"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies

Henry Hart
1783 - 1857

From the book "James Hart and His Descendants by Charles Gerton Hart 1974


See information on Henry Hart Military Data 1812

Henry Hart our most elusive ancestor, was the second son of James and Elizabeth Hart. Henry settled in Tennessee in the early 1800's, was a farmer and a man who loved the rolling hills and rich farm land such as is found in Tennessee. He was born December 25, 1783, probably in Edgefield South Carolina. A grandson, John B. Hart, said that his grandfather, was born on the line between North and South Carolina. This is possible as we have no record of where Henry's father, James, was living until 1787 at which time he received a state land grant in Edgefield County, South Carolina.

In 1800 Henry was sixteen years old and still living in the home of his parents since he is included with them in the Edgefield County census record. He was twenty-one years old on December 25, 1804. Somewhere at this time, or early in the year 1805, he was married to Nancy Rainey. She was the daughter of John Rainey, a captain in the Revolutionary War. She was born November 11, 1784. Some records say she was born in Virginia, but it was Laurens County, South Carolina, since John Rainey stated in his pension for service during the Revolution that he lived in Laurens before and after the war.

Henry and Nancy lived in South Carolina for at least two years. James Williamson, was born October 11, 1805 in South Carolina and another son, John Henry, was born March 18, 1807 in South according to later census records. Two other children, probably girls, were born to Henry and Nancy during the next four years, but we do not know where they were living at this time. Their daughter, Elizabeth, who later became the wife of James Coats, is found in an 1850 census record of Missouri, shows her to be 38 years old (born 1812) and born in Tennessee. So sometime between 1807 and 1812, Henry and Nancy had left South Carolina and were living somewhere in Tennessee, probably migrating there is Rainey and his family in 1808. Henry had evidently spent some time in Bedford County on or before 1812. His name is found on a list of taxpayers for that year. He was No. 43 in John McWilliams Company. The returning Justice was Joshua Hoult Esquire. There were one hundred fifty-six men on this list, many were known to have settled in the area now known as Flat Creek, or New Hermon, all in the twenty-second Civil District of Bedford County. Henry Hart may not have been permanently settled in this area at that time, but there is no doubt that he was here. This is the area in which our Hart ancestors are known to have settled and where they have lived for many years. It is believed that Henry may have "staked out" the land he liked, built a cabin on it, and applied for the grants he later received. The first grant he received gave the information that a house and improvements were already there. This was Grant No. 19178, recorded June 3, 1823, and is found in the Tennessee Archives, Nashville, Tennessee. Indications are that he did not remain in Bedford County at that time. He may have been scouting around to see if he really wanted to settle there. He was somewhere in Tennessee in 1814 as the records show that his daughter, Nancy, was born in 1814 in Tennessee. It is highly probable that he was a soldier in the War of 1812, or the war with the Creek Indians in 1814. If we move ahead several years we find records that an act was passed September 28, 1850 "Granting Bounty land to certain officers and soldiers who have been engaged in the military service of the United States."

Two different Henry Harts made application for this land. Both of these men were residents of Bedford County when these applications were made for bounty land. We know that in 1850 our ancestor lived in the 22nd Civil District, and another older Henry Hart lived in the 20th District and who later went to Missouri and died there. However, it is said that most Tennesseans who received land for serving in the War of 1812 did receive it in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. This writer wonders if Henry Hart could have received a grant in one of these states, Illinois, and planned to move there, or gave the grant to one of his children who later did settle there.

In the next few years, other children were born to Henry and Nancy. From later census records we learn that Nathan was born in 1816, Derrel J. in 1818, Catherine in 1820, and Jesse in 1821. However, the 1820 census of Bedford County shows that no Hart families were living there at the time and we assume that Henry and his family still had not moved into Bedford County permanently, or that the census-taker missed his house altogether. Census takers made many mistakes. But we do know that Henry and Nancy were in Bedford County soon after 1820. In a deed dated March 6, 1823, we learn that Henry Hart of Bedford County paid $200 to Jesse Conwell of Lincoln County, Tennessee, for a tract of land consisting of 27 acres and located on the west waters of Big Flat Creek, a south branch of Duck River.

And then on May 27th of the same year we find that Henry Hart received land grant No. 19178, consisting of 24 acres and was located on the head waters of Big Flat Creek, a south branch of Duck River which included his house and improvements made previous to the date of the entry. The date of entry was March 14, 1811. So it seems that Henry, or someone, had been living on this tract of land at an earlier date than 1823 when the grant was signed by the governor of Tennessee.

The 1850 census of Bedford County shows that another son, Martin, was born in 1826 in South Carolina. It does seem that this should be Tennessee. The census taker or the person giving the information may have made an error. Henry now had 51 acres of land, a house and improvements and, by this time, a good-sized family. In addition, on August 26, 1826 he received two more grants, one consisting of 50 acres and the other consisting of 46 acres and 125 poles, making a total of 147 acres and 125 poles. It is rather doubtful that he would rave moved back to South Carolina even for a short time. This land was all located on the head waters of Big Flat Creek, a south branch of Duck River. It was hilly land, with a creek running nearby. The road running parallel with the creek was known as Rainey's Branch Road. It has changed very little and is now known as Possum Trott Road.

James W. is recorded in the marriage Book, Vol. I, page 59, in White County, Illinois, as married to Sally Gott there on January 26, 1830. John H. is recorded in the 1830 Warren County, Tennessee census as living there with his

Henry now has five sons living at home. And we see that he has four daughters living with him. Elizabeth, now 18, had married James Coats and in a nearby household. Two other daughters, ages approximately 20 and 22. are unaccounted for, but were probably married.


Mt. Hermon Baptist Church located in the 22nd District of Bedford County.
Organized August 14, 1833 but records date back to January 9, 1830.
Service then being held monthly by a group then known as the Arm of the Flat Creek Church at Mt. Hermon

At about this time we begin to find Henry and his wife, Nancy associated with the Mount Hermon Baptist Church which was just a few miles southwest of their home. In fact, up to this time, we had found no records to show that her that her name was Nancy. It is in these records that we find Henry, his wife Nancy, and some of their children — records that tell us much about this church, this family, their neighbors, and their way of life.

The minutes of this church have been recorded by faithful clerks for over 140 years. The present church clerk, Frederick Steed, who is a great-great-grandson of Henry Hart, has in his possession all the minutes from 1830 to the present time, and has been kind enough to lend these books to Mrs. Robert Patterson, our Tennessee genealogist, to extract information concerning Henry Hart and his descendants.

The first minutes were recorded January 9, 1830. On the first membership list we find the name of Henry Hart, Nancy Hart, James Coats, Elizabeth Coats, and Letha Heart. Their daughter, Elizabeth, wife of James Coats, born in 1812, would have been 18 years old by this time. We assume that Letha Heart was their daughter, also. Written beside her name are the words "dismissed by letter." There was no date but since her name was not on the next membership list made in August 1833, we suppose that she left the church sometime between January 1830 and August 14, 1833.

This church became a member of the Duck River Association of Baptists which meets annually with delegates attending from sister churches throughout this area. In 1833 Henry Hart was one of the three delegates sent from the Mt. Hermon Church to the Association which convened at Big Hurricane Church in August of that year. In the next few years we notice that he was church at many of these Associations. In 1841 he was ordained deacon. In reading these old records, one gets the feeling that he was a church member, one who was devoted to his church and who always attended the services with his family.

His daughter Nancy and her husband, George Washington Gossage, were all fist of members but were on an early list of members but were granted a letter of dismissal in June 1835. However in March 1836, we find that Nathan Hart became a member and very soon after he joined we find the name of another son, John H. Hart, whom we have already mentioned as being the second son of Henry and Nancy. Immediately following his that of Malinda Hart with the word "dead" in different writing on the same line. There is no date, but her death probably occurred before 1840 since was not on the new list of members made in April 1840. We assume that Malinda was a daughter of Henry and Nancy, and unless someone finds a family Bible, we may never find any other record concerning her.

We also find the name, Catherine Hart, and on a later list we find her as Catherine Shook along with her husband, James Shook. And before long we find as of Derrel J. Hart and his wife, Rachel, and also N. M. L. H. (Martin) Hart with his wife Mary. Later we find Agnes R. and her husband, William Jasper Morris. And so, in these church records, we find Henry Hart and his Nancy, with the following children:
John H. Hart
Letha Hart
Elizabeth and James Coats
Malinda Hart
Nathan hart
Nancy and Washington Gossage
Catherine and James Shook
Derrel J. and Rachel Hart
Martin and Mary Hart
Agnes R. and William Jasper Morris

It might be added here that the name of Henry's oldest son, James Williamson was not found anywhere in the church records — or the names of any other members of this family.

In 1835, Bedford County was divided into Civil Districts, numbering one twenty-five. As far as we know the majority of our Harts and allied families lived in the 22nd District. In 1836 a tax list was printed giving the name each property owner, the amount of land he owned, its value, number of residence their value, and the amount of tax paid. All males of voting age paid a tax if they wished to vote, with the exception of some land owners who were not required to pay. On this tax list we find Henry Hart with the following record:

Civil District No. 22 ... 68 acres land... value $340.00 .... Tax .34
191 Acres School Land .... Value $570.00.... tax .34
No polls, and no slaves .... Amount Paid .. State Tax .45 1/2 ... State and City Tax

John H. Hart, second son of Henry, is shown in this district with one poll. Washington Gossage also paid one poll. James Coats owned 24 acres of land and 116 acres of School Land and also paid one poll.

In 1840 we find Henry Hart still living in the 22nd Civil District of Bedford County. The census record shows: one male under 5, two males 10-15, on male 50-60; one female 15-20, one female 50-60. Henry and Nancy would be 57 and 56 years old by now. The two males age 10-15 would be Martin and the youngest son. The other male less than five years old would probably be a grandson. The female 15-20 is, more than likely, their daughter born between 1820 and 1825.

On March 29, 1848, Henry Hart sold 61 acres of his land to Joseph Parker. Henry was 64 years old by this time and may not have been able to take care of all his farm. Some of his children had moved away and those now living near him were getting farms of their own. According to the census record of 1850 Henry and Nancy are living alone. Four of their children are living in their own homes just a short distance away.'

On April 15, 1852 Henry sold 55 acres to his son, Martin, and in the same year he sold another tract of land to J. B. Parker consisting of 49 acres and 67 poles. It appears that, even at this time, he may have been making preparations to leave Bedford County and go to Illinois.

On February 22, 1854, he sold another tract of land to his son-in-law and daughter, James and Catherine Shook, and on October 9 of that year he sold 80 acres to his son, Derrel J.

It is said that 1854 was the year of a great drought in Bedford County, and that Martin and his family left that year and moved to Illinois. A record in the Registrar's Office in Bedford County shows that on July 24, 1854, Martin deeded 23 2/3 acres of his land to Joseph Parker. No record of his selling the other 31 1/3 acres has been found, but he probably sold it also, since it is known that he moved to Illinois late that year.

By now Henry was almost 71 years of age. It is thought by some re­searchers that his wife, Nancy, left Bedford County and went to Pope County, Illinois with her daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and George Washington Gossage in 1854. A descendant, Lee J. Patterson, who has lived most of his life in the area formerly settled by Henry Hart, and who has heard many stories of the early Harts, thinks that both Henry and Nancy moved together with some of their children to Illinois. Then Henry came back to Bedford County to take care of some business. He became ill while there and was not able to return to Illinois. It is believed that he was with his son, Derrel J., at that time. He died October 23, 1857 and is buried in the old Mount Hermon Cemetery in the 22nd Civil District of Bedford County. He was almost 74 years old. His wife, Nancy. remained in Pope County, Illinois, living with her daughter and son-in-law. Nancy and George Washington Gossage. There is little mention of Nancy (Rainey) Hart during her life in Tennessee, although we know she must have been busy and active during the years she spent there if she actually had four­teen children to raise, and it is reported that she was a midwife to over 220 births. These were the days when the chickens had to be fed and eggs gathered: cows fed and milked; hogs fed; water drawn from a well or carried from the spring; clothes boiled in a pot in the yard, scrubbed on a rubbing board; water heated on the stove; clothes ironed with heavy flat irons; house swept with a straw broom; coffee ground for the pot; milk churned for butter; and a lot of hungry people to feed three times a day. She could trim the lamp wicks, fill them with oil; knit; make quilts; make clothes and patch them; and such things as these in her spare time. In those days all housewives had all these and other tasks to do, therefore, there is no question that Nancy Hart was busy and active raring her many years in Tennessee and her later years in Illinois. She died October 17, 1871, and is buried in the Hart-Gossage Cemetery near a small community called Oak, in Pope County, Illinois. The unusual inscription on her gravestone reads: "NANCY wife of Henry Hart and daughter of Capt. John Rainey of the Revolution. Born Nov. 11, 1784, died Oct. 17, 1871. Aged 86 Yrs 11 Mos 6 days. Member of the Baptist Church for 70 years."

At the time of Henry's death, all the children had left Bedford County and settled in Illinois and Missouri except a son, Derrel J., who remained in Bedford County and now has many descendants there.

Thus ends the lives of our beloved forebears who were among those frontiersmen who pushed the civilization of this great country westward, withstanding the hardships which accompanied carving a home out of the wilderness. It is easy to understand why they chose Bedford County in Tennessee when one understands the love the Harts had for beautiful rolling hills, plenty of streams, and good rich farm land; also, an innate Irish desire for freedom. Many of their descendants have continued to push into the wilderness of the west and are bond in practically every western state in the union.
Tennessee and Tennesseans by Will Hale 1913

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