The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Nathaniel Hays vs Jonathan Cunningham
1801-1803 Knox County, TN Case


On July 13, 1801 (second Monday of July 1801), Daniel Haston was summoned to court in Knox County, TN, along with John Cowin [Cowan] and James Cunningham.  They were called to witness on behalf of the defendant, Paul Cunningham, who was accused of trespassing on and destroying the property of Nathaniel Hays.  The case actually focused on a dispute regarding the property boundaries of Hays and Cunningham.

Note:  This Nathaniel Hays would have been the same man who took David Haston to court in the "cow tails" case, which occurred two to three years earlier.

The case began on January 7, 1801, when Nathaniel Hays and his security, Asahel Rawlings, filed documents to prosecute Paul Cunningham and thus, few days later, an order was issued by the court to apprehend Paul Cunningham. 

On April 7, 1801, James Gibson and Robert McBath entered into a $1000 bond to secure Jonathan Cunningham in the case.

On the second Monday of April 1801, James White (founder of Knoxville), Charles McClung (Knox County court clerk), and Jeremiah Jack (prominent Knox County citizen) were summoned to testify on behalf of Nathaniel Hays.  Early on, Hays called upon the "big shots" of Knox County to defend him.  If these men ever appeared as witnesses in the case, there is no record in the docket files to show it.

On the second Monday of January 1802, William Hazlet [Haislet], Senior, William Hazlet, Junior, and John Cowan were summoned to witness on behalf of Hays, the plaintiff.  It is interesting that Cowan was a witness for the defendant and for the plaintiff.

The court arguments went something like this:

  • July session 1801:  Nathaniel Hays said that John Cunningham "trod down and consumed with his feet in walking and his timber trees then and there growing viz. fifty oaks...cut down and distroyed [sic] and the soil...injured then and there did..."
  • No date, but probably same session as above:  Paul Cunningham said "that he is not guilty of the trespass aforesaid."  He then argued that the land where he did this work belonged to him and not to Nathaniel Hays.
  • A two page affidavit, dated September 24, 1801, from Frances Cunningham of the Pendleton District of South Carolina was sent to the Knox County court.  This document states that "in the years of 1785 or 1786, he the defendant sayeth that he moved in company with Paul Cunningham to Holston River to placed call and known by Bakers improvement being the same Paul Cunningham purchased of James Whyte shortly after their arrival."  The document goes ahead to verify that Paul Cunningham's understanding of his property boundaries is correct.
  • January term 1802:  Hays said that the land was his, not that of Cunningham.
  • January term 1802:  Cunningham said that the land was his, not that of Hays.

Then it appears that Nathaniel Hays moved to Davidson County, TN (near Nashville) before the trial was complete.  On January 15, 1802 he appeared in court and stated that "he has some time ago removed himself and family to Cumberland [middle Tennessee, Nashville area]..."  Apparently, he had missed a court appearance, because he also gave the excuse of "owing to high waters which he has to cross he could not reach Knoxville till after the above cause was called for trial..."

The sheriff of Knox County sent notices in July 1802 and April 1803 to the sheriff of Davidson County to recover the court costs from Nathaniel Hays.  There is no clear statement of who won the case, but the fact that Hays was pressed to pay court costs may indicate that he lost.

There are five lists of court costs in the docket files (see below).  They appear to be cumulative, so even though Daniel Hasting's name appears on all five lists, his total involvement was only for three days.  John Cowan was paid $2.00 for four days as a witness; William Haislet, Sr. & Jr. were each paid $1.00 for two days, James Cunningham was paid $5.00 for ten days, and Daniel Hasting was paid $1.50 for three days.

It is unclear as to when Daniel Haston made these court appearances, but it probably was in the October 1801 session, since his summons was to that session of court.

The file of original docket documents contains a receipt for each of these men, signed by the recipients:

  • July 9, 1804:  William Haislet, Junior
  • July 9, 1804:  William Haislet, Senior
  • December 29, 1804:  John Cowan
  • August 6, 1806:  James Cunningham

There is no receipt, in the file, for Daniel Haston/Hasting.  When compared to the Daniel Haston timeline for that era, it is possible or likely that Daniel Haston had moved to White County by the time payments were made.  Who knows if he ever received his $1.50?

The major value of this court case, for Daniel Haston researchers, is the clarification that it provides regarding where Daniel's family lived in their Knox County, TN residence, by identifying the landmarks of property owned by Daniel's neighbors. 

  • Nathaniel Hays
    • South side of the French Broad River, property line began on the river bank
    • Adjacent Paul Cunningham, Senior
    • Adjacent to Archibald Rhea lands
  • Paul Cunningham, Senior
    • Near Knoxville
    • South side of the Holston River, property line began on the river bank
    • Some "rock house" on the Holston was a marker point
    • Near, but does not cross the Meadow Branch
    • Adjacent to William Haislet
    • Adjacent to Cowan; along this line to the river
    • Originally called the Baker improvement
    • Purchased from James White in mid-1780s

Knox County, TN Court Costs - Nathaniel Hays vs Jonathan Cunningham


Knox Co, TN Court Costs List 1 - Hays vs Cunningham



Knox Co, TN Court Costs List 2 - Hays vs Cunningham



Knox Co, TN Court Costs List 3 - Hays vs Cunningham



Knox Co, TN Court Costs List 4 - Hays vs Cunningham



Knox Co, TN Court Costs List 5 - Hays vs Cunningham


Nathaniel Hays vs Solomon McCampbell and Paul Cunningham
1800-1801 Hamilton District Superior Court Case

For more information on the area in which this land was located.

The 1801-1803 Nathaniel Hays vs Paul Cunningham court case was not the first time that Mr. Hays had disagreed with Mr. Cunningham over their boundaries.  A similar issue had already been battled in a Hamilton District Superior Court. 

In addition to what can be learned from the 1801-1803 county court case, from the 1800-1801 Hamilton District Superior Court case we can learn a lot about these men and their property:

  • The case seems to have started on or before December 8, 1800 and continued into 1801.
  • Nathaniel Hays had purchased a tract of land from Solomon McCampbell in 1792.
  • This land that Hays purchased from McCampbell was "on the south side of Holston River abought [sic] one mile and a half from Knoxville."
  • The land began at the bank of the Holston River.
  • The Hays property line ran about 300 yards from the house of Paul Cunningham, so Paul Cunningham also lived about 1 1/2 miles from Knoxville.
  • It adjoined the lands of William Hayslet (Haislet) and Archabald (Archibald) Rhea "on the River bank..."
  • Paul Cunningham set up a claim to about 50 acres of this land "and put a Son of his in possession thereof..." (as per Nathaniel Hays)
  • Hays became convinced that the land, for the most part, did indeed belong to Cunningham and that McCampbell had no right to sell it to him (Hays), but asserted that Cunningham was cooperating someway with McCampbell in failing to settle the dispute and that part of the disputed land did not belong to Cunningham.
  • John Cunningham claimed (as per a March 23, 1801 deposition) to have purchased his land (situated south of the Holston River) in 1785 from James White, who had purchased it from a Captain Beaker (Baker).
  • The original Captain Baker-James White-Paul Cunningham tract contained 640 acres.
  • The Cunningham tract "extended up the River above the place known by the name of the Rock House...about 50 poles [about 500 feet] to a Small Spring & then off from the River..."
  • James White had another approximately 50 acres tract of land that adjoined the 640 tract, on the east and was "lying above" part of the 640 acres tract that Cunningham purchased from White.  It seems that Solomon McCampbell purchased this smaller tract from James White and resold it to Nathaniel Hays.  Apparently, it was this smaller 50 acres tract, and maybe a small part of Cunningham's adjoining 640 acres, that was in dispute.  Note:  Some of the details of the relationship between these two tracts is unclear.
  • Shortly after he purchased the land from White, Paul Cunningham sent his sons, Alexander and James, to take possession of the tract of land and to improve it.
    Note:  This Alexander Cunningham is probably the man who set up the ferry across the Holston at that point, a few years later.  This James Cunningham is probably the man who testified in the Samuel Cowan vs Joseph Haston "timothy lot" case and the Nathaniel Hays vs Paul Cunningham 1801-1803 Knox Co, TN court case.
  • Paul Cunningham moved his family to this land in "about the month of December in the year 1797," as well as he could "recollect."
  • About the same time that Paul Cunningham moved to his new land, he and James White met and agreed upon the boundaries for the land recently purchased.
  • The Paul Cunningham land adjoined William Haslet's land and there was a "Meadow Branch" that served as a boundary between their property.
  • Cunningham's land adjoined land that "had been or then was claimed by Archebald (Archibald) Rhea."
  • Solomon McCampbell said (on March 24, 1801) that Paul Cunningham had taken over some land that did not belong to him, but was part of land that he (McCampbell) sold to Hays.
  • There is no clear indication as to how the court case was settled.

Source:  Nathaniel Hays vs Solomon McCampbell and Paul Cunningham; WPA transcription pages 211-220 of Hamilton District Superior Court "B" Records for 1797-1804.