Philips Family

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(5) Jesse Hinton Philips

Margaret Jane May

Jesse Hinton Philips

Born 1 Dec 1812 in Davidson Co. TN                
Died 12 Oct 1852 in Davidson Co. TN
Married Margaret Jane May 19 Jan 1837 in Davidson Co. TN

Jesse Hinton Philips is a son of Benjamin Philips (1786-1920) who came to Nashville TN about 1795 with his family and settle on the south side of the Cumberland River near Nashville.

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Benjamin Philips' Will

Benjamin Philips Decd Will Recorded June 5th 1820

In the name of God Amen. I Benjamin Philips of the County of Davidson and State of Tennessee being in perfect health of body and sound Disposition and memory, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following (to wit)

First my will and desire is that my funeral expenses and all my lawful debts be paid.

Item. I give unto my son Jesse Hinton Philips all the land be the same more or less with all its monuments here determined and appertainanees (to wit) Beginning at the mouth of the Stone lick and running up said branch until it intersects the line of the land I purchased of William Watkins where it crosses said branch, thence east with said line to an elm and white ash, the Southwest corner of the land I purchased of James Hoggatt, thence with my line with its variations to the beginning to his only use, benefit, and behoof his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give unto my son William Hinton Philips all the balance of my land whereon I now live with all and singular the rights and privileges to him his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give unto my eldest Daughter Anne and John S. Williamson her husband two negroes (to wit) Patience and Clary which they have

Item. I give unto my other two Daughters Rebecca and Eliza four young Negroes each between twelve and twenty years of age, two girls, two boys each (when they marry or become of age as the case may be, to their heirs and assigns forever –

Item. I give unto my Grand Daughter Martha Anne Williamson two negroes to be between the ages of eight and twelve to her, her heirs and assigns forever,

Item. The balance of my negroes not otherwise appropriated I give unto my sons and two Daughters Rebecca and Eliza to be equally divided among them as they may marry or become of age to them their heirs and assigns forever.

Item. If either of my sons above named should die before they become of lawful age it is my will that the surviving brother shall receive all the Land bequeathed to the two him the Survivor paying to his two sisters Rebecca and Eliza last named two thousand dollars, one thousand dollars each to be paid within two years from and after such Decease to them their heirs and assigns each.

Item. It is my will that my distillery be equally divided together with my Mills between my two sons to them their heirs and assigns forever.

Item. Have on good bed and furniture each to them their heirs and assigns forever. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty sixth day of December in the of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.

Signed sealed and delivered Benjamin Philips

Whitness of

Simon Johnson, Robert Gillespie, James Hinton

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Benjamin is shown in the Davidson County Deed Index with the following purchases of land:

       James Hoggatt to Benjamin Philips 7 Jul 1798, 347 acres south side of Cumberland River, deed book D, page 464

       William Lytle to Benjamin Philips 5 Jan 1801, 100 acres Davidson County, deed book E, page 273

       Dempsey Fields, et ux to Benjamin Philips 11 Oct 1803, Tract Davidson County, deed book F, page 84

       William Watkins to Benjamin Philips 9 Feb 1808, 227 Acres on Stones Lick Branch, deed book G page 300.

       Jacob Battle to Benjamin Philips, et al 8 Oct 1811, Power of Atty.

       William Lytle Jr. to Benjamin Philips 26 Jul 1815, 31 acres Stones Lick Branch

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From the language in the will, it appears that Jesse Hinton Philips inherited the highlighted properties which include the properties Benjamin purchased from Dempsey Fields and the William Lytle's.

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Benjamin Philips' sons, Jesse and William were both under age and as a result they were placed in guardianship under Mathew Barrow who rented the land to James Ridley. 

Recorded July 3rd 1820

William H. and Jesse H. Philips minor Orphans Guardian Return

Mathew Barrow, guardian to Wm H & Jesse H Philips, Orphans of Benjamin Philips, deceased, reports to this court that he has rented the plantation and distillery whereon said Benjamin Philips formerly live to James Ridley for and during the term ending 1st January eighteen hundred and twenty four at eight hundred dollars per year counting the 1st year from the 11th Feby 1820 to 1st Jany 1821 payable 1st day of January in each and every year.  Which sum when collected to be equally divided between said orphans, amounting in the whole to $3200.

No other property belonging to said orphans having come into my possession since my appointment.

M. Barrow

Sworn to in open court April 28th 1820

Nathan Ewing

State of Tennessee, Davidson County Court, April Session 1820

Mathew Barrow, Guardian to Wm H and Jesse h Philips, minor orphans, returned into court on oath an account of his said guardianship which is received by the court and ordered to be recorded.

MATTHEW BARROW filed a report with the Court in 1820 (Davidson County Court Book 7, Pages 430-431).

A year later, Benjamin’s brother, Joseph Philips who was his executor, reported to the court (Davidson Co. Court Book 8, pages 48-49) that Mathew Barrow had resigned as guardian and Benjamin’s son-in-law John Stark Williams was appointed guardian and the land was no longer rented by James Ridley who had not paid the rent.  A year later Joseph Philips died and his son-in-law William Williams, a local Judge, became executor of Benjamin’s estate.


Recorded Nov 21st 1821

Benjamin Philips

Deceased minor orphans


To the worshipfull court of Davidson County


          lyntternero (?) In the year 1820 and month of February, James Ridley leased the plantation whereon Benjamin Philips lived & died from Mathew Barrow, guardian of Wm H Philips and Jesse H Philips, sons of said Benjamin Philips – said Ridley agreed to pay to said Barrow 800 dollars per annum for four years thereafter promised to enter into bond with security to pay the same.  But from some cause, not known to the undersigned, said Ridley although often solicited, has failed to comply with the latter part of the contract – The agreement aforesaid made by said Barrow and Ridley is on record in the county of Davidson at January term of this court.  Barrow resigned his guardianship and the subscriber was appointed in his stead; and is fearfull that his wards may suffer in their estate by the refusal or inability of said Ridley to comply with his contract.  The object therefore of this remonstrance is to cancel the contract made by said Barrow with said Ridley in order that your remonstrant may leave the control of the real estate of his wards.


(Joseph Philips signature) 

I am willing that the court shall cancel the contract


(James Ridley signature)               State of Tennessee, Davidson County Court, October Session 1821


A paper writing, produced in court by Joseph Philips, guardian to William Philips and James Ridley is by the request of said parties ordered to be entered of record.

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The 1920 Davidson County Census shows the following for John Williamson who was William Hinton and Jesse Hinton's guardian at that time:

1820 United States Federal Census
about John Williamson


John Williamson

Home in 1820 (City, County, State):

Davidson, Tennessee

Enumeration Date:

August 7, 1820

Free White Persons - Males - Under 10:

1 (his son Benjamin Franklin)

Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over:

1 (John Stark Williamson)

Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 15:

1 (Elizabeth Philips)

Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 25:

3 (his wife Anne Philips)


   (?) and (?)

Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44:

1 (?)

Free White Persons - Females - 45 and over :

1 (Maybe Anne’s mother?)

Slaves - Males - Under 14:


Slaves - Males - 14 thru 25:


Slaves - Males - 45 and over:


Slaves - Females - Under 14:


Slaves - Females - 26 thru 44:


Number of Persons - Engaged in Agriculture:


Free White Persons - Under 16:


Free White Persons - Over 25:


Total Free White Persons:


Total Slaves:


Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other:


It does not appear that Benjamin’s sons William and Jesse were living with their guardian in the 1820 census.

Who were the guardian Matthew Barrow and renter James Ridley?  M. Barrow was a witness to Joseph Philips' will.

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I found the following references to Mathew Barlow that seem to identify him:

MATTHEW BARROW, Davidson Co., Tenn. for "love and affection" for his son, JOHN BARROW, deeded him several tracts of land: about 289 acres adjoining town of Jackson, Tenn.; an interest he had in 5000 acres on the Big Hatchey River and a tract "on the waters of the south fork of the forked deer river" (inserted here "Lauderdale", perhaps alluding to this tract being located in Lauderdale Co., Tenn.) Sept. 8, 1845. Reg Sept. 17, 1845. No wits.

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Indenture, June 2, 1846 between MATTHEW BARROW, Davidson Co., Tenn. who for "love and affection" for MARTHA LOUISA TORBETT, formerly Barrow, deeded to her husband, GREENVILLE C. TORBETT 2 tracts: 289 acres adjacent the town of Jackson, Tenn. and 640 acres on the "north fork" of the Forked Deer River. Reg Nov. 26, 1846. Wits J. M. Jones, R. J. Krider.

Then I found the following story:

Republican Banner
Friday, July 2, 1869
History of Early Nashville Masons
Compiled by Anson Nelson

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Old Memories. Personal Reminiscences of Distinguished Nashville Masons.

The Masonic Record for this month, contains the following interesting personal notes of celebrated Masons of Nashville in early times, compiled by Mr. Anson Nelson, form the Masonic Code of 1817-18. Most of the names are “familiar in our mouths as household words,” and the sketch will be read with interest:

Nearly every man named in the list was more or less celebrated in his day; and all of them were leading and influential men in the community. Mr. Nelson gives a synopsis of who and what they were, as gathered from the recollection of one of our citizens:

Matthew Barrow was an industrious, energetic man, and was for a long time Register of Deeds for Davidson County. His descendants still live among us in great respectability.

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When Benjamin’s sons received the land, they must have sold it and purchased other land.  William purchased land at the end of Hogan Road near his father-in-law Jesse Maxwell on Franklin Pike while Jesse purchased land on Nolensville Road just inside of Williamson County.

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From the book "Old Days in Nashville, Tennessee - Reminiscences which appears on the web at

At the time described in the book below, Dr. James May lived near down town Nashville in a brick house next door to Randall McGavock.

Mr. Randall McGavock married Miss Sallie Rogers, a sister of Mrs. Felix Grundy, and she as the mother of Mr. John McGavock, of Franklin, Tenn. Dr. James May, who built the brick house adjoining Mr. McGavock, married Miss Polly White, of Knoxville, Tenn., a sister of Hugh L. White, who was President of the United States Bank of Knoxville.

Dr. May's first child was named James, the second John, the third Mary, the fourth Margaret, and the fifth Anthony.

  • James married Miss Perkins, and her children were:
    • first, Susan, who married Mr. Sam Perkins;
    • second, Miss White May, who was never married ;
    • third married first Henry Ewing, who was killed at the battle of Murfreesboro, and next married Maj. Hardeman, of New Orleans, La.;
    • the fourth child, Hugh May, was killed at Shiloh; and the
    • fifth, Will May, is now living here.
  • Mary May, third child of Dr. May, married Dick Barry, by whom she had two children,
    • William and
    • Mary.
William married a daughter of William Nichol. Mary never married.
Mary May married for her second husband a Col. Martin, of Lebanon.
  • Margaret, fourth child of Dr. May, married Hinton Phillips, by whom she had three children,
    • Mary,
    • Jane, and
    • Hugh.

Dr. May died, and his widow married Judge John Overton, by whom she had three children,

  • John,
  • Annie, and
  • Elizabeth Cynthia Bell.
  • John Overton's first wife was Rachel Harding, daughter of Thomas Harding and Elizabeth Bosley.
  • His second wife was Miss Harriet Maxwell.
  • He had one son by Rachel Harding, John Overton, Jr., who lived at Memphis.
  • Annie Coleman Overton married Mr. Robert Brinkley, of Memphis.
  • Elizabeth Cynthia Bell Overton married Judge John M. Lea.

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William’s brother Jesse married John Overton’s wife, Mary McConnell White’s daughter, Margaret Jane May 19 January 1837. Jesse was born in 1812, so by 1840 he would have been established on a farm with his new bride and shows up in the 1840 Federal Census. He lived just inside the Williamson County line on Nolensville Road. The boundary later changed when one of the descendants wanted to run for Road Commissioner in Davidson County and got the County line moved. The property now lies in Davidson County.

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1840 United States Federal Census
about Jessee H Philips


Jessee H Philips

Home in 1840 (City, County, State):

Williamson, Tennessee

Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29:


Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:


Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:


Slaves - Males - Under 10:


Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23:


Slaves - Males - 24 thru 35:


Slaves - Females - Under 10:


Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23:


Persons Employed in Agriculture:


Free White Persons - Under 20:


Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:


Total Free White Persons:


Total Slaves:


Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:

In 1850 Jesse Hinton Philips again shows up in the Williamson County District 6 census with land worth $5,300.

Margaret Jane May

Early picture of the May house where Jesse Hinton Philips' wife Margaret Jane May was born and lived before her father died and her mother remarried to Judge John Overton.

The May House

Satellite view (2014) of the May house located behind Granbery Elementery School at 631 Hill Rd. in Nashville TN at the end of a long drive. 

May House entrance 2008

May house 2008

Following is information from the Davidson County Cemetery Survey Project related to Jesse Hinton Philips and some of his relatives.


OH-44:  NASHVILLE, DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN.  Original location South Davidson Co.

James F. May, Sr. was the son of Mary M. May by her first marriage to Dr. Francis May.   Three years after Dr. May’s death, the Widow May married Judge John Overton and moved to Travellers Rest, his home place.   Mayfield, the May family home, was near Travellers Rest.   The May family cemetery was at Mayfield.

On August 31, 1866, Lot 51 Section 3 at Mt. Olivet Cemetery was purchased by the estate of James F. May, Sr.   The Interment Records of  Mt. Olivet Cemetery show that on November 22, 1868,  the remains of the James F. May, Sr., Eliza May and James F. May, Jr., were “transferred from private grounds”  and buried on Lot 51  Section 3. 

Re-interned on November 22, 1868. Lot 51, Section 3, Mt. Olivet Cemetery from the James F. May, Sr. Cemetery:

       James F. May, Sr. 

       Eliza May

       James F. May, Jr.

       Later Buried on Lot 51, Section 3, Mt. Olivet Cemetery:

       Major Henry C. Ewin. Buried May 3, 1871

       Major W. D. Hardeman. Buried March 10, 1878

       Annie Hardeman. Buried April 18, 1878

       Mary White May. Buried July 24, 1898

       Wm. D. Hardeman. Buried May 8, 1941

       Miss Henry Ewin. Buried April 4, 1948

       Sergeant Jackson Hardeman. Buried June 14, 1949

Report. 3-12-2004

Additions.   OH-44   James F. May, Sr. Cemetery (Removed)

James F. May, Sr., was the son of Mary M. May by her first marriage to Dr. Francis May.  In 1820, three years after Dr. May’s death, the Widow May married Judge John Overton and moved to Travellers Rest, his home place.  Her son, James F. May, Sr. lived at Mayfield, near Travellers Rest.  The May family cemetery was at Mayfield.

On August 31, 1866, Lot 51 Section II at Mt. Olivet Cemetery was purchased by the estate of James F. May, Sr.   The Interment Records of Mt. Olivet Cemetery show that on November 22, 1868, the remains of James F. May, Sr., Eliza May and James F. May, Jr., were “transferred from private grounds” and buried on Lot 51  Section II.

In the Interment Records of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, immediately following the listing of the three May family members removed and reburied at Mt. Olivet, were listed the names of:

       Jesse Hinton Philips  Buried November 22, 1868  Philips  Section II     “Transferred from private grounds”

       Robert Caldwell   Buried November 22, 1868  Caldwell  Section II          “Transferred from private grounds”

Research into the history of Jesse Hinton Philips has found that he was married to Margaret Jane May, a daughter of Mary May and Dr. Francis May, in Davidson County on January 19, 1837.  Jesse Hinton Philips was born September 7, 1812 and died October 7, 1850.  It would appear  that Jesse Hinton Philips was buried in the May family cemetery at his death in 1850 and his remains removed to Mt. Olivet Cemetery on November 22, 1868, at the same time of the May grave relocations.  Lot 126 Section II was purchased by Margaret J. Philips, widow of Jesse Hinton Philips.   Margaret J. Philips was buried on Lot 126, at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, on January 26, 1910.  A visit to Lot 126 Section II, at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, by Fletch Coke, March 7, 2005, found there were tombstones for Philips family members, but a marker for Jesse Hinton Philips could not be located.

Research into the history of Robert Caldwell has found that he was the son of Martha H. Philips Caldwell and Andrew J. Caldwell.  Mrs. Caldwell was a daughter of Margaret Jane May Philips and Jesse Hinton Philips.   Robert Caldwell was born 1859 and died 1865.  It would appear that Robert Caldwell was buried in the May family cemetery at his death in 1865, and his remains removed to Mt. Olivet Cemetery on November 22, 1868, at the same time of the May grave relocations.  A visit to Lot 71 Section II, at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, by Fletch Coke, on March 7, 2005, found there were tombstones for Caldwell family members, but a marker for Robert Caldwell could not be located.

Updated Report. 3-22-2005

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Jesse Hinton Philips died 12 Oct 1852 and executed the below will on 6 October 1852.

Below is an index of documents filed in the Williamson County TN Court following the death of Jesse Hinton Philips.

The following list of family of Jesse Hinton Philips was included in the microfilm records of the documents filed after his death.

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JESSE HINTON PHILIPS was born on 01 Dec 1812 in Davidson Co., Tennessee. He died on 12 Oct 1852 in Williamson Co., Tennessee. He married Margaret Jane May (daughter of Francis T May and biological daughter of Mary McConnell White) on 19 Jan 1837 in Davidson Co., Tennessee22 . She was born on 10 Oct 1816 in Davidson Co., Tennessee27.   She died on 24 Jan 1910 in Davidson Co., Tennessee.


  • Notes for Jesse Hinton Philips:  Records of Davidson County Court, Minute Book B Oct. 19, 1835   “ Sept. 7, 1841 Page 215, Feb. 6, 1837, Jesse H Philips receipt “ A receipt from Jesse H Philips and his wife M J Philips to Richard H Barry former guardian of M J May was recorded.
  •  Notes for Margaret Jane May:   A coin silver serving spoon marked "Hildeburn Philadelphia" with the Philadelphia eagle mark with the initials of MJP (Margaret Jane May). This spoon was given to Ann Williams Pierce by her cousin Betsey Philips both of whom are direct decedents of Margaret Jane May.  Ann gave the spoon to her son Robert D. Pierce.

  • Margaret J. Philips vs Roberta Caldwell Williamson County Court 1892, 1893, 1894 (Copy in Files of Robert D Pierce)

  • 1867 cyclone destroyed the house on Philips property.

  •  Jesse Hinton Philips and Margaret Jane May had the following children: