Hamilton County Pioneers - the Penneys

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Capt. James Penney was one of the pioneer settlers on the Wautauga and Nolichucky rivers on the frontier of the future Tennessee. Many of his descendants are centered around Soddy-Daisy.

James Penney had 220 acres on the Wautauga next to where William Bean had made the initial Tennessee settlement. Penney sold this land to Jesse Crouch for $452 in 1798. Capt. Penney lived for many years on the south side of the Nolichucky at the mouth of Camp Creek. His neighbors were Daniel Rawlings and Daniel Kennedy, whose descendants also came to Hamilton County. Esther Penney married Thomas Kennedy in 1798. James Penney was a justice of the peace for Greene County. One of his acquisitions was a half-acre lot at Greeneville. He was married in 1794 to Mary McFarland when that section was still part of “The Territory of the U.S. South of the Ohio River.” He married Polly Gann in 1807 with Adam Gann presiding and James Sevier as a witness. James Penney had made his way to Hamilton County by 1834 when he bought from the estate of James Cozby 150 acres at Eagleton's Corner on the west bank of the Tennessee River for $100. This was near the Shipleys and McGills and was at Opossum Creek. James Penney was in his 70s at the time of the 1840 census.

Thomas M. Penney, who was apparently one of the sons of James, was born in 1795. He also married into the Ganns, uniting with Malinda Gann at Rhea County in 1822. They also moved to North Hamilton County and reared a large family. The children were Isham, Joseph P., George Washington, Sarah M., Martha A. who married Andrew Smith, Francis who married John Smith, Elizabeth Jane who married William Mayberry, Andrew Jackson, Almeda, Marzelia who married Henry Parrott, Cynthia Ann who married William M. Layman, and Caldonia who married James Forbish.

When the Civil War broke out, the Penneys were divided on the issue. The Thomas M. Penney family went with the Union. Isham joined the Seventh Infantry, then was with the First Light Artillery. George W. and Andrew J. enlisted Feb. 25, 1862, at Harrison in Co. C of the Fifth Infantry. Andrew was wounded at Resaca on May 14, 1864, and George was also hospitalized, but they stayed with the army until the war's end. Lewis Hardie Lasley, who married Sarah M. Penney, died of measles at Flat Lick, Ky., during the war. Joseph Looney, who married Almeda Penney, had gone with Lasley to join Co. I of the Second Infantry.

Isham and his wife, Eliza Adaline, moved to Saline County, Ark., where he died in 1890.

George W. married Polina Jane Martin and they also had a large family. These included Thomas Mathias, Isabella J. who married William Mysinger, James, Mary E. who married Hiram Carden, John L., Malinda Adaline who married William Roberts, Samuel A. who married Ida Ricketts, George W. Jr. who married Nancy Jones, and Joseph who married Nancy Jane Spradling.

Thomas Mathias Penney married Mary Mysinger and their children were John William who married Alice Bell Higgins, George LaFayette who married Margaret Robinson, Julia Addie Belle who married Henry Worley, Maude Alice who married Alonzo Davis, and Attie Irene who married Ben Painter.

Thomas Mathias Penney had six more children by a second wife, Sophronia Kearn. They were Jesse Earl who married Kate Tipton and then Dora Bond, James Robert who married Mabel McKamey and then Louise Davis, Thomas Edison who married Maude Pickett, Ella R. “Lena” who married Gordon Slatton, Evaline Blanche who married Horace Abernathy, and Wilburn Russell who married Rachel Jenkins.

Andrew J. had a large family including Monroe, the twins Sherman and Grant, Malinda, Charles K., twins Sophronia and Caldonia, William and Ernest.

William Thomas Penney was in the household of Thomas and Malinda Gann Penney. He married Celia A. Daughtery in 1867. George W. Penney said in a deposition that the mother of William Thomas Penney was a Cherokee woman.

William Penney, who was born about 1798, was apparently another son of Capt. James Penney. He and his wife, Sarah, had a large family at Long Savannah near Ooltewah. One son, George Washington, was killed early in the war after enlisting in the Confederacy's 37th Infantry. He was 18. A brother, Monroe, was in the Confederate battery organized by Chattanoogan Robert Barry. He deserted at Atlanta Sept. 1, 1864. He and his wife, Catherine, were living at Harrison in 1870. Other children of William and Sarah included Martha, Jeremiah, Mary, Nancy, Mahala, John, Allen, William and Isabella.

Elizabeth Penney, who was born about 1803, was also here at an early date. Her son, Martin, joined the Confederacy's First Cavalry. He was on the “roll of deserters” taken in his home county and sent to Louisville, Ky., in late December 1863. He was released north of the Ohio River. Martin married Francis C.J. Pates. William L. was another son of Elizabeth.

A number of Penneys here are descendants of Miles Pinckney (or Pinkton) Penney, who is of mysterious origin. He was born in Hamilton County about 1830 and was apparently a grandson of Capt. Penney. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the Charleston, S.C., statesman, had a son, Miles Brewton Pinckney. Family historian Evan Penney said he was told by older family members that Miles P. was a son of “Pinky” Penney and an Indian woman, who was separated from her family when she was forced on the Trail of Tears. She is said to have died en route west.

M.P. Penney married Mary Ann Bean at Rhea County in 1848. He married Sarah Gann at the home of Jefferson Gann on Aug. 20, 1852. Their first son was named Christopher Columbus, and he married Sarah Clementine Thomas, daughter of Bird Thomas. Other children of M.P. were Sarah Elizabeth, William P. who married Cecile Penney, James Thomas, Margaret who married John L. Pierce, Joseph J. “Strawberry Joe,” John “Three Finger” who married Isabelle Yother, and Tom.

M.P. enlisted with the Union's Sixth Mounted Infantry at Chattanooga on Sept. 12, 1864. He died on Christmas Day 1877 when he and two other men were swept over the Clift Dam at Soddy Creek.

Children of Christopher Columbus were James T. who married Louvinia Jackson and then Bertha Bice, John H. who married Mary Barnhill, Myles Pinkton who married Minnie Burkhart, Lon C. who married Grace Fisher, Joseph Sherman who married Harriet Jane Harding, and Albert G. who married Delphia McGuire.

Evan is a son of Albert G. His brothers are James B., Grady M. and Calvin C. A sister, Velma M., married Clyde Blaylock.

Joseph had sons Paul and Silas. William's children included Fred, James D., Joe, Louvinia, Virgia, Lucille who married Bill Parrott, and Sarah who married John Parrott. John's children were Wilson, David, Aaron, Johnny, Lucinda who married Hubert Sisson, Nannie who married Claude Gann, and Inez who married Ernest Crawley.

James William “Bill” Penney operated Bill Penney Tire and Marine Co. He married Pearl Wood. He went to work when he was 12 in the grocery store of his father, James Anderson Penney, who had married Geneva Denney. Bill Penney had a service station on Orchard Knob Avenue, then he moved to Dodson Avenue in 1928. He got interested in boats as a hobby and in 1931 began selling them.

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