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Special Collections Online at UT

Tennessee Documents Collection

Identifier: MS-2200

  • Staff Only

The Tennessee Documents Collection, 1783-1977 (bulk 1793-1889), contains deeds, plats, court documents, warrants, bonds to prosecute, indentures, and more from the late-18th to the mid-19th centuries in Tennessee. All but one folder deals with Tennessee (or territorial Tennessee).

Folder 1, Tennessee, 1795-1884, contains 10 items, half of which are from 1795 through 1802.

Folder 2, Anderson-Hickman Counties, 1790-1888, contains 12 items, with only one or two from each of the represented counties (Anderson, Blount, Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Davidson, Grainger, Green, and Hickman). Half of these items are from 1790-1804.

Folder 3, Knox County, 1793-1858, holds 42 documents, thirty of which are dated between 1793 and 1820. Clerks Francis Alexander Ramsey and Charles McClung signed many of the documents (also, in Folder 2, Tennessee), and there are several documents pertaining to the John Crozier vs. William Handridge case dating to 1807-08 (including a bond to prosecute and a warrant for Handridge). Also this folder contains two 1810 documents witnessed by a James White, possibly the James White who co-founded Knoxville, Tenn.

Folder 4, Lawrence-Sevier Counties, 1810-1887, contains 13 items from Lawrence, Loudon, Rhea, Robertson, and Sevier Counties. Lawrence Co. accounts for six of these items from 1838-67. Loudon has three from 1872-74, Rhea one from 1810, Robertson one letter with an envelope from 1886, and Sevier two from 1868-87.

Folder 5, Unidentified Counties, 1797-1816, contains two documents. The 1816 document is a petition, signed by James White, to move two cases from the prejudiced unnamed county.

Folder 6, Bentley Estate, 1825-1882, contains 14 items pertaining to the Bentleys. Only one is from a Bentley, an 1858 check to R. G. Ramsey from M. V. Bentley. There are also many notes from R. H. Rose and S. E. Rose. Most of the documents are bills and collection notices. Represented Bentleys are Daniel, M. V., M. L., L. Mino, and Mattie J. Half are from the 1850s.

Folder 7, Non-Tennessee, 1783-1833 contains two land grants. The first is a 1783 North Carolina land grant for Peter Morison to own acreage in Sullivan County. President Andrew Jackson signed the 1833 land grant for 80 acres in the Detroit Michigan Territory for John Jackson of New York.

Folder 8, Other, 1808-1977, contains 25 items, 19 from 1850 through 1889. Two date to 1808, one 1836, one 1977, and three have no dates. Although most are government documents like in the other folders, there are a few letters. One 1859 letter is written in German. Through a rough translation by Dr. Norbert F. Riedl, it is determined to be from Lucas Graf in Knoxville, Tenn., to his son in Wartburg. The letter refers to butcher Wahl, a wife in Knoxville, daughter-in-law Barbara, and daughter Barbara Katriner. There is also mention of a trip to Wartburg and of employment of a writer as carpenter's assistant, gardener, and other jobs.


  • 1783-1977 (bulk 1793-1889)

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Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


1.5 Linear Feet


The Tennessee Documents Collection, 1783-1977 (bulk 1793-1889), contains deeds, plats, court documents, warrants, bonds to prosecute, indentures, and other government and legal documents from the late-18th to the mid-19th centuries in Tennessee.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1786, James White built a fort on the southernmost edge of frontier settlement in present-day East Tennessee. William Blount, governor of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio (also called the Southwest Territory), selected the site of White's fort as the capital in 1791 and gave it the name Knoxville in honor of Revolutionary War hero General Henry Knox. Governor Blount created Knox County, also named for Henry Knox, from parts of Greene and Hawkins Counties on June 11, 1792. Knoxville has served as the county seat from the county's creation. Knox County currently contains 509 square miles. The Tennessee River originates near the center of the county from the union of the Holston and French Broad Rivers.

Governor Blount designated Knoxville as the capital of the Southwest Territory from 1791 to 1796. Knoxville also served as the capital of the State of Tennessee from 1796 to 1812 and briefly in 1817-18. General John Sevier, a resident of Knox County, served as governor of Tennessee (1796-1801, 1803-1809). No state capitol building was constructed until 1845 on the present building in Nashville, so the general assembly met in taverns and public buildings. Blount Mansion, the home of Governor Blount, is the only National Historic Landmark in the county.

Daniel Bentley was born in Virginia in about 1799. He moved to Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and in 1822, he married Matilda Lindsey (b. about 1803). The couple had several children, including L. Mino (possibly Lycurgus M., 1823-1878), M. V. (possibly Martin V., b. 1833), and M. L. ( possibly Milton 1829-1860). Lycurgus M. had a daughter named Matilda (Mattie) J. Daniel Bentley died on April 6, 1860, and is buried in the Old City Cemetery at Lawrenceburg.

Charles McClung (1761-1835) was the surveyor who laid out the city of Knoxville in 1791. He also ran several mercantile businesses and worked as a lawyer.

Colonel Francis Alexander Ramsey (1764-1820), migrated to the North Carolina frontier from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1783. He married Peggy Alexander of Mecklenburg County shortly thereafter. Colonel Ramsey played an instrumental role in the establishment of Tennessee in 1796, having previously held official positions in the failed State of Franklin and the Territory South of the River Ohio.


Collection consists of eight folders.

Acquisition Note

Collection was donated to Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA