George B. Brittain Gen.
[Willey Family Tree 16 Jan 2005.FTW]
Often referred to as the "Father of Harlan County", George Brittain was bo
rn about 1768 in Wythe Co., VA. By 1800, hehad moved from VA to the pa
rt of KY that was to become Harlan Co.
By May 1804, he owned 200 acres on Martins fork. This was probably the sa
me tract ofland on which he built his fine home at what is now Browning A
cres. He reputedly built a race track and kept a fine string of race hors
George servedas a Colonel in the War of 1812 and was active in early civ
ic affairs in what was then Know Co. He served from Knox Co in the Kentuc
ky State Legislaturefrom 1813 to 1814 and was instrumental in the establi
shment of Harlan Co. in1819. He was also active in the Home Guard, or Mi
litia as it was often referred to, and that is probably where he acquir
ed the title of General George Brittain.
By May of 1804, he owned 200 acres on Martins fork. This was probablyt
he same tract of land on which he built his fine home at what is now Brown
ing Acres. He reputedly built a race track and kept a fine string of ra
Brittain served as a colonel in the War of 1812 and was active in earlyci
vic affairs in what was then Knox County. He served from that County in t
he Kentucky State Legislature from 1813 to 1814 and was instrumental in t
heestablishment of Harlan County in 1819. He was also active in the loc
al HomeGuard, or Militia as it was often referred to, and that is probab
ly where heacquired the title of General George Brittain.
Brittain continued his civic activities after the formation of the Coun
ty and acted as the first County andcircuit court clerk. Most of the offi
cial County records of the 1820's werewritten or recorded by him and h
is signature is on the 1820 census and tax records.
His farm, located about a mile and a half south of the present city ofHar
lan, served every fall as a Methodist camp meeting ground in the 1830's a
nd probably hosted as well other community gatherings. In later years, th
isfarm became known as the Skidmore Farm and continued to host such even
ts asthe annual Fourth of July celebration long after the Brittains had s
old it tothe Skidmore family.
Nathaniel is said to have been the son of James Brittain who came to the A
merican colonies in the 1700's from Wales. This James Brittain is sa
id to have had seven sons who all served in the Revolution. Nathaniel a
nd Elizabeth Parks Brittain had five known children besides George: Jame
s, who married Nancy Chadwell; Levi who married Nancy Daniel; Parks who ma
rried first Elizabeth King, second Sally Leonard and third Sarah Price; Wi
lliam; and Mary, who married James Gray.
James and Nancy Chadwell Brittain settledin Lee County, Va. Some of the
ir descendants have also lived in Harlan County. Levi and Nancy Daniels Br
ittain lived in Knox County. They are the ancestors of many of the Britta
in families in Knox and Clay counties.
DEED - HARLAN CO., KY. page 213/214
William SPURLOCK Jr to James SPARKS 3 Oct 1827 for $110 — 50 acres on t
he east side of Martins Fork Witness: George BRITTAIN.
Berry CAWOOD to George BRITTAIN 2 April 1827 for $50 — 1/4 acre townlot t
he number of which is left blank.
George BRITTAIN to Jason FIELDS 14 Jul 1829 for $60.65 — 129 acres on Clov
er Fork, part of the Aaron FOUNTAIN survey assignee of Isaac WINSTON; begi
nning of William LEWIS upper line granted by said George BRITTAIN, mentio
ns Jason FIELDS upper head right line
HARLAN COUNTY, KY COURT SESSION BEG. JAN. 1831
James FARMER appellentvs. Thomas SEWALL, a continuance. Carr BAILEY be a
ppointed overseer of theroad, James SHORT removed. Luke NOE, John JONES S
R. and Ben POSEY last appointed to view and mark out a road from the low
er end of Moses's BALL's big field, opposite his old dwelling, down Catron
's creek, & to intersect with the county road. All report they have view
ed and mark
William E. II Turner
William is said to have served in the Revoution but as most 6 year olds d
id not join military units, his fighting probably occured in the Indian fi
ghts ofthe 1790's
About 1792, William and Susannah, along with other relatives, including h
er father, Carr Bailey, moved into the southeastern KY mountains in what w
as then Lincoln Co. [Knox Co. was formed out of Lincoln Co. in 1799] butw
as to later become Harlan Co in 1819. By 1850, they had a prosperous faar
m, well-tended by their slaves and hired hands.
It is said that William and Susannah died the same week. Certainly, Willi
am Turner died between August of1855 when he emancipated some slaves [Har
lan County Deed Book D, page 429 -Turner emancipated salves George, a
ge 55, Alexander, age 41, and Judith, age50, to take effect at his deat
h] and the 8th of January, 1856, the date ofthe first of many deeds reg
arding his estate. As Susanna is not mentioned and does not sign the eman
cipation, she probably died before him. Even by today's standards, Willi
am and Susanna were old. Fortunately they died before the worst befell ma
ny of their grandchildren.
83. Mary "Polly" Turner
Probably born in Henry Co., VA. before William and Susannah moved We
st to KY.
Mary died in 1828, in her early thirties. She drowned crossing the Clov
erFork. Her husband, Bales Shumate, and their children moved west to Mis
souriand Arkansas about 1840.
87. Joana Turner
In the late 1830's Joana and Thomas moved to Breathitt Co., KY
63. John "Thumby John" V Bailey
"Pioneer Families of Leslie County" by Sadie W. Stidham (Kentucky Imprint
s);John Bailey, known as "Thumby John" to distinguish him from other Jo
hn Baileys, was born in Virginia. He married Nancy Tunnell, the daught
er of Stgephen and Kesie Money. The marriage bond, dated September 24, 17
00, was signedby her father.
John and Nancy moved shortly after their marriage to Harlan Co,KY. Nn
cy (Tunnell) Bailey was the mother of 10 sons and 1 daughter. She hdso
ns in both the Union and Confederate armies of the Civil War.
THERE IS A JOHN LIGHT LISTED IN HAWKINS CO, TN FOR;
(1) 10-21-1850: Hawkins Co,TN, Dist 16, 96/96: Light, John, 45, TN; Jan
e, 49; Cheany, 21; Hannah, 19;Clandere, 16; Nancy, 14; George, 12; Juli
a, 6; Sarah, 2 (All TN)
(2) 7-26-1860: Hawkins Co, TN, dist 16, New Canon, 1249/1173: Light, Joh
n, 50, Farmer, TN; Jane, 59; Nancy, 25; Geo, 23; Julia A, 20; Sallie, 1
8; Judah, 16; Henderson, 14; Mary E, 10 (All TN)
(3) 8-20-1870: Hawkins Co, TN, dist 16, pg 5, 29/29: Light, John, 68; Ja
ne, 70; Nancy, 30; Julia, 22; Henderson, 15; Elen,13; Dolly, 6 - Son, G
eo, next door 28/28: Light, Geo, 28; Lucretia, 29; Marget, 11; Doll
y, 8; Martha, 4; John H, 1; Hannah, 14 (All TN)
and (4) 6-12-1880: Gibson Co, TN, Yorkville, dist 39, pg 16, image 16, 14
4/148: Light, John D, 67, TN/VA/TN; Sarah, 60, TN/VA/TN; Frances, 36,T
N; Dovie, Albert, 28, Laborer, TN
THE NAMES ARE THE SAME (SOME WITH MIDDLE OF NICKNAMES;Sarah as Sallie; Ma
ry E as Elen)BUT THE AGES ARE TWEAKED. I FEEL LIKE THIS IS THE SAME FAMI
LY BUT NO WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE
120. Levi Brittain
[Willey Family Tree 16 Jan 2005.FTW]
Levi and Nancy lived in Knox Co. They are the ancestors of many of the Br
ittain families in Knox and Clay counties.