It would be difficult to find a resident of Cheatham County, Tennessee or even western Davidson County that hasn’t heard of Sam’s Creek in Pegram. There are even a couple of roads, Sam’s Creek Road and Old Sam’s Creek Road, named after it.
View of Sam’s Creek down Deerfoot Drive in Pegram, Tennessee
But who was Sam? To have a creek named after him, there isn’t much information readily available online or in any books I’ve found.
I conducted a search for old newspaper articles on newspapers.com. In 1903, Mrs. Octavia Zollicoffer Bond wrote an article, “Historic Sam’s Creek Springs”, for The Tennessean newspaper that said in the early pioneer days, Sam Feeling built his cabin on the “stream” and from him the fountain and spring took his name.
Samuel Feland appeared in records under the last names Feland, Felan, Felin, Feeling, Feelin, Freland: a variety of spellings. He also went by Sam.
Sam was an early Davidson County, Tennessee pioneer. On April 3, 1787, Samuel Felin purchased lot number 34 in Nashville from Russell Gower (Record book A, page 37). He was likely living in or making trips to Nashville before that time, because on March 4, 1783, records state the Committee of the Cumberland Association dropped trespassing charges brought against him by Terrel (1770-1780 Census of the Cumberland Settlements).
Four years after buying lot 34 in Nashville, Sam sold it to Howell Tatum. The indenture said Samuel Felin was from Lincoln County, Kentucky. Witnesses to the transaction were Andrew Jackson and John Overton (1791, Deed index, page 247, early Nashville land records).
In 1799, Sam purchased 320 acres from Thomas Molloy on what came to be known as Sam’s Creek (April 22, 1799, Deed book E, page 180).
Twelve years later, on May 30, 1811, Sam wrote his final will & testament. I was able to examine the original will at the Metro Nashville Archives, and it was truly incredible to touch a more than 200-year-old document.
State of Tennessee, Davidson County, Wills – 1811 – page 156
His last Will and Testament, recorded September 20, 1811
Will dated May 30, 1811
In the name of God, amen. I, Samuel Feland, of the County of Davidson and State of Tennessee being very sick and weak but in perfect mind and memory thanks to be given unto the living God. Calling to mind the mortality of any body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament and that this is to say Principally and first I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God that gave it and my body. I recommend to the Earth in Christian decent burial at the discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the general Resurrection. I shall receive the same by the Almighty Power of God and as Touching such wordly estate as it has pleased God to bless me with in this life.
I give demise and dipose of the same in the following manner and form. first, I give and bequeath to Mary my dearly beloved wife one hundred acres the place where I live on during her life and the personal property belonging to the same estate and at her death it shall be divided between my four youngest children, Sidy, Sinthy, Obedience Williamson, Ferby (Ferrebbee), each an equal share of the said personal property after my wife’s death.
I likewise give unto Samuel Feland Dines [Dennis] my grandchild forty acres of land lying Southwest of the old place, farther and three hundred acres is to be divided equal shares first William is to get one hundred acres. Secondly, James one hundred. Thirdly, Thomas Williamson Feland one hundred. That is to say the land my beloved wife lifes on which is one hundred the whole is to be equally divided according to quantity and quality. My son William Feland is to pay one hundred dollars in property at cash priced to my youngest daughter Fereby and further James Feland my son is to pay one hundred dollars unto Obedience Feland my daughter in property at cash price five years after date, and I hereby utterly disallow and disannul all and every former Testament Wills Legacies and bequest and Executors by me in any wise before named willed bequested ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. I have hereunto set my hand and seal this thirtieth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eleven. Signed sealed published pronounced and declared by the saide Samuel Feland as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names.
Test: David C. Irwin and Henry Dines [Dennis]
Samuel Feland (SEAL)
State of Tennessee Davidson County July Sessions 1811
The above recited last Will and Testament was in open Court duly proven to be the act and deed of the said Samuel Feland by the oaths of David C. Irvin and Henry Dines [Dennis], the subscribing witnesses there to and the same ordered to be recorded.
From Sam’s will, we know his wife at his time of death was named Mary. I don’t know anything else about her at this time, or if she was the mother of his children.
In his will, he mentioned his children’s names. He had three sons: William, James, and Thomas. (Thomas later used the last name of Fielding.) He had four daughters: Sinthey (or Syntha, multiple spellings), Obedience, Fereby (or Ferebee), and Sidy.
From Davidson County, Tennessee marriage records on Ancestry, I found that William Felin married Mary Fambrough in 1809, bondsman was Samuel Dennis. William died in 1815. Obedience married Samuel Lewis in 1813, but was living as head of household on the 1816 tax list. In 1817, Fereby married John Lewis, possibly kin to Obedience’s husband. Thomas married Elizabeth Hunter in Williamson County in 1818.
Sam’s will also mentioned his grandson, Samuel Feland Dennis, and gave him 40 acres of land. This tract of land was sold in 1831/1833 by Samuel Feland Dennis and his father, Samuel Dennis, to Washington G. Shelton. Samuel Feland Dennis’ mother was Sinthey, also mentioned in the will.
According to the book The Southern Virginia Weakley Families and Their Descendants by Samuel Anderson Weakley in 1963, Sam’s tombstone was found in an “old barn lot” in the Lillamay community, which is located in the Sam’s Creek area. The book also has this photo of his tombstone. From the inscription, we know that Sam was born in 1755, and died June 16, 1811 at the age of 56. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down the tombstone’s current location, or where the “old barn lot” is located. Sam’s final resting place is likely on the land he once owned, and near his namesake creek.
With the help of old records and my grandfather’s DNA, I am thrilled to say Sam is MY Sam, my fifth great-grandfather. Learning about Sam has been an exciting journey for me, and I hope to learn a lot more. More than 200 years later, his name has left a lasting imprint in his community.
If you have any information on the Feland family, or know how I can locate Sam’s tombstone, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.