Saturday, March 21, 2009

Samples Family of Cocke County (Overview)

The following is an article I wrote for the Newport Plain Talk which was published in October 2008. For all details and my most recent research on the Samples family, start with Josiah Samples in my family file.

My great grandfather, Randolph Allen, died in 1972, leaving little information even about his own parents, Asa and Amanda (Samples) Allen. The truth be told, he probably did not know much, especially about the Samples family; after all, Randolph was only 9 when his father died and just 10 when his mother died. He and his younger sister, Rachel Parlee, were raised by his mother’s second husband, Ike Holt, and Ike’s third wife, Lula Ollis, not by actual relatives. [Asa, Amanda, and Randolph are pictured at right.]

Randolph did know his mother’s brothers, Clem and Joe Samples, but whatever he learned from them, if anything, has been lost. Through research, I have since learned that Amanda (Samples) Allen lost her own mother, Rachel (Griffin) Samples, when Amanda was just 5, and lost her father, William Jasper Samples, the very next year. She, Clem, and Joe were farmed out to three different maternal uncles at very young ages and probably did not know much about the Samples family either.

With two successive generations of orphans, practically no knowledge of the Samples family was passed down to my family other than an old tintype photograph taken in 1890 of Asa, Amanda, and my great grandfather as a baby on Asa’s knee. Over the past couple of years, my genealogy research has turned to the Samples family, and through research, especially pension records, a picture of the Samples family has begun to emerge, answering many questions but creating new ones, too.

Josiah and Lucinda (Martin) Samples

Josiah Samples was born 11 March 1805 in Virginia and died in the 1860s, most likely in Cocke County. He was the son of Moses and Mary (Rutherford) Samples from Virginia who settled in upper East Tennessee in the early 1800s. Josiah had a number of siblings in the surrounding area, but most if not all of the Samples family in Cocke County itself appears to descend from Josiah.

Josiah married Lucinda Martin on 23 April 1830; they probably already lived in Cocke County when they married, but, in any case, they were there soon thereafter. Lucinda was born 28 December 1808; according to the family Bible, she was born at a place called Smith’s Fork in West Tennessee. The exact location, though, is unclear, since Smith’s Fork is unknown, and what is now considered West Tennessee was not particularly settled in 1808. Lucinda died 21 February 1878, probably in Cocke County. Where the couple was buried is unknown.

This article gives a brief sketch of the family of Josiah Samples and Lucinda Martin and the main lines of descent in Cocke County. Josiah and Lucinda raised a family of 9 children, 8 of them boys, and most are thought to have been born in Cocke County. However, their son James Alexander Samples said he was born in Sevier County, specifically at Tuckaleechee Cove, which is actually in Blount County; the Cocke County courthouse fire has made the tracking of the early movements of this family difficult. Regardless of where they were actually born, their children lived their lives in Cocke County.

Many Cocke County families suffered losses in the Civil War, and the Samples family was heavily hit. Of the eight sons, seven were old enough to fight, and all are thought to have done so. Only three, though, returned home alive, and one of those died several years later from what the family believed was an illness contracted during the war. Even Josiah himself, who is not known to have fought, appears to have died sometime during or shortly after the war.

Some of the Samples sons fought and died for the North and some for the South; some of the Samples sons actually fought first for the South and then for the North. In fact, many Cocke County men did the same. In Cocke County, about 400 men enforced a Confederate draft, often dragging men from their homes and marching them to Knoxville to enlist. We cannot know the real sympathies of all of the Samples brothers because of both the forced conscription and the fact that many of them did not live to tell the tale.

Even men who supported the Confederate cause were often infuriated by the behavior of Cocke County enlistment troops, and many changed sides as soon as they could, usually going to Kentucky to enlist in the Union army. According to Duay O’Neil, a man named George Sisk was one of the Confederate enlistment officers in Cocke County. After the Civil War, he fled with his family to Texas, where he wrote in 1880 that he feared for his life if he ever returned to Cocke County because of the animosity over forced Confederate conscription.

The children of Josiah Samples and Lucinda Martin were:

Reuben S. Samples

Reuben was the oldest of the children, born 27 January 1831. He married Elizabeth W. Hatley, who was about two years younger than he, on 13 May 1852 in Cocke County. Although a number of Reuben’s younger brothers were drafted into Confederate service, no record has been found of Reuben serving the Confederacy. Instead, he enlisted in the Union army, enrolling on 9 March 1863 in Loudon Kentucky, into company H of the 4th Tennessee Cavalry. He mustered into service as a sergeant in Nashville on August 31 that year.

For almost two years, Reuben fought in horrific battles up and down the Mississippi River, surviving them all to return with his unit to Nashville to await final discharge at the end of the war. Unfortunately, just a few weeks before that discharge, Reuben contracted chronic diarrhea and died in Cumberland General Hospital in Nashville on 25 July 1865; he is buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Madison, Tennessee.

Several years after the war, his widow, Elizabeth, married Michaux Moss on 20 November 1872 in Cocke County. She appears to have died between 1880 and 1885, and her place of burial is not known. With Moss, she may have had a son Rederick and other children, but her second marriage has not been fully traced.

Reuben and Elizabeth had only four children together. She had another child after Reuben’s death but before her remarriage, Aaron Thomas Samples, whose parentage is not known. Their children were:

  • James Wiley Samples (11 August 1854-1900s), who married Emily T. Corn (April 1854-1920) about 1870. Their known children were William Joseph and John Henry Samples. Emily had been married previously, to Robert Featherstone, and had a daughter named Emily Louisa Featherstone who would marry James’s brother Felix Alexander Samples.
  • Josiah Samples (5 July 1856-after 1880), who married Amanda Hance (ca. 1860-after 1880) on 21 February 1878 in Cocke County. The only known child was James R. Samples, but this family has not been found after 1880, and more children are possible.
  • George Washington Samples (24 August 1859-after 1870). George has not been found after 1870 and may have died as a teenager or may have left the area.
  • Felix Alexander Samples (19 May 1861-20 June 1925), also known as Alexander P. Samples. He first married Emily Louisa Featherstone (12 June 1865-6 January 1931) on 28 June 1879 in Cocke County. Emily was the daughter of Emily T. Corn, the wife of James Wiley Samples, by her first husband. Alex and Louisa apparently had three children together, Wiley, Lizzie, and James A. Samples, and appear to have divorced before 1889. According to Census records, Louisa appears to have had at least four more children after the divorce who went by the name of Samples, namely Annie, Emma, Georgia, and Hugh Samples; their parentage is unknown to me. Alex married again on 3 April 1889 to Elizabeth Watts (19 May 1872-20 August 1948). He and Lizzie had 9 children: Ella, John Robert, Callie, George W., Sarah, Dorthena, Ed Joseph, James Alexander, and Aden Samples.
  • Aaron Thomas Samples was born about 1867, well after Reuben’s death. Elizabeth’s application for a pension does not list him as Reuben’s natural child but does not indicate who his father was. Aaron lived at least until 1880 but has not been found beyond that time.

Fielding Samples

Fielding Samples, the second son of Josiah and Lucinda (Martin) Samples, was born 4 June 1832. In the 1850s, he married his first cousin, Mary Henry (2 January 1832-after 1900), who was the daughter of Josiah’s sister Abigail and Abigail’s husband John Henry. Fielding is the one brother whose service in the Civil War is quite likely but cannot be proven with certainty. In fact, the timing of his death suggests that he, too, probably died in the war. Most likely, he was the Fielding Samples who served as a private in company H of the 1st Tennessee Calvary (Carter’s), a Confederate unit formed in Jefferson County, but not enough is known for certain to know whether the Fielding Samples in that unit was this Fielding Samples. There was also a Fielding Samples in company G, Thomas Legion Infantry Regiment, North Carolina. Additionally, there was an F. Sample in company C of the 14th Illinois Infantry who might have been this Fielding. No pension has been found.

In any event, if Fielding did not die during the war, he died soon after, and his widow appears in 1870 in Gallatin County, Illinois, where she had moved with some of her relatives. On 7 February 1886 in Gallatin County, she remarried to a man named Francis M. Clayton. She and Francis both died sometime after 1900 possibly in Gallatin County; their places of burial are unknown.

Fielding and Mary (Henry) Samples had two known children:

  • Laura A. Samples (ca. March 1860-1890s), who married George D. Foster on 27 March 1888 in Gallatin County. They had one known child, Mary, before Laura died.
  • Frances E. Samples, born about 1863, was still alive in Gallatin County in 1880. If she married or had children, the details are not known.

James Alexander Samples

J.A. Samples, the third son, was the first of the children who is thought to have actually survived the Civil War, having fought for both the Confederate and Union armies, and he lived his later life near Carson Springs. He was born on 10 April 1834, and married three times. He died 8 May 1920 in Cocke County and is buried in Dunn Cemetery next to his third wife; his other two wives may well be in Dunn Cemetery, too, in unmarked graves.

J.A. definitely was one of the men who was forcibly conscripted in Cocke County into the Confederate army, specifically, as a private in company F of the 5th Tennessee Calvary (McKenzie’s). He deposed quite bluntly in his application for a Union pension that he sympathized with the Confederate cause and had intended to join the Confederates. However, when they forced him to join, he was so angry that he deserted at the first possible opportunity and later joined the Union Army, serving as a private in company M of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry with some of his brothers.

His first wife was Malinda Davis, whom he married 25 June 1857. Malinda was born in North Carolina about 1838 and died probably in Cocke County on 21 February 1886. His known children with Malinda were:

  • William H. Samples (20 October 1859-27 March 1929). He first married Louisa Hall (ca. 1862-early 1880s) on 21 February 1879 in Cocke County; they had at least one child, a son named James W. Samples. On 9 October 1884 in Cocke County, he then married Laura T. Maloy (6 October 1861-27 August 1938) and had at least 8 children: Chester Arthur, Wesley Valentine, Benjamin Harrison, Creed Fulton, Charles, Laura, Della, and Lillie Samples.

  • George W. Samples was born about 1864 and was alive at least as late as 1898. Little is presently known of him. He may be the George Samples who married Nannie Hall in 1890 and might be the George Samples who was the sheriff killed in Cocke County in 1914. [Further research since this article was written suggests that he was.]
  • James Crockett Samples (August 1867-before 1930), who married Susan Melvina Fine (April 1871-after 1930) on 31 January 1892 in Cocke County. They had Ila M., Bessie L., Ruth E., Sarah C., Arthur M., and Eula C. Samples.
  • Laura Samples, who was born about 1867 and was still living in 1898; she has not yet been found after 1898, and who she may have married is unknown.
  • Telitha Ann Samples, born about 1872 and still living in 1898.
  • Margaret Samples, born about 1875 and still living in 1898.
  • Thomas W. Samples, born in November 1879. He died as an infant in July 1880 in Cocke County of dysentery.

After Malinda’s death, James Alexander Samples married Maranda Sims on 30 October 1890 in Cocke County. Maranda was born in July 1837 in Tennessee and died 3 December 1909 probably in Cocke County; she was the daughter of Elliot Sims Jr. and Phoebe Jones and was sister to Martha Jane Sims who married Reese Samples, another son of Josiah and Lucinda (Martin) Samples. James and Maranda had no children together.

Very soon after Maranda died, James married a final time on 4 February 1910 in Cocke County to Callie Dovie Woolener. Callie was born 9 September 1873 in Greene County, Tennessee, and died sometime after 1920. She and James had one child:

  • George Samples (21 February 1913-26 June 1986)

Mary Jane Samples

Not much is known of Josiah and Lucinda (Martin) Samples’s daughter Mary Jane. She was born 27 June 1836 and was still alive and unmarried in 1880, living at that time with the family of her brother Reese. What happened to her after that is unknown, although she could easily be in one of the unmarked graves at Dunn Cemetery.

John Harvey Samples

John was born 4 February 1838. About 1859, he married a woman named Elizabeth (ca. 1841-after 1861) whose maiden name is unknown. Whether by choice or by force, he was a Confederate private in company C of the 26th Tennessee Infantry, also known as the 3rd East Tennessee Volunteers. John was killed in the Civil War, although the circumstances are a bit hazy. Official Civil War records indicate that he died at the battle at Fort Donaldson, which was 11-16 February 1862; however, the family Bible places his death more than a year later on 9 March 1863. Quite likely, the family Bible date is off by a year, with John succumbing to wounds received at Fort Donaldson about a month after the battle.

John Harvey Samples and his wife Elizabeth had only one known child:

  • Marcus/Marquis D. Lafayette Samples (12 December 1861- 26 October 1931), who married Martha Canipe about 9 August 1881 in Cocke County. Children were Joseph Toss and Cora Gertrude Samples.

What happened to John’s wife Elizabeth is also hazy; she either died or remarried by 1870, when Marcus can be found living with his grandmother, Lucinda (Martin) Samples. Marcus and his wife Martha left Cocke County in the 1890s, moving to Union County, Kentucky, where Martha died soon thereafter. The burial place of John Harvey Samples is not known; if he did, in fact, die at Fort Donaldson, he was probably buried in one of the mass graves there. Alternately, having possibly survived some time after the battle, he may have been sent home.

Bethuel Samples

Bethuel was born 21 June 1841 and is not known to have been married. However, given the loss of Cocke County records, a brief marriage is not out of the question. Like his brother John Harvey Samples, he was a Confederate private in company C of the 26th Tennessee Infantry, also known as the 3rd East Tennessee Volunteers. He apparently survived at Fort Donaldson but then went on to join another Confederate unit, company F of the 5th Tennessee Cavalry (McKenzie's). He was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863) and ended up in a Union prison camp, Fort Delaware, on Pea Patch Island in Delaware. Prison camps were hotbeds for disease, and he contracted chronic diarrhea there and died 12 July 1864, a year after his capture. He is buried in Finn's Point National Cemetery in Salem, New Jersey.

Reese B. Samples

Reese was born about 1843 and died 19 February 1901 probably in Cocke County. About 1874, he married Martha Jane Sims, a sister of his brother James’s second wife, Maranda. Martha was born 20 January 1840 near Newport and died 30 May 1919 in Cocke County. Reese and Martha are buried in Dunn Cemetery. Like his brothers John Harvey and Bethuel, Reese was a private in company C of the 26th Tennessee Infantry (Confederate). But then he and his brothers James and William all joined the Union army on the same day as privates in company M of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry. He survived the war but lost his voice.

He and Martha had the following known children:

  • Sarah Samples (July 1875-after 1900); she was still living in 1900 but has not been traced further.
  • George Bose Samples (26 December 1876-14 April 1937), who married Pearl Holt (21 August 1888-12 June 1935); both are buried in Dunn Cemetery, and Pearl was a daughter of George Holt and Sabra Harper. Their known children were Golda, Velma, Ted G., Gemima, Lester, Holley, Edward R., Anna, and Oscar Samples.
  • Joseph Sars Samples (26 April 1878-after 1930). Nothing is known of his life after 1930. Like his cousin, Joseph Sar Samples, his unusual name may be a corruption of his grandfather Josiah’s name.
  • Barthlow T. Samples (30 March 1881-after 1930), who married Nannie Woods (10 October 1882-4 February 1934), daughter of Bart Woods and Mary Barnes; Nannie is buried in Dunn Cemetery and Barthlow might be. Their known children were Donald Mack, Ruby E., Mary L., Gladys T., Georgia May, and Carl Samples.
  • Alice Samples (8 May 1883-15 December 1924), who married William H. Hansel. Alice is buried in Dunn Cemetery. Known children were Grady, William Hugh, Edgar, Minnie A., Benjamin, Connie Alden, Reese, and Beulah Hansel.

William Jasper Samples

William Samples was my own direct ancestor. He was born 20 November 1846 and died 29 October 1880 on Samuel Harrison Griffin’s farm near Chestnut Hill in Jefferson County. His place of burial is unknown. William apparently was too young to serve at the time that his brothers were forced into or chose Confederate service. By 1863, though, when some of his brothers decided to join the Union, he was of age, and he joined with them as a private in company M of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry; at one point, he was transferred to company D but then was transferred back.

William survived the war, but, according to his brothers, he contracted a cough during an assignment in Middle Tennessee from which he never completely recovered. His brothers thought that William probably died of that same cough, but by the time they made that statement, the doctor who treated William before his death had moved to Texas and was not available to give the specific cause of death.

In his short life, William Samples married three times. In 1866, he married Margaret Elizabeth “Lizzie” Click (23 December 1852-9 May 1911), the daughter of David Paxton Click of Newport, at her father’s house. Her father, among other things, built the Click House in downtown Newport which was long a hotel, then Newport City Hall, and is now the police station. A year later, though, the couple divorced, having no children together. Lizzie went on to marry Matthew Newton Gheen and moved to Sanger, Texas.

A few years after his divorce, around 1871, he married Rachel Griffin, the daughter of George Griffin and Olive Dunwoody/Dinwiddie who lived near Chestnut Hill in Jefferson County. Rachel was born about 1848. Together, they had three children, William’s only children:

  • Samuel Clemens “Clem” Samples (1 May 1872-after 1920), who married Bell Henderson (April 1874-after 1920) on 22 June 1890 in Jefferson County. Where both are buried is unknown. Their children were: Arthur William, Charlie Oscar, George Mitchell, Flora J., Joseph Leonard, Alfred James, Ida, Julia, and Luther.
  • Amanda Jane “Mandy” Samples, my great great grandmother, born 10 January 1874. She married Asa Allen (ca. 1863-1899), son of Mary Ann Allen, on 22 August 1889 in Jefferson County. They had two children, my great grandfather Randolph Allen, who married Gracie Bell Bailey, and Rachel Parlee Allen, who married Columbus Clevenger. After Asa died, Amanda remarried on 9 November 1899 to Isaac Newton Holt. She had one child with Ike, but both she and the child died in childbirth on 10 February 1901. Asa and Amanda are buried in the Allen Family Cemetery on Upper Rinehart Road.
  • Joseph Sar “Joe” Samples (11 August 1877-26 October 1964), who first married Mary Virene Rinehart (ca. 1881-12 May 1926) on 24 June 1897 in Jefferson County; she was a daughter of James and Eliza (Thornburg) Rinehart. They had four children, Vira, Lettie, William Luther, and Ruble Winfield Samples, in Jefferson County but they moved to Gastonia, North Carolina, in the late teens or early 1920s. Vira, who had already married Charlie Cody, stayed in Newport. Virene died in Gastonia and was taken back to Newport somewhere for burial. Joe then married Laura Jane Strange (22 August 1876-27 October 1953) in the late 1920s; she was the daughter of Bill Strange and Edith Edmonds. Joe and Laura are buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Gastonia.

Rachel (Griffin) Samples died in May 1879, and William married a final time, to Mary A. Edmonds (31 July 1859-15 April 1944) on 29 January 1880 at the home of Theodrick Edmonds in Jefferson County. They had no children together, and William died nine months to the day after his wedding. Where he and Rachel were buried is unknown.

Apparently, William had been ill for quite some time; at his death, he owned no real estate and only about $30 worth of property. Mary (Edmonds) Samples sent the children to live with three different brothers of their mother: 8-year-old Clem went to Samuel Harrison Griffin, 6-year-old Amanda to Andrew Jackson Griffin, and 3-year-old Joe to Thomas Benjamin Griffin, as Mary was unable to provide for them herself. About two years later, she fathered a son out of wedlock who she named William Edmonds (born 27 March 1882); William Van Dyke was the father. Several years after that, she married Rachel (Griffin) Samples’s brother Thomas, and she and Thomas are buried in Hills Union Cemetery in Jefferson County.

Josiah Samples, Jr.

Josiah was the last child of Josiah Samples and Lucinda Martin and the only one too young to have fought for either the Confederacy or the Union. He was born 31 July 1852 and died 5 May 1930; he married Rhoda Darthula Calfee (5 October 1857-15 January 1938) and both are probably buried in New Home Cemetery. They had 12 children:

  • Alice (12 June 1872-18 September 1939), who married James Breckenridge Fox (2 May 1870-13 September 1949) on 11 May 1889; they are probably buried in Point Pleasant Cemetery. They had at least 13 children including two sets of twins: Vernium, Lafayette, Luther G., Anna Lee, Bertie Ree, William Earl, Bessie Parlee, Hester, Ester, Mae, Delsie, Cressie, and Connie Fox.
  • Martha Loucinda Samples (29 June 1874-5 October 1955), who married James Walker Gibson on 22 April 1894; nothing more is known.
  • William Wilbourn Samples (5 October 1877-13 September 1867), who married Susan Elizabeth Gibson (16 May 1876-24 September 1942) on 26 February 1894 and eventually went west. Children included Claude C., Floyd, Mally D., and Nora Samples.
  • Cauley Samples (8 May 1880-4 April 1970), who married Nannie Smith (18 January 1879-16 July 1958) about 13 August 1898 in Cocke County. Children included Dee, Marion, Ulyssis S., and Ray Samples as well as another infant.
  • John Henry Samples (3 February 1882-8 January 1949), who married Sarah J. Dawson (8 May 1888-5 March 1971). Children, if any, are unknown.
  • Delie Samples (9 August 1885-9 September 1885).
  • Calley Samples (18 September 1886-18 August 1963), who married German R. Atkins (28 March 1889-18 October 1959). They had at least one child, Rutha, who died as an infant.
  • James Samples (28 July 1889-11 July 1948), who married Flora Holt (1891-1920). Children, if any, are unknown.
  • Paul Samples (11 March 1892-1 February 1954), who married a woman named Hattie and had at least one child, Ruth.
  • Amanda Samples (15 August 1894-18 February 1988), who married Mack Lingo (17 March 1897-11 June 1984). Children were Ruth and John.
  • Mary Nellie Samples (20 August 1897-23 January 1953), who married Thomas Woodson Talley (20 February 1893-30 April 1968) on 9 January 1917 in Cocke County. Children were Margaret Pauline, Ralph Houston, Kathryn Lucille, Mary Jean, and Frank Waylyn Talley.
  • Porter Samples (1 October 1900-16 February 1976), who married Bernice Fox (17 December 1901-12 May 1976). Children were Edward C., Bruce, Joe, Johnnie R., Orville, Alvin Lee, Loretta, Delcie Mae, Billy Frank, Richard, Mary, and Junior Lee Samples.

For More Information

Practically everything I know of the Samples family comes from research, not personal knowledge, and contact from any family member on any branch is appreciated… All of my Samples research is published on the Internet at, where you will find additional descendents and more details.

1 comment:

  1. I have a great grandmother sarah samples born 1896 cocke county who may be a daughter of josiah samples and Amanda hance. Was amanda part cherokee?