Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Archie Sawyer & Sally Killion - What I was told

From Flickr by hubertk

Growing up I was told my great-great grandparents Archie & Sally Killion Sawyer had come over the mountains from the Carolinas to Cocke County after the Revolutionary War.  They had nine children - James, Linnie, Andrew, Barbary, William B, Elizabeth, Crawford, Jake and my great-grandfather, Jehu (or Gee). Most of the children remained in Cocke or Greene counties, but James settled in North Carolina, had twins and a son Leroy. Linnie moved away after the Civil War and contact was lost with her family. I was told that Archie died January 2, 1881 and was buried at Joseph's Chapel in Cocke County. We were kin to the Killions and Killians in the area and to the Sawyers over the mountains in Madison County, NC.

That was it. The sum total of our knowledge.

My aunt dug into census records in the 1970s and reported that Archie had been born in South Carolina around 1795 and that Sally was born around 1810 in North Carolina. Once I began researching in the 1980s the census records provoked as many questions as they answered.  The 1880 census enumerated Sally (listed as Sarah) living in Greene County with her son William. She and her daughter were both listed as widowed. Given that I believed Archie died in 1881 this was surprising.

1880 Greene County TN census listing for Sarah Sawyers
I wondered if he had left the family (giving him LOTS of credit for an 85 year old man) and searched the census records for Cocke, Greene, Jefferson, Sevier Counties in Tennessee and Madison and Buncombe Counties in North Carolina. He was not to be found.

On my next trip back to Tennessee I went to Joseph's Chapel to see Archie's grave. (Did I take a camera?  I was young. I had diaper bags, juice boxes, Cheerios, even toddlers. No camera.) Once I found the tombstone I was surprised to find it read Sarah Killion, wife of Archibald Sawyer with the dates 23 September 1812 - 2 January 1881. That's according to my notes. Will I swear to the spelling? Not a chance. I'm not even sure if it read Sarah or Sally - Archibald or Archie. (Remember, I was really, really young.) What I will swear to is that it was NOT Archie's grave, but his wife's. There was no marker for Archie. Given the 1880 census record I feel confident that Archie died sometime before the 1880 census and was probably buried at Joseph's Chapel. 

Guess what's on my agenda this summer?


I was wrong in stating I did not have a camera! Photograph of Sarah's gravestone is here.

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Tennessee, Greene, District 4, enumeration district (ED) 46, p. 65C, dwelling 162, family 162; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1258.  


  1. A return trip to a certain cemetery, with camera with LOTS of storage space available and extra CHARGED batteries. Maybe take TWO cameras. Maybe take photos of many many surrounding stones too. Lots of walking, looking at so many stones. Hint: digital recorder, talk your way around that cemetery too!


    Request a photo?? And, still visit!

  2. sounds like a fun, and i hope productive, trip coming up

  3. Yeah, don't forget the battery charger and/or extra batteries. Not fun to run out in the middle of picture-taking! Isn't it fun to sort out the facts from what we "know" from the family?


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