From Beulah Linn’s Sevier County News & Record column, “Historical Sites, People, and Places.”
This article appeared in the March 16, 1976 edition.
Somewhere near the waters of Flat Greek is the unmarked grave of William Trotter, Revolutionary soldier.
His will dated June 11, 1841 may help someone to recall a story which has been passed from one generation to another regarding the exact location of the grave. If found, the grave could be marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
(State of Tennessee) In the name of God Amen.
I, William Trotter, Sr., being far advanced in age and knowing the uncertainty of life and that it is appointed for all to die, and being of disposing mind and memory, and being also desirous to dispose of worldly goods which it has pleased God to bless me with, do ordain this Will and Testament in place of all other wills made by me previous to this date, to wit, after my death it is my will and desire to be placed in a brick tomb I have had prepared for that purpose. I wish the same finished in a workman-like manner after which I wish a small frame house, large enough for a man to walk around the tomb inside, to be built over it -for it to be underpinned, shingle roof and the house painted block. John Catlett is to paint my name, birth and time of death on the same in large letters.
I will and ordain to my children, Clabourn, Mariah – wife of James Tooney, Diane – wife of Daniel Atchley, Angelia – wife of Amos Atchley, each five dollars, to Arminta – wife of Samuel Newman, fifty acres of a hundred acre entry lying adjoining the tract where I now live which I deeded to Samuel Newman to repay him for taking care of me during my life time.
I will bequeath twenty dollars to my friend, M. C. Rogers. After my death.
I will and ordain that all the balance of the land and personal property of which I am possessed at my death after given due notice thereof shall be sold to the highest bidder on a credit of eighteen months and the proceeds disposed of as follows, to wit: after the expenses of my burial are satisfied and my debts paid I will and bequeath to my son James J. Trotter the sum of three hundred dollars if so much there be left. If there is any left after paying James T. Trotter, I will and ordain that Samuel Newman, my son-in-law, who I hereby appoint executor of this my last will and testament to dispose of as he may see fit and proper. In testimony whereof I have thereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 11th day of June, 1841.
Wm. Trotter (Seal)
Signed, sealed and made in presence of us and acknowledged
Certified as true copy by Wilson Duggan, C&M, Sevier County, 10 Feb. 1843. Almost a year before making the will – August 1, 1840 – William Trotter had deeded a tract of land to Samuel Newman, his son-in-law, for one dollar and “in consideration of the same Samuel Newman hereby agreeing and binding himself to support myself and my wife Nancy Trotter during our natural lives in a comfortable and decent manner taking special care of us both in sickness and in health.” The deed describes the boundary lines as follows: a parcel of land on the waters of Flat Creek adjoining the lands surveyed in the name of Daniel Atchley, Joseph Campbell, the heirs of William Hedrick, dec’d, James Berdine, and Joseph Morrison, The deed was witnessed by M.C. Rodgers and Daniel Atchley. O. H. F. Hill, Clerk of the County Court acknowledged the deed on 20 November, 1840. The deed was registered by Alexander Preston on 5 December, 1845. Perhaps some Atchley descendant will know the location of the Daniel Atchley lands. William Hedrick whose land adjoined William Trotter also was a Revolutionary soldier who was placed on the pension roll August 2, 1833 at the age of 89 years. The rest of this article will contain data obtained from the papers on file in the Revolutionary War claim for pension S 1598 based upon the military service of William Trotter.
On September 3, 1832, William Trotter appeared in open court before William C. Maples, Elijah Cate and Randle Hill who were acting Justices of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Sevier County. William Trotter stated that he was sixty nine years old the past Christmas. (Born 1763). While living in Augusta County, Virginia, he entered war service as a substitute for Richard Trotter in May, 1781 for six months under Captain Thomas Smith in Col. Samuel Lewis Regiment of Militia and was at the siege of Yorktown and the taking of Cornwallis. He was honorably discharged at Williamsburg. However, he had no documentary evidence and knew of no person whose testimony could prove that he was in the war. The first pension application was returned to be amended. Almost a year later, July 23, 1833, William Trotter appeared before Isaac Love, an acting Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Sevier County, Tennessee.
The amendment contains more specific information. He could not recall the exact day of his birth but he knew it was at Christmas time. He was born in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and from there moved to Augusta County, Virginia. He continued to live in Augusta County for about twelve years after the Revolutionary War. His next move was to Jefferson County, Tennessee, where he lived for about three years. He moved to Sevier County, Tennessee in 1797.
In his present neighborhood, he was acquainted with Col. Alexander Robertson, Capt. William Robertson, Robert Kenny, Matthew King, John Dixon, Archibald Dixon, Col. Andrew Anderson, Major James Porter, Sheriff George Rogers, Col. M. C. Rogers, and William Canterbury all of whom he believed would testify that he was a man of veracity and that he served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.
On both pension applications the signature is the same. It is an unusually written signature. The second pension application was accepted as he was granted Certificate No. 22288; issued October 18, 1833, rate $20.00 per annum, retroactive to March 4, 1831, Act of June 7, 1832, East Tennessee Agency.
William Trotter continued to live on Flat Creek until his death on August 16, 1841. He has descendants living in Sevier County today.
I wish to express my appreciation to the following members of the Smoky Mountain Historical Society who supplied information for this paper: Mr. David Templin of Maryville, Tennessee, who has done research on the Trotters of Jefferson County; Mr. R. M. Trentham of Walden’s Creek who gave me a copy of the war records, and to Mrs. J. A. Sharp for the copy of William Trotter’s will.