Diaries and Journals and Letters…

The older histories of Tennessee and its environs drew heavily upon diaries and journals and letters of contemporaries.  For example, in Gilmore’s Rear Guard of the Revolution, he quotes from the “Tour of  Montpensier, the Duke of Orleans:”

May 7th [1796]At the Clinch Ferry they had heard much of the remarkable migration into that region which had followed the treaty of peace with the indians; twenty-four thousand whites and four thousand blacks, they learned, had crossed the ferry for the Cumberland Valley the year before.

And a favorite of mine, Walter T. Durham’s Before Tennessee:  The Southwest Territory, 1790-1796:  A Narrative History of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio. 1990. (Rocky Mount Historical Association, Rt 11E, Piney Flats TN 37686).  This book is available on microfiche at the FHLibrary #6101361. Consider this paragraph:

The increased use of militia for defense in 1793 cast paymaster David Allison in a prominent public role.  Although the militia was under the governor’s command and was both called to duty and dismissed by him, the soldiers received their pay from the federal government.  Payroll records were kept for each company, and the company captain’s responsibility was to see that they were promptly and properly submitted to the government for approval.  When Allison received monies for payrolls from Philadelphia, he advertised the dates and places for payday and the names of the captains who should appear for their companies [in the Knoxville Gazette].

Federal payrolls for each company and announcements in the newspaper of the captains who were to collect the pay for their companies.

And read on for this description of how the census was set up to ensure that all the population was counted:

On November 28, 1795 based on census reports from all eleven counties, Governor Blount certified to the Secretary of State Timothy Pickering that there were 77,262 inhabitants in the Southwest Territory, a total that comfortably exceeded the minimum requirement of 60,000 for statehood.  A generous count had been virtually assured by tying the sheriffs’ pay for conducting the census directly to the totals reported.   The larger the numbers reported, the more the sheriffs were paid.

Quoting from correspondence 17 Nov 1795 in the David Henley Papers 1748-1823 to document the clever trick.

[The Mero District census for 1790 is reported missing.  Only small portions of it appear in print.  See 1790 Census for Ohio, Volume 2 published by Ronald Jackson, AIS Printing.  It seems to me that a thorough search among the papers for the Territory Southwest of the River Ohio will probably turn up other portions of the lists.]

No comment is made, however, of the danger in tying the payroll to the numbers.  Padding the totes has always been a risk when the stakes are high–be careful with lists of names.  Be sure to verify their presence in the Territory from other sources, including the militia payrolls mentioned above.

Your research success in Tennessee will be in direct proportion to your diligence in running the lists against other lists.  And in your diligence in finding the lists in the first instance:  there is much to be discovered in the diaries and the journals and the letters written by the eye-witnesses to Tennessee history.  Your favorite Tennessee genealogist , Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com

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