This is Joshua and Manerva Dickens'  headstone located in the Dickens Cemetery at Hurricane Creek.

A casual search for a Joshua Dickens in Smith County during the period from the mid-1800's to1904 can confuse the researcher because there are two of them; a Sr. and a Jr. but they are not father and son.
Joshua Sr. was the uncle of my great grandfather Joshua Jr., not his father. Joshua (the elder) was appointed legal guardian for Joshua (the younger) during the settlement of John Jr.'s estate. John Jr. was the father of Joshua, Jr.---- and Joshua Sr. and John Jr. were brothers. Confusing? Yes!

Joshua Sr. donated land for the original Methodist Church & Cemetery August 6, 1895.
A copy of the Deed for the property is on file at the TN State Archives in Nashville.

Joshua Dickens (known as Joshua Sr.)  b. December 24, 1820,   d. November 5, 1904.
Manerva Young Dickens, (his first wife)      b.     1821 or 1822,         d. April 3, 1881. 

Several months ago I began a simple search for information about the early life of Joshua Dickens I have a lot of information about his adult years but all I knew about his youth was his birth date.

I was very surprised to find him listed along with his wife, Manerva, seven (7) times in the Family as being born in Jackson, TN on various dates from 1815 through 1821 and his wife Manerva Young Dickens listed as born in Jackson, TN in 1811, 1822, and 1823.

The Jackson, TN listing as the birthplace for both of them is totally impossible. At that time there was a Jackson County, TN but no city of Jackson, TN. There's a big difference between the two. Jackson County was established in 1801 and Jackson the city was established over 20 years later, approximately 200 miles away.

I thought perhaps there was something I had missed about the settling of the Jackson, TN area so I began looking for some new information about the city. Also, perhaps there was another Joshua. To be brief,  there was no new information about the settling of the city of Jackson, TN and there was no other Joshua who married a lady named Manerva Young.  

If you were raised in TN or know a little TN history, you know that TN is divided into three Grand Divisions: East , Middle, and West and the western section of the state where Jackson, TN is located in Madison County, was the last of the three Grand Divisions of TN to be opened for settlement.

Here is an excellent article about the settlement of Madison County and the City of Jackson.

By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996

The Indians had until November of 1820 to evacuate, but the early birds were beginning to come in to look the situation over.

On November 9, 1821, the general assembly at Murfreesboro, then serving as the capitol, passed an act providing for the organization of the Western District into counties. It was under this act that Madison, Henry, Carroll and Henderson Counties were created. Madison County, however, was not finally organized until December 17, 1821.

Page 57.(Note: regarding the city of Jackson.)
The land to be obtained for the new town was to be by donation or purchase on the most favorable terms. ... 
The commissioners for the sale of the lots consisted of, among others, Stokely D. Hays, Doctor Butler, Robert Hughes and the one legged lawyer, Aaam Huntsman. The sale of the lots did not begin until July 4, 1822, when it was continued from time to time."

First, consider why Joshua and Manerva were not born in Jackson, TN. Manerva was born in Jackson County, TN and Joshua was born in Smith County, TN. (This has little to do with their lives but it does have a lot to do with unsuspecting folks searching for their ancestors.) 
So now we know. If a Web site states that Joshua and Manerva were born in Jackson, TN, we know they mean Jackson County, TN for Manerva and Smith County for Joshua.

On Jan. 5, 1894, Joshua Jr. bought two acres on Hurricane Creek for his home.
On Aug. 6, 1895, Joshua Sr. donated 3/4 acre next door to
Jr. for the use of the Methodist Church. 
When I was a child, my grandmother told me there were several Methodist Circuit Riding Preachers in the family.
The Church was moved to its present location on Maggart Road when the Hurricane Creek properties were covered by waters of Cordell Hull Lake.

A copy of deeds for the properties are in the TN State Archives, Roll 125, Book 9, Pages 472-473 and Pages

The children of Joshua Sr. and Manerva Dickens.
These names are taken from the settlement of
Joshua's estate after his death in 1904.
Birth dates are figured from census records.

Name                              Birth Year
Martha Roberts                   1846
John                                   1847
Samuel R.                           1848
Clarissa Shoemake              1849
William V.                          1850
Eliza Henry                         1852
Shep                                   1855
Audria Haynes                    1860
Fanny Bush                        1862

The 1821 birth date for Joshua wasn’t a surprise, since he was born on December 24, 1820 but 1815?
No way.
The 1822 – 1823 wasn’t a surprise for Manerva. Her exact birth year in the early 1820’s is still a question.
But 1811? No way.

I’ve located other Web sites that also use the 1811 birth date for Manerva. 

What is her given name? The Smith County Cemetery Book has Maneria. Census records use Minerva,
Manervy, Manirva and some Web sites, Minerva. The headstone has Manerva, so that's the name we accept.
Joshua Sr. Page 1.
Joshua Sr. Page 1.
                           Dickens of Hurricane Creek
        Maggart, Sullivans Bend, Elmwood, Chestnut Mound, Smith County, TN
Joshua and Manerva Dickens
Thanks to Bob Dickens-Tobin for the use of this photo.