General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Abel Lanham


Abel Lanham, Revolutionary war hero at the battle of Orangeburg and one of the Founding fathers of Claiborne county and the city of Tazewell TN.

Lanham was born in 1762 in South Carolina to his parents, John Lanham and Comford Brown. In 1777, Lanham met Jean Kuykendall and were married on December 3, 1777. From this union they would have 11 children.

 On March1, 1778, Lanham volunteered as a private under the command of Captain Kerkendall in the regiment of William Grimes in Rutherford County NC. For the next 3 months Lanham chased Tories in Rutherford County. Lanham was discharged from the army in May 1778.

 During the Revolutionary war, the citizens were troubled and tormented by the local Tories and Indians. It was reported that the Tories had a strong presence along the Broad River and Buffalo creek.  The Tories of Rutherford County participated in the battles of Kings Mountain and Lindley Mill. During the battle of Kings Mountain, the Tories under Ferguson camped at Gilbertown NC while searching for food and supplies. After the battle of Kings Mountain, Most of the Tories were forced to flee Rutherford County and their property was confiscated.

    In March 1779, Lanham reenlisted in the army was sent to McFadden’s Fort located along the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC. Lanham was stationed there until June 1779.

In September 1781, Lanham was sent to participate in the battle of Orangeburg SC. In May 1781, the SC militia under Col. Thomas Sumter had captured the British Garrison from 15 British Regulars and 70 Tories. The British would later retake the garrison. After the battle of Eutaw springs on September 8, 1781 which occurred close by, Sumter retook the garrison for a second time. Lanham would be stationed at Orangeburg until February 1782.

   In September 1782, Lanham served with john Sevier at the Indian battles at Chota and along the Hiawassee River. Sevier destroyed14 Indian Towns located along the Hiawassee River. Lanham returned home on December 1, 1782. This was his last Revolutionary war battle.

 Sometime before 1796, Lanham moved to Grainger county TN. On June 30, 1797, Lanham was commissioned as a Lieutenant and on October 26, 1799, Lanham was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace by Governor John Sevier.

 On October 29, 1801, Lanham and 13 other men formed the County of Claiborne County from Grainger and Hawkins County. In 1803 Lanham and 7 other men formed the city of Tazewell. Lanham name appears 24 times in the first court minutes of Claiborne County.

 Between 1810 and 1814, Lanham served as a Trustee for Claiborne County. In 1810, Lanham’s wife Jean died. Lanham later met Sarah Nunn in 1818 and were soon married. From this union they had 8 children.

 In 1837, Lanham applied for his pension for his service during the revolutionary war. Lanham also received many Land grants for his service during the war. His largest was a 1000 acre land grant given to Lanham by the State of NC in 1784. Lanham died on August 25, 1836 and was buried on his farm.

 On October 28, 2006, the General Joseph Martin SAR chapter honored Lanham for his service during the revolutionary war and for his contributions in Founding the County of Claiborne and the city of Tazewell TN. Too few men are born with visions of the future like Lanham possessed in the founding of Claiborne County. During his life, Lanham witnessed and help bring about the birth of a new Nation and a county named Claiborne.

Source of Information: Chuck Minton Speech on the life of Abel Lanham, October 28, 2006, Claiborne county Courthouse, Tazewell TN.


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