Yarnells Were Early Pioneers At Harrison

Saturday, December 11, 2021 - by John Wilson

In the early days at Dallas and Harrison, the Yarnells played a leading part and were involved in many land dealings. Many pioneer settlers were treated by the physicians in the Yarnell family.

Daniel Yarnell Jr. had moved to Soddy before the Indian removal. His brother, Aaron J. Yarnell, also came down at an early date from Knox County.

The Yarnells were from England and were Quakers. Francis and Philip Yarnall (the original spelling) had gone over to Pennsylvania with the Penn settlers before 1700. They resided in
Chester County. Daniel Yarnell, a grandson of Francis Yarnall, was born in Pennsylvania in 1741. He moved to South Carolina after the Revolution. He had migrated on to Knox County by
1809, and he died there in 1819.

One of his sons was Mordecai Yarnell, and another was Stephen Yarnell. Another was Joseph
Yarnell, who died in Knox County in 1826. The will of Joseph Yarnell mentions wife, Amy, and
children Joel, Susannah, Nancy, Hannah, Sally, Betsy, Daniel, Thomas, Amy C. and Alalna Yarnell. Susannah Yarnell was married to John Hall in Knox County in 1813. Hannah Yarnell was married to Hiram Norman in Knox County in 1818.

Daniel Yarnell Jr., son of the Daniel Yarnell who died in Knox County in 1819, was born in 1775. His younger brother, Aaron J. Yarnell, was born in 1780. Daniel Yarnell Jr. married Mary Scott in Knox County in 1817. He fought in the War of 1812 prior to coming to Hamilton County. In 1842, Daniel Yarnell Jr. bought a 90-acre island opposite Dallas from B.B. Cannon for $1,200. It was known as Island No. 6 or Ooltewah Island. In turn, he sold it to Jonathan W. Scott for $1,500. He also sold Scott two lots at Dallas, including "Yarnell's old store house.'' And for $4,000 he transferred to Scott 11 slaves - Peter, Sebrom, David, Silina, Lucinda, Sharlott, Eady, and Ester and her three children, Eliza, Roda and Isaac. Daniel Yarnell Jr. in 1839 had sold the 12-year-old slave girl, Maria, to James Smith for $600. Daniel Yarnell Jr. died in 1843 and was buried at the old Mount Bethel Presbyterian Church near Soddy. Mary Scott Yarnell lived until the first year of the Civil War.

Their son, James S. Yarnell, was the county register of deeds in 1836 when he was just 19 years old. For a brief time he was the postmaster at Dallas. But his promising career was cut short when he died in 1840 at the age of 23. His younger brother, Daniel Yarnell, married Mary Hall. After her death in 1860, he married Nancy E. Allen in 1870. He was a merchant at Harrison. A sister of James S. and Daniel Yarnell was Mary Jane, who married Samuel Thompson Igou. He was also a Dallas postmaster.

Aaron J. Yarnell first married Nancy Dent, and their son was John L. Yarnell. By his second wife, Nancy Ann Pruett, Aaron Yarnell had Elizabeth Hamilton, Lamira Watts and Jackson B. Elizabeth Hamilton Yarnell married Jackson J. Kennedy, while Lamira Watts Yarnell remained unmarried. Aaron J. Yarnell died in 1851. He was buried at the Yarnell graveyard near Snow Hill.

John L. Yarnell, son of Aaron Yarnell, was born in 1805 at a time when the family was sojourning in Georgia. He was a "physician of wide reputation'' during the pioneer days. Dr. Yarnell carried on much of his practice south of the Tennessee River, where the Cherokees still resided. In 1835, he married a Cherokee woman named Jane. Some accounts say she was Jane Brown, daughter of James Brown, a Cherokee chief and judge. This account says after James Brown gave up his brick home at Ooltewah at the time of the removal, Dr. Yarnell began living there. The old Yarnell home still stands on Ooltewah-Georgetown Road.

However, a grandson of Jane Yarnell, John L. Roddy, said in an application for funds going to Cherokee descendants that Jane was the daughter of William Thompson. He said she had three brothers - Charles, William and Alexander Thompson. A William Thompson, who was Irish, was a trader in this area in 1797.

Dr. John L. Yarnell was well read, and several old deeds mention his books. One deed of trust in 1845 lists books, a set of smith tools, seven horses with harness, household furniture, and two "slaves for life'' - Sarah, 22, and her son, Wiley, 7. Another document relating to Dr. Yarnell refers to "83 volumes of books consisting of medical, historical, miscellaneous books'' and "28 bottles and glass jars used by me in my shop for medical purposes.'' He was considered an authority on matters relating to the Cherokees. Dr. Yarnell died in 1870, but his wife, Jane, was still living at Ooltewah at the time of the 1870 census. The census says she was born in Alabama about 1815.

Dr. Yarnell's daughter, Zerelda, married Dr. Thomas H. Roddy, another physician at Ooltewah, in 1851. Their son, John L. Roddy, married Rachel Norman, and they moved to Texas. Also in the household of Dr. Yarnell were Isabella Jane and Henry T. Yarnell. Isabella Jane was born about 1849 and Henry T. about 1855. In a petition in 1865, Dr. Yarnell sought to legitimize Isabella Jane and Henry T., saying he "believes he is the father of the children.'' Isabella Jane Yarnell in 1865
married Robert K. Smith, who later was sheriff of James County. Isabella Jane Yarnell Smith died in 1870 after having two children. They were Zerelda Smith and Aaron Smith. Robert K. Smith, Zerelda and Aaron were living with the widow of Dr. John Yarnell at the time of the 1870 census.

Henry T. Yarnell was murdered in early 1881. Dr. Burk Priddy, who had quarreled with Yarnell, was indicted. However, the charges were dropped when the matter came to court at Ooltewah in January 1882.

Dr. Yarnell had a son, John L. Yarnell Jr., whose mother was Celia Wells. Celia married Wright Carden in 1865. John L. Yarnell Jr. was born at Ooltewah just before the war. He married Barbara Stover Davis, who was from Rhea County. Their children were Luther H., Creed Mont, William Wright, Frank, Anna and Eva Etta. Four of the children attended Mossy Creek College (the later Carson-Newman) and Wright and Anna went on to study at the teachers college at Johnson City. Eva did not marry, but Anna married W.J. Whittenburg and was a teacher. Luther and Wright lived in Chattanooga and worked for the Railway Express. John L. Yarnell died in 1925.

Jackson B. Yarnell, half-brother of Dr. John L. Yarnell, was also an early doctor here. He married Sophronia Thompson Igou in 1850 when he was 35 and his bride was 17. They resided at Igou Ferry. Jackson Yarnell was a Whig who "lived during the stormy political careers of Hugh Lawson White, Henry Clay and others who were bitter political enemies of Gen. Andrew Jackson.'' He was a "believer in the doctrines of the Baptist Church.'' Jackson Yarnell died in 1865 when he was 50. He had gone to Nashville for treatment of paralysis. Sophronia Igou Yarnell lived until 1906.

The children of Dr. Jackson Yarnell were Samuel Igou, James Aaron, John Thompson, Mary C. and Grant. Samuel Yarnell was born in 1852, and he attended Sequatchie Medical College. Later he read medicine under his kinsman, Dr. Roddy, and they had a medical practice together. Dr. Yarnell turned his attention to politics and was circuit court clerk for James County for three terms. He ran for the state House as a Democrat in 1886, but lost by 49 votes. Then he went for medical training at Vanderbilt and returned to the physician trade. He moved into Chattanooga in 1900, occupying a home on Houston Street. He was president of the Chattanooga Medical Society in 1909. Dr. Yarnell, after many years as a bachelor, married Nancy Leeper of Lenoir City in 1919. They had a son, Samuel Igou Yarnell Jr. Dr. Yarnell died in 1930 and Nancy Leeper Yarnell in 1934, when Sam Yarnell was still at Chattanooga High School. Sam Yarnell went on to join American National Bank and rose to be its president. He was also a civic leader in Chattanooga.

James Aaron Yarnell married Margaret Louise Shumacker in 1873. She was a daughter of C.V. Shumacker and Almira R. Hunter. Their children included Oscar, Orla and Jessie. Oscar Yarnell was a circuit court judge here for 21 years. He married Lillie Wild, and she died when she was 35 after they had been married 11years. Her father, Thomas Wild, was from England. Her brothers were Thomas and Joe J. Wild. The Oscar Yarnells lived at 201 Forrest Avenue in North Chattanooga. Judge Yarnell retired when he was 63 due to poor health. Jessie Yarnell married M. Randolph Denny and operated the Ming Toy Shop in St. Elmo. Grant Yarnell married Alice Netherland. He operated the Yarnell farm north of Harrison, and he also had a summer home on Lookout Mountain. He was about to descend Lookout Mountain near the old Pound home on April 24, 1929, when the brakes failed on his truck. Both he and his farm worker, Charles Evitt, leaped from the vehicle, but Grant Yarnell was killed. The truck careened on down the mountain, striking the vehicle of Mrs. Alfred T. Whiteside. Mrs. Whiteside was not hurt, though her daughter, Harriet
Whiteside Johnston, was slightly injured.

Sam Yarnell resided on Hixson Pike. He married Ellen Cameron. Next door was his son, Cameron Yarnell, who was also an official of American National Bank. Cameron Yarnell was a devoted patron and board member of the Bright School and the Baylor School, where he and his three daughters attended. He attended the University of Georgia and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Cameron Yarnell married Laura Gothard. Their daughters were Sarah Elizabeth, Katherine “Katie” Clare and Harriett “Hattie” Yarnell. Cameron Yarnell, who followed his father in banking and then was in commercial real estate, died in 2007 when he was 50.

The daughters of Sam Yarnell were Nancy, who lived in Atlanta, and Ellen Yarnell Roberson of Charlottesville, Va.

Margaret Whittenburg Cooper was a granddaughter of John L. Yarnell and daughter of Jacob and Anna Yarnell Whittenburg. She was the founder of the local chapter of the Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge. She served more than 40 years as a teacher, principal, and rose to assistant superintendent for the Hamilton County Schools. Her husband was Roy V. Cooper. Among honors she received were the Liberty Bell Award from the Chattanooga Bar Association in 1975, the Sertoma Freedom Award in 1975, and Educator of the Year Award from the Valamont Woman’s Club. She received the Schoolmen’s Award for service from the Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge. She served as president of the Hamilton County Education Association and International Chairman of Education for the Pilot Club at their meeting in Chicago in 1962. Margaret Whittenburg Cooper died in 1908.

Other granddaughters of John L. Yarnell living here were Johnathan Yarnell Smith and Jo Ann Yarnell Brewer. Johnathan and Jo Ann were daughters of Wright Yarnell. Ruth Whittenburg Hudson lived in Knoxville. Robert Yarnell and Carolyn Yarnell Firestone were children of Frank Yarnell. Sons of Johnathan Yarnell Smith were David Yarnell Smith and Scott Smith. Scott Smith resided in the old Yarnell house and farmed the property.

SOME OTHER early Yarnells here included Lewis C. Yarnell and Joseph Yarnell. Lewis C. Yarnell had married Catherine Julian in Knox County in 1835. They were in Roane County in 1840 and back in Knox County in 1850. The Lewis Yarnells moved to Harrison prior to the Civil War. Lewis C. Yarnell was born about 1814. His eldest daughter, Sarah E., was a school teacher. Another daughter, Margaret, married John W. Wallace in 1868. Other children of Lewis Yarnell included Jemima E., Thomas J., Rebecca Caroline, Mary E., Joseph L. and Sidney M.

Joseph Yarnell and his wife, Sarah M., lived at Long Savannah before and after the Civil War. Born about 1816, he was a tailor. His children included John, Eliza, Joseph and Sarah.

David C. Yarnell, who was born in Anderson County near Clinton in 1850, came to Chattanooga soon after the Civil War. He operated a livery stable on Market Street for many years. At one time he was the only liveryman operating to Waldens Ridge. A leading Democrat, he was the first county health officer. He later lived in North Chattanooga and was residing at Daisy when he died at the age of 97. His son was W.T. Yarnell and his grandchildren were Mrs. Robert Brown, Mrs. Byron Lane, Mrs. Harry Phelps, Herman, Bernard, Earl, Kelso and Willard Yarnell.


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