Family History: John Frizzell (1829 - 1894)

John Frizzell was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, on 8 Sep 1829. John spent the majority of his childhood working on his parent’s homestead assisting his mother in anyway she needed. He sporadically attended school when he was not required at home, thus not very often. The only ‘official’ education that John received was one term at the county academy when he was 18, which is quite remarkable when you consider his career.

When he was 14 he commenced writing for the office of the circuit court and was promoted to deputy clerk upon turning 15. (A job he would have for the next ten years). In 1849 he was elected registrar of the Land Office in Nashville, where he worked for three years. By 1854 Chancellor B.L. Ridley and Judge Nathaniel Baxter had licensed John to practice law. He did so in Winchester until the outbreak of the Civil War. At this time, John volunteered as a private in Col. Turney’s Confederate regiment. However he was redirected to Atlanta where he became a Captain and was placed in charge of transportation and auditing all railroad accounts. He remained in this department for the duration of the war and had paid out around seven million dollars that were all accounted for. This was a record that no other disbursing officer could obtain and for his service he was promoted to the rank of Major.

After the war, he became a Judge and a strong advocate of public education throughout Tennessee. John served as trustee of the Robert Donnell Female Institute at Winchester. He was elected school commissioner in the seventh school district of Davidson County, where he helped legislate the education system of the time. Politically, John was a Democrat but never held any political office. He petitioned as candidate for Franklin County only to be defeated. Judge Frizzell had an exemplary reputation as a ‘clear-headed, painstaking and upright judge’.[1] On 30 Nov 1894, he died in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, when he was 65 years old.




Judge John Frizzell.

Judge John Frizzell.

[1] Speer, William S. Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans: Containing Biographies and Records of…, Nashville, 1888. Reprinted: Baltimore: Geological Publishing Co., Inc. 2003.