Descendants of Rial (Riley) Johns, Jr. His father, and related families of Hancock and Hawkins Counties, Tennessee

In 1790, the year of the first U. S. Census, the westward push across the Appalachians was well under way. Presumably, the "Johns" of the Virginia Piedmont were among those who blazed trails through the wilderness.

Little is known about Thomas Johns, Rial Johnís grandfather. An incidental reference in the 1750 will of Alexander Trent of Cumberland county, Virginia mentions a 750 acre tract, that he owned, "whereon Thomas lJohns now livesÖ." Trentís tract lay in both Albermarle and Cumberland Counties and, while Thomas was not a beneficiary of Trentís estate, the reference at least allows us to locate Thomas Johns in that area of central Virginia.

Henry Johns, son of Thomas Johns, was born in 1770 on the land that belonged to Alexander Trent. Henryís wife, whose name is not known, was born in Virginia in 1780. Sometime before 1810, Henry and his wife migrated to Tennessee and, following their arrival, had three children, a daughter and two sons. Their daughter was born between the years 1810-1815. Their first son, Rial, was born on December 12, 1812. A second son was born between 1812 and 1815 and, like his sister, remains anonymous. Since U. S. Census records indicate that Henry Johns was the only "Johns" in Hawkins County (now Hancock County, he probably moved there from Virginia as a married young man in company with relatives of a different surname, or possibly, he arrived with his wifeís family. For reasons that are unclear, possibly due to Indian troubles, Henry Johns removed to the "old settlements" in Kentucky, near a community called ĎJohns Springs."

By 1830, when Rial Johns was 18 years old, the Census records indicate that Henry and his family had returned to Tennessee and were in Rutledge (Grainger County, Tennessee. Grainger lies adjacent to Hancock (Hawkins) County on the South and itís likely that Henry Johns had gone there to speculate in rising land values. Some years later, Henry removed to the Mulberry Community, along Mulberry Creek, in Hancock County, where he purchased land and lived out his life.

The U. S. Census of 1850 notes that Rial, Henryís second child, had married Martha Alice Slaton, the daughter of Captain John Slaton. Twelve children would eventually be born to the union of Rial and Martha. The couple would live for over 30 years on a 200 acre tract on Ivy Ridge that Rial had either purchased or inherited. On October 7, 1880, Rial and Martha sold their land to Andrew J. Greene and his wife Susan for $1600 (Hancock County Deed Book #1), p. 307).

Rial Johns, who was likely well-educated himself, sent his children to school at the newly organized Greasy Creek Academy in Sneedville, Tennessee. The Academy, later reincorporated as the McKinney High School, was housed in a two story frame building and the instructors were M. H. Burkett and James G. Rose.

After all the children except Eliza and John Rial (Riley) were married, and possibly following the sale of their land at Ivy Ridge, Rial and Martha Johns bought land in the "Flat Gap Community," near Treadway, Hancock County, Tennessee. At some point, their eldest child, William, migrated to Mint Hill, Osage County, Missouri.

In mid-December, 1887, on a cold, snow and rain mixed day, Martha Johns set out on horseback to visit one of her sisters. Martha had persisted in going despite Rialís implorations that she remain at home. Martha caught cold on here journey and died of pneumonia on December 21, 1887. She was buried in the small "Johns" family cemetery on the home place in the Flat Gap Community.

Following Marthaís sudden passing, the aging Rial desired to continue living in his home at Flat Gap. Rialís other children agreed to relinquish their claim to a protion of Rialís home, if their youngest brother, John Rial, would pledge to take care of the old man for the rest of his days. John Rial Johns was married to Sarah Ann, the oldest daughter of John and Elizabeth (Betsy) Turner.

John Rial Johns, the eleventh child of Rial and Martha Slaton,l had met his wife, Sarah, at a singing bee at the War Creek Baptist Church. Married on November 15, 1885, they would have eight children. As their family grew, the "Flat Gap" home was sold, and a larger house at Straight Creek Road and the Southern Railroad Tracks, in Tazewell, Tennessee, was purchased. Fulfilling the agreement made earlier with his other children, the elderly Rial had a room in his sonís new house and his meals were carried to him. The house, called the "Leibold Place," was where John Rial and Sarahís older children spent many happy days dating and having parties. The grandfather, Rial, died in his room there on August 11, 1898. His body was taken up the mountain road to Flat Gap, where he was buried beside his wife, Martha, in the family cemetery at Treadway.

On November 121, 1898, John Rial Johns was ordained a Baptist Minister. His certificate of ordination reads:

This is to certify that Brother Riley Johns is a member of the New Tazewell Baptist Church in good standing and full membership, trusting that God has called him to preach the gospel, we hereby license him to engage in grate work and we offer to God our earnest prayers that he may become a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. By order of the Chruch this 12th day of November 1898. Protem Elder, W. S. Winfrey, Moderator, James B. Campbell, Church Clerk.

Early in this century, Reverend and his wife, Sarah, sold the "Leibold" home and farm and moved to a residence in the center of New Tazewell. It is clear that John Rial and Sarah owned considerable real estate in these years since their names frequently appear on land transfers. The Leibold farm, for example, contained over two hundred acres, and embraced a large part of what is now the Southeastern part of New Tazewell.

Soon after arriving in New Tazewell, John Rial entered the poroduce business with his brother-in-law, George Livesay, who had formerly owned a mercantile business in Luther, Tennessee. Livesay had come to New Tazewell after marrying John Rialís youngest sister, Eliza. During the five years that Reverend Johns and George Livesay brokered train loads of produce for northern markets, the John Rial Johns family remained at the house in the center of town. They moved to Andersonville, Tennessee, when the partnership was dissolved. Livesay continued in the produce business.

Reverend Johns had two purposes for moving to Andersonville: one was to further his childrenís education by making it possible for them to attend the Andersonville Academy; and second, to open two general stores. The one store was opened in Andersonville and the other was located nearby, in Bethel, Tennessee, on the present Highway 61, between Clinton and Andersonville. Laura, John Rialís eldest daughter, and her husband, Levi Crutchfield, operated the store at Bethel. Reverend Johns engaged in these enterprises while he worked in the vicinity as an itinerate Baptist evangelist.

In early 1919, the stores were sold and John Rial moved his family to the Barlow Farm on Barlow road off Highway 25, north of Clinton. There was a fine old home and the farm contained every imaginable fruit and nut tree. The family lived on the "Barlow" farm until the spring, 1921, when they moved to Weaver Street, in Clinton, Tennessee.

From this point on, Reverend Johns was to be semi-retired. The Johnsí lived on Weaver Street a short time, and soon moved closer to the center of Clinton on Mail Street. Then, a 12 room house on Woodson Hill overlooking Clinton was purchased. The family lived there until the fall, 1924, when a final move took them to a home at Brushey Creek, just outside of Clinton, across from the Hinds Creek Baptist Church. John Rial Johns died at Brushey Creek on September 11, 1939 and funeral services were held in the Hinds Creek Baptist Church. He was buried in the cemetery across from the church. Sarah Johns spent her last years visiting her children and died on February 14, 1941, at her son, Royís house, in Morristown, Tennessee. She was buried beside her husband at Brushey Creek.

I am sure many mistakes have been made since my information came from Census, Church, and land records, will books, family Bibles, memorabilia and tradition. I have put together this brief account of our family with the hope that it will encourage those who read it to supply additional dates and accounts. My mistakes are hones ones as I am not a professional genealogist.

Newton P. Owen
3420 Mt. Ranier Dr.
Louisville, Kentucky 40222

Obituary of Rev. Rial Johns - Sept. 13, 1939

The Rev. Rial Johns, retired Baptist minister, died at 9:25 a.m. yesterday at his home at Clinton, He was 78.

He formerly lived in Claiborne County but had been a Clintonresident for the past 20 years. He was a member of Deep Springs Baptist Church of which he was pastor when he retired 10 years ago.

Surviving are his wife, Sarah, two sons, Clyde of Hazard Ky. And Roy of Morristown; four daughters, Mrs Lewis D decoll (?) and Mrs. Newton Powen (?) both of Louisville; and Miss Laura Johns of Tazewell; a sister; Mrs Eliza Livesay of Knoxville; 15 grandchildren and four great grand children. From: Claiborne County Tenn. Obituaries - The First 50 Years, Volume 1, by Mark Treadway, copyright 1988, p. 292.

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