Descendants of Robert Pollock of Early Eastern Tennessee
by John C. Barron (Used with John Barron's permission)
Before it became a state in 1796, the territory that is now Tennessee was home to at least two Pollock families: one in the extreme east and the other on the western frontier. Another large, seemingly unrelated group led by Henry Pollock who was supposedly from Maryland settled by 1820 in Lawrence County. Determining the ancestors and descendants of these groups is a trying process. For one thing prior to statehood, the jurisdiction of these locales was in dispute with North Carolina and Virginia both claiming portions. The weak federal government mostly stood back and let the individual states deal with the consequences. This confusion compounded the problems of keeping records on the frontier. What few records that can be found are isolated and incomplete.
In the west, the first Pollock record was a land purchase made by William Barkley Pollock in 1785 on East Titus Creek in Davidson Co.(1) He was the progenitor of the western group and had received a land grant in what is now Lincoln County, Kentucky, in 1784(2). There is also some reason to believe that he was a member of the very prominent Pollock family of the North Carolina tidewater country. The immigrant ancestor of this line, Thomas Pollock, came to America in 1683(3) and served as governor of North Carolina. William Barkley Pollock held various county offices over the years(4) and was a surveyor and probably a land speculator. His descendants were in Montgomery County, Tennessee as late as 1850.
On the other hand, Robert Pollock was the earliest of the family found in the eastern part of the territory. It is not known when he first arrived in the area, but he was there before the end of the Revolutionary War as he received a general purchase grant in Sullivan County in 1782(5). These authors listed four types of grants from this period: general purchase, pre-emption, military service, and as payment for survey and guard duty. Pollock (under the name of Robert Poge) received 150 acres of land described as "on Young's run joining Cochran's lines." A grant was also made to a John Cochran at this time and place for 250 acres "on Young Branch the north side of Holstein." Other evidence that Robert was in what is now Tennessee as early as 1785 came from a census listing for his assumed son Benjamin(6).
In June, 1789, Robert was evidently still in Sullivan County, [now Tennessee] and along with John Long and Henry Roberts witnessed a deed between John Cochran and wife Caty, of Sullivan County, and David Ross of Fluvanna Co., VA.(7) As was the practice in those days, witnesses to documents were often relatives of the wife and sought to protect her interest in the property. Research into the relationship of Pollock to these people might help locate him prior to this time, and it could well be that Caty Cochran was Robert's sister.
Robert Pollock was a man of some importance; he may well have been a lawyer by profession since he seemed to be associated with the courts everywhere he went. In July, 1792, he was appointed one of the first constables of Jefferson County.(8) That same year he served on a committee to divide the county. The populace considered themselves to be living in North Carolina after the collapse of the failed state of Franklin. In July, 1794, in the newly created county of Sevier, Pollock held the office of justice of the peace(9) and was a magistrate during the first court(10). The next year he served on a grand jury in the nearby town of Knoxville(11) and afterwards returned to Sevier County and was a justice in the first court held under the state constitution in July, 1796.
It seems likely that Robert was back in Knoxville in April, 1798. At that time his son John applied to governor John Sevier for a passport through the Indian land. John and Philemon Higgins were granted permission to travel with their families from Knoxville to Stogdon's [Stockton's?] Valley on the Cumberland River by way of Johnson's ferry on the Clinch River.(12) However by 1801, father and sons (including John who had evidently returned from the frontier) all seemed to be together in Anderson Co., TN.(13) In March, 1802, Robert Pollock, Esq., was ordered by the court to oversee road construction and to take property tax lists in Captains Steel and Graham's companies.(14) At this same time Thomas Worthington served on a jury there in June, 1802. Forty years later Worthington and Pollock descendants would rejoin each other in Benton Co., AL, and form a family association strong to this day.
Between the years 1802 and 1805, Robert served Anderson County as a magistrate, jury member, and attorney.(15) Strangely though except for the following, no Pollock's seemed to have purchased land in Anderson Co. as none appear in the deed indices. However, in June, 1804, William Pollock was cited by the sheriff for non-payment of tax on a town lot in 1803.(16) It appears that Robert Pollock neither bought land to put down roots like the familiar rural settlers of the south nor did he seem to be involved in the usual land speculation of the leading citizens.
In 1805 in Anderson Co., Robert Pollock and his apparent sons John, Joseph, and Robert, Jr. were all listed on the tax roll.(17) An unnamed Pollock was delinquent on the 1805 poll tax and assumed to be the above William.(18) In August, 1806, several Pollock men signed a petition in Anderson Co.(19) Only one Robert Pollock was shown along with the following probable Pollock brothers: Benjamin, Joseph, and John. This may mean that Robert Pollock, the elder, was dead by this time. A William McGuire was also shown in their midst who may have been the same man who had married Sarah Pollock in March 1792 in Green Co. [now TN].(20) William Pollock who is assumed to be a son of Robert must have left the area due to his debt trouble and does not appear with the family until perhaps later.
The earliest record found for one of Robert Pollock's sons was that of John Pollock who in 1790 appeared on the muster roll of a military unit composed of men from Washington, Sullivan, Green, and Hawkins Counties.(21) John Pollock also appeared on the militia roster of the Jefferson Regiment from Hamilton District in 1794 and a Jesse Pollock was on the Green Regiment roster from Washington District(22). Assuming that John Pollock was a young man about 20 years old in 1790, this would make him born about 1770. This approximation is corroborated by other evidence of his age: on the 1820 census of Bedford Co., TN, he was listed as over 45 years of age (born before 1775).(23)
Since no other Pollock men, except for the previously mentioned Jesse, seemed to have served in these units, it seems likely that John was the oldest son of Robert Pollock. This Jesse Pollock was probably from North Carolina(24) and not related. He may have been the Jesse in Scriven Co., GA in 1806(25)Robert's younger sons seem to have been born by 1785, judging from their appearance on tax rolls around 1805. This would perhaps set Robert's birth date at about 1740. By May, 1808, Robert's sons appear in the civil records of White Co., TN.
At that same time a widow, Elizabeth Pollock, was also a resident of White Co.(26) where she recorded a deed of gift to her daughter Elizabeth "Betsy" Pollock, single woman. This deed was rescinded later that year, an example, perhaps, of problems she was having with settling the estate. It seems reasonable that this woman was the widow of Robert Pollock, the elder.
Throughout the years 1808 and 1809, the Pollock brothers appeared regularly in the civil court records of White Co. Not only did they frequently serve on juries, but they were involved in lawsuits consistent with those made by persons in business. Benjamin, Robert, John, and Joseph Pollock all served on various juries at the quarterly court sessions during this time(27). In August, 1809, John Pollock was sued by Philip Usrey over non-payment of a debt. Pollock was found not guilty.(28) During that same session, Robert Pollock was sued by Hannah Rule, widow of George. Pollock was ordered to keep a disputed wagon and pay the widow $25.00. During these trials, the Pollock men who had been serving on the jury for that session were excluded, solidifying the premise that they were brothers. In that same session, the following very interesting entry was found: Pleasant Wallen was discharged as overseer of a road from Pollock's ford to Hickory valley. The location of these places needed to be researched to help locate their property. No more Pollock records were found in White Co. after November, 1809.
Most of the Pollock family left White Co. about 1810 and moved south to the Lincoln Co., TN, area. At least two of the sons, Robert and Joseph, were there and son John was probably in the adjoining county of Bedford by then. Elizabeth Pollock, thought to be the widow of Robert, was listed on the 1820 census of Lincoln Co. as a woman over 45 years old.(29) Listed in her household was a girl aged 16 to 21, probably a granddaughter but perhaps the above mentioned daughter, Betsy. A Philimon Higgins was also listed on the 1820 census of Lincoln Co. A man with this same name had accompanied John Pollock to the Cumberland River frontier (probably in Kentucky) in 1798, although this must have been his son since only a young couple was shown in the family.
Elizabeth Pollock was still in Lincoln Co. in 1830 where she was shown on the census to be a woman 80-89 years of age.(30) This would, of course, mean that she was born in the 1740's matching closely the assigned age of her husband Robert (b. 1740). In Dec, 1829, Elizabeth had bought a tract of land on Kelly's Creek from John H. Norton.(31) A few years afterward Mary, daughter of Isaac James Norton, was shown in the records of Limestone Co., AL,(32) as the wife of John Pollock, probably (John3, John2, Robert1). Elizabeth "Betsy" Pollock was probably the woman on the 1840 census of Lincoln Co.,(33) but her mother was not shown and must have died.
Son John Pollock (John2, Robert1) removed to Bedford Co., TN, although just when is not certain. A William Polk had entered a land claim in Bedford Co. in 1807 on Big Flat Creek, the very area where John Pollock eventually settled,(34) and perhaps this was the son William who had recently fled Anderson Co. John, however, was not listed on the tax roll taken in 1812,(35) unless the John Polk shown was actually him. Joseph Hastings was listed on the 1812 tax roll, however, along with many of his North Carolina kinsmen. John was surely there by 1815 when his son Samuel married Susanna Hastings,(36) although no records were found before February, 1819, when the heirs settled the estate of her father, Joseph.(37)
According to family tradition, John Pollock manufactured gun powder on the Duck River.(38) As previously discussed, he appeared on the 1820 census of Bedford Co., TN. He was listed between the households of Samuel Pollock and James Pollock. Robert Pollock was two households down from him. John's age was listed as over 45 (born before 1775) and the others were young men in their 20's or late teens. They are assumed to be his sons and there were also four other boys in his household, along with two girls and his wife. One of these boys may have been the William Pollock who purchased a tract of land in 1830 in Bedford Co.(39) In 1830 John (listed as John Polk) was shown on the census as a man in his 50's and, therefore, born 1771-1780.(40) This, in combination with the 1820 census, puts his birth in the period 1771-1774.
John Pollock's place of birth is subject to considerable debate. In 1837 in Bedford Co., his daughter Elizabeth married William H. Anthony, a Methodist minister of German descent.(41) Their son, Roddy Anthony, stated that his mother's people (the Pollock's) came from Pennsylvania.(42) He, as well as his brother James Frederick Anthony, said that their Pollock grandmother's name was Alsey. They said their mother had three brothers: John, Benjamin, and Robert Pollock with no mention of a Samuel or James. Three of the children of John and Alsey were located in the very important 1880 census which asks the birthplace of a person's parents. The oldest sibling, Robert Pollock (Robert3, John2, Robert1), age 81, was living in Bedford Co.(43) He was listed in the household of his daughter Alcie Pollock Longley and he stated that both his father and mother were born in Ireland. His sister, Elizabeth Pollock Anthony, age 68, was living in Moore Co., TN, in 1880.(44) She said that her parents were both born in North Carolina. Her brother Benjamin Pollock, age 77, was also in Moore Co.(45) He said that his father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother had been born in North Carolina.
So, we have three siblings and three different places of birth for their father, John Pollock. Of course, this seems absurd, but is not that unusual in genealogy where evidence is collected from older folks with their failing memories. The daughter's response of born in North Carolina, of course, contradicts evidence given by her sons as shown above. Discounting the North Carolina answer due to the contradiction, this surely means that the Pollock family was originally from Ireland and that they emigrated to Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. John was probably born near the time of the move, but whether in Ireland or in America cannot now be determined. Since they were Protestants, it is likely that they were of Scots-Irish descent from Northern Ireland and probably made their way down the Virginia valley from Pennsylvania perhaps staying in Virginia and/or North Carolina for a while.
John Pollock's wife was named Alsey (spelled variously as Alcie or Alcy) which at the time was a common nickname for Alice. Her maiden name is not known. Estimates of her age from census records are the same as her husband: born 1771-1774. Two of her children listed her birthplace as North Carolina which seems entirely consistent with the other evidence. If this were the case with the common migration patterns being what they were, then she and John were almost surely married sometime about 1790 in what is now eastern Tennessee. This would imply that she came to this area when her family went west from the Carolinas. John and Alsey Pollock were probably in Sullivan Co. when their oldest child John Pollock was born.
Among John Pollock's sons and grandsons, there seemed to be fewer farmers than would be expected and many more carpenters and skilled craftsmen, with the novel occupation of wagon maker (or wagon wright) occurring several times. The occupation of wagon maker was extremely rare in the census records of small Tennessee towns of the mid-1850's. Pollock wagon makers found on the census so far are as follows: John Pollock(46) (John4, Samuel3, John2, Robert1), Joseph H. Pollock(47) (Joseph H.4, Samuel3, John2, Robert1), and Benjamin Pollock(48)(Benjamin3, John2, Robert1). It would be most interesting to learn the occupation of John's son Samuel since two of the wagon makers were his sons.
The immigrant's son Robert Pollock (Robert2, Robert1) went south. In November, 1811, he was ordered by the county court of Lincoln Co., TN, to oversee a road between Wm. Anderson's place and the state line [Tennessee and that portion of the Mississippi territory that is now Alabama](49). Robert along with Willie Garrett proved a deed from Caleb Birmingham to John Kelly.(50) Joseph Pollock (Joseph2, Robert1) was also in Lincoln Co. but was not mentioned in the county court records until November, 1816. At that time his brother Robert was appointed administer of the estate of "Joseph Pollock, late of this county, [who had] departed this life intestate."(51) A year and a half later Robert left Tennessee for good. In March, 1818, Robert entered a land claim just across the border in Limestone Co., AL.(52)
Robert Pollock was shown on the 1819-20 state census of Limestone Co.(53) Robert and his wife were shown with six boys and two girls, all under 21 years old. He was listed next to John Sanderson. Several pages earlier, a Robert D. Pollock was shown. This Robert was over 21 years old (b. about 1798) and had a small family. He probably was the son of the above Robert who, to have a child this old, surely was born by 1780. Determining the location of his birth is a vital link in this research effort. The elder Robert was still in Limestone Co. in January, 1828, when he made a deed of gift to his daughter Elizabeth C. Pollock.(54) Neither Robert was shown in Limestone Co. in the 1830 census, although a Sarah Pollock was there. She was probably the widow of the elder Robert as she was a woman in her 30's with seven apparent children in her household.(55) Lorenzo Dow Pollock, a man in his twenties and another apparent son of Robert, was also in Limestone Co. in 1830, but shortly afterward left for Fayetteville, Washington Co., AR, where he died in 1840.(56) Flanery said he was born in TN, but gives no source for the information.
Sarah, widow of the above Robert Pollock was in Cooper Co., MO, in 1840 with most of her children.(57) Her age contradicts the above one showing her in her 50's; she was probably born about 1780. She and Robert were probably married in Knox Co., TN, although no Pollock marriage records can be found there. Judging by his child ladder, the oldest son, Robert [D.], apparently left Limestone Co., AL, in the late 1820's and returned to Tennessee. By 1840, however, he was in Missouri with his mother and his brother John Taylor Pollock. Both of these brothers were in Holt Co., MO., by 1850(58) and apparently settled there.
Son Benjamin Hamilton Pollock (Benjamin2, Robert1) seems to have stayed in White County, TN, longer than his brothers. He was the only Pollock shown in a list of early settlers in the Sparta area between the years 1800-1815.(59) He served in the War of 1812 in Capt. Charles Kavenaugh's Co. of Tennessee militia.(60) The location of this unit is not clear at this time, although Kavenaugh had been in Montgomery Co. a few years earlier. Benjamin was probably still in White Co. when he married, although the marriage records do not go back that early. He married Sara Rosannah Capps(61) and their oldest son Robert Oliver was born in Tennessee in Benjamin H. Pollock's residence in 1816.
Benjamin H. Pollock's residence in 1820 is not known as he has not been located on any census or county record. He was in Limestone Co., AL, in the mid-1820s and was listed on the 1830 census from there. By 1840, however, he was in Marshall Co., AL and moved on to Pontotoc Co., Mississippi by 1850. He was still living there in 1860.
No apologies are offered for the fact that much of the foregoing is based on assumptions and speculation. It is intended to provide a starting place and foundation for a more extensive treatment of the Pollock family at a later date. Hopefully, these preliminary conclusions can be verified when better evidence is available. Given these circumstances coupled with the problem of the name often written as Polk or Pogue, it must be understood that many important genealogical conclusions concerning the Pollock family can only be reached by use of preponderance of the evidence analysis.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Fulcher. 1987. 1770-1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements. p 96-7 2. Jillson. 1969. Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds 3. Ray. 1947. The Lost Tribes of North Carolina. p 130 4. Goodpasture. 1903 Beginnings of Montgomery Co. [TN]. Am Hist Mag. 8 (3):201 5. Cartwright, Betty and Lillian Gardiner. North Carolina Land Grants in Tennessee 1778-1791. I.C. Harper. p 22-23 6.U. S. Census Pontotoc Co., MS 1860 (Chesterville, p 174). Robert Pollock's son Benjamin H. Pollock gave his age as 75 (born 1785) and birth place as Tenn. 7. Spaden. Sullivan Co. Deed Book 1. Bulletin of the Watauga Assoc. 4(1):45. 8. McDowell. 1978. East Tennessee History. p C23. 9. Index to Blount Journal 1790-1796. 10. McDowell. p B33. 11. Cotham. 1989. From Early Knoxville Newspapers. Tenn Ancestors. 5(3):162. 12. Potter. 1982. Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770-1823. p 318. 13. Creekmore. Early Tennessee Tax Rolls 14. WPA Transcriptions. Anderson Co. Tennessee Court Minutes 1801-1809. p 9. 15. ibid, pp 11, 14, 29, 37, 40, 53, 58, 62, 71, 75, 78, 80, 90, 92, 106, 202, 206, 207, and 210. 16. ibid, p 181. 17. Creekmore. 18. Bulletin of the Watauga Association. 9(1-2):45. 19. Tolar. 1962. Petition of Sundry Citizens Asking that a New County be Made From Anderson and Claiborne. Ansearchin' News. 9(4):133. 20. Sistler & Sistler. 1987. Early East Tennessee Marriages, vol 2. 21. Accounts of payment for services performed against Chickamauga Indians. Tenn Ancestors. 5(3):189. 22. Clark. 1990. American Militia in the Frontier Wars. 1790-1792. p. 40. 23. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1820. Feb 1820, p 40. 24. McBride. 1982. Consolidated list of marriage license purchases in North Carolina. 1785-1791. No Car Gen Soc Journal. 8(4):199. Lists marriage record for a Jesse Pollock in Jones Co., NC, in 1785. 25. Thomas. 1991. Laurens Co., Georgia Legal Records, 1807-1832. p 610. Later he lived in Laurens Co. 26. White Co., Tennessee County Court Minutes, vol 1. p 59. 27. ibid pp 43, 50, 67, 74, 83, and 116. 28. ibid, p 119. 29. U.S. Census Lincoln Co., TN 1820. (p 150). 30. U.S. Census Lincoln Co., TN, 1830 (p 257). 31. Lincoln Co. TN Deed Index H-1, p 610. 32. Gandrud. Alabama Records (Limestone Co.), Vol 98. p 54. 33. U.S. Census Lincoln Co., TN 1840 (p 89). 34. Marsh and Marsh. 1988. Land Deed Genealogy of Bedford Co., Tennessee. p 8. From Deed Book C, p 293. 35. Duncan. 1960. Bedford County, Tennessee tax list 1812. Ansearchin' News. Vol 7-8. 36. U.S. Census Benton Co., AL 1850 (Dist 30, p 411). This shows oldest child Elizabeth Pollock Sample (dau of Samuel Pollock and Susanna) b. 1816 TN as wife of Joseph H. Sample. 37. Marsh and Marsh. From Deed Book K, p 215. 38. Hill, Sharon E. (1150 Vultee Blvd., B-205, Nashville, TN 37217). 1991. Personal communication. 39. Bedford Co., TN Deed Index, Book BB, p 219. 40. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1830 (p 34). 41. The Tennessee [Methodist] Conference, 1884. p 50. 42. Dyer and Moore. 1985. Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaire, vol 1. p 215 & 219. 43. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1880 (ed 17, p 22, Civil Dist 23). 44. U.S. Census Moore Co., TN 1880 (ed 175, p 28, Civil Dist 11). 45. ibid. (ed 177, p 34, Civil Dist 10). 46. U.S. Census Benton Co., AL 1850 (Dist 3, p 412). 47. U.S. Census Burleson Co., TX 1860 (Caldwell, p 110). 48. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1850 (Dist 23, p 250). 49. Marsh and Marsh. 1988. First County Court Minutes of Lincoln Co., TN. p 90. 50. ibid, pp. 130, 180, and 219. 51. ibid, p 246. 52. Barfield. 1985. Old Huntsville Land Office Records. p 112. 53. State Census Limestone Co., AL 1819-20 (p 140). 54. Gandrud. Alabama Records (Limestone Co.), Vol 24, p 41. 55. U.S. Census Limestone Co., AL 1830. 56. Flanery, Dan E. (5933 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85035). 1979. Query in The Arkansas Family Historian. 7(1):67. 57. U.S. Census Cooper Co., MO 1840 (p 127). 58. U.S. Census Holt Co., MO 1850 (Dist 38, p 82). 59. Goodspeed. 1972. The Goodspeed Histories of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren and White Counties. p. 799. 60. White. 1979. Index to War of 1812 Pension Files. p 1434. His widow Rosanah G. applied for pensions WO-28586 and SC-7163. 61. Miller, Relda Kenrick (626 S. 13th St. Collinsville, OK 74021). 1991. Personal communication. 62. Assuming that she was approximately 45 years old at the birth of her last child about 1785. 63. Petition to the legislature to sell school land in Dist 24. 1985. Tenn Ancestors. 1(1):26. A John Pollock Sr. and Jr. were listed on this petition. John Pollock was not in the 1850 census, however, and assumed to dead by then. 64. Assuming that she was approximately 20 years old when married. 65. Gandrud. Alabama Records (Limestone Co.), Vol 24, p 41. List deed of gift to daughter. He was not found on the 1830 census of Limetstone Co. and assumed to be dead. 66. Petition to the legislature to sell school land in Dist 24. 1985. Tenn Ancestors. 9(1):26. A John Pollock Sr. and Jr. were listed on this petition. John Pollock was not in the 1850 census, however, and assumed to dead by then. 67. She was not found on the 1850 census. 68. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1840 (Dist 24, p 95). Shows man 50-59. 69. U.S. Census Warren Co., TN 1830 (p 326). 70. Hill, above. In April, 1798, his father moved his family to the Cumberland River which is mostly in Kentucky. 71. ibid. 72. U.S. Census Bedford Co., TN 1850 (p 503) and Bedford Co., TN 1870 (Dist 23, p 395).