William Hooper (c1760-1827)

In Davidson County, Tennessee by 1783

The earliest certain record of him is his own testimony that he lived “near Nashville” in 1783.  In  considering a controversy over conflicting land grants made in 1785 in Logan County, Kentucky, which bordered Robertson and Montgomery counties, Tennessee to the north, testimony was sought from men who knew of the early settlers in the area.  William Hooper and a few neighbors were deposed at his house in Montgomery County on 23 and 24 March 1824.  William Hooper stated that in 1783 he lived near Nashville and that in the year 1784 he explored the Logan County area while engaged in hunting on the waters of the Muddy River in what became Logan County, Kentucky.1   He stated that he made the trip again in 1785 and later years, altogether traveling the same route some 20 times.   Depositions in the same case were also taken at William Hooper’s house from his brothers-in-law Daniel Ogleby and Isaac Hollis.  Daniel Oglesby testified that in 1785 he set out on a hunt in company with Absalom Hooper and crossed the Red River [in Logan County] and “went on a northwestern direction to meet Wm. Hooper on the waters of Muddy River…”  [Ibid., page 20.]

The first mention of William Hooper in Tennessee records is his jury service in Davidson County, along with Absalom Hooper, on 5 July 1785, thus placing his birth no later than 1764.2  He subsequently served as a juror, sometimes with Absalom Hootper, on a regular basis.

Absalom Hooper (which see) had arrived in the area by the fall of 17833 from Natchez by way of a brief stop in Georgia, bringing with him a large family.  William Hooper may have accompanied Absalom Hooper, as it seems likely he lived with Absalom’s family for nearly ten years.  Indeed William Hooper and Absalom Hooper appear consecutively on the first tax list in 1787, William with one poll and Absalom with seven polls.

Marries Sarah Hollis in 1789

On 1 March 1789 William Hooper executed a bond to marry Sarah Hollis, daughter of James Hollis, with Absalom Hooper his security4 and three days later, on 4 March 1789, took out a marriage license, the second earliest license recorded in Davidson county.5

Possible nephew or other relative of Absalom Hooper?

William Hooper was probably related in some way to Absalom Hooper, but evidently not as father and son.  Upon arriving in Tennessee he either lived with or near Absalom Hooper, as there is no record of his buying or claiming land until 30 April 1792 when Absalom Hooper sold to William Hooper 85 acres on the east side of Whites Creek just above Nashville, part of a larger tract on which Absalom Hooper lived that he had bought a just a few months earlier.6   Over the next two years Absalom Hooper sold adjacent portions of the same tract to his eldest son Joseph Hooper and his son-in-law George Cooke as well as to two apparently unrelated persons.  Though it seems inescapable that the two men were related in some way, the nature of the relationship is unknown.  Absalom Hooper wrote his will on 15 August 1811 naming three married daughters and three sons (one daughter and one son had predeceased him) but mentioned William Hooper not at all.  I also note that William Hooper was evidently a few years older than Absalom Hooper’s children and was surely born prior to Absalom’s marriage in 1765.  ((Davidson County Will Book 4, page 246.))

Moves to Montgomery County, Tennessee

In 1796 William Hooper moved down the Cumberland River and about 25 miles northwest into southeastern Montgomery County, Tennessee where he lived out the rest of his life.  His Hollis in-laws had preceded him into the area by several years.  On 22 April 1796, as William Hooper of Davidson County, he bought 163 acres, that he lived on until his death, from his wife’s brother Isaac Hollis on McAdoo Creek in Montgomery County, near the present town of Clarksville.7  A year later on 10 April 1797 he was “of Montgomery County” when he sold to Joseph Hooper the land he had bought five years earlier from Absalom Hooper.8

The 1800 and 1810 censuses are lost, but William Hooper, along with his brothers-in-law Isaac Hollis and James Hollis, appear consecutively on the tax lists of 1798, 1799, 1800, and 1801, all with land along McAdoo Creek.  In the 1800 tax list, William Hooper’s 163-acre tract was noted as “where he lives”.

Bought land back in Davidson County

Although he lived in Montgomery County, on 20 August 1800 William Hooper somewhat inexplicably bought 150 acres on the east side of Pond Creek in Davidson County about 25 miles closer to Nashville, and just a short distance downriver from the mouth of Whites Creek.9  Four weeks later on 18 September 1800 he bought an adjacent 84 acres.10  This tract was quite close to  the brothers Churchwell and Thomas Hooper who had arrived in the same area in the mid-1790s from Georgia.  Why he purchased this land and kept it for more than 10 years is a mystery.  William Hooper sold the 84-acre parcel to  Jesse Hooper in 181111 but I found no record of the sale of the 150-acre tract.

Limited Records in Montgomery County

William Hooper does not appear in many Montgomery County records, but apparently remained on his 163-acre tract on McAdoo Creek until his death.  That parcel adjoined Isaac Hollis, his brother-in-law, and the two men were evidently close. William Hooper made a deed of gift of seven acres to James Hollis, son of Isaac Hollis, in 1797  ((Montgomery County Will Book A, page 13.)) which James Hollis sold back to him in 1806.12  Although he lived near the county seat, he does not appear frequently in the first Minute Book — it merely records that he was a juror in 1806 and overseer of a road in 1806-1807.13

On 16 January 1809 he bought Isaac Hollis’s adjacent 157 acres, giving him a single tract of 320 acres.  ((Montgomery County Deed Book I, page 300.))

He was the only Hooper in the county enumerated in the 1820 census, with three young males and two young females in the household, five children evidently having left the household.  He and his wife were both over 45.14

On 5 July 1820 William Hooper made a deed of gift, “for good will and affection that I have towards my grand daughter Sally Ann Cartwright Lemaster, daughter of Lemuel Lemaster and Francis Lemaster… and to the children that Francis Lemaster may beare, one feather bed & furniture & stead, one woman’s saddle & saddle blanket, one bridle, cow and calf, one red cow and calf with their increase & one steer, five head of hogs with increase, one ewe & lamb & their increase, one skillet, one led, one flat iron, one set of plates, one set of knives and forks, one set cups and saucers.”15.  The reason for the gift is uncertain, although gifts to children were often devices for frustrating a parent’s creditors.

William Hooper was administrator of the estate of William R. Kelsick, posting his administrator’s bond on 17 October 1825 with Asa W. Hooper and Zachariah Grant his securities, and submitting an inventory and estate sale.16  Following William Hooper’s death in 1827, Asa W. Hooper assumed the administration of Kelsick’s estate with Robert Davis and Zachariah Grant his securities.17

Will written in 1825 and proved in 1827

William Hooper’s will, written on 17 June 1825 and proved on 16 April 1827, left his “beloved wife Sarah Hooper” the use of all his property “for the maintenance of my children who are now in a state of minority during the term of her natural life or widowhood.”18  If Sarah should remarry she was to receive the lifetime use of slaves named Hannah, Sarah and “Lewerese” after which they were to be divided among “her children”.  His minor children were named as James B. Hooper, Peggy Montgomery Hooper, and Burrel (sic) Young Hooper. When they came of age or married “they shall receive an equal part with the rest that has married, that is one horn saddle and bridle, one bed and furniture, one cow and calf, and as much more as my wife Sarah Hooper shall think right so as to amount to one hundred and twenty dollars.”  James B. Hooper was to have an additional fifty dollars worth of property “for a mare that his grandmother Hollis gave him which was sold for fifty dollars.” Peggy Montgomery Hooper was also to receive “one bed and furniture that her grandmother give her.” After the death of Sarah Hooper the remaining estate was to be sold and equally divided among “all my children” named as follows: Polly Berry, Wilson Hooper, Elizabeth Davis, Pheraby Young, Asa Hooper, Frances Lemaster, Sally Holt, James B. Hooper, Peggy Hooper, [and] Burrel Hooper.” Sarah Hooper and Robert Davis were named executors.   Witnesses were Daniel Oglesby, Elizabeth Oglesby, Joseph Smith, and Andrew Smith. The latter four proved he will in court on 16 April 1827 and Robert Davis qualified as the sole executor on July 16th.19

Robert Davis was given leave to sell  the perishable property of the estate on 16 July 1827 (Montgomery County Minute Book 13, page 106.))  An undated inventory was filed on 15 October 1827 following an estate sale of a few of the livestock held on 15 August 1827.20  The inventory included seven slaves, all female, and household and other goods of a reasonably prosperous farmer.  An accounting of the estate was filed by Robert Davis on 11 June 1828, though no final distribution was recorded.21

The 1830 census enumerated households headed by Asa Hooper, Wilson Hooper, and Mrs. Sarah Hooper, the latter with the youngest three children still at home.

Sarah Hooper was still alive as late as 25 December 1835 when she relinqished her life estate in the plantation, which was sold to Asa W. Hooper.  ((Montgomery County Deed Book W, page 274.))  She was probably still alive in 1840, when a female aged 60-70 was in the household of James B. Hooper.


The ten children named in the will are listed below.  While we would typically assume that the children were named in birth order, it appears likely that Pheraby was listed out of sequence.   There are no records of the distribution of the estate which might clarify the husbands of the daughters, although we can identify the husbands of Elizabeth and Frances by other means and make a plausible guess at Pheraby’s husband.  Unfortunately, all marriage records prior to 1838 are lost, denying us knowledge of who Polly and Peggy married.  

  1. Polly Hooper (ca1790 – ?)  She was “Polly Berry” in her father’s will.  If we assume that she was the eldest Polly was likely born a year or so after her parents’ marriage. She may have been the Polly Berry who was married to Jonathan Berry, who moved from Tennessee (perhaps Giles County) to Bond County, Illinois by 1820, when the census listed Jonathan Berry and William A. Young (husband of Pheraby Hooper) in the same township. Jonathan and Polly Berry, along with William and “Phenly” Young, were four of the six founding members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church in Greenville, Illinois in 1823 according to the recollection of an elderly preacher.  ((J. B. Logan, History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois (Penin & Smith Printers, 1878), page 88.  Repeated in William Henry Perrin, History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois (O.L. Basking & Co., 1882), page 400. Both sources note that the founders were from Presbyterian churches in Kentucky and Tennessee.)).  Jonathan Berry may be the same person as in the censuses of 1830 in Tazewell County, Illinois and Hancock County, Illinois, as the household compositions seem to be consistent, but I did not trace his family.
  2. Wilson Lee Hooper (7 February 1792 – 26 February 1870)   He married Patsy Russell in Davidson County on 8 March 1824.22 He was enumerated in Davidson County in 1840 and1850 and Montgomery County in 1860.  The journal of Rev. Jeremiah Wesley Cullom, a Methodist circuit rider who married a daughter of John B. Hooper, reported that Wilson Hooper was carried to the Poor House in 1869, having “idled away youth and manhood and has no home in age”.  The same journal reports his birth date and his death at the Poor House.23
  3. Elizabeth Hooper (17 Oct 1793 – 1 May 1875)  She was “Elizabeth Davis” in her father’s will, the wife of Robert Davis.  According to her application for a widow’s pension for his War of 1812 service, which gives her maiden name as “Betsy Hooper”, they were married on 17 January 1814, which she authenticated with the marriage bond.24 Robert (age 60) Davis and Elizabeth (age 54) were a childless household in the 1850 Montgomery County census.  Robert Davis wrote his will on 9 May 1859, which was proved a month later, leaving his entire estate to “my beloved wife Elizabeth Davis” for her lifetime, then to be distributed among his children named as E. H. Davis (Elijah Harrison), E. A. Jett, Lucretia Elliot, S.  M. Morrison, W. H. Davis (William Henry), [and?] “Arminda A. Elliott and James R. Elliot is to have their mother’s part equally divided between them.”25. The will was witnessed by Wilson L. Hooper and S. J. Hooper.  Betsy’s pension forms include his date of death as 12 May 1859, just three days after he wrote the will.
  4. Pheraby Hooper (c1796 – 1879)  She was “Pheraby Young” in her father’s will.  The internet has numerous postings claiming she died in 1870.  However it is clear that Pheraby and her husband William M. Young migrated, perhaps with Jonathan and Polly Berry, to Illinois by 1820 where they founded a church in 1823 (see above).  The Youngs left Bond County for Macon County sometime in the 1820s, and by 1830 Lemuel Lemaster and Frances Hooper Lemaster had also arrived in Macon County, Illinois where both families lived in the relatively small neighborhood of Township 16N, Range 2E.  William M. Young was installed as an elder of the Mt. Zion Church in June 1833.26  William M. Young and “Pheba” Young (age 54 and born in Tennessee) were in the 1850 census of Macon County, in the same district as the Lemasters.  William M. Young (age 65) and Pheraby Young (63) were again enumerated in Macon County in 1860. (Note that this makes her fully ten years older than the sequence in her father’s will would suggest.)  William M. Young left a will dated 16 February 1864 and proved in November 1869 in which he left his estate to “my beloved wife Pheraby” for life, then to son George W. Young.27 Among the buyers at his estate sale was none other than Lemuel Lemaster.28 “Feraby” Young (age 73, both in Tennessee) was in the 1870 household of her son George Young. She was still alive in Macon County as late as 25 July 1872 when she acknowledged receipt of $712 from her husband’s estate.29.  But she moved back to Robertson County, Tennessee sometime in the next two years.  A Macon County, Illlinois newspaper reported in 1874 that a Mrs. Pheraby Young of Springfield, Tennessee had subscribed to the paper.30  Pheraby Young died in June 1879, at age 82, according to the Robertson County 1880 Mortality Census.
  5. Asa W. Hooper (c1798 – 1881)  was enumerated in Montgomery County, Tennessee in 1850 (age 52, farmer) and in Cheatham County in 1860 (62) and 1870 (71) as a physician.  In 1880 he was living with a daughter in Calloway County, Kentucky (age 82).  The birthplaces of his parents were left blank in the 1880 census.  In 1850 his wife was named Margaret and the household included eight Hooper children named Sarah, Asa N., Pheribee, Virginia, James, Letitia, Mary F., and Robert W., plus William Bristow (age 1). This family seems reasonably well documented, so I have not further traced them.
  6. Frances “Francie” Hooper (9 March 1800 – 21 February 1854)  She was “Frances Lemaster” in her father’s will.  She married Lemuel Lemaster whose War of 1812 pension application lists the maiden name of his wife as Frances Hooper and their marriage date as 14 January 1816 “near Nashville”.  Lemuel Lemaster and his wife “Franky” sold their interest in William Hooper’s estate to Asa W. Hooper in 1830.31  The 1850 census of Macon County, Illinois listed Lemuel (age 51) and Frances (age 49) with five children named Nancy J. (17), John (16), Thomas (13), Ellen (12), and Charlotte (11).  Frances died before the 1860 census when Lemuel was enumerated with no wife in the household.  Both Lemuel, who died in on 24 September 1872, and Frances are buried in Decatur’s Mt. Gilead Cemetery.  Her stone gives her age at death as 53 years, 11 months, and 12 days. His pension application states that, while serving two terms, he participated in the expedition against the Creeks to New Orleans, where he was wounded in the leg during the Battle of New Orleans.32
  7. Sarah “Sally” Hooper (c1804 – 1876)  She was “Sally Holt” in her father’s will, evidently the wife of Reuben Holt, who was in the 1830 (as Reuben Holt Jr.), 1840, and 1850 censuses of Montgomery County.   Sally Holt (age 46) and Reuben (age 55) were enumerated in the 1850 census with six children aged between 6 and 24 named Elizabeth, James N., William, Albert, Isabella, and Gabriella.   In 1860 Sally headed a household consisting only of herself (age 56) and her daughter Isabella.
  8. James B. Hooper (27 September 1809 – 10 January 1881)  He was listed among the Montgomery County voters in 1841 and was enumerated there in the 1850 (age 38) and 1860 censuses.  He and his wife are buried in the Sango Cemetery.  The 1880 census gave both p[arents’ birthplace as South Carolina.  According to the biography of a son, James Obediah Ragland Hooper, his father married Eliza Hodge and his grandfather was “William A. Hooper who was born in North Carolina and who came to Tennessee when the settlers were  obliged to take refuge in forts to protect themselves from the Indians.”33
  9. Peggy Montgomery Hooper (c1810? – ?). No further record.  She may have been the female aged 20-30 in her mother’s 1830 household.  If so, it isn’t clear whether she was older or younger than James B. Hooper, since both would have been in the same age category.
  10. Burrell Young Hooper (c1815 – January 1869)  See separate page.
  1. Montgomery Vanderpool, Logan County, Kentucky Abstract of Equity Cases, Vol. 1, page 20. []
  2. Davidson County Court Minute Book A, page 72. []
  3. Davidson County Wills & Inventories Volume 1, page 5. []
  4. Davidson County Loose Marriage Bonds []
  5. Davidson County Marriage Book 1, page 3. []
  6. Davidson County Deed Book C, page 28.  Absalom Hooper had bought 640 acres on White’s Creek on 29 July 1791 (Davidson County Deed Book B, page 211.) []
  7. Montgomery County Deed Book A, page 464. []
  8. Davidson County Deed Book  D, page 262.  Although the acreage was ten less and some of the corners and lines different, this appears to be the land he had bought five years earlier but defined by a more recent survey. []
  9. Davidson County Deed Book F, page 10. []
  10. Davidson County Deed Book E, page 422. []
  11. Davidson County Deed Book S, page 480. []
  12. Montgomery County Deed Book D, page 92. []
  13. Minute Book A, pages 76, 81, 175. []
  14. Montgomery County 1820 census:  Wm. Hooper 210001 – 10101 []
  15. Montgomery County Will Book C, page 416. []
  16. Montgomery County Will Book D, page 498 (bond), 513 (inventory) and 535 (estate sale). []
  17. Montgomery County Will Book E, page 132. []
  18. Montgomery County Will Book E, pages 81-2. []
  19. Montgomery County Minute Book 13, page 38 and page 102 respectively.  I might note that April 16th was the first court session since mid-January and therefore the first opportunity to prove the will since then. []
  20. Montgomery County Will Book E, page 190 and Minute Book 13, page 178. []
  21. Montgomery County Will Book E, page 359. []
  22. Davidson County Marriage Book 1, page 280. []
  23. “Warm Hearts and Saddlebags: Journal of the Reverend Jeremiah W. Cullom, 1828-1915” (as posted at Rootsweb years ago, I cannot find the precise reference). []
  24. Widow’s pension #8461. []
  25. Montgomery County will Book P, page 135. []
  26. J. B. Logan, History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois (Penin & Smith Printers, 1878), page 93. []
  27. Macon County Will Book B, page 15-16. []
  28. Macon County Estate Records, Box 64, Case No. 920. []
  29. Ibid. []
  30. Decatur Daily Republican issue of 31 December 1874, page 2 listed “Mrs. Pheraby Young, Springfield, Tennessee” as a new or renewed subsciber. []
  31. Montgomery County Deed Book M, page 411. []
  32. Pension record online at www.fold3.com []
  33. History of Tennessee: From the Earliest Time to the Present: together with an historical and a biographical sketch of Montgomery, Robertson, Humphreys, Stewart, Dickson, Cheatham and Houston counties… (Goodspeed’s Publishing Co., 1886; 1979 Reprint, Southern  Historical Press), page 1053. []