B: 1 Nov 1797, Caswell Co, NC
D: 1 Aug 1860, Caswell Co, NC
Father: Aaron Simpson B: 2 Jan 1759, Fairfax, VA  D: 11 Dec 1832
, Fairfax, VA
Mother: Charlotte Wisheart Simpson B: 31 May 1763  D: 2 Oct 1846
Married Elizabeth Carter  B: 16 Apr 1797  D: 1841, NC
Our child - Aaron Sanford Simpson

Sumner County Gen Webpage article on Enoch Simpson by Eric Montgomery
List of Descendants of Enoch Simpson

Enoch Simpson () - born on 1 November 1797, in the part of Orange County that became Caswell County, North Carolina. Orange County was located just south of the Virginia border, about one-third of the distance west of the coast at that time, and was the parent county for several counties, including Caswell.  He was the son of Aaron and Charlotte (Wisheart) Simpson. His parents with their family joined a large migration of Simpson relations and moved from Fairfax County, Virginia to Caswell County, North Carolina, shortly before Enoch's birth. Enoch grew up on his father's plantation along Stony Creek in southwestern Caswell County near the Orange County, NC (now Alamance County) border. Enoch was evidently the owner of serveral slaves, as stipulated in his Will. Enoch was murdered by robbers in his home in 1860. EnochSimpson.doc gives more details about his life and his descendants. SimpsonVSTurner.doc is a transcript of a court proceedings concerning a law suit Enoch filed against Nelson B. Turner. Enochs

AARON and CHARLOTTE SIMPSON were both still living on their plantation in Caswell County in the 1820s, when their son, ENOCH, and his wife, ELIZABETH CARTER SIMPSON, decided to move to Tennessee. ELIZABETH’s parents and most of her siblings, along with several of ENOCH’s brothers, migrated about this same time.

The families were obviously comfortable and reasonably well off. What prompted this move is unknown, but most likely they were looking for better land for their plantations. They probably felt that there was greater opportunity in the unsettled lands in the west. Tennessee was no longer a wilderness, and the Indians were subdued.

Tobacco, corn, and other crops, were very soil destructive and it may be that all the good land available in North Carolina was already taken. Several families had banded together for the trip and they may have joined others going that way as well. Just the family members of this group, along with their slaves, wagons, children, and livestock would have made quite a large group. About the only members of the nuclear families who didn’t go were Frances Carter-6, and his wife, Elizabeth. After Francis Carter’s death, however, Elizabeth and their daughters loaded up and moved to Tennessee to live with JOSEPH-5 and ANN.

By 1820, the danger of Indian raids was past in Tennessee and the trails well worn through the mountains by previous travelers. Wagons could now navigate through the rough roads across the Cumberland and the trip did not have to be made entirely by walking or riding horseback. Not that this trip was an easy one, but the worst of the dangers were past.

JOSEPH CARTER-5 had lived in Caswell County for more than 30 years and was a little over 50 years old when they moved. ENOCH SIMPSON had been born and raised in Caswell, so he was leaving the only home he had ever known. The families were leaving a place that had been “home” for quite some time. They were leaving behind some family members that they would never see again. It must have been a bittersweet time as they made their way toward Tennessee, knowing that they were forever leaving behind parents, siblings, and friends.

Francis Carter, of Stokes County, North Carolina, as attorney in fact for JOSEPH CARTER of Sumner county, Tennessee [sells] to John Boswell of Caswell County for $550, 165.9 acres and 6 acres on Stony Creek, adjacent Thomas Williamston. Witness Thomas Williamston, W. J. Nash, December 6, 1824.

In January, 1826, JOSEPH again gave his son, Francis, power of attorney to sell 219 acres on Stoney Creek, adjacent James Haden and Esquire Williamson, John Williamson, Widow Leach, and John Boswell. This sale apparently took place in November 1823, but was not recorded until 1826. This made a total of about 388 acres of land sold by JOSEPH about the time of the move.

The families first went to Giles County, Tennessee, about 1818 and then to Sumner County a few years later. Some few of them, including Roger Simpson, stayed in Giles County. ENOCH SIMPSON bought some land in Giles County in 1821. He purchased land from John N. Smith, and paid $425 for land near John Nelson, James Calwell, and Henry Kerr. [Book E., page 93.] He was listed as “of Giles County.” They didn’t stay long in Giles County, however.

Upon reaching Sumner County about 1825, the group started settling in. The families matured, with the addition of new spouses and new households, and constructed farms in their new area. Though Sumner County is “rural,” even today, it was not a wilderness when they arrived but a thriving community. This author is not totally sure of the exact location of JOSEPH and ANN’s plantation, but Erick Montgomery says that it was “somewhere up past Bransford,” and it was probably near several of their children. They had a large group of slaves, including several old slaves no longer able to work. Their son, Joseph W. Carter, and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in District 13 in 1838 and were listed on the Scholastic Census that year. It is possible that JOSEPH and ANN lived near them.

great great grandfather was John “The Scotsman” Simpson.

ENOCH was one of the 11 children of a Revolutionary Soldier, AARON SIMPSON-4, and his wife, CHARLOTTE WISHEART. Both RICHARD E. JOHNSON and MARY ANN SIMPSON-6 were grandchildren of Revolutionary soldiers.

Tyree Harris by Joyce Hetrick

The Simpsons & the Carters in Tennessee

John Simpson-1; Richard-2; George-3; Aaron-4; Enoch-5

Giles Carter-1; Theodorick-2; Theodorick-3; William-4; Joseph-5; Elizabeth-6

ENOCH-5 and ELIZABETH CARTER-6 SIMPSON were well off by community standards, owning quite a large group of slaves. It would not have been unusual for a father to give his son slaves to help him establish his own plantation. AARON SIMPSON-4 owned quite a large number of slaves, so had possibly helped establish ENOCH.

The first purchase of lands in Sumner County was made on Deshea Creek, but by about 1830, ENOCH had moved to the valley of the Dry Fork of Bledsoe’s creek. The 1838 Scholastic Census listed him as living in District 12, and having four children in school that year.

ENOCH selected a small valley facing a high rocky bluff, across from Dry Fork Creek. His log home still stands there today. Erick Montgomery says that the house was “built in sections.” The first section was log, the second, frame, and the third was a kitchen added to the back. A breezeway joined the log and frame sections. Eventually this dogtrot, or breezeway, was enclosed, making a long hall with doors at each end. The front doors were under a pedimented portico, but in about 1910, this was removed and a long verandah was placed across the front. The house was two-story, but the second story was not a full eight feet high, but closer to six. The log part of the house might have pre-dated ENOCH’s purchase of the lands.

The burial ground across from the home contains graves of previous owners of the land as well as ENOCH’s family. The land behind the house was flat and rolling and good farmland. ENOCH and his slaves worked the land, grew crops and made whiskey. He also was a ”yarb doctor” and had discovered a “cure for cancer.” He was called “Doctor Simpson” in several documents. Erick Montgomery says that the “cure” was in reality a pain-killing medication that made the patient more comfortable, even though it did not “cure” the disease. The “cure” was compounded out of local plants.

Erick Montgomery’s branch of the family had an oral history that ENOCH was well-educated in his youth and had attended William and Mary Medical College in Virginia. Erick says that he contacted several universities trying to verify this but was unable to verify that ENOCH had attended university. During ENOCH’s lifetime, most physicians received their training by apprenticeship.

The title “doctor” in the early-nineteenth century in Tennessee was assumed by a man when he had established a reputation as a physician. This could be done by “reading” medicine with another doctor. The practice of what today is considered “medicine” was divided into two subspecialties, “physician” and “surgeon.” Frequently “physicians” also compounded and dispensed their own medicines. Surgeons, originally barber/surgeons, did the rougher sort of medicine, such as lancing boils and amputations. Very early “physicians” seldom got their hands dirty by touching the patient. They looked down on the “manual labor” of the surgeon. A man could also be both a physician and surgeon, and by 1860, this was usually the case. Two medical books were listed in the items in ENOCH’s estate sale inventory. It’s possible that ENOCH’s practice of medicine was confined to the physician role and did not encompass the role of surgeon as well. This theory would go along with the oral history that stated he had “invented a cure for cancer.”

We don’t know how ENOCH received his title of “doctor” or how much of his time he devoted to medicine vs. how much he devoted to being a planter and mill owner. It was not unusual for physicians to also be planters. Apparently “doctoring” was not a large part of ENOCH’s living, but the practice of medicine in that era and area was not a lucrative business.

“Purge and Puke” medicine, [in which the patient was made to have diarrhea or to vomit], to rid the body of “poisons,” was about all the physician had to offer. There were no antibiotics or other medications to help the body fight infection. Physicians didn’t know about “germs” or practice sanitary medicine. The white coat was to protect the physician’s clothing from dirt. Patients might also be bled to reduce a fever. If a patient was bled enough, it might reduce the patient’s temperature to that equal with the grave!

Physicians had a few medications, including digitalis, and other herb-type remedies that worked, “bark” for malaria, and opium for pain and diarrhea. Many prescriptions and herbal remedies might have been worse than the disease they were supposed to heal. Until the advent of modern antibiotic treatments about the fourth decade of the twentieth century, physicians had little to offer patients except palliative treatments or worse.


On March 21, 1841, in Sumner County, ENOCH SIMPSON married his second wife, Martha Jane Johnson Turner, the daughter of AUSTIN JOHNSON, and the widow of James H. Turner. Martha Johnson Turner Simpson was the granddaughter of the Reverend RICHARD JOHNSON, who was quite elderly at that time, but still actively riding the Methodist circuit preaching the Methodist gospel.

James H. Turner, the first husband of Martha Jane Johnson, was the son of John Turner who died before August, 1835, when his will was probated in Sumner County. He named his sons and daughters. Nelson B. Turner was his oldest son, and received land near his brother-in-law, Richard C. Johnson, the son of our Reverend RICHARD. John Turner named the rest of his children in the will: son, James H.; daughter, Sally Harris, a widow; daughter Francis Johnston, [This was the wife of Richard C. Johnson] Rebecca Johnston, the wife of Benjamin Johnson, also a son of the reverend RICHARD. Elizabeth Barten, and Eliza Carter [was this William M. Carter’s wife?] and Mary Ann Henley. Executors were Nelson B. Turner and William M. Carter [JOSEPH’s son].

At the time of John Turner, Sr.’s death, ENOCH was still married to ELIZABETH CARTER, and JOSEPH CARTER was still alive. It would be four years later, in 1839, when both ELIZABETH and JOSEPH CARTER died, that the real problems with the Turners and the Carters would start. It is possible, however, that there was “bad blood” between the brothers-in-law before the deaths of ELIZABETH and JOSEPH.

After ENOCH married Martha Jane, Nelson B. Turner started problems with ENOCH for custody of Martha’s son, John Turner. Nelson was the legal guardian of the child, but the child lived with his mother and stepfather. Incidentally, the Turner child had inherited some property from his deceased father, which the deceased father had inherited from his father. Nelson B. apparently was trying to get custody of the estate along with the child. After the child died, Nelson B. tried to get that land rather than see the half-siblings, who were the “legal heirs” of the child, inherit it. [See Sources: Lawsuits of Sumner Co., TN.]

One order, mentioned in the Sumner County Clerk’s Minutes [February 1843-June 1846] Page 14, taken from the TSL &A Microfilm roll #50, states that “John Turner, by his guardian, Nelson B. Turner” and [ENOCH] SIMPSON and wife expartee, on March 2, 1843 found that an equal division of slaves mentioned in a petition, Lucy, age 70, Jesse, age 32, Westley, age 7, Isaac, age 5, cannot be divided between said SIMPSON and Wife and John Turner without being sold, and it was to the advantage of John Turner to sell them. They were to be sold by George F. Crockett at puclic auction January 10, next.

Nelson B. Turner lived “by the Greenfield Tract” which was the “uptown” part of the county. It was actually out in the country, but was the “better” address, according to Erick Montgomery. Nelson contended the schools were better there and he was a more fit guardian to the child than ENOCH was. Nelson was found in District 13, page 173, house number 633, on the 1850 Sumner County Census. He was listed as age 53, a farmer, born in Virginia, and owning $10,000 in real estate. Living at home with him were Joseph D. Turner, age 28, Mary E., age 15, and James N., age 11. The younger two attended school. He had no wife listed.

Each one called neighbors to testify that the other was an unfit parent. ENOCH’s witnesses stated that Nelson B. Turner’s children were allowed dancing and card playing and they were “profane speakers.” Mr. Turner’s witnesses stated that ENOCH had been known to drink “spiritous liquors and [get lost and] take the wrong road home.”

Some of the witnesses in this lawsuit were Benjamin Johnson, age 54 [son of RICHARD]; William Johnson, age 30, son of Benjamin; Susanna Johnson, age 16, a daughter of Benjamin; Elizabeth Buntin age about 50 years [sister of James H. Turner]; Richard Bradley age 28; William M. Carter, age about 50, the son of JOSEPH CARTER, and brother-in-law to Nelson Turner; John T. Carter, age about 23; Frances Lee, about 53 years old; Thomas J. Flowers, age 33; and James Gwen, Senior, about 52 years old. [Sumner County, TN Lawsuit # 135467. Microfilm: TSL & A #A5171, #13461-13692.]

The testimony consisted of depositions and questions to each witness by both Nelson B. Turner and ENOCH SIMPSON. The depositions took place at the house of Benjamin Johnson April 6th and 7th, 1849. ENOCH and his wife, Martha Johnson Turner Simpson, were the plaintiffs and Nelson Turner was the defendant.

According to the testimony from the various witnesses, most of whom were related to Martha Johnson either by blood or marriage and also to Nelson Turner by blood and/or marriage, seemed to be taking sides, but were also very careful in the language in which they spoke, apparently trying not to offend either side more than necessary. Several witnesses said when asked to make a preference of who would provide better for the child that Turner would make the better guardian, but no one said that ENOCH was not nice to the boy.

Several witnesses testified about the night that James H. Turner died. He was apparently at home and very sick. James’ brother-in-law, and also Martha’s uncle, Benjamin Johnson, was with him the last 10 or 15 hours before he died and James apparently called his wife to bring his child to him on one or more occasions. Martha’s brother, RICHARD E. JOHNSON, testified that he was also there, and was actually living at the house with his sister and her dying husband at the time. For some reason Martha was prevented from bringing the child to his dying father’s bedside by her sister-in-law and other women present. Apparently this testimony was thought important because of the dying father’s expressed wishes about who would raise his son. Nelson Turner was not at his dying brother’s bedside due to his own illness, which was brought out several times in the testimony.

Several witnesses testified that the two brothers were very close and that James H. Turner never made any business or personal decisions without consulting his brother, Nelson. Other witnesses testified that ENOCH’s home stood in a poor part of the county and that the facilities and people were at least “twenty-five” years behind the times, and that Nelson’s area was more modern and upscale.

Apparently the child, while in the care of his mother and ENOCH, was sent to live with ENOCH’s son, “Sanford” Simpson, who had married Martha’s sister. He was to attend school with Sanford’s son of about the same age. The local school master was called to testify that Nelson Turner came to the school in an attempt to get the boy and take him with him, but the child refused to go. Sanford Simpson arrived on the scene and told Nelson that if he took the child, he would have to take him along as well, and that they would go to the child’s mother and see what she wanted to be done with the child.

Elizabeth Turner Buntin, the sister of James H. Turner, the child’s father, testified that Martha Johnson Turner Simpson had told her at some time, apparently about the time her husband died, that her father [AUSTIN?] wanted to manage John Turner’s estate but she stated he should not have it in his hands and stated that no person should have his money but Nelson Turner for she believed that he would be a father to that child and stated that James always could take time to go to [visit] Nelson once a weak [sic] or oftener and said as to Nelson Turner and his wife she thought as much of them as she did of her father or more.”

James Gwen, a former business partner of ENOCH, testified that they had once owned a mill together. He was asked to “please state if Mr. Simpson is not a stubborn man in his disposition.” He answered, “He is.”

Thomas Flowers also testified that ENOCH and he and several others had been drinking one “chimus” [Christmas?] morning and that ENOCH had the bottle in his pocket. While they were drinking, ENOCH had been angry with one of his Negroes and had threatened to “tie her up by her big toes and whip the tar out of her” if she had stolen something. Upon cross examination by ENOCH, however, Mr. Flowers admitted that “no harm” had been done by ENOCH’s drinking and the reason he had the bottle in his pocket was that he was the only one of the group with pockets big enough to hold the bottle. He also mentioned that the episode with the slave was not because he was drunk but because he was upset with the slave.

William Johnson, who was identified as the son of AUSTIN’s brother, and also the son of Nelson Turner’s sister, [the son of Benjamin or Richard C. Johnson] testified that he and “Jo. D. Turner” were at a “camp meeting” on Dry Fork and were invited home by Mrs. Simpson [Martha Johnson Turner Simpson] afterwards to eat dinner. Jo. D. Turner had on a pair of new “pantaloons” [pants] that had many buttons from the ankle to the knee. Martha Simpson pulled at one of the buttons on the pants and acted like she would pull it off. Jo. D. Turner, in turn, grabbed her ear and “shuck” it and teased her back. Apparently ENOCH came back into the room about this time and was offended that his wife flirting with the boy and got Jo. D. Turner by the arm and escorted him out the door and told him to leave or be thrown out.

William Johnson then witnessed the quarrel between ENOCH and his aunt Martha about the incident and she stated that she was upset because when her dead husband was alive, Jo. D. Turner had frequented the house and was a favorite of her dead husband’s. Martha apparently threatened to leave and ENOCH told her to go if she wanted to. Then “Mrs. Simpson threw up some woman on this side of the ridge to Mr. Simpson and he than[sic] threw up Mark Moore and Jo. D. to her. She than [sic] told him that she loved Mark Moores little finger better than she did his whole body.”

Richard Bradley also was at the home of ENOCH at the time Jo. D. Turner and Martha were teasing. Richard said that Jo D. Turner said “Aunt Martha you are always trying to play your pranks on me.”

Benjamin Johnson, Martha’s uncle, also mentioned that at the estate sale of James H. Turner, the widow, in buying back the property of her deceased husband was bidding the items at less than Benjamin thought that they should bring, and thus cheating her son out of his rightful share of the property by buying it too cheaply. He mentioned to Nelson Turner about this and Nelson then upped the ante and started bidding against Martha to raise the prices she would have to pay to buy back the property. This probably did not endear her uncle Benjamin or Nelson, her brother-in-law, to her.

B. F. Johnson and James Johnson, presumably children [or nephews] of Benjamin Johnson, testified that they had been at Nelson Turner’s house and that the children played cards and also held a dancing school.

Martha Flowers testified that she was a close friend of Martha Simpson’s and that she was there one day when ENOCH was very sick and he was “vulgar” in her presence. Martha Simpson was apparently trying to get ENOCH to take something to eat and his throat was very sore and he could hardly speak. He told her that “if they get anything in him, they could turn him up and put it in the other end. Mr. Simpson appeared to be in a bad humor and said that he would not die in that place of torment but said he would go up to the mille [sic] and die there.”

The testimony of George C. Markham and Lemeal Sarver contained some of the most damning evidence against ENOCH. George Markham testified that he ran a repair shop and that one evening ENOCH had brought a wagon to him for repair. Afterwards they drank liquor together. ENOCH left about dark to be on his way and went the wrong way toward home. In fact, had had to turn around and pass the very shop where Markham stayed. ENOCH had “lost his leggons” and the next day Mr. Markham helped him find one of them on the road.

Lemeal Sarver testified that he “heard someone hollowing at my gate late at night after I had gone to bed. I opened the window and the person asked who lived there, ...I went out and found Mr. Simpson. I opened the gate and he rode the wagon into the yard and when he got down, I was compelled to help him into the house. It was a very cold night, he appeared to have been [drinking?]. After I got him into the house, I went out and tied up his horse. He got sick and vomited.”

In February, 1853, at the County Court, Nelson B. Turner petitioned the court to let him stand down as the guardian of John A. Turner. In March of that same year, the child, John A. Turner, came to court and because he was age 14, he was allowed to chose his own guardian. He chose John W. Head as his guardian. James M. Head and Pascal Head gave security for $10,000 for the guardian. [County Court Minutes of Sumner County, pages 13 and 21, Microfilm roll #51, transcribed by Jan Barnes.]

John Turner apparently stayed with ENOCH and his mother until his death about age 14. After the death of the child, there was also a considerable body of testimony about the child’s estate. His half-siblings were entitled to part of his estate, but Nelson B. Turner tried to get a share of the estate. Like his friend and brother-in-law, William M. Carter, Nelson B. Turner tried to make himself a part of any will/estate with which he was even remotely connected.

ENOCH and Martha Jane Johnson Turner Simpson had four children together. In addition to the children they had, they raised the three children of her father, AUSTIN JOHNSON, and his second wife, Barrodill White Johnson. [Sumner County, TN 1850 U S Census.]

Joseph W. Carter’s wife was Nancy White. She was the daughter of Thomas White and his wife, Sally. She may have been related to AUSTIN JOHNSON’s second wife, Barrodill White.

Not only did Martha Jane Johnson, the daughter of AUSTIN JOHNSON, marry ENOCH SIMPSON, and her brother, RICHARD EDMUND JOHNSON, marry ENOCH’s daughter, MARY ANN SIMPSON, but their sister, Mary Frances Johnson, married ENOCH’s oldest son, Aaron “Sanford” Simpson. They really “kept it all in the family.” [No, the author hasn’t figured out the blood-relationships of all the offspring of these marriages!]

Children of Enoch Simpson-5 and Martha Jane Johnson-4 (Not our Mother)

John Simpson-1; Richard-2; George-3; Aaron-4; Enoch-5
James Johnson-1 Richard-2, Austin-3; Martha Jane-4

  1. Thomas Benton Simpson-6, born February 19, 1842, married Frances Logan Graves, August 23, 1863, in Sumner County. He died September 1, 1922, and is buried in the Simpson Cemetery across the road from ENOCH’s home. [Erick Montgomery, in an e.mail dated August 8, 1997, gives information on the middle name of Thomas-6, his great-great grandfather.]

Frances Logan Graves [1840-1896] was the daughter of Benjamin F. and Harriet Young Graves, who were originally from Wilson County, but moved to Sumner County about the time Fannie was born. Tom and Fannie Simpson lived in the back of Simpson Hollow, up the creek from ENOCH SIMPSON’s house, where Lena Barr Elliott Williams still lives.

Erick Montgomery said that Thomas Benton Simpson studied medicine and practiced under Dr. J. B. Head, but that he gave up his practice of medicine for “religious reasons.” He was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church from 1859 to 1874, but then joined the Missionary Baptists. His wife was a member of the Church of Christ. Tom was also a farmer and a blacksmith. He lived in Simpson Hollow until about 1894, when he moved his family to the small village of Bethpage.

Martha Jane Johnson [1821-1905], daughter of Austin Johnson and his first wife, Ann Elizabeth Corley. She was first married to James H. Turner, and second, to Enoch Simpson. Copied from the collection of Thomas B. Simpson, 1871, by a commercial photographer.

Thomas Benton Simpson [1842-1922], son of Enoch Simpson and his second wife, Martha Jane Johnson [descended from Reverend RICHARD JOHNSON.] The child is Miller Carson Hunter [1917-1918], infant son of William Nathaniel Hunter and Eva Susan Simpson; grandson of Robert Lee Simpson and Rosella Sherron; great-grandson of William Simpson and his first wife, Emily Jane Brizendine; great-great grandson of Aaron Sanford Simpson and Mary Frances Johnson. Copied from the collection of Thomas B. Simpson, 1971, by a commercial photographer.

2. Penelope Elviria [“Puss”] Simpson-6, born November 24, 1846, married Robert Barr Wright, November 28, 1866, and died July 4, 1928. She is buried in Simpson Cemetery. No issue.

Penelope Elvira Simpson [1846-1928], daughter of Enoch Simpson and his second wife, Martha Jane Johnson, and her husband, Robert Barr Wright [1841-1917], son of Robert Anderson Wright and Susan P. Barr. Copied from the collection of Lena Barr Elliott Williams, Bethpage, Tennessee, in 1987 by Erick Montgomery.

3. Magdelena Frances [“Lene”] Simpson-6, was born January 15, 1849, and died May 6, 1929. No issue.

4. Joseph Roger Simpson-6, was born April 23, 1854, married Cintha Ann Wright, January 22, 1877, and died October 30, 1920. He is also buried in Simpson Cemetery.

In 1850, ENOCH’s household consisted of himself, Martha Jane, his son, William, who was a carpenter, Barrodill Johnson, Martha’s younger half-sister, and his and Martha’s younger children. He admitted to owning $2,000 in real estate.

The 1860 slave census for Sumner County states that ENOCH-5 owned 17 slaves. His slaves consisted of a male and female age 50, male slaves ages 15, 14, 12, 10, 3 and 1. He also owned female slaves ages 34, 32, 26, 16, 8, two age 6, one age 5, one age 4, and a one-month-old baby girl. With such a large number of mouths to feed, the plantation must have been a busy place. If you counted any slave below age 12 as a child, nine of the 17 slaves were children and therefore of little value to the plantation as labor. Since by 1860, ENOCH had been in Sumner County for nearly 35 years, any slave owned in 1860 under the age of 35 must have been acquired by purchase or birth after the move from North Carolina.

The United States Census for 1860 also included an agricultural schedule and ENOCH was included. He stated that he owned 125 acres of “improved” land and 400 acres of unimproved land. [We know he actually owned 1209 ½ acres a few months later when his estate was inventoried.] He stated that the cash value of his farm was $1,250, and the value of his farm implements and machinery was $125. He said he had four horses, three mules, five milk cows, no oxen, and seven other cattle. He had 26 sheep, and 40 swine. Total value of livestock was $992. His produce listed was 100 bushels of wheat, no rye, 1,000 bushels of Indian corn, no oats, rice, or tobacco, no cotton ginned. He produced 36 pounds of wool, 10 bushels of peas, two bushels of buckwheat, and the value of orchard products was $25. He stated he produced a ton of hay [that was not very much], 50 pounds of beeswax and 1,000 pounds of honey. [His estate listed about 30 or more bee hives.] Apparently, he did not raise any tobacco. He did, however, have a still, in which he made corn whiskey. That might account for the amount of corn he grew. He also apparently had a lumber business. Though he didn’t gin any cotton, his estate listed 200 pounds of seed-cotton for his plantation as part of the “provisions” for his wife for the year following his death. For some time prior to 1849 he had owned a mill with a partner. This could have been a grain mill or a lumber mill, or both.

The second family of Enoch Simpson at the Old Simpson Homeplace on Rockbridge Road in Sumner County, Tennessee, pictured with their new Victrola. From left to right: [1] Cinthia Ann Wright [1852-1911], daughter of Robert Anderson Wright and Susan P. Barr, and wife of Joseph Roger Simpson; [2] Joseph Roger Simpson [1854-1920], son of Enoch Simpson and his second wife, Martha Jane Johnson; [3] Susie Ann Simpson [1883-1943], daughter of Joseph Roger Simpson and Cinthia Ann Wright, and future wife of William Howard Elliott; [4] Magdalena Frances Simpson [1849-1929], daughter of Enoch Simpson and his second wife, Martha; [5] Nellie Barr Simpson [1886-1943], daughter of Joseph Roger Simpson and Cintha Ann Wright, and future second wife of John Thomas Hawkins; [6] Penelope Elvira Simpson [1846-1928], daughter of Enoch Simpson and his second wife, Martha, and wife of Robert Barr Wright; [7] Robert Barr Wright [1841-1917], son of Robert Anderson Wright and Susan P. Barr. [Copied from the collection of Lena Barr Elliott Williams, Bethpage, Tennessee, in 1978 by Erick Montgomery.]

Children of Enoch Simpson-5 and Elizabeth Carter-6

John Simpson-1; Richard-2; George-3; Aaron-4; Enoch-5

Giles Carter-1; Theodorick-2; Theodorick-3; William-4; Joseph-5; Elizabeth-6

  1. Aaron “Sanford” Simpson-6, was born November 20, 1819, in Caswell County, North Carolina, and married Mary Frances Johnson, the sister of his brother-in-law, RICHARD EDMUND JOHNSON. He died November 10, 1879, and is buried in Pond Cemetery in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Mary Frances Johnson [1824-1897], daughter of Austin Johnson and his first wife, Ann Elizabeth Corley, and her husband, Aaron Sanford Simpson [1819-1917], son of Enoch Simpson and his first wife, Elizabeth Carter. [Copied from the collection of Beulah Simpson Beasley, Portland, Tennessee, in 1978 by Erick Montgomery.]

  1. MARY ANN SIMPSON-6, [called Polly] was born about 1821, probably in Giles County, Tennessee, married RICHARD EDMUND JOHNSON. She died about 1877, and is buried in the Escue Cemetery in Sumner County. Her second husband was JAMES ESCUE, the father-in-law of her son, ROBERT JOHNSON.

  1. William C. Simpson-6, born May 3, 1824, on Richland Creek, Giles County, Tennessee, married Permelia Durham December 17, 1850. He died May 17, 1904, and is buried at Mt. Vernon Cemetery, Sumner County.

William C. Simpson [1824-1904], son of Enoch Simpson and his first wife, Elizabeth Carter, and his wife, Permelia C. Durham [1833-1911], daughter of Thomas Durham and Mary West. [Copied from the collection of Arlene Norman Gilmore Nashville, Tennessee, in 1978 by Erick Montgomery.]

4. Nancy E. Simpson-6, born about 1826 on Deshea Creek, Sumner County, married William West. She died after 1870 in Grayson County, Texas.

5. Katherine Odie Simpson-6, born June 24, 1828, in Sumner County, Tennessee, married James Wilburn West and had a daughter named Amanda. Katherine died May 1, 1860.

Katherine Odie Simpson [1828-1860], daughter of Enoch Simpson and his first wife, Elizabeth Carter, and wife of James Wilburn West. [Copied from the collection of Theda Pond Womack, Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1978 by Erick Montgomery.]

Photo number 7 from erick

James Wilburn West [1823-1874], son of John West, Jr., and Polly Allen. He was the husband of Katherine Odie Simpson. [Copied from the collection of Theda Pond Womack, Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1978 by Erick Montgomery.]

6. Elizabeth M. Simpson-6, born about 1830, married Alfred M. Stuart, February 27, 1850, and moved to Kentucky. She died before 1860.

The year 1839 wasn’t a great year for the family. It brought with it the deaths of JOSEPH CARTER and his daughter, ELIZABETH CARTER SIMPSON. JOSEPH and ELIZABETH had lived in Sumner County about 14 years when they died. This was tiime enough to establish their new homes and for ELIZABETH to raise at least some of her children to adulthood. JOSEPH was in his early seventies when he died.

ELIZABETH died about March of 1839. We don’t know exactly where she is buried, but probably the Carter Family Cemetery on Bledsoe Creek. There is also a small cemetery called “Simpson” Cemetery across the road from their house, perched on the rocky ridge. ENOCH’s second wife is buried in that one, as are several of his children.

JOSEPH CARTER apparently died June 14, 1839, a few days or weeks after his daughter died. She is mentioned in the will he wrote shortly before his death, so we know she was alive at that time, but apparently died before he did. ANN MALLORY CARTER died September 12, 1849, outliving both her husband and her daughter by 10 years. [Thanks to Erick Montgomery for this death date for ANN.]

JOSEPH’s will, probated in 1841, told a great deal about their lives and what they owned. It shows that JOSEPH was a considerate man and responsible for his aged slaves’ welfare. He apparently tried to be fair to each of his children in the estate as well.

Enoch’s Slaves

At the estate settlement, ENOCH’s slaves were valued at $10,500, which was an average of a little over $500 each. In 1857, there had been a “panic” which had driven the prices of slaves quite high. There was little cash in the economy, though, so selling them for these inflated prices was probably not easy. Also, quite a bit of anti-slavery sentiment was beginning in the country. The older slaves were not highly valued, and neither were the younger slaves.

The inventory of slaves at ENOCH’s death was listed as

Jesse, aged about 52; Debry, aged about 52; Retta, age 34; Abby, age 32; Anthony, age about 30 years; Harriet, age 26; Steve [?] age 15; Sall, age 13; Hazel, age 13; Jim, age about 11; Henry, age 10; Mary, age 11; Emiline, age eight; Charity, age seven; Minerva, age six; Luce, age six; Al, age four; Dock, age ½; and Caroline, age eight-months.

It appears that ENOCH’s slaves may have all been the offspring of Debry and Jesse. “Debry,” according to oral history related by Theda Womack, was so “old” that she had little monetary value. After the Civil War, Debry and several of the older slaves elected to remain with the family. At that point in their lives, they probably had little other choice. They would have had little way to make a living in post-Civil War Tennessee. Jesse may be the slave mentioned in the sale in 1843 as age 32, who was sold for a division of slaves between Martha Jane and ENOCH and her son, John Turner. [TSL & A Microfilm #50, page 14, Sumner County Court Minutes, February 1843 to June 1846.]

One of the male slaves, Stephen, was assigned to RICHARD E. JOHNSON, in right of his wife, at the division of the estate. The slave named Anthony “Simpson” was a blacksmith. He stayed with his white Simpson family for the rest of his life, even after the slaves were freed. He worked as a blacksmith for them. Erick Montgomery also says that oral history relates that “there was a female slave named Hannah who left a baby on the kitchen table with a butcher knife and ran away.”

Enoch’s Death

There are two stories about ENOCH’s death, the two only slightly conflicting. The first one, from Theda Womack, says after ENOCH sold some of the slaves, the rumor that he had gold hidden away got to the ears of some thieves and they decided to rob him. On August 4, 1860, they came to take the gold. Behind the log house was a small rock springhouse which had been dug out over a natural spring. It was lined with large field stones to make a stairway with a circular pit at the bottom in which to place food to keep it cool. When the bandits came, ENOCH barricaded himself inside the “fort” provided by this springhouse, but he was fatally wounded. Family legend has it that he did not disclose the location of the gold before he died and it was never found. We can imagine if his wife knew where the gold was hidden, she didn’t “let it out” that she knew, for fear that the robbers would return. We have no evidence that the men who killed ENOCH were apprehended.

Another version of the story of ENOCH’s death, from Erick Montgomery, is that because he owned slaves, antislavery “bushwhackers” killed him. As litigious as ENOCH seemed to be, it is possible he just had “plain old garden-variety enemies.” Either or both stories might have some grains of truth in them. It is fairly well accepted by descendants, though, that he was shot and murdered in the spring- house behind his home.

The house stands today [2002] and the springhouse behind it is still there, though the building over the spring has been rebuilt with concrete blocks, the original floor and circular spring pit, now dry, is still at the bottom of the steep steps. The house is enlarged and the logs are covered with wide planks and paint, but descendants of ENOCH still live in the house. Erick Montgomery has a photograph of the house taken about 1900, and he says that actually only one room of the house is log, probably built as the original house by a man named McKissock who sold the land to ENOCH. Erick says there was a large kitchen wing on the back and a gallery [porch] The rest of the house was a frame “dogtrot.” The dogtrot has been covered and a gallery [porch] placed across the front.

A “dogtrot” house is one in which the house is divided into two separate sections, usually under one roof, and between them is an open porch or “breeze way” that has a roof but no “ends” and the sides are the outside walls of the other sections of the house. On a hot summer day, it is a pleasant place to sit. There is a “gallery” or porch along the front of the house.

Through the years, the house has been modified, and sections built and added and then torn away, which is not unusual in a house over 150 years old. The house was modified to meet the needs of the family currently occupying it and those needs changed through the years. It has been inhabited by direct descendants of ENOCH for the entire life of the house from the time he lived there.

Enoch Simpson home as it appeared in 1990, Sumner County, Tennessee, Photo by the author.

Theda Womack is also a descendant of ENOCH and has a cherry-wood chest of drawers that is reputed to be the one ENOCH made and gave to his daughter as a wedding present. The workmanship and the wood are beautiful. However, in the otherwise perfectly made piece of furniture, the individual drawer locks don’t line up vertically down the front, but sort of zig and zag as if imperfectly measured by another hand. Theda said, in an undated letter to the author,

Daddy’s cousin, May Durham Wilson, thought that their great grandfather made the furniture which was owned by their grandmother, Katherine Simpson West. This furniture included a cherry chest of drawers which I now own, a candle stand which Daddy bought at his Aunt Sally West’s estate sale, that Louise now owns, and a Jackson press which Aunt Helen sold to her cousin, May. This seems likely since an inventory of his estate showed both cherry and walnut lumber.

Though ENOCH had no will when he died, he had supposedly requested to be buried beside his first wife, in the Carter Cemetery in northeastern Sumner County.

After the death of ENOCH, his son-in-law, RICHARD E. JOHNSON, and son, A. S. [Aaron Sanford] Simpson, were the administrators of the estate. The estate consisted of 20 slaves, as well as the land and house. Some of the factions wanted to sell the slaves and others wanted to divide the slaves without selling them. The slaves were not sold, but were divided into lots of more or less equal value, 11 shares. Each of the children and the widow got a share.

The 1850 Census of Sumner County shows RICHARD JOHNSON and A. S. Simpson living in District 15 [page 197-8] next door to each other. RICHARD’s house was #995 and Aaron Simpson’s was number 996. RICHARD and Aaron were both listed as age 30. MARY ANN SIMPSON JOHNSON was age 29 and she and RICHARD had Emily E. [age 7], ROBERT F., [age 5], Mary J., [age 3] and Mary A., [age 1.] Aaron and Mary F. Johnson Simpson, who was listed as age 24, had Joseph. E, [age 8] and William, [age 7], James W. [age 6], and Elizabeth J, [age 3.] They also had Absolom Escue living with them as a farm hand. Each family owned about $250 in real estate.

The inventory of the sale of ENOCH’s property included plantation tools, livestock, quite a few “bee gums,” quite a bit of lumber, a wagon, quite a few hogs and pigs, a few sheep, several cattle, several mules, several horses, a set of blacksmith’s tools, a shoe-making bench and tools, spinning wheels, including a flax wheel, some household tools, and cooking ware. There were a few pieces of furniture sold, including a “Jackson Press.” Two medical books were also sold for 40 cents.

Theda Womack says: “I was told by Mr. Charley Key that ENOCH was a doctor who was famous for having made an herb medicine which he claimed would cure cancer, and that people came from miles around, even from Kentucky, to buy his medicine.”

Estate records are located in Sumner County, Tennessee, Inventory Book 1857-1861, pages 484-89. The inventory included quite a few debts and notes owed to ENOCH, many of which were marked “doubtful” and “bad.”

The division of the estate of a man who died without a will is determined by the property laws of each state. Tennessee had a dower law similar to many other states at the time. They were based on the legal presumption that a married woman should be supported by her husband, but that she wasn’t capable of managing an estate and did not need to control property. A “dower,” or one-third of his real property [land and/or slaves], was set aside for the use of the widow for her lifetime. At her death, it reverted to whomever had title to the land. The laws in different states varied, but apparently the widow got “a child’s portion” of the personal property in this case.

At the time of his death, estate records indicate he owned upwards of 1,200 acres of land scattered in various sections of Sumner County. The various heirs apparently spread out over this land after 1860. The dower was set aside for the widow, which included the home they lived in. She bought out the interests of the 10 other heirs in the dower property and paid them each $100 for their interest in it, so that she had title in fee simple to this property. Martha Jane Johnson Turner Simpson lived the rest of her life in the home and left it to her son, Joseph. She died in 1905, 45 years after ENOCH was killed. She was buried in the Simpson graveyard across from her home.

In September, 1860, the widow’s supplies for a year’s “provision” were mentioned in the court records. “30 bushels of corn, 200 pounds of sugar and 80 pounds of coffee, one bushel [barrel?] salt, one side of sole leather, and two sides of kid [leather], 1,500 pounds of pork, 100 pounds lard, 40 bushels of wheat, 20 pounds of wool sides, 200 pounds seed cotton, 200 pounds of soap, 1 pound black pepper, 15 gallons vinegar, 3 pounds Ginger, 12 nutmegs, ____sweet and Irish potatoes on hand, 15 pounds of all spice, 50 pounds tallow, 3 bushels dried peaches, and two bushels dried apples and “what peas is on hand,” one beef heifer and steer to weigh 350 or 400 pounds, 10 pounds soda, 20 gallons of molasses.”