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Below is a family biography included in The History of DeKalb 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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J. L. Colvert, retired merchant, was born in 1828 in Culpeper County, Va., the son of William I. and Harriett (Weedon) Colvert. The father, born in the same county in 1791, was a farmer and a soldier in the war of 1812, on duty in his native State. In 1828 he came to Warren County, Tenn., thence to Alabama for a few years, and about 1840 returned to Cannon County, Tenn. He finally settled in De Kalb County in 1848 and bought a home of 150 acres, where he lived the greater part of his life. He died in Nashville in 1859. The mother, born in 1801 in Fairfax County, Va., is still living, receiving a pension for her husband’s services in 1812. Our subject, one of seven children, came to Tennessee when an infant, and was reared and educated in Cannon County. At the age of sixteen he served a year’s apprenticeship in a tannery, then farmed a year, and in 1848 sunk a tannery in De Kalb County with his brother as partner. In April, 1846, he married Johanna Matthews, born in Cannon County in 1830. Their two children are Mary E., wife of S. D. Blankenship, and Harriett. In 1852 he engaged in farming and merchandising besides tanning. In 1854 he sold his tanyard and store and established a store in Smith County. After six months here he bought 500 acres in District No. 14 and farmed for three years. He then moved to Nashville, where he ran a lumber and wood yard and as contractor built Carroll and Wharf Avenues, rebuilt Market Front and built a sewer from the river to the Maxwell House. He also owned a third interest in a wholesale and retail grocery on Market Street. In 1862 he returned to De Kalb County and in 1864 settled in Smithville, where the next year he began merchandising at which he was engaged until January, 1886. He then sold to his son-in-law, Blankenship. Mrs. Colvert died in 1855, and in January, 1858, he married Martha M. Tysee, born in De Kalb County in 1839. Mr. Colvert is the oldest continuous merchant in Smithville and a most successful one. In 1873, besides his Smithville business, he was in the grocery business in Nashville. In politics he is a Democrat, first voting for Fillmore. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, while his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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This family biography is one of 45 biographies included in The History of DeKalb County, Tennessee published in 1887.  The History of Dekalb County was included within The History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren & White Counties of Tennessee. For the complete description, click here: History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren, White Counties of Tennessee

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