Greenberry George McKenzie
By- Hope Bartlett Taylor
The McKenzie Tree & Thee is a work that grew from my fascination and curiosity for the man, Greenberry George McKenzie. I have not unraveled the entire happenings of this ancestor, who had a streak of iron ore running through his veins and has among his descendants a host of persons who cannot pass rocks of odd form and color without gathering some up to carry home. I have my own rock pile and one I treasure more than the rest is one I carried home from the land owned by Greenberry in Sullivan County, Tennessee. I look at this rock daily and feel a bond with this ancestor who left Virginia and spent his last years in Tennessee.
Greenberry McKenzie, whose date of birth and parentage has eluded all genealogists, was married to Rebeka Blair, daughter of Thomas and Mary Blair, also of Scottish descent. He was granted a tract of land in 1790 in Montgomery County, VA. He first appeared on the 1790 tax list of Wythe County, VA.
Greenberry McKenzie was prominent in the early years of Grayson County, Virginia. When Grayson County was formed from Wythe County he quickly came to prominence in the new county. He served as a witness to a land transaction between Matthew Dickey and Thomas Blair at the first court held in 1793. He was appointed a member of the Grayson Court and was still in office in 1806. He viewed and recommended new roads for the county and was often called to work with estate administrators in settling their accounts. He was appointed Lieutenant of the First Battalion when the Grayson Militia was formed. Greenberry served several terms as Captain of the Cavalry. In 1776 he was appointed to a committee to work for the election of George Washington for president. He also was appointed to a committee to work for the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800.
Greenberry was elected as one of the first delegates to represent Grayson County at the Virginia General Assembly and served in this capacity for the years of 1794, 1795, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1805, 1806, and 1807.
In 1798, Greenberry McKenzie, Caleb Bobbitt and Thomas Blair, father-in-law of the two, formed a partnership for the erection of an Iron Furnace at Popular Camp, VA. Greenberry and Caleb furnished the land and funds for the venture and Thomas Blair laid out the plans for the furnace, the town and gardens at what is still known as Popular Camp in Wythe County, VA. The entire agreement between the three men is recorded in Wythe Court records along with the deed of land purchased from William Ross. Thomas Blair was granted a license to operate a Tavern at the Popular Camp site. The following is recorded in a Grayson County deed book, ” I, Thomas Saul of Grayson County, of my own consent, doth put myself as an apprentice to Greenberry G. McKenzie for five years to learn the arts and miseries of iron making”. This apprentice period was likely served at the Popular Camp Furnace.
In 1808, Greenberry McKenzie was recommended as Captain of the Militia to command the select Cavalry Company. In the same year, he produced in Court a commission from the Governor of the Commonwealth appointing him Sheriff of the County of Grayson. Greenberry McKenzie took the oath of office on February 23, 1808 and appointed Thomas Swift as Deputy. With no Treasurer, the Sheriff was responsible for the collection of all monies and taxes due the county. In April of the second year, shortages were found in the Deputy’s accounts in the amount of $974.95, an enormous amount for the times. The Court records show ten suits of ‘McKenzie vs Swift’ with no monies recovered. In the records, although there was no reference to fault Greenberry, he turned his property over to the county to cover the loss. The Deputy left Grayson and never returned to the county. Greenberry resigned as Sheriff and moved to Sullivan County, TN. Matthew Dickey was appointed to sell the property but died before the matter was settled. Twenty years passed before the settlement was made. In a lengthy document, dated February 22 1830, Greenberry gave James Anderson, Clerk, power to sell the property. In this document, Greenberry states that he resigned as Sheriff of Grayson County and moved to Sullivan County, TN on the North Fork of the Holston River, where he has resided ever since.
Greenberry and Rebekah settled on the North Fork of the Holston at or near the Kincannon Furnace. This was a wet running furnace similar to the furnace constructed by Thomas Blair on Chestnut Creek in Grayson County, VA. Greenberry bought property in 1826, one hundred acres, including the mansion house where he already resided. This property was purchased from Fredrick Ross and was a part of a land grant to David Ross.
Greenberry and his sons had a shop where they worked with iron.
The McKenzie land, bordering the North Fork of the Holston River is a lovely spot. The street, circling the area is called McKenzie Drive and many of the old family still live on the spot. Greenberry died in 1838, his birth date and parentage still unknown. Rebekah, his wife, lived on for some years. The old mansion house burned and any records of the family with it. The log kitchen was moved above the road and fashioned into a home for the family. The log cabin, still standing in 1978 when I first visited the area, is now gone. Near where the cabin stood is the old McKenzie Cemetery. No stones mark the graves of the McKenzie family buried there. Many of us have searched to construct a family tree for Greenberry George McKenzie and Rebekah Blair McKenzie. Finding a lengthy document at the Sullivan County Court House, settling the estate of Greenberry McKenzie, gave us the names of the children of this couple.
Estate Settlement of Greenberry George McKenzie
Sullivan County Tennessee
This article of agreement made and and entered into this 5th day of November in year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty eight between Jonas Wolfe and Elizabeth Wolfe, his wife; Elijah Winegar and Nancy B Winegar, his wife; Archibald Sandridge and Jane C Sandridge, his wife; Sally D McKenzie; Burgess I McKenzie; George W McKenzie; Greenberry G McKenzie, Jr.; William Leonard and Polly H Leonard, his wife; all heirs of Greenberry G McKenzie deceased of Sullivan County and the State of Tennessee of the one part and Thomas B McKenzie and John M McKenzie of the County and State aforesaid, both heirs of the said Greenberry G McKenzie deceased of the other part. Wittnesseth that whereas the said Greenberry G McKenzie deceased died without a will possessed of certain property consisting of stock a horse cattle hogs also household and kitchen furniture and farming utensils and four hundred pounds of iron more or less also of two due bills on John and James O’Brian calling each for three thousand pounds of Iron and one other due bill on John and James O’Brian calling for three thousand five hundred pounds of Iron and also of a claim in the Store of Daniel Rogan of Kingsport for forty dollars more or less and whereas the said Thomas B McKenzie, legal heir of the said Greenberry G McKenzie has lived with his father some fourteen years since he has been of legal age and has not received for services rendered during that time any more than what his the said, Thomas B McKenzies ordinary personal wants called for and Whereas the said Thomas B McKenzie and John M McKenzie both heirs of the said G G McKenzie deceased are in consideration of possessing jointly the Title to a small Tract of land where the widow of the said Greenberry G McKenzie now lives both bound as a condition of the validity of said Title for the comfortable support of the said widow during her natural life therefore in consideration of these facts the said, Jonas and Elizabeth Wolfe; Elijah and Nancy B Winegar his wife; Archibald Sandridge and Jane C his wife; Sally D McKenzie; Burgess I McKenzie; George W McKenzie; William Leonard and Polly H his wife and Greenberry G McKenzie all heirs of G G McKenzie deceased do hereby agree of their own free will and from a sense of justice to the said Thomas B McKenzie to relinquish in favor of the said Thomas B McKenzie and John M McKenzie all claims to all and every article of goods or property of any kind whatsoever of which the said G G McKenzie died possessed with the single exception of due bills on J & J O’Brian calling for eight thousand pounds of Iron and do hereby bind themselves their heirs or assigns hence foreward and forever to relinquish all claims right or title to any and every article of goods chattels or effects of which the said G G McKenzie died possessed with the single excption of due bills on J & J O’Brian calling for eight thousand pounds of Iron regarding the said Thomas B McKenzie and John M McKenzie as the sole proprietors in Law and Equity of all other articles of value whatsoever of which the said G G McKenzie died possessed and they the said Jonas Wolfe and Elizabeth his wife; Elijah Winegar and Nancy his wife; Archibald Sandridge and Janny his wife; Sally D McKenzie; Burgess I McKenzie; George W McKenzie; William Leonard and Polly H his wife; and Greenberry G McKenzie do authorize and empower the said Thomas B McKenzie to collect all claims which may be due or in any manner coming to the estate of the said Greenberry G Mckenzie deceased and to give receipts for the same in his own name when so collected which receipts shall be legal vouchers on the part of those who may hold them for the payments specified by them. And whereas the said Thomas B McKenzie now holds in his possession the due bills on J & J O’Brian which have been excepted in the above reliquishment he the said Thomas B McKenzie binds himself to deliver up said due bills whenever the individuals composing the other partys to this article shall agree among themselves what members of the party shall unite in receiving one due bill as the shares are less than the amount called for by each of the due bills and when he the said Thomas B McKenzie shall deliver up a due bill he shall take a receipt from the heirs thus applying which receipt shall be a legal voucher on his part for the payment of the claims of such heirs. Moreover what defects soever may be found in this article in a legal point of view the true intent and design thereof is to give to the said Thomas B McKenzie and John M McKenzie a legal title to all goods property or effects of what kind soever of which the said G G McKenzie deceased possessed with a single exception of due bills on J & J O’Brian to the amount of eight thousand pounds of Iron It is further the true intent and design of this article to authorize the said Thomas B McKenzie to settle up any and all business which the said G G McKenzie left unsettled so far as the payment of debts and the collection of dues is concerned, Provided however that if any claims against the estate aforesaid should arise of which the heirs, parties to this article, now know nothing and be established in a Legal manner all heirs embracing both parties shall bear an equal part in the payment of such claims so far as they have received value from said estate and further the law requireth not in Testimony of the agreement of the parties to the article they have assigned their names and affixed their seals in presence of :
Justice of Peace
James M Bellamy
Thomas B Huffman
William R Bellamy
Nancy B Winingar
Burgess I McKenzie
Jane C Sandridge
Sally D McKenzie
Thomas B McKenzie
John M McKenzie
George W McKenzie
Polly H Leonard