25 markers, there are some matches to other surnames as well. The map above shows the location of the oldest European ancestors for those matches who know (and have provided) that information. You’ll notice that in the UK, all of the markers are in England. There are none in Scotland, Wales or Ireland, so this family looks to be of English origin.
Twelve marker matches, below, take us back even further in time to a common ancestor, but we’re still looking at the same type of settlement pattern.
This strongly suggests that we should be omitting Scotch-Irish groups and looking at early colonial English settlements for our Claxton immigrant ancestor.
The first thing we know about Fairwick, aside from his birth, is that his father died when he was just 15, and from that time forward, Fairwick was the patriarch of the family. As difficult as that had to be, Fairwick seems to have risen to the occasion.
By the time he was 20, he had married Agnes Muncy and in another couple of years, he began to amass a significant amount of land on the Powell River, on River Road, the main road from Tazewell to Jonesville, according to the deeds. Fairwick and Agness would be married for about 55 years – that’s amazing for that time and place. I wonder if they remembered the date on their 50th anniversary, in 1869?. Did Agnes mention it to him? Did he pick her flowers from the field? Did the kids come over and make a pie or cake and celebrate, or did milestone anniversaries in that time and place go unnoticed?
We learned in the depositions that Fairwick was an astute business man. In the 1820s, when he was in his early 20s, he was a constable, served on juries, managed road crews and collected taxes. Those tax receipts are how and why we have a copy of his signature. Someplace in those mountains, he learned to read and write when most men didn’t.
Fairwick homesteaded land and obtained land grants. He planted and valued his orchards. He eventually bought his parents land and lived in the main house. Later, he deeded that same land and house to son Samuel who died not long after his father.
Fairwick joined the Rob Camp church in the 1850s, probably as a result of a revival and at the behest of his wife. His children joined about the same time, and they were all likely baptized in the Powell River. He and his family went on to be founders of the Mt. Zion church, a few miles up the road from where the family lived.
Fairwick died at age 74, in 1874, but he was ill and somewhat incapacitated for 7 years prior to his death, which dates to 1867, just a couple years after his son Samuel came home from the Civil War, nearly dead with pneumonia.
Fairwick and Agnes saw more than their share of grief and heartache. After Fairwick’s father, James Lee Claxton/Clarkson died in 1815, his mother lived for another 48 years, until 1863. In that time, Fairwick’s sister Elizabeth and his only brother, Henry died in the late 1830s and early 1840s.
In about 1845, or between 1845 and 1850, Fairwick’s son James died, along with James’ wife. They left 4 children which Fairwick and Agness would raise, along with their own. Two of those grandchildren died, but the other two would remain on the home land and take care of their grandparents until their death, both winding up with some of Fairwick’s property because they “did right” by their Grandpa.
In 1856, it seems that Fairwick tipped the bottle a little too far, or in front of the wrong people, and was reported to the church for drunkenness.
The Civil war devastated this family. Fairwick’s son John died in March of 1863 in the Civil War, just a few months before his mother’s death.
Fairwick’s mother, Sarah, died in December 1863, not long after the beginning of the Civil War, and not long after several of her grandsons mustered into the service. If she was a religious woman, she had a very long prayer list every day.
Fairwick’s son Henry died in February, 1864, just two months after Fairwick buried his mother.
Fairwick’s daughter, Nancy was married to John Wolfe who died in the war in March, 1864, just a month after Fairwick’s son Henry.
Fairwick’s grandson William, whom he raised, enlisted and died in the service in May 1864, just 2 months after Henry and a month after John Wolfe.
John, Fairwick’s other grandson that he raised died about this time as well. Fairwick’s granddaughter, Nancy was widowed between 1865 and 1867, possibly as a result of the Civil War. She, along with her infant daughter, lived with Fairwick and Agnes from then until Fairwick died.
Fairwick buried one adult daughter before he died, as well. Nancy died about or not long after 1860, so may have been part of those couple of years of grief in the early/mid 1860s.
That’s 7 or 8 deaths within a relatively short time period and several within just months or days of each other. Fairwick and Agnes must have dreaded seeing anyone they weren’t expecting walk or ride up their path to the house. Of all of the Clarkson men and family members who enlisted, only two, Samuel and Fernando came home alive – and Samuel, barely. He would die as a result of the Civil War, but it took 11 miserable years. Most of the time, the family never received the soldier’s body as they were buried where or near where they died.
Samuel fought in the war and came home in 1865, nearly dead and severely disabled. He cared for his father for the last 7 years of his life in spite of his own disability.
Fairwick’s son, William, known as Billy, had moved away from the family by 1870 and apparently some sort of rift occurred either before or after the move.
According to the depositions of family members, Fairwick was sick and miserable towards the end of his life. He didn’t receive the blessing of the big old widow-maker heart attack in the field as he worked. Nope, he died of uremic poisoning, as he had “stricture of the bladder,” which in essence means that he couldn’t urinate. The results, as you might imagine are horrible and eventually the individual dies of kidney failure if not a septic infection or other resulting disease process. Strictures, which are in essence a blockage, can be caused by a physical injury, a disease process like kidney stones that are passed but causing injury that results in scar tissue buildup in the urethra, or an actual disease like prostate cancer that presses on the urethra reducing or eliminating the body’s ability to urinate. Generally, urination becomes difficult, requiring straining and then, eventually, impossible. Today, this could be easily treated, but then, it was fatal.
Fairwick’s decision about what to do with his land and how to divide it reflected his pain that only two of his children and his two grandchildren that he raised helped him in his hour, or in his case, months and years of need. Fairwick surely didn’t miss the fact that his son, Samuel, who was himself disabled, was the son who stayed to help.
Fairwick’s daughter, Sarah Clarkson Shiflet was deposed. She married Robert Shiflet and for some reason, they were judged to be unreliable witnesses. Rebecca married Calvin Wolfe and stayed on the homeplace or nearby to help Fairwick.
Fairwick was obviously very hurt by William and Sarah’s departure, and for right or wrong, he voted with his land – the only tool he had available. Fairwick would surely have been saddened had he been witness to the lawsuit after his death. It would likely have confirmed his opinions of his various children. We know that the Hancock County court upheld the three deeds in question and determined that no undue influence was exerted. We know the case was appealed to the state Supreme court, but we never discovered the outcome of the case. Given that we found no record of William ever owning any of the land in that area, it’s most likely that the case was upheld at the Supreme court level. That would have left William with some hellatious lawyer bills to pay since it was found in Hancock county that he had to pay all expenses for the defendants.
And with that, sometime in the 1880s, after 1881, at least 7 years after Fairwick’s death, the suit was finally settled one way or the other, and the horrible domino series of events that began with the onset of the Civil War in 1863 finally came to rest – two decades later.
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