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Below is a family biography included in The History of Weakley County, Tennessee published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Judge John Somers, judge of the Eleventh Chancery Division of Tennessee, was born in Wilson County, Tenn., July 16, 1827. His parents were James and Annie (McFarland) Somers. The father was of English descent, born in North Carolina in 1791, and was a farmer by occupation. His father, John Somers, was a native of England, and was a Revolutionary soldier with a captain’s commission. James Somers, when a young man, came to Wilson County, Tenn., where he married, and remained until 1840, when he came to Weakley County, and located on a 4,000-acre tract of land, which was given to his father by the Government, for military services. James Somers died in 1864. His wife was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was born in Wilson County, in 1800. She died in 1867. She was the mother of eight children, two of whom, only, are now living: Annie, wife of John A. Gilchrist, a resident of Nashville, and our subject; the latter received an academic education in the schools of Wilson and Weakley Counties. He came to the latter county at the age of thirteen years, and at the age of nineteen years entered the teacher’s profession. The following year he began the study of law, and in 1848 entered the law department of Cumberland University, graduating in the summer of 1849. He then returned to Dresden and began the practice. In 1850 he formed a partnership with James Davis, at Troy, but at the end of four years, returned to Dresden, and formed a partnership with Judge John A. Rogers. In 1860 he was appointed by Gov. Harris judge of the chancery court of the Twelfth Division, and retained the office 100 days. After the war he resumed the practice at Dresden, and in 1866 was again appointed judge, by Gov. Brownlow, and in 1867 was elected by the people. In 1870 he had no opposition, and again in 1878. His official and his private character is above reproach. In February, 1851, he married Miss Sarah Jane Brown, a native of Obion County. They have one living child — Annie Bell, wife of John C. Rogers. Mrs. Somers was accidentally killed in October, 1852, by jumping from a rapidly moving vehicle. The following year the judge married Martha Jane Hogue whom he lost in 1855. February 16, 1875, he married Martha Jane Harris, who was born May 10, 1836. They have four living children: Edwin, Thomas, James and Keeble. Judge Somers has no superior advocate or judge in the State. His twenty years of judicial experience fit him for the highest court trust in the gift of the State. He is a Democrat, and was formerly an Odd Fellow. His wife is a member of the Christian Church.

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This family biography is one of 108 biographies included in The History of Weakley County, Tennessee published in 1887 by Goodspeed.  The History of Weakley County was included within The History of Gibson, Obion, Dyer, Weakley & Lake Counties of Tennessee. For the complete description, click here: History of Gibson, Obion, Dyer, Weakley, and Lake Counties of Tennessee

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