Abraham Woodward Biography - Page 2

Abraham Woodward's Biography (continued)

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The Move From North Carolina to Future Jefferson County, Tennessee

Westfield Monthly Meeting in Surry County, North Carolina records the receipt of a certificate for Abraham Woodward and children Abraham and Elizabeth (Eliza) on 16th day 2nd month, 1793. The certificate was dated 10/20/1792 at Centre Monthly Meeting in North Carolina. A certificate followed for son Aaron on 11th day 7th month 1793. Westfield was one of the Monthly Meetings receiving certificates for those Quakers removing to the Western Waters of the Holston River in the future state of Tennessee.

On 10/9/1792 James Haworth conveyed an unknown number of acres on the waters of Lost Creek to Abraham Woodward. The land was described as adjacent to Edward Wright & Benjamin Thornbrough. Benjamin Thornbrough was a son of Thomas Thornbrough, and had removed to Lost Creek directly from Virginia in about 1787. Benjamin Thornbrough was cousin and possibly even brother of Abraham's wife, Hannath Thornbrough Woodward. See Hannah's page for a discussion of the possibilities.) The land had probably not yet been surveyed, hence no mention of the acreage. This is probably the same parcel Abraham deeded to his son William Woodward on 6/28/1798 containing 131 acres.

The tax collector was not far behind the new settlers, for on November 20, 1792 an act was passed authorizing the county to levy and collect taxes.

On July 27, 1793 Abraham Woodward received a North Carolina Land Grant for land described as "lying and being in our County of Hawkins on the south side of holston river near lost creek." Jefferson was already a county but had no court house so it was recorded in Hawkins County, and it was a North Carolina grant as Tennessee was not yet a state. The land was patented April 14, 1794. On December 16, 1794 William Braselton, Sr., deeded another 100 acres to Abraham Woodward. These two parcels probably composed the land that Abraham passed on to his son Abraham Woodward, Jr. in his will and that Abraham, Jr. later sold as part of the town of New Market in Jefferson County. From this later sale we can place exactly where Abraham Woodward and family lived in Tennessee.

Life in Tennessee

During all these early years in Tennessee, life was harsh, including constant danger from Indian attack. A Methodist Bishop once stopped overnight in 1790 in a crude house where a man had recently been killed by "savages." He wrote in his journal, "they are but one remove from savages themselves." As late as June, 1793, a woman and two children were killed on the Nolachucky River, not far from the Holston River settlements. 180 men from Knox and Jefferson Counties mounted a retaliatory raid on August 4, 1793. It was but one of many raids from both sides.

An examination of the tax records in Abraham Woodward's area of settlement in 1800 shows no town lots taxed, so it was strictly a rural community. However there were stores scattered about in neighboring communities, including the "crude house" where the Bishop stopped. The stores accepted skins from bear, deer, otter, wildcat, muskrat, mink, fox, and raccoon. Also bees wax, rye, corn and oats. All this could be swapped for dry goods, hardware, groceries, liquor, and powder and shot. It is a popular misconception that Quakers had no guns, but they had to hunt to live on early frontiers. In addition, on this dangerous frontier able bodied men had to serve in the militia. Religious beliefs did not excuse them from this duty.

The tax lists were organized along the lines of the militia companies and Abraham Woodward, William Woodward, Patrick Beard, Abner Frazer and Benjamin Thornburg are found in Captain William Brazelton's company. Total land under this company was 28,633 acres and there were 65 white taxable polls (free males and male servants age 21 to 50 years of age).This totals out to about 440 acres of land per taxable white poll so it was sparsely populated. Abraham Woodward was taxed on 170 acres of land and this is probably the amount left in his will. Other relatives are found in two other militia companies. All told these people accounted for an area of 66000 acres or roughly the equivalent of three townships. There were 202 white males and 54 negro slaves. No slaves were listed with any of the Woodwards or their relatives.

Abraham Woodward's skills as a shoemaker would have been much in demand on the frontier and he probably left farming to his sons. The majority of the frontier families engaged in agriculture, with the men and boys doing hunting and trapping to acquire the furs for trade. And Abraham would have needed hides for leather for his trade. Corn was always the first crop made, as it fulfilled many family needs, but tobacco and cotton soon followed. There were early cotton factories in Tennessee and a fulling mill for preparing cloth in Knox County as early as 1792. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 would have further spurred the planting of cotton. Farming was handwork at first but there was a large ironworks in Knoxville and on Long Island on the North Fork of the Holston River, so plows and other implements were soon available. Abraham Woodward's son Aaron had a well stocked smithy on his farm. There were ferrys for river crossing so even Knoxville was accessible to the Holston River settlers.

Hardy settlers had confidence in their own ability to maintain the health of their families and every household was both hospital and doctor's office. Herbs were cultivated in family gardens, homemade remedies and patent medicine were readily available, and the ever present whiskey was part of the home medicine chest.

And the Quakers held their meetings for worship in private homes. They were under the jurisdiction of far away Monthly Meetings. Monthly Meetings were business meetings where transactions such as application for marriage or transfer to a new location, questions of faith, and censuring for wrong doing were handled. When the Lost Creek Monthly Meeting was finally established in 1797, Abraham Woodward was appointed Clerk of the men's meeting. Business meetings were presided over by the Clerk who was chosen for a term of office. He was chosen from the most seasoned Friends in the Meeting. He had to be a good listener, with a clear mind to handle issues, and the gift of preparing a written minute that succinctly summed up the sense of the meeting. With all of this, the Clerk had to be a person who refused to be hurried and could wait out dissension through patience. No votes were taken in a Quaker business meeting. It was the task of the Clerk, either to find a resolution, or to follow the Quaker rule, "when in doubt, wait." On April 18, 1802, Abraham Woodward was recommended as an Elder of the Lost Creek Monthly Meeting. From these appointments we get a sense that Abraham had fully gained the confidence of neighbors and friends.

Abraham lost his son Aaron Woodward in 1808, and his wife Hannah Thornbrough Woodward and his son William Woodward within two weeks of each other in 1812. Abraham Woodward himself passed away 4/3/1817 and is buried in the Lost Creek burial ground. The meeting house and burial ground still exist but few tombstones are seen. Quakers did not believe in having tombstones in those days as it was thought to be self agrandizement and not consistent with plain living. (To see photos of the Lost Creek Meeting house and burial ground as they appear today go to Quaker Meetings in the Links box on the home page.)


And what of Alice Simcock? There is no doubt that Abraham Woodward's connection with her had a profound influence on his life. It is noted that he did not confess to fathering a child by her, only to carnal knowledge. It is also interesting that Abraham & Hannah chose to name a child Alice. Because of this incident and other Simcock/Woodward connections we have included a Simcock page on the original web site.

Abraham Woodward wrote his will on 2/15/1814 as follows:
"Know all men by these presents - that I Abraham Woodward of Jefferson County and State of Tennessee Cordwainer being in my usual state of health and of sound mind and memory and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life and knowing that it is appointed unto all men once to die - do make and ordain this my last will and testament in the manner and form following viz.
First of all I recommend my soul to God that gave it and my body to be buried at the discretion of my relations & friends and as touching my worldly Estate as it has pleased God to help me with (after payment of my just debts and funeral charges) - I dispose of in the following manner.
Imprimis my will and desire is that my son Abraham have all the land that I now propogate where we now lives on Lost Creek for his proper use for ever -
And my will and desire is that my Executors take into possession and hold in trust for my Dauter Eliza Frazer the following property to wit. My sorrel mare, three cows, one heifer, two yearlings, one feather bed and furniture, bedstids, one chest, one pot and oven, one plough, and one pair of geers, two hoes, and one Loom, to remain in their possession but to her use and for her benefit in raising her children as they my Executors in their discretion shall direct and should any of said property remain at her decease then to be divided amonst her children.
I also will that what there is left of my personal estate at my decease be sold and it with what notes and money may be at that time after one Dollar given to my son Eli's daughter Mary be divided into nine parts.
And my will and desire is that my Executors take one ninth part into their hands in trust for my Daughter Eliza and appropriate to her use in manner at last above directed. Eight parts to be equally divided amongst my other Eight children, to wit William, John, Aaron, Abraham, Susannah, Hannah, Jane & Alice that is to say them that is living to have their part and them that is deceased for their part to be equally divided among their children thats then living.
I also constitute my two sons John & Abraham to execute this my last will and testament. I do ratify and confirm this and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 15 day of the second month in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred & fourteen - Signed sealed published pronounced and declared by the said Abraham Woodward as his last will and testament.
/s/Abraham Woodward (Seal)
In the presents of us.
Isaac Hammer
Henry Mills"

"Then was the last will and Testament of Abraham Woodward Deceased duly proven in Open Court by the Oath of Isaac Hammer one of the subscribing witness to said will who saith he saw Henry Mills the other subscribing witness sign his name to said Will and believe that it is his hand writing, and that said witness is not within the limits of the State as he has reason to believe. It was therefore considered by the Court that the same be recorded and thereupon came Abraham Woodward Junior, one of the Executors thereon named and intered into hand with James Hayworth his security for the faithful discharge of his duty therein and was qualified."
Joseph Hamilton Clerk, by his Dep. Jos. Hamilton, Jr.

Henry Mills the witness, who was married to Abraham's granddaughter Hannah, was gone to Indiana, as was Abraham's son John, the other administrator.

"An Inventory of the Estate of Abraham Woodward Decd taken by Abraham Woodward, Jr. Executor of the last Will and Testament taken this 10th of June 1817 One horse one cow one desk one wach and a clock one bed and bedding one rifle gun one pair of stillards one table a few chares one axe one frow one grind stone one saddle and bridle and neck chains one pair of iron happles three sheep one set of shew maker tools Notes on different persons for the sum of $60.
/s/Abraham Woodward Exc. of the Last Will and Testament of Abraham Woodward June 10, 1817
Sworn to in Open Court Joseph Hamilton D. C. Clerk"

We learn from the will that Abraham's occupation was cordwainer. A cordwainer was a shoemaker who made special shoes of the finest leather, probably in this day and time, of split pigskin. His inventory is sparse as he left most of the household goods and some of the livestock to daughter Eliza Woodward Frazer who was probably a widow and was living on the property and taking care of Abraham.