Person:Samuel Handley (1)

Samuel Handley
b.17 SEP 1751 Pennsylvania
m. ABT 1745
  1. John Handley1746 - 1811
  2. Nancy HandleyABT 1748 -
  3. Samuel Handley1751 - 1840
  4. William Handley, Jr.ABT 1752 - 1785
  5. Margaret Handley1753 - 1842
  6. James HandleyABT 1755 -
  • HSamuel Handley1751 - 1840
  • WMary AdamsBEF 1761 - ABT 1779
m. ABT 1776
  • HSamuel Handley1751 - 1840
  • WSusan Cowanest 1766 - 1836
m. 4 FEB 1782
  1. Nancy Handley1782 -
  2. Sarah Handley1783 -
  3. John Handley1786 - 1855
  4. Samuel Handley1787-1799 -
  5. Mary Handley1787-1799 -
  6. Lucinda Handley1787-1799 -
  7. Robert Handley1792 - 1841
  8. William Handley1803 - 1862
Facts and Events
Name Samuel Handley
Alt Name Samuel Carroll Handley
Gender Male
Birth[1] 17 SEP 1751 Pennsylvania
Marriage ABT 1776 to Mary Adams
Marriage 4 FEB 1782 Virginiato Susan Cowan
Death? 31 OCT 1840 Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee


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Mooney, James 1900. Myths of the Cherokee
A good source for information on this family can be found here (Rootsweb, available as of October 2014.


Revolutionary War Pension Application of Samuel Handley, Franklin, TN, 1832


The Samuel Handley story is recorded in Ramsey's 1853 work Annals of Tennessee, p571. This work is available on Google Books. Ramsay's account does not give a specific source, but the context of his presentation suggests that it is based on Governor John Seviers correspondance. The following version is based on a presentation by Randall J. Handly. Handly's version is clearly drawn from Ramsay, but is substantially reduced. Handley has also added information of genealogical interest not contained in Ramsay's account. The verson shown here has been modified to correct spelling, adjust paragraphing, and slight rearrangements of text to improve information flow.

Note that not all information given in this account is accurate. As an example, Samuel testified in his REv. War pension application that he was born in Pennsylvania, not north Carolina. The pension application is probably better for the main outline of his life, but the accounts by Ramsay and Randall J. Handley, provides considerable "local color" to his life.

See also: TNGENWEB Samuel Handley

Samuel Handley (1751-1840) was born near Ashville, N.C. He first married Mary Adams, daughter of John and Agnes Adams. After Mary's death in 1779 he married Susannah Cowan, daughter of Robert Cowan and Susan Woods. Samuel was a Captain during the Indian War. In 1792, his company of 42 men were attacked near Crab Orchard while defending the stations in the Cumberland. The Indians, 56 strong, attacked and created a panic among Samuel's men. One of these men was unhorsed near the Indian line and Samuel at once seized the horse and led it near him, so his man might mount again. In the process Samuel's own horse was shot from under him and he took to a tree, where he was met by an Indian with uplifted tomahawk. He caught the warrior's arm and uttered an Indian word meaning friendship, which the brave eased off and led him to the chief where for a time he was free from danger. While this was being done, every Indian near enough struck him with the flat side of his tomahawk.

This diversion was in favor of Samuel's panic-stricken men, only three others were killed. A relief party was set out to find Samuel's body, because he was believed to have been killed. When they arrived at the tree where Samuel had hidden, they found fragments of some paper. This paper contained the roll of the company and had been torn to pieces by Samuel. Samuel was taken to Willtown where his fate was in suspense for three days. He was made to run the gauntlet, his feet and hands made fast and the Indians threw him over their heads to see what the effect would be on his nose, but his life was spared and he was adopted into the wolf clan of the Cherokees. The Indians wanted peace, so 8 of the braves escorted Samuel to his home in Blount Co., Tn. The only ransom they asked was a key of whiskey.

Samuel was about forty at the time he was captured and his hair being brown, but on his return his hair was gray and his body was scarred and beaten severely. He resided for some time near the Telico Blockhouse, where the Indians came to trade. When a native from Willtown came across the river, he would say "Cananla, Cananla" meaning Peace, Peace and then spend days with their brother of the wolf clan. Samuel and his family finally settled at Winchester, Tn. He was a member of the first convention that formed the State of Tn. He is buried in Woods Cemetery, near Mingo Swamp, northwest of Belvidere, Tn.

In his pension application application, Samuel states:

The applicant Samuel Handly further states on his oath that he has no record of his age it being lost – but from the best information he has – he was born in the State of Pennsylvania in the year 1752 – that he was removed from that state at a very early period of life to the State of Virginia agusta [Augusta] County afterwards Rockbridge County which was taken of Augusta where he was raised; then in Wyth [Wythe] County where he entered the service as before stated; thence afterwards removed to Washington County East Tennessee which was then North Carolina he afterwards lived in Blount County East Tennessee, he moved in 1809 to Franklin County where he now lives and has resided ever since.


DOB: Sep 17, 1751
DOD: Oct 31, 1840
POD: Belvidere, Franklin Co., Tennessee
Burial: Woods Cemetery, near Mingo Swamp, northwest of Belvidere, Franklin Co., Tennessee
Spouse 1): Mary Adams (?-1779) No Children
Spouse 2): Susannah Cowan (1761-1836)
DOM: Feb 04, 1782
POM: Washington Co, NC
Father: William Handley (?-1756)

Child List

Nancy Handley ___ Hall She was captured by Indians when 7 years old and held prisoner for seven years. She was released unhurt and later married and lived in Winch, S.C.
Sarah Handley 1783 Thomas Ross (1783-1868) She was born in Tn. He was born in Va. and died in Lee Co., Miss
Samuel Jr. Handley He was in Pontatoc, Miss. in 1838
John Handley Feb 22, 1786 Aug 09, 1855 Nancy Cowan May 22, 1794 - Aug 06, 1854 She was the daughter of Major John Cowan and Agness Martin. Both are buried near Belvidere, Tn.
Mary Handley William S. Foster
Lucinda Handley John Bell m. 1819 She was also known as "Betsey". He was the son of Robert Bell Jr (son of Robert Bell (1736-1816) and Catherine Walker) and Grizzelle McCutcheon (daughter of James McCutcheon and Grizzelle Campbell.
Robert Cowan Handley Jul 06, 1792 Aug 27, 1841 Elizabeth Bell - Dec 03, 1799 - Feb 01, 1892 She was a sister to John Bell. They were married in Logan Co., Ky. He died in Pontotoc Co., Miss.
William Clairborne Handley Jul 25, 1803 May 19, 1862

Revolutionary War Pension Information

Information from “Virginia/West Virginia Genealogical Data from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Records”, Vol. 2, compiled by Patrick G. Wardell, Lt. Col. U.S. Army Ret. :

  • Handley, Samuel, born 1752, Pennsylvania; moved as child to Augusta County (area later Rockbridge County), Virginia; entered service 1776 in Wythe County, Virginia, where he resided; moved after Revolutionary War to Washington County, North Carolina thence Blount County, Tennessee, thence 1809 Franklin County, Tennessee, where pensioned in 1832; died 1/24/1840; member of convention that framed present Tennessee constitution; query letter in file states soldier resided 1832 in Winchester, Tennessee; query letter in file states soldier buried there; query letter in file states soldier died 1840 age 92 near Winchester, Tennessee. F-S1911, R1179.
  1. Pernsion application gives his POB as PA, and his DOB as 1752. The source of the specific date 17 Sep 1751, needs to be identified.