The Barkley and Brabson families identified in these papers had lived in the Leesburg/Bowmantown area of Washington County, Tennessee since the 1830s. The activities of Alexander W. Brabson and Daniel B. Barkley are the earliest documented within the papers for each family. These two families were united through a marriage on September 20, 1876 of Alexander Brabson's son, Ethelbert Dudley Brabson (1849-1917), to Daniel B. Barkley's daughter, Katherine Jane Barkley (1850-1915).
Alexander Brabson's family originally lived in the Limestone area of Washington County, Tennessee. After attending medical school in Kentucky, he returned to his home to open a general practice. In addition to his duties as a physician, Brabson owned and operated a flour mill. His son, E. D. Brabson, remained in Washington County and served as a member of the county court for the 17th Civil District.
D. B. Barkley operated a general store located near the family home in the Leesburg/Bowmantown community. The original family home was built by Samuel Keebler with slave labor. At Keebler's death, the house was inherited by Keebler's niece, Mary Ingersall [Ingersol], the wife of D. B. Barkley and mother of Katherine Jane Barkley.