Hamilton County Pioneers - the Talleys

Saturday, December 15, 2007 - by John Wilson

Robert and Rachel Talley arrived near Birchwood prior to the Indian removal and purchased their property from the departing Indians. In the Civil War, three Talley sons marched away to fight for the Union. Another son who favored the Confederate side, James Pleasant Talley, was one of the nine commissioners named to organize James County. Robert Talley was born about 1805 in Jefferson County, Tenn., and was apparently the son of Dudley Talley and Nancy Davis, who married at Jefferson County in 1798. Dudley Talley had come down from Hanover County, Va., to the East Tennessee frontier at an early age. He was born about 1773. He later lived in Cocke County.
John Talley “the Elder” and Henry Talley Jr. were in St. Paul's Parish of Hanover County as early as the 1730s. An earlier Dudley Talley left property on Modequin Creek to David Talley Jr., according to a deed in 1784. Robert Talley's wife, Rachel, was born in Kentucky about 1807. The family lived in Knox County near Strawberry Plains, then they came on to Hamilton County in company with the Yarnells. The Talleys settled near the Tennessee River about 1837. James Pleasant was born in 1828 and Dudley Harrison was born the day after Christmas in 1834. The other children included Benjamin R., Lattimore Y., Zerelda, Mary J., Amanda F.T. and Rachel E. Zerelda was the second wife of John E. Green, a Union veteran. Robert Talley added to his holdings by purchasing three tracts totaling 140 acres from John L. Yarnell in 1843. The price was $350. He
sold 80 acres of this land to Horace R. Latimer for $275. Also in 1843, Robert Talley bought 80 acres from William Snow and George Waller for $75. But he paid $500 to Jackson B. Yarnell for 88 acres that was apparently more choice land.

When the Civil War broke out, James Pleasant Talley sympathized with the South. But his three younger brothers in October of 1862 “hiked to Kentucky” to fight for the other side. They stopped at Chitwood, Tenn., to enlist, then joined the Seventh Tennessee Infantry at Lexington, Ky. They soon transferred to Battery B of the First Battalion of Tennessee Light Artillery. Dudley H. Talley was a wagonmaster and he rose to quartermaster-sergeant. Benjamin R. Talley was promoted to corporal. Lattimore Y. Talley became ill with consumption and was sent back to Hamilton County. He “died at his father's home” on Aug. 14, 1864. He was 24. Benjamin R. Talley did not live long after the war, which crippled many of those who survived. He died in 1868 and was buried in the section of National Cemetery near Holtzclaw Avenue that was formerly Jackson Park. Dudley Harrison Talley married Mary Jane Salmon in 1866, and she died in 1884. He took Mrs. Isabelle Bacon as his second wife in 1890. Dudley H. Talley lived to be 99 and voted in every presidential election from 1856 to 1932. He was a Whig before the war and afterward was a staunch Republican. His children included Lucy, George M., O.S., B.F. and Caswell H., the latter of whom lived at Victoria in Marion County. George M. Talley died here in 1942. His children were listed as daughters Hazel Utt, Mrs. Melvin D. Lawson and Mrs. Robert A. Elliott and sons Ernest L., Edward and David H. James Pleasant Talley married Caroline McCandless. They lived near Birchwood and their children attended the Georgetown Academy. The family farmed and also operated a general store. They attended Salem Baptist Church. After helping form James County, J.P. Talley was justice of the peace for the Second Civil District north of Harrison. He later was postmaster at Thatcher's Landing. He lived until 1911 and his wife until 1909. They were buried at the Bald Hill Cemetery near Grasshopper Creek. Their children included Evaline, Jane Yarnell, Benjamin Lewis, Thomas J., Dudley Harrison, Julia and Addie who died young. Evaline Talley married George Posey Moon, and they moved to Arkansas in 1875. G.P. Moon became ill in 1884 and he died just after the family returned to Hamilton County in a covered wagon. Their fifth child was born three months after his death. Jane Yarnell Talley married Dr. Burk Priddy, who had first been married to Harriet Moon. Julia Talley married Harrison Earl White, whose first wife was Rebecca Elkins. White operated a trading boat on the river, then he had a general store at Birchwood. Ben L. and Tom Talley also had a store at Birchwood, then they set up a produce firm in East Chattanooga. Ben L. Talley first married Rachel J. Eldridge and their child was Cora, who married Joe Graham and moved to California. After the death of his first wife, Ben L. Talley married Elizabeth Katherine “Kate” Day, daughter of Thomas Alfred Day and Elizabeth Katherine Priddy. The Ben L. Talley family
built a frame home in Highland Park at 1516 Vance Ave., which they first occupied in August of 1904. The family attended Highland Park Baptist Church. Children of Ben L. Talley by his second wife were James Pleasant, Ben L. Jr., Robert Edward and Annie Caroline “Dixie.” James P. Talley married Flora Hudson, and Ben L. Talley Jr. married Louise Homan. Robert E. Talley married Catherine Hixson, then Virginia Kennedy. Dixie Talley married the realty official E. Cecil Phillips. Thomas J. Talley lived at 302 Long St. He had a son, Lucius Thomas Talley, who served with the 117th Infantry in World War I, then went to work for Tom Wilcox Plumbing. However, he died in 1922 when he was 28. His widow, Matilda Brewer Talley, married Eldon Thomas Nunn
and they moved to Miami. Children of Lucius T. Talley were Lucius T. Jr., John Daniel and Alfred Dale, who was killed in a car wreck in Miami in 1940 when he was 19. Other children of Thomas J. Talley were Pearl, who married Charles A. Brewer, and Lucille, who married Roy E. Hope and moved to Missouri. Dudley Harrison Talley, son of James Pleasant Talley who was named for his uncle, was born in 1864. He and his wife, Jennie, lived at 3025 Dodson Ave. They had James Pleasant, Rosco, Bryan and Oscar and a daughter, Lola, who married Carl Langston. Several of these sons served during World War I. Rosco worked many years at the Post Office. Louise Homan Talley still lives in Chattanooga. Dixie Talley Phillips died in 1999. So far as is known, no male Talley members of this family line still reside here.

ANOTHER TALLEY FAMILY here was that of Berry Talley, who was “a farmer in the Fifth Civil District” who lived at Hornville (Eastdale) near Shallowford Road. The road that passed by his Brainerd place came to be known as Talley Road.

This Talley family had made its way from Virginia to North Carolina and on to Laurens County, S.C. They were at Laurens when Berry Talley was born in 1827, and they moved to Georgia when he was five. His father was Stephen Talley, who was born in 1788. The mother was Polly Pool Talley, who was born in South Carolina in 1803. Stephen Talley was a soldier under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Polly Talley had died back in Laurens in 1829, leaving young Berry Talley and his five older siblings. Stephen Talley's second wife, Eliza, was 28 years younger than he was. Their children were Robert, John, Andrew, Floyd, Henry, Nancy M., Harrison Tyler, Darling, Mary, Chesley and Amos. Berry Talley went into business for himself when he was 17. He made his way from Gordon County, Ga., to Hamilton County in 1856. He was joined by his brother, William, who had become familiar with the area when he assisted in the
Indian removal. William Talley, who also served in the Creek Indian war, was a carpenter who did the finishing work on the Foster Carper home. He was a bachelor. Floyd Talley, a half brother, came here also. Stephen Talley, who was “a genial good man,” was a coroner for one term in Georgia. He died in 1872.

Berry Talley was 50 years old before he learned to write his name. But he was able to
acquire 107 “well cultivated” acres on the Bird Mill Road. He served as a justice of the peace and owned "the second cotton gin ever put up in Hamilton County.''

When the Civil War arose, Berry Talley apparently did not join either army. However, the former Creek Indian fighter William Talley stepped forward for the South, joining Co. B of the First Tennessee Cavalry. His horse was killed by the enemy on Dec. 30, 1862. Floyd Talley enlisted Aug. 24, 1861, at Camp Cummings with the Confederacy's Co. A of the Fifth (McKenzie's) Cavalry. The unit was headed by A.J. Ragon. By the end of February of 1863, Floyd Talley had been mounted for 164 days and was due
a $50 bounty. However, he was listed as absent without leave in November of 1864.
Berry Talley's first wife was Mrs. Ellender Gay Langston, and their children were Stephen, Mary, Nancy Martha Emaline, John and William. Stephen and William died at early ages.

Ellender Talley died in 1862, and Berry Talley married Celina Oliver in 1863. They had a daughter, Kesiah, then the second wife died in 1874. Berry Talley had four children by his third wife, Martha Wright. They were Alice, Tennessee, Berry M. and Margaret A. When the third Mrs. Talley died in 1879, he married Mrs. Margaret Lee Betters. They had a son, Thomas Wesley, and a daughter, Frankie. Berry Talley was a deacon in the Baptist church. In politics he was “a Democrat before the war, but since that event has been conservative, voting for principal instead of party.” Berry Talley was still at his home place when he died in 1909, though his holdings had been reduced to 20 acres. He was laid to rest “at the family graveyard.” Some years later a newspaper reference was made to “the late Squire Berry Talley, whose old home stands near the Talley road, just east of Chattanooga.”

Berry Talley made provision that his wife, Margaret, be allowed to select two milk cows,
one horse or mule, and three hogs from his livestock. The children were listed as Thomas, John and B.M. Talley, Mary Petty, Nancy Martha Emaline Biggs, Tennie McDowell, Maggie Steedley, Frankie McBrien and Kesiah Cornett. Nancy Martha Emaline had married James D. Biggs in 1866. Tennie had married John H. McDowell, whose family lived nearby on McDowell Hill. Frankie had married George M. McBrien, whose family lived on McBrien Road in Brainerd. Maggie had married William Steedley. Daughter, Alice, had married John Fletcher Wilson. After her death, Wilson married Merry
Hogan. The two-story Berry Talley home was sold to Randolph Howell, a bachelor who was county assessor of property. The home still stands at 4212 Howell Road and the Talley Cemetery is nearby. The Talley home is believed to be the oldest house in Brainerd. It apparently was standing during the Civil War and portions of it may have been built much earlier. An old log cabin is sheathed inside its walls. Wendell Talley, son of Thomas W. Talley, was the last of the family buried at the Talley graveyard, which is now overgrown. Tom Talley lived in Eastdale. Shortly after he had bought a four-door 1928 Chevrolet with wooden spokes, his fine two-story home on Terrell Street burned,
but he rebuilt. He was also an active Baptist. Another son, Berry Lee Talley, died as a young man and is buried at Concord Baptist Church Cemetery. He had worked at the Chattanooga Boiler and Tank Company and for the U Bust Em and We Fix Em radiator repair shop. A daughter of Tom Talley, Leita, married Cabe L. Strong and they also lived on Terrell Street in a small house made of logs and covered with weatherboarding. That house also burned. Floyd Talley, who was born in Georgia in 1836, married Nancy Jane Shull in 1870. Their children included Eliza, Sarah J., Virginia, Andrew P. and George W. Nancy Jane Shull Talley died in 1896 and Floyd Talley in 1912. They are
buried at Concord.

STILL ANOTHER TALLEY here was Joel E. Talley, who enlisted for the Union at Ooltewah on March 1, 1862. He was born about 1823 in North Carolina and had married Sarah Elizabeth Roark, daughter of Joseph and Juda Carr Roark. Their children were Mary C., Joseph W., Benjamin M., Andrew J., Margaret E. and James W. who married Elsie Jane Smith. Two older children of Joel Talley were Amanda and Elizabeth, who married Francis Marion Cookston.

Joel Talley on Feb. 28, 1863, was court-martialed for being absent without leave. He was
sentenced to 30 days labor and had a month's pay deducted. By the end of the year, he was listed as a deserter. His widow later filed a widow's pension, claiming he was missing in action and was presumably dead. The pension was denied. Sarah E. Talley sued her husband for divorce in 1869, claiming he had beaten her, threatened her life, and would not provide for the family. She said she feared he planned to sell their 80-acre place, worth from $800 to $1,000. Joel Talley denied the charges. They had been married 18 years. The 1870 census shows Joel A. Talley farming near Dardenelle in Yell
County, Ark., with his three oldest sons with him. His wife and the two youngest children are in James County. Joel Talley and the oldest son, Joseph W. Talley, do not show up in the 1880 census. The youngest two sons were back living with their mother.


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