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Charles T. Cates, Sr. One of the old members of the bar of east Tennessee, Colonel Cates lacks only two years of having completed a half century as a lawyer.  He has had a varied and useful life, and has been a soldier, lawyer, legislator, and otherwise identified with the public life of this home of Maryville and east Tennessee.

Charles T. Cates was born in Maryville, Tennessee, January 8, 1840 and was one of the family of eight children born to Rueben L. and Amanda (Wilkinson) Cates.  The father was a nativ of North Carolina, and died in 1866, having been a saddler by trade during his early life.  Mr. Cates received his early educational advantages in the public schools of his native county, and it is noteworthy that he is one of the living alumni of old Maryville College, as that institution existed in antebellum days.  He was graduated from the college with the class of July, 1857.   Soon afterward he took up the study of law under the well known attorney,  Jesse G. Wallace, but the war came on to interrupt his studies.  He enlisted on September 1 in Company G of the battalion of calvary commanded by George D. McClellan. In 1862 he was promoted first lieutenant of Company G, then a part of the First Tennessee Calvary, commanded by Col. I.E. Carter. His service in the army continued until 1865, and the close of the war found him on parole.  He at once resumed his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1865, and was admitted to practice in all the local courts in 1866.  Since that time he has been in active practice and one of the leaders of the Blount county bar.  He was appointed attorney general during the administration of Governor Brown in 1875, and served one term in the state legislature of 1875.

Mr. Cates was married February 24, 1862, to Miss Martha V. Kidd, a daughter of William Kidd of Maryville, Tennessee.  Their four children, now all established in life in home of their own, are: C.T. Cates, Jr., Mrs. Lula C. Knabe, wife of W.A. Knabe of Knoxville, Tennessee; and Mrs. M.J. George, widow of S.L. George, deceased.

The family all worship in the Methodist church South.  Mr. Cates is a director in the Maryville bank, and is affiliated with the Masonic order.  He is a grandson on his mother’s side of John Wilkinson, who was one of the early attorney generals of Tennessee, and who died in 1829.

Source: Hale, Will T., and Dixon Lanier Merritt. A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans; The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co, 1913.

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Date of Will: 10 May 1856

Grandson: Isaac Anderson
Granddaughter: Rebecca Anderson
Other names mentioned: Robert M. Anderson, J.G. Wallace, James Quiet, Rev. John M. Caldwell (& his sons Samuel and William Caldwell), Sheriff Wallace, Mary Caldwell, John E. Tool, Wm. P. Collins, Will Cummings

Source: Moore, John Trotwood. Records of Blount County, Tennessee, Wills. [Nashville, Tenn.?]: Works Progress Administration, 1937.

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In the text of Leading Cases of the Court of Civil Appeals of the State of Tennessee published in 1919, there is a case of Asbury v. Hannum that begins on pg. 146. The case describes a dispute of property among a family, though I’m not clear on the exact relationships of the women involved. I think there is a typo in the description with respect to one of the women’s names. However, these are the details of the case as I think I understand them.

There was a woman named Violet Hannum that supposedly had a will made in June of 1873 leaving her home to her sister, Easter Hannum. Violet then died a few weeks past this date. Easter Hannum died around four or five months prior to this law suit, though I’m not clear on the date of the lawsuit. After Easter’s death, her daughter Violet Hannum got the house. I think the dispute is between Easter’s daughter Violet Hannum, and a grandchild of Easter’s named Violet Asbury as there is a contest that there ever existed a will.

The will was supposedly drawn up by Robert Hood, a lawyer for whom the elder Violet Hannum had been a servant for and was claimed that there were two eye witnesses, a Charles Boyd and a Charles Wallace. Robert Hood apparently never probated the will, which presented as perplexing since he was a well-known lawyer in Maryville and thus should have been familiar with the proper procedures to follow upon the elder Violet Hannum’s death. At the time of the lawsuit (around 1919), Robert Hood was deceased, and his partner did not know anything about Violet’s will, nor did Robert’s wife.

It’s an interesting case, and I wondered what I could find among the records?

In 1870, I found the household of Violet & Easter Hannum, sisters. Violet is 45, Easter is 34; both were born in Viginia. Violet has listed a real estate property of $200, so this must be the house. Living with them are 5 kids: Harris, male age 14, Violet, female age 12, what looks to be a 10 year old boy named Price, an 8 year old girl named Rosenia, and a 10 month old boy named William. At the end of the census page only a few households away are 30 year old Charlie Boyd and his family, and 46 year old Charlie Wallis and his family. Robert Hood, who is 26 years old at the time, and his wife Margaret are enumerated only 20 something families later than Violet & Easter.

In 1880, Easter is the head of her household now of daughters Violet age 21, Roena age 16, daughter Willie, age 10, 6 year old son Frank, and 2 year old granddaugher Luella.

In 1900, I find Easter again with her daughter Violet. Easter is listed as having been born in 1832 and to have had 11 kids, though only 3 were currently living. Her daughter Violet has 4 kids, all of whom live with them: Elene age 16, Lottie age 14, 9 year old girl Georgie?, and a 2 year old boy whose name starts with an A but I can’t make all the way out. Charles Boyd is still a neighbor to them, now 63 years old. But, of great interest, is that living next door to Easter is the Asbury family.

The Asbury family consists of 59 year old Louis Asbury and his 37 year old wife Violet. So – -this is the Violet Asbury of the lawsuit. But, how is she related exactly to Easter? I went back to 1880 and I find Lewis and Violet again, this time, Violet is enumerated as the daughter of Dennis & Clara Johnson. Going back to 1870, I find a Claricy “Jouston” with husband and daugher Violet, about the right age. Since I can’t go back any further, I wonder if Clara is another sister of Easter’s? This would seem to make sense given some of the language as stated in the lawsuit. While Clara herself is listed as being born in TN, the census shows that her mother was born in Virginia. This matches the records of Easter and Easter’s sister Violet.

In 1910, the two women, the two families are still living close to each other; Violet Asbury and her husband and Easter Hannum, w/ daughter Violet Hannum and all of Violet Hannum’s kids.

Consistent with the text from the bill, by 1920, Violet Hannum is now living alone with her kids, and I cannot locate her mother Easter. According to the newspaper obits on the Blount County site, it looks like Easter died in 1914. Violet Asbury however, now lives further away from them with her husband and family.

Violet Hannum died in 1925 (again, according to the newspaper obits). Violet Asbury’s husband Louis, died in 1921 and in 1930, she is living with her daughters and sons-in-law at 114 Cedar Avenue East. Easter’s great-granddaughters, Lucille Hannum Lenoir died in 1974. I wonder if the family is still around? How interesting it would be if you were part of this family to happen upon this court case description?

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