Elijah Kilzer Biography
submitted by Bobby Williams
The author takes full responsibility for all errors in fact or
style that others may
find with this brief work on the Kilzer families of West Tennessee. Also, to my
sister, Janie Williams Morris, thanks for all the help.
The Kilzer families of Tennessee face few obstacles in tracing their ancestry. Unlike
the Kilzers of Pennsylvania and Ohio, or the Banat branch of the upper mid-west, the
Kilzers of Tennessee can easily determine their ancestry in the United States. At one
time there were more Kilzers in Tennessee than in any other state of the nation. The
original Kilzers came with the flow of immigrants to the English colonies, however,
this researcher has not been able to pinpoint the place of origin of the Tennessee
branch. In all likelihood it was somewhere in Germany. Many Germans came to the ports
of Philadelphia and Baltimore and spread south and west. For the Kilzers of
Tennessee, at least those families before 1900, they will find their lineage to Jacob
Kilzer of North Carolina.
Jacob Kilzer was born about 1770 and was the only Kilzer that early documents place
in North Carolina prior to 1800. Other researchers of the early Kilzers of North
Carolina have shed no light on where he might have migrated from. Where Jacob was
born remains a mystery as of the completion of this work. One fact is beyond dispute,
very early Jacob Kilzer attached his fortunes to the very prominent family of
Hobgoods of Granville County, North Carolina. Granville County is located along the
Virginia border in the central part of North Carolina and was a natural route of
migrants from Virginia. Leonard F. Dean wrote a two-volume history of the Hobgood
family of North Carolina. The patriarch of the Hobgoods was Hezekiah Hobgood who
migrated to the Tar River District of Granville County in the mid-1700s. Hezekiah
Hobgood married Elizabeth Fowler, daughter of William Fowler, another very prominent
name in early Granville County history. The marriage took place about 1760 and
produced a number of children, some known, others unidentified by name.
The children of Hezekiah Hobgood and Elizabeth Fowler were: (1) Thomas Hobgood was
born about 1761 and died in 1818 in Granville County; (2) John Hobgood was born about
1765 in Granville County and died before 1850 in Kentucky; (3) Fowler Hobgood was
born about 1768 in Granville County and died before 1860 in Granville County; (4)
Mary Hobgood was born about 1770 and died in Tennessee before 1850; (5) Edie Hobgood
was born about 1772 in Granville County and place of death is undetermined; (6)
Hezekiah Hobgood was born about 1775 in Granville County and died in Granville County
in 1847; (7) Sarah Hobgood was born about 1780 in Granville County and place of death
is unknown; (8) Massey Hobgood(female) was born in Granville County and died in early
1859 in Granville County; (9) Jemima Hobgood was born in 1787 in Granville County and
died before 1880 in Granville; (10,11,12) There were three daughters born in
Granville County, but their names have been lost. Number five from above, Mary
Hobgood, was the matriarch of the Kilzer families of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Long before he married Mary Hobgood, Jacob Kilzer was associated with the family of
Hezekiah Hobgood. It is probably accurate to say that Jacob Kilzer worked for
Hezekiah, most likely as a farmhand. The Hobgoods owned property in the Tar River
District and Knap of Reeds District of Granville County. In the 1800 census of
Granville County there is an unidentified male living in the household of Hezekiah
Hobgood. There is good reason to believe that he was Jacob Kilzer.
The first tangible evidence of the existence of Jacob Kilzer was the 1796 list of
taxpayers for the Tar River District of Granville County. Jacob owned no property,
but was listed as a taxpayer.
Just seven names above Jacob Kilzer was Hezekiah Hobgood. More evidence of the close
relationship of Hezekiah Hobgood and Jacob Kilzer was a property deed dated June 3,
1798. For whatever reason, Hezekiah sold his 180 acre farm to his son Thomas, but
continued to live on the property. In 1798 Hezekiah repurchased the old home place
from Thomas. Again, Jacob Kilzer was part of the Hobgood transaction. Jacob Kilzer,
future son-in-law of Hezekiah, was a witness to the deed and signed it himself. The
signing was an early indication that Jacob had received some education.
Anybody involved in researching the Kilzers in North Carolina and Tennessee must be
aware of the variations of the spelling of the name. So far, this writer has seen
Kilzer, Kilso, Kilsey, Kelser, and Kelyier. There is little doubt that variations
continued into the mid to late 1800s.
More than three years before Jacob Kilzer married Mary Hobgood, his name surfaced in
the Granville County Court. In December, 1799, John Washington, Justice of the Peace
of the Tar River District, issued an arrest warrant for Jacob Kilzer. Jacob was
accused of stealing an account book that was the property of Mishael Shearman.
Apparently Shearman kept a list of those people he had lost money with on various
business dealings. Why Jacob was accused of the theft was never clear.
The case never came to trial. Jacob Kilzer posted a thirty-pound bond and several
other residents, including John Hobgood, pledged bonds guaranteeing that Jacob would
appear for the May, 1800 trial. Jacob’s close association with the Hobgoods, and many
other prominent citizens of the county, probably led to a dismissal of all charges.
These is no mention of the case in the May, 1800 record of the court.
Person County, North Carolina is adjacent to Granville County on the west. The
Kilzers and Hobgoods often conducted business in both counties. Person County was
about equal distance from the Tar River District as was the Granville County
courthouse at Oxford. On August 25, 1803 a marriage bond was issued for Jacob Kilzer
and Mary Hobgood. The witness for the bond was William Fowler and the bondsman was
Thomas Webb. In the next seven years or so, Jacob and Mary Kilzer completed their
family of four sons and there might have been an unidentified daughter.
In every census before 1840 in North Carolina and Tennessee that Jacob Kilzer
appears, there is always at least two females. An older female about the age of Jacob
was obviously Mary Hobgood. Nevertheless, there was also a female about the same age
as the four sons. No record about a daughter has yet surfaced. In the census of 1860
for Gibson County, Tennessee, there was a fifty-two year old Ludovina Kilzer at the
home of Elijah Kilzer. The original census tract is somewhat damaged by ink marks.
Some transcribers interpret the age as twenty-two. Others indicate it is fifty-two.
There is no record available to determine the correct age. We do know that Elijah
Kilzer had three children when he migrated to Gibson County. The mother of his first
three children has remained a mystery. Even if the mysterious Ludovina Kilzer was
twenty-two, Elijah’s wife could not have been her mother because she was the same age
as Ludovina. Ludovina may have been the unidentified daughter of Jacob Kilzer.
It is very clear that Jacob and Mary Kilzer had four sons by 1820. The four sons in
order of birth were: James B. Kilzer born about 1804; Jordan Kilzer born about 1805;
Elijah Kilzer born about 1809(a gravestone in the Oak Grove Cemetery of Gibson County
says 1806); and Allen Kilzer born after 1810, most likely 1811. In the census of 1820
the size of the family remained unchanged. The census of 1810 for Granville County
indicated that Jacob and Mary Kilzer were in the 26 to 45 age range. There were three
sons and a daughter under age ten. It appears that Allen was born sometime in the
next two years.
Two other documents confirm Jacob and Mary Kilzer’s residence in Granville County in
the early 1800s. In 1811 Jacob Kilzer sued Lacker Partee to collect a debt owed him.
The court awarded Jacob Kilzer damages of one pound five shillings. In 1816 the
County Court appointed Jacob and others to maintain a public road from the Person
County line through their neighborhood.
Jacob Kilzer was involved in another court case in Granville County in 1810. Jacob
and Mary were involved in a dispute over the ownership of a horse. Hezekiah Hobgood,
father of Mary Kilzer, gave the horse in question to another of his daughters. After
Mary’s sister fell on hard times, Mary agreed to purchase the horse. The sale of the
horse had taken place just before Jacob and Mary were married in 1803. The new owner
of the horse was not satisfied with the title and sued. Jacob was never called to
testify, but his father-in-law did testify about his daughter Mary Kilzer and son-in-
law Jacob Kilzer. The case dragged on for years before it was settled in favor of the
We know that Jacob and Mary Hobgood Kilzer were still residents of Granville County
in 1825. In that year Jemina Hobgood, a sister of Mary Kilzer, married David Jones.
James B. Kilzer, first son of Jacob and Mary Kilzer was the bondsman. It is the last
documentation of the Kilzers in Granville County, North Carolina. This writer is much
indebted to the twovolume history of the Hobgood family by Leonard Dean. Also, the
librarian at the Granville County library, Fann Montague, who was gracious enough to
copy and send me several documents about the Kilzers and Hobgoods. For unknown
reasons, maybe the many legal disputes or land grants, Jacob and Mary Kilzer decided
to migrate westward to Tennessee after about 1827. A land grant might have been
reason enough if it did occur. There is a list of militia troops from Granville
County that participated in the War of 1912. One of the militia troops was a Jacob
Kelso. This might have been Jacob Kilzer as every able-bodied male was expected to
serve in the militia. Nevertheless, when the national government was unable to pay
soldiers, they were often given land grants. As of this writing, no land grant for
Jacob Kilzer has surfaced, but several of the Hobgoods served in the War of 1812 and
the land grant could have come through his wife’s family. It is unclear why Jacob and
Mary Kilzer decided to settle in Smith County, Tennessee. The county is located
between Knoxville and Nashville. The census for 1830 in Smith County lists three
Kilzer(Kilza) families. The households were very close to each other. Jacob and Mary
Kilzer constituted one family.. Both were in the fifty to sixty age category. Also,
there was a male (probably Elijah) in the 20-30 range and a female (maybe the long-
lost daughter) in the 15-20 age group. James B. and Jordan Kilzer had found
themselves spouses and established separate households. James B. Kilzer married
Jincey Adcock on December 28, 1825 before they left Granville County, North Carolina.
In 1830 in Smith County they already had a son and daughter under age five. No record
of a marriage license has survived before about 1838 for Smith County. Jordan Kilzer
married about 1829, but no record of his wife’s maiden name has been found, but her
given name was Rachel. In the 1830 census tracts no children were listed with the
family. Allen Kilzer, the fourth son of Jacob and Mary Kilzer, did not stay in Smith
County very long. The 1840 census list him as a resident of Wilson County immediately
to the west. Smith County was and still is a rugged part of Tennessee. Frontier life
was harsh and how they traveled to the county is another untold story. Like most
residents of Tennessee, they were farmers, probably cultivating a little cotton,
corn, and maybe a small amount of tobacco. No record exists to show that Jacob and
Mary Kilzer acquired property in Smith County. By 1840 they were living in the
household of their son Jordan. In the 1840 census for Smith County Jordan and Rachel
Kilzer had four daughters and one son, all under age ten. Jacob and Mary Kilzer were
listed in the 70-80 age category. Tax books for 1837 in Smith County lists James B.,
Jordan, and Elijah as paying some kind of tax. As stated earlier, Jacob and Mary had
moved into the home of Jordan and were not mentioned. The youngest son, Allen, had
moved to Wilson County. In this particular tax list only Elijah was taxed for land,
but it was school lands that were set aside for the benefit of education and could
not be sold. Therefore, he was probably renting the land. All paid their poll tax
except for Jacob, an early indication that they were interested in the politics of
The deaths of Jacob and Mary Hobgood Kilzer remains unclear as to time and place.
They were still living in Smith County in 1840 in the home of Jordan. However, each
was more than seventy years of age, a remarkable accomplishment for anyone at the
time. By 1850 there is not trace of either Jacob or Mary. A researcher has posted on
Ancestry. com that both died in Gibson County between 1845 and 1850. As yet, this
writer has found no evidence to support that fact. Most of the very early Kilzers
buried in Gibson County were buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. No record of their burial
there has been found. Of course records of that early period are almost nonexistent.
Just the idea of a man and wife in their seventies undertaking a two-hundred mile
journey from Smith County to Gibson County seems remarkable for the time. The best
guess is that they probably died in Smith County, but just like Gibson County, no
record has surfaced at the present time. A search of records and internet sites leads
to the conclusion that Jacob and Mary Hobgood Kilzer was the only Kilzer family in
Tennessee before 1850. Even after that date, all the Kilzers in Gibson County could
trace their ancestry to James B. Kilzer or Elijah Kilzer. Through my mother, Addie
Mae Kilzer, I am a descendant of Jacob Kilzer through the line that flows from Elijah
Kilzer. The blood of the other three sons flows through about all the Kilzers in
Jordan Kilzer was the only one of the four sons to remain in Smith County for the
rest of his life. Jordan Kilzer was born on November 4, 1805 in Granville County,
North Carolina. At times his name is spelled Geordan Kilzer by others writing his
name. The surname of his wife has not been determined. Jordan and Rachel Kilzer’s
marriage took place about 1829, probably in Smith County. No precise date of marriage
was available because no records of marriages in Smith County before 1838 has
survived. There children included the following: Lucinda Kilzer born on December 19,
1830; Harriet Kilzer born on September 2, 1832; Dennis Kilzer born on September 6,
1834; Nancy Kilzer born about 1837; Arrena Kilzer born about 1838; John Kilzer born
about 1841; Mary Kilzer born about 1845; Levina Kilzer born about 1847; and Jasper
Kilzer born about 1856.
Jordan and Rachel Kilzer and their extended family spread the Kilzer name throughout
the area east of Nashville and into southern Kentucky. Rachel was born on January 15,
1811 in Tennessee and died in Smith County on January 10, 1900. Jordan preceded her
in death on May 25, 1892. Both were buried in Bradford-Barnett Cemetery in Smith
County. Allen Kilzer, the youngest of the four sons of Jacob and Mary Kilzer, was
born about 1811 in Granville County, North Carolina. Allen was never mentioned in any
of the Smith County census tracts. If he spent much time in Smith County, it was not
an extended stay. Most of Allen’s early years in Tennessee were spent in Wilson
County just to the east of Nashville.
The maiden name of his wife Sarah Kilzer has not surfaced at the present time. They
were married about 1830, probably in Smith County. Sarah’s maiden name may have been
King. In the household next to the Kilzers in Sumner County in 1850 was a William
King with a large family. William King was a shoe maker by profession. Allen Kilzer
was also a shoe maker.
The first reference to Allen Kilzer in the official records came from Smith County in
1835. One of his first jobs in Smith County was to be appointed during the August
1835 term of the County Court, along with about a dozen other men, to help construct
roads in the county. Allen and Sarah Kilzer were the parents of many offspring. They
included: James Marion Kilzer born about 1832; John A. Kilzer born about 1835;
Elizabeth A. Kilzer born about 1838; Martha G. Kilzer born about 1839; Mary J. Kilzer
born about 1842; Fountain P. Kilzer born 1843; Milligan P. Kilzer born about 1846;
Adan G. Kilzer born about 1849; Amanda J. Kilzer born about 1849(Adan and Amanda were
twins); Georgetta Kilzer born about 1850; William Kilzer born about 1851; and
Immargene Kilzer born about 1852. Allen and Sarah Kilzer did their part in spreading
the Kilzer name in the middle and western part of Tennessee. Between 1836 and 1842 in
Wilson County, Allen Kilzer entered into at least seven trust deeds with craftsmen to
construct furniture, a clock, and other personal property. The last deed was in
January, 1842 for the construction of some personal property.
James Marion Kilzer was Allen and Rachel Kilzer’s first born. His grandfather, Jacob
Kilzer, must have taken a special pride in the son of Allen. On September 17, 1838
Jacob Kilzer gave for “love and affection” of James Marion Kilzer a young colt for
his very own possession. At the time the youngster was only about six years old.
Sometime in the mid 1840s Allen, Sarah, and the entire family moved a short distance
northwest to Sumner County just north of Nashville. James Marion Kilzer, shortly
after the move, married and started a family. After the census of 1860, James Marion
Kilzer and wife Martha Kilzer disappear from the census tracts. No further evidence
of their existence has been found by this author.
Fountain P. Kilzer, a son of Allen Kilzer, was one of three young Kilzers to serve in
the Civil War. Fountain Kilzer enlisted in the Confederate units being organized in
Sumner County in August, 1861. He was assigned to Company A of the 23rd Infantry. The
unit saw action at Shiloh, several battles in Kentucky, the Battle of Murfreesboro,
Chickamauga, and Petersburg in Virginia. The unit was paroled at Appomattox
Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Fountain enlisted as a private and received several
bounties for re-enlisting. His rank upon being paroled was 3rd Corporal. After the
Civil War Allen Kilzer and most of his family migrated west to Obion County and
settled near Union City. The Obion County census for 1870 list the family in District
1. Allen and his wife Sarah were 59 years old. The family included these children:
Fountain P.; William; Immargene(now listed as Josephene); Georgetta; and Amanda.
Allen was listed as being a shoe and boot maker.
Allen Kilzer apparently died in Obion County between 1870 and 1880. So far, no record
of his death has been found. The 1880 census for Obion County lists Fountain Kilzer,
a painter, as the head of household. The census indicates that Sarah Kilzer was a 69
year old widow. The only other family member was Sarah’s daughter, Georgetta Kilzer,
then 23 years old. Although there are a few deeds in the Obion County records showing
that William Kilzer, another son of Allen, purchased a vacant lot in Union City in
the 1880s. By 1900 all traces of the Allen Kilzer family were lost.
Two of Jacob and Mary Kilzer’s sons, James B. and Elijah made their way to Gibson
County about 1838. Probably every Kilzer that ever lived in West Tennessee can trace
their ancestry to one of the two brothers. In the long run, James B. Kilzer’s
children probably produced the most descendants. James B. Kilzer was the first son of
Jacob and Mary Hobgood Kilzer. He was born in Granville County and married Jinsey
Adcock on December 28, 1825 before the family migrated to Tennessee. Not much is
known about Jincey Adcock. In most of the census tracts and records of deeds, she is
Why the two brothers, James B. and Elijah set out for Gibson County is not clear.
They settled first in District 2 to the east of Humboldt. There was another Granville
County family named Pruett already settled there. However, by the 1850s both brothers
had moved northwest of Humboldt. James B. settled just west of the small community of
Edison. By the time James B. and Jane Kilzer reached Gibson County, they were already
the parents of several children. Their children included the following: James Kilzer
born about 1834; Solomon Kilzer born about 1838; Jordan Kilzer born about 1840;
Roxane Kilzer born about 1843; Roane Kilzer born about 1843 (twin); Almyra Kilzer
born about 1847; John Allen Kilzer born about 1848; and George Washington (GW) Kilzer
born about 1851.
James B., Jane Kilzer, and their extended families, became very prominent in the area
west of Fruitland, Tennessee. A search of the deed books in the county court house
revealed numerous deeds dealing with the purchase and sale of land in the community.
James B. did not survive the 1850s. He apparently died sometime in the mid 1850s, but
no record of his death or burial has been found at the present time. Jane Kilzer
lived until sometime in the 1870s, however, this author has not found any record of
her death or burial.
Elijah Kilzer was the author’s maternal great-great grandfather. A gravestone in Oak
Grove Cemetery gives his birth year as 1806. A few genealogy web sites place his
birth as late as 1809. Some of the census tracts indicate 1806 or 1807. My guess is
that Elijah’s wife or nephew, Tom King, probably placed the tombstone at the grave
site and had knowledge of his birth year.
Elijah was born in Granville County, North Carolina, the third of four sons of Jacob
and Mary Kilzer. After the family migrated to Smith County, Tennessee about 1827,
Elijah was still living with his parents in the 1830 census of the county. Only a
hand full of marriage licenses before 1850 for Smith County has survived, and none
before 1838. It is obvious that Elijah met some young lady in Smith County because he
was the father of Marion T. Kilzer born in 1837 in Smith County. The identity of the
mother and supposed wife of Elijah Kilzer is one of the mysteries facing descendants
tracing the family history.
A second son, Jacob B. Kilzer, my great grandfather, was born in 1838. It is not
clear whether Jacob B. was born in Smith County or Gibson County. No firm date for
Elijah’s arrival in Gibson County has been established. The tax books for District 3
for 1838 list a poll tax payment for Elijah Kilzer, however, such taxes were usually
paid in the first few months of the following year. Payment of the poll tax for 1838
is a good indication that he was in Gibson County for all or part of 1838.
There was a third child, Mary Kilzer, born to the unidentified mother and wife(?) of
Elijah Kilzer. Mary was born in 1839 or early 1840. Not much is known about Mary
Kilzer. She married William Betts about 1857 and apparently died in the mid 1870s,
possibly 1876. There is an old photograph Mary and William Betts on the Gibson County
web site. It is the only photo of any of the children of Elijah Kilzer that this
author has ever seen. The census of 1840 for Gibson County revealed that the families
of James B. Kilzer and Elijah Kilzer lived in the same vicinity. Though the census
was not divided into civil districts as would be the case later, it is obvious the
area was later the 2nd District. District 2 ran from just east of Humboldt to Medina.
As noted in an earlier section, the two brothers likely chose the area because of a
family named Pruett that migrated from Granville County, North Carolina in the 1830s.
The Pruetts lived only a few households from James B. Kilzer. Elijah’s family in the
1840 census of Gibson County consisted of three males and two females. Marion T.
Kilzer and Jacob B. Kilzer were in the under age five group. Mary Kilzer was listed
in the same age group and the other unidentified female was in the 20-30 age group.
There has been a great deal of speculation among our family members as to the
identity of the female and obviously the mother of Elijah’s three children. It is a
mystery that this author hopes to solve soon or later. A fourth child, John Kilzer
was born in 1842, yet there is still no record of who the mother of the four children
might have been.
In 1842 Elijah paid his poll tax in District 3 of Gibson County. Sometime before 1844
he moved to District 16 west of Humboldt. By 1846 he was back in the 3rd District.
The tax books for 1848 revealed that Elijah owned 42 acres valued at $125.00. By 1850
he acquired about forty additional acres and was listed as the owner of 80 acres
valued at $300.00. Another important event occurred before 1850. Elijah Kilzer
acquired a known wife and a slight possibility the there might have been two wives.
First was the possible wife. In an earlier section it was noted that Elijah and his
brother James B. probably settled east of Humboldt because at least one family from
Granville County, North Carolina had already settled there. Thomas J. Pruett was born
about 1775 in Granville County. In October, 1801 he married Sarah Estes and they
became the parents of at least ten children. About the mid 1830s Thomas Pruett and
his family made their way to Gibson County and settled between Humboldt and Medina.
A daughter of Thomas and Sarah Pruett, Mary Pruett, was born in 1821 in Granville
County. In Gibson County Mary obviously caught the attention of Elijah Kilzer. Did
the Pruetts and Kilzers know of each other back in Granville County. Granville County
did not have a large population in the early 1800s. There was a very good chance that
the Pruett and Kilzer families could have been acquainted.
There is no doubt that Elijah Kilzer and Mary Pruett were attracted to each other. A
marriage was arranged, but there was a dispute about the timing among those that have
undertaken research about the marriage. Many of the early marriage licenses and bonds
have been damaged over the years by bleeding and fading ink. Someone who transcribed
the early licenses in Gibson County made a mistake with the marriage license of
Elijah Kilzer and Mary Pruett. At least one Pruett descendant indicates that the two
were married on October 31, 1841. A close examination of the original license clearly
shows that the date was 1844. The down stroke on the last four appears to be the
number 1, but it is obviously the cross mark for a 4. A transcribed copy of the
license says the year was 1841, it surely was 1844. No matter, there is a hand
written note on the license that says the license was never executed.
Whatever the reason for calling off the wedding, Elijah quickly found another
companion. Margaret King was born in North Carolina about 1828. We do know she had an
older brother in Gibson County, James Henry King, however, it is not clear who the
parents of Margaret King might have been. Marriage license number 24 in Gibson County
was issued to Elijah Kilzer and Margaret King on February 20, 1845. On February 23,
1845 Elijah and Margaret were married in Gibson County. At the time Elijah Kilzer was
about forty years old, however, Margaret King was only seventeen. My great-great
grandfather was robbing the cradle. The marriage took place just about four months
after the license to marry Mary Pruett had been issued. Margaret King Kilzer must
have had a difficult time coping with Elijah’s four children ages 3 to 8, and at the
same time, starting her own family. She must have been a remarkable woman to take
care of four children, some almost half her own age. Elijah Kilzer had four children
with an unidentified female before his marriage to Margaret King– Marion T. Kilzer,
Jacob B. Kilzer, Mary Kilzer, and John Kilzer. Elijah and Margaret Kilzer had at
least three other children– Mallintine Kilzer born about 1856, Willie Kilzer born
about 1858, and James Kilzer born about 1860. There was a Valintine Kilzer at their
home in the census of 1860 that was twenty years old. Valintine Kilzer was probably a
visitor, maybe a daughter of Jordan Kilzer from Smith County or a child of James B.
Kilzer from just down the road. Valintine could not have been a daughter of Margaret
Kilzer unless she gave birth when she was about ten years old. There is the
possibility that Valintine’s mother was the same female that gave birth to Elijah’s
first four children.
By 1880 the home of Elijah and Margaret Kilzer was an empty nest. In the Gibson
County census of 1880 Elijah was 73 years old and Margaret was 55. A nephew, Thomas
King(TK), had moved in with them sometime in the 1870s after the death of his father
James Henry King. Thomas King later married into the Kilzer clan when he married
Addie Kilzer, a granddaughter of James B. and Jane Kilzer.
Two of Elijah and Margaret Kilzer’s sons served in the Confederate Army. Marion T.
and John enlisted in the service at Jackson, Tennessee on May 23, 1861. Both were
assigned to the 12th Infantry, John to Company H and Marion T. to Company K. The 12th
Infantry was later merged with the 47th near the end of the war. After being
assembled at Jackson, the unit then moved to Trenton, Tennessee and finally to Union
City. When Fort Donelson fell the unit was moved south to Corinth, Mississippi. It
took part in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 and 7 in 1862. The unit later saw action
at Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Chickamauga and the retreat to Atlanta. Neither of the
Kilzer brothers were with the unit when it was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina
on May 2, 1865.
Marion T. Kilzer was discharged from the 12th Infantry about two weeks after the
Battle of Shiloh. Apparently in the action at Shiloh ,or afterward on the retreat to
Corinth, something happened that caused Marion to have some kind of disability. It
was serious enough that he was discharged on April 20, 1862 at Corinth, Mississippi.
There is a photograph of his sister Mary Kilzer on the Gibson County web site. It
allows descendants to see what one early Kilzer looked like. The discharge papers of
Marion T. Kilzer allows us to use our imagination to conjure up an idea of his
appearance. Marion T. Kilzer was described as age twenty-five, five feet and ten
inches tall, gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion.
The nature of the disability was not part of the record. The document does reveal
that he owed the government $8.00 for extra clothing and thirty cents for rations.
Marion was owed three months pay by the army at $11.00 per month. The army calculated
that he deserved travel pay to make the eighty mile trip from Corinth to Humboldt.
Traveling at twenty-five miles per day equated to four days pay at $11.00 per month
and food rations of thirty cents per day. After the deduction for extra clothing and
rations, Marion T. Kilzer left Corinth with $35.00 in pay. The Civil War was over for
Marion. No record has been found to show that he returned to Humboldt. Most likely he
did, but no one chose to leave a record of the event. In fact, the discharge papers
of Marion T. Kilzer was the last piece of evidence related to him. The best guess is
that he probably died, maybe from his disability or like so many other people, he
went west. Elijah Kilzer’s other son that served in the Confederate Army, John
Kilzer, left a more comprehensive record of his service. John and Marion enlisted for
one year, but Marion’s discharge allowed him to leave the army. John Kilzer’s wife,
Annis Kilzer, filed for a widow’s pension in 1908. The application stated that while
he was with the 12th Infantry he became ill and had permission to leave the unit.
When he was able to return to service, his unit was in a location he could not reach.
Captain G. W. Bennett of Gibson County wrote a letter to the pension board testifying
that John Kilzer could not find his way to his former unit in the 12th Infantry,
therefore, he attached himself to G. W. Bennett’s group called “Bennett’s Battalion.”
This author’s paternal great grandfather was a member of the same battalion. G. W.
Bennett said that several months after John join his unit he was kicked by his horse.
The result was he became unfit for service because of a hand he was unable to use for
the rest of his life.
Like the author’s great grandfather, the pension was denied because all official
records of “Bennett’s Battalion” were lost. John W. Kilzer died on March 2, 1905 and
was buried in an unidentified cemetery on Kilzer Loop in the western part of Gibson
County. John’s wife, Annis and son Walter Kilzer, along with several other relatives,
were buried in the same cemetery. After the Civil War Elijah and Margaret Kilzer went
about the routine business of making a living by farming and land speculation, but
never on a large scale. By 1870 Elijah was in his mid sixties and Margaret in her mid
forties. All the children had married or at least left the nest. Some may have died
because they would be counted in one census and completely disappear before the next
one. Only a nephew, Tom King, lived with them in 1880. However, the Civil War
veteran, John Kilzer, his wife Annis and son Walter, lived nearby. There are about
one-half dozen records of deeds whereby Elijah bought or sold property in and around
what later was known as Kilzer Loop near the Crockett County line. In the tax books
of 1885 he paid taxes on 62 acres worth $500.00 and also taxes on a one-half interest
in 110 acres near the Forked Deer River. No official record of his death was noted,
but whatever relative placed a tombstone at his grave site in Oak Grove Cemetery gave
1886 as the year of his death.
Elijah’s wife, Margaret King Kilzer, controlled the property until she sold it to her
nephew Tom King. In 1907 Margaret executed two legal documents meant to take care of
the estate left her by Elijah Kilzer. On August 3, 1907 she prepared a will that left
all of her personal property to a son of her nephew Tom King, and to a niece Martha
Richardson. Margaret executed a deed on November 27, 1907 selling all of her real
property to her nephew Tom King. She sold Tom thirty-seven acres and a half interest
in another 110 acres that she owned jointly with Alston Bailey. Tom King paid $600
for the Kilzer interest in both properties by paying $100 at the time and agreed to
pay the remainder in equal annual installments. Tom also agreed to allow Margaret to
live on the property until her death. Death was not far away. Margaret Kilzer died on
February 20, 1910. The official cause of death was listed as pneumonia. The record
stated that she was 80 years young, but her gravestone erected some years later said
she was 82. She was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery next to Elijah Kilzer. Jacob B.
Kilzer was the second son of Elijah and Margaret Kilzer. He was also this author’s
great grandfather. After the death of Elijah in 1886 there is nothing in the records
to show any relationship with Margaret Kilzer. In reality Margaret was not his birth
mother. So far, his birth mother remains unidentified.
In the late 1860s Jacob B. Kilzer met Mary Brogdon whose family lived in the same
civil district. It is unclear who her parents were and in the census tracts she
sometimes lived with what appears to be an older brother, Gideon, and an older
sister, Rachel. It is not illogical to assume that Rachel might have been her mother.
The age difference would certainly allow for that fact.
According to the census tracts, Mary Brogdon was born about 1842 in Tennessee. She
had a brother that lived in Lauderdale County and it was there that the two married
on February 8, 1871.
Mary Brogdon Kilzer also had relatives in Madison County just south of Medina. Their
first children were probably born in Madison County near Spring Creek, but by 1880
they were living near Elijah and Margaret Kilzer. Whether in Madison or Gibson
counties, Jacob B. and Mary Kilzer became the parents of these children: Elijah C.
Kilzer born in late 1871; Lavina M. Kilzer born on December 6, 1872; Rachel L. Kilzer
born on January 10, 1874; Issac S. (Ike) Kilzer born in 1877; Marion Jordan Kilzer
born on August 24, 1878; and William A. Kilzer(Billy) born about 1882.
Jacob B. Kilzer’s wife, Mary Brogdon Kilzer, apparently died sometime after the birth
of their last child about 1882. There is nothing in the records about her except for
her marriage license and in the census tracts, none after 1880. The only reason we
know about the last son, William Kilzer, is that his three children lived with Rachel
Kilzer after his death from a gunshot wound in 1910 in Haywood County. In the census
tracts the children are described as nieces and nephews. It is not absolutely clear
how William Kilzer received his gunshot wound. The early death certificate does not
say if it was self-inflicted or he was shot by someone else. The records about Jacob
B. Kilzer are very sparse after 1880. So far only three records have surfaced. First,
he signed the marriage license in Madison County for his son Marion J. Kilzer in
1896. No further evidence appears until the census of 1910 in Haywood County. Jacob
B. was either living or visiting his son Elijah C. Kilzer. The last record related to
Jacob B. Kilzer was his death certificate. Jacob B. Kilzer died on November 20, 1911
in Madison County, probably in Jackson, Tennessee. He was probably living with his
daughter, Rachel Kilzer Jurney, who lived in Jackson at the time of the census of
1910. Jacob B. and Mary Kilzer’s burial place remains a mystery.
Marion Jordan Kilzer, son of Jacob B. and Mary Kilzer was the author’s grandfather.
He was born on August 24, 1878, probably in Gibson County even though the family
spent time in Madison and Gibson counties. No information about his early life has
come to light. Sometime after 1880 Marion’s father took the family to Madison County
near the Gibson County line. It was at this location that he met Mary Angeline West.
Mary was the daughter of Wyatt A. West and Elizabeth R. Lyon West. The Lyon and West
families were well known residents of the area south of Medina, Tennessee. On May 23,
1896 Marion J. Kilzer and Mary Angeline West obtained a marriage license in Madison
County. In a very shaky hand, Marion’s father signed the license. The ceremony was
carried out the next day, May 24, by Justice of the Peace, M. D. Fly, a neighbor of
the Lyon and West families.
Marion and Mary Kilzer’s married life was typical of most young couples around 1900.
They were small time farmers in northern Madison County. There is an entry in the
Madison County tax book of 1900 that confirms that Marion paid his poll tax on
November 3, 1900, only a few days before the presidential election. The census tracts
for Madison County in 1900 in District 12 indicates that Marion and Mary Kilzer
already had two sons. Eventually they were the parents of the following children:
William Milton Kilzer born on September 21, 1897(very often the two given names are
reversed); Calvin Kilzer born on November 14, 1899; John B. Kilzer born on July 22,
1902; Chester Kilzer born on July 26, 1906; Irene Kilzer born in 1908; Addie Mae
Kilzer(the author’s mother) born on April 7, 1910; Ruby Kilzer born on June 20, 1912;
Homer Kilzer born on April 6, 1917. Also there were two infants that were never given
names because they only lived a few days or were stillborn. One was born on April 6,
1917 and the other about June 11, 1918.
Before 1910 Marion J. and Mary Angeline Kilzer moved to District 6 of Crockett
County. The census for 1910 has Mary’s father, the 72 year old Wyatt(Bud) West
visiting the family in Crockett County. The best guess is that they lived near Alamo.
By 1930 Marion J. Kilzer moved again, this time further west into Haywood County. He
was renting a small farm about where Highway 70-79 crosses the Hatchie River.
There are several records of deeds in Madison and Crockett counties related to Marion
and Mary. Mary Angeline West Kilzer inherited property in Madison County from her
mother, Elizabeth R. Lyon West. They later sold the land to members of the Lyon
family. In Crockett County there are deeds dealing with the buying and selling of
farmland and a vacant lot in a new subdivision in Alamo.
Mary Angeline West Kilzer must have had trouble with several of her pregnancies. In
April, 1917 a male child died during labor. Also, in April, 1918 a male child lived
only three months.
Another pregnancy when she was almost forty-four years old would finally kill her. On
May 15, 1922 she hemorrhaged to death during child birth. Mary was buried in Cypress
Cemetery near Alamo, Tennessee.
After the death of his wife, Marion J. Kilzer married Mrs. Ludie Moss on September
23, 1923. Ludie Moss had two children by a previous husband. They were Dora Moss and
Wilson Moss. In 1924 Ludie gave birth to Donie Kilzer. The family was farming near
the Hatchie River in Haywood County, Tennessee. On September 29, 1932 he died in Dyer
County at the home of his son, Calvin Kilzer. Marion J. Kilzer was buried in Cypress
Cemetery where his first wife, Mary Angeline Kilzer, was laid to rest.
The final chapter in the Kilzer family history, at least for the present author,
involves the relationship between Clarence H.(Rip) Williams and Addie Mae Kilzer.
Clarence Williams was born in 1902 in Gibson County, the son of Ransom Williams.
Ransom Williams was the son of Samuel H. Williams that also has a brief history on
the Gibson County web site. On April 7, 1910 Addie Mae Kilzer was born, the daughter
of Marion J. Kilzer, and granddaughter of Jacob B. Kilzer, and great granddaughter of
Elijah Kilzer and great-great granddaughter of Jacob Kilzer and Mary Hobgood of
Granville County, North Carolina.
When Addie Mae Kilzer (she later began to spell her name Eddie Mae) met and married
Clarence H. Williams, except for a few visits between the Kilzer and Williams
families, the relationship slowly died for lack of contact between the families. The
background to the introduction of Eddie Mae Kilzer and Clarence H. Williams
illustrates that in small counties such as Gibson, Crockett, and Madison in the 1800s
and early 1900s there were relatives in the Kilzer and Williams families that led to
additional marriages. Such was the case with Eddie Mae Kilzer and Clarence H.
Clarence Williams’ sister, Virgie Williams, married Willis(Gus) Evans. Virgie and Gus
Evans had a daughter, Lessie Evans. Stay with me! Eddie Mae Kilzer’s brother, Calvin
Kilzer, met and married Lessie Evans. In 1926, probably through introductions by the
families, Eddie Mae Kilzer and Clarence H. Williams were married. The marriage
resulted in these new relationships.
Calvin Kilzer became Virgie Williams Evans’ son-in-law; Virgie Williams Evans became
Marion J. Kilzer’s daughter-in-law; Calvin Kilzer and Clarence (Rip) Williams became
brother-in-law; Lessie Evans Kilzer and Eddie Mae Kilzer Williams became sister-in-
law; Clarence (Rip) Williams and Eddie Mae Kilzer became husband and wife. Unless
there has been a mistake, Clarence and Eddie Mae became second cousins by marriage.
On February 27, 1926 Clarence H. Williams and Eddie Mae Kilzer were married in Gibson
County. They became the parents of four daughters and two sons. Connie Brunell
Williams was born on December 31, 1927; Mildred Williams was born on February 27,
1930; Bobby J. Williams was born on August 29, 1934; Winfred Earl Williams was born
on June 25, 1937, but died on December 25, 1937; Sarah Williams was born on March 13,
1940; and Janie Williams was born on February 16, 1946.
The present author, Bobby J. Williams, regrets that three out of four grandparents
died before he was born. Only my paternal grandmother, Laura Williams, was alive in
the 1950s when my siblings were growing up. Mostly, I remember her death in 1951 at
the home of my uncle Chester Williams just across the street. Finally, the search
goes on in those areas of that has produced little or no information. If the search
is successful, an addendum will be forthcoming.