John Laird (ÉMIGRÉ)

John Laird, the son of Elizabeth Armstrong and John Laird, was born March 17, 1770, in Belfast, Ireland, and died December 27, 1861, in Old Lynnville (now known as Waco) in Giles County, Tennessee. At the request of his uncles, Colonel John Armstrong and Colonel Martin Armstrong, he emigrated to America in the 1780's. After a voyage of three months, he arrived in Pennsylvania, and then, traveled over land on foot to Germantown, Stokes County, North Carolina, where his uncles had settled near a Moravian settlement. He taught school for four years, and in 1792, married Anna Maria Frey Tuttle, a Moravian widow with two small children. Anna Maria was born September 10, 1768, in Stokes County, North Carolina, and died December 16, 1846, in Old Lynnville, Giles County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Michael and Anna Maria Dorothea Frey, who were outstanding citizens in the Moravian community known as Wachovia.

Both John and Martin Armstrong fought in the Revolutionary War and were paid by North Carolina in Tennessee military land warrants. They also worked in the land offices in Hillsboro, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee, and bought thousands of acres in Middle Tennessee, which they, in turn, sold to the settlers. Because of their many land dealings, Martin was known as the "Old Surveyor" and John as the "Old Entry Taker." Traditionally, descendants have believed that the Armstrong's gave John Laird his land in Giles County, but this belief cannot be documented. Early deeds recorded in Giles County show that in 1811, John Laird purchased a 328 acre tract on Lynn Creek from Thomas Temple Armstrong, son of Martin Armstrong, for $500.00; in 1814, he purchased 185 acres on Lynn Creek from Thomas Temple Armstrong for $320.00; and in 1821, he bought 68 acres on Lynn Creek from Thomas Temple for $83.00.

John and Mary (Anna Maria) Laird were among the earliest settlers in Northern Giles County. Arriving in 1808, they lived in a house on the Martin Fry farm until John Laird acquired his land. He first built a house made of logs hewn from trees cut on his land, one-half mile north of Old Lynnville on the turnpike now known as Highway 31. Later, around 1814, he built a brick house with bricks hand made on the place, and converted the log house into a barn. John Laird constructed the walls of the house four bricks thick, and there were four large rooms downstairs with four smaller rooms above. On the back was an ell consisting of two rooms, one of which was the "loom room" where cloth was made for the family. The brick house is still standing today, but the original façade was changed by succeeding generations who lived there. The house was owned and occupied by various descendants until it was sold at auction in the 1970's.

In 1811, John Laird built a mill on the main branch of Lynn Creek and started the first cotton gin operated by water in that part of the county. He packed cotton in a square box and pummeled it in with pestles and mauls. Shortly afterward, he opened a store near his house and was a successful merchant for many years. Part of the store was used for a post office, and John Laird served as the Postmaster. After his retirement from business, he took the remnants of his stock of goods to his home, where he shelved a room to store the goods. He also made his front door burglar proof by driving nails in it in a design that gave protection without detracting from its appearance.

John and Mary Laird had nine children, seven of whom were born in North Carolina. The two youngest children, Ann Laird and Robert Henderson Laird, were born in Giles County. There were five daughters and four sons. Two of their sons, John Laird and Henry Laird, became physicians. Two of their children, Catherine and John, never married. Catherine died when she was thirty-eight, and John died at age twenty-two. The other seven children married and had families, and many of their descendants live in the area now.

Nancy Laird, the oldest child, married James Hampton Evans, and they had eleven children, ten of whom married and had families. Martin Laird married Margaret Peggy Malone and they had eight children, five of whom had families. Henry Laird married Sarah Leverette Hightower, and they had four children but only one of them married and had children. Mary Dorothy (Polly) Laird married George Thompson Malone, a brother of Margaret Peggy Malone. They had nine children, six of whom married and three of these had children. Martha (Patsy) Laird married Robert Malone Bugg, and they had nine children, six of whom married and five of these had children. Ann Laird married Franklin Taylor McLaurine and they had ten children, nine of whom married, and eight of these had families. The youngest child Robert Henderson Laird married Nancy Mildred Gordon, and they had one child who married and had a family.

(For further information about the descendants, see John Laird under Generation Charts on the Giles County Genealogy web site.)

Submitted by: Betty Long