Pioneer Families
of Henderson County TN

The ALTOM Family
Henderson County TN

Photos and information contributed by William L. Altom

Spencer Altom was born about 1780 in North Carolina. He married Christina Shipman about 1805 in North Carolina. Christina was born 9 Jul 1786 also in North Carolina. Spencer died about 1880 and Christina died 12 Oct 1889 and is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Floral Arkansas. In the 1820's we find them living in Henderson County TN.

Children of Spencer and Christina (Shipman) Altom:

Edward Altom

James Altom (1809 - 1841)

Nancy Jane Altom born 1 Jan 1818 died 7 Feb 1892. She married Henry Sanders Wood. Both are buried at Beech River cemetery. Henry was born 13 Feb 1824 died 29 Dec 1903. Their children were: William H., Nancy Jane, Elizabeth Ann, Christian Charity, Rachel M., George Washington, Alexander Holland, Evelyn Elmira and Mancil Samuel.

John Andrew Altom 1820-1895 married Mary Ann Davis. Their children were - Annie, Wm., Betsy, George, Mary Ellen, Henry S., James H, Daniel C., Phillip and Spencer.

William Altom

Jacob Altom

George Washington Altom

Rachel Ann Altom (3 Feb 1833-10 May 1907) married Daniel Willis Small son of Andrew Jackson and Mary(Seago) Small, both buried at Hare Cemetery.

08 February 1873 Dist. 15 Henderson County TN Spencer and Christina Altom
This day at 10 o'clock a.m. and noted in file book no.4, page 23. Witness my hand at office this 8th day of February 1873, Jas. A. Henry, register. We, Spencer Altom & wife Christian Altom have this day bargained and sold and do hereby transfer and convey unto Henry S. Wood and his heirs forever, for the consideration of the sum of five hundred dollars to us an have paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, a center tract or parcel of land lying and being in the county of Henderson and state of Tennessee and bounded as follows to wit: Range and Section 10. Beginning on a stake 20 poles North of Sheppard Landnums SW Corner of reserve entry no. 25,35 runs west 160 poles to a stake, white and red oak pointers, then north 200 poles to a black oak, hickory, & sweet gum pointers. Then east 160 poles to a stake. Then south 200 poles to the beginning: To have and to hold the same to the said Henry S. Wood and his heirs and assigns forever, we do covenant with the said Henry S. Wood that we are lawfully seized of said land and have a good right to convey it and that the same is unincumbered we do further bind ourselves, our heirs and representatives to warrant and forever defend the title to said land to the said Henry S. Woods and his heirs against the lawful claims of all persons whatever. Given under our hand and seals and revenue stamps. This the 26th day of September 1871 SpencerAltom(his mark) Christian Altom(her mark) WITNESS D C Altom C H Derryberry STATE OF TENNESSEE HENDERSON COUNTY----)To John B. Davis You are hereby authorized and empowered to take the examination of Christian Altom, wife of Spencer Altom, separate and apart from her said husband relating to her free and voluntary execution of the within Deed of Conveyance and the same so taken to certify under your hand and seal. WITNESS Alex H Rhodes, Clerk of the county court of said county at office this the 26th day of September 1871 A. H. Rhodes, Clerk STATE OF TENNESSEE HENDERSON COUNTY } Christian Altom, wife of Spencer Altom having personaly appeared before me and having by virtue of the authority in me vested, been examined privately and apart from her said husband and she having acknowledged the due execution of the annexed deed by her freely voluntarily and understandably without compulsion or constraint by her said husband and for the purposes therein expressed the same is therefore certified. This 28th of September 1871. Witness My Hand and Seal. Source: Jerry McDaniels The Watchers

James Altom (1809-1841. He married Rebecca Hensley and after his death she married a William Batey. James is said to be buried Lewis-Altom Cemetery but apparently there is no headstone. There is a headstone for his wife Rebecca who died in 1905. Children of James and Rebecca (Hensley) Altom are

William Spencer,

Phoebe Adeline and

David Crockett Altom

...David Crocket Altom (son of James Altom) was born 23 Dec 1839 and died 6 Jul 1902. He married Sarah Jane Shipman 16 Aug 1865. Sarah was born 6 May 1843 and died 14 Jan 1914, the daughter of John R. and Sarah Susannah (Moore) Shipman. David and Sarah are buried at Lewis-Altom Cemetery in Henderson County. Their children were:

Sylvester J. Altom

Lizzie M. Altom 5 May 1869-27 Nov 1940 married James Newton Duke. Obituary

Osee Altom 22 Sep 1871

Martha Viola Altom 27 Nov 1875

Eudora Altom 12 Jul 1880

David Green Altom 10 Jul 1883

William Oscar Altom 21 Jul 1886

James R. Altom 27 Feb 1890

David Crockett and Sarah (Shipman) Altom

Sarah Shipman Altom and her son James Altom

Opal Altom was the daughter of William Oscar and Annie Callie (Roberts) Altom. Annie Callie died on March 12, 1917 when Opal was just a few months old.

Opal is a little girl at the time of this photo, shown here with her foster father James Small. James and his wife Delia (Derryberry) Small took care of Opal after her mother died.

Opal was born 30 May 1916 in Henderson County. She married John W. Jarrett on 24 December 1936.

Sylvester J. Altom son of David Crockett and Sarah Jane (Shipman) Altom was born 29 Sep 1866 died 23 Jan 1946. He married Isabella Derryberry who was born 1869-1926 and buried at Parkers Crossroads, d/o Eli and Carolyn (Autrey) Derryberry. Brenda Fiddler has this photo on her website called Yesterdays Tennessee. The photo was contributed by Hurchel Cary but none of the people were identified in the photo. This photo is "The Sylvester and Isabell Altom Family" identified now by William Altom of Nashville. First Row: Sylvester, Levie, Neva, Viuna and Homer. Second Row is Eugenie, Isabell and Odie. The photograph shows a typical scene of life in the area. The log cabin is of the earliest style in "dogtrot" fashion. The porchs were spacious and most of the hard work in the cabin would have been done on the porch. It is open on both end so there was always a breeze (most days). Sylvester and Isabell had a total of eight children. Vester and William Taft had not been born yet at the time of this picture.

Children are:
Vinna Altom 1888 m Robert Stevens
Eugenia Altom 7 Feb 1890 m John Wm. Blankenship
Nevie Altom
Levie Altom 1894 m Ellis E. Scott

Homer G. Altom (1898-1944) m Eva Gray Derryberry 2 Aug 1916. Children are J.R., James, Eugenie, Ava, Homer Howard and John Edward.

Oda Martin Altom 06 Nov 1901-8 Aug 1979 buried at Jones Cem.. m Wm. Ross Simonton 27 Oct 1924)

Vester Altom b 1904 m George Hedge
William Taft Altom b 1908

William Taft Altom (son of Sylvester J. and Mary Isabell (Derryberry) Altom was born 31 Dec 1908 and died 24 Jan 1936. He married Ollie Lee Gooch. Their children were:

William Altom

Brooksie Altom (24 Dec 1932-8 Apr 1996 m Lonnie Edward Maness)

Virginia (01 Aug 1935-28 Dec 1999)

William Lee Altom 29 Aug 1930

May 2002 - William Alton - Great Grandson of David Crockett Altom.
at the former site of Andersonville Confederate Prison in Georgia.
David Crockett Altom was a prisoner here.

To Mrs. Sarah Altom, Lexington Tenn. Washington D.C. July 22, 1902

To - D.C. Altom - Lexington Tenn. Feb. 27, 1899 Front and Back

* * * *

Rachel Ann Altom, daughter of Spencer and Christina (Shipman) Altom, was born 3 Feb 1833 - died 10 May 1907. Rachel married Daniel Small 27 Feb 1855 the son of Andrew Jackson and Mary (Seago) Small. They are both buried at the Hare Cemetery in Henderson County. Children of Rachel and Daniel are :

Willis Henry
William M.
John Parker
Daniel S.
Rebecca Jane
Andrew Jackson
James Henderson
Hill Patrick
Daniel Small was a gg-nephew to Rachel Donelson Jackson (wife of President Andrew Jackson).

Small Family History

Surname History

Surnames of non-landholders in England and Ireland did not come into general use until the 1300's. At that time many families took the name of the land where they worked or the nearby town for their surname; for example, John of Alton became John Alton. The origin of the Alton-sound surname appears to be locational in nature and associated with the English, meaning "one who came from or lived near the Alton village". Different spellings of the Alton-sound surname are a common occurrence with the most prominent variations being Alten, Altin, Altone, Allton, Aulton and Alton. The name appears to have originated from the Norman "D1 Alton" (of Alton) which was introduced to England and Ireland after the Anglo-Norman Invasion in 1066. According to tradition, the first D'Alton to come to Ireland was one Walter, who had fled to England and thence Ireland from France, having incurred the wrath of the French King by secretly marrying his daughter.

The Alton surname undoubtedly derives from one or more of the places named Alton in England according to a report by The Surname Archive in England dated November 13,1975. These places are:

Alton, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire, which may be from the Anglo-Saxon Aldatun 'old town1

Alton in Staffordshire, which was Elvetone in Domesday Book (1086) from 'Aelfa's town1 [Note: Domesday Book is a survey of English lands and landholdings made by order of William the Conqueror about 1086]

Alton near Amesbury in Wiltshire (Eltone in Domesday Book) from 'Aella's town'

Alton in Worcestershire (Alvintune in Domesday Book) from The town of Eanwulf s people'

Alton in Hampshire (also Alton Pancras in Dorset, Alton Barnes and Priors in Wiltshire,

As the chief home of the surname in Derbyshire, however, it would seem that the three northern and adjoining counties of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire account mostly for the placename becoming a surname. An interesting test of the survival of the name in the south is to check the Sussex Marriage Index, as Alton lies not far over the border into Hampshire. There are just two instances - one in Hove in 1554 and the other in Brighton in 1816. It does not appear at all in the Lay Subsidy Tax rolls for Sussex of 1296,1327, 1332 and 1524, so it is evident that the name never rooted itself in Sussex.

The earliest instance in the Great Card Index of the Society of Genealogists, London, is at Rotherhithe in Surrey - the county to the east of Hampshire and north of Sussex. This is for the burial of Andrew Alton in 1606. However, Rotherhithe was a major port on the south bank of the Thames and very much a melting-pot of people seeking their fortunes from all parts of the country. Of the 16 instances of the surname, however, in the Great Card Index, the majority are from Nottinghamshire (5) and no other county has more than a couple. Nottinghamshire, of course, adjoins Derbyshire to its east.

A warning of possible pitfalls in tracing this surname, with its initial 'A' and the likelihood therefore of its sometimes being aspirated as Halton or even Holton, is exemplified in the will of Thomas Hollton proved in 1544 in the London Consistory Court wherein he describes himself as Thomas Hollton but refers to his mother Annes Alton and sister Mary Alton. The latter was evidently a witness and her signature is first written with an initial 'H' which has been partially erased! The outside of the will, moreover, is endorsed Thomas Alton' (London Record Society. Vol. Ill, p. 129).

The earliest noted instance of all of the Alton surname appears in another London probate court in 1375, where the will of Henry Alton, chaplain of St. Sepulchre was proved in the Commissary Court (Register 1, Folio 29v). An occasional variant spelling of the surname AULTON is found from at least the 17th century, one William Aulton being given as the tenant of a house in Goudhurst, Kent, in the will of Edward Bathurst Esq. of that place made in 1651. One family of standing at least used it, too, as the Gentlemen's Magazine of 1817 announced the death, in his 46th year, of the Rev. Dr. Aulton, Rector of Gaywood, Vicar of Stradsett and Rector of Mundesley, Norfolk (p. 282). And yet, this variant, no more than Alton or Allton, fails to appear in bibliographies and references works.

One variant, Alten, appears in Burke's Armory, where three different coats of arms are assigned to it without specification as to family or county. These may, however, relate to the German surname, an example being Sir Charles Von Alten (1764-1840), Major-Genera I in the British Army and Lieutenant-General in the Hanoverian Army. He was me youngest son of Aug. Eberhardt, Baron Alten, of an ancient Protestant family in Hanover.

Turning at last to Derbyshire, the acknowledged home of the Alton surname, the record evidence is still scanty, the earliest being the will of Sarah Alton of Hedge in the parish of Duffield, widow, made in 1747 and proved in Prerogative Court of (the Archbishop of) Canterbury in 1750/51. I have examined the abstract of this which is the sole representation of the surname in the Documents Collection of the Society of Genealogists, London, and note that it refers, among others, to her son George Alton of Hedge, yeoman. This seems to have been one of the more affluent of the branches of the Alton family as the Return of Owners of One Acre or More of Land officially compiled in 1873 (and known as The Modem Domesday Book or 'MDB') shows the Trustees of Josh. Alton of Heage (the correct spelling of Hedge) owning 70 acres.

Other owners of land in Derbyshire in this Return are Francis Alton of Crich (2 acres), Mrs. Alton of Ripley (10 acres) and William Alton of Castle Donington (which is at the junction of Derbyshire and Leicestershire) with no less than 64 acres. This same William also owned 81 acres in Leicestershire itself, while a Miss Alton of Melton Mowbray owned 21 acres in the same county.

In other nearby counties, Isaac Alton of Dudley, Worcestershire, owned seven acres in Staffordshire (which at that time completely enclosed the enclave of Worcestershire containing Dudley), while north of Derbyshire, Thomas Alton of Bedale in the West Riding of Yorkshire owned 21 acres.

The only published authority on surname distribution, H. B. Guppy, in his Homes of Family Names gives the nucleus of the Alton surname inside Derbyshire. His survey was based on the incidence of farmers in the county directories of the 1880's, and the same pattern is evident from our Derbyshire directory of 1925 which lists seven Alton farmers, three of them in the Belper area, and a private resident, James A. Alton, at Fern Lea, Derby Road, Belper.

As already hinted, nothing appears in print on families of the Alton-sound surname, while the limited material in the collections of the Society of Genealogists, London, has already been described. Neither do the directories of members' interests of the Society, or the local midland family history groups, give the names of members bearing or interested in the surname. There is, however, an Alton pedigree (No. 1109) in the Jackson Collection of Sheffield (South Yorkshire) Reference Library. [The Surname Archive, England, 13 Nov 1975]

Coat of Arms
Riestrap Armorial General records an Alton Coat of Arms. The Arms description for the Alton shield is blue, with a gold lion, tongue and claws red, and five gold fleur-de-lis, two in top and three in bottom. Above the shield and helmet is a Crest with a black eagle and a crown of gold. There are likely more than one Coat of Arms bearing the Alton name because they were recorded for an individual vice a surname. The Alton Coat of Arms shown in this book was drawn by a heraldic artist from information officially recorded in ancient heraldic archives in England.

Over 1200 households in the United States have the Alton name. With an estimated family size of 3.2, over 3840 persons in this country carry the Alton name. In addition, over 30 cities and towns in the United States contain the Alton name, the largest of which is Alton, Illinois.

Domesday Book. 1086
H. B. Guppy, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, 1890
Burke's General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, & Wales, 1884

Contributed by William Altom

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