Ancestor of the Month
Daniel Wesley Reagan
15 Oct 1802 25 JN 1892
I may be
wrong about this, but I think Papaw McCarter not only admired his grandfather, Daniel Wesley Reagan, as a man, he was also
very proud of his kinship to his grandfather. He was pleased to have him for
Wesley Reagan was a forceful man who was well liked and revered by his neighbors.
He was the son of Richard Reagan (1769-1829), also a strong man who was public spirited and well respected. Richard, like many pioneer White Oak Flats men, was a jack-of-all-trades: miller, blacksmith, post master, justice of the peace, and religious leader. He and his family had first lived in Emert’s Cove, (Pittman Center), and Daniel Wesley
was born there. His mother was Julia Ann Shultz (1775-1846), daughter of Dr. Martin Shultz (last month’s Ancestor
of the Month). Of German descent, Julia Ann spoke English and German
and preferred a German Bible.
When Daniel was about two to four years old, the family moved
to White Oak Flats (Gatlinburg). They arrived not long after Martha Jane Ogle
and her family. Legend has it that Daniel Wesley was the first white child
born in White Oak Flats, but that story is incorrect.
Jan 1830, Daniel Wesley married Nancy Ogle (24 Aug 1810-18 Feb 1844), daughter
of Thomas J. and Sophia Bosley Ogle (Sophia was February’s red-haired Ancestor of the Month). When they
married, Daniel was twenty-eight years old and Nancy was twenty. The couple had
nine children: Richard Reason (Uncle Dick), Robert (who died as an infant),
Ephraim (Uncle Ephraim), Martha (Aunt Polly), Elizabeth Margaret, Julia Ann, Sophia, Daniel Wesley Stephen (Uncle Wes), and
died 18 Feb 1844, leaving Daniel Wesley with six children under ten and the two older boys at ages eleven and fourteen. That same year Daniel married Sarah “Sally” Whaley, daughter of Rebecca
Ogle McCarter Whaley and Middleton Whaley. Sally was brave to take on the responsibility
of nine children. At that time she was twenty-five years old and Daniel was forty-two.
Though he was almost twenty years older than she, Daniel was considered quite a catch since he was a landowner and
well respected in the community. Daniel Wesley and Sally had five children of
their own: Mary (Polly), Sarah (Aunt Sally), William Brownlow, Rebecca
(who died as an infant), and Charles Clemson.
Pre-Civil War Era
the Civil War, the “right” side to be on in Sevier County and in much of the mountain area was “no”
side. Most of the people were neutral.
In Sevier County those who did choose sides were overwhelmingly Union. Daniel Wesley was in that last group. Tradition has it that when the vote came for succession, there was only one vote in favor in the whole
county. People quickly narrowed that one vote down to Radford Gatlin, the outspoken
eccentric Gatlinburg storekeeper who had once been postmaster of the town and had given the town its name by virtue of his
office. Gatlin was run out of town after the vote, but strangely the town
kept the name he had given it.
the Civil War finally came, Reagan was too old to enlist, but he encouraged three of his sons to enlist, and he, himself,
trained soldiers in the Flats and in Bird’s Creek. He called his exercises
with the soldiers “mustering.” He was also appointed official food
distributor for the county during the war. Since he was a known Union sympathizer,
he expected to be captured by Confederate forces, so he hid the food supplies in safe places around the county and took his
youngest son, seven-year-old Charles, to where each batch was hidden. If he were
to be captured, Daniel Wesley placed the responsibility for distributing the food to the needy on the shoulders of the young
boy. (Note: One source
mentioned that Reagans were known as short, dark men. The army descriptions of
Richard, Ephraim, and West listed them as 5’9", 5’7", and 5’9"
respectively. All were described as having “dark hair.” The same source said Reagans were good musicians and could sing and play fiddles and guitars well. I was unable to verify this musical talent.)
his father Richard, Daniel was quite skillful at many tasks. He was a farmer
and blacksmith and built the first wagon made in White Oak Flats. He reportedly
made the wheels out of ”one piece of split white oak.” He donated
the land for the first community cemetery and provided a five-sided building for use as a church, school, and voting place. For a time he was postmaster for the settlement as were two of his sons.
one of Daniel's daughters was whipped by schoolteacher William Trentham for spitting in a classmate's schoolbook. Daniel was so furious he locked the schoolhouse and took the key and said that no more schools of that
kind would be allowed where he lived. Since Daniel had donated the land for the
school in the 1830's, he felt he had the right to close it down. Several days
later he relented and reopened the school.
all families, Daniel Wesley’s had its share of sadness. Son Robert died
when he was only five months old. Richard, Ephraim, and Wes were all soldiers
during the war. Wes spent two weeks at a hospital in Washington, DC to recover
before returning to active duty. Daniel’s brother David enlisted in the
Union army as “Jim Reagan” to take the place of his son, Jim, whom people said “lacked the nerve to go.” Unfortunately, David was killed in the war.
Daniel’s son Brownlow was killed in a freak accident in the mountains.
As he was hopping rocks in the river, his pistol fell out of his pocket, hit a rock and went off. The bullet struck Brownlow, killing him. Rebecca Reagan died
at only nine months of age.
before he was married, Daniel was interested in acquiring land and at one time owned over six thousand acres. He would later distribute this land to his children. This
desire for land may be another trait he picked up from his father. Not only did
Daniel Wesley own lots of land and farms, it became his practice to move to the new farms or homes when he bought them. After his death his second wife, Sally, said she wanted to stay in one spot for the
rest of her life because she was so tired of moving. She got her wish. She moved into the home of her stepdaughter, Marriah Reagan McCarter and her son-in-law Thomas Hill McCarter
(Papaw’s parents). She lived with them on their farm for eight years
until she died 05 Dec 1901. Marriah had been only two years old when her
own mother died, and Sarah was really the only mother she had ever known.
A Long Life, Well Lived
Wesley Reagan lived a long, prosperous life. He was well loved by his family
and the community. When he died on 25 Jan 1892, he was ninety years old. He had lived a life that would make his family proud, especially a young grandson
Wesley Reagan is Papaw’s grandfather. If you are Eli McCarter’s great
great grandchild, Daniel Wesley Reagan is your 4-great grandfather.
of Descent from Daniel Wesley Reagan to Rev. Eli McCarter
Wesley Reagan (1802-1892) + Nancy Ogle (810-1844)
Reagan (1842-1923) + Thomas Hill McCarter (1846-1923)
McCarter (1886-1955) + Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969)
Jeanette S. The Story of Gatlinburg.
Nashville, TN: Premium Press America, 1931
McCarter, Eli. “Letter to Thomas I McCarter.” 1951
Donald B. Smoky Mountain Clans, Vol. I, Rev. Ed. 1983.