I.     Early James families of White County, Tennessee

White County, Tennessee was created in 1806. Counties that have been formed in whole or in part from White include: Warren (1807), DeKalb (1837), Van Buren (1840), and Putnam (1854). Accordingly, White County records prior to those dates encompass more than the present-day White County.

A John James acquired 100 acres from Landy Shoemake, which acquisition was ordered recorded during May term 1809.2  On 15 May 1810, he was appointed overseer of the road leading from the Falling Waters to Jackson County line.3 John James served as a juror in 1810, 1811, and 1812.4 On 15 Feb 1811, John James, William J. Smith and John Trapp were appointed to value property in Capt. Trapp's Company.5 In 1811, a John James appears in the White County, Tennessee tax list, taxed on one poll and an entry of 100 acres on Cane Creek. He also appears in the tax lists for 1812, 1813, and 1815 to 1819.6 John Heath recovered a judgment against John James for trespass on 18 April 1815.7 It was presumably this John James who prosecuted Henry Tiftiller for petit larceny between 22 Oct 1818 and 22 Apr 1819. The jury found Tiftiller not guilty and the court ordered James to pay costs for malicious prosecution.8

No John James appears in either the 1820 or 1830 censuses or in the surviving tax lists for 1820 to 1835. Perhaps this John James left the county, as Thomas Burgess recovered a judgment in White County against Isham Perkins, the sheriff of Warren County, for failing to collect a judgment against the estate of John James, in the amount of $66, plus $4.90 in costs, which Burgess had recovered on 24 July 1823.9

In 1820, there were apparently two James households in White County:

Collins James (p. 371)

1 male <10 2 females <10
  2 females 10<16
  1 female 26<45
1 male 45+  

William James (p. 360)

2 males <10 2 females <10
  1 female 10<16
1 male 26<45 1 female 26<45

In 1830, there were two James households in White County:

Hampton James, one male age 20<30 (p. 52)

William James (p. 10)

2 males <5 1 female 5<10
1 male 5<10 1 female 10<15
2 males 15<20 1 female 15-20
  1 female 20<30
1 male 40<50 1 female 40<50
  1 female 70<80

Neither Collins nor Hampton, James or Jones, appear in the 1810 North Carolina census (although there are two Cullen Jameses).

DeKalb County was created partly from White County in 1837. In 1830, a portion of present day DeKalb County was the western extremity of White County. In at least 1840, 1850 and 1880, a Hampton James appears in the census in District No. 8, DeKalb County, born about 1800 in North Carolina. Presumably, he is the same man living in White County in 1830, perhaps without even changing location. In the 1850 census, his wife is named Martha, age 34, and his children are George W. (age 14), William (11), Elley A. (9), John (7), Perry (3) and Mary A. (4). The 1880 census lists daughters Nancy (21) and Margaret (18). Entries for this family from several submitters in Ancestral File mention three additional children and suggest that Hampton was married in 1856, presumably to a second wife. In 1850?, District No. 8 in DeKalb County also included a David James (30<40), John [M] Whitley (30<40), Thomas James (30<40) and William Jones (20<30). In the 1850 census, there were listings for Thomas James, age 42, born in North Carolina (wife: Nancy; children: Richard, Salina, Hartwell, Susan, Luvena, John, Willis F., William T., and Nancy E.) and David James, age 40, born in Tennessee (wife: Mary; children: John S., Tennessee, Edward L., Amanda, Clark C., David, and Enoch P.).

A David T. James left a will in White County in 1833 (wb b 123)10, i.e., before the creation of De Kalb County. A David James also appears in the tax lists for 1832, 1835 and 1836. In 1832, he was taxed on 200 acres of school land and 160 other acres.

White County in 1832:

As noted above, William James appears in the censuses for 1820 and 1830. While Linda Anne Watson indicates he does not appear in the tax lists, another source indicates he appears on a tax list in White County in 1825.11 In addition, on 21 January 1814, a William James was appointed to take the list of taxable property and polls in "that part of Jackson County lately attached to the County of White" (Jackson County was on the northwest side of White County).12 William James also served often on juries in White County. William James swore to a plat and certificate of survey of 50 acres recorded on 21 April 1814 in connection with a suit between Wm. Boatman and the heirs of William Nowland.13 William James was one of the hands under road overseer Samuel Driskell appointed on 7 May 1821 to work on the road from the Forks of Iron Works road to the mouth of Jone’s cave (cove?).14 [early White County records have not been exhaustively examined; nor has it been determined that all the William James records relate to the same man].

There was a George James family listed in District 4, White County, in 1850, although he was born in Ohio (p. 40; 22 Aug 1850):

George James 46 Farming Ohio CRW
Milly " 33   Tennessee CRW
Nathan " 15 Farming " AS
Adeline " 11   "  
Allen " 9   " AS
Samuel " 7   "  
Hannah " 5   "  
John " 2   "  

There appears to have been some connection between the estate of Harmon Little, who died by 4 October 1852, and a guardianship involving Levi James of White County, which guardianship was resigned 7 March 1853. However, it is not clear from my notes whether Levi James was serving as a guardian or the subject of the guardianship.15

The boundaries of White County reached their final form by 1860, but not in 1850 included the western portion of what is now Cumberland County and the southeastern portion of Putnam County.


2.    Records of White County, Minute Book, 1806-1811, p. 68 (orig 96) (WPA 1938).

3.    Records of White County, Minute Book, 1806-1811, p. 116 (orig 156) (WPA 1938).

4.    Records of White County, Minute Book, 1806-1811, pp. 112, 114, 162, 230 (orig 150, 154, 120-21, 168-69) (WPA 1938); id., vol. 2, 1811-1812, (orig. p. 256).

5.    Records of White County, Minute Book, 1806-1811, p. 231 (orig 169) (WPA 1938).

6.    Research by Linda Anne Watson in White County records, 1984.

7.    http://www.tngenweb.org/white/project/1814_100.html.

8.    Minutes, Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, White Co., Tenn., 1817-1819 [WPA], orig. pp. 264, 321, 358-59.

9.    Minutes of the Court of Appeals & Quarter Sessions of White County, 1824-1827, Part II, p. 234 (orig. p. 184) (WPA 1941).

10.    Byron & Barbara Sistler, Index to Tennessee Wills and Administrations, 1779-1861 (Nashville, Tenn.: 1990), p. 189.

11.    Byron & Barbara Sistler, Index to Early Tennessee Tax Lists (Evanston, Ill.: 1977).

12.    Minutes, Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, White Co., Tenn., 1812-1814 [WPA], orig. p. 347.

13.    The Upper Cumberland Researcher, XII, #4 (Upper Cumberland Geneal. Assoc. 1987).

14.    The Upper Cumberland Researcher, XVI, #4, p. 160 (Upper Cumberland Geneal. Assoc. 1991).

15.   The Upper Cumberland Researcher, XII, #2 (Upper Cumberland Geneal. Assoc. 1987), citing Will Book D, p. 145.

Return to James base page

Bill Utermohlen, 1916 Windsor Road, Alexandria, VA 22307;