A Witcher Family Genealogy
This essay is a brief summary of but some of the available information available for Tandy K Witcher, who was the son of Daniel and Susanna (Dalton) Witcher, of Smith County, Tennessee.
Most of the information in this composition has been gleaned from the will of Daniel Witcher and a Tennessee court case titled: GRIFFITH, WILLIAM J. et al vs DIXON, WM J. et al Chancery 1853.
According to Daniel Witcher’s will, Tandy K had many brothers and sisters. Depending on which part of the will one is reviewing, the names are given as sons Daniel K Witcher, Lacy Witcher, Booker Witcher, Tandy K Witcher, and daughters Nancy Young, Mary Goad, Tabitha Young, Aley B Witcher, Sally Ramsey, Elizabeth Maragian [Morgan?], Susan Wakefield, and Sabra Jenkins.
The 1853 chancery case involved William J Griffith, a grandson of Tandy’s, who on his and his sibling’s behalf was suing their uncle William Dixon to recover their portion of their grandfather’s estate.
Tandy K Witcher was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The Pittsylvania County personal property tax record for his father Daniel Witcher decreased by one tithable in 1797, the same year in which Tandy K Witcher first appears in that county’s tax records. Therefore, I’m making a judgment that Tandy K had come of age in 1797 (was 21 years old), and he was therefore personally taxed. This would indicate that Tandy K Witcher was born around 1776.This date is further validated by an 1850, Kentucky federal census record.
The Pittsylvania County personal property tax records indicate that Tandy left the county after 1797, as he was not again listed as taxable. In the 1799 Pittsylvania County tax records, Daniel Witcher, Sr., was also absent and was never again listed in that county. Those Pittsylvania County tax records imply that Tandy K and his father migrated to Tennessee in 1798 or 1799.
According to the 1853 Tennessee chancery case, Tandy K Witcher died in February of 1852. My research indicates this Tandy was living with his son Clairborne D Witcher, in Allen, Kentucky when the 1850 federal census was taken. The chancery records validate that in the last years of Tandy’s life, he became a resident of Kentucky. I therefore assume Tandy K Witcher died on his son’s farm in Kentucky.
Tandy K Witcher was thirty-nine years of age when his father Daniel Witcher passed away in Smith County, Tennessee. In Daniel’s will, proved in Smith County, Tennessee court, in 1815, Tandy K Witcher was listed as a son, an heir, and an administrator of his father’s estate.
From the 1853 Tennessee Chancery case, we know that Tandy K Witcher was married to a woman name Martha, who Tandy referred to as “the old lady.” Martha Witcher’s maiden name is reportably DeLoach, though I have not seen a marriage bond or license.
In 1829, when Tandy was 53 years of age, records indicate he was appointed postmaster. From reviewing the original manuscript, it appears that he may have held this position for a period of four years.
Based on other court records, we can know that Tandy K Witcher was a Justice of the Peace in the early 1830s, when his name is found as one of the justices who witnessed the testimonies given by Revolutionary War veterans seeking to receive federal pensions for their service in the war.
From a very old letter written by one of Daniel and Susanna’s grandchildren, Tandy was said to have been a constable in the county. The first-hand account of this Tennessee Witcher is circular and confusing, but the eyewitness description of his uncle, Tandy K Witcher, is probably reliable. The letter states that Tandy K was taller than his brothers, and “Somewhat dissipated, and inclined to be quarrelsome.” The account went on to say that Tandy K did not fight a great deal, but, “When fighting was done, his brother Lacy did it.” The chancery court testimony supports this description of Tandy’s personality by describing him as a justice of the peace who, “drank to excess and was profane.”
It’s assumed by most that Tandy had two sons named Daniel K and Lacy. They may have been his sons, but I haven’t been able to confirm that. I do wonder if those two supposed sons were not actually Daniel’s brothers. At this point, I am not sure. However, court documents do reveal that Tandy and Martha Witcher had a son named Clairborne D Witcher, and two daughters who married men called Dixon and Anderson, and a daughter named Caroline, who married a man named Samuel “Cul” Griffith. The subject of the 1853 chancery case was the land given by Tandy K Witcher to Caroline and her children.
When Carolina died in July of 1838, Tandy’s grandchildren were still minors. However before their mother died, her children were told the land upon which they were then living would one day be theirs.
According to chancery court testimony, several witnesses swore that Tandy K had given the land on Jennings Creek to his daughter Caroline and her children. That promise in 1833 was apparently consummated in the form of a deed. However, that deed was never filed at the courthouse but was purportedly destroyed by Tandy’s daughter-in-law, a woman named Mary, the wife of Clairborne Witcher. Thus when Tandy K died, Caroline’s two oldest children had to file suit in order to recover what was rightfully theirs.
The lawsuit lists the children of Caroline Witcher and Samuel “Cul” Griffith as William C.A. Griffith—born 1829, Nancy Griffith—born 1831, Clairborn D Griffith—born 1833, Polly K Griffith—born 1835, and Tandy K Griffith—born 1838. It was William C. A. and Nancy D Griffith who filed the lawsuit.
Court records also reveal that Tandy’s daughter, an apparently unmarried and young Caroline Witcher, had given birth to a girl named Martha in 1824. The name of Martha’s father is not mentioned in the court records. Martha (also called Patsey) Witcher married a man named Abraham L Workman. Sadly, in her quest to migrate with other Mormons to Salt Lake City, Utah, Martha and her two young children died on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
When Caroline Griffith died in 1838, Tandy K and his wife Martha were apparently devastated. This is a snippet of court testimony given by a certain John McDowel, age 56.
“Samuel C. and Caroline Griffith lived on the land until she died. Some three or four months after they went on it, Tandy K. Witcher told me he had given the Tinsley tract to Caroline and her children. I and Vinzant made the coffin [for Caroline] at Tandy K. Witcher's... Tandy said to me it was a broke up family, his daughter dying, and he would have to get the children out of Griffith's hands for the rent of the land would have to raise them. He said Cul [Griffith] could not manage the land and he would have to get the land and children into his own hands and the old lady [Tandy K’s wife] and him with the rent of the land could raise them.
Ques: Say whether Samuel C. Griffith did not stay with his children until he married again.
Ans: I think he went off and I think the old people kept the children until the old lady died and I think Griffith stayed there too until he married. When he went off the children remained there until the old lady's death.”
Around the time his daughter Caroline died, in 1838, Tandy K began to experience a decline in his reputation, health, and net worth.
Debt and legal problems forced Tandy to mortgage and then sell his plantation properties, including the land which had been promised to his grandchildren.
His legal troubles included an incident in which Tandy K Witcher shot Merlin Young, who was either his brother-in-law or the father of his brother-in-law. While I do not know if Merlin was killed or merely wounded, the chancery court testimony recounts that Tandy was very concerned about appearing before the State Supreme Court in Nashville. Apparently rightfully so, as further testimony indicated Tandy K Witcher spent time in the Tennessee State Penitentiary.
Annoyed with Caroline’s children, Tandy K had second thoughts about letting his grandchildren have the land he had promised them and their mother.
As testimony put it, “Tandy K. Witcher requested I take a letter to my father relative to the purchase of land... Witcher said he intended the lower place for plaintiffs [his grandchildren] but got in debt... was bound to let the place go and would make provisions for plaintiff [his grandchildren] in the upper place. At other times he has told me that he did not intend that they would have anything… had raised them and in his old age they would not come to see him and when he met with them they would not speak to him at all.”
Since the land on Jennings Creek was not deeded as promised to Caroline or her children, this interesting lawsuit was prosecuted. Fortunately those records have survived, informing us all of the sordid details of a family feud so long ago forgotten. Unfortunately, I have not discovered the courts ruling for this case. Nor have I seen the Supreme Court case relating to the shooting of Merlin Young, but if they ever are found, you can be sure that I’ll add those records to this essay.
You may click here to read the very interesting transcript of the 1853 chancery case, and click here to see an image of the will of Daniel Witcher of Smith County, Tennessee.
Wayne Witcher, 5x great grandson of Major William Witcher
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Tandy K Witcher -b- 1776
died February, 1852