"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County


Derrel Hart Family

The home of Derrel J. Hart was still standing in 1974, but not lived in.

Derrel married Rachel Morris. She was born March 10, 1819 in Bedford County TN, daughter of Samuel M. and Mary (Saint) Morris who settled in Bedford County in 1818. Derrel J. was born June 5, 1818 in TN, probably in Bedford County. He was reared on the west waters of the Big Flat Creek area on the farm of his father (Henry Hart). We have no information concerning his boyhood days, but we do know in those days boys were trained and expected to carry out their part of the work on the farm.

Derrel J. was the fourth son and ninth child of Henry and Nancy (Rainey) Hart. A number of family members believe that his full name was derrel Jesse Hart, while others point out that in all legal papers and records he is listed as Derrel, D.J., or Derrel J. To support the latter contention, Derrel had a brother named Jesse G. Hart born ca 1821 in Tennessee and was married in 1848 to Lucinder Frier in White County, Illinois. As most of the children of Henry and Nancy Hart went to Illinois in the early and mid 1850's it appears that Jesse G. also went there. In fact, as far as can be determined Derrel J. was the only one of the children of Henry and Nancy who remained in Middle Tennessee throughout his lifetime. It is possible that Derrel's middle name was Jesse, but not probable.

Derrel J. Hart and his family were active in the Mt. Hermon Baptist Church. His wife Rachel, joined the church in July 1840. Derrel J. was received into the church by experience and baptism in September 1842. In July 1847 he wsa elected a deacon and was ordained in October 1847. He was appointed church clerk in September 1848 and served in that capacity until 1865. The records reveal that Derrel was selected a delegate to the duck River Baptist Association a total of nine times beginning June 1848 and through July 1876, the year of his death. It is very possible that he served more than nine times as the minutes during this period sometimes mention that a certain number of delegates were selected but did not give names. His name is mentioned frequently as serving on committees, etc. Rachel was a member of the church for over 76 years. The majority of the children and many of their grandchildren were members of the church.

Derrel and Rachel are found in the 1840 22nd District, Bedford County Tennessee Census with one child, a female, under age five. He was probably living on his father's farm as this census knows that Henry "Heart", Washingtno Gossage, and "Dearld" Hart were living in adjoining homes. (Spelling of names is that of the census taker.) The 1850 census of the same area shows that Henry Hart was living in house No. 2, James and Katherine Shook (sister and brother-in-law of Derrel) living in house No. 3, Washington and Nancy Gossage (another sister and brother-in-law) living in house No. 4, while Derrel and Rachel lived in house No. 15. Derrell islisted as age 32, Rachel 31, Rebecca 11, Mary 9, James 7, Samuel 5 and Henry 2, all born in Tennessee. The 1860 ccensus for the same area shows that Derrel and Rachel have four additional children; William 10, Jesse 8, Martha 4, and John 2. All children are living at homeexcept Rebecca C., who has married Timothy Brown and is believed to be living in Lincoln County TN at the time, and Mary C., who had married Richard Mullins is living in the same area. This is a total of 9 children, one child died in infancy

On January 1, 1851 Derrel purchased a tract of land consisting of 35 acres, 125 poles for $347.95 This land was in the 22nd District of Bedford County on the waters of Big Flat creek and joined by lands owned by William Boon and Henry Hart. On October 9, 1854 Derrel purchased 80 acres from his father, and on December 26, 1857 he purchased another tract of 140 acres from Broadway and Mr. Boon. Executors (probably executors for the estate ofMr. Boon.) Unfortunately, there are no copies in the courthouse of these two deeds, but they are listed there in a book titled "Index to Burn Records". No other records were found that Derrel J. acquired other property.

Derrel Hart was crippled with rheumatism for several years before he died. He suffered considerably and at time, was not able to get around. During one of these difficult times, he was sitting on his front porch. It was during the Civil War, and Union soldier were in the area. Derrel's older boys had gone across the hill to the store at Dean (now New Hermon), and only Derrel, his wife, and the younger children were at home.

A group of Union soldiers came up the road, carrying with them a wounded man. They stopped at Derrel's home and asked for amterial for bandages. Apparently, they were not satisfied with the material given them, because they went into the house, pulled out dresser drawers, etc., scattering things as they went and taking everything they wanted.

Derrel probably complained and tried to stop them. However, they took what they wanted, hit him on the head with a steel handgun, and left him lying, bleeding on the floor.

As they went up the hill and were just out of sight, the older boys arrived home from the store. On learning what happened, they quickly took their guns and went after the Union soldiers. They came within sight of them at the top of the hill. Shots were exchanged, but no one was hurt, and the Union men escaped.

According to a family story told to Mary Hart, wife of Henry Hart who is the son of Jeff Hart, a grandson of Derrel J., he died due to a rattlesnake which did not bit him. She says that her father-in-law, Jeff Hart, told her that Derrel was in the woods near him homecutting firewood. During this time he came upon a rattlesnake which struck or jumped at him coming very close, and spit its venom into his face. When Derrel did not arrive home at the expected time, his chidlren went looking for him and found him lying on the ground near the pile of wood. As they carried him home he told them of the snake and insisted that it did not bite him. An examination of his body revealed no evidence of snake bite. Nevertheless he became very sick and soon died, apparently from the poison of the venom spit into his face. He died October 9, 186 and is buried beside Rachel in the old part of the Mt. hermon Church Cemetery. He was only 58 years old.

** Authors note -- According to snake experts a poisonous snake does not have to bite if in some way the venom can come in contact with an open sore such as ain this case a chapped lip or a sore in the mouth.

Rachel Morris Hart lived 38 years after the death of Derrel. She apparently remained in the old homeplace which still stands (1974) in a cool holoow on Sam Hart Road in Bedford County, Tennessee. According to Walter Scott Hart and his sister Katie Frank (Hart) Carlock, grandchildren of Derrel J. and Rachel by their son, Henry K., they remember visiting her there in their childhood. On a visit to the old house in the recent past, Katie Frank remembered the old house and that her Uncle John, Rachel's youngest son, lived there with his mother until her death. He occupied the front bedroom on the right of the front entrance. He was John M., called "one-eyed John" Hart, and he did not marry until after the death of his mother and he was 60 years old in 1919.

Probably due to his untimely death, Derrel J., did not leave a will and it was necessary for the Bedford County Courts to appoint an administrator to settle his estate. The oldest son, James Wilkes Hart, was bonded and appointed on November 6, 1876 as shown on Page 493, Minute Book E. The first order of business was to provide a year's support for Rachel while the estate was being settled. After that, the matter of dower rights of Rachel to the real estate amounting to 262 acres and 62 poles was settled in her favor in September 1877. The remainder of the estate was disposed of and the proceeds were equally divided on November 6, 1879 among twn heirs, including Rachel.

At the death of Rachel Morris Hart on March 26, 1914, her son Jesse Frances Hart, a Baptist minister, (Fayetteville TN) wrote a beautiful eulogy to his mother which is quoted below:


Rachel Morris was barn March 10, 1819; was married to Derrell J. Hart in early life (who preceded her to the better land in October 1876). To this union were born ten children, six boys and four girls, one girl dying in infancy. At her death her offspring was as follows: Children 9, grandchildren 45, great grandchildren 92, great-great grandchildren 6. Living issue in all, 152.

She left one sister, Ruth Patter af Jackson Caunty, Ala. Her mather was left a widow. She had three sisters and they were all left widaws, and of her three daughters two of them are widows. Her mother lived to be 96 years of age and an accepted tradition in the family says her grandmother lived to be 103 years old. She was industrious and economical. Well do I remember when a boy af her carding, spinning, weaving, and sewing (with her fingers) ta clothe the family from the shoes to the hat. Every day clothes and Sunday too, with the exception occasionally of a Sunday shirt.

She was born, raised and spent her life in Bedford County, Tenn. In the fall after she was eighteen years old she professed faith in Christ and joined the Baptist Church of Christ at Mt. Herman, where she lived a devout and orderly member for over 76 years. She, by her orderly walk and chaste conversation, was the confidence of all who surrounded her. In May 1908 she fell and broke her thigh and her hip joint, after which she was not able to attend her church meetings, but before this if she did not fill her place it was understood that there was something the matter. After this those visiting her room usually found her with her Bible in her hand or some other book recommended to her as a good book. She frequently talked of her prospects of Heaven and more and more as she neared the end of life. Frequently she would become so enraptured with a foretaste of Heaven that her voice would be raised in adoration and praise to God.

As she became still nearer to the end she became real anxious to go. A few hours before her death she called all who were in the room to her bed one by one, and told them goodby, asking each one to meet her in Heaven, then said, "I have done the best I could to live right." Then she raised her eyes upward, waving her pale thin hands and burst forth in accents of praise to God until her strength gave way. After a little rest she said she would love to talk but was too weak. Early in the morning of March 26, 1914, her spirit left its mortal house to go to its long-sought home on high. She was 95 years and 16 days old.

The following day her remains were taken to Mt. Hermon church and funeral services were held by Elder R. E. Gore in the presence of a large concourse of people. Her body was then interred in the old church-yard to await the resurrection morn.

This ends the lives of our first full-time Tennessee Hart ancestor. His children are:

Rebecca Catherine Hart
Mary Ann hart
James Wilkes Hart
Samuel Hart
Henry K. Hart
William Jasper Hart
Jesse Francis Hart
Martha Jane Hart
John B. Hart
Daughter died in infancy

(The birthdates of the Derrel J. Hart family are taken from a letter written by his son, Jesse F. Hart, dated August 27, 1919 to Henry K. Hart (Jesse's brother). Apparently Jessie F., being a Baptist minister, held the family Bible and Henry K. had asked him for this information. Ironically, Henry K. never lived to read this letter as it was postmarked August 27, 1919, the date of his death. This letter is in the possession of Katie Frank Carlock, grandaughter of Derrel J. and daughter of Henry K. Hart.)

Headstone of Derrel and Rachel in Old Mt. Hermon Cemetery

Contributed by Christine Walters Third Great Grandaughter of Henry Hart
Source:The book "James Hart and his Descendants" Written and published by Charles Gerton Hart 1976
As time permits I'll tell you more stories of the Hart family in Bedford County.

Created by Christine Walters