I found the info I have which doesn't go back as far as I thought, but I'm going to list a bit more info in case someone else is looking for info so please bear with me.
The info on the land where the cemetery is located is as follows:
From Deed Book 365, pg. 427:
Robert Henley purchased the property from J.B. Henley in 1981
J.B. got it from Wm. Douglas & Lilly Mae Henley in 1968
Wm. got it from Gattis & Bertha Henley (no date)
Gattis bought it from Woodrow Henley in 1941 (Deed Book 28, pg 289)
Woodrow bought/received the land from an A.J. Henley (no date - the property is known as the A.J. Henley home place)
A.J. Henley bought the land in 1905 from Peggy Sherill/Sherrill (her husband, David, had originally purchased the property, but he died in Sept 1900)
David Sherill/Sherrill bought the property in 1893 from Zeb and Esther Darvis or Dardis (the county thinks its Darvis, but I found it was Dardis on the 1880 census)
Zeb & Esther Dardis bought the property from ???**
**I think they purchased it from the Rutledge family - possibly Henry Rutledge b. 1840. If so, Zeb purchased the property between June 27, 1870 and June 1, 1880 (census dates).
On the 1880 census, Zeb is living next to Andrew J. Hill who is living next to Henry Rutledge on the 1870 census – I could not find Zeb on the 1870 census (both censuses in District 9, Franklin Co., TN) ~OR~ Zeb may have purchased the land from the Hill family.
I know the Hill family donated the property for the Hill Cemetery just down the road, but according to a descendant of the Hill's, their great-grandfather was "buried across the street from the Hill Cemetery on property he originally owned." I don't believe it's Esther's cemetery, but on Hill family land.
That's as far as the county could go back because at that time, I couldn't find a Zeb or Esther Darvis on Ancestry. However, I searched for a Zeb with wife Esther living in Franklin Co., TN on 1880 census and found Zeb & Esther Dardis. I'm going to call the county back and see if I can get any further info given their names and my suspicions that Zeb bought land from either the Rutledge or Hill family.
Now - how does this tie into William Sterling O'Rear and the cemetery his wife, Esther KELLY O'Rear is buried in?
From Deed Book T, page 142 - 29 Jan 1844:
William O'Rear of the County of Franklin, purchased 208 acres of land from George W. Thompson of the County of Coffee, TN for the sum of $500.00. A partial transcription of the sale of land is:
"... lying and being in the County of Franklin and State of Tennessee and the South side of Elk River originating and ___ post oak tree on the southwest corner of 1,000 acres granted to Enoch Ward, thence past with said line to Saul Camps corner then north of said Camps line to Elk River thence with the meandering of said river westwardly to the west boundary of said one thousand acres tract thence south with said line to the beginning containing two hundred and eight acres more or less."
**This looks like it was originally placed in Book A on the 20th day of Feb 1844 (or 1848) by the register, Jesse Wallace.
The piece of land really interests me because ... after I read it, it states that he bought land that went up to the Elk River. I finally found some maps that showed the Elk River and discovered that it forms the border between Coffee County on the north and Franklin County on the south.
So I went to MapQuest and copied and pasted several print-screens together to make a copy of the river that was legible - knowing that his land was somewhere in this area. Then I happened to enlarge one of the mapquest screens and noticed .... Rutledge Ford Road. I thought, that rings a bell and then I remembered ... that's the road that has the little cemetery off it that Esther KELLY O'Rear is buried in!!
This would explain why the cemetery is there if that is the land that William O'Rear purchased. Their land is in the area surrounded on three sides by the Elk River and could possibly be the land that William purchased.
We know it's the same property being sold as the description of the land being sold is always the same, "... beginning at the spotted oak tree in the graveyard and running northeast 45 poles ... " This description is repeated on other land records.
I am thinking that the "graveyard" is the small cemetery that Esther O'Rear is buried in even though there is another cemetery in the area. Hill Cemetery is about .3 miles from Esther's cemetery and it is on land donated by the Hill family (per Don Hill who gave me info).
I called and spoke with Mrs. Henley and she said that the land south of the cemetery is owned by another family - the Henley land goes to the north. Of course, William could have owned all of this land at one time since he purchased 208 acres on the record listed above and I don't know how many on the others.
So, at least I can give you some history on the land currently owned by the Henley family that I know goes back to William Sterling O'Rear.
Some early history on the land was provided by Don Hill and I found add'l info to support his info:
"The land where the cemetery is located was part of the Rutledge tract. Edward Rutledge, who signed the Declaration of Independance, was given about 70,000 acres in what is now Franklin and Coffee Counties. His son, Henry Middleton Rutledge, arrived from South Carolina and built a large house just across the river from the cemetery."
The other info I found indicates:
Edward Rutledge, Signer of the Declaration of Independence A partly-printed document signed "Edward Rutlege" as Governor of South Carolina on the verso, 16" x 13", Columbia, March 4, 1799. A grant of 400 acres granted to Joel Smith "...Surveyed for him the 11th day of December 1793. Situate in the District of Camden in York County, on the Jumping Branch, Waters of Kings Creek..." With a 7.75" x 9.75" manuscript survey of the property affixed to the verso next to Rutledge's signature. Weak folds expertly repaired with Japanese tissue, tiny pin holes at a few of the fold intersections, otherwise bright and quite clean. From the collection of Bradley O'Leary. Accompanied by COA from PSA/DNA.Sold for: $402.50.
The greater portion of the best lands in Franklin County were entered by location of land warrants and other claims granted by North Carolina to individuals for military services while the territory belonged to that State. Henry M. Rutledge was executor of the last will and testament of Gov. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, who in his lifetime owned a large tract of land, mostly in this county. As executor, Mr. Rutledge sold this tract, consisting of 73,000 acres, to Col. Thomas Shubrick for $535 of English money. As an individual he then purchased the whole tract back from Col. Shubrick, and the deeds of these conveyances are the first that appear on the records of Franklin County. The Rutledge lands lie mostly in Districts 8 and 9. In May, 1808, Glen. Andrew Jackson and John Hutchins, assignees of John G. and Thomas Blount, received a patent from the State of Tennessee for 1,000 acres located on the Boiling Fork, just below Winchester.
The following is a condensed list of a few early grants, entries and purchases;
July, 1796, State of North Carolina to Thomas Dillon, an assignee of the Blounts, 5,000 acres on Elk River, including Fendleton's Spring, and a large camp made by Major Ore & Co., on their way to Nickajack;
March 5, 1805, Thomas Dillon to E. Thursby, for $4,500, 18,000 acres on Elk River;
April, 1807, Henry M. Rutledge to Wm. P. Anderson and John Strother a large tract on Elk River and on both sides of Logan Creek;
in 1808, State of Tennessee to John Maclin and John Overton 4,935 acres, and to Nicholas Tramel 840 acres, both on Elk River
to James Metcalf 200 acres on Metcalf Creek, and to Wm. Metcalf 200 acres on Elk River; in 1809, State to James Patton and Andrew Erwin 1,000 acres, to Andrew Jackson 640 acres, and to John Winford 640 acres, all on Elk River.
Among the early cotton-gins were those erected in the upper end of the county by Sims Kelly, John Oliver, Wm. Faris, Wm. O'Rear ..
Ancestry.com for census records
Franklin Co. Court House - land records
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