Volume 2 Issue 11
November 2002
Home Page and Index


Tom J. Gentry

(With Revisions or Comments by Willard Gentry 2007, 2014)

Hypotheses are presented relating to the presence of a Tyree Gentry in the 1790 South Carolina census, and relating to his parentage. Information concerning his movements and family are also presented.

In the central and southwest regions of Arkansas, a family line of Gentrys leads back, according to bible entries and written traditions, to a Tyree Gentry and his wife Delilah. Very few factual entries are available for either of these individuals. Tyree has been spelled in numerous ways such as Tyre, Tyrie, Tyreh, Tirey, and perhaps others such as Tigak and Finey, which appear to be misreadings of handwriting. I have chosen the spelling Tyree, which appears in the Georgia land documents of the period 1800-1811 to refer to this individual. A summary of this family is presented here together with arguments as to the parentage of Tyree. In addition a brief description of the movements of Tyree and that of his children is included.

Tyree Gentry in South Carolina
The name Tyree does not to appear in the 1790 census indexes, compilations and such although records indicate he was in SC from his birth in 1766<1> to 1795 when he was found in Georgia<5>. There is an entry in the 1790 SC census which has been interpreted as "Tigak" in the U.S. Census Bureau printing of this census.. An examination of the microfilm of the original handwritten document indicates that this interpretation is wrong. The name is located on page 21 of the Spartanburg District census. The full image may be viewed at the web site for census images, index images and transcriptions of 1790 SC Census documents<2>. A portion of this image is shown below in Fig. 1. "Tigak Jentry" is halfway down the right hand column.

1790 census
Figure 1. Extract from 1790 Spartanburg, South Carolina Census

You will note that the name appears to have been smeared or changed from the original. The author undertook to clarify the image as described below. As the image of page 21 is in a good resolution GIF-type graphics file, it was opened in the graphics program Paint Shop Pro and several manipulations performed on the area of the Tigak entry.

Tyree signature
Figure 2. Census Image After Manipulation

What does this provide us in the way of information about Tyree and his parents? It says a great deal about Tyree himself because of where he was in 1790 and where he apparently was in 1795. If we consult a map of the area circa 1790, we find that his land transaction of 1795 in Franklin County, Georgia<5>, and the census location as indicated by the Spartanburg District entry for Tyree were consistent with moving from the northern part of South Carolina to the portion of Georgia where the first Georgia land transaction took place (see Fig. 3 and note <4>).

SC/GA Border
Figure 3. South Carolina/Georgia Border, 1790-1800

Just as importantly, the composition of Tyree's family in 1791 (the year the 1790 census was actually taken in South Carolina) matches the census information precisely. Tyree had a son William, who was born in 1788 as shown by the evidence of the William Gentry family Bible<4>, and a daughter Mildred who was born in early 1791. There was a wagon trail from South Carolina to Georgia and points west circa 1790 that passed through the area of residence of Tyree and on to the area of the Georgia land transaction records that included Tyree.

The Family Moves West
As we move on to Georgia to look for Tyree, we find that there are several land transactions and tax rolls which are of interest to us. The Franklin Co., Georgia documentation for Tyree consists of land transactions, listings in tax rolls<10> and appearance in land lotteries between 1795 and 1807. The November 1795 recording is a deed of Tyree's (Tirey) and appears to be the first<5>. The family prospered and acquired more land in Franklin County through purchase such as the record of 1802<6>. In 1805 Tyree acquired some land in the land lottery<15> and then sold the property in 1807<7>, apparently in preparation for a move to Tennessee between 1807-1810.

By the time they moved to Georgia, Tyree and Delilah had at least two children, William (born 1788) the first born, and Mildred (born 1791), a daughter. The next son John (born 1796), was born in Franklin County, Georgia. It is from John that my personal line is descended. Additional children born in Georgia may have been Samuel F. Gentry (born 1800 to 1810 according to census records), who died in Saline Co, Arkansas (leaving a will dated 1847), and a Nancy Gentry who is reported to have been born in 1804.

A daughter, Martha, might have been born to Tyree and Delilah in Tennessee (about 1808). If we accept Martha as a child of this family, then the date of departure from Georgia would have to be by 1808 for her to have been born in Tennessee.

References to Tyree in Tennessee are lacking, but one reference there to Tyree is his witnessing of an 1811 Stewart County, Tennessee, transaction for William<8>, when William bought 100 ac on Lost Creek in that county. [See Addendum for further information about Tyree's presence in Jackson County.] It is interesting to note that Stewart County is not far removed from the epicenter of the great New Madrid earthquakes which occurred in December of 1811 through February of 1812. Many residents of the area moved on to other places after this cataclysmic event which destroyed vast expanses of arable land.

The extended families of at least three of Tyree's children, namely William Gentry, James and Mildred Gentry Ward, and Samuel Gentry, moved to Arkansas about 1817. Since Arkansas was not a territory until 1819 the records of the area are basically non-existent today. [Editor's Note:   There was no 1820 Arkansas census, but the 1830 Clark County census included William, John, Samuel, Mildred and her husband James Ward, Nancy and her husband James Little, and Martha and her husband William Salliers.] The Clark County, Arkansas Historical Association publication entitled Clark County, Arkansas, Past and Present available in the Clark County Arkansas Library, mentions Tyree's son William in an article on William C. Gentry (son of the elder William):

"[He] was the son of William Gentry, a War of 1812 Veteran who was mustered into service in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1814 and discharged in 1815 at Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee and one of Clark County's earliest settlers. He came to Clark County about 1817 with his wife Jane Narrad Gentry where he served the county as a state representative in 1846."

The land records that survive from that time indicate that the family moved to Clark County near the settlement of Antoine on Antoine Bayou. This area later became partly Pike County and partly Clark County as the Antoine (Bayou) River is the line dividing the two counties and the references from the 1800s are mixed quite frequently. The bible references which cite the names of William and Jane and their children are found at the Pike County, Arkansas web site.

The indication that more than just the William Gentry family relocated comes from the references in the Longview, Texas Library (possibly a Goodspeed history of Red River Arkansas) which indicate both William Gentry and James Ward (his brother-in-law, husband of Mildred) obtained land in the same general location on Wolf Creek which joins the Antoine River just south of present day Antoine. "William Gentry and James Ward entered section 35 in Township 8, South of Range 23 West. To the east on the Clark County side of the Antoine Bayou (Antoine River) near Wolf Creek." Curiously Wolf Creek is on the Pike County side of the Antoine Bayou (Antoine River). I suspect this refers to the junction of the two streams. My John Gentry was at that time only 20 years of age and did not qualify for land himself so there is no mention of him expected.

Because there is no mention of Tyree and Delilah in this period it is surmised they may not have arrived in Clark County with the family. An 1829/1831 tax roll mentions Tyree Gentry in Lawrence County (which in 1829 was almost one third of northern Arkansas). He appears in the Southfork Township., Clark County, Arkansas census in 1840 and 1841 as between 70 and 80 years old. He is not shown in the 1850 Census nor is he in the mortality schedule for 1850. There is no mention of Delilah in Arkansas. Various sources have indicated that Delilah was somewhat older than Tyree and perhaps she died before reaching Clark County.

Tyree was politically and financially quiet during his time in Arkansas, neither buying nor selling land that we can find. The only mention of Tyree is in regards to a murder in which he was summoned for the prosecution but failed to appear. The death date for Tyree given in family history is 24 August 1845, which would have put him at age 79. Neither the place of his death nor the exact cause of his death is documented but research continues. The Gentry Cemetery where William and some of his children are buried has 9 unmarked graves yet to be identified. Perhaps one of them is Tyree.

More about Children of Tyree
As for Tyree's children, William, Mildred and John there is information about them which allows us to be confident that they were children of Tyree and Delilah. The others are much less definite and I caution the reader to not take their names in the listing as fact but as possibilities.

William (born: 1788, South Carolina; died: 1858, Arkansas) left an excellent record of his family in the form of the aforementioned bible listings as did James M. Gentry his son. The full extent of the bible information can be seen at the Pike County web site<4> but since the web page is copyrighted, we have extracted only the pertinent information here. William is reported in the Clark County, Arkansas Historical Association publication to have been a successful farmer, a stout Methodist and a representative to the legislature of Arkansas in 1846.

Mildred (born: 1791, South Carolina; died: 1852, Arkansas) is shown in the James Ward family as Mildred Clark Gentry, wife of James, and from this comes the tradition that her mother's maiden name was Clark. Which gives us Delilah Clark as Tyree's wife.

John Gentry (born: 1796, Georgia; died: about 1861, unknown) is pretty well documented in the note from Elizabeth Gentry Strickland<1>, his great-granddaughter, as well as in Arkansas census rolls. John's first five children presumably in order of birthdates were Permelia, William, John Sherill (Surel) (born: 1824), Jacob A, and Samuel F. Gentry. There are several entries for these Gentrys in the 1850-1890 documents of Clark, Hot Spring, Pike and Saline counties of Arkansas as well as later entries in Pulaski County. In the 1850 Census for Arkansas, Hot Spring County<9> we find John at age 54, which tallies with a 1796 birth date, and wife Eliza with 4 month old Mary F. a daughter in the house. [Editor's note. From the 1850 census data it appears that Eliza was a newly-married second wife. Also with the family were three other children, presumably Eliza's by a previous marriage.] Mary was the youngest daughter of John and was followed by two additional sons, Miles C. and Martin Caldwell Gentry.

Martha (born: 1808, Tennessee; died: after 1860, Arkansas) married William Salliers (Salyers) (born: about 1807 Tennessee; died: August 1849, Saline Co, Arkansas of snake bite). William Salyers is first found in Arkansas in the 1830 Census of Clark County, Antoine Twp. with 1 male under 5 yrs. of age, in the 1836 Tax List of the Arkansas Territory, and in he 1850 Mortality Schedule for Saline County. William's widow Martha (daughter of Tyree and Delilah) appears in the 1850 and 1860 Census for Saline County, Arkansas, as the head of household.

Parents of Tyree Gentry
We have established that Tyree was living in South Carolina at the time of the 1790 census. From what is known of the movement of Gentrys into that state, there are only limited possibilities for the identification of his parents.

[Comments by editor, June 2014: The balance of the original text of this article, largely taken from "Journal of Gentry Genealogy", vol 2, #5 (May 2002) with interpretations by Tom Gentry on the data contained therein, was replaced in January 2007 by revisions below, with further comments added by the editor in 2014. The replacement of the original text was based upon information about the family of David and Sarah Brooks Gentry that had been developed during the interval since Tom's original submission. A proposal by the editor to replace the original arguments was presented to and concurred with by the author in 2007.]

Living in Spartanburg County/District, South Carolina, at the time of Tyree Gentry's presence there, were three groups of Gentrys. One group consisted of the family of Samuel Gentry ("the Elder"), formerly of Surry County, North Carolina, with four sons that can be identified as his from the evidence of a deed in Surry County in which these sons sold land which he still owned in North Carolina and which they inherited from their father. These sons were Allen, Nicholas, Jeremiah and Samuel Jr. From the ages of these sons, and the lack of inclusion of Tyree among them, we can eliminate this Samuel from consideration as a parent of Tyree.

Also living in Spartanburg at the time of Tyree were Nathaniel Gentry and Samuel Gentry "the Younger". The Gentrys living in Spartanburg District and the Gentrys living in Abbeville, Edgefield, and Pendleton Districts were the only Gentrys in South Carolina at the time. Tyree is believed to have been born in 1766. It is reasonable to assume that Tyree was related to Nathaniel and/or to Samuel the Younger.

[Editor comments (July 2014):  The editor believes Samuel the Younger was the oldest or next to oldest son of Nicholas-III Gentry, and a grandson of Samuel-II. He could have been born about 1744-1745. If he married in about 1765, he would barely be old enough to be Tyree's father. Nathaniel was old enough to have 5 children at the time of the 1790 Federal census for Spartanburg District, including at least one son born before 1774, so was also old enough to be Tyree's father. Arguments, however slight, in favor of Nathaniel being the father of Tyree include:

We believe that the odds favor Nathaniel as the father of Tyree.]


1. Hand written note from Elizabeth Gentry Strickland dated 1975, in which Elizabeth records notes written many years earlier by her father, Thomas Jefferson Gentry (who died 1946), listing his father, John Sherill Gentry (born 1824), his grandfather John (born 1796), and his great-grandfather "Tirey" (whose name Elizabeth appears to spell "Finey", perhaps not reading her father's note correctly) who was born 20 Apr 1766 and died 5 Aug 1845. This note is in the possession of the author.
2. Page 20, 1790 South Carolina Census. URL=
3. For an additional map of early Franklin County see
4. William Gentry Bible Record,
Courtesy Pike County Historical Society, copyright Mr. David Kelley, webmaster.
This record includes the information that William Gentry was born 10 Apr 1788 and died 22 Mar 1858. His wife Jane was born 3 May 1792 and died 9 Jul 1852. They were married 29 Nov 1810. The bible lists thirteen children for William and Jane, born between 1812 and 1835.
5. Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Book NN pages 91-92 (November 1795)
6. Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Book P, Page 78 (21 September 1802)
7. Franklin County Georgia Deed Book R, Page 101-2 (1807)
8. Stewart County, Tennessee, Deed Book 4, number 280 (12 August 1811).
9. 1850 Census, Arkansas, Hot Spring County, M704, Roll 18, Page 151

10. Miscellaneous Georgia References, 1790-1805
 Date Name County Citation Source
 1800 Tyrey Franklin tax (1)
 1801 Tyce (Tyre?) Franklin tax (1)
 1805 Tyre Franklin lottery (blank) (2)
1. Ronald Vern Jackson, "Early Georgia, 1733-1819", Accelerated Indexing Systems, Bountiful, UT, p.173.
2. Virginia S. Wood and Ralph V. Wood, "1805 Georgia Land Lottery", The Greenwood Press, Cambridge, MA, 1964.
[A married man was entitled to two draws, a bachelor over 21 to one; blank = unsuccessful draw.]

Note. The opinions and interpretations published here are solely the responsibility of the author, except where otherwise indicated, based upon the documentary evidence included herein. Except as indicated in specific references, we have attempted to use evidence from original documents or reproductions thereof, or published collections of data from such documents.

Tom J. Gentry

Addendum (April 2003)
1.   Betty Huff Bryant, "Building Neighborhoods, Jackson County, Tennessee Prior to 1820", (Abstractions from Record Group 50, Early Land Records, Tennessee State Library and Archives), has several references to Tyree. In December 1811, Tyree was recorded as claiming two tracts of land totalling 40 acres on Indian Creek, a tributary of the Cumberland River. In January 1812, Tyree made two separate assignments of claims for a total of 24 acres land. These were recorded in book 27, pages 10, 11, 49 and 55. In September, 1815, a George Hough who had been assigned 30 acres of land on Indian Creek by Tyree, transferred title to this land (book 30, p.174). There is no way of telling from this evidence when Tyree actually located on the land prior to claiming, nor is there an indication of the date of the formal assignment of title by Tyree.

2. Additional Remarks by Author.
"There have been questions as to whether Mildred Gentry, daughter of Tyre/Tyree and Delilah Gentry, and husband James Ward were part Cherokee Indian and lived in a Cherokee Settlement when they moved to Arkansas. I too have heard the oral traditions of 'Indian blood' in the family from my mother but these are vigorously denied by my Aunt Elizabeth (she is the one of the article). Considering the proximity of the Gentrys of South Carolina to the lands of the Cherokee, I would expect that if there was an intermarriage that it was in that location and era. This possibly points to Delilah as the indigenous native. The fact that (1) she used no last name; (2) the apparent desire of Tyree to remain anonymous; and (3) the fact that they moved from place to place at about the same time as the Cherokee were also moving may be indicative of some stronger than usual ties there."

(Additions April 2003, revised January 2007, July 2014)

Return to Top