Thomas Hamilton and Jane McCracken

There is a lot of inconsistent information online about Thomas Hamilton. This is largely because there are so many Thomas Hamiltons from Ireland!  There were, however, at least two of them who arrived in America at around the same time. One, who I believe was the son of Hansford Hamilton and often confused with our Thomas Hamilton, appears to have settled in Pennsylvania. The other went to North Carolina and from there to the Tennessee frontier.

Our Thomas Hamilton was born around 1725 in Northern Ireland (Ulster). He was a Scots-Irish Protestant: a descendant of Lowland Scots who had settled “plantations,” or de facto British colonies, in Ulster during the previous century.

It is possible that Thomas was related in some way to James Hamilton, Viscount Claneboye, one of the two noblemen who originally convinced the Scots King James to colonize Ulster with Scotsmen, but it is impossible at this point to say for sure. But I like this picture of the Viscount, so I’m posting it anyway.

James Hamilton, First Viscount Claneboye
James Hamilton, First Viscount Claneboye

For a brief, if not exactly objective, story of the origins of the Scots-Irish “tribe,” click here. They were known to be a bit contentious, to say the least.

Thomas married Jane McCracken, another Scots-Irish Protestant, and according to family oral history they had at least two children in Ireland who died before deciding to emigrate around 1750. They may have lived in Pennsylvania for a short time, but the early 1760s, they had settled in Guilford County, North Carolina where two daughters and three sons were born.

Like nearly all Scots-Irishmen, Thomas sided with the revolutionaries. He participated in the pivotal Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. His three sons, Thomas Jr., James, and Robert, also served in the Continental Army; Thomas Jr. reputedly served with General Frances Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox,” and considered to be the father of modern guerrilla warfare.

By 1787, the Hamiltons had moved to Sumner County, Tennessee as one of the earliest settler families on the frontier.  Thomas bought 320 acres of land on the headwaters of the Red River from Kaspar Mansker, a  famous“long hunter” and one of the first European explorers of the Cumberland Territory as that part of Tennessee was then known.

At that time, attacks by Indians were common. The Hamiltons and their children and grandchildren lived for many years along with several other (mostly Scots-Irish) families, including the Shaws and the Carrs from whom we also descend, in a fortified settlement called Hamilton’s Station. This fort was located on or near the land originally purchased from Kaspar Mansker.

Thomas Hamilton passed away around 1800; Jane McCracken’s death date is unknown.

One of their children was Elizabeth Hamilton. Born in 1755, she lived through the Revolutionary War, the Indian wars, and almost until the Civil War, passing away in 1856 at the age of 101. She is buried at the Clendening/Frazier Cemetery along Long Hollow Pike near Gallatin, TN.

Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter, Jane Marie Shaw, would have known her well, as their lifetimes overlapped by about 24 years. Jane was, of course, Papa Kelly’s mother, and my great-great grandmother.

Elizabeth Hamilton Shaw tombstone.
Elizabeth Hamilton Shaw tombstone.

14 thoughts on “Thomas Hamilton and Jane McCracken

  1. This is nicely done. I would add that Mansker and Hamilton reputedly had a fight and Hamilton moved to the Ridge. I am also confused by a number of people who claim that Mordecai Gwin was from Guilford County. I have him in Orange County in the tax rolls of the 1790’s.


  2. Hi, trying to figure out whether Elizabeth Hamilton had a daughter Jane Shaw who married Andrew Patterson. Thanks.


    1. That is what I have, however, the only source I have is U.S. and International Marriage records which is not great. They did name two children Robert Shaw Patterson and William Hamilton Patterson, though, so it seems likely.


  3. Hi, I have a Jane Hamilton born 1807 in Sumner, TN and I was wondering if you think she could be the daughter of one of Thomas’ sons? There’s a marriage record dated 4th Nov 1829 stating her marriage to Armstead Webb [illegible] Shaw and their son (from whom I am descended) was named Thomas (who married Drucilla Angeline Dorris). Jane’s listing in the 1880 Federal Census lists her father’s birthplace as Ireland. You said TH Irish born children passed away before the crossing, but as TH passed away in 1800, he cannot be Jane’s father. Your thoughts?


    1. Hi, I have not worked on this line in a long time. But I think that’s a good working theory. The Shaws and Hamiltons had lots of interactions with each other, and it would be natural to name a child after her grandmother.


  4. I am a descendent of Thos. Hamilton of the fort. His daughter Ann married King Carr in 1789. There is so little known about the fort, I am so happy to read this!


  5. I am a descendant of Malinda Hamilton who was the daughter of Thomas Hamilton III. Thomas Hamilton Jr moved to Southern Illinois where he died. There is a plague in Gallatin County Illinois honoring him as a Revolutionary War soldier.

    His pension papers discuss that he was a spy in the Revolutionary War and he lists out that he served under William Washington, the cousin of George Washington and also Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee among others.

    According to military records and his pension papers, Thomas Hamilton III took up arms when Andrew Jackson called for volunteers in Tennessee for the War of 1812. He fought in Florida and then at the Battle of New Orleans. He then moved to Southern Illinois along with his father Thomas Hamilton Jr. and then later he moved his family, including my ancestor his daughter Malinda, by wagon train to Arkansas. His war of 1812 pension papers are in Arkansas records.

    There is a picture of Thomas Hamilton IV that we have from a family gathering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thomas Hamilton built a fort in Sumner County, Tn. His daughter married King Carr in 1789. I am descended from this line. There seems to be little info on the fort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The book “Early History of Middle Tennessee”
        By Edward Albright, 1909 discusses Hamilton Station. It credits Captain John Carr with establishing the fort and shares a story of an attack on the fort. This appears in Chapter 30.

        The book “Early Times in Middle Tennessee” written by the same John Carr in 1857 shares a story about Thomas Hamilton Jr in Chapter 14 in the section about their pastor at the fort named Benjamin Tucker. It’s about his attempted religious conversion of Thomas Hamilton Jr. Whether it’s 100% true or not it’s a very humorous story. It’s about him climbing a chimney to get away from listening to the preacher.

        In the book “Historic Sumner County” written by Jay Guy Cisco in 1909 he give the location of Hamilton Station at “the head of Drake’s creek, about 6 miles north of Shackle Island”.

        I read in another history that it was made of stone and disassembled during the depression and the stones were used by WPA workers to line a road. I don’t have a copy of this readily at hand but I’ll see if I can find it.

        His pension papers were “granted (Certificate 13723) in Tennessee to commence on March 4, 1832, but was issued on June 7 1833, at the rate of $45 per annum. The pension was transferred to Illinois from September 4, 1836 to December 19, 1836. Also noted in the file is that he died February 14, 1841.”

        In his pension papers it states he was born in Sussex County, NJ, that the family moved to PA then to NC before moving to TN. His will also is in Illinois. Of interest to you, he bequeathed his daughter Ann his oldest speckled cow. Also she and her sister Patsy were to split his hogs between them.

        To correct what I wrote before, the plaque honoring him is in Saline County Illinois, not Gallitin.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you very much for this information. I am familiar with Sisco and John Carr’s book. I know about where the fort was, that Thomas lived in cave while building fort, but the cave cannot be seen from the road. Several years ago I helped with research in historical Sumner County,, but was totally shocked when I found out later my own connection to TH.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am directly descended from James Snoddy Hamilton who was adopted by John Hamilton Jr in 1805. John Jr. died in 1832 in Sumner County and his father was John Sr. Do any of you know if these Hamilton’s are related to your Thomas Hamilton? Members of the Carr family were bondsmen on certain marriage documents, etc. so I know the families knew one another. Does anyone know anything about John Hamilton Jr and Sr of Sumner County? I’d particularly like to know where they migrated from, although I think it must have been either Virginia or NC. And would like to know any possible wife of John Sr./mother of John Jr.


  7. Good afternoon, I am trying to find a GGGrandmother, Mary jane Hamiliton born 1852 in Texas. Location unknown. She states her family was born in Tenn. But I can not get past her. She married Silas G Ashley in 1872 Kaufman texas. They lived in Kansas, with her daughter, Zylphia Belle Ashley, marrying my Great Grandfather Robert K Stewart. I am at a standstill. thanks, karen M (stewart)


    1. Hi, I’m sorry, but I don’t have a Mary Jane Hamilton in my tree. It is a pretty common name, but can be misspelled. I would trying searching with wild cards on censuses, maybe?


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