Lieutenant Colonel William J. Polk
Excerpts from the "HISTORIC MAURY". Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1*
Lieutenant Colonel William J. Polk was born July 9, 1758, the son of General Thomas and Susanna Spratt Polk, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. William Polk was educated at Queen's College, Charlotte, NC., which he left, at the age of 17 in April, 1775, to accept a commission as Second Lieutenant in Captain Ezekiel Polk's Company of the Third South Carolina Mounted Infantry, under Col. William Thompson. He commanded several expeditions in South Carolina and was severely wounded in the left shoulder at Great Cane Break, December 22, 1775, being rendered unfit for service for eight or nine months.
On November 26, 1776, by North Carolina Provincial Congress at Halifax, Polk was elected Major of the Ninth North Carolina Regiment. In command of four companies, he marched with his division of the line into the Jerseys and joined General George Washington's Army. Polk was present with General Washington through the hardships of Valley Forge. In September of 1777, Polk and 200 of his North Carolina cavalry, escorted the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown. He returned and was present at the battles of the Brandywine and Germantown in October of 1777. At Germantown, he was shot in the mouth. In March of 1778, when the nine North Carolina regiments were consolidated, he was left without a command. Polk returned to the South, volunteered with the Militia and served as aide to General Caswell, when Gates was defeated at Camden, NJ. In the fall and winter of 1780, he fought at Guilford Court House and Eutaw Springs. Polk's total service amounted to five years and two months.
In 1783, Polk was appointed by North Carolina Legislature, Surveyor General of the "Middle District", now part of the State of Tennessee and in that capacity resided at French Lick Fort, the site of the present City of Nashville. He remained there until 1786 and was elected twice from Davidson County to the North Carolina House of Commons. In 1787, Polk was elected to the Legislature from his native county, which he represented until President Washington appointed him, in 1791, Supervisor of Internal Revenue for the District of North Carolina. Polk held this office for seventeen years, until the repeal of the Internal revenue Laws.
Polk was a Trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1790-1834, and a Director and then President of the State Bank of North Carolina, 1811-1819, until he resigned in order to devote more of his attention to his extensive landholdings, of 100,000 acres in Tennessee..
Col. Polk married twice. The first, to Griselda Gilchrist of Suffolk, VA on October 15, 1789, the second to Sarah Hawkins of Pleasant Hill, NC, on January 1, 1801. He had nine children. Lieutenant Colonel William J. Polk died at Raleigh, NC, on January 4, 1834.
* With permission, from the the "HISTORIC MAURY". Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1, March 2002.
An article on the Probate Records of Col. William Polk, from the Williamson County Archives, by Rick Warwick, Editor of the Williamson County Historical Society Journal.
The Maury County Historical Society
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