Memories and Stories
Francis Hughes was born in Shenandoah County, VA in the year 1759. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he
was living in Western Burke (then Rowan) County, NC. He later was "unsettled", but apparently was residing in the Watauga
area of east Tennessee, then North Carolina.
Francis Hughes first entered military service in Burke County, NC in June 1776. He served as a ranger on the western
Catawba Frontier, scouting against the hostile Cherokee and Creek Indians. He served in Capt. Penland's Company.
In August 1776, Hughes joined up with Rutherford's troops and took part in the Cherokee Expedition of August-October 1776,
In his pension declaration, he mentions an engagement in which eighteen Indians were killed.
In January 1777, he enlisted in Col. John Seviers Regiment. Their purpose was to clear the Watauga Settlements from
Indian incursions. He helped to erect and and garrison a fort on the Nolachukey River (at Gallaker's orGallagher's).
In September 1780, Hughes volunteered under Col. Sevier (Capt. Samuel William's Company) and took part in the great King's
Mountain Expedition of September and October 1780. The march culminated in the American Victory at King's Mountain,
SC on October 7, 1780.
His final tour of duty was for a period of one month under Col. Sevier. This consisted of a short march to Cherokee
country and back.
About the second marriage: A woman named Mary Ann "Dolly" Miller, the wife of Thornton Miller, claimed that she was
a half-sister to John Hughes, the son of Francis Hughes and Rebecca Allen. As Kay White has noted,
"Francis, in his will, listed ALL of his living legal heirs - IF Mary Ann was living at the time of the Will (1841), she
was not his daughter, although she could have possibly been a step-daughter - IF she was deceased at that time, the
possibility of either does exist - this bears further study." (12)
Francis without a will:
"Francis Hughes did not leave a will. The document referred to as a will was actually a court declartion made by
Francis' children. They went to court to swear that they were the only living, legal heirs in order to collect their
father's pension. It is known that they did not include a half sister, Mary Ann (Polly) Hughes who married Thornton
--Jeanne Bowman Overbay, Feb. 26, 2000
Francis Hughes is documented in Revolutionary War Soldiers of Western North Carolina.
Francis Hughes apparently moved from Burke County, NC to Watauga some time during the war... He was in Greene Co
TN, by 1782.... He continued to reside in East Tennessee for the remainder of his life.
"Francis Hughs" appears in Greene Co TN's 1797 tax list in Captain Jas. Penney's Company as owning 1210 acres, 1 white
poll, and 3 black polls.
On July 21, 1833, as a resident of Greene County, TN, age 74 years, he applied for a Federal pension. He was awarded
an annual pension of $51.66. In his pension application children are mentioned, but not by name. (See below).(6)
Francis Hughes died January 25, 1841... while residing with his daughter Margaret in Bledsoe County, TN. His wife
predeceased him. His heirs were as follows: John Hughes, Margaret Hughes, Ingabow Hixon and Rebecca Hixon.
Francis Hughes pension record, as documented by Descendants of John Hewes, privately published by Eben Putanm, New York,
1913, Call Number Cs71.H892:
"Francis Hughes was of Green County, Tenn., 21 July, 1833, then aged 74 years, when he applied for pension, alleging that
he resided in Burke County, N. C., in June, 1776, when he enlisted as a ranger in North Carolina, under Capt. Penland, in
the command of Gen. McDowell, and served two months and a half against the Cherokee and Creek Indians.
"On his return from this tour of service, he met the troops under Gen. Rutherford on their march to the Cherokee Nation,
and volunteered under Rutherford. The expedition proceeded to the "Nation." In the overhill towns the Indians embodied, and
an engagement ensued in which the Indians were defeated with a loss of 18 killed. This tour of service lasted from August,
1776, to December, 1776, four months.
"In Jan., 1777, he volunteered under Col. John Sevier to retake the western settlements on the Watoga. Seviers' force was
employed in building a fort for defense at "Gallaker's" on "Nola Sheeky" river, in the present State of Tennessee. Hughes
was stationed there for twelve months.
"Under the Act of North Carolina calling for new levies, he volunteered in Sept., 1780, for an expedition, under Col. Sevier,
against Ferguson. He was in Capt. Samuel Williams' company and marched with Campbell's Virginia troops across the "Yellow
Mountains" into North Carolina, and there met the militia under General McDowell, and in October was present at the battle
of King's Mountain.
"After the battle he helped guard the prisoners on the march to the "Barrix" for exchange, serving three months. In the
winter of 1780 he again volunteered and was led by Col. Sevier against the Cherokee Indians and marched to the borders of
their country, but the Indians had retired. He was one month in this service. His total service was 21 months and 14 days.
"He was born in Shenandoah Co Va., in 1759, and had lived in Washington County, afterward in Greene County. He was living
in 1839. "
Francis Hughes may have used his Revolutionary War service to qualify for work as a ranger, as noted in the following passages
from Goodspeed's History of Greene County, 1887:
> "In 1783, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed an act dividing Washington
County for the second time, and establishing the county of Greene. On the third Monday of August, the court of pleas and quarter
sessions met at the house of Robert Carr, which stood near to what is known as the Big Spring in Greeneville.
"The magistrates present were Joseph Hardin, John Newman, George Doherty, James Houston, Amos Bird and Asahel Rawlings.
Daniel Kennedy was elected clerk; James Wilson, sheriff; William Cocke, attorney for the State; Joseph Hardin, Jr., entry
taker; Isaac Taylor, surveyor, Richard Woods, register, and Francis Hughes, ranger."
> "In May, 1785, the county was reorganized under the State of Franklin, and all the
officers who were reappointed were required to take a new oath of office. The magistrates who appeared and qualified were
Joseph Hardin, George Doherty, Benjamin and John Gist, Newman, Asabel Rawlings, John Maughon, James Patterson, John Weir and
"The old county officers were removed except Daniel Kennedy, clerk and Francis Hughes, ranger. The county,
as a whole, was the most loyal to the Franklin government of any of the counties composing the State, and jealously guarded
against anything tending to weaken its influence or authority."
Land Grant Records for Francis Hughes are as follows: (5)
- Washington Co., TN NC Grant #262 - 99 acres - Oct 24, 1782. Watauga Bk. 252
- Washington Co., TN NC Grant #362 - 99 acres - 24 Oct, 1782. Bk 1 p. 567 - probably same grant as #1.
- Greene Co., TN NC Grant #1115 - 640 acres - 12 July 1793. Bk 6 p. 463
The third record above is known to be for land on the Mill Fork of the Big Limestone Creek, Greene Co TN.