The Long Family in Decatur Co., Tennessee

By Dr. Harry L. Long

From Lillye Younger, The History of Decatur County Past and Present (Southhaven, MS: Carter Printing Company, 1978), pp. 360-366.

Historical notes and documentation of the genealogy of one’s family are difficult to obtain from public record even if researched by professionals. Much of the difficulty lies in the fact that in many cases the records simply do not exist. In other cases, a person’s time may be limited to the extent of making it impractical to search the thousands of feet of microfilm or the somewhat disorganized assembly of information in other forms such as original record books. I speak primarily of marriage records, deed transfers, will records, and even census records. The non-existent records mentioned earlier are non-existent because of disastrous fires or other causes of destruction of county courthouses, before the days of microfilm, or before transfer to state archives centers, even due to being lost or misplaced. Nevertheless, there remains many good and accurate records both in the local courthouses and in the state and national archives centers. It is from these records that the following information has been compiled on the Long family.

To further qualify the inadequacy of this compilation of specific information, it must be pointed out that the writer is not a genealogist and the original purpose was to determine a personal lineage and was not intended to form a complete family tree. Therefore, many branches of this tree were simply omitted or rather deserted when the lineage deviat6d from my direct family line.

The earliest information about the Long family was given to me by Thurman Baxter Long of North Carolina (Rutherford County). The Long family is purported to be descendents of Henry Le preux (or Le Longe). There is information about Longs.who lived in England (Wiltshire County) before coming to America. They were one of the oldest and best known families in England. Information obtained from New York City Library, Congressional Library, Washington, D.C., and the Charlotte Library, reflect the Long pedigree and the family coat of arms being established as early as 1623. The copy of the Coat of Arms in my possession is dated 1624. It seems that the earliest American visitor of the Long family from England was one Samuel Long who traveled with William Penn. Samuel Long returned to England, but his son, John Nicholas Long remained in Lancaster County, Pa., where he purchased four (4) tracts of land in 1736.

This particular time and information is interesting because of the following: John Nicholas Long had three (3) sons of record who were:

Nicholas Long (N.C.)-a Colonel in American Revolution; Andrew Long — Captain 1st Battalion of Miles Penn. Rifle Regiment, 1776; James Long — Ensign Penn. Musket Battilion, March, 1776, 1st Lt. July 1776, Captain 10th Penn., November, 1776.

The interesting point is not the military background of the three sons, but the names of the sons. At that time in history and even today the repeated use of first names was very common. And this is a point of pure conjecture when I say that in every generation of my proven ancestry, there has been a James Long. There are existing court records of which I have copies as proof of the Longs of Decatur County, Tennessee, living in North Carolina, owing land, and yes, slaves prior to 1800. In fact, Nicholas Long was commissioned by George Washington to serve as commanding general of all forces in North Carolina. Nicholas Long died 1797.

Nicholas Long had several sons and daughters, one of whom was William Long. William Long settled in Rutherford County, North Carolina, near the community of New Britton. It is here that one of the oldest Presbyterian Churches and cemeteries in Western North Carolina is located. The seven (7) acres of land for the church and cemetery was donated by William Long out of a land grant to him from the King of England for his service in the Indian Wars.

William Long had five sons and two daughters. The sons were: Andrew Baxter Long, William Long, Jr., John Long, James Long (reported to have moved “west”), and Finley Long. The daughters were Margaret and Malinda.

William Long and his lineage are included here to again demonstrate the repeated use of first names. As will be point out later, the name Finley is common in my direct ancestry and I have already mentioned the use of the name James.

At this point, we leave the guesswork behind and turn to documented records of the direct ancestry of the Longs of Decatur County. This starts with a recorded will written by Gloud Long in 1801:


In the name of God Amen I Gloud Long of Rutherford County and State of North Carolina being very sick and weak in body but in perfect mind and Memory thanks be given unto God therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make & ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all, I give and Recomment my soul unto the hands of the almighty God that give it & my Body I Recommend to the earth to be Burned in Cristian Burrial at the Discretion of my Executors nothing Doubting but at the general Resurrection I shall Receive the same again by the mighty power of God and as Touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give & dispose of the same in the following manner & form — first of all I give unto my loving wife Jane Long my land I now live on and my negroe fellow Abe during her life or widowhood & after her death or widowhood the same land and negroe to belong to my son Gloud Long also the ballance of my Stock I give unto my wife to do as she seas cause with also all the beads & furniture belong to them with the kitchen furnitures to belong to her during her life. Item — I give unto my son Patrick Long fifteen Dollars out of that bond I have against Mike Tanner also a good feather bed & furniture.Item — I give unto my son James Long Twenty Dollars

Item — I give unto my two Daughters Isabel & Peggy Ten Dollars a peace out of Tanners Bonds.

Item — I give unto my son Gloud Long Eight Dollars in the said Bond.

Item — I give unto my two youngest Daughters Jane & Polly Long Eight Dollars a peace in the said bond also five Dollars of the said bond to John Long for the use of grave yard and also the Ballance of Tanners bond I wish to go to pay all my Just Debts & the ballance of the bond if there is any left I leave to my wife with all the money that I have got in order to purchase her a negroe girl and at her death or widowhood all that I have left to her besides land & negroe fellow it is my desire that she shall give it to hoo she pleases and this I acknowledge to by my last will and testament in Witness whereof I here unto set my hand and seal this 30th day of March in the year of our lord one thousand eighteen hundred & one.

Gloud Long

Signed Sealed & Delivered in
the presence of
James Baber
Gloud Long (X)

Last of all I appoint John Long & Patrick Long & James Long my Executors of this my last will and testament.

Following is the will of the son Gloud Long (Jr.) mentioned above, written in 1820:

In the name of God amen I Gloud Long Being weak and in a low state of health at present out of sound and perfect mind and memory do make constitute and ordain this my last will and Testament In manner and Form Following.Item: I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Sarrah Long this home, plantation and Everything that is on it the (aforesaid) plantation is Bounded on Elisha Blankinships and Robert Cauhorns and John Longs lines During her lifetimes or widowhood. I also give hir liberty to dispose of any thing that She finds. hir Self not able to Keep or for a support.

I also give to my loving wife three hundred and Seventy five dollars What she do not make use of to be Divided Equally amongst my children at hir death and after my wifes death this said Tract of land as I have given my wife hir lifetime to be divided between Andy Morrison and Gloud Miller Long. I give to Andy Morrison Long all the land on the East Side of the Creek of this tract and I give to Gloud Miller all the land of the Same Tract on the west Cide of the Creek to Cauhorn. Also I give to my son Gloud Miller one negro Boy named Ramson. I also give to my Loving wife all my house hold Firnature Also I give to my Loving wife all my negroes hir lifetime or widowhood after hir death or widowhood and negroes to be sold & Equally Divided Except the negro Boy Ransom as I give to my Son Gloud Miller. I also give to my Loving (wife) all my Stock of Every Kind only my Son James and my daughter Polly and my son Andy Morrison and My son Gloud Miller to have a horse, bridle & saddle, cow & calf, Bed & firnature a piece when they come of age. The rest of my household Firnature I give to my Loving wife to dispose of as she pleases

Item: I give and bequeath to my Son William Long 150 acres of Land where he now lives joining this old Tract where I now live. I also give to my son James F. Long the other part of the said Tract one hundred & fifty acres —Item: I give to my son Hugh W. Long one hundred acres of Land Joining John Bell with a few acres to be bought of said John Bell out of the money that is in the house.

Item: I give to my Son John S. Long fifty acres of land lying on Sellers Branch Joining Elijah Blankinships line and Elisha Shemwell line. I also make Constitute and ordain John Long Sen. and Hugh W. Long hole and sole Executors of this my last will and testament this twenty second day of March Eighteen hundred & twenty. I hereunto set my hand and af ix my seal the day and year above written —

Signed & sealed in the presents of us Elisha Shemwell
John Long
Gloud Long

Hugh W. Long, named in the will above as a son of Gloud Long (Jr.) and a recipient of property as well as one of the executors of his father’s will, left North Carolina sometime after 1832 when Decatur County, was still a part of Perry County. North Carolina Deed Records show in book 38, page 104 that the 100 acres of land deeded to Hugh W. Long by his father was sold to Andrew M. Long for $263.00. Hugh Watson Long moved to Tennessee and settled on land in the Bible Hill community of Decatur County, part of which remains in the Long family today. On record in the Tennessee Archives in Nashville is the transfer of 250 acres of land on Cub Creek and Sulfur Fork Creek to Hugh W. Long. The name of Hugh W. Long first appeared in the records of Perry County as a juror in 1841.

From this point in time all one needs to do is examine the census records of Decatur County (earliest census 1850) to trace the direct lineage of Hugh W. Long through the many branches of the family tree.

But to retrace the life of Hugh Watson Long for more details of his life, we go back to North Carolina (Rutherford County), where we find a record of marriage to Martha Burnett of Petersburg. Virginia.

State of North Carolina, Rutherford County — February 25, 1819.We the under signed Acknowledge our Selves jointly, Severally, and firmly, Bound to his Excellency the Governer for the time being and his Successors in Of ice in the full and just sum of Five Hundred Pounds, Which Payment well and truly to be made and dun. We bind our selves and our Heirs firmly by these presents Sealed with our Seals and dated this 25th February, 1819. Conditioned that now Whereas Hughy WAtson Long hath this day aplied for and obtained License for Manage to by Solemnized between him the Said Hughy Watson Long and Martha Burnett. Now if their shall hereafter aprar no legal Cause to obstruct said Manage then the above Obligation to be Void otherwise to Remain in full force and virtue in Law.

Signed, Sealed, and Acknowledged this Day of 1819
in presents of R (R) (K) Wilson
Hugh Watson Long
John Oliver
Leroy Burnett

Incidentally, the name Hugh “Watson” must have been given to Hugh Watson Long because of a close friendship or association of the family with a Justice of the Peace by the name of Hugh Watson. This name appears many times in the Long section of the marriage records of North Carolina as a bondsman or witness to the marriages.

Hugh Watson Long and wife Martha had several children the oldest of which was Gordon Finley Long, born in 1821, and later married to Flora Shoemaker. (Reference is made once again to the repeatd use of first names as a conjectural method of tracing family histories. — see paragrah above on William Long’s sons.) Hugh Watson Long died on November 2, 1849, at the age of 51.

Let us resume the formation of this branch of the family tree through Gordon Finley’s son James Henry Long, born on September 14, 1857. James Henry (known to most of his friends and relatives as Uncle “Dink”) was married to Martha Victoria Rains on January 17, 1889. This marriage produced four children, three sons and one daughter. They were, by order of birth:

Halley Augustus, Born-December 26, 1889, Died-May 23, 1891
Lela Hester (Jessie), Born-April 18, 1891 (the only surviving child)
Harry Long, Born-October 20, 1893, Died-March 14, 1973
Russell Finley, Born-December 17, 1897, Died-March 3, 1972
Other children of Gordon Finley Long:

Isabell-(Mother of Mr. K.K. Houston-deceased)
Hugh William -known as “Uncle Hood” (or Hude)
William Street-known as “Uncle Wid”
Maggie-married into the Morris family.
Granville Day
      The children of James Henry Long and Victoria Rains Long are listed above and except for Halley Augustus who died in infancy, the marital information is:

Lela Hester-married John Brown (deceased) May 27, 1906. Children by order of birth:

1. Harrell Bon Brown, born August 18, 1907
2. Louis Brown, born November 25, 1911
3. James Brown, born March 11, 1914
4. Barney Brown, born March 18, 1921
5. Fay Brown, born November 30, 1915
6. Lavana Brown, born January 18, 1924
      Harry Long — Deceased — (covered in more detail in following paragraphs.)

Russell Finley Long (Deceased) — married Laura Jones August 10, 1916 (Deceased). Children by order of birth:

1. Gordon Long, born May 8, 1917 (Deceased)
2. Mildred Long, born June 20, 1921
3. Margie Long, born March 3, 1931 (Deceased)
4. Russell Jones Long, born September 17, 1935 (Deceased)
      James Henry Long preceded his wife in death on September 30, 1898 at the age of 41. His wife Victoria died on April 7, 1938. They are buried in a small family cemetery on the original Long property in the Bible Hill community. These graves have been permanently marked with engraved stones.

To continue the direct lineage to my generation, we look at the life of Harry Long, my father. His first marriage occurred on April 16, 1916, to Saphrona Mae Yates. This union resulted in one child, a daughter, Gussie Marie, born on May 9, 1917. Gussie presently lives in Parsons, Tennessee (Decatur County) and is married to Ralph Parsons. Saphrona Yates Long died on October 22, 1918. Harry Long was married to Ruby Houston, daughter of Marcus Delafayette and Maude D. Houston on January 3, 1925. From this marriage came four children, Iwo girls and two boys. They are by order of birth:

1. Lola Ruth, born April 3,1927, married to Dr. Casey Carrington. Children: Mary Judith Carrington, Thomas Casey Carrington2. James Houston, born December 19, 1931, married (1) to Sue Weaver. Children: Lynn Houston Long;
married (2) to Sarah Claire Caldwell

3. Harry Lynnville, born February 5, 1933, married to Frances Ruth Medley. Children: James Randall Long, Stephen Lynn Long, Marcus Houston Long

4. Martha Estalle, born April 14, 1935, married to Thomas Clarence Parsons. Children: Thomas Clarence Parsons Jr., Keatha Lee Parsons

All of the above information is gladly provided by Dr. Harry L. Long to be included in the printing of a book about the History of Decatur County, Tennessee. It is my desire that my efforts to assimilate these facts be useful and informative to those who hold fond memories of their place of birth and of the many friends and relatives who in some way helped to mold and shape our destinies.