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The Tickanetley Bend

Kentucky James Brantley

     For many years researchers from all over the south have studied the history and genealogy of James Brantley, born ca 1770, who fled Georgia in 1811 and went first into Tennessee and later to Livingston County, Kentucky.  He spent the rest of his life and died in Kentucky in what was by then Crittenden County in 1841, leaving a large family. To the Brantley Association, he has become known as Kentucky James. It is most intriguing to study the progeny of this man who once was a fugitive from Georgia and who would later become the ancestor of the entire Kentucky Brantley population. James Brantley drew land in Bullock Co in 1804.  A dispute broke out on the night of August 3, 1811, while James Brantley and acquaintance Elijah Beacham were visiting at the home of William Tomerlin, also a residence of Bullock County, Georgia. These men had obviously known one another for several years, as they were “chain carriers” during a survey years earlier in nearby Montgomery County. The subject of the dispute is not known, but Brantley and Beacham became involved in a fight and according to witnesses, James Brantley stabbed Elijah Beacham several times. Beacham died, and on September 2, 1811, Georgia Governor David B. Mitchell issued a warrant offering a $100 reward for the apprehension of James Brantley. According to the order, James had already "absconded from the county of Bullock.” He soon appeared in Smith county, and later Sumner county, Tennessee. His first wife's name is unknown to us, but he was a witness to several deed transactions in the following years involving persons surnamed Harris. (See note on this below). Facts discovered over the years have shown that he was almost certain to have once been a resident of Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Mr. Tomerlin, mentioned above, was also once a resident of Edgecombe County. According to the census of 1850 James' first son, William (b ca 1793), was born in North Carolina. His second known child was born in Georgia, about 1795. This would, of course, place his arrival in Georgia about this time. It is important to understand at this point that only 3 other Brantley families are found to have migrated to Georgia between 1790 and 1820. They were the families of brothers Amos and Malachi Brantley and Benjamin Brantley all of whom came from Edgecombe County, N.C. to Hancock County, Georgia. We believe that Benjamin is another brother to Amos and Malachi. We have no reluctance in declaring our James to be closely related to them. Amos and Malachi were both sons of William Brantley of Edgecombe County. James named his first son William and another son Malachi. After 20 years of research on all of these families, we can say that all 4 of the Malachi Brantleys born prior to 1900, are tied to the Edgecombe County family. Other given names found in the decadency of James are almost exclusive to Edgecombe county families. They include Malachi, Matthew, and Greenberry (Green Berry) Brantley. We felt at one time that James was a brother to Amos and Malachi, but more recently discovered records have compromised such a position. In or about 1799 James Brantley Sr and James Brantley Jr were listed as the only tax payers in Montgomery County, Georgia. Surely, our James is one of these and assuming these are father and son, it would mean that he was the Jr as he would not have been old enough to have a grown son then. Therefore, the Senior would seemingly be his father.  If so, then we would conclude that his father might have been the brother to Amos and Malachi. We recognize however, that it is possible that he is even further removed, but he is, no doubt, as they are, a descendant of an earlier James Brantley who died in Isle of Wight County, Va in 1740. (See the study of John Brantley Nash County, NC.)


The first wife of James


A James Brantley married Nancy Harris on August 2, 1793 in Southampton County, Virginia. For some time, we speculated that this was our James, as mentioned earlier, as he was seen mingling heavy with the Harris family in Tennessee after his flight from Georgia. One researcher later provided a record from a progenitor of 2 generations earlier who recorded that James married Mary Elizabeth Harris, but gave the date as the same one shown as the marriage of Nancy Harris to James (August 2, 1793). Although the given names were different, this gave us further reason to conclude that this was our James.   

Then came the estate records of Nancy Brantley, widow of James Brantley deceased of South Hampton County, VA.   In the estate records, it showed that she was the Nancy Harris who had married James Brantley and that he had died. Her Harris brothers were participants in the estate proceedings.

We now must conclude that although our Kentucky James perhaps married a Harris about the same time, it would have to be a different Harris lady. This marriage should have occurred in N.C. and probably, at least, a year earlier. We can only suppose that an earlier researcher, having been satisfied that James had indeed married a Harris, assumed the union of the James Brantley to Nancy Harris was between Kentucky James and Nancy Harris.

James' first wife was apparently dead by 1831 when he married Talitha Allen. Apparently she died within months, for on Jan 13, 1832, he married Eliza Brintzfield. There was one daughter born to this union. She was Mary Jane Brantley. She would marry __?___  Elder

While some may suppose James to have been an outlaw and renegade, we make no such conclusion. First, we really don't know the outcome of the charges made against him. Some family members were told that he was ultimately acquitted. This would be supported by the fact that he would serve in the War of 1812 and continue to use his name until his death in 1841 rather that use an alias. In any case, what we do observe is that he is the progenitor of thousands of Americans today. Among them are some of the most down to earth and honest people among us. The Brantley Association sees no more support from descendants of his generation, than from those of Kentucky James. I have spoken with descendants of Kentucky James in all parts of the country; in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia: In Kentucky, No Carolina, So Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, and California. I find no one more enthusiastic about their genealogy than those among his progeny.


Kenneth Brantley



See our 6th report for the family and descendants of James Brantley




Ken Brantley

Phone:  770-943-4677


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