"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies

James Wilkes Hart
1843 - 1943
The home of James Wilkes Hart, built prior to the Civil War.
Located near New Hermon in the 22nd District

Very little is known of the early life of James Wilkes. He was born in Bedford County on March 17, 1843, and is shown in the 1850 census of that county with his parents as being seven years old. He grew up to be a farmer and lived out his life there in the 22nd District. He died November 3, 1933. Both he and his first wife Mary Catherine (Reagor) are buried in the New Hermon Church of Christ Cemetery.

James Wilkes Hart fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side. He was captured by the Union forces and spent some time in prison. To get out of prison (and to just survive) he swore his alligence to the Union and joined their forces to fight Indians out West. When John's military time was up he headed back for Tennessee. It was winter and when he got to the Mississippi River. It was frozen over, so he walked across the River so that he could get home. For this Union military service he later received a nice pension.

He married Franklin Gardner's widow Mary Catherine Reagor on 24 July 1868. They had six children together. Catherine had a daughter from her first marriage named Laura Jane Gardner. James Wilkes Hart is said to have fathered the illigitimate child of Laura Jane Gardner. Laura had polio as a child and always talked with a speech impediment. Laura Jane's child was given the name Boyce Hart. Boyce married Daisy Womack and lived in New Herman all his life. He had no children.

Another daughter of Catherine Reagor Gardner was Frances Hannah who became the wife of William Jasper Hart, brother of James Wilkes Hart. Mary Catherine was a member of the Church of Christ, and James Wilkes joined that denomination with her. It was said "He and his brother, William Jasper, strayed away from the Baptist and married Church of Christ women."

After Catherine died James Wilkes Hart married a younger woman named Lena Moore around 1904 and they had four more children. Lena Moore Hart was a native of Franklin County, Tennessee, the daughter of James Knox and Eliza (Miller) Moore.

Transcribed and contributed by Christine Walters April 11, 2006
Source: The Hart Book by Charles Gerton Hart 1974

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