Charles Lee Dibrell, Sr.

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Charles Lee Dibrell, Sr.

Birthdate: (82)
Birthplace: Buckingham County, Virginia, United States
Death: July 16, 1840 (82)
Union City, Obion County, Tennessee, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jean Antoine Dibrell, Sr. and Elizabeth Dibrell (Lee)
Husband of Martha Dibrell and Lucy Dibrell
Father of John Lee Dibrell; Mary Elizabeth Shrewsbury (Dibrell); Mary "Polly" Dibrell (Gibbs); Anthony Dibrell, Tennessee Secretary of State; Lee Anne Gibbs (Dibrell) and 7 others
Brother of Leanna Jones; Judith Patteson and Anthony Dibrell, II

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About Charles Lee Dibrell, Sr.

Charles Lee Dibrell was the oldest son born to Anthony and Elizabeth Lee Dibrell on October 24, 1757. He was the first of three children: Leeanna, Judith, and Anthony, Jr. were the other siblings. Charles received forty pounds upon the death of one of his mother's brothers, John Lee, which enabled him to obtain some education. This was to be a big help in handling his business as well as when he served in the county government of Kentucky.

In 1776 Charles married Martha Burton, daughter of John Burton of Henrico County. And on June 4, 1777, their first child, John Lee, was born.

During this same time, Charles began his Revolutionary War Service, as detailed in the section on "Dibrells in the Revolution".

In the 1782 Federal Census of Buckingham County Virginia, Charles is shown as having two children and four slaves.

It was also in 1782 that Charles and Martha became a part of the ever increasing number of brave pioneers who made the long journey over the mountains that led to the land of Kentucky. Some years before Daniel Boone had helped to open the Wilderness Road and led many parties into the country which had always seemed to exist as a mystery beyond the Barrier of the Appalachian Mountains. As the colonists had fought the British beyond the mountains, they became familiar with the territory and when the war was over, many wanted to move there and settle. At first they were not encouraged to do this, but eventually the government realized that this would be good for the country to explore and settle further west. Thus began the great migration.

Kentucky had long been known as the "dark and bloody ground" which may be one of the meanings to the Indian word "Kan-tuck-hee." This was their name for the area which became known as Kentucky. Not many Indians actually lived within the area, but it was considered a common hunting ground for the northern and southern tribes. As such it was often fought over and that is how it earned its name. Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle may have been one of the early white explorers to come into the area, when he entered in 1669. Other French explorers most likely followed, and when the English heard about their explorations their interest peaked and they wanted to find out about this land beyond the mountains. Gabriel Arthur penetrated the northeastern part with a party of Indians in 1673, and it is believed that he was the first Englishman to do this. For another 70 years nothing more was done. In 1742 John Peter Salley with a party of Virginians entered the region, where he was captured by the French; after his release his account aroused interest in Kentucky. In 1750 the Loyal Land Company of Virginia sent out an expedition under Dr. Thomas Walker; this party passed through Cumberland Gap, and erected a log house on the Cumberland River near the site of present-day Barbourville, but abandoned it after an Indian attack. The next year the Ohio Company sent Christopher Gist, but settlement awaited termination of the struggle by the French and the English for control.

Even after the British had gained control of the region, settlement was delayed as the British forbade settlement beyond the mountains. They reasoned that it would be too expensive to provide protection to the people from Indian attack. However, other people visited the area and in 1773 the Transylvania Company was founded by Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina secured a large land grant, made a treaty with the Cherokees, and commissioned Daniel Boone to blaze a trail into Kentucky. In May 1775, Boonsboro was founded. Meanwhile James Harrod in 1774 led a party of surveyors down the Ohio and up the Kentucky River to the present site of Harrodsburg, but when Dunmore's War broke out they were forced to retire. In June 1775 they returned and established Harrodsburg. Naturally there arose rivalry between the two factions. George Rogers Clark took the side of the North Carolina group and they won. Then the Transylvania Company was declared illegal. Virginia established Kentucky County which enveloped the whole region. During the American Revolutionary War the area was mostly ignored, but after 1778 the area became constantly harassed by the Indians. On August 19, 1782 at the Battle of Blue Licks, the Kentuckians were routed by the Indians and the British with a loss of about 70 killed and captured.

In 1780 settlement received a big boost when 300 boats came down the Ohio with some 3,000 persons. By that time Kentucky County was divided into three counties: Lincoln, Fayette, and Jefferson. Dissatisfaction by the settlers arose when it was acknowledged that enforcement of any peace treaties with the Indians could not be carried out because of the great distance to Virginia. Ten conventions were held in an attempt to create a permanent government. There were some advocates of setting Kentucky up as a separate country while others preferred to become a state within the Union. Some even wanted to join Spain which at that time controlled New Orleans and the land west of Mississippi River. Although at first Virginia refused to consent to separation, it finally agreed in 1789. On June 1, 1792 Kentucky entered the Union as the 15th state.

Thus, this was the region that Charles Dibrell chose to make his home and his story follows.

There are many stories about this adventure and it has to be with admiration that we follow the story of these early families who made this trip. It was not easy especially where women and children were concerned. Travel was very difficult because the road had to be cut as they slowly progressed up and over the mountains. Remember these were not trail-hardened mountain men making the trip. These were ordinary people that often consisted of families with small children.

A steady stream of settlers were to deepen the ruts that carried the carts and wagons on the trails leading from Virginia and North Carolina into the valleys of eastern and middle Tennessee and north-central Kentucky. The solid rocky spine of the Appalachians did more than rear a frowning geographical barrier; in time it formed a psychological dividing point beyond which Virginians were to become Kentuckians. At this time the Wilderness Road was only a trail meant for men traveling by foot or horseback or drivers of live stock. This was a magnificent virgin forest through which they had to cut their way by the use of an ax or tomahawk. It would be very tedious and time-consuming as the men made the passage way wider and helped to accommodate the assemblage of wagons and carts. The trip was to take by the oppressive Clinch Mountain along the Holston River in southern Virginia which they crossed near the site of present day Knoxville. From there they took the Indian Trail that traversed to the northwest to the mouth of Obey's River or on Brimstone Creek where it followed the ridge on the eastern side of the Big South Fork. The trail then turned down into the Cumberland Valley where they crossed the river at Smith Shoals. This route had become popular with the Kentucky settlers as early as 1781. The main body of the Great Lakes Trail follows the route almost identical with that of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad which at one time had laid their tracks along the route. The Great Lakes Trail then would continue northward crossing the Ohio River near the present site of Cincinnati, and continued on up into the northern region of the Great Lakes intersecting on the way with many lesser trails. There were numerous side trails with a converging of the two main north-south trails near King's Mountain of Revolutionary War fame as the Indians over the centuries had traveled from one area to another. Some of the points along the trail were Parleyville, Mill Springs, Whitley City, and Rockwood, Tennessee. Here the Great Lakes Trail made a great loop south of the Cumberland touching the river at the mouth of Meadow Creek near Price's Meadows as well as at Smith Shoals where the main trail crossed.

Can you imagine the awe and reverence these people must have felt when they saw a grove of towering tulip poplars that would shoot up from the riverbank and cliff shoulders with the precision of an arrow shot? In those days these magnificent trees stood a hundred and fifty feet in the air and measured ten to twelve feet in diameter at the height of a man's chest. Surely these were sights unseen even in Virginia. It would not have been considered too wild, if one had the thought that they might be experiencing a bit of heaven here on earth. Of course, any thoughts such as those would have been realized as a dream only because there were always the Indians to be fearful about. Wild game flourished including the buffalo which included the small game such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and such. Deer was plentiful as well as bears and panthers. The streams and rivers were filled abundantly with fish of a size unheard of today. It was not unusual to catch a fish measuring five feet in length. The settlers must have been overjoyed to find the land so rich. Better than even their wildest dreams.

It would be to this area on the Cumberland River that Charles and his family would return a few years later.

At the present time the group continued on their way to where Daniel Boone had opened an area to which he encouraged the settlement of these early people. The more people gathered together seemed a good idea as Indians were still close by. It is hard to visualize what these settlements must have been like. We have been told they were often crude huts strung along the river or creek bank. Or at other times they were dotted in the clearings, but so few in number that isolation was the rule. The Blue Grass region of Kentucky had what could be called islands of concentrated population. As we see they were located near a small body of water which was very important.

In the year 1782 Lexington was little more than a military stockade. This was the year when Charles made the hazardous journey with his family and settled on land located on Silver Creek which must have been near the other settlers who had traveled the trail with them.

As mentioned before they found the land and fauna in Kentucky to be even better than they had anticipated. However, this brought with it some problems. The most profound would be the Indians. It was the hunting ground for a large number of Indians and they would not appreciate the intrusion of the white people within their territory. By 1783 the United States government formed the Treaty of Nashville with the Chickasaw Indians that formed the basis for future Indian treaties including that with the Cherokee at Hopewell in 1785. No matter how many treaties were to be written with the Indians, there were certain areas that they deemed belonged to them and they would do whatever they felt was necessary to discourage the white people. The ultimate aim of the Indians even after a century of white settlers was that surely could do something that would send the whites back across the ocean where they belonged. As a result of this feeling, the Indians began to intrude upon the land of the settlers and either just made them uncomfortable or carried out a reign of terror.

By the treaty with the Cherokee they held all land south of the Cumberland River east of a point forty miles above Nashville, but this boundary went unobserved by the white man. A map of the Tennessee Government, formerly part of North Carolina, taken chiefly from surveys by General Daniel Smith and others and pictured in "Carey's General Atlas, 1795" showed that all of the land drained by the Big South Fork as well as most of what is now Wayne County along with all of the Plateau of Tennessee as belonging to the Cherokee at this date.

The end of the American Revolution settled nothing as far as the Indians were concerned. The Red inhabitants of the Ohio Valley lost their faith in the White Fathers, whether French, British, or native born. North of the Ohio in 1790 there existed all of the ingredients needed for an explosion. The Miami and Wabash tribes had become the chief troublemakers. It is estimated that they and other tribes killed, wounded or took prisoner nearly 1500 men, women and children near the Ohio and its tributaries. Besides this there were constant irritating attacks on boats navigating the midwestern rivers even as far south as the Tennessee River.

By 1792 Kentucky had to do something to protect those settlers that they had encouraged to come into this land. The Kentucky Militia was formed. Charles Lee Dibrell became a Captain according to the Executive Journal of Governor Isaac Shelby on June 28, 1792. Charles became a part of the 7th Regiment in Madison County and served in the campaign that drove the Indians to the north across the Ohio River and on into the land of Indiana and Illinois. The militia was to find that the prairie grass grew abundantly tall in this area measuring about twelve feet high which could provide good cover for the Indians. It was not an easy campaign because of this. After a time a settlement was made with the Indians, and peace came to the area. The Indians withdrew and did not encroach on the land again.

By 1792 Kentucky became a state and while still living in Madison County Charles became a Justice of the Pace on December 21, 1792. This was an appointment by the Governor. Duties involved in being a Justice of the Peace at this time meant that a Justice could "bind over to good behavior" the following: whore makers, fathers of bastards, cheats, idle vagabonds, night walkers, eavesdroppers, men haunting bawdy houses with women of bad fame, or men keeping such women. More pleasant duties would be to perform marriages, take a disposition regarding loss or theft that could substitute as a sworn statement in court, and two judges sitting together could haul before them and fine "a single woman with child." There was much work for these men to do as the area tried to become more civilized and more like the homeland they had left behind. Settling land claims would become a big problem for Kentucky. In rushing land claimants had posted claims to more than three times the amount of land available. This problem was not helped by the fact that the original surveyor's notes read more like botanical inventories of Kentucky's virgin forests then as foundations for legal instruments.

Now that they had arrived at what they considered to be their home the pioneers could turn their attention to providing a home for themselves and their families. They were to find that though it was rich in many resources with which to provide themselves with food and other necessities, it would not be as easy as it had been in Virginia. Life would be harder, but with hard work and diligence they could achieve much of what they wanted. One of the problems was that now they were much further away from the large cities that could provide many of the articles that made life easier.

As a result of this the lifestyle of the people became simpler. The clothing for the women became quite simple. Since the beginning of the Revolution more commonly home grown flax and wool were the materials chosen with which to make their clothing. There was also a mixture later known as linsey-woolsey that was often made into a skirt and worn with blouses or waists of thinner material such as linen, wool, and sometimes cotton. Depending upon the season this gave the ladies a choice of just how comfortable they wished to be.

The men often wore knee breeches, linen shirts, waistcoats, coats, and for cold weather the usual greatcoat, caped with many pockets and also made commodious, no doubt for comfort. The cut and materials as well as the ornamentation depended upon the purse, inclination, and, of course, the time and place of wearing the garment.

The better homes were often built safe behind picketed walls and usually had a basement or cellar as such was commonly known. However, less prosperous pioneers usually built a good home with some form of cellar beneath. Usually they were built of good sized logs on a rock foundation with the cellar being reached by lifting a floor board. For cooking and heating purposes a fireplace was always included.

The men had log-rollings, house-raisings, barn coverings, and corn-shucking. Working together was more enjoyable and often made it possible to get things accomplished much faster.

The wives had apple-peelings, bean-hullings, rag-tackings, and quilting parties. Getting together helped them to become acquainted and often helped with solving some problems that might have developed within family relationships. After all in those days doctors were not often available and it was up to the wives to handle most medical emergencies to the best of their abilities. Thus it would just seem natural that the women would pass around their favorite recipes for cooking, as well as treating illnesses that may occurred.

The young people were not left out of festivities to make life more enjoyable. They were always ready for a candy-pulling, or to be at a "stirring-off" when sorghum was made. These often ended with the evening spent dancing to the music of a fiddle played by the neighborhood Negro fiddler.

The French were to become quite well represented on the Cumberland River. Quite a few Frenchmen who had settled on the Rappahanock and elsewhere in the Virginia Tidewater area came to be found on the Cumberland. Settlers such as Hatcher, Dibrell, Le Grand, and Maury were among these.

With the long memories of the Indians to gain a foothold in the area of Kentucky, they began to stir up trouble again for the settlers. On December 20, 1799, which was one month after the organization of the companies of Patrollers, Governor James Garrard organized a new regiment of Kentucky militia, the 44th embracing the County of Pulaski. Jesse Richardson was Lieutenant Colonel with Charles Dibrell and Tom Fox as Majors of the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The Militia fought the Indians again at the Battle of Blue Licks and the central part of Kentucky became safe once again from Indian attack.

It is a bit confusing to put Charles and his family into just one county. In county histories events occur in various counties so it is really difficult to determine for sure when Charles moved down to build his home on the banks of the Cumberland River. In the First Federal Census for Kentucky in 1799 and again in the Second Federal Census for Kentucky 1800, Charles is listed in Cumberland County, Kentucky. It was not until 1799 that Virginia and then Kentucky permitted counties to be created on the Cumberland River. When they moved to Pulaski County is not proven. But they were there when Wayne County was formed as Charles was one of the Justices who helped form the new county which was taken from part of Pulaski County.

Commerce was provided by the river. Business went down the river and even East Tennessee was easily reached by the Great Lakes Indian trail so few bothered to go to the Blue Grass in Kentucky to record a deed or stock mark.

From 1807 to 1812 the years were not easy for pioneer farmers in the valleys of the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee. Markets were so few and prices so low that the grower of hemp or tobacco or even corn could not secure enough cash to import necessary commodities or to meet payments on land which he had bought a few years earlier. During this period patriotic sentiments were sedulously preached in Fourth of July orations, political sermons, and magazine articles. The recurrent theme made clear that Americans were a chosen people, established in a divinely selected habitat for an experiment unique in the annals of human freedom.

In 1800 Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina were the only states where neither rule of court nor legislature act fixed definite periods for legal training of lawyers. While no uniformity existed, the court regulations usually called for a clerkship of from three to seven years with appropriate credit for courses completed in college. Most young men "reading law" spent time copying papers, looking up cases, preparing abstracts and briefs and learning legal procedure by haunting the county courts.

As mentioned previously Charles was appointed one of the first Justices in Wayne County by Governor James Garrard. This occurred on December 20, 1800. Charles was on the court that formed the county of Wayne from Pulaski County. Monticello became the County Seat. At this time there was a lot of county rearranging going on in which some land would be taken from various counties and boundaries were changed. The shape of Wayne County was also changed as this went on. As a result some people may have appeared to have moved when it was rather the counties that had moved.

It seems likely that sometime after 1794 and before 1801 Martha Burton Dibrell passed away leaving Charles with eight children. Some of them were still young.

On March 16, 1801 Micah Taul wrote in his "Memoirs" that all of the Justices attended Court with the exception of Charles Dibrell who was absent in Virginia. It is possible that he was visiting his brother, Anthony, in Virginia, and that he either knew or made the acquaintance of Miss Patterson at this time. This seems to be the time when he married his second wife. It is possible that her first name was Lucy as this name appears on a deed with Charles in 1818 and none of the children had this name. From this marriage Charles would have four children who would all be born in Tennessee most likely in White County, where his second boy, Anthony, would reside and work as a lawyer while raising his family.

However, prior to this Charles received land in both 1800 and 1810 under the Headright Provision.

In the 1801 Wayne County Tax List Charles Dibrell is shown as owning 400 acres. It is not known whether all or part of this fell under the Headright Provision.

[On 13 Dec 1802, Charles Debrel was appointed Colonel in charge of the Wayne County Regiment (the 53rd Regiment) of the Kentucky Militia. This was known as the "Cornstalk Militia" because those who did not have guns practiced with cornstalks. Also in the Regiment were Isaac Chrisman (Major, 1st Battalion), Isaac Meadows (Captain), William Mullins (Captain) and Micajah Taul (Adjutant). [G. Glen Clift, "The Corn Stalk Militia of Kentucky 1792 - 1811" (1957), pp. 152-153] This makes him one of the first "Kentucky Colonels".]

In 1810 Third Census of Kentucky - Wayne County, Charles has this listing:

1 male 45-up 1 female 26-45 2 male 10-16 1 male under ten 3 female under ten On July 17, 1815 Charles was a witness for the will of Michael Stoner in open court in Wayne County.

In 1820 Federal Census of Kentucky - Wayne County, Charles is listed:

1 male 45-up 1 female 26-45 1 male under ten 3 female under ten About 1822 Charles and his family comprised of two teen-aged boys, plus four small children plus himself and his wife lived in Sparta, Tennessee which was in White County. About this time his son, Anthony, was serving as State Treasurer. A daughter, Leeanna, lived there also with her husband George W. Gibbs.

At sometime while he lived in Tennessee Charles became friends with Andrew Jackson who was quite a powerful force in the state. He also became acquainted with the young Sam Houston. Evidently Charles had retained his interest in politics. It has been said that this friendship was instrumental in preventing a duel between Andrew Jackson and George W. Gibbs, Charles' son-in-law, who apparently had different political beliefs and did not agree with Jackson and called him a name which was not appreciated. No doubt it was this friendship that enabled Charles and his wife to attend the festivities when the Marquis Lafayette arrived in Nashville while on his Grand Tour in 1824. Andrew Jackson had issued the invitation which included a state dinner where the Marquis presented the ladies with French silk shawls. This brown shawl has been passed down through the family through the years and in 1965 was presented to the State Archives in Tennessee in Nashville by Mrs. William Freeman.

In July Charles was visiting his daughter Leeanna and her husband George in Union City, Tennessee where they then lived. He became ill and died on July 16, 1840. He was buried in the cemetery there and his grave has been marked by the local Daughters of the American Revolution. His ensign, John Mope, who served with him in the war has been buried nearby.

It is not known when the second wife of Charles died, but must assume that it was in Tennessee as it appears that their four children remained there.

Source documents: Charles Dibrell, (1757-1840), served as a minute man, as ensign of the convention guards and was under Lafayette at Yorktown. He was born in Va.; died in Union City, Tenn. [The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume 44 page 283]

DIBRELL, Charles, or Charles Dibrill or Debrill, S21160, VA Line, sol was b 24 Oct 1757 in Buckingham Cty VA & lived there at enl & about 1782 he moved to KY & in 1790 was living in Madison Cty KY & about 1822 moved to White Cty TN & sold appl there 6 Sep 1832, in 1832 an Anthony Dibrell was Clerk of the Circuit Court of White Cty TN but no relationship was stated, sol d 16 Jul 1840. [Abstracts of Rev. War Pensions, p. 967].

DIBRELL, Charles, b. 1757, Va.; d. 1840, Union City, Tenn.; served in Rev. War; m. Martha Burton. DAR No. 65 722; DAR No. 75 709. [Dorothy Fork Wulfeck, Marriages of Some Virginia Residents (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986), Vol. 1]

LAND GRANTS AND DEEDS- Wayne County, Kentucky

Deed Book, Vol. 21, 06 Nov 1803.

250 Acres to Charles Dibrell south of Green River. Page 231.

Deed Book, Vol. A. p. 107. 30 Sep 1804.

Be it known to all whom these present that we John Burton of Pulaski County, Kentucky and Charles Dibell who intermarried with Patsy (Martha) Burton, dec'd since the intermarriage, sister to William Burton Dec'd of the County of Wayne and State of Kentucky. By these present do make and constitute, appoint Joseph Burton of the County of Green and State of Kentucky our lawfull attorney for the following purpose, to wit:

To obtain possession of a certain negro woman named Nelly and her increase, left and disposed of by the will of William Burton Dec'd of Chesterfield County and State of Virginia which has since the said William's death decended to his heirs at law which heirs we are among and we do further authorize the said Joseph Burton * * *

1 Sept 1810 Mashack Gregory, Drum Major for Col. Charles Dibrell, Col. of Wayne Co. 53rd Reg. - paid $12 for his services. [The Kentucky Genealogist, Vol. 17 #3 Jul-Sep 1975, p. 106].

HARLES LEE (SR)3 DIBRELL (JEAN ANTOINE "ANTHONY" (SR)2, CHRISTOPHE1 DU BREUIL) was born 24 Oct 1757 in Albemarle County, VA, and died 15 Aug 1840 in Stockwood (Gen. Gibbs residence), Obion County, TN.

He married (1) MARTHA "PATSY" BURTON 1776 in prob. Buckingham County, VA, daughter of JOHN BURTON and SARAH (GIBSON?).

She was born ca 1757 in Albemarle County, VA, and died Bet. 1799 - 1804 in poss. Madison County, KY.

He married (2) LUCY PATTESON 24 Sep 1800 in Campbell County, VA, daughter of LITTLEBERRY PATTESON and MATILDA SMITH. She was born ca 1782, and died 01 Sep 1825 in prob. TN.

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Charles Lee Dibrell, Sr.'s Timeline

October 24, 1757
Buckingham County, Virginia, United States
June 4, 1777
Age 19
Buckingham County, Virginia, United States
January 28, 1782
Age 24
Age 25
June 4, 1788
Age 30
Madison County, Virginia, United States
November 3, 1790
Age 33
Silver Creek, Madison County, Kentucky, United States
Age 34
Age 39
Madison County, Kentucky, United States