(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Old times in west Tennessee"

OLD TIMES 



IN 



WEST TENNESSEE, 



REMINISCENCES SEMI-HISTORIC OF PIONEER LIFE 

AND THE EARLY EMIGRANT SETTLERS IN 
THE Bia HATCHIE COUNTRY. 



BY 

A DESCENDENT OF ONE OF THE FIRST SETTLERS. 



X 



5S"0.n4/«c'/ 



./ 



MEMPHIS, TENN.: 

G. CHEENEY, PRINTER AND PUBLISHER 

1873. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by Joseph 
S. WiiiiiiAMS, in the ofHce of the Librarian of Congress at j 
Washington. 



P4'4■^. 



RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED 

TO THE 

SURVIVING PIONEER SETTLERS, 

WHOSE BRAVE HEARTS AND STRONG ARMS 

Subdued the Wilderness of West Tennessee, and made it the fitting 
abode for refined, civilized enjoyment, 

AND THEIR 

IMMEDIATE SUCCESSORS. 



PREFACE. 

This book is prefaced by its title page, requiring but 
little to be said as to the design of the writer, or his mo- 
tives for writing it. 

It is hardly necessary for the author to put in a dis- 
clairner that he assumes to be neither a historioc^rapher 
nor a biographer, much less an annalist; semi- historic, 
irregular and defective, if you will, is the only title he 
claims for it. 

Whether it be accorded or not, it is none the lesst-rue 
that '• every man has his own style, as he has his ' own 
nose;' and it is neither polite nor Christian to rally 
a man about his nose, however singular it may be " — a 
fact pregnant with homely sense, and commends itself 
to the exercise of charity on the part of the critical 
reader. 

Conceived when gout most troubled, and born of neces- 
sity, it was written when afflicted with physical pain, 
amply recompensed, however, in the pleasurable inter- 
est it gave in reviving the scenes and recollections of 
his boyhood days. Should the reader derive a tithe of 
the interest in reading that was afforded in v/riting, the 
author will be doubly recompensed. 

An apology is due the theme it purports to treat, and 
is beseechingly asked for the author, for having written 



6 Preface^ 

it hurriedly and without sufficiefit data. He had writ- 
ten to many of the immediate successors of the first and 
early settlers in the Big Hatchie country for something 
of the early lives and connecting incidents of their 
brave fathers and people, in subduing the wilds of West 
Tennessee ; but, for some cause or other, except in a few 
instances, he received no response ; possibly they feared 
to trust such a priceless heritage to the pen of unknown 
authorship. 

It is to be regretted, as their names and heroism in 
hewing down the forest and opening up the way to 
thrift and refined civilized enjoyment would have con- 
tributed greatly to the interest of the history of Old 
Times in West Tennessee. 

The author, not wishing to "play showman to his 
own machinery," submits the following pages to the 
reader for what they are worth, with a prayer that he 
be gentle and deal lightly, and, if merit there be, encour- 
age him to a wider field, yet lying fallow in its virgin 
freshness. the author. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTEE I. 

Early Pioneer Settlers in the Big Hatchie Country — Movers' 
C>iravan through the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations — 
History of the Leaden Bullet and White Flint Arrow — Ds- 
Soto and his Bronzed Companions put to Flight by the 
Chickasaws — Bienville's Expedition and his Defeat — D'Ai- 
taguettia and DeVincennes, and their Fate 7 37 

CHAPTER 11. 

Early Settlers form a Neighborhood — Jce Seaborn and the 
Hog's Hide — Nancy and her Peril with the Panther— Pan- 
ther Hunt — The Koad to Covington — First Ferry in Tipton 
on the Hat.hie — Dickens and his T^ixes — Old Jack 28 51 

CHAPTER III. 

Neighborhoods Forming — Thomas Durham Founder of 
Durhamville — Johnnie Bradford — Thomas Thomr son, 
Esquire — D. C. Russell — The First Frame House — Jacob 
Niswanger and William Murphy, the Hatter, and his Black- 
snakes — Joseph Wardlaw — Stephen Childress — Thomas 
Childless — William Turner and Parson Collins; tbeir First 
Night in the Big Hatchie Country — Arthur Davis the 
Pioneer Preacher; his First Sermon in the Big Hatchie 
Country — First Schoolhouse in Tipton North of Hatchie — 
Old Man Larkin Gaines the First Schoolmaster 52 66 

CHAPTER IV. 

John C. Barnes, the Pioneer Blacksmith — What Became of 
General Tipton's Jackass — The Chickasaws and the Shoot- 
ing Match — The First Tubmill and Cotton Gin — Joshua 
Farrington, the Ginmaker — Temple, the Screwcutter and 
Model Bear Hunter — His two Dog«, Cieiar and Bess— Boll- 



(2) 

var Merchants — Pitser Miller — The Author's First Kill- 
iDg 67-88 

CHAPIEK V. 

Big Bear Hunt— Temple, the Model Bear Hunter, and his 
Dogs Ciesar and Bess — The Big Hu'ricane — Numerous 
Bear Killings — Encounter with a Panther — Roosting Wild 
Turkeys — Camp Life in the Woods — The Locked Buck 
Herns— The Deer Lick Slash— The Big Bear- Tha Kill- 
ing — Camp Stories and Anecdotes — The Last Day's Hunt 
and the Last Killing ^9-122 

CHAPTER VI. 

Lawyers Riding the Circuit — Joshua Haskell, the First 
Judge — Alexander B. Bradford — Major Richmond — Gene- 
ral Loving— John W. Strother — The Methodist Preacher 
and the Scalding Cop of Goifee — The First Nation s Mus- 
ter at Hurricane Hill — Bloody Noses and Black Eyes — 
John Barnes, the Blacksmith, and Ab Gaines, the Bully — 
Proposed Prize Fight — Ab and th3 Squatters Wife — John 
Smith and Daniel Parker 123 139 

CHAPTER VIL 

The Character of Men who Settled West Tennessee — Tipton 
County; its Original Teiritory and Topographical Fea- 
tures — Organization and Officers of the First Courts — The 
First Venire of Grand and Petit Juries -Jacob Tipton — R. 
W. Sanford— Covington— Th 3 First Merchants— The First 
Physicians — The Calmes Tavern — Tavern-Keeper — The 
Boys about Town — The New Sign and the Bell-Ringing — 
The Calves in the Courthouse — Holtshouser's Court — Old 
Johnnie Giddins — Tackett Kills Mitchell— Gray's Cas«; 
his Life Staked upcn a Game of Cards — Grandville D. 
Searcy — The Fourth of July Celebration — David Crockett 
Canvassing for Congress; his Opponents, Captain Joel 
Estes, Adiim R. Alexander and Jim Clarke — Dr. Charles 
G. Fi.her — Nathan Adams — William Coward and the 
Wolf Story — Mujor Armftead Mprehead — James S'vee- 
ney — Major Richmond and Qeorgef Shankle 140 176 



(3) 

CHAPTER VIII. 

The Mountain Academy — James Holme?, D. D ; his Pupils — 
My Room-Mate — Style of Dress — Camp-Meeting — Youth 
and Love 177-193 

CHAPTER IX. 

Randolph in Old Times — Its Best Days — Loses the Chance 
of Becoming a City — Spirit of Internal Improvement of 
that Day — Early Settlers — Jesse Benton — The Alstons — 
Colonel Tom Roberson — Frank Latham — First Newspaper 
in the Country — Murrell Excitement — Expedition to 
Shawnee Village 194-205 

CHAPTER X. 

Lauderdale Formed out of Big Hatchie Territory — Key 
Corner Established by Henry Rutherford in 1789 — Ruther- 
ford and David Porter the First Permanent Settlers — David 
T. Porter, the First Born — Cole Creek Bluffs — Interesting 
Topographical Features — Discovery of the Three Graves ; 
their History Worked out in Romance 206-234 

CHAPTER XI. 

Haywood County — Colonel Richard Nixon, the First Pioneer 
Settler — N. T. Perkins — Hiram Bradford — Organization of 
th^ First Courts— The First Venire of Grand and Petit 
Juries — The Taylor Family — Dr. Allen J. Barbee — David 
McLeod, the Pioneer Tailor — Daniel Cherry — The First 
Execution Issued — Reuben Alfin and the Bull — Major 
■William R. Hess ; his Appearance Befovi the County 
Court— The Moody Case 235-265 

CHAPTER XII. 

The First Steamboat, Red Rover ; the Denizens of Haywood 
Gather on the Banks of the Big Hatchie to see it — "Val- 
entine Sevier, the Wit and Humorestof Brownsville — Cox, 
the Postmaster — Old Herring Bones — The Young Horse- 
Trader— Homage 256-270 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Fatexte ; its Geographical and Topographical Features — 



(4) 

County Sites Established for Seven Counties — Lewis P. 
Williamson — Hardeman — Bolivar — Ezekie] Polk — Jackson 

—First Newspaper— Colonel D. C. McLean 271-284 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Bright and Lasting Memories of Youth Linking the Past 
with the Present — The Old Log Schoolhouse — The School- 
Path and Play-Ground — Schoolboys Demanding a Day's 
Holiday— Our Mother 285-295 



OLD TIMES 

IN 

WEST TENNESSEE. 

CHAPTER I. 

Bemiiiiscences — Semi- Historic — of Pioneer Life and the 
Early Emigrant Settlers of the Big Hatchie Country. 

The poetic vision of the Greek, in looking back 
through dim antiquity, when Ilion resisted the 
thunder-bolts of Agaraemnon's hosts; when the 
Argos, freighted with human life, weighed anchor 
and sailed away to the far-off Colchis; the more 
modern romances of Fernando DeSoto, Juan Ponce 
de Leon, Pocahontas and her Captain Smith, Daniel 
Boone and Tecumseh, is not more thrilling in inter- 
est to the descendents of the pioneer settlers of this 
country than the land of the Chickasaws and Davy 
Crockett — the Obion, Forked Deer and the Big 
Hatchie country — when in the cradle of the wilder- 
ness. 

On the banks of a beautiful creek, north of the 
Big Hatchie River, in the early days of March, little 
less than three score years ago, my father pitched 
his tent, and called it home. There the abode of 
civilization was first planted in that trackless wilder- 



8 Jleminiscences of Old Twies 

ness. Then but a lad of less than twelve summers, 
the haunts of the countless wild beasts which filled 
the land are as freshly mapped out as if it were but 
yesterday. The frightful howl of the w^olf, and the 
sharp, startling scream of the panther, became as 
familiar as household words. 

'Twas there in childhood I played ; 
In the untrodden v/ilderness I strayed; 
Land of my youth, whose memories last, 
Linking the present with the past. 

Thither my father moved from the sands of the 
old settled part of Mississippi, south of latitude 32°, 
a distance of more than three hundred miles, through 
a wild, trackless, savage territory. The fatigue and 
peril of moving a large family of white and black, 
through a savage wilderness, with all the parapher- 
nalia of comfortable living, in those days of rude 
travel, was an undertaking requiring almost super- 
human endurance and inflexible will, but m}^ father 
proved himself equal to it. 

In January, 18 — , through the lonely vistas of the 
pine woods, was seen a long train of movers. In 
front rode my father, on his faithful and sure-footed 
dapple-gray mare, w^ith heavy holsters swinging 
across the pommel of his saddle, with their black bear- 
skin covering. Stern, thoughtful and reticent, with 
indomitable will, he had resolved to convoy his pre- 
cious charge safely through whatever of peril or 
difficulty that should menace him. Following close 
behind was a large black cariwall, containing 
mother, grandmother and the young children. The 
carryall (ambulance it would be called now-a-days) 
my father had made in North Carolina, wdth an 



in West Tennessee. 9 

eye single to its usefulness as a sleeping apartment, 
as well as traveling vehicle ; long and broad, deep 
sides and high back, with heavy leather curtains, 
lined with thick, green baize, when closely buttoned 
down, and bed made up in it, was comfortable 
enough for an emperor's wife. It was the traveling 
and sleeping apartment of my mother, grandmother 
and three young sisters. 

Provident in arrangement, my father had gone to 
Mobile and purchased a year's supply of everything 
requisite to a comfortable living in the wikls of the 
Big Hatchie — coffee, tea, rice, sugar, flour, spices 
and medicines, cards, cotton and spinning-wheels, 
every variety and kind of seeds, implements of 
husbandry, carpenter and blacksmith tools, and 
assorted nails, not forgetting an ample stock of 
powder, lead and shot, selecting twenty head of 
choice milch cows with their calves and yearlings, 
and about the same number of stock hogs. My 
mother contributed her share in the necessary pre- 
paration for the journey ; every one, both black and 
white, were properly and comfortably clad in home- 
spun clothes — stout overcoats for the men and long- 
jackets for the women. The seats and knees of her 
boys' pants she padded with dressed buckskin (this 
economic measure is appreciated by all who have 
made long journeys, camping out every night). 
The train, when in motion, presented an imposing 
appearance. The weather being favorable, the 
country open pinewoods, now and then a few miles 
of neighborhood road, whicli liappened to lay in 
our course, we reached the Choctaw territor}' at 



10 Reminiscences of Old Times 

nightfall on the fifth day. There we remained over 
until Monday. My father considered it necessary 
to communicate with the chief, and obtain safe con- 
duct through his territor3^ These little diplomatic 
arrangements completed, and the services of a 
guide, or pilot, secured, word was given to gear up! 
The second week opened upon us heading slowly 
through the Choctaw nation, rumbling over roots 
and such undergrow^th as did not impede travel. 
We made some days as much as ten miles, oftener, 
however, not more than six or eight. We were not 
unfrequently delayed for several days when difficult 
crossings of streams were to be made. Often it was 
found impracticable to construct bridges, when floats 
(pontoons) were made, and the wagons unloaded 
and taken apart, and everything packed across by 
hand. All these difficulties were met and overcome 
with a hearty good will, and songs of good cheer. 
Marvelous had been the stories told the negroes of 
the good things in store for them in the Big Hatchie 
country. That it was literally a land flowing with 
milk and honey; so rich in soil that you only had to 
make a hole iti the ground with ^^our heel, drop the 
corn into it, and it would grow without work; the 
forest hanging with the most delicious fruits, and the 
ground covered with strawberries; even to fat pigs, 
ready roasted, and running about with knife and 
fork in their backs, much of which they wrought 
into song. 

We found the Choctaws friendly and well dis- 
posed. My father did not, however, relax his vigil 
in having a close watch kept upon the stock during 



in West Tcmicsscc. 11 



f 



the night. The cows and hogs were belled, so as to 
give the alarm when in the slightest disturbed. 
The camp was infested with Indians every night, 
bringing in every variety of game, with other eata- 
bles, asking to trade. My father had supplied him- 
self with a good stock of beads and red things. A 
lively trade was carried on most every night. Ven- 
ison and wild turkeys were in abundance, with beau- 
tiful bead baskets, and every variety of bead-work. 
A few loads of powder or a red cotton handkerchief 
would pay for a fat gobbler or a saddle of venison. 
We fared sumptuously. 

Reaching the Chickasaw territory, the Choctaw 
guide was relieved, my father making him many 
presents for his faithful services, sending presents to 
his chief. A Chickasaw guide was engaged, and the 
course of travel decided upon. To avoid the 
broken country along the head-waters of the numer- 
ous streams flowing westwardly, a more easterly 
direction was advised. 

Leaving the lazy and proverbially filthy Choctaw, 
we entered the Chickasaw nation — noble race of 
the red man, first to resist the iron heel of the white 
man, famed for their bravery and ferocious bearing 
in war, and among the first to make a generous and 
lasting peace, and cultivate the arts of civilization. 
The country through which we traveled was slightly 
rolling, wood principally oak and hickory, devoid 
of tangled un dergrowth. Traveling for days w^ithou t 
incident or difiiculty worthy of mention, we reached 
the thickly settled portion of the nation, in the 
vicinity of which was situated the principal village, 



1^ Reminiscences of Old Times 

at which the chief resided. It was on a Friday; 
man aud beast needed rest, and the order was given 
that we would lay over till Monday. No travel was 
done on the Sabbath. My father, a strict old-side 
Presbyterian, was true to his faith in "observing the 
Sabbath, to keep it holy," and required of his family, 
both black and white, that they should do the same. 

The tents were pitched upon a lovely spot, on the 
margin of a gentle slope overlooking the beautiful 
prairie to the east, a clear running brook close by. 
When the bright morning sun rose, chasing the 
gray mist over the broad expanse of the lovely 
prairie to the east and northeast, numerous Indian 
settlements, or villages, were seen in the distance. . 
The village at which the chief resided lay to the 
northwest of us some six miles. Orders were 
given to prepare for washing — to Jack and Jim to 
get out the big kettle and swing it, the washtubs, 
and stretch the clothes-line, the cattle and hogs to 
be driven over in the prairie, and a close watch kept 
upon them. 

During the day the chief, accompanied by several 
of his braves and his interpreter, visited the camp. 
The interpreter was a negro slave, and belonged to 
the chief, who owned many slaves. The object of 
his visit was to invite my father to visit him, ex- 
tending the hospitalities of the village to the whole 
camp. A reciprocal trade was carried on during 
the day. The squaws brought large baskets of corn 
and pumpkins, some with rice and hominy, others 
with liickory-nut kernels, carefully picked out, many 
of them without being broken. The trade was in- 



m 



West Tennessee. 13 



terrupted by the boys coming into camp, delighted 
with their findings'while roaming over the prairie. 
Everybody's euriositj^ was excited to see; from a 
dozen voices at once, "Let me see!" "Let me see!" 
" O, do let me see /" The objects of so much curious 
interest were several white flint arrow-heads and a 
large corroded leaden ball. Such was the marvel 
at w^hat had been picked up on the prairie that the 
chief and his braves, who had been standing seem- 
ingly unconcerned, were applied to for something 
of their history. They certainly had a history; 
relics of art, of the white and the red man, found 
side by side in the wilds of a savage country, excite 
the curious to know something of them. The chief, 
a huge mass of fat, with a jolly, good-natured face, 
and an intelligent, laughing eye, shook his big sides 
with a grunt, and spoke through his interpreter 
thus: "Long, long ago," pointing in the direction 
from which the boys came running, "on yonder hill 
a big battle was fought between the red man and 
the white man. The red men killed all the white 
men, since which time the red man has been at 
peace with the white man." This was the only in- 
formation obtained to the numerous inquiries as to 
when, and who w^ere the white men engaged in such 
deadly conflict with the red men.* The rock from 
which the arrow-head was cut did not exist in 
this region. The size of the leaden ball differed 
from the ordinary rifle bullet then in use, and its 
corroded state excHed interest as to its antiquity. My 
father, thinking ho could throw some light upon the 
subject, spoke, addressing himself to the chief, who 



14 Ranhmcenccs of Old Times 

had settled himself upon the ground, with his fat 
legs crossed under him : " That more than two hun- 
dred and eighty years ago, Spain, a powerful nation 
across the big water, sent a great many big ships, 
with men, arms and ammunition, and fine horses, 
to take possession of all this country; that they 
landed somewhere on the coast of Florida, under 
the command of a great man called Fernando De- 
Soto; that DeSoto, landing his men, guns and horses, 
marched up through the territory of the Alabamas, 
then, turning west, crossed the Tombigbee some- 
where near the Chickasaw village, passing through 
their territory, crossing the Mississippi at the Chicka- 
saw bluffs; that the Chickasaws were ofifended with 
the strangers for entering their territory without 
asking their big chief to smoke the calumet, gave 
them battle, killing a great number; that more than 
one hundred and ninety years after the Spaniards 
passed through the territory of the Chickasaws, the 
French, who claimed all the country on both sides 
of the Mississippi, from its mouth to the great lakes 
in the north, became offended with the Chickasaws 
for taking sides with and helping the Natchez, with 
whom they were at war, sent Bienville, who was 
Governor of Louisiana, with a great army of white 
men and a large^iumber of Choctaws, up the Tom- 
bigbee river to drive them from their territory. 
Bienville, with his soldiers and Choctaw friends, 
landed near the Chickasaw villages, marched out 
and had a big fight at Ackia village." (As the name 
of tlie vilhige was mentioned, the chief, who, it will 
be remembered, had taken his seat upon the ground, 



in West Tennessee. ' 15 

quick as an arrow from its bow, jumped up with 
features animated and both arms extended, gesticu- 
lating in the direction of a hillock to the northeast 
of our camp, sparsely wooded, and repeated the 
name of the village, "Ackia! Ackia!") Resuming, 
he told the chief that his people defeated the French, 
killed a great many, and pursued the remainder to 
their boats; that his people never had been con- 
quered; they were famed in history for their bravery 
and heroic bearing in war. Delighted with such a 
glorious account of his nation, he, with his compan- 
ions, took their leave, making my father promise to 
come out and eat with him at his village, which he 
promised to do Monday. 

Our tents had been pitched within a few rods of 
the historic ground upon which the village of Ac- 
kia stood, where, more than two hundred and eighty 
years ago, its red defenders put to flight DeSoto and 
his bronzed companions, with their golden spurs, 
where Bienville fought his great battle with the 
brave Chickasaws, where the ashes of the hand- 
some Chevalier D'Artaguettie and the noble De 
Vincennes rest in peace, mingled with mother 
earth. Shall we search for the history of the leaden 
ball and the white flint arrow-head among those 
fallen braves, whose names and deeds have made 
glorious the history of this memorable spot? Let 
us while away the Sabbath in so pleasing a search. 

The Chickasaws gave the French more concern 
than all the nations of red men combined. They 
were the implacable enemies of France. Maintain- 
ing their independence, they greatly weakened and 



16 Reminiseenees of Old Times 

divided the ISTew Empire. Communication with the 
lakes in the north, and New Orleans, was in con- 
stant danger of interruption by the intrepid Chicka- 
saws. With their cedar barks they were ready to 
shoot out into the Mississippi. They permitted no 
settlement upon the eastern shore of the great river. 
From the JS'atchez to the Ohio they claimed do- 
minion, and held it against the French, who had 
mapped out as belonging to France all the country 
west of the Alleghanies to the Rocky Mountains— 
that not a rill or brook that flowed from the moun- 
tains into the Father of Waters but ran tlirough 
French territory. Independent and resolute, they 
had given aid and comfort to the Natchez, wdiose 
utter annihilation the French aimed at. In order, 
therefore, to secure and reduce the eastern valley 
of the Mississippi, it Avas necessary to rid them- 
selves of the Chickasaws. To this end Bienville, 
then Governor of Louisiana, was instructed by the 
French Government to fit out an expedition equal 
to the undertaking, and drive them from the terri- 
tory. After two years' preparation, fresh troops 
having been sent out from France, Bienville an- 
nounced himself ready to move with his expedition 
upon the Chickasaws. He had written to the brave 
young Chevalier D'Artaguettie, commanding the Illi^ 
nois department, to gather all the troops, both white 
and red, under his command, and join him in the 
Chickasaw territory — to meet him at the Chickasaw 
village on the last day of Marcli. Prompt to duty, 
D'Artaguettie, communicatiug with Yineeinies, com- 
manding the Iroquois and tribes on tlie Wabash, 



in West Tennessee. 17 

and Montcheval, commanding the Miamis and Da- 
cotahs, he was soon ready and descending the Mis- 
sissippi with one hundred and thirty white troops 
and three hundred and sixty red aUies. On the 4th of 
March Bienville left iTew Orleans wHth his imposing 
army, finely appointed and equipped, carrying many 
cannon. Untoward winds greatly retarded his move- 
ments, and he did not reach Mobile until the twenty- 
third day. Being delayed there on account of the 
condition of his boats, it was the 1st of April before 
the expedition commenced its move up the river. 
Two hundred miles from Mobile, on the Tombigbee, 
a depot of ammunition and supplies had been estab- 
tablished, where Bienv^ille was to be joined by twelve 
hundred warriors of the Choctaw tribe. Reaching 
their depot of ammunition and supplies, after innu- 
merable delays, they found the Choctaws not yet 
arrived. While there, Bienville reviewing his grand 
army, his red allies came up to the number of six 
hundred, adding greatly to the grand military par- 
ade. On the 18th of April Bienville resumed his 
march up the Tombigbee, arriving opposite the 
Chickasaw village the 23d day of May, a month and 
twenty-three days behind his appointed time for 
D'Artaguettie to join him. His first order, however, 
was to send out scouts to learn something, if they 
could, of the expedition from the Illinois, and to 
reconnoiter the villages. Securing his boats, and 
constructing a rude fortification in front of them, 
he put his army in motion, with ten days' rations, 
leaving the commanders of the boats and a squad 
of soldiers in charge of the cannon, temporarily 



18 Reminiscences of Old Times 

mounted, camping at the edge of the prairie, some 
six miles from the village. At early dawn, before 
the bright rays of the sun rose over the broad ex- 
panse of the prairie, dissipating the gray mist rising 
from the heavy dew upon the wide-spread waves of 
the tall grass, Bienville put his army in motion. 
Chivalry, upon their richly-caparisoned steeds, rode 
with glittering pomp by the side of the quick, earn- 
est step of the broad-shouldered grenadier, and the 
heavy tread of the Swiss guards. The gayly-dressed 
volunteers, among whom were many of the "best 
young bloods" of France, led by the gallant De 
Lassier, bearing flying banners, with cheering mot- 
toes, worked in gay colors by their lady-loves, in- 
spired by lively martial music, presented an imposing 
sight. With soul-stirring aspirations, they did not 
doubt but that it would strike terror into the hearts 
of the red men upon whom they were marching. 
Beware, invaders,' beware! the red man's ideas of 
liberty are too deeply rooted in the soil of their 
" beloved prairies," under which the bones of their 
fathers lie, to yield without a bloody resistance. 
Keenly alive to the fate of the JS'atchez, whose vil- 
lages had been laid waste by the French, and their 
great chief, with four hundred of his brave Avarriors, 
manacled, and transported in chains to the slave 
markets of the islands (already were several hun- 
dred of the Natchez tribe, wdio had been driven 
from their homes and heritage, finding shelter in 
the wigwams of the Chickasaws), the two years in 
which Bienville had been gathenng troops and fit- 
ting out his imposing expedition had not been kept 



in West Tennessee. 19 

a secret from the red men, whose fathers had lived 
in quiet dominion over their "beloved prairies" for 
ages before the face of the white man was seen on 
the continent. They were ready and prepared for 
the invader. 

Before noon Bienville had reached a position in 
fall view of the villages. The troops were ordered 
to take refreshments. In the meantime, the scouts 
sent out to learn something of the wdiereabouts of 
D'Artaguettie, came in,reporting that nothing what- 
ever could be heard of him or his command, nor 
could any signs be found of his having been in the 
country. They reported great commotion going on 
in the villages during the night, but since daylight 
not an Indian had been seen; that the villages 
seemed deserted. All hopes of co-operation from 
his northern allies being given up, Bienville decided 
upon an immediate attack. By the aid of his field 
glass, he was enabled to locate the stronghold of the 
defenders of the villages. lie decided to move 
upon it at once, appointing Chevalier de Noyan to 
lead the attacking column, composed of fifteen 
grenadiers, chosen from each company, forty-five 
from the volunteers, and sixty from the Swiss troops, 
retaining two companies of veterans, who had seen 
service in old France under the gallant Beauchamp. 
The rest of the command was to follow close in sup- 
port of the attacking forces. The stronghold of 
the Chickasaws seemed to be in a row of strongly 
built mud cabins on the apex of the hillock upon 
which the village was situated, flanked right and 
left, front and rear, by mud cabins, separated from 



20 Reminiscences of Old limes 

each other equi-distant some forty paces. The 
attacking cohiran moved up steadily under cover of 
mantelets, borne by a company of negro slaves, 
until they had reached within a few paces of the 
first row of cabins, when a well-aimed volley was 
fired, seemingly from the ground, not exceeding 
twenty paces in front of them, killing several ne- 
groes. Sucli was the first shock of the bullets, 
many penetrating through their pent-house forti- 
fication, that the negroes became panic-stricken, and, 
throwing down their mantelets, took to their heels. 
The undaunted ISToyan, giving orders for the com- 
bined forces to press closelj^ up in support of the 
attacking column, reached the first row of cabins, 
setting fire to the thatched roofs. Pressing past 
them, he soon discovered that they were vacated, 
the Indians occupying them, discharging tlie first 
volley, had esr^or<cd under cover to the next or 
middle row, from whence there came a perfect hail- 
storm of bullets, putting his brave soldiers to the 
earth faster than their places could be filled by fresh 
troops, himself severely wounded. Sacli was the 
rain of leaden death that his brave troops were 
forced to take shelter behind the first row of cabins. 
The principal ofiicers of his staft" were killed. The 
Chevalier De Coutre, the pride of the army, lay 
riddled with bullets, weltering in his blood. De 
Mortbrum, leading the brave Swiss, fell by his side. 
De Juzan, in executing the order of the intrepid 
Noyan — trying to bring to the front the skulkiiig 
soldiers from behind the cabins — fell pierced with a 
half-dozen balls. The Choctaws were ordered up. 



in West Tennessee. 21 

and made a desperate charge to reach the middle row 
of cabins, but were repulsed with great slaughter, 
Bienville, from his standpoint, witnessing the work 
of destruction going on, and fearing the fate of his 
whole army, sent Beauchamp, with his two compa- 
nies, with orders to IS'oyan to bring oif what 
remained of his forces, and as many of his wounded 
as possible. Rapidly advancing, he did not reach 
the place where Noyan, though suffering from a 
painful wound, was rallying his troops for another 
charge, without losing one ofHcer and several of his 
men. The Chevalier De Xoyan had resolved to 
share the fate of liis brave officers who had borne 
the brunt of the attack, or reach the second row 
of cabins. Receiving orders from Bienville to with- 
draw his forces, disabled and suffering, he turned 
the command over to Beauchamp, who, quick to 
comprehend the situation, ordered a hasty retreat. 
The noble Grondel had fallen pierced with five 
bullets, and was about to be left for the tomahawk, 
when one of his brave grenadiers broke from the 
line and bore him awa^^ upon his broad shoulders, 
receiving the sixth while being carried oft* the field. 
Thus was fought what Bienville called the battle of 
Ackia Village; such the leaden messengers, left by the 
brave young D'Artaguettie, in the hands of the 
Chickasaws, to inform hiui that he had been there — 
that faithful to his trust, obedient to his orders, he, 
Vv^ith his little army, had waited upon the ijrouiid of 
his apjmntment ; that powder and ball was all that he 
left him as a souvenance of his sad fate, in whicli we 
trace the history of the "leaden ball" which had 



2'2 Remhmcnu-cs of Old Times 

beeji corroding on the soil of tlie prairie for an 
li unci red years. 

The Chickasaws had given evidence of their skill 
in fortifying themselves against their strong enemy. 
The walls of their cabins were built of wood and 
mud, covered over with the same material, and well 
thatched with straw and palmetto, so as to shed the 
rain and keep them dry. The cabins were so con- 
structed, from one another, as to cross their fires 
when the enemy should press in among them. In 
the inside of these fire-and-bullet-proof cabins they 
dug out to the depth of their arm-pits, and made 
loop-holes on a level w^ith the ground, from which 
they could fire in perfect safety. Beauchamp, in 
writing an account of their inglorious defeat, says: 
^' To make an end of the Chickasaw war, it is neces- 
sary to have a detachment of workmen — of miners 
and bombardiers — with implements and instruments 
necessary to ferret out these savages, who burrow, 
like badgers, in their cabins, which are very much 
like ours. Bienville made a precipitate retreat to 
his boats, consigning his cannon to the waters of 
the Tombigbee, together with two thousand heavy- 
man acles, which were in reserve to bind the liberty- 
loving Chickasaws, and transport them from their 
native prairies to the slave markets. Dispirited, 
with feverish disappointment, he turned his boats 
down stream with what remained of his shattered 
army, never to invade the territory' of the independ- 
ent Chickasaws again." 

What of the Chevalier D'Artaguettie, and the red 
allies of the ISTorthern lakes, whose sad fate was 



hi West Tmnesset. 23 

unknown to the retreating and diaconilited Bien- 
ville? The reader will recollect that we left him 
descending the Mississippi with his expedition to 
join Bienville at the Chickasaw village, on the last 
day of March. We next iind him at a point on the 
Mississippi called Ecores a IViidomme, a place not 
marked on our modern maps. It was most likely at 
the Chickasaw Bluffs, where Memphis now, in the 
pride of her city life and commercial prosperity, 
stands, as below the bluff the country on the East- 
ern banks of the river must have been overflowed 
at that period of the year to the '' Walnut Hills," 
upon which Vicksburg now stands. Here we find 
him on the fourth of March, waiting for Vincennes 
and Montcheval, who were following him close 
behind, and Grampree, commanding the Arkansas on 
the White river. After several days' waiting, he 
was joined by Vincennes with forty Iroquois war- 
riors, and three hundred and twenty of the Illinois, 
Miamis and Dacotahs. In his anxiety not to disap- 
point Bienville, he put his expedition in motion, 
which then consisted of one hundred and thirty 
whites, three hundred and sixty red allies under 
Vincennes, and thirty Arkansians from Grampree's 
command. By slow marches he had hoped that 
Montcheval and Grampree would come up with him. 
We next find him in the heart of the Chickasaw 
Territory, waiting for his scouts to bring him tid- 
ings of Bienville. The time for them to co-operate 
against the village was rapidly growing near, and 
yet Grampree and Montcheval had not come up. His 
red allies were becoming restive, and provisions 



M Reminiscences of Old Times 

were getting short. Father Senac, a Jesuit priest, 
was his comforter, yet the ardent young chevalier 
was filled with misgivings. While waiting, and 
before the return of his Indian scouts, a courier 
arrived in camp, bringing him a letter from Bien- 
ville, saying that, owing to innumerable delays and 
difficulties, it would be the end of April before he 
could reach the Chickasaw villages. Slowly reading 
the letter, he rose, handing it, open, to Father Senac, 
and walked to the end of his tent, repeating: "ISTot 
till the end of April ! Impossible ! In the heart of 
a ferocious, wily enemy's territorj^, on a hostile 
expedition, with less than a fortnight's provisions, 
impossible! impossible!" Continuing his walk, he 
came to the headquarters of Vincennes, with whom 
he took counsel. Father Senac, who regarded 
D'Artaguettie as the " apple of his eye," followed 
with Bienville's letter, joining the two brave com- 
manders. He was welcomed as a counsellor. The 
three were long engaged in discussing the grave 
question, what to do. Just then the scouts came up, 
reporting that they had gone bej^ond the great prai- 
ries, to the water of the Tombigbee, and no tidings 
of the expedition from below were to be found any- 
where; that they had reconnoitered the villages, 
passing around them so cautiously that they did not 
think "the eye of a Chickasaw had seen them." 
The question was debated, whether to return to 
the boats on the Mississippi, then sixty leagues off, 
or attempt the capture of some of the smaller vil- 
lages, and secure supplies to last them until the end 
of April, when relief would be obtained by the 



in West Tennessee. 25 

arrival of Bienville. The scouts and their red 
friends advocated the latter course, reporting that 
they had discovered a village more isolated, con- 
taining not more than thirty cabins; that, from 
its being so quiet, it must be the village in which 
the I^atchez refugees were dwelling; that they 
thought it easily surprised and taken, when plenty 
of provisions would fall into their hands; they could 
then fortify themselves and remain until the arrival' 
of Bienville. To Artaguettie and Yincennes, the 
argument seemed feasible, and they adopted that 
course of action. Orders were given to that end, 
and the early morning dawned upon that brave little 
army in motion, in the direction of the village, offer- 
ing so much hope, then a day and a half march to 
the east. As the last rays of the sun, on the follow- 
ing evening, were lengthening the shadows of the 
tall hickories, on the high ridges bordering the prai- 
ries, Artaguettie, with his companions in arms, came 
in sight of the village, some two miles distant in the 
prairie. Beautifully situated on a hillock, the cov- 
eted village stood; the soft mellow rays of the god 
of day were fast receding from the tall wood, 
hngthening its golden rays across the broad prairies 
to the east, reflecting golden hues from the straw- 
covered cabins of the quiet-looking village. Con- 
scious of being unobserved, the command fell back 
to a small rnnning branch, and rested upon their 
arms. At midnight Artaguettie, Yincennes and the 
pious Father Senac met to devise the order of 
attack. It was arranged that, an hour before day, 
Yincennes, with his red allies, take a position within 
2 



26 Reminiscences of Old Times 

carbine range of the village to the east, and lay 
down in the tall grass and wait for the signal of 
attack; Artaguettie commanding his white troops to 
take a position to the west of the village. The 
hour for movement found the cautious Yincennes, 
with his three hundred and sixty red men, moving 
round to the position assigned them, so noiseless 
and soft the tread of the red warriors that not a 
blade of grass was ruffled or displaced. Arriving 
at the appointed place, orders, by signs, were given 
to lay down, the tall grass waving over them. Arta- 
guettie had moved up to his position behind a large 
thicket of reeds, out of which gushed a bold spring, 
forming a murmuring brook, winding its course to 
the southeast of the village. The last hour of the 
night was hushed into silence — painful silence; not 
a stir came up from the village ; nought was heard 
but the pulsations of the hundreds of anxious hearts 
lying in wait for the signal to attack. All was still 
— still as midnight sleep. Why this death-like 
stillness? Had the quick eye of the ever- watchful 
Chickasaw been drowsy? Was he asleep? Had the 
tiger left his lair and taken himself to better quar- 
ters? Daylight alone would dispel the painful 
stillness. At the dawn of day the signal to attack 
was given. Simultaneously roj^e from the tall grass, 
not an hundred yards behind where De Vincennes 
had taken his position, three hundred and fifty 
Chickasaws. With the war-whoop and yells un- 
earthly, they rushed with ferocious impetuosity 
upon the red allies, producing such wild confusion 
among the Miamis and Dacotahs that they took to 



in 



West Tennessee. 27 



flight, leaving the forty Iroquois and thirty Arkansas 
to receive the shock of battle. Bravely they with- 
stood it, fighting hand \^ hand; out-numbered five to 
one, they fought with Spartan courage until there 
was not one of the seventy left to tell the tale of 
their heroism, worthy a better fate. Vincennes was 
taken alive. The triumphant Chickasaws, wide 
awake as to what was going on in the village, 
pressed in through the approaches from whence the 
French expected tlieir allies, with such surprising 
slaughter, that before the sun was fairly above the 
eastern horizon, the gallant Artaguettie, with fifteen 
of his command, were all that remained alive. 
Father Senac might have made his escape, but he 
braved death to remain with his young friend Arta- 
guettie, who was severely wounded. The flying 
Miamis and their red friends were pursued with 
such terrific slaughter that but few reached the Mis- 
e'ssippi with their lives. The Chickasaws treated 
their distinguished prisoners with kind attention, 
dressing their wounds, and ameliorating their sufter- 
ings. Their fate, however, was to them full of pain- 
full misgivings. 

More than two thousand pounds of powder, twelve 
thousand bullets and many guns fell into the hands 
of the Chickasaws, which, two months later, was 
skillfully and efifectually used against Bienville and 
his grand army. But what of the white flint arrow- 
head? Ma}^ it not have been hurled from the strong 
bow of the undaunted Iroquois, cut from their na- 
tive chalk clift's on the Great Lakes in the north ? 
Who will say that the white flint arrow-head shall 



^ i^eniimsceyiccs of Old Times 

not share with the red men of the north the glories 
of the first battle of Ackia Village? 

"We return to Artaguettie and his brave compan- 
ions. A grand council was called, its decision taken, 
and preparations rapidly going on for its execution. 
On a hillock near the village "busy life" was seen 
during the daA^, after the meeting of the grand coun- 
cil. Stalwart men Avere seen carrying huge loads 
of finely split wood, others were driving stakes in 
the ground, around Avhich several hundred Indians — 
men, women and children — had collected. It had 
been decreed, according to a long-established cus- 
tom of the Chickasaws, to make a triumjyhant sacri- 
fice of their captives by burning them at the stake. 
When the evening began to grow nigh, the sun, 
through the purplish, sombre clouds, flitting across 
the western horizon, reflecting its blood-red rays 
upon the clear sky in the east, all eyes were anx- 
iously turned toward the village, from whence a 
grand procession was moving. In front, the hand- 
some young Chevalier D 'Artaguettie, who had braved 
death in every form; by his side, the pious Father 
Senac; following close behind, the noble De Vin- 
ccnnes and fifteen other victims, escorted by several 
hundred painted warriors. On the procession moved, 
ascending the hillock — the same, most likely, where 
Bienville stood two months later, when he sent his 
faithful Bcauchamp to bring off his shattered army. 
The moment was hushed into painful silence; the 
victims were marched to the circle of stakes, one 
by one. There were seventeen stakes, and yet there 
were eighteen victims. One by one were tightly 



ill Wed Tennessee. 29 

bound until tlie seventeenth stake had its victim. 
Alone stood by the great chief a brave young sol- 
dier of not more than sixteen years. He was re- 
served to be returned to his white-faced chief, to 
inform him and his people of the fate of his com- 
rades. In the center of the circle of stakes finely- 
split wood was piled up as high as the heads of the 
victims ; circling the stakes was a high pile of fiig* 
gots. Everything being ready, the faggot-master 
ordered the fire, when an hundred torches were ap- 
plied, and the triumphant c?awce began, war-songs and 
yells most hideous. The last rays of the setting sun 
made lurid the ascending smoke from the savage 
funereal pyre, and the crackling flames, rising high 
above the surrounding wood, took the place of the 
god of day, and the wild chant and frantic dance 
went on. Thus perished the first attempt of the 
white man to plant the "iron heel" of despotism 
upon the native soil of the Chickasaws. 

Leaving our beautiful camping-ground on the 
margin of the prairie, my father directed his course 
toward the village to redeem his promise — to eat 
with the chief. The country was an open hickory 
barren, and but few obstructions were found to im- 
pede travel. We arrived at the village by noon. 
The chief, with his escort, met my father at the 
edge of the village, conducting him and the entire 
train in front of his place of dwelling, which was on 
a broad street running through the center of the 
village east and west, studded on each side with 
antiquated looking china-trees, giving quite the ap- 
pearance of civilized life. A big dinner had been 



so Iicnfuii.^cciice.s of Old Tifius 

prepared, and everybody, black as well as white, 
participated in the great chief's regal hospitality. 

The chief and his braves talked much of the Big 
Platchie country, calling it their hunting-ground, 
exhibiting many bear and panther skins procured 
in that region. The chief showed my father great 
kindness, sending several of his best hunters along 
with us to kill game and pilot the best route to 
Bolivar, then an Indian trading-post. Leavi'ig the 
village an hour before nightfall, we camped at a 
fine spring. Eesuming travel the next morning, 
it was continued without interruption, our Indian 
guides bringing in a venison or fat gobbler every 
day, arriving at Bolivar the last week in February, 
having been in the wilderness forty days and nights. 

Bolivar was then a small trading-post, poorly sup- 
plied with goods, wares and merchandise, except 
such as were profitable in trading with the In- 
dians. My father crossed the river Big Ilatchie, 
and turned down it, following a blaze, digging down 
hills and making pole ridges until he reached 
the vicinity where Denmark, in Madison county, 
now stands. Here we came to a "three-notched" 
road, which had just been cut out, leading from 
Jackson to Brownsville. Taking the west end, 
running in the direction we were traveling, we ar- 
rived at the latter place in the afternoon of the 
following day. Brownsville had just been laid ofit* 
and established as the county site of Haywood 
county. It contained not a dozen houses. The 
court-house and jail were being built of logs. Our 
place of destination was still some twenty odd miles 



in West Tennessee, 31 

further west, in the heart of the wilderness. My 
father, having provided himself with correct maps 
and surveys of the country, was enabled to work his 
way to the tract of land upon which he designed 
settling. Spring opening upon us, he was anxi ous 
to find the end of his road-making, and pushed on 
to find rest. Finding a newly-blazed way, showing 
now and then that wagon-wheels had gone over it, 
leading in the direction we were going, my father 
availed himself of it for the distance of seven or 
eight miles. Coming to a large creek, impassable 
\vithout bridging at that season of the year, tents 
were pitched for an indefinite number of daj^s. 
Every one that could use an ax, hatchet or hoe 
was called into requisition making roads and build- 
ing bridges. Three pretty good-sized creeks and 
numerous branches intervened between our camp 
and the place of destination. The direction being 
north of west, the compass was non-available in 
finding the course. To obviate this difficulty, my 
fiither would ride ahead in the proper direction as 
far as the sound of his big horn could be heard, and 
blow, the negroes to be guided by the blowing of 
the horn, blazing the way until they came up to 
him. In this way he obtained quite a straight line 
to follow in cutting out the road. After many days 
of toil the road was cut, bridges made and hills dug 
down. Monday, of the second week in March, tents 
were struck and rolled up, never to be used again 
in traveling. That night we arrived on the bank of 
the beautiful creek mentioned in the opening of 
this chapter, making the trip in forty-eight days. 



82 Reminiscences of Old Times 

111 a virgin land, teeming with nature's richest 
verdure, unknown to the ruthless tread of oppres- 
sion, preserved for countless ages as the chosen 
hunting-ground of the red men, civilization had 
come to exercise dominion over it — to found its 
places of abode. Little did the pioneer settlers 
think that in less time than man's ordinary span of 
active life, the march of improvement, the progress 
of the age, would so soon cover its broad acres. It 
is not of the present that we w^ould write, but" of 
our country in its infant days, when the ax was a 
stranger in its giant forests; when the plow-share 
and the grubbing-hoe was first made bright and 
dull in preparing — in making it ready for enjoying 
civilized life — when its greatest need w^as man. The 
woods had already given signs of the opening of an 
early spring; the hickory was budding, and dog- 
wood blossoms were whitening the forest — sure 
signs that the last frost had made its appearance. 
Dependent for "the staff of life" upon the growing 
of a crop of corn, everything was under strain to 
get through building and go to clearing. My father 
had selected his building site on a high level, or 
bench, fronting on the bluff, under which was the 
noted "Bluff* Spring;" the land to the south and 
Avest slightly undulating, heavily wooded w^ith pop- 
lar, black walnut, ash, oak and hickoiy. Before the 
end of the month we were all comfortably housed 
in a double log-house (of course), front gallery, with 
shed-room behind; the garden spot selected, cleared, 
grubbed (grubbing was the hardest work, the spot 
being a hazle-nut thicket) and planted, and all hands 



in West Tennessee. 33 

in the new ground. By the 1st of June eighty acres 
were cleared, under fence and planted in corn, with 
a small patch of cotton for domestic use. The gar- 
den teeming with every variety of early vegetables, 
the woods overrun with wild pea- vines (the delight 
of the cow), we had milk and butter in abundance, 
with good hog prospect. But the hogs — the great- 
est trouble was to keep the bear off them; ihej 
required to be constantly watched during the day, 
and driven up at night. I remember an occurrence 
that happened one day, while we were all in the new 
ground^ chopping, cleaning up, and burning brush, 
worthy to be related as a bear-hog story. The hogs 
were driven out in the new ground, where the hands 
were at work, that an eye could be kept upon them. 
Late in the afternoon, when the clear ring of the 
ax, and the crackling fire, looming up from the 
brush-heap, was attracting every one's attention, we 
were startled by the sharp squeal of a hog, not more 
than one hundred yards off. The cry arose from 
many voices, "The bear — the bear has got a hog; 
it 's the old big sow. I know her squeal — call the 
dogs. Here, Dash, here ! Here, Sound, here, here ! 
Send for master, with his long gun." In the mean- 
time Jim, an athletic negro man, ran with all his might 
toherrelief(itwasthe old big sow, sure enough, a huge 
sow with saddle-skirt ears) with his ax. So intent 
was bruin in securing his bacon that he did not 
heed the coming up of the negro man, who, intent 
upon dealing a death-lick, approached within easy 
striking distance. With ax raised high in air he 
let drive — his foot slipped — sprawling he went, his 



34 Reminisccncas of Old Times 

ax grazing the bear's head. Bruin, infuriated, 
mounted Cuftj, sprawling him his full length upon 
the ground. Men, women and children screamed 
for help. Help was, luckily, just in time. The 
dogs were up, and engaged the black monster's 
attention, pinching him behind every time he would 
put his head down to bite Jim, until my father came 
up with his long single-barrel. Approaching as close 
as possible, fearing a stray shot might find its home 
in one of his favorite (iogs, he reached within a few 
feet. The dogs, being encouraged, made a furious 
attack, pressing the bear to a rout, when he rushed, 
Avith an angry growl, wide and extended jaws, tow- 
ard my father, until he reached the muzzle of the 
long single-barrel. Thrusting it down his broad 
throat, he fired. Old Bruin sunk upon his knees, 
to rise no more. The long single-barrel was a nota- 
ble " London fowling-piece." My father had brought 
it from I^ortli Carolina, from whence he moved to 
the old-settled portion of Mississippi. It was seven 
feet long. Twenty-four "blue whistlers" was an 
ordinary "buck load," and two ounces of small shot 
for a duck load. It was a common occurrence, when 
fired into a drove of deer, to "bring down" three or 
four. Deer were so plentiful that, in riding through 
the woods, it was rare to be out of sight of one. 
During the winter and early spring it was common 
to see as many as thirty and forty in one herd. In 
the spring the}- fed principally on the young buds. 
They would frequeiit at night the "new ground" to 
feed upon the tender buds of the small growth 
which had been cut down duriniJ: the day. "Fire- 



in West Tennessee. 35 

liiintiiig" became a favorite, as well as an easy, mode 
of hunting. I remember, one dark, cloudy night, 
" we boys " had gone to bed, my father hallooed up 
Jack from his " quarters " to fix his pan and make 
ready for a fine hunt on the "new-ground." "We 
boys" were up and dressed in a jifty, not surprised, 
however, that we could n't go,but*to be up and wait 
the result of the hunt until the big gun fired, was 
all we wanted. Ofi:' stalked Jack, with the fire-pan 
upon his shoulder, my father trailing close behind 
him, with his long single-barrel, "we boys" follow- 
ing to the front steps (the entrance to the broad lawn 
in front of the house w^as over steps made of square 
hewed logs), where we took our seats — (I might as 
well say here that there were ^yq of "we boys," two 
older and two younger than the writer) — watching 
in breathless silence the windings of the fire-pan 
through the new -ground. " There," says the oldest 
brother, "they have found eyes. See Jack moving- 
his pan, so as to give father a good sight." The 
words were hardly uttered when, bang! went the old 
long-gun. 1^0 longer restrained, we broke for the 
" fire-pan," tumbhng over brush and poles, which for 
the most part covered the ground, the two younger 
brothers crying out, now and then, "Stop; please 
don't leave us; it's so dark we can't see." Coming 
up to where the fire was burning, upon a large 
stump, we found father and Jack dragging the deer 
together. He had killed four outright, and crippled 
or wounded others. The dogs, alive to what was 
going on, were there before w^e came up. Follow- 
ing the blood of the wounded, they soon came up 



36 Reminiscences of Old Times 

to two more dead, which were dragged up to the 
others. Half a dozen deer at one shot seems in- 
credible. Facts, however, are sometimes stranger 
than fiction. The deer were feeding upon the ten- 
der buds around a newly-made brush-heap, standing 
thick as sheep round a salt-log. Beside, a discharge 
of twenty-four "blue whistlers" into a herd of deer 
such as were then seen in the wilds of the Big 
Hatchie, and particularly when standing circled 
round a brush-heap, from such a gun, was but little 
short of the destructive projectiles from the "little 
more grape, Captain Bragg," against the Mexicans. 
The cart was sent for, and the six deer taken to the 
house. . Venison was no rarity, however; only the 
number of eyes that were seen, and how thick they 
stood round the brush-heap, was discussed. We 
were all getting tired — particularly the negroes — of 
"blue jerk.'* 

The reader must bear with me in owv personal his- 
tory; we have aught else yet to write about. We 
were yet in the wilderness — in a wilderness of game 
. — deer, bear, now and then an elk, the wolf, the 
panther, wildcat and catamount, and all the various 
sorts of "varmints." We had no neighbors, and if 
we had had, there were no roads leading to their 
dwelling-places. There were not so many as a half 
dozen cotemporary settlers north of the Big Hatchie, 
in Tipton count}', and the nearest was twelve miles 
off, by section lines. And we had not become ac- 
quainted. It was not until fall, when the hunting 
season opened, that we saw orjield intercourse with 
red or white man. The county was yet visited by 



in West Tennessee, 37 

bands of Chickasaw hunters, every fall and winter. 
They still regarded it as their hunting ground. My 
narrative, therefore, must he, for the most part, 
wrouiJ^ht from the wildwoods and its innumerable 
tenants, in which much of our j^ersonal history must 
crop out. The general features of the country north 
of the Hatchie, except for its richness of soil, giant 
forests, impenetrable canebrakes, tare-blanket thick- 
ets, grape and bamboo jungles, and the wild pea- vine 
in spring and summer, so thickly matted — overrun- 
ning the undergrowth — as to impede travel on foot 
or horseback, presented nothing of topographical 
interest. The same may be said of the country ex- 
tending to the mouth of the Ohio and Tennessee 
rivers. It had long been the favorite hunting- 
ground of the Chickasaws and pioneer settlers, 
w^ho were, for the most part, men of the woods, and 
lived by the chase. Of such were Davy Crockett, and 
many like him. 



38 Reminiscences of Old Times 



CHAPTER II. 

Early Settlers Forming Neighborhoods — Joe Seahorn and 
the Hog's Hide — Nancy and her Peril with the Panther — 
Panther Hunt — The Road to Covington — First Ferry in 
Tipton on the Hatchie — Dickens and his Taxes — Old 
Jack. 

Buried, as it were, in the wilderness, beyond the 
outskirts of busy civilized life, we lived in Quaker 
simplicity. The schoolmaster and the preacher had 
not yet arrived in the land — nothing around us to 
imbue the young mind with " a sense of the vanity 
of the world." Peers of the noblest of the land, we 
were a law unto ourselves, drawing philosophy from 
the shades of the wild woods and the profusion of 
wild flowers that decked the bosom of mother earth. 
Our father dignified labor hy requiring that every 
one should put his "hand to the plow." The field 
and the neiv ground were the objects of interest. 
During the spring and summer mouths the settling 
of our new home went on swimmingly. The bear 
and the hogs gave the only trouble — was the only 
source of annoyance. Their voracious appetites ibr 
hog-meat often exceeded the vigils of the herds- 
man. Many were torn and shockingly lacerated 
before he, with his dog and gun, could get to their 
relief. It may be interesting to the reader to know 
the habits and mode of the bear in })rocuriiig food. 
They often exhibit more than beastly skill in that 



in West Tennessee. 39 

particular. Cautiously approaching the hog, under 
cover of thick underbrush, a large tree or log, they 
make their way until within reach, w^hen, rearing 
up upon their hinder feet, and making a leap, the 
hog is safe within the folds of their strong arms. 
Sinking deep their broad jaws across the hog's back, 
close up to the shoulders, they go to work to gratify 
their greed, waiting not for the animal to die. The 
most timid of the wild beasts of the woods, yet, 
when they get a taste of the blood of their victim, 
they hold on like grim death, often contending fear- 
lessly with man and dog for their prey. It is in 
summer alone that they feed on flesh, upon which 
they never grow fat. As soon as the mast begins 
to harden they quit the fields and hog-meat, and 
soon begin to fatten. It is a novel sight to see them 
feeding in the "lappin season." This begins in the 
early fall, before the acorns begin to fall to the 
ground. They climb up the tallest oaks of the for- 
est, and with their great arms they gather the limbs 
together as a sheaf of wheat, holding on to them 
until stripped of their fruit. In this way they con- 
tinue through the lap, until the tree is stripped of 
its acorns, or until he gets his fill. B}^ early winter 
they become fat, in a good mast year, and bouse up 
for the balance of the winter in some secluded 
place, near water, only coming out when thirsty, 
until spring. With old bear-hunters, the time for 
them to unhouse themselves is when the dogwood 
begins to blossom; the she-bear brings out her 
young then. February is the month for their par- 
turition. 



40 Reminiscences of Old Times 

Soft, golden, sunny September, when the forest is 
in the " sear and the yellow leaf," with her crimson 
sunsets and "gray morn," sure signs of the first 
frost, is the happy period of the hunter's life — when 
the deer will have shed their summer suit, and taken 
on his winter graj^ and blue; the antlers of the 
noble buck dropping their soft velvet covering, and 
becoming hard and white; the bear getting lazy 
from his surfeit of fat, and taking himself to the 
thick jungle for winter quarters; the wild turkies, 
in countless numbers, flocking from the ridges to 
the bottoms. The most inviting grounds on the 
green earth, to the hunter, was the Big Hatcliie 
countr}^, at the period when my father moved to it. 
We marvel not that the Chickasaws had chosen it 
as their favorite hunting-ground. 

During the fall and winter new-comers began to 
find their way, and found settlements north and 
east of us, yet we were without neighbors, save a 
few squatters and occupants. The smoke from their 
cabins could be seen rising up through the dense 
forest in many directions. Our nearest squatter 
neighbor was old Mrs. Seaborn, her son Joe, and 
son-in-law Bill Barnes. Joe and Bill were noted 
for living well, without ever being known to work; 
the}^ dressed well and rode fine horses, and were 
rarel}^ found at home. Where they went, or what 
they brought away, concerned but few, as they were 
not hemmed in by inquisitive neighbors. Joe was 
no hunter; Bill, however, was a good bee-hunter. 
The wild-woods afforded an abundance of honey- 
giving flowers; beside, in the virgin freshness of 



in West Tennessee. 41 

the land, the honey-dew lay heavy upon the thick 
foliage during the spring months. With Bill 
Barnes, honey was his only staple commodity, and 
afforded the main support of the Seahorn family. 
For the want of vessels to put his honey in, he 
resorted to the digging of troughs in which to keep 
it. An occurrence soon happened that required him 
to pre-empt in some other section of the wild-woods. 
My father had been missing some of his fattening 
hogs at a period of the yeir when old Bruin did 
not feed upon flesh. Old Jack, who was the hog 
minder and defender, was put to look out for signs 
that would lead to solve the mj^steiy of the missing 
hoo^s. lie was not lons^ in o^ettin^: on the ric>:ht 
track. Stalking through a thick hazlenut thicket 
near the squatters' cabin, his dog grabbed up from 
behind a large log, the skin of a hog. It proved, 
from the iiesh-marks, to be the skin of one of the 
missing hogs. Cutting a polo, he hoisted it npoii 
his shoulder and brought it home. The mystery 
of the missing hogs was solved. My father sent for 
Joe Seahorn, and required from him an explanation 
as to how the hide of one of his hogs came to be 
covered up in the leaves near his house. Seaborn 
vowed his want of knowledg-e and total io'norance 
in the matter, visiting imprecations upon old Jack's 
head, swearing that the old negro lied if he said 
that he found the hide near his house, and accused 
him of being the guilty party, and then laying it 
upon him, to throw suspicion off from himself and 
the other negroes. My father, however, was in no 
wise convinced of Seahorn's innocence. Negro tes- 



42 Reminiscences of Old Times 

timony being of no avail, he made him to understand 
that he must tind an occupant claim in some other 
quarter, more congenial to the occupation he pro- 
posed following. Seahorn's hog-stealing soon found 
a place in song. Some of the boys worked off sev- 
eral verses, which was sung to the tune of "Harper's 
Creek and Roaring River." The following four lines 
are yet remembered of it, as it was sung in the neigh- 
borhood, by the boys and negroes: 

" Joe Seaborn, he stol'd a hog, 
The hide he hid behird a log. 
Old Jack's d'^g, he found thi hide, 
And S-iahorn swore that Ja k he liel." 

Early on the following morning, old Mrs. Seaborn 
came over to see my mother, to get her to " speak 
to the 'Squire," as she said, " not to be hard on my 
boy Josey." By way of a peace- offering, she brought 
an apron-full of ''nice dried peaches," which she had 
cut and dried with her own hands; "and," says she, 
"here is some nice, new honey. I told the boys, 
last spring, when they showed my boy Pinkey where 
the white mare was, that when Bill Barnes cut a bee 
tree, I would give them a fill of honey; so here it is. 
I just brought it along in this gourd; it's my milk 
gourd; it's very nice." Then she appealed to my 
mother to talk to the 'Squire, and get him not 
to be hard on Josey. " And," says she, " we ain't 
going to stay here long, so I brought you some of 
the best peach-seed you ever did see; tliey's as yel- 
lew as gold, big as your two fists, and, when i*ipe, 
you can sock your thumb in them plumb to the 
seed; they is cling-stones. I just thought," said she, 



in 



West Tennessee. 43 



"I would bring you them as a friendly oftering, and 
something for you all to remember me by, for you 
all has been mighty kind to we all. I^^ancy was so 
sorry she didn't have something to send the 'Squire. 
She talks so much about his saving her from being 
eaten up by the panther. We all love the 'Squire 
for his kind act in saving ITancy's life from the jaws 
of the ugly beast. Do, pray, speak to the 'Squire 
not to be hard on Josey." My mother gave her a 
little coiFee, which she tied up in the corner of her 
apron. With man^^ thanks she bid her good-morn- 
ing, saying, "Please do speak to the 'Squire not to 
be hard on Josey." The circumstance of my father's 
having saved little Kancy from a shocking death, 
occurred in thiswise: The squatter's cabin was a 
short distance above the bluff spring, near the 
creek; they got their drinking water out of a ''wet- 
weather spring," which, in dry weather, went dry. 
When they had to resort to the bluff' spring for 
drinking water, one afternoon, late in the fall, little 
Nancy had been sent to the bluff* spring. The 
path leading from the squatter's cabin meandered 
down a deep ravine to where it empted in the creek, 
and thence down to the spring. The little girl had 
over-staid her time at the spring; the shades of 
evening were fast upon her. When she started 
back, tripping along until she reached the mouth of 
the ravine, where the path turned through a dark 
jungle of undergrowth and over-hanging vines, a 
huge panther sprang upon her. My fathei' happened 
to be on the hill above, where a couple of negro men 
were at w^ork on some mill timbers. Hearing the 



44 Beminiscences of Old Times 

scream of little IN'aiicy, whom he had seen leaving 
the spring with her gourd of water, he immediately 
comprehended that something terrible had befallen 
her. The child's scream and wail increased and 
was heart-rendins:. He made for her with the 
utmost haste. The two negro men followed. 
Luckily, he had his short, large-bore rifle with him. 
Reaching the mouth of the ravine, the scream of 
the child came from across the creek. He noticed 
the big gourd thelittlegirl was carrying, at the mouth 
of the ravine, and quickly comprehended the peril 
she was in. He ran across the creek (the water 
was shallow), and upon reaching the top of the 
bank, he discovered a large panther, just entering 
the thick cane, fast hold of little ^N'ancy, in the act 
of dragging her over a large log. The panther had 
just mounted the log, holding on to Nancy by the 
arm close up to her shoulder. Showing his broad 
side, quick as thought, a well-aimed bullet was sent 
through his heart. At the crack of the rifle, the 
panther sunk upon the log quivering in death. 
The two negro men were at my father's back when 
he fired, running up wdth their axes (seeing that the 
monster still held on to the little girl's arm), to give 
him the final blow. The panther was dead, yet her 
great jaws were fast hold of Nancy's arm, and had 
to be prized open to relieve her. Her little arm 
was shockingly larcerated and torn ; otherwise, 
save some slight scratches, she was unhurt. It was 
a she panther, and her aim was to drag the child 
alive to her den, wliere she had her young. The men 
cut a grape vine, noosed it around the panther's 



in Wist Tennessee. 45 

neck, and dragged it home, while my father took 
little l^ancy in charge to her mother. It Avas for 
thus rescuing little JSTancy from the jaws of death 
that old Mrs. Seahorn had expressed herself so 
grateful. Hardly had they gotten across the creek, 
when, in the thick cane behind them, rang, with the 
wild shrieks and yells of a panther, the mate of the 
old she just killed. He had doubtless been standing 
guard to the young cubs, sharpening his teeth upon 
hearing the screams of the child, and ready for the 
slaughter. His disappointment, and absence of his 
companion, had brought forth his terrific yells. 

My father decided that night to give the old gentle- 
man panther a warming the next morning. He was 
certain to be found near the den, watching over the 
cubs, and waiting the return of their dam. Every 
arrangement was made for the hunt. My two eldest 
brothers had killed their deer. The next- to the 
oldest had become an expert hunter. Life in the 
woods, with rifle in hand, he greatly preferred to 
the " plow handles." He was a splendid shot with 
all, never failing to bring down his gobbler at long 
range. The old long, single barrel, the short, large 
bore (called a Yorger), and the little rifle, running 
sixty bullets to the pound, were all the guns my 
father had. Old Jack, who generally formed one of 
the party in a hunt, and who was a pretty good shot, 
was sent over to Mrs. Seahorn's to borrow Bill 
Barnes' rifle. (Joe and Bill Barnes were absent at 
the time.) By sun-up we were all across the creek 
(I was permitted to go along to see the young cubs 
as well as the fun). Beaching the log upon which the 



46 Reminiscences of Old Times 

old she was killed the evening before, the dogs 
dashed off on a running trail in the direction she 
was aiming to drag her prey. To pursue with 
rapidity was impossible; the thick cane and jungle 
was, for the most part, impenetrable, and but for the 
openings caused by the rotting out of the fallen trees, 
it would have been impossible for man to have 
gotten through it. "Hark! hark!" says my father, 
" the days have come to a hay ; keep a sharp look out 
boys." The sharp, angry bark of the dogs impelled 
the hunters forward as rapidly as they could go. Get- 
ting close up, warning was given to " keep a sharp 
look out." Soon we came upon them surrounding a 
large "clay-root," their hair erect, barking most 
fiercely. "List! list!! boys, the old fellow is 
crouched some where near ; keep a sharp look out." 
Just then old Jack had gotten within a few feet of 
the clay-root; when my father noticed it, from the 
crouched position of one of the dogs, and his fierce 
gaze through the opening of the cane overhead, he 
called to him, " Look out. Bull sees him." Simulta- 
neously with the quick spoken words of warning to 
old Jack, came the sharp crack of the little rifie, 
and with it the sprawl of Jack, and the panther 
upon him. Li an instant the dogs covered both 
Jack and the panther. The moment was terrific 
and painful, until the negro began to crawl out from 
under the dead monster. The next to the eldest 
brother, quickly comprehending the situation, in his 
eagerness to get the first shot, had slipped around to 
the body of the large fallen tree, where he could 
get a full view of the " clay-root," which rose above 



in West Tennessee. 47 

the bending cane, discovering tlie panther crouched 
upon a large root, intently watching the movementa 
of the dogs below. Quick as thouglit, his rifle was 
well-aimed and fired, sending his bullet through his 
heart; in his death leap, he sprang upon Jack. He 
was the monster panther of the woods ; his full 
length stretched out upon the ground, was eleven 
feet two inches from the tip of his nose to the end 
of his tail. The entrance to the den of the old 
she was under the clay-root, in the hollow of the 
fallen tree, large enough for the dogs to enter and 
pass in for many feet. The cubs had got into the 
hollow beyond their reach. Dry sticks and faggots 
were procured, a fire built up in the entrance of the 
den, and the cubs left to their fate. 

My father, the fall of the first year he settled in 
the wilderness, surveyed out and cut a road through 
the Hatchie bottom, and established the first ferry 
on the Hatchie, below McGuire's, in Haywood. 
There was then a continuous road from Browns- 
ville to Covington, and became the principal road 
of travel between ihd two places, and my father's 
house the only habitation on the road, which of 
necessity became a "house of entertainment." The 
most frequent travel was by exploring parties, look- 
ing after and locating land for future settlement. 

An amusing incident occurred soon after my 
father commenced taking in travelers, which may find 
interest with the reader. Some half dozen well 
dressed gentlemen rode up one night, while the fam- 
ily were at supper, and asked to " stay all night." 
They were ushered in the best room, where a blaz- 



48 Reminiscences of Old Times 

ing fire was burning. It was winter, and the night 
cold. Supper was ordered for "six hungry men," 
who hadn't "eat a mouthful since early morn." 
Word was soon conveyed to my mother that they 
were real, nice, broadcloth gentlemen. Of course, 
something extra nice was in rapid course of prepara- 
tion. The servants and everybody spread them- 
selves. The children, you know, couldn't be kept 
out of sight ; they were bound to see the fine stran- 
gers. [N'ew jackets and clean white aprons were put 
on, and the servants required to put on clean frocks. 
My mother got out her best damask. The new tea 
tray and china were brought into requisition. Pre- 
serves, in glass dishes, were arranged upon the table. 
A fresh cake of butter was fixed up most tastily, in 
" pine apple shape," and graced the center of the 
table, and the last two sperm candles, stuck in the 
tall silver candle-sticks, were lighted, and the guests 
invited in to supper. My mother, with her new 
"turban" on, had taken her seat at the head of the 
table, behind the new tea-tray and glittering service. 
The party entering the dining-room (a shed room 
boarded up with clapboards) were led by a tall and 
stately silver-haired gentleman. Advancing to the 
chair assigned him, he paused, resting his hand 
upon the back, with a fixed gaze at my mother, 
whose eyes were also riveted upon him. A mutual 
recognition followed, he advancing as she rose to 
meet him.^ Her features expressing a pleasant sur- 
prise, she exclaimed, "Colonel William Polk, of 
i^orth Carolina!" and extended her hand. "And 
this is Mrs, Patsy Seawell ," said the Colonel, 



in West Tennessee. 49 

clasping her hand in both of his. " My dear madam, 
this is the most joyous meeting since I left our na- 
tive State." My father, who had stepped out to give 
some orders about their horses, stepped in just then, 
and, recognizing each other, a general introduction 
went the rounds. 

Colonel William Polk (father of the late Right 
Reverend Bishop Polk) and my mother were famil- 
iarly acquainted in their young days. Their meet- 
ing was most unexpected to both of them. He, 
with a party of young men, w^ere exploring the coun- 
try and looking after their landed interests. With 
the party was young Dickens, son of Colonel Dick- 
ens, of Madison. His business seemed to be to pay 
the taxes on the large landed interests of his father, 
and possibly to make further investments in lands. 
With less mother wit than good looks and fine 
clothes, he talked much of a roll of United States 
bills he carried about his person, which he called 
his "taxes." A young Seawell, son of the late 
Judge Seawell, of Raleigh, ^orth Carolina, was of 
the party. Seawell was a great tease, and wonder- 
fully fond of a good joke. Young Dickens was the 
butt of the party, easily quizzed, and afforded great 
merriment. Whenever the conversation would re- 
lax, Seawell or some member of the party would 
ask him to feel for his "taxes." He would run 
his hand around under his vest and announce that 
"they were all safe." To sleep the party it was 
necessary to have"^" pallets" made down on the floor 
of the best room. Yoqng Dickens was the first to 
lay down. Taking ofi'his coat and vest,he stretched 
3 ^ ' 



50 Reminiscenees of Old Times 

himself out onhis pallet, while his companions re- 
mained lip cracking jokes. He soon fell asleep, 
when Seawell suggested a practical joke upon the 
innocent sleeper, who, in turning over upon his 
side, exposed to view the red morocco belt contain- 
ing his "taxes." The belt was cautiously taken 
from around his body. Dickens snored away^ and 
the rest of the party retired for the night. Dick- 
ens was the first to rise in the morning. Finding 
a rousing fire burning in the broad fire-place, he 
bounced up from his pallet. His first care vvas to 
feel for his " taxes." The belt was gone. He cried 
aloud, "My taxes! My taxes! By thunder, where 
is my taxes?" With one leap he was at the door, 
holding on to old Jack's coat-tail. Jack had just 
finished making the fire, and was leaving the room, 
with the gentlemen's boots under his arm. Young 
Dickens jerked him back in the room and com- 
menced a search in his pockets for his money-belt, 
crying out in a wailing voice, "My taxes! My 
taxes ! " Jack protested and declared that he didn't 
have them, until he began to get a little worried, 
when he said: " De Lord bless me, mister, dis nigger 
don't know nothin' 'bout your tacks. What you 
think he wants wid your tacks! Bless me, mister, 
master's got plenty tacks!" "You old fool," said 
Dickens, "I don't mean tacks — taxes! money, in a 
red morocco belt I buckled around me when I went 
to bed last night. When I got up this morning, 
it was gone. ^N'obody has been in this room but 
you." "Oh! aha! Money, you say; money in red 
morocco belt! IS'o, sir! Dis nigger knows nothin' 



ill West Tennessee. 51 

bont it. Yoii got hold de wrong nigger diis time; 
dat you have." In the mean time the whole party 
were awake, and enjoying the scene before them. 
Dickens, not iinding his taxes npon the person of 
Jack, and becoming overpowered with a sense of 
his loss, sunk down in the nearest chair and boo- 
hooed outright. Seawell's sympathies were touched. 
lie arose from an adjoining bed, picking up the 
counterpane off of the pallet Dickens had slept on. 
He gave it a shake, and out fell the red morocco belt. 
The young man sprang to it. Picking it up, he 
burst out into a half laugh and cry of joy, saying, 
" What a fool I was." Jack returned soon with the 
gentleman's boots. Dickens said to him that he 
was only joking, pitching him a silver half dollar. 
*' Thankee, thankee ! This'U buy me more'n tacks 
enough to make me two pairs of .shoes." 



52 Reminiscences of Old Times 



CHAPTER III. 

JVeigliborhoods Forming — Thomas Durham, Founder of 
Durhamville — Johnny Bradford, — Thomas Thompson, 
Esq. — D. C. Bussell — The First Frame Bouse — Jacob 
Nisumnger — William Murphey, the JIatter, and his 
Black Snakes — Josepji Wardloiv — Stephen Childress — 
Thomas Childress — William Turner and Parson Collins 
— Their First Night in the Big Hatchie Country — Arthur 
Davis, the Pioneer Preacher — First School-house in 
Tipton North of Hatchie — Old Man Larkin Gaines, the 
First Schoolmaster. 

The succeeding and following year witnessed the 
rapid settling up of the country north and north- 
east of us. ^Neighborhoods had begun to form; the 
schoolmaster and the preacher had found their 
way in the land. Thomas Durham, who was our 
first militia Colonel in Tipton, north of Hatchie, 
founded a settlement on the high hill, where the 
village of Durhamville, which took his name, now 
stands. Honest Johnny Bradford found his way 
from Illinois, 'and settled below Durham's, on the 
head waters of Williams' creek, where he spent his 
last and best days. 

Thomas Thompson and the Russells moved in 
from ^orth Carolina, and settled on the waters of 
Fisher's and Garner's creeks, and became the nucleus 
of the settlemenPnorth of Williams' creek. David 
C. Russell had built the first framed house in 



in West Tennessee. 53 

TiDtoii north of Hatcliie; it was built in 1827 
by the two young Adams, who came to the settle- 
ment with William Turner and Parson Collins. 
The two young men (brothers) sawed out with a 
whipsaw^ tlie lumber with which they built the 
house — the whipsaw, for many years, supplied all 
the lumber that was used. The Gillilands came in 
from Pennsylvania a few years after, and purchased 
the house of Russell, and built a mill on what was 
then called Fisher's creek, which afterwards was 
called Gilliland's creek, by which name it is yet 
known. They established the first store of any note 
in Tipton north of Hatchie; men of enterprise and 
business tact, they established the first store on 
*' Hurricane Hill," and contributed largely to the 
interest and prosperity of the neighborhood. 

Thomas Thompson was the first magistrate in 
Tipton north of Hatchie, and a member of the 
County Court for many 3^ears. A worthy and most 
excellent good citizen, he ever maintained the 
dignity and high respect due his court, by which he 
was enabled to command the respect and aid of all 
good citizens in quelling an outbreak, which rarely 
failed to occur on all public occasions. 

The writer remembers to have heard related an 
amusing account of the w^ay the law was executed 
in those days. The 'Squire usually held his courts 
on Saturdays. At the same time and place it was 
usual for the settlement to arrange for a " shooting- 
match." While his court was in session, a fight 
grew up between Joe Seaborn and another neigh- 
bor. The 'Squire ordered that the offending parties 



54 -Rcni'umct'tices of Old Times 

be brought before him. Seahorn, who was giiiUy 
of the assault and batter}-, took to his heels, when 
he saw the officer coming; finding that he would be 
overtaken, he took a tree, and up it he went to the 
top. The officer commanded that he come down; 
he defiantly refused, and' dared the officer to "come 
up and take him." Thinking himself safe, he 
crowed like a cock upon his tallest perch. The 
officer, resolute and fertile of expedients, sent for an 
axe — one was close at hand — with which.he went to 
work to cut him down. When the tree began to 
crack and show signs of falling, Joe began to think 
the matter getting serious, and hallooed out to "hold 
on," that he "surrendered," that he Avould come 
down. The officer hallooed back for him to "hold 
on," that the tree would soon be down, and w-hacked 
away. Joe could stand it no longer. When the 
tree began to crack and shake, down he slid, strik- 
ing the ground as the tree left the stump. The 
officer, with hi3 jwsse, seized him, and marched 
him up before the 'Squire, who ordered that he be 
held in close confinement until the shooting-match 
was over. The officer, wishing to take his chance 
at shooting for a quarter of beef, and there being 
no strong place at hand in which to confine the 
prisoner, sought a cart body which lay convenient, 
and put him under it, and with the aid of the by- 
standers, brought a heavy log and weighted it down ; 
thus Joe was kept closely caged until the shooting- 
match was over. The other party was let off with 
an apology on his part, and a reprimand from the 
court. 



in WeM Tevnrssee. 55 

• 

Cotemporary with the settlements on Williams' 

and Fisher's creeks, Captain Stephen Childress 
settled in the thick woods six or more miles helow, 
on a creek, which took his name, where he opened 
a large plantation. The Captain lived bnt a few 
years. His widow, who was the sister of Thomas 
H. and Jesse Benton, with a large family, survived 
him many years. Thomas Childress, son of Cap- 
tain Stephen, with his beautiful young wife, settled 
in the woods near his father's the same year. He is 
yet living near where he first settled, and is, I 
believe, the only surviving Childress of the old 
stock. He yet maintains, under the weight of 
many years, an elastic step and the dignity of his 
race. 

The year following, old man Jacob Niswanger, and 
his son-in-law, Joseph Wardlow, moved in from 
South Carolina, and opened up a large plantation 
on Garner's creek. The same year, and from the 
same State, came old man Larkin Gaines, and his 
sons, Pendleton, Powell and Abner. Pew "new- 
comers" contributed more to the interest and 
advancement of the settlement, than Mswanger and 
Waldron The old man Jacob, a man of many 
eccentricities of character, was a genius with all. 
Everything needed or useful in the economic man- 
agement of his affairs bore marks of his handy- 
work. By his probity and industry he amassed a 
fortune. A hatter by trade, he kept up his shop as 
long as he lived. He brought old man Murphey 
with him from South Carolina, who was long noted 
for being the best maker of hats in West Tennessee, 



56 Reminiscences of Old Times 

■WilliaiD Murphey had his idiosyncrasies. Those 
of us who knew him when we w^ere bo^'s yet 
remember him and his black snakes with an amus- 
insr interest. The only instance known of the 
snake's being cultivated and utilized is perhaps 
due to William Murphey, the hatter. He found 
them better mousers than the house cat, and intro- 
duced them into his shop for the protection of his 
furs and newly made hats. On a warm sunshiny 
day, you would see them coiled up in every crack 
and nitch in his shop, with their black eyes glistening 
like so many newly opened chinquepins. They 
kept his shop free of rats and mice. It is human 
to be afraid of snakes. They answered him a good 
purpose in keeping away the meddlesome boys. 
An amusing as well as a thrilling incident occurred 
to the old gentleman soon after he arrived in the 
settlement. He had strolled out one day in the 
" new ground" on a snake hunt. He soon scared up, 
in the thick brush, a monster black snake, and made 
for it. The snake being pressed hard for a hiding 
place, took to a hole in the end of a hollow pole. 
He carefully stopped up the entrance to the hollow, 
and shouldering it, he started for the shop. He 
had gone but a short distance, w^ien he began to 
experience a choking sensation; the snake had 
found his way out at another hole, and thrown him- 
self around the old hatter's neck. It being a large 
and powerful snake, lie was unable to extricate 
himself. With difficulty he was able to call for 
help. Lucidly several negro men were at work 
close by, who, discovering the perilous fix tlie old 



in West Tennessee. 57 

man was in, ran to his relief. It was only with 
their knives that they could prevent strangulation^ 
by cutting ther* monster loose. The old gentleman 
was very thankful for the timely help, but sorely 
regretted to lose so fine a rat-catcher. 

Joseph Wardlow built his first house at the big 
spring, forming the head of Garner's creek, and 
afterward made his permanent settlement below his 
father-in-law's, near the same creek, where he 
resided until the county of Lauderdale was formed 
in 1836, when he fixed his residence at Eipley, the 
newly located county site, building the first house 
in the place. He continued his residence in Ripley 
until his death, which occurred in 1863, in the 
seventieth year of his age. His name, long inti- 
mately connected and associated with the rise and 
progress of Lauderdale, as among the fathers of 
the county, is perpetuated in his noble sons, who, of 
the present day, stand among its most worthy and 
prominent citizens. 

The Fishers, Blackwells, Doctor Abner Phillips, 
and others worthy of mention, were cotemporary 
in the Thompson-Russell settlement. 

The settlement to the east and south of Durham- 
ville was formed by Matthew Pickett, Johnn}^ 
Stone, William Turner, Kent Penic, Estes and 
others, many of whose decendants yet cultivate the 
land, and reside on the homes of their fathers. 

Among those of the pioneer and early immigrant 
settlers, whose long and useful life is yet spared to 
recount the perils and hardships of pioneer life in 
the Big Hatchie country, none is more worthy a 



58 Reminiscences of Old Times 

page in these semi-historic reminiscences than 
William Turner — Uncle Billy, as he is familiarly 
and reverentially called — who, in the -spring-time of 
manhood, with his young and newly married wife, 
in compan}^ with several of his neighbors, cut loose 
their moorings from the shores of their native land, 
Kentucky, and floated out the Barron river into 
the Green, and down the Ohio into the Mississippi, 
landing at the mouth of the Big Ilatchie, in the 
month of February, in the year 1827, in search of 
a home in a wild, and, to him, an unknown land. 

His companions were Parson lieson B. Collins, 
Charles Cullin, and two young men named Adams. 
Heading the prow of their keel, with all their earthly 
goods, up the Hatchie, they poled away until they 
reached a point of high land interesting to look at. 
Dividing iii search of a place upon which to locate, 
two took to the woods north of the river, and two 
south, the fifth remaining with the "women folks" 
on the boat. 

Billy Turner and Parson Collins took to the 
north side, and struck out for the hills, and soon 
become lost in the woods. Boguelug about all day, 
they found themselves, at nightfall, on a high bluff, 
overlooking the tops of the tall trees to the north 
and west. They stood upon the Cole creek bluffs, 
ten or more miles away from their boat, bewildered 
in a wilderness of wild beasts. Thoy brought a halt 
to gather in their confused thoughts. Turner pro- 
posed that they strike a fire and wait till morning. 
The Parson opposed it, expressing his fears that 
they would be eaten up during the night by wild 



in West Tennessee. 59 

beasts. The brave-hearted Turner went to work, 
however, and gathered dry wood, builtna tire and 
resolved to spend the night. Tired, and without 
food, he rolled himself up rpon the ground to 
sleep. Hardly had he fallen to sleep, when the 
Parson aroused him, saying that he could hear "the 
tramp of the wild beasts;" that he could hear 
them " snapping and sharpening their teeth;" that 
they would be "eaten up alive before morning;" 
that he must get up and they would "watch 
together." 

Billy, thinking that he ought to pray as well as 
watch, turned over and dropped to sleep again. He 
w^as again aroused from his slumbers by the Parson 
saying that he was dying of thirst; that if he 
didn't get some water soon he would die. What to 
do, or where to find water for his frightened, fever- 
ished companion, was a puzzle. Something had to 
be done, however, or he would die of fright and 
thirst. So he got up and commenced lool-dng 
about for water; none could be found, unless it be 
under the bluff, which it seemed impossible to 
reach. To save life, however, they commenced slid- 
ing down, holding on to such twigs and rough 
places as they could feel; they were in utter dark- 
ness. Down they went, however, the Parson ahead, 
until they struck the bank of the creek. But how 
should he get to the water? The bank was perpen- 
dicular. The cane stood thick and heavy upon the 
bank, bending over to the surface of the water. 
Tlie only way to get to the w^ater was to slide down 
on the cane. So down the Parson crawled on top 



60 Reminiscences of Old Times 

of the bending cane until his burning face came in 
contact with the cold water. Reviving from his 
fright, and slaking his thirst, his trouble was to get 
back from his perilous situation, which he had just 
began to realize. His friend Billy could render 
him no assistance, nor could he see him, with his 
heels cocked up in the air, and his head touching 
the water, for the black darkness that reigned 
under the bluiF. After many efforts and almost 
superhuman exertion, the Parson succeeded in 
reversing his position, and getting his head up, he 
pulled himself to shore. They got back to the fire 
again — how, the narrator says, was impossible to 
tell. It was thus they spent their first ni^ht in the 
Big Hatchie country. 

When the morning came, they were at a loss to 
know which direction to take to get back to the 
boat. From the high bluff the Parson heard a 
chicken crow. He became almost crazed with de- 
light, and told Billy that it was his rooster on the 
boat. Taking out his pocket-compass, he took the 
course. After several hours travel, they reached 
the boat, satisfied with the Cole creek hills. Cullen 
and one of the Adams boys had come in from their 
exploration on the south side, and reported un- 
favorably. 

They went to work and poled higher up, reaching 
Childress' landing, where they made fast, and blazed 
their way up to the Thompson and Russell settle- 
ment. The year after "Uncle Billy" moved over 
and settled on Camp creek; a favorite camping 
creek with the Chickasaws, and from which circum- 



in West Tennessee. 61 

stance it took its name. For many years he enjoyed 
himself with the Indians, when they would come in 
on their fall hunts. He has told the writer, that he 
has counted as many as thirty deer, brought to their 
camp of a morning before the frost had left the 
ground. He still resides where he first made his 
permanent settlement in Tipton, now Lauderdale, 
forty-five years ago. Few men have lived so long 
and blameless a life as Uncle Billy Turner; noted 
for his many Christian virtues, he is venerated and 
esteemed by the community in which he lives, and 
highly respected by all who know him. 

As a pioneer preacher. Parson Reson B. Collins 
proved himself unequal to the task. After a severe 
spell of fever, his mind lost its balance, and his 
friends prevailed on him to move back to Kentucky, 
which he did, after remaining a couple of years. 

The man for the times, and suited to the work, 
soon made his appearance in the land, in the person 
of Arthur Davis, who, lacking nothing in moral 
worth, or physical courage, came with the broad 
banner of his Master's kingdom in one hand, and 
the broad sword in the other. He came preaching 
that the wolf shall dwell Avith the lamb — that the 
*' weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's 
den" — that man was born to a " higher and brighter 
civilization." Few men knew better how to take 
the "bull by the horns," or win to his Master's 
kingdom a sinner's soul. Fond of pioneer life, he 
gloried in being called to preach in the wilderness. 
The writer is indebted to an old friend of Reverend 
Mr. Davis for many thrilling incidents, illustrative 



6'2 Rcwhdsccnces of Old Times 

of the moral and physical heroism of the man. In 
the early settlement of the country, and before tVie 
building of churches, even with round logs, Mr. 
Davis made an appointment that he would preach 
at a certain school-house, on a certain day, in the 
vicinity of Denmark. A band of outlaws^ living in 
the settlement, seeing the notice sticking up in the 
neighborhood, give it out that "no d — d Methodist 
preacher should preach in that house," and if Mr. 
D. attempted to fill his appointment, they would 
give him a sound drubbing. When he came to fill 
his appointment, he was informed of the threats, 
and advised that his life would be in danger it he 
undertook to preach. He paid no attention to their 
fears, and heeded not their advice, but went to his 
appointment. On reaching the place, he found the 
log-house already filled with the anxious and curi- 
ous of the neighborhood, and the regulators stand- 
ing apart with their sticks and clubs. He passed 
in, and up to the place assigned as a temporary 
pulpit. Inclining his head as a mark of respect to 
the congregation, he paused and surveyed, with a 
penetrating eye, every member of the assembled 
neighborhood. N'ot a man of them did he know. 
He opened service, took his t(ixt, and preached. 
After the service was over, he announced an 
appointment, " Providence permitting," to preach at 
the same place again, on a stated day named, and 
invited the congregation to attend him out in the 
grove. 

He passed out, as he went in, without turning liis 
head to the right or to the left, and stopped at a 



in West Tennessee. 63 

stump. Taking off his hat and coat he laid them 
upon the stump, and then, turning to the assembled 
neighborhood, asked if there was present a member 
of any church, and paused for a reply. A gentle- 
man stepped forward and replied that he had been 
a member of the Presbyterian church. " That will 
do, sir; thank you," said Mr. Davis. "I have a wife 
and one child. Her name is Drucilla. She lives at 
a certain place " — here giving such directions that 
he could not fail to find her. " I want you to prom- 
ise, by the vow you took when you joined the 
church, that if anything should happen to Arthur 
Davis to-day, by which he should never see her again, 
that you will tell her how it happened, and all about 
it. ITow, Mr. Regulators," turning to a clump of 
men who were standing apart from, the crowd, "I 
am ready for you. Come one at a time, and I'll 
show you who Art. Davis is." They looked at one 
another, and then at the preacher. "Don't keep me 
waiting," says he. "You have made your threats 
that no d — d Methodist preacher should preach in 
that house," pointing to it. "I am a Methodist 
preacher, and I have preached in it, according to 
my appointment. I am now ready to meet you, 
according to your appointment, one at a time, and 
you will make the acquaintance of Art. Davis." 

The leader of the band threw down his club, 
walked up to the brave-hearted Davis and offered 
him his hand saying: "Mr. Davis, you are my sort 
of man; I like you, sir; you shall preach here when- 
ever it may please you to do so, and I will see you 
do it in peace. You are the preacher for me." 



64 Reminiscenres of Old Times 

With that the neighborhood gathered around him, 
introducing one another, until he had made the per- 
sonal acquaintance of every one present. He was 
ever after that a welcome preacher in the neigh- 
borhood. 

l!^ot long after that, a camp-meeting was being 
held near Denmark. Mr. Davis was, with other 
preachers, in attendance. It was a custom, in the 
early days of camp-meetings held in the Big Ilatchie 
country, to organize a police to preserve order on 
the ground, and to keep out stragglers. During the 
progress of the meeting a half dozen or more row- 
dies and desperadoes, being instigated by a wild 
spirit and bad whisky, got up a fuss, which threat- 
ened to break up the meeting. The police, or guard, 
as they were then called, succeeded in arresting all 
of the disturbers, save one, who defied the guard 
and the whole camp-meeting. He had backed him- 
self in between two tents, and he was protected in 
the rear by another tent. The passage-way to him 
was just wide enough for one man to pass in. 
There the desperado had taken refuge, brandisliing 
his bowie-knife, and threatening death to any one 
wlio dared put his hands upon him. Mr. Davis, 
hearing of the difficulty, quietly remarked that he 
would go and take him. Approaching the crowd 
wliich had assembled in front of the desperate man 
with his bowie-knife, he at once comprehended the 
work to be done. Reaching the entrance to the 
passage-way in which the desperado stood, with his 
glistening blade in hand, he turned to the by-stand- 
ers and asked that they would make him two pro- 



in West Tennessee. 65 

miBGs, to which they assented. "Then," says he, 
"you will promise me, iirst, if I am killed, that you 
will see that my wife Drucilla and the chiTdren are 
cared for; and you will promise me, second, that 
you will hang that devil," pointing to the desper- 
ado, " upon yon limb," poiutin.g up to a suitable 
limb for the purpose. Turning to the outlaw he 
quietly said : " Xow, sir, you are my prisoner." No 
sooner did he make the iirst firm step toward him 
than the outlaw threw down his knife, advanced, 
and meeting him, said : "Parson Davis, you are the 
only man alive that can take me. I am your pi'is- 
oner." The meeting progressed without further 
disturbance. 

Few men possessed the personal courage of Mr. 
Davis. His earnest and firm personal bearing was 
as an array of sharp steel, when directed towards an 
offender. The power of his moral influence over 
the wicked was marked with equal success. The 
boldness with v/hich he asserted his right to talk to 
sinners w^as happily illustrated at a camp-meeting 
held near Brownsville, The good work was going 
on swimmingly; the mourner's bench was filled, 
and gave promise of the conversion of many souls. 
^Ir. Davis, in passing along, administering to their 
troubled souls, came to an old and hardened sinner, 
a gentleman of his acquaintance. He saAV that he 
was "under conviction." Laying his heavy hand 
upon his shoulder, he said, in a loud and strong 
voice: "Pray! pray hard; pray with all your mind, 
miffht and soul. You are a movin^', breathini2: mass 
of putrefaction. Pray with all your mind and 



66 Reminiscences of Old limes 

strength, for you are the very butt-cut of sin." The 
power and force of his lang'uage struck the old sin- 
ner with" such terror as to his situation that he slid 
from the bench into the straw, and wrestled with 
the devil until he triumped. Such was the power 
and force of character of the best pioneer preacher 
that ever filled an appointment in the Big Hatchie 
country. 

The first school-house in Tipton, north of Hatchie, 
was built in 1827, in the Thompson settlement, and 
old man Larkin Gaines was the first schoolmaster. 
The writer, with Dr. Jacob E". Ward low, now the 
Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court of Laud- 
erdale, and Sam. A. Thompson, Esq., the present 
Chairman of the County Court of Lauderdale, were 
among his first pupils. 



in 



West Tennessee. 67 



CHAPTER IV. • 

John C. Barnes, the Pioneer Blacksmith — What Became of 
General Tipton' s Jack — The Chickasaws and the Shooting 
Match— The First Tub Mill and Cotton Gin — Joshua 
Farrington, the Gin Maker — Temple, the Screw Cutter 
and Model Bear Hunter — Bolivar Merchants— Pitser 
Miller — The Author's First Killing. 

John C. Barnes was the pioneer blacksmith in Tip- 
ton, north of Hatchie. His shop was on the waters 
of Fisher's creek. Barnes was a good citizen, though 
a bachelor, and had the advancement and prosperit}^ 
of the settlement very much at heart. Of robust 
constitution, he stood six feet two in his stocking 
feet, broad across the chest, with shoulders and arms 
of a Yulcan, and was a skillful and most reliable 
workman with all. 

The bringing into cultivation of the rich new lands 
began to require more work stock than were brought 
in by the settlers. Barnes, wishing to contribute 
his share toward increasing the stock of the land, 
proposed bringing a jack into the settlement and 
establish his headquarters at his blacksmith shop. 
His proposition was approbated by the neighbor- 
hood, with promises of patronage. But the grave 
question arose, first, as to where one could be had, 
and secondly, the monej^ required to pay for one. 
A good jack in those days was worth from six to 
eight hundred dollars, which was more money than 



68 Beminiscences of Old Times 

Barnes, backed by the settlement, <io\x\({ conveniently 
raise. My father, hearing of Barnes' enterprise, 
and equally anxious with the lower settlement, to 
begin the raising of mules, sent for him. Barnes, 
full of hope-giving promise, with the message he had 
received, was at my father's to breakfast the next 
morning. He and my father talked over the sub- 
ject-matter of his visit, which resulted in his going 
over to see General Tipton, residing south of the 
Hatchie, near Covington. 

General Tipton was among the first settlers south 
of the Big Hatchie, in the county which bore his 
name. His place of dwelling was beautifully situ- 
ated, four miles northeast of Covington, where he 
established a large plantation. He early introduced 
into the country the " best blooded stock." He took 
great interest in raising fine horses, mules and cat- 
tle, by which he became a great benefactor to the early 
settlers. Barnes, without delay, went over to see the 
General, and by an arrangement satisfactory to both 
parties, obtained his fine jack " Moses," and brought 
him over to his blacksmith shop. There being no 
printing ofiicesyet in the country, Barnes repaired 
to old man Gaines, who taught a school in the set- 
tlement, and who wrote a fine, big hand, and got 
him to write ofit* handbills, which he did, announcing, 
in a flowing big hand, that " General Tipton's cele- 
brated Jack, ^ Moses,' fifteen and a half hands high, 
would keep his headquarters for the season at 
Barnes blacksmith shop," etc. Sticking them up, 
one at the school-house, one at the meeting-house, 
and through the settlement generally, the neighbors 



in West Tennessee. 69 

flocked to the blacksmith shop to see General Tip- 
ton's famous jack ^' Moses/' and Barnes felt that his 
fortune would he made in one season. His black- 
smith work, in the meantime, kept him busy during 
spring and early summer, which, with the standing 
profits that promised to crop out of the " celebrated 
Moses," he passed the summer with golden dreams 
of a rich harvest from his enterprise. 

The Chickasaws had not yet abandoned the Big 
Hatchie country as their favorite hunting-ground,. 
Bands of hunters came in every fall, hunting in the 
Hatchie Bottom, until they loaded their ponies with 
deer, bear and other skins, which they took to Boli- 
var, a trading post for Indian traffic. Game of every 
description was so plentiful that the whites paid 
little or no attention to their coming or going. They 
were proverbially polite, friendly, and wholly inof- 
fensive. To the nearest settlers they would bring 
in the finest haunches of venison, fat gobblers and 
bear meat. They hunted for the most part for the 
peltries, curing only as many venison hams as they 
could conveniently pack away on their ponies. 

The hunting season had opened. Barnes, how- 
ever, was no hunter. He was regarded as the rising 
man of the settlement, and began to think it was 
not good to be " alone in the world." A wedding 
was soon talked of at Captain Childress', some six. 
miles below in the " thick woods." Barnes was 
spotted as the lucky man, and the Captain's eldest 
daughter as the w.oman. She was a widow. The 
wedding came off, and Barnes took his bride home. 
Arriving at home with his loving charge, he was aiet 



70 Reminiscences of Old Times 

with the stern reality that " Moses " had gotten out 
and taken himself off to the " wilderness." All 
hands had gone to the wedding, and none could tell 
hoAv he got out or whither he had gone. It was 
night, and nothing could be done until morning. 
Barnes rose eaily, and his first care was to find the 
whereabouts of the General's jack. Finding from 
his tracks that he had gone in the direction of the 
Hatchie Bottom, he returned to breakfast. After 
breakfast, he, with his foreman in the shop, went in 
search of " Moses." Taking his track, they fol- 
lowed it until they came to the thick switch-cane, 
where they could track him no farther. Bogueing 
about in the cane until night came upon them, they 
were compelled to return, having hunted all day in 
vain. A general search was made the next day, sev- 
eral of the neighbors joining in the hunt; but 
" Moses " had lost himself in the wilderness, where 
he could not be found. Barnes grew uneasy ; he 
was troubled. Could he have been stolen ? Hardly, 
for he had been tracked to the thick cane. The 
Chickasaws were in camp some eight miles above. 
None had been seen so low down, and if they had, 
no one thought for a moment that they were guilty 
of the theft. They had been coming in every hunt- 
ing season, and were never known to trespass upon 
any one's rights. No, the Chickasaws had never 
been guilty of a wrong. In the meantime the win- 
ter rains set in early, overflowing all the streams. 
The Hatchie rose rapidly, inundating the bottom. 
"Moses" had not yet returned. The conclusion 
Barnes came to was, that he had been caught in the 



V. 



in West Tennessee. 71 

overflow and drowned. The winter passed, and 
Barnes had to report to the General tlie loss of his 
jack, acknowledging his responsihility in the prem- 
ises. He promised to make good his valne as soon 
as he was able to do so. The General, kind at heart 
and in sympathy with Barnes for his loss, was lenient. 
Barnes went to work in his shop, redoubling his 
energies. New-comers were rapidl}^ settling around 
him. His shop work increased. He made and 
sharpened all the plows for eight or ten miles around. 
Happening to be on the river fishing one day, as a 
trading boat was descending, the Captain hailed 
him and inquired whether any peltries were on sale 
in his neighborhood. In the meantime the boat 
drifted around in the eddy where he was fishing, 
coming up broadside to the bank. The deck, or 
roof, of the boat was covered with skins of aU 
kinds. It was sunny September, and the sldns were 
being sunned and aired. A conversation grew up, 
Barnes asking the Captain what kind of skins he 
was buying, what he was paying, and the points he 
was trading to and from, when the Captain remarked 
that he had bought a hide of an animal at Bolivar 
novel in thQ peltry trade. The novelty was turned 
over, with the hair side up, a huge hide, with head, 
ears, and the eye holes well stretched. No sooner 
was Barnes' attention called to it when he exclaimed : 
"By thunder! Captain, it's my jackass's skin. 
' Moses,' have I found you at last ? Captain, where 
did you come across that hide ? " The Captain told 
him that he purchased it with other skins from Bills 
& McNeal, of Bolivar. Barnes then related the 



72 Reminiscences of Old Times 

story of the missing jack, and the Captain, being 
impressed with the truth of the statement, readily 
turned the hide over to Barnes, who took it home 
and put it away for safe keeping. The following 
month, October, the Chickasaws came in for their 
fall hunt. Barnes was on the lookout for them. 
They came down to the number of sixty or seventy, 
and camped at the mouth of Fisher's Creek, in the 
vicinity where "Moses" had lost Jiimself the fall 
previous. They were very friendly. Barnes was 
favorably known to many of them. He had, on 
previous seasons, repaired their guns. Wholly igno- 
rant of the grave charge awaiting them, several 
were soon out to the shop to have the locks of their 
guns fixed. Barnes had a talk with them. Learn- 
ing that it was the same party that were in the 
bottom hunting the fall previous, he fell upon a 
strategy to get them out to his shop. Fixing their 
locks, he told them that a great " shooting-match " 
was going to take place at his shop next Saturday, 
then three days off, and invited them to come and 
bring all of their best shots ; that they were going 
to shoot for the skin of a large and beautiful ani- 
mal, the only one of the sort that was ever killed 
in the Hatchie Bottom. Delighted with the oppor- 
tunity of shooting with the white man, and for such 
a prize skin, they left in great glee, promising to 
come and bring all of their best marksmen. Barnes 
was not long-in communicating with his neighbors 
and arranging for the " shooting match." Saturday 
came. Tlie best shots of the neighborhood, num- 
bering thirty, had arrived. Soon the Indians came 



in Wes( Tcmiessee, ' 73 

galloping lip on their ponies, numbering between 
sixty and seventy. 

The blacksmith shop was at the cross-roads, on a 
high, level bench of land, thickly shaded with large 
poplar, oak and hickory, free from undergrowth. 
A broad board had been charred, by holding it over 
a fire until it was black. The " bull's eye " was cut 
and pinned in the center of the "black-board," 
which was nailed breast high on a large poplar, and 
ninety yards stepped off. The Indians were to 
choose from among them five of their best shots, 
and the whites the same number. Judges were 
appointed to arrange the order of shooting. A silver 
half-dollar was east up, " heads or tails," to decide 
which side should have the first shot. It was won 
hj the red m6n. The judges announced everything 
ready for the shooting to begin. Four shots, in their 
order, was made, and the judges decided there was 
a "tie." The last round would decide. The red 
man squared himself to the mark, slowly bringing 
his rifle to his shoulder, and in breathless silence 
raised its long barrel until his sight covered the 
" bull's eye," and fired. He drove the center. It was 
the first shot that broke the cross (t). The Indians 
yelled with gleeful delight. The remaining shots 
were wide of the mark, and the Chickasaws whooped 
aiid yelled, calling for the prize skin. Barnes was 
ready with it. He deliberately walked out with the 
hide of "Moses" rolled up under his arm, and 
unrolled it upon the ground, to the astonished gaze 
of the red men. There was the hide of the cele- 
brated jack, " Moses," with its mouse-colored hair 
4 



74 JRemmscences of Old Times 

and black streak running down its back, its flanks 
and belly white as cotton, relieved by the dark rings 
of the neck and head, with ears sticking np, and 
eye-holes circled with thick tufts of short white hair, 
spread out on the ground. The red men pressed up 
close to get a sight. The winner of the prize gath- 
ered it up, to exhibit it, as well as to examine it 
more closely. Turning it over, he broke out with a 
jolly, semi-savage " Ha ! ha! ha! Me kill him. Me 
shoot him. See my bullet hole ! [running his linger 
through the fatal hole.] Ha ! ha ! Me sell him to 
Bolivar. Me get him again. Ha ! ha ! " Old man 
Fullen— Ben Fullen, proprietor of '' Fullen Ferry "— 
who was not in the secret of Barnes' strategy, 
exclaimed aloud, that it was "the hide of General 
Tipton's jack ; " he would " swear by the flesh marks 
that it was. See them eye-holes, and them rings 
round his big ears!" "Hush!" said Barnes, "let 
me speak." Asking them all to be quiet, he spoke, 
addressing himself to the Chickasaws. He explained 
to them the nature and uses of the animal whose 
hide was before them ; that it belonged to a great 
General, who lived on the other side of the Hatchie; 
that he strayed away from his shop into the thick 
cane last fall, while he was absent from home ; that 
he and his neighbors had hunted for him for weeks, 
and concluded that he was caught in the ovei-flow 
and drowned ; that he had to pay the General six 
hundred dollars for his loss ; that he was a poor 
man, not able to pay that big money; that he had 
been good to them, fixing and repairing their old 
guns whenever they came to him, and never charged 



in 



West Tennessee. 75 



them much; that the Chickasaws were a brave, 
honorable nation ; that they had never stolen any^ 
body's property, nor trespassed upon anyone's 
rights. The brave young man, who was the best 
shot and won the hide, acknowledged that he killed 
him. #IIe was satisfied that he thought he was shoot- 
ing some wild animal; that he felt innocent of doing 
harm. Yet, they were in the white man's country, 
where laws were made ; that the laws did not have 
any respect to persons, and ignorance was no excuse; 
that all were alike guilty, and they must pay him 
for killing the animal. If they refused, the man of 
the law was upon the ground, who would have 
them all arrested and carried to jail. 

The utmost respect and attention was paid to 
Barnes while he was making this plain talk. The 
older heads of the red men gathered together in the 
grove, and held council in the matter. After a long 
talk, the young hunters having gathered around 
them, they dispersed, each man going to his pony. 
Their movements were eagerly watched and noted 
by the thirty good marksmen at the shop. Getting 
their ponies, they all came leading them up before 
the shop. An intelligent looking old hunter spoke : 

" We sorry for killing him. We think he belong 
to the woods. We find him in thick cane. We 
think him wild. We sorry for Barn — good man, 
work much. We take no white man's boss, pony, 
nothin that b'longs to white man. We honest. We 
pay. We have ponies; that's all [motioning toward 
the long line of ponies held by their owners.] Take 
pay. We honest." 



7^ lieminiscenees of Old Times 

The strateg}^ was a success. The red men had 
showD themselves true Chickasaws. Barnes told 
his red frier* ds to point out the ponies they wanted 
to give up in payment for the jack. The old hunter 
wlio had acted as spokesman said : " Take, take 
plenty. Red man pay white man. Let white man 
say." Barnes then suggested that three white men 
and two red men be appointed as appraisers. They 
were appointed, and passed upon the value of the 
ponies, fixing their value at seventeen dollars and a 
fraction as tlie average, turning over to Barnes thirty- 
five ponies in payment and full satisfaction for his 
jack. What became of General Tipton's jackass 
was satisfactorily explained. 

The Chickasaws meeted out a full measure of 
justice to our friend Barnes — six hundred dollars' 
worth of ponies satisfied the law. It was their first 
lesson — stunning lesson under the teachings of stern, 
written law. They would have no more of it, so 
they cut short their hunt, and bid a long fare- 
well to the Big Hatchie country, their old hunting 
ground, and returned to their "beloved prairies," 
soon to be yielded up to the progress of Southern 
agriculture. Barnes had a public sale and sold ofl' 
the ponies, distributing the illegitimate proceeds of 
his jack through the settlement, thereby increasing 
the stock of the land. My eldest brother purchased 
three of them; most excellent hunting ponies they 
were. 

It is proper to mention here, that the parties at 
Bolivar, who became possessed of the jack's hide, 
and who enjo3^ed the joke, had it narrated in the lower 



in W^st Tennessee. 77 

settlement, where the Indians were wont to hunt, 
putting on foot inquiries as to who had lost a jack- 
ass, which came to the knowledge of the owners 
thereof For none stood hi^-her for commercial 
integrity than the merchants of Bolivar. 

BOLIVAR 

was one of the earliest and most important trading 
posts in "West Tennessee. Its tirst settlers were men 
of a high grade — such men as the Polks, Bills, Woods, 
Millers, MclN'eils, and many others, whose names 
are not onl}^ identified with Bolivar and Hardeman 
county, hut familiar to the whole Western District 
of Tennessee as among the hest and brightest. Of 
the many old settlers, whose long and eventful lif^ 
has been spared to link the past with the present, 
and who stands among the noble fathers of the land, 
no better specimen could be offered than the name 
of 

PITSER MILLER." 

I well remember him at the period, when my father, 
with his immigrant train, camped at Bolivar, wait- 
ing for the waters of the Big Hatchie to subside to 
enable him to cross. He was then quite a young 
man, of course. He came to our camp, made the 
acquaintance of my mother, and would have her 
and my grandmother, and the young children, to go 
to his house, and showed them every kindness — not 
letting them leave his hospitable roof until the train 
was ready to move across the river. His generous 
kindness was ever remembered by my father and 
mother, and will never be forgotten by their chil- 



78 J-^cndniscence^ of Old Fuiica 

clrei]. I am not aware, at tins writing', wLetlior he 
is among the living, but if gone forever, his name 
will long survive his mortal death. I regret that I 
am not able to give a biographical sketch of him — 
such as his name merits, as I knew him more from 
his high character than as a personal acquaintance. 
Certain it is, however, that the annals of West 
Tennessee could not be written without his name. 
He ever stood with the people of Bolivar and 
Hardeman county as the first and leading mer- 
chant, and exercised and maintained a healthy 
influence over all who knew him and enjoyed his 
acquaintance. I remember that one earnest sen- 
tence spoken by him, so influenced my mother as to 
have turned the scale of fortune against us. My 
father, upon reaching Bolivar, had not determined 
upon a point of location. He had several landed in- 
terests in Tennessee. He had visited the country the 
year previous, and explored it from the first to the 
fourth Chickasaw bluff". He had stood upon tlie 
grand bluff' upon which the magnificent yourgcity of 
Memphis now stajids,'when Bayou Gayoso coursed 
its way through a wild jungle — the haunts of the 
wild beast — and communed with the grand river 
He was interested with the late Colonel John C. Mac- 
lemore (who was a near relative of my mother), in 
several landed interests. Among the tracts in which 
he had an interest, was the Ramsay five-thousand- 
acre tract, now covered by South Memphis. It had 
been agreed between Colonel Maclemore and my 
father, that he could, at his option, locate upon the 
Ramsay tract. It was his aim and wish to settle 



w Wfst Tennessee. 79 

upon the banks of the great river Mississippi, in 
hearing of its surging waters. Tlie subject was 
being freely discussed in the presence of Mr. Miller. 
My mother had given the subject but lit tie thought, so 
charmed was she with Pitser Miller. My father, 
however, had the fourth Chickasaw bluff firmly set 
in his heart. Mr. Miller remained reticent as to an 
opinion upon the subject until my mother, address- 
ing him, called for his opinion. In all seriousness 
he said: '' Well Madam, if you icill go and settle on 
the hanks of the Mississippi rive)\ let me suggest that 
your husband take along plank enough to make coffins to 
bury your children — your whole family. ^^ I remember 
well the electric effect of these remarks upon my 
mother. Her children were her jewels — eight of 
them. My father, be it said, ever yielded to the 
fancies of his intelligent and loving wife, Patsey. 
The decision was taken, and Pitser Miller's coffin 
plank kept us from settling on the Ramsay tract. 
ITobody is responsible for the freaks of Dame For- 
tune — an unmitigated old hag, unworthy of decent 
burial. Our immigrant train had better have 
turned in the direction of the fourth Chickasaw 
bluff, with Mr. Miller's coffin plank, than to have 
crossed the Big Hatchie. Yet, Dame Fortune never 
oast "new-comers" upon a more enchanting and 
lovely spot than fell to our lot north of the Big 
Hatchie. This incident is only mentioned to show 
the influence Pitser Miller exercised over the minds 
of men — especially women — even in his young days. 
Returning to our wilderness home, our greatest 
need was .gcood bread. The steel mil) had worn 



80 Beminiscences of Old Times 

out, and we had to resort to the mortar and pestle. 
The meanest of all meal is that pounded in a mor- 
tar — a wooden mortar — dark, dingy, close, clammy. 
Broad made of it is too mean to write about. So my 
father resolved to build a mill. Selecting for it a 
beautiful site on the creek, where the blufl* was 
most inviting, he went to work with his own resour- 
ces, and soon had an old time "tub-mill" ready to 
make good meal. He sent up in the vicinity of 
Jackson, in Madison county, for his mill-rocks. 
He also attached a gin, for we had began to grow 
cotton. He purchased his gin-stand of 

JOSHUA FARRINGTON, 

of Brownsville, than whom no cleverer man ever 
filed a s:iw-tooth or adjusted a brush. I remember 
Mr. Farrington as a true type of an old-time gen- 
tleman. His gins, manufactured by himself and 
sons, were, as to "West Terinessee, what Pratt's were 
to Alabama. By his industry and probity he raised 
a large family of sons and daughters, who became 
ornaments in society — his eldest, Jacob, the popu- 
lar, enterprising man of progress; John, eminent as 
a jurist, and William, prominent as a merchant and 
financier, and now stands head among the bank 
presidents of Memphis. John and William are, I 
believe, all that are now living of the worthy sons 
of a most worthy sire. The mill going, and gin 
ready, a press was needed, but where to get a screw- 
cutter was the trouble. My father, inquiring in the 
settlement, was informed that there was an excel- 
lent screw-cutter, who had abandoned his trade and 



in West Tennessee. 81 

taken to bear-hunting; that his place of dwelling, 
or camp, as it was termed, was somewhere over on 
Cane creek. He forthwith dispatched old Jack, 
with such instructions as he could give him. The 
next daj, about noon, Jack returned, bringing the 
screw-cutter with him. He came on foot, with a 
heavy, short rifle on his shoulder, in well-dressed 
leather overalls up to his hips, followed by two fero- 
cious dogs, of immense size, panther-colored, with 
black, broad noses, their ears rounded off close to 
their heads, and their tails bobbed off close to their 
broad haunches — brother and sister. They were the 
best-trained bear-dogs in the Big Hatchie country, 
and their owner the best hunter in Crockett's land. 
A model bear-hunter, he had hunted with David 
Crockett, and was familiar with the range and 
haunts of bruin from Reelfoot lake to the mouth of 
the Hatchie. Stout and strong (he stood full six 
feet), straight as an Iroquois, carrying no surplus 
flesh, with an iron constitution, his home and de- 
light was the wildwoods; intelligent and good look- 
ing, withal, and as unselfish as the genial soil upon 
which he was wont to tread. Preferring the chase 
to work, the utilitarian would write him down as a 
lazy man. He soon satisfied my father that he could 
cut a screw — that he was a finished workman — but 
he was loth to take the job, as it was near the hunt- 
ing season (it was then early fall), and he could not 
come and leave his family in his camp, as he called 
it. He had a wife and two young children, twin 
daughters, and not a year old. My mother, over- 
hearing the conversation, and equally anxious about 



82 Heminiscences of Old Times 

the screw, spoke, saying : "Oli, no, sir ! It will never 
do to leave 3^our wife and her babies alone in the 
woods. Bring them along; we will provide for them 
someway. We can fix them up in the loom-house; 
it has a good fire-place, and we will not need it until 
the cotton is picked out and ginned. Beside, if 
you want to hunt bear, you can find as many down 
the creek as on Reelfoot lake." The question of the 
screw-cutter coming was soon settled, and it was 
agreed that Jack should hitch up a team and return 
with him that evening, and move his family over 
immediately. Th-e screws-cutter remarked that two 
horses and a light wagon would be sufiicient, as his 
wife constituted the heaviest part of his household 
goods. It was so. Old Jack returned in the after- 
noon of the next day, bringing the screw-cutter and 
all of his earthly possessions, consisting of wife and 
two babies, and but little else besides the scanty bed 
upon which they slept, and they were as happy as 
if the}^ liad rosewood and mahogany, damask and 
satin. Young and healthy, they lived in and for 
one another. Without doubt my recollection pic- 
tures her the handsomest looking woman, for her 
flesh and size, I ever saw — tall, above the aver- 
age height of woman, and remarkably well-shaped 
and fleshy. Two hundred pounds was her ordinary 
weight. Her features were faultless, and her com- 
plexion as delicate as a rose-leaf. Her two babies 
were as fat and beautiful as lierself. M37 mother 
thought her a sweet woma!i, and became quite fond 
of her. She, like her husband, was intelligent and 
interesting in conversation, and, like him, the wild- 



in West Tennessee, -83 

woods was her delight. The screw-cutter pushed his 
screw-cutting work ou rapidly, so as to get into the 
woods. He proved to be an excellent workman, and 
my father built him a house near the mill, where he 
lived several years, rendering himself serviceable 
when called upon. During the bear-hunting sea- 
son he was for the most part in the woods with his 
rilie and two dogs. His house was never clear of 
bear-bacon. The screw and press being finished, 
the mill and gin going, an appointment was made 
for a big bear-hunt, to begin at the Big Hurricane, 
some eight miles up the river, and hunt down. The 
coming among us of the model bear-hunter, with 
his two well-trained dogs, Caesar and Bess, excited 
the amateur hunters of the settlement to go into a 
hunt with him, and see his famous dogs handle a 
bear. 'The time fixed to go into the hunt was to be 
a week before Christmas, and to end JSTew- Year's 
day. 

There were but few expert bear-hunters in the 
settlement. Among them, and perhaps the best, 
was Cary Estes. His elder brother. Captain Albert, 
was an expert hunter also, but had not the passion 
for it that Cary had. Both of them had a pack of 
well-trained bear-dogs. Pendleton Gaines, famil- 
iarly known as "Pet," was a good hunter; so was 
his brother Ab, but he was fat, and fond of his 
ease, and couldn't last on a big run, Steptoe John- 
son was always ready to go into a hunt, bnt was 
never up to t\\Q ^^ killing.'' I had grown large and 
strong enough to shoot "ofi-hand" w^ith a rifle, and 
had killed my bear, a foil r-hundred-and-sixty -pound 



84 Reminiscences of Old Times 

one, at that, wlien lean in fleph, and had succeeded 
to the "little rifle." 

I may he pardoned for giving a hrief account of 
my " first killing," hefore going into the hig hunt. 
It was a part of my assigned duty to drive the cows 
up every evening. Sometimes I rode — oftener I 
did not, and when going on foot, my next younger 
brother went with me. I mentioned that I had suc- 
ceeded to the " little rifle," and she v^as ever on my 
shoulder when in the woods. I had a little Scotch 
bull terrier — Tasso. Tasso was my constant com- 
panion during daylight; he went with me, of course. 
We set ofi" early in the afternoon, on one of the last 
days in August. The cows were in the habit of 
feeding a mile or more away from the house. Their 
favorite grazing was on the walnut level, a level 
bench of land on the Hatchie Bottom, where tke 
wild pea most abounded. It was free from under- 
growth, and thickly studded with walnut, hickory 
and ash. This lovely bench of land bordered on 
the Big Slough, where commenced an almost im- 
penetrable canebrake, extending into the river,8ome 
half mile oft'. We found the cows where expected. 
A familiar whoop started them homeward, the old 
"bell cow" taking the lead. The sun was then an 
hour high, and we stalked around on the Big Slough 
for a little hunt. We had gone but a short distance 
when, passing around the lap of a large fallen tree, 
a yearling deer sprang out, scampered oft' some forty 
yards, and stopped \)y a large clay-root. The barrel 
of the "little rifle" was ready and leveled upon the 
little fellow in an instant. Upon his bringing a halt, 



in Wist Tennessee. 85 

the sharp crack of the rifle startled the hooting owl, 
and with it came the shrill, distressing bleat of the 
fawn. I had shot too far back, breaking him down 
in the loins. Its bleating w^as most distressing. I 
had heard old hunters say that wild beasts of prey 
would come to the bleating of a fawn as far as they 
could hear it. Our proximity to the known haunts 
of the bear and the panther instantly aroused my 
fears, and I fell to reloading my rifle. I had not 
more than got the charge of powder to the muzzle, 
w^ien a startling crash and cracking of the cane was 
heard across the slough. Before I had time to patch 
my bullet, w^e heard a plunge into the water, and 
the next moment a monster bear came up the bank 
of the slough, making his way to where the fawn 
was bleating. Tasso had by this time slipped from 
us, and reached the fawn simultaneously with the 
bear, disputing his right to interfere. In the mean 
time the fawn had worked his way behind the clay- 
root, from where we w^ere standing, and out of our 
view. Tasso and the monster were engaging one 
another over the little deer, which continued its 
bleating. Soon we heard the brave little dog squall 
out, as though he had received a death-blow. He 
ceased barking, and my fears were that it was *' up 
with him." I ran down a naked bullet, and went 
on the double-quick, under cover of the large clay- 
root, to my little dog's relief. Reaching the spot I 
mounted the log,w"hich brought my head and shoul- 
ders above the clay-root. The fawn had crawled 
some distance from the two contending hosts. Tasso 
was in the folds of the bear's huge arms, grappling 



86 Jxcniiniscences of (Ski Times 

with all his might under the throat of the monster, 
which was doing his best to hng — to squeeze the 
Uttle fellow to death. His size alone saved him 
from having every bone in his little body crushed. 
Fretted so by Tasso, he had not discovered me, then 
within ten feet of him. I surveyed the situation, so 
as not to endanger my httle dog's Kfe by an un- 
lucky shot, not being able, from his position, and 
the constant motion of his head, to put a bullet in 
the burr of his ear. Old bruin sat square upon his 
broad haunches, with his back to me. I aimed well, 
and put a ball through his loins, over the region of 
the kidneys, sprawling the monster his full length 
upon the ground, and Tasso was saved. Reloading, 
I sent a bullet through his brain, ending his misery. 
I had expected to find my little dog badly hurt, and 
was greatly delighted to find that he was only bitten 
through the ball of one of his fore feet, carrying 
away a couple of his toes. My brother, who had 
])een a quiet looker-on, had taken charge of the 
little deer, which kept up its bleating until relieved 
by the hunting-knife. 

The sun had gone down — it was growing dark in 
the bottom, and we were a mile and a half away 
from home. The fawn we could have carried, but 
there lay stretched out a monster hear, which, had 
it been flit, would have we'ghed six or more hun- 
dred pounds. It was ni}^ first bear, too. I felt that 
I could build up a fire and spend the night with 
him — would have done so, rather than leave him, so 
proud was I of m}^ ''first hUling.'' I commenced 
Ijluwing my born — (every one, in those days, who 



in West Tennessee. 87 

went into the woods, carried a blowing horn, and 
none could blow a horn better than "we boys"). I 
continued to blow it at intervals, knowing it would 
soon be answered by the big horn from home. In 
the mean time we struck fire. To strike fire, in the 
days of flint locks, was an easy matter. Sharpen a 
stick, force it tight into the touch-hole, fill the pan 
with powder, and you could strike fire without en- 
dangering the "goiug-ofi" of your gun. AVe put 
tire to the tree-cap, and the leaves, being dry, and 
still clinging to the limbs, the lurid flames went 
high in the tree-tops, lighting up the woods for a 
hundred or more yards around. Blowing again, we 
were answered by the big horn. My father, fol- 
lowed by old Jack, soon rode up, inquiring what 
was the matter. Pointing to my first " killing," the 
matter fully explained itself The bright light from 
the tree-top exposed to view the black monster and 
the innocent little deer, with its spots not yet passed 
oft'. The matter of the killing being explained to 
my father, he turned to Jack and gave him the order 
to return home in haste and tell Jim to hitch one 
yoke of his oxen to the fore-wheels of the wagon 
Avhich he had been using during the day in hauling 
house-logs, and come with quick haste down the 
river road to a certain big log, and turn into the 
walnut level, bringing -several of the men with him. 
Within a short hour Jim, wdth Bright and Darling 
yoked to the fore- wheels of the wa^on, was making 
his way through the open woods to where we wei-e. 
In another hour we were at home with my first 
" killing," and I was the recipient of all sorts of flat- 



88 Remiyiiscences of Old Times 

terins: remarks and comments from mother, broth- 
ers, and all the darkies. From that day I was 
numbered among the bear-hunters. I had often 
been along with the hunters — followed up the chase 
and witnessed the killing, but this was my first 
killing. The circumstances of the killing were re- 
counted to the screw-cutter. His comments and 
remarks as to my manner and coolness displayed, 
filled me almost to bursting with self-importance, 
and I became his favorite hunting companion. I 
remember well that wakeful night. My young 
thoughts lingered and hovered around that clay- 
root all night. The pitiful bleating of the fawn; 
the startling crash and cracking of the cane, as the 
monster bear came rushing through it; the piercing 
squall of my little Tasso; the great bear sitting 
upon his broad haunches, with the brave little dog 
in the folds of his huge arms, and the little fellow 
grappling him under his throat, were scenes fresh 
with me all night, whether awake or dreaming. 

Pardon me, reader, for keeping you out of the 
big hunt so long. We will go into it in the next 
chapter. 



in West Tamessce. S9 



CPIAPTER y. 

Big Bear- Hunt — Temple, the Model Bear- Hunter, and His 
Dogs Ccesar and Bess — The Big Hurricane— Numerous 
Bear Killings — Encounter with a Panther — Roosting Wild 
Turkeys — Camp Life in the Vioods — The Locked Buck 
Horns — The Deer Lick Slosh — The Big Rear — The 
Killing — Camp Stories and Anecdotes — The Last Day's 
Hunt and the Last Killing. 

ISTow, reader, we fire ready for tlie big bear-hunt. 
Already a month has elapsad since it was talked 
about. Temple was loth to go into if. An old and 
experienced hunter, owning two of the best trained 
and most valuable dogs in the Big Hatchie country, 
and fearing, from the inexperienced and often reck- 
less shooting, that they would as likely be the victims 
of the shots as the bear, it was not surprising that 
he should feel a reluctance in joining in the hunt. 
He promised to go in, however, and was true to his 
word; beside, he was curious to know something of 
the Big Hurricane. Tuesday before Christmas 
was the day appointed to meet; the place of ren- 
dezvous, at a point named near the Big Hurricane, 
ten or more miles up the river. Tt was understood 
that every hunter take with him a man-servant, 
except Temple. My father declined going, but 
promised to join in if the hunt should extend down 
in his hunting-ground. Steptoe would'nt go unless 



90 Reminiscences of Old Times 

my fiitber went; beside, he was getting old, and his 
ohl gray mare was lean in flesh. The signs, as to 
the weather, were favorable. We had had a dry 
winter up to that time, and the bottom was right for 
a good run. 

Temple and myself set off, as soon as we could 
see, to follow a blind trail leading up the bottom, 
followed by old Jack. Our course led through 
good hunting woods. I suggested to Temple that 
he had better '' yoke his dogs ; they might strike a 
fresh scent, which might delay our reaching the 
ground at the appointed time." ''Oh, no, they 
w^ait for the word to ' go in.' I shall certainly not 
give it to them." Jogging along single file, at a 
six-mile pace, we soon reached Big Creek. Finding 
an easy ford, -we crossed without difliculty, hurrying 
on to the Big Lagoon, where we encountered difii- 
culty in finding a crossing. It is an ugly, muddy 
stream, with a miry bottom. Turning up it, we 
came to a shallow ford. The opposite bank pre- 
sented a high blufi:"; we crossed, however, riding 
near the water's edge until reaching an abrupt bend, 
where the blufi' terminated. The banks of the 
lagoon, from which we crossed, was thickly studded 
with tall cane, the tops bending down to the water's 
edge. Coming to the abrupt bend. Temple, who was 
riding before, reined up his horse, and pointing up the 
lagoon, remarked, in a low tone of voice: "What a 
pity! what a pity! Old fellow, we must hands 
oft"; it will never do to draw blood before we get 
together and organize." The object of his remarks 
was a huge bear, in the act of lapping water, stand- 



in Wed Tomessce. 91 

iiig oil tlie margin of the stream, on the opposite 
bank, broadside toward us, and within eas}^ ritie 
range. He raised his great head, and deliberately 
viewed us, seemingly miconcerned — a most tempt- 
ing shot. C?esar and Bess were not slow in dis- 
covering him. With a fixed gaze, the hair down 
their backs standing at an angle of forty-five 
degrees, they looked up at their master now and 
then for the word to "go in." I begged for a shot. 
Temple replied : " ^o; it will not do ; it is a pity to 
pass him, but it must be so. We will get him this 
evening or to-morrow. He is housed up not an 
hundred yards from Avhere he is taking water. Lets 
go." Turning to the right, up the bank, we went on 
our way in the direction of the Big Hurricane, then 
two or more miles away. Eeaching the vicinity of 
the place where we were to meet. Temple blew his 
hoFn; it was answered, and we soon joined Cary 
and Captain Albert. Pet and Ab had not yet 
arrived. They were soon up, and all dismounted 
for a talk. Six hunters were present, including my 
little self. The Captain and Cary were comparative 
strangers to Temple. Car}^ was regarded as the 
most experienced and expert hunter present, and 
specially familiar with the Big Hurricane and its 
surroundings. Earnest in speech, more truthful 
and reliable than is common to hunters, he was 
expected to open the subject of organizing the 
hunt. Addressing himself to Temple, he said : 

"Well, Mr. Temple, we have appointed this hunt 
that we might have the pleasure of having you with 
lis, and to see your celebrated dogs handle a bear. 



92 Bcudnisctncc's of Old Times 

Your celebrit}' as a bear-hunter is known to us. We 
have come prepared for several days' hunt, if it 
shoukl prove agreeable. Though a young man, 
and a comparative young hunter, I have found, by 
experience, that to hunt bear properly and success- 
fully, where there is more than one hunter in the 
hunt, it is best that we be perfectly agreed as to 
the order and rules that should govern us. I pro- 
pose, therefore, Mr. Temple, that you suggest the 
rules that shall govern us in the hunt." Temple 
spoke slowly and distinctly, approving heartily what 
had been said, remarking further, that it had 
been his misfortune to have drawn out of hunts for 
the lack of order and a good understanding. "I 
make it a rule for instance, that when a ^ start' is 
made, if any of the hunters should halloo out to 
encourage the dogs, I call mine off and quit. It is 
also a rule with me, that if any of the hunters should, 
by accident or reckless shooting, wound or kill a 
dog, I draw out and take my dogs, or he is required 
to do so. I have noticed that the over anxious, 
hasty hunter, is more apt to scare the bear than 
kill him, and as often shoots a dog, when in a close 
fight, as the bear. My dogs are trained to stay 
with me until I give them the word to go. They 
fight close — too close sometimes — when the bear is 
wounded. Whenhunting alone,I neverhave to shoot 
the second time. I have trained them to hold a 
bear at l)ay, at the risk of getting scratched. When 
I think he aims to make a big run, I let the slut go 
in; other\vise I keep her with me. The dog is 
usually enough to hold any bear in check until I 



in West Tennessee. 93 

get up. iSTeither of then give 'mouth,' when on a 
' run. ' When ' up,' they take him above the elbow of 
the fore-arm, until they bring him to a ' stop,' then 
they bark a few minutes, and wait for my coming. 
If I am not up soon, they give ' mouth ' again. The 
few rules which are known to all good bear-hunters 
being observed, we will have a pleasant and agreeable 
hunt. I should have mentioned that no dog should 
be allowed in the hunt that will run a deer or any- 
thing else but a bear or panther." 

Temple's suggestions were heartily agreed to, and 
the hunt was organized, Gary being chosen leader. 
Captain Albert and Ab, with three of the negroes, 
went to select a suitable place to camp, on a small 
branch running into the lagoon, a short distance 
below. Gary, Pet, Temple and myself filed oiF for 
a short hunt. Temple had related the circumstance 
of our having seen the bear in crossing the lagoon. 
It was agreed that we go and take him, remarking 
that he knew pretty much his run. We were soon 
on the bluff overlooking the dense cane-brake in 
which he was "housed." Gary suggested that he 
knew a good crossing a half mile above; that he 
and Pet would go up and cross, and come down the 
lagoon, outside of the thick cane, which would 
insure his taking down the stream, or crossing it, 
about where we saw him taking water; that we 
remain on the bluff until the " start," when we could 
deteriQine his movements. "You can put your 
dogs in, Mr. Temple, when you think it best." 
CiiTj and Pet rode away. Temple and myself 
remained on the high bluff. Seating ourselves 



94 Reminiscences of Old Times 

upon a large log, we quietly interested ourselves 
noticing the movements of C^sar and Bess. They 
took their stand on the brink of the bluff, gazing- 
across the lagoon in the supposed direction where 
the bear was "housed," throwing their heads one 
side now and then, to catch the first sound that 
should come across from the hunters or dogs. 
Temple, pointing to an opening in the dense forest 
that overshadowed the cane-brake, remarked: 

"I'll bet Ci^esar's ears that he is 'housed up' 
among the old logs in that opening, where the cane 
is thickest." 

He had hardly finished speaking, when the dogs 
broke out in a fierce bay at the very place. 

"There he is now; hold! The whole pack is 
upon him." 

Ci^esar and Bess stood trembling, looking around 
Q\QYy moment for their master to say "go." 

"Bless me!" sa^^s Temple, "what mouths! That 
fuss ought to start the devil himself from his den. 
Hark! we will soon hear a shot! ISTotice the lull in 
the dog's bajung. The hunters are close up." 

In a moment the sharp crack of the rifle rang 
through the woods, followed by the crash of the 
cane. 

"Bad shot. He is out, now, for a big run. The 
dogs can't hold him in that thick cane. He aims to 
go down. Let's be ofi"." 

Down under the bluff' we went, crossing at the 
same place where we had crossed in the morning. 
Ascending the opposite bank, we immediately passed 
into an open glade,running out for a hundred or more 



in We.^t Temussee. 95 

yards. The bear and dogs, judging from their course 
as indicated by the sounds, would pass through the 
glade. The dogs were making a desperate effort to 
hold him in the cane. Just then a yearling bear 
came dashing out of the cane from the direction of 
the dogs, entering the glade near us. 

" Don't shoot ! " said Temple. 

He gave the word to Csesar and Bess to " Take ! " 
In less than sixty yard's run they overhauled him. 
When we got up, they had him snatched. Temple 
drew out his long knife and dispatched him. By 
this time the bio^ bear entered the i^^lade, i)assino' 
within forty yards of us. The pack were up with 
him. As he cleared the cane he made an opening 
of several yards between himself and the hounds, 
when Cfesar and Bess were told to "go in.'' Mak- 
ing their best run, they brought him to a "stop" as 
he was about entering the cane on the opposite side 
of the glade. 

"Take your time, hunters, he will go no further," 
said Temple, as we joined Gary and Pet, in pursuit, 
on a big run. 

They brought a halt, and we closed in upon the 
exciting scene, taking our time. Reaching within 
safe shooting distance, Gary said to Temple, " Give 
him the first shot." 

"IN'o," says Temple; "let him who shot first try it 
again."' 

The bear was making a desperate effort to get 
away, the dogs fighting him close. G{?esar and Bess 
were dividing their strength on either side of him, 
both fast hold of his arms above the hock or elbow. 



96 Reminiscences of Old Times 

bringing him now and then upon his knees, and the 
half-hounds pinching him close in behind. Bear 
was never worried more. Pet stood with his rifle 
leveled. It being his second shot, he wanted it to 
be a death-shot. Temple's dogs completely covered 
his sides with their bodies; his head was in constant 
motion, swinging and snapping, first one side and 
then the other, and it was next to itiipossible to put 
his bullet in his brain. Pet, already worried from 
intense excitement, approached nearer, but was still 
unable to find a safe place to put his bullet with 
telling effect. In the meantime, the dogs pressed 
the old fellow 5o hard, in his madness he rose upon 
his hind legs, and, making a desperate efibrt to rid 
himself of the dogs, made a surpridng leap, reach- 
ing a tree standing near, carrying Bess up with him. 
Temple's quick eye discovered her peril, and sent a 
well-aimed ball under the burr of the monster's ear 
before he had got more than fifteen feet from the 
ground, his slut still holding her grip. The bear 
fell, falling upon her. Temple w^as soon to her re- 
lief, rolling the monster off* of her. She was none 
the worse off", however, for her tail. The dogs gath- 
ered around him, pinching him, now and then, to 
see if he was dead. The hunters stood around in 
gleeful delight, remarking upon the fight and the 
dexterous skill of Caesar and Bess in handlins: a bear. 
"It surpasses anything I have ever witnessed in 
all my bear-hunting career. Your dogs, Mr. Temple, 
surpass even what I had expected of them. Were 
they mine, I would value them above the price of a 
small plantation." 



in West Tennessee. 97 

"Yes," said Temple, "they have behaved very 
well in this fight. I was fearful that Bess would 
be hard to satisfy. I seldom let her go in upon a 
wounded bear. Beside, she and the dog had just 
drawn their teeth out of a yearling bear when I let 
them in this fight." 

"A yearling bear!" said Gary; "when, and 
where?" 

"Less than two hundred yards out yonder in the 
slash you will find a yearling bear stretched out on 
the ground. As we crossed the lagoon and entered 
the opening the little fellow came dashing out of 
the cane, scared up by yonder dogs. I told my dogs 
to *take,' and in a few jumps they overhauled 
him. When we got up they had the little fellow ■ 
stretched out on the ground. I knifed him, leaving 
him as he lay, and told the dogs to go in this fight, 
and joined you and friend Pet, as we did." 

Turning to me he asked if I would go with 
the boys (a couple of them had just come up) and 
have him dragged up, and we would butcher them 
both on the same ground. The yearling was soon 
laying beside the monster. 

I will mention here that a bear less than a year 
old is called a " cub." The cubs gang with their 
dam until they are a year old ; they then take to 
themselves, and are called yearlings until they are 
two years old. Parturition with the bear generally 
takes place in February. The yearling knifed by 
Temple was about twenty-one months old. Pet was 
examining the bear for signs of his bvillet-hole. 

"You must have missed him," said Gary. 
5 



98 Reminiscences of Old Times 

"Well, I reckon I did, as I can't find any bullet- 
hole except the one in his head. The cane was very 
thick between him and me when I fired. My ball 
must have struck one and turned." 

"Well, we had as well commence taking off the 
old fellow's hide," says Gary. "Come, boys, out 
with your knives." 

Taking hold of one of his great paws, he re- 
marked : 

" Old fel, you have made your last run. I have 
had this old bear on a good many runs, Mr. 
Temple; he is an old acquaintance in these woods. 
Had he have gotten to the Big Hurricane, where he 
was aiming to go, it would have been a sore thing 
to have gotten him out. We may thank jowv dogs 
for his hide this tiyyie.'^ 

His hide was soon ofiT. Pet examined again, but 
couldn't find his bullet-hole. Quartered and packed, 
Gary took from behind his saddle a cord carried for 
such purposes, cut a slit through the under jaw of 
the yearling into his mouth, noosed the cord around 
his neck, passing the end through the slit into 
his mouth, and made it fast to his horse's tail. 
Spreading the little fellow upon his belly, it was 
announced that we were ready for the camp. Start- 
ing ofiT down the lagoon, remarking that we would 
find an easy crossing below, we all followed, with 
prospects of a tender bear-steak for supper. It was 
surprising to see with what ease the little bear was 
cordelled over logs and rough places. Remarking 
upon it, Gary^aid it was the way he took most of 
his bear home; that he "had frequently carried a 



in West Tennessee. 99 

three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bear six or eiglit 
miles home, tied to his horse's tail." 

We soon reached the camp, admirably located for 
a sort of winter quarters. The boys had a blazing, 
hot hickory fire ready for us. Night was hedging 
in fast, and Pete, the leading batcher (the Captain's 
servant), was told to hurry up; that steaks were 
wanted from the yearling for supper. Ab was a 
sort of head steward in camp. His looks and pro- 
portions had marked him out for one — fat, and 
fond of good eating himself. Only too fond of 
good whisky — any kind of whisky — he groaned 
heavily when the article was ruled out of camp. The 
yearling's steaks were ready for the pan, tender as a 
kid, and his fat ribs just right for roasting. Bread, 
potatoes and salt were all that was brought into camp. 
For meat we depended upon the woods. The Cap- 
tain was not in camp. Inquiry was made after him. 
Pete said that he had gone to "roost" a gang of 
wild turkies, and would be back soon. 

Gary remarked: "Yes; I have known him to 
spend night after night after turkies. Getting into 
a gang, he would keep on shooting until he had the 
last one of them." 

Just then the Captain came in, very quiet in his 
movement. He carefully put away his gun. It was 
cold, and he looked it. Squaring himself down upon 
a bear-skin, all waited for him to give an account of 
his movements, or for some one to question him as 
to what he had done. He finally broke the silence. 

"Well, I see you have brought in plenty of meat. 
Good luck for a short hunt." 



100 Beminiscences of Old Times 

"Yes," said Cary, "we not only had luck, but 
more fun and excitement than is usual in a short 
hunt," then recounting the full particulars, as they 
occurred. 

"I was satisfied, when I saw Mr. Temple's dogs, 
that they were all right. I hope to have the pleas- 
ure of seeing them in a fight to-morrow. Seeing a 
large gang of turkies make oW toward the bottom, 
as we were fixing to pitch camp here, I concluded 
that I would go and roost them. Large gang of fat 
gobblers ! Pete, we will go after them as soon as 
the moon gets above the trees." (The moon was 
then in her second quarter, and had risen.) 

"Yes, sir, Pete will be with Mars Albert when he 
goes! E'ow, come and eat. Mars Albert. They 
have all eaten, and here is a panfull of nice, tender 
bear-steak. Come while it's hot." 

The Captain responded to Pete's in\dtation. The 
moon being in the right position for the Captain to 
"go for" his turkies, started, followed by Pete. I^o 
one was invited to go with him. He had been gone 
but a short while when we heard him shoot. Soon 
he shot again, and again, until we counted seven 
shots within a short hour. By eleven he and Pete 
were back, loaded. Pete had four, and the Captain 
two. Throwing down his six fat gobblers, the Cap- 
tain remarked that he had killed the seventh, but 
that it fell across the lagoon. 

"Pete," says he, "you must go after that turkey 
in the morning; do you hear?" 

"Yes, 3Iars Albert. Pete hears, and he gwine 
after him in the morning, be sure that I will." 



in West Tennessee. 101 

Adjusting ourselves around the fire,with our heads 
pillowed on saddles, we slept till early morning. Our 
first morning in the woods, we were up before day, 
talking over the hunt before us. We were to hunt 
the Big Hurricane. Guns had been shot off, wiped 
out, reloaded and freshly primed. The gray streaks 
of the early morn indicated a sunshiny day. The 
sun was not yet up, and we had not eaten breakfast. 
The ribs were roasting and the steaks frying. While 
w^ai ting, Temple remarked to Gary that he w^ould like 
to know something more of the Big Hurricane — 
enough to enable him to get out of it if he should 
get in. 

^' Well," said Gary," it is a mile or so above us, on 
the river. The river touches it, or it touches the 
river, in two places, about a quarter of a mile from 
where we will strike it, and again at its extreme 
upper end. It is about a mile and a half — perhaps 
more — long, and about one-third as wide. The river 
leaves it where it first strikes it as we go up, making 
a big bend. This bend takes in, perhaps, as much 
as three hundred acres — is, for the most part, over- 
flowed land, mostly open; fine hunting woods. 
Where the bend elbows it is high, dry land, and 
is formed into an island by the river making a cut- 
ofi" in high water. This island is a thick canebrake. 
The Hurricane will best describe itself when you 
see it and go into it. I will say, however, that there 
is not an original tree in it. All were blown down 
or topped oiF by the tornado that passed over 
it; when, no one knows. From the appearance of 
the undergrowth, it must have been ages ago. Kear 



102 Baniniscences of Old Times 

the river it is thick cane; the middle and outer por- 
tion, every variety of scrubby undergrowth, filled 
up with briers. Except for the rotting out of the 
old fallen trees, or logs — many, however, are yet in 
a sound state of preservation — egress into, or out of 
it, w^ould be impossible. The wild beasts and var- 
mints that have made it their haunts and homes for 
ages, have made many of these narrow openings 
smooth and hard by their frequent travels. It is 
just the thickest thicket you were ever in, Mr. Tem- 
ple; but you will know more of it, before evening. 
Pete has announced breakfast. Let's eat and be oli*." 

"■Well," said Temple, "I feel that I have already 
been in it, from your description. It's no place to 
hunt bear. But to gratify a curiosity I have, I 
would, as a bear-hunter, turn my face from it." 

"And so would I. As a hunter, I fully agree with 
you. 1 have lost more time, and had more dogs 
killed, and lost more game in it, than anywhere else. 
My object in wishing you to join us up here w^as to 
take, if possible, an old bear that has worried us and 
our dogs for more than three seasons, and carries in 
his huge body more than a half dozen bullets out of 
my rifle. We have followed him on a run from the 
Hurricane to the mouth of Cane creek, more than 
fifteen miles, and back, in the same day, losing him 
in the Hurricane. He is a monster, and it is worth 
a week's hunt to take him." 

"Well, w^e will try, to-day." 

"Come," sadi Cary, "l«t's go." 

We were all oft" for the Big Hurricane, on foot, of 
course. A short half hour brought us to the high 



in West Tmnessf-e. 103 

bluff where the Hurricraie reaches the river. It be- 
came so thick and impenetrable that we were forced 
to wind our way down to the water's edge and clam- 
ber under the bluff until we reached the bend in the 
river where it leaves the Hurricane. We had not 
more than gotten in the open bottom when the dogs 
gave evidence that a bear or a panther was about. 
"Old Start" raised his smellers, and with stiffening 
tail he went off up the river in the bend, followed 
by the other half-hounds. They were soon on a 
running trail. Our sprightly young leader seemed 
impressed with the same spirit that animated the 
dogs. Hastily telling Temple to follow him, and 
the rest to string out alonj^ the Hurricane, he was 
off, following the dogs. We strung out as directed. 
The Captain, being a quick and fast runner, he was 
off. I kept close up with him, Pet and Ab behind. 
We could hear the increased cry of the dogs as we 
ran. Making a couple of hundred yards or more, 
the Captain halted, to get a better ear of the move- 
ments of the dogs, when we discovered that they 
were on a full run, in full cry, coming in the direc- 
tion of the Hurricane, aiming to pass in above us. 
We moved up a little and waited. The Captain 
remarked that we would hardly reach the jungle 
before the dogs would bring the animal to a stop. 
"Bless me, what music." Fourteen dogs in full cvy, 
soon in the morning, clear as a bell, not a breeze to 
disturb sound, in the open wood, and the pack in 
full, excited cry, was music most ravishing to the 
hunter's ear. On they come ! Now we see him ! 
He is a monster of his kind, black, burly, and fero- 



104 Reminiscences of Old Times 

cio US-looking, running straight as an arrow toward 
ns. Now the dogs gain on him — he is making his 
best run — running for dear life. Ceesar leads — 
leaves the pack, and is fast gaining on him, giving 
no mouth. He runs straight and swift, as if accel- 
erated by electric force ! He is upon him ! The yellow 
is in contrast with the black! He takes him by the 
fore-arm! His run is broken! He stops him, and 
the pack is upon him! Bless me, how intensely 
exciting! Let's go up and enjoy the fight! The 
Captain and myself moved up. The scene was so 
exciting that we were in no hurry to dispatch him. 
Approaching nearer, the bear discovered us, and 
made a desperate plunge to get away. He had 
made but few bounds before Ceesar brought him to 
a stop again, when the half-hounds fought more 
vigorously, pinching him wherever they could get a 
hold. The bear was getting desperate, and the fight 
hot — "too hot," said the Captain. "Some of the 
dogs will get hurt. Shoot him ! " 

I replied that it was a dangerous place to shoot 
into; that he was more experienced, and for him to 
shoot, and shoot quick. He still insisted that I 
shoot first. N'ot hesitating again, for I had become 
all anxious to shoot, I approached within ten feet 
and watched my opportunity for the dogs to make 
an opening. It soon offered, and I fired, putting 
my ball in the region of his heart. In an instant he 
swung his great head around, biting at the place 
where the bullet had stung him, when the Captain 
fired, lodging a ball in his brain, abruptly terminat- 
ing one of the most interesting and exciting bear- 



in West Tennessee. 105 

fights it was ever hunter's lot to witness. The 
hunters were all up at the killing. Temple re- 
marked that the Captain and myself had had sport 
enough for one day. 

^'Yes," said Cary, "but we have something on 
hand likely to be a little more exciting. Mr. Tem- 
ple and I have agreed to have a little ugly fun after 
a panther. We can take him in less than thirty 
minutes, unless he has already hurried himself into 
the Hurricane. We saw his tracks as we were crossing 
a wet slash, a couple of hundred yards back. He 
had just passed. Bess was anxious to "go for" him. 
Just then Pete, Joe and Jack came in on a lope. 
They had been instructed to pass up on the outer 
side of the Hurricane, come around through the pass- 
able wood, and join us in the bottom. They had 
heard the dogs and our firing, which hurried them 
on. Leaving the dead bear in their charge, we went 
for the panther. Cary gave instructions that the 
hunters, excepting Temple, should hold a position 
between the dogs and the hurricane. He and Tem- 
pleton moved off to where they had seen the fresh 
sign. Reaching the place, the half-hounds went off 
on a running trail up the river, which put the Cap- 
tain, Pet, Ab and myself on a run to keep between 
them and the Hurricane. The Captain ahead, run- 
ning perhaps a quarter, the dogs were discovered to 
be going from us in the direction of an island in 
the elbow, made by the cut-oft*. The Captain sug- 
gested that we pursue them. In a big run we went 
until reaching the cut-off", where we halted to learn 
the situation. Cary and Temple had just crossed 



106 R§miniscences of Old Times 

the cut-off (it was then diy) and were entering the 
thick cane in the direction of the dogs. They had 
treed him, and the Captain's quick eye was not long 
in discovering him. He said to us standing near : 

" See that fallen tree lodged in the fork of that 
big white oak; look in the fork and you will see 
him crouched upon the fallen tree, with his head 
toward the root." 

"Yes, we see him! we see him!" we exclaimed. 

The Captain was making ready to shoot, when 
Ah said: 

"But, Cap., he is in an ugly iix there for a good 
shot, and he is more than a hundred yards oft^ — a 
long shot." 

'•Yes; but if we go further we can't see him for 
the cane. See him drawing himself up, making 
ready to spring; he sees the hunters and is either 
aiming to spring upon one of them or leave," said 
the Captain, leveling his rifle upon him. 

With a steady and unerring aim he fired. The 
panther made a marvelous leap in the direction of 
the root of the fallen tree. E'ot a sound except the 
sharp ring of the rifle and the echo disturbed the 
stillness for more than a minute, when a dog squalled, 
then another, and another, and then the dull report 
of a rifle. The panther had discovered Temple and 
Cary as they reached the opening in the cane made 
Ijy a fallen tree, but the thick cane overhead pre- 
vented them from seeing him. The Captain's quick 
eye in seeing him making ready for the spring, and 
instant shot, was most opportune. The panther fell 
short of his aim and the dogs covered him; rising 



in West Tennessee . 107 

he dealt death and pain with his great paws, killing 
one dog outright and wounded two others severely. 
The thick cane and the sharp fight w^ith the dogs 
prevented Temple and Gary from shooting. Making 
havoc among the dogs, he got hold of Bess; she 
was grappling under his broad throat, when Temple 
went to her relief with his knife. Letting Bess go, 
the monster furiously attacked Temple. Fearfully 
grappling him, with one of his heavy paws fast upon 
his left shoulder, the other around his body pinning 
his right fast, he was making a furious effort to 
stretch his broad jaws across his right shoulder close 
up to his neck. Temple, staggering back under 
the weight and desperate attack of the infuriated 
panther, was in a perilous situation. Gary, quickly 
as possible, was to his relief. Putting the muzzle 
of his rifl.e against the body of the panther over the 
region of the heart he fired, killing him instantly. 
In the mean time Temple had extricated his right 
arm from the folds of the panther, and, simultane- 
ously with Gary's shot, sent his knife up to the hilt 
into his vitals. 

Gary went to work examining Temple, thinking 
it miraculous if he was not seriously hurt. Finding 
blood upon his shoulder and on his shirt collar, he 
Avas insisting upon his stripping off* for a better 
examination, when the Gaptain, the Gaines and my- 
self came up. Temple w^as protesting against being 
hurt at all — only scratched a little. His leather 
blouse, lined with dressed buckskin, with other 
leather strappings, had protected him from the long 
claws of the panther. 



108 Reminiscences of Old Times 

The Captain, stooping down examining for his 
bullet-hole, remarked that he had only broken his 
lower jaw; that the distance he had shot was greater 
than he had expected, as his ball had fallen three 
inches. His aim was to lodge his bullet in his brain, 
but it fell beloiv its aim. This discovery fully ex- 
plained why Temple's shoulder and neck was not 
crushed and mangled by the monster's jaws, and 
accounted for his being stained with blood. 

"Well, Mr. Leader," said Ab, addressing himself 
to Oary, " I guess you are satisfied now with what 
you call ' a little ugly fun.' Oar friend has made a 
miraculous escape." 

" Yes," said Gary, " we are satisfied. We knew it 
was a little out of our line, but it was tempting, and 
we came near paying well for it." 

"What will we do with him?" asked the Captain. 
" Blow for the boys, or drag him to where they are ? " 

"Just as you all may say," said Cary. 

"Drag him, of course," remarked Ab, and suiting 
his action to his words, he soon had a vine ready 
and noosed around his neck, and we moved to where 
Pete and his companions were butchering the bear. 

"Pete," said the Captain, "skin him carefully; it's 
my hide " (the first blood always took the hide). 

Leaving Pete and his companions butchering the 
bear and skinning the panther, the hunters moved 
ofl:' to hunt the Big Hurricane. It was then in the 
early forenoon, the right time of the day to go in. 
Reaching a deep wash, where it debouched into the 
open bottom, Cary brought a halt, and said : 

" i^ow, Mr. Temple, here is what I call the mouth 



in West Tennessee. 109 

of the ' Clay Gut ; ' it heads up in and drains a wet 
slash in the heart of the Hurricane. It is dry now, 
and we can w^alk up it. I call it the ' Clay Gut,' 
because it is washed out to the clay. It has, as you 
see, a hard clay bottom." 

The hunters started up it, single file, to hunt for 
the oldest bear inhabitant of the woods. It had 
washed out six or eight feet deep. Winding up 
through the jungle, egress to or from it could only 
be made through the narrow openings made by the 
rotting out of the old logs ; the trails were arched 
over b}^ cane and vines; frequently small runs came 
into it, and we saw not the sun until we reached the 
slash. 

Reaching the slash we halted to rest, when Cary 
remarked that he had be^n there only once. "It 
was," said he, " last I^ovember a year ago. Upon 
reaching the spot where we now are, I saw tw^o large 
bucks with their horns locked; they seemed to be 
exhausted; and one was upon his knees. I shot the 
one standing, and killed the other with my knife. 
As I shot I saw a large panther move slow^ly away 
from near where they were standing, the same, most 
likely, we killed this morning; he was doubtless 
waiting to make his supper out of one of them, as 
he did, for I left them, not being able to take them 
away. They may have been locked together a day 
or more, judging from the manner in which the 
ground was torn up. They were the largest bucks 
I ever saw; 3"0U will say they are the largest deer 
horns you ever saw. I defy any one to pull them 
apart without breaking ofit" a peg. We will go and 



110 Reminiscences of Old Times 

find them; the panther certainly did not eat up the 
horns." 

We went in search of the horns, but, reaching 
the spot where they were expected to be found, they 
were not there. Gary looked a little confounded, 
so certain was he of finding them where stated. 

" Certainly no one has been here and taken them 
away. I have not been relating a dream," said he, 
looking again from the position where he stood when 
relating the story of the bucks. " Yes ; it was here 
I left them. Let me take a look in the direction I 
saw the panther move away." "Walking some sixty 
or more yards, he came to the edge of the cane. 
*'Here they are," says he. 

We all had become anxious to see the locked 
horns, and were soon with him. They had been 
dragged to the edge of the cane, and were still 
locked. It must have been a powerful beast to have 
done it. They were there and not yet separated from 
the head. Larger deer horns none professed ever 
to have seen. All hands took a pull and tried to 
separate them, but gave it up that it could not be 
done without "breaking a peg." 

While we were discussing the horns, the dogs 
were exploring the surroundings. Numerous wind- 
ing trails came into the slash from the jungle, smooth 
and hard — too hard to discover the foot-prints of the 
many travelers that passed over them. Tlie opening 
made by the slash contained, perhaps, three acres, 
upon which no vegetation grew — it was a deer-lick. 

" Hark!" said Gary, '^ that's old Start." 

In a moment several of the half-hounds broke out 



in West Tennessee. Ill 

ill a fierce bay. Moving across the slash, we had 
not reached the edge of the cane before the whole 
pack were in, barking furiously. Caesar and Bess 
stood by their raaster waiting for the words "go in." 
The dogs were baying less than an hundred yards 
from where we stood, and it was impossible for man 
to get to them except upon his knees. 

"I^ow," said the Captain, "if it should happen to 
be the oldest inhabitant, he will not leave if he is 
well housed; no, not so long as he can keep his tail- 
end protected. Some of us must slip in — crawl in 
— and give him a start." 

" If crawling is to be done, my young hunter 
friend here," pointing to myself, "may be relied 
upon," said Temple. 

" It is an ugly job for a grown man, but for a boy 
who has not forgotten how to crawl, he would be in 
his element," was my remark, accepting the honor. 

I simply asked Temple to let his dogs "go in," 
and was off, examining my priming as I went. I 
soon found a winding trail in the right direction. 
Half bent I went in with heart palpitating — right up 
in my throat. Reaching within twenty yards, I 
came within full view of him and the dogs through 
a narrow vista, which was made by the rotting out 
of a large fallen tree, the stump of which formed 
the rear of his lair. The cane tops and vines had 
completely arched over the stump. With his back 
to the old stump, he was striking right and left at 
the approach of the dogs. Alive to the situation, 
knowing that I filled the only passway out, and that 
mv shot must be a death one or be run over and 



112 Beminisceyices' of Old limes 

possibly hurt by him, I resolved to wait my chance 
for a better shot. The dogs formed a half circle in 
front of him; his head was in perpetual motion. I 
waited for him to rise upon his hind feet, when I 
felt sure of putting my bullet in his heart. Suddenly 
Csesar and Bess passed me, jumping over my left 
shoulder. The bear's attention was attracted by 
them, when he discovered me. Instantly he made 
a leap, leaping clear of the dogs in front. I had 
gotten over the bear-buck-ague, and felt steady. 
My rifle was leveled well upon his great broad head 
as he came in a straight line toward me, aiming to 
put my ball between his eyes. I fired ; he fell to 
his knees. In an instant I saw that it was not a 
death shot; my ball had struck too high, glancing 
over, taking oflJ" the skin for a couple or more inches, 
and commenced reloading. The dogs covered him 
before he rose from the stunning efi:ect of the shot. 
He had only come to his knees. Csesar and Bess 
were to their places, the half-hounds holding him 
well behind. Several of the dogs had gotten to the 
front, thinking it was all up with him. Rising upon 
his rump he made a plunge, but was impeded by 
the dogs. Csesar and Bess were fast hold of their 
favorite catch, close under his deep sides; they were 
holding on to their part of his broad arms close up 
to his body. I had moved my position, pressing one 
side into the cane to his broadside. By this time 
he had fully recovered from his stun ; a large yellow 
quarter-hound of Pet's was at his head; in attempt- 
ing to make his escape he was prevented by the 
cane and became a victim of the monster's great 



in West Tennessee. 113 

jaws, crushing liim through and through close over 
his vitals. Making another phiuge he relieved him- 
self of Ceesar, dashing hini against the cane, and 
broke for the slash. I was just in the act of priming 
for another shot; a moment more and I would have 
been the little king bee of the hunt, for he was the 
"oldest inhabitant" of the woods. Tlie hunters in 
the slash stood ready for him; he crashed through 
the cane like a young*tornado. Clearing the cane, 
five well-aimed rifle bullets were shot into him, 
three passing through his heart. His running being 
accelerated, he ran across the slash and fell full 
length upon his broad belly at the head of the clay- 
gut, with a loud groan or moan, as if human. When 
we reached him he was dead — dead as he fell. The 
monster bear, the oldest inhabitant of his kind, the 
bear that had worried our friend Gary and his dogs 
so often, the great bear of the Big Hatchie country, 
of the Big Hurricane, lay dead before us. We spread 
ourselves out on the ground to rest; tired, though 
dealing out but little physical toil. The hunter's 
mind, soul and heart had been in intense excitement 
till the killing— ^ we were tired from the relax. Gary 
blowed his horn for the boys; we waited their com- 
ing. It gave us time to rest and comment upon the 
last half hour's work, which our good looking young 
leader said in the early morning was worth a week's 
hunting. We had relieved our friend Gary's hunt- 
ing ground of his two troubles — the great bear and 
the panther. He was as fat as bear of his size and 
age ever get to be. Without any means of weighing 
him, the hunters' estimate as he lay, w^as that he 



114 Jicminiscenecs of Old Times 

would weigh a little short of stiven hundred pounds. 
His age, who knew ? He had grown gray around 
the eves, and his teeth worn off more than half their 
original length. The writer is, perhaps, the only 
one living of the hunters in that celebrated hunt, 
when the big bear of the Big Hurricane was killed. 
He was then a boy in his thirteenth year; the then 
youngest of the hunters was his friend Cary, who 
died several years after. Whether any of the others 
are among the living is unknown to him; if living, 
they will testify to the material statements in the 
account of this hunt — it took place forty-five years 
ago. If the old negro Jack is living he will bear 
witness, if the reader thinks the writer is dealing 
in fiction. Jack was then thirty; he was an old 
young negro; he was living in Memphis last year. 
When the boys arrived all hands went to work; 
some holding, some ripping, and others skinning. 
The hide was soon stripped from his huge carcass. 
The five bullet holes were plainly in relief, and each 
hunter could have claimed his shot from the size of 
the hole, either one of which would have killed 
him; a small breakfast plate would have covered 
them all. Four poles were procured, a quarter put 
on each, and two men to a pole, we started back 
down the clay-gut. The hide was assigned to the 
writer; it was as much as he could possibly carry; 
more, had he not had a hand in the killing. After 
much toil we reached the bottom. The two bears 
killed that morning were more than three horses 
could pack, so we bent down some saplings and hung 
up enough for another trip. The boys had plenty 



in Wciit Tennessee. 115 

time, as the sun had just crossed the meridian. 

We all returned to the camp the same way that 
we came, and spent the afternoon talking over the 
events and incidents of the morning. A fine, fat 
gohbler was suspended before the fire, roasting for 
our dinner. 

Reader, did you ever eat of a fat gobbler, a wild 
one, roasted before the fire ? Kone of you young 
ones havn't, I guess, for it was a dish for '' old times," 
before cooking stoves were brought into use. Rich, 
brown and juicy, I have seen them carved at my 
father's table. 

An hour before sundown, the Captain stalked off 
to roost another gang of turkeys, remarking, that 
for his eating he wouldn't give one fat turkey for a 
whole six-hundred-pound bear. No one dissented. 

The sunset gave promise of another fair day. The 
old proverb, that 

" Eveairg r-'d and morning gray 
Sets the travt ler on his way ; 
Evening gray and morning red 
Brings down rain upon his head, ' 

is remembered by all old hunters, and relied upon in 
determining the character of the weather for the 
next day. We had come to make a three days' 
hunt, returning Christmas eve. The hunt for the 
morrow was to be in the BigBend, below the mouth 
of the lagoon. The Captain had gone after his 
turkeys, taking Pete. The hunters whiled away 
the hour until he returned in camp talk and relating 
anecdotes. The negroes stood around enjoying the 
jokes, when old Jack put in and said: 



116 JReminiscenccs of Old Times 

"Mars Gary, has my young hunter master told 
you 'bout Mistiss and the childen going chestnut 
hunting, and being most scared to death by the 
bear?"^ 

"No," said Gary. "How was it, Jack? You 
tell it." 

" Well, you see, Mistiss, she had promised the chil- 
den to go wid 'em chestut-hunting. So one Satur- 
day, after dinner, they all went. Mistiss, she took 
all the white childen and the little darkies to pick 
up chestnuts. They went down the creek half a 
mile — mebbe a little more. The chestnut trees wtuS 
fuller last fall than the}- has been since we moved to 
the country. They had just begun to open, but 
hadn't begun to fall out; so she took me along with 
my ax to cut down the small trees that was fullest. 
My young master, there, he went along too. He 
took his little rifle to shoot squirrels." 

"Well, Jack," said Gary, "we want to get to the 
chestnuts and the bear." 

" Ise gwine right thar, Mars Gary, as fast and as 
straight as I can take you. Well, as I was saying, 
Mistiss took the white childen and the young 
darkies" — 

"But you have told us that, Jack." 

"Well, we will just say that we got to the chest- 
nut trees without going." 

"That is it, Jack," said Gary, "go on." 

" Well, Mistiss, she and the childen is at the chest- 
nut trees. The childen, they was running about 
picking up chestnuts; they want plenty on the 
grown. Mistiss, she was walking about on the 



in West Tennessee. 117 

high bluff, with a bunch of yellow flowers in her 
hand; the trees was on the bluff." 

'' Well, Jack, what about the bear ? Where was 
he?" said Gary. 

Well, I declar. Mars Gary, if you aint the most 
impationest man I evel- did see. Aint I getting to 
the bear part fast as I kin? You see Mistiss, as I 
said, was walkin on the bluff, and the childen, they 
was running about after chestnuts; they wasent 
plenty on the ground." 

^-But the bear; how did he scare?" 

" Well, aint I coming right straight to the bear ? 
As I was saying, the chestnuts want plenty on the 
ground. They heard em falling thick little ways 
b'low, and way they went. Mistiss, she was stand- 
ing on the bluff. She was close by the tree the 
childen was running to. She just looked up the 
tree to see if it was full of chestnuts, and she began 
to scream, and scream as loud as she could, 'bear! 
bear!' The childen, they began to scream and 
squall. You never did hear sich screaming. The 
childen bollard 'where, where?' They was scared 
so bad they didn't know which way to look or run, 
till the old bear made such a fuss up the tree, rak- 
ing the bark as she was backing down. The chil- 
den looked up. The bear had got close down to 
the ground. Her two cubs, just above her, coming 
down, too. The childen broke for home, Mistiss 
she right after them, screaming and squalling as 
they went. The childen and Mistiss hadn't got no 
ways before the old bear and cubs was on the 
ground, running like the dogs was after them, the 



118 Reviinisceiices of Old Times 

other way. I hollarcl, and bollard for them to come 
back, but they wouldn't here me nohow, and they 
didn't stop till they was home." 

"Well, Jack, that is a good one, but where was 
your young Master with his rifle?" 

"Lor bless me, he was under the bluff shootin' 
squirrels." 

Just then the Captain came in; he and Pet 
loaded with turkeys. He had his seven this time. 

Two hours before day all were up, guns shot off, 
wiped out, re-loaded and primed, and waiting 
breakfast. We made an early start for the hunting- 
ground agreed upon. Crossing the lagoon, we were 
soon in the switch-cane. Before reaching the 
thick cane, old " Start " struck a running trail. The 
half-hounds joined him, and they went upon a full 
run in the direction of the river. The hunters 
pressed on after them. Temple gave Csesar and Bess 
word to "go in." Reaching a wet slash, Cary, who 
was ahead, stopped to examine the tracks, to see 
what manner of bear the dogs were after. Coming 
up to him, he said : " It's an old she and two cubs." 

Before leaving the place, we heard the dogs in 
"full cr^^," coming as if on the "back track." 
Cary remarked that they had divided. In another 
moment Caesar and Bess, with a couple of the half- 
hounds, over-reached the cub (he had become sep- 
erated from the dam, and was making his way back 
to where they started), and had him stretched upon 
the ground. When Cary got up he dispatched 
him with his knife. The pack were on a " big run " 
after the old she. She was making her best run to 



in West Tennessee. 119 

reach the Big Hurricane. Caesar and Bess, with 
the half-hounds, were put in after her, fresh from 
the killing of the cub. They didn't require to be 
hurried. The hunters hurried; getting to the lagoon, 
w^e brought a halt to hear the movement of the 
dogs. They had her at a lively bay, in the open 
woods, near the Hurricane. We increased our run 
for a short distance. Discovering that she had 
changed her course, Temple remarked that his dogs 
had headed her off from the Hurricane. 

" That will suit Ab," says the Captain, " it well 
help him to get up to the killing." 

She turned in toward the river, heading back for 
the big bend. We pressed on after them. She was 
soon brought to a " stop " again. Before we got up, 
her course was changed in the direction of the 
camp. 

"Well," says the Captain, ''we had better save 
our breath; wait here till she concludes to stop and 
make fight." 

" Csesar and Bess will keep her angling about in 
this open woods till we get up in sight. She'll go 
no further then," said Temple. 

"Then," says Ab, "we had better greet them 
with our presence." 

Her course changed again, and she was coming full 
tilt straight to where we were standing. As she 
got within gun-shot of us, Csesar dashed in, swinging 
her half round. She broke again, when the dog 
<ilinched her again. By this time Bess was at her 
place, and fast hold of the other arm, bringing her 
upon her all-fours, the half-hounds covering her 



120 Bemmiscences of Old Times 

behind. She made no further efforts to break, and 
turned upon the dogs. She fought hard and furi- 
ous. Kaising upon her hind legs, she shook her 
great body like an earthquake, to rid herself of the 
dog and slut. The dog let go, and she made a ter- 
rible effort to get hold of Bess. In a moment the 
dog renewed his attack, taking her close up to the 
body, brought her down upon her side. To save 
himself, he let go. The half-hounds closed in upon 
her hard and heavy. She rose furious. She had 
become desperate. Her other arm being free, she 
made an effort to reach Bess. The slut hung on 
like "grim death," keeping her body well under the 
bear. The fight became fearfully terrific, when 
Cary said: 

"The dogs have had enough of it; we will go in 
and end the fight. Mr. Temple, end the fight, your 
slut will get hurt." 

Temple was of the same opinion. He waited a 
safe chance and shot her through the heart. She 
winced under it, staggered around and fell, falling 
upon the slut. Could Bess have uttered language 
suited to her feelings, she would have sung: 

'' We clicg to one another until death u? do part." 

"Well, friend Temple," said Ab, "your dogs seem 
to be badly worried this time." 

"Yes," responded he, "it is always the case 
when they get hold of an old she that has cubs. 
The only time the slut was ever badly scratched was 
by an old she. They always fight harder when the 
cubs are following them." 



m West Tennessee. 121 

"I reckon," said the Captain, "that we ought to 
be satisfied now. Mr. Temple's dogs have far sur- 
passed anything I could have conceived. They are 
under better command than any dogs I ever saw, 
and their handling a bear is unsurpassed. This is 
our last day's hunt, and I think we ought to stop on 
this. We have already killed six bears, four of 
them aggregating more meat than any four bears 
that was ever slaughtered in these woods." 

"Don't forget the turkeys," said Ab; "I counte.d 
twelve hanging on the pole this morning — all big 
gobblers — that will, as you say by the four bears, 
aggregate in weight more than any twelve gobblers 
I ever saw." 

"Yes;" said the Captain, "we shall have more 
than the boys can well pack home. We must have 
at least two thousand pounds of bear meat. I sug- 
gest that we end the hunt here; to-morrow will be 
Christmas, and my friend Ab wouldn't like to miss 
his egg-nog, and I want my little hunter friend's 
mother to have a fat gobbler for her Christmas 
dinner." 

It was agreed to end the hunt there. The sun 
had not crossed the meridian. The hunters assisted 
the boys with the old she, and we were soon at 
camp dividing and packing up. 

"What is in that big bank of ashes, there?" said 
Ab to old Jack. 

" Why, its Mr. Temple's barr feet. He put 'em 
in dis mornin', and told us to mine 'em and keep 
'em covered up; I spec deys dun, now." 

"Yes," said Temple; "I wanted a good mess of 
6 



122 Reminiscences of Old Times 

bear feet before we left the camp. Jack, are they 
done, do you think? " 

''Yes, sir; Ise been smellin' dem some time. I 
knows dey is done." 

"Pull them out, then," said Temple. "Mind, 
don't let the hair scorch." 

Jack rolled out a couple of large paws, roasted in 
the ashes to a smoking done. The ashes brushed 
off clean. Temple forked one up, stripped off the 
skin, which slipped off like peeling a roasted onion, 
and a more delicate morsel was never greeted by 
man's appetite. None but a bear-hunter knows how 
to roast a bear's paw; the fore feet are the best. 
The writer can testify to their eating qualities. 
Everything being packed, the hunters parted with 
expressions of mutual gratification. 



ill West Tennessee, 123 



CHAPTER YI. 

Lawyers Riding the Circuit — The Methodist Preacher — 
The Scalding Gup of Coffee — The Nation's Muster — 
Bloody Noses and Black Eyes — Proposed Prize Fight 
— Ab and the Squatter's Wife — John S7nith and Daniel 
Parker. 

The oulj place for man and beast to find rest, be^ 
tween Brownsville and Covington, was at my 
father's house. He turned no one away. It was 
the habit, in those days, for the lawyers to " ride the 
circuit," to attend all the courts in the judicial 
district in which they resided. The lawyers of Jack- 
son and Brownsville practiced in the Circuit Court 
at Covington, attending regularly the fall and spring 
terms. 

Among the early practitioners were Haskell, Brad- 
ford and Huntsman, of Jackson, and Loving, Strother 
and Richmond, of Brownsville. 

JOSHUA HASKELL 

was the first Circuit Court Judge in "West Tennes- 
see. Tall and good looking, with great respect for 
his personal, his manner and mein marked him as 
a type of a well-finished gentleman. When on the 
bench, he commanded the high respect of the bar; 
maintaining, with propriety, the dignity due his 
high and honored position. Many incidents and 



124 Beminiscences of Old Times 

anecdotes occurring in the practice of the courts, at 
that early period, are still preserved. I am indebted 
to one of the " Old Folks"— the oldest of them all-- 
perhayjs the only surviving cotemporary of that 
period, for the following incident that occurred 
during the first court held by Judge Haskell in 
Dyer county. 

The court was held in 'Squire Warren's dwelling- 
house, in the winter of 1823-4. The house was a 
common double log cabin, one end of which was 
occupied by the family. Tliere were only three 
cases on the docket. A " log-heap " fire was built 
outside to make comfortable and warm those in 
attendance upon the court, who were not on the 
jury. 'Squire Warren was on the jury. A trading 
boat had landed at Cherry's blufi:', on the Forked 
Deer, from which a supply of whisky had been 
obtained by the neighbors, a portion of which had 
found its way to the 'Squire's house, and was cir- 
culating freely around the "log-heap" fire, as well 
as among those in the temporary court-room; and 
as the boys grew warm under the influence of both 
Jires^ a dispute arose between Berry I^ash and a son 
of the proprietor, young Tom Warren. The quar- 
rel culminated in blows. Berry let fly at young 
Tom, and Tom gave back blow for blow. The old 
'Squire had a view from the jury box, through the 
cracks of the logs, of what was going on around 
the "log-heap" fire. Becoming excited himself, he 
hallooed out at the top of his voice to his son, "Hit 
him again Tom, hit him ! !N'ever let it be said that a 
man hit you on your own dunghill, and you didn't 



in West Tennessee. 125 

hit him back!" Tom, hearing the admonition of 
the old man, went into the fight in earnest, and 
badly '' used ap " Berry. The Judge — permitting 
the fight to go on until it was ended — ordered the 
SherifiT, Charley McCrarey, to bring the two young 
men into court. ^N'ash, the aggressor, was the first 
brought in, a fine assessed, and the SherifiF ordered 
to keep him in custody until it was paid. Young 
Warren was then called up before the court, and the 
Judge was in the act of pronouncing a fine against 
him, when the old 'Squire rose from his seat among 
the jurors, and said: 

"Stop, stop. Judge; I'd naturally like to hear the 
law read that fines a man for fighting on his own 
dunghill!" 

The late William R. Hess, a lawyer in attendance, 
and who was a friend to both parties, rose, and pro- 
claimed that there was no such law, and suggested, 
as the easiest way to settle the matter, that the young 
men go to the branch, wash their faces, come back 
and take a drink, make friends and go home. The 
jury had become so much demoralized by the 
v'jnjms^ that the Judge ordered the Sherifi* to ad- 
journ court, with the admonition, that if the people 
of Dyer county did not do better the next time he 
held court, he would put the heads of all oftenders 
"under the fence." Judge Haskell contributed 
greatly to the merriment of the lawyers and lovers 
of fun in their journeying around the circuit. He 
enjoyed a good joke. 

ALEXANDER B. BRADFORD, 

a handsome young lawyer, was the most attractive 



%2G Reminiscences of Old Times 

of the lawyers that rode the circuit. Dressing well, 
he was ever ck^thed in a finely fitting suit of fine 
blue broadcloth, with bright buttons. He seemed 
to have been born in the habiliments of style — a 
very Chesterfield in manners and address. A great 
favorite with my mother, he paid her the most 
courtly respect; a warm personal friend of the family, 
lie was ever a welcome guest at my father's house. 
General Bradford was among the earliest and first 
lawyers of West Tennessee, and was intimately con- 
nected and associated with the practice and juris- 
prudence of "West Tennessee from the organizing 
of the first courts, running through a period of more 
than a quarter of a century. The mention of his 
name thrills the bosom of all who knew him and 
enjoyed his personal acquaintance, as a very tyj>e of 
a true man. An old-young lawyer was 

MAJOR RICHMOND. 

A wit and humorist, everybody enjoyed his society. 
He wore fine clothes, and kept his fur hat smooth 
by a habit of using his coat sleeve for a brush. The 
Major was gifted with a fund of anecdote; for the 
most part original, but not admissible in polite read- 
ing. He was the leading lawyer in " road cases." 
He used to say of himself, that he was "h — 1 upon 
roads." He was sought for and employed in all 
" divorce cases," and was the best crim. con. lawyer 
in the district. 

GENERAL LOVING 

was the idol of the bar in the early history of the 
courts at Brownsville. His personal was unex- 



in West Tennessee. ^ 127 

ceptiouable and faultless, both in form, manner and 
features. His name merits a high place in the 
annals and historj^ of Haywood. 

JOHN W. STROTHER, ESQ., 

was the lawyer among the lawyers of Brownsville 
in the early practice of the courts. Thin in flesh, 
wiry in nerve and tissue, and careless of dress and 
the personal, he passed among strangers for less 
than he " was worth." For more than a quarter of 
a century he lived in Brownsville. With great 
gentleness of manner, and purity of heart, he enjoyed 
a reputation worthy the strict sobriety and purity of 
his conduct 

The partj^ of lawyers, with the Judges, stopped at 
my fiither's house to stay all night, on their way to 
the Covington court It was the spring term. I 
remember that it was "gobbling season," when the 
bark of the young hickory begins to slip. It was 
Saturday evening. It was the aim of the lawyers 
to reach Covington Sunday evening, before Monday, 
the first day of court. They were in no hurry for 
breakfast: it being Sunday morning, nobody was in 
a hurry. All nature enjoys sweet repose in the soft 
mornings of spring, and all hands "and the cook" 
are licensed to sleep late on Sunday mornings in 
the country. 

Breakfast was ready and waiting for the guests, 
when a couple of strangers rode up and asked for 
breakfast and horse-feed. My father told them to 
get down and come in, ordering their horses to be 
taken and fed. The breakfast was on the table; 



128 Bemmiscences of Old Times 

their coming delayed its being served up until they 
had washed their hands and faces. They had the 
appearance of having laid out all night, but were 
well dressed in broadcloth. On their coming in 
one of them introduced himself, and then intro- 
duced his traveling companion as the Eeverend Mr. 
Hutchington. (The reverend part need not have 
been introduced, as all who were familiar with the 
fashions of the day knew from the cut of his coat, 
which was a regular shad-belly, that he was a Metho- 
dist preacher.) 

Breakfast was announced, and they were invited 
•to seats at the table. My father, it was ever his cus- 
tom, said grace — his every day grace : " Lord bless 
us in what we are about to receive, for Christ's 
sake." 

The reverend gentleman, as he raised his head, 
threw a glancing eye upon the head of the family 
as he finished his short blessing, as much as to sa}^ : 
" My professional calling is not recognized." • 

Helping and changing of plates went on from i\ 
large dish of turkey steak (which was common with 
us, as it was only a walk across the field to take 
down a gobbler any morning during " gobbling sea- 
son.") 

Coffee, an article of luxury in those days, 
was dished out and passed around. My mother, 
ever mindful of her North Carolina raising, showed 
the agreeable, commencing with the nearest guest: 

" Judge Haskell, is your coffee agreeable ? " 
"Thank you. Madam, most agreeable. Such a 
cup of coftee I have not tasted in the district." 



in West Tennessee, 129 

"Do you take cream in your coffee,' Major Rich- 
mond?" 

"If you please, Madam." 

"Colonel Bradford, I neglected to ask you if your 
coffee was agreeable." 

" Madam, it is nectar itself." Smacking his lips, 
he continued in its praise until my father had to 
remind him that it would get cold. Passing around 
with like questions, she came to the preacher and 
said: 

"And you, sir, is your coffee agreeable?" 

"Yes, Madam, only it's a little cold." 

Major Richmond's quizzical eye was upoii him in 
an instant, and then at my mother, who was dumb. 

The reverend gentleman, thinking that truth was 
the propriety of language at all times, braved the 
cutting of eyes across the table. He may have 
aimed an arrow for not being called upon to " ask a 
blessing." 

To relieve the situation, which had been chilled a 
little by the cup of " cold coffee," the humorous 
Major, addressing himself to the Parson, inquired 
where he and his friend had stayed all night. 

" On the river-bank, sir," he replied, " with the 
sand-beach for a pillow. We reached the ferry after 
night-fall. The ferryman had left. After splitting 
our throats hallooing for him, we made our c^uch 
upon the sand." 

" Then you must have a pretty good appetite this 
morning," said the Major. 

" Yes, sir. We rode all day, not eating anything 
since yesterday at breakfast, and a poor one it was." 



130 liciiiiniscemes of Old Times 

Just then his "cold cup*' was out My mother 
asked him if he would have another cup of coifee. 
He thanked her, at the same time sending up* his 
cup. 

In the meantime a fresh pot of coffee had been 
brought in, scalding hot, from which she filled his 
cup and returned it. The Major having him engaged 
in a lively talk, he had not observed it smoking ; 
thinking it was like its predecessor, or possibly 
colder still, he raised it to his lips and took a hearty 
sip, filling his mouth full of the scalding fluid. 
(Gimeny!) So unexpected, unable to turn right or 
left without scalding his neighbor, he let fly, the 
coffee gushing out of his mouth like an inch and a 
half squirt gun all over the table. ETot waiting to 
be asked if his coffee was " agreeable," he rose from 
the table with his bandanna to his mouth, and made 
for the water pail. 

" Well," said his traveling companion, who seemed 
not to sympathize with him, ''my reverend friend 
has got a touch of the blue blazes this time; wonder 
if he wont prefer it cold next time?" 

The breakfast closed with the Parson's second cup 
of coffee. The jolly Major folio w<^d him out to the 
water pail condoling with him, for he was terribly 
scalded. My mother soon followed with a cup of 
new cream, offering a thousand apologies for not 
informing him that she had filled his cap from a 
fresh pot, and explaining how it was that his first 
cup was cold, pressing upon him to take a moutliful 
of c<Ad cream, that it would alleviate his suffering; 
she was so sorry, regretted so much the mishap, and 



in West Tennessee. 131 

hoped that he would soon be well of it. The inci- 
dent of the Methodist preacher, and the hot cup of 
coffee, was ever remembered by the party present 
on that Sabbath morning, and served as an amusing 
topic for many years afterward. 

The settlements north of the Big Hatchie, in Tip- 
ton, had began to form voting precincts and orga- 
nize the militia. A battalion muster was to come 
off that spring at Hurricane Hill. A big muster in 
those days attracted every one; the old, who had 
passed muster, as well as the under age; men, women, 
children and negroes gathered at a muster. Cakes 
and pies, with beer and cider, was always on hand 
in thick profusion; not unfrequently a barrel of 
" red-eye" was found on tap under the hill near the 
spring. The drum and fife (no company was allowed 
to be mustered in without its drum and fife Major) 
was music most divine, bringing out the most thrill- 
ing patriotic demonstrations. The drum and the 
fife, to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" and the *' Jay 
bird died with the whooping cough," failed not to 
arouse the " spread eagle " in everybody's bosom — 
glorious days was "old times." General Jackson, 
the military chieftain of the age, was the rising man 
for the Presidency ; the eighth of January was yet 
fresh in the land; a military parade was most enthu- 
sing ; it Avas the sovereign's day, a nation's muster. The 
settlements all turned out to the big muster at Hurri- 
cane Hill that day. The gathering of the deni- 
zens culminated early. The Lieutenants, with their 
drummers, had taken their positions to foim. From 
half a dozen hillocks, or shady places, was heard: 



132 Reminiscences of Old Times 

" Oh yes ! oh yes ! all who belong to Captain Jones' 
company will fall into ranks." 

" Oh yes ! oh yes ! Captain Barnes' company will 
form; fall into ranks." 

" Oh yes ! oh yes ! Captain Smith's company will- 
fall into ranks." Thus went the rounds until the 
different companies composing the battalion w^ere 
formed. Then commenced the drilling: 

"Eyes right, and dress! Shoulder arms! Order 
arms ! Drop your butts square upon the ground, with 
the cocks behind! Keep your left arms straight down 
your left leg. ]^ow, shoulder arms ! " Thus the drill 
continued until mustered off by the Adjutant Major 
and formed into battalion, and marched out to the 
field for further manceuvering according to " Scott's 
tactics." 

The mustering over, the battalion was marched 
back to the store and disbanded, when a rush was 
made for the cake and beer stands, many finding 
their way to the barrel of '' red-eye " on tap under 
the hill. As the day began to wane, the spirit of the 
" critter " began to brew the usual fights. A squad 
of jolly fellows made a raid on one of the pie and 
cake stands, lead by the "Bully of the Hill," Ab 
Gaines. Gaines had gotten hold of the young ven- 
dor of the pies and cakes by the nap of his neck, 
handling him roughly — thumping his head against 
the cake stand — while his chums were filling their 
pockets. John Barnes, the blacksmith, was stand- 
ing near, and being a friend to the young man, 
beside an advocate of fair play, he remonstrated 
with the "Bully of the Hill." Gaines resented the 



in West Tennessee. 133 

interference in a menacing manner, when Barnes 
let drive, sprawling him upon the ground, with the 
remark: "You coward; you have bullied this Hilllong 
enough ! " Ab rose to his feet and " went for " Barnes, 
making a pass. Barnes was too quick for him, and 
Ab went to the ground again. In the meantime 
the friends of the parties had began to close in and 
around. The writer, yet in his early teens, mounted 
the cake stand to get out of the w^ay, and to obtain 
a better view of the fight. Gaines rose to his feet 
again, cried " fair play," and w^ent at Barnes the third 
time, when a well placed blow, over his left temple 
and eye, brought him to the ground harder than 
ever. A general fight had begun ; a dozen or more 
men were having a regular "set-to." I^one at- 
tempted to interfere or part them; eyes and noses 
were suffering terribly; they fought on until "each 
man had whipped his man." Ab was the first to 
propose a truce. With difficulty he arose to his feet 
after the third knock-down, and said : 

" You are more than a match for me to-day. I am 
not in a fix to fight to-day. I am drunk; too drunk 
to hold you a good fight. I'll see you again." 

"You can see me whenever it may suit you. I 
take no advantage of a drunken man. I will meet 
you in a 'square fight' whenever it niaj^ please you 
to name the time and place," said Barnes. 

"It had as well be on this Hill, and this day two 
weeks; I will be here with my friends," said 
Gaines. 

"It suits me," said Barnes; "name the hour. 

"Let it be an hour to sunset," responded Gaines- 



134 Eemmisccnces of Old Times 

" I'll be here," said Barnes, when he separated 
himself from the crowd. 

The interest taken in the coming " square fight," 
between two of the most powerful men in the settle- 
ment, had caused the other belligerents to forget 
their differences. Black eyes and bloody noses only 
remained to give evidence of the bloody " set-to " 
that had just occurred. All hands made friends, 
took a drink, and went home. 

It was soon norrated through the settlement that 
Ab Gaines and John Barnes were to have a "square 
fight;" that the bully of Hurricane Hill had found 
his match. It was a matter of much surprise, how- 
ever, to the sober, steady men of the neighborhood 
that a man of Barnes' steady habits should enter 
the list of prize fighters. It was agreed, however, 
that Ab needed taking down, and no man could be 
found better able to do it than Barnes. Gaines was 
the heaviest man of the two ; he stood full six feet 
five, broad and deep through the chest, and wore a 
number eleven shoe; and a hand — it was difficult to 
find a glove large enough to fit. Barnes, less in 
pounds and inches, was greatly his superior in the 
material of flesh, tissue and muscle. Made more pow- 
erful by hard licks at the anvil, he had never failed 
in an enterprise or undertaking dependent upon 
his manhood. 

Time was required for Ab to work the mean 
whisky out of him, and reduce himself in flesh. 
Could he do it? was the grave question among his 
intimate friends. Their coming together upon equal 
advantages was fearful to contemplate. Barnes' 



in West Tennessee. 135 

courage was undoubted; Gaines bad played tbe 
bully, but had never sought his match; it was 
doubted whether he had the courage of his adver- 
sary in the coming conflict. As the time drew nigh 
for them to meet, it was whispered through the 
neighborhood that Ab was softening — that be would 
"flicker.'' Bets were being freely offered that he 
wouldn't come to time, and found no takers. His 
friends began to rally him; the boasting and big 
talk on their part had " dried up." Ab, through the 
aid of his friends, had well nigh gotten the whisky 
out of himself, and cheered on to the conflict, when, 
a few days before the appointed day, he, with several 
of his friends, were at the Hill, and he got a taste of 
whisky. He tasted often, and drank deep; his 
friends could do nothing with him. In their efforts 
to keep him from drinking too much, he "let fly" 
with that great fist of his and smashed several of 
their noses, and they left him to his fate. They had 
gone before he discovered that he was alone. With 
some difiiculty he got on his hor§e and started for 
home. In going home he had to pass a squatter set- 
tler's house situated on the roadside. When getting 
near the squatter^ s house, he observed a man flailing 
a woman in the front yard. Spurring up his horse, 
he went to her rescue. The squatter had his wife 
by the hair of her head, slinging her around, when 
Ab took hold of him, jerking him loose from his 
hold upon her hair and flat of his back, and com- 
menced pounding him heavily in the face. The 
wife, freed from the rough handling of her husband, 
turned upon Gaines. Seizing an ax that lay near, 



136 Reminiscences of Old Times 

she sent it into his back up to the eye, leaving it 
sticking in him, with the remark: "Now, let my 
husband alone." Ab rolled oft* the squatter, crying 
out, "Murder! murder!" 

The husband rose to his feet and pulled the ax 
out of his back, when the rush of blood was most 
fearful. Mounting Ab's horse, he rode for the near- 
est doctor as fast as he could, who was soon in 
attendance, and examined the fearful cut. The ax 
had gone in over the region of the liver, severing 
one or more ribs, and cutting off" a portion of the 
liver, which the Doctor took out. The bleeding 
was profuse, and the Doctor pronounced it fatal. 

"There is no hope for you, Ab," he said ; "the 
bleeding is internal and can't be stanched. If you 
have any w^orldly affairs about which you want to 
leave instructions, it will be well that you go about 
it." 

" I have none," said Gaines. " Only one request 
will I make. You say there is no hope; then my 
last request is, that you will send up to the store 
and get me a gallon of whisky." 

" You shall have it, Ab," replied the Doctor. 

The squatter, with the aid of his wife and the 
Doctor, got Ab in the house, and fixed a pallet on 
the floor. He then rode to the store for the whisky. 
The Doctor remained until the squatter returned 
with the jug of whisky. A tin cup was provided, 
and Ab told to drink at his pleasure. 

The Doctor left him with his comforter, saying 
that he would ride over the next morning. 

The next day, to the astonishment of the Doctor, 



in West Tennessee. 137 

he found Ab alive, and tlie jug empty. He finally 
recovered, but was i^ever himself again. The apol- 
ogy for not meeting Barnes in a test of manhood -at 
the "Hill" on the following Saturday was satisfac- 
tory. 

About this time the upper settlement was enjoying 
the relative merits of the manhood of John Smith 
and Daoiel Parker. Both of them being quiet, good 
neighbors, and regular attendants at church, they 
startled the neighborhood by 2i falling out. Acotem- 
porary of '' old times," on the Big Lagoon, relates 
the occurrence to me in this wise: 

Smith engaged Parker to dig him a well. The 
price for digging it was agreed upon. According to 
Smith's words, Parker would find water in thirty 
feet, and the price to be paid was twenty-five ears 
of corn per foot, which would be seven bushels and 
a half. Corn was then selling at two dollars per 
bushel. The bargain was made in the spring of the 
year. Parker was to go to work right away, and to 
take one-half of the number in roast big -ears, as soon 
as Smith's corn was old enough. Parker was slow 
in commencing the' job, digging all through t^e 
roasting-ear season, taking home with him every 
night as^many roasting-ears as his day's labor would 
come to. His family was large, and it was their 
only bread. The digging continued until the depth 
of thirty feet had been reached. The corn, in the 
meantime, had got hard; Parker continuing, how- 
ever, to take his twenty or more ears home every 
night, w^hich would be grated and bread made of it. 
By the time the thirty feet was reached Parker 



138 Beminiscences of Old Times 

had taken up three hundred or more ears, and had 
not come to water, and, from the signs, was not 
likely to find it in perhaps thirty feet more of dig- 
ging. A " water witeh " had, with his " witch-hazle" 
twig, located the place for digging the well, and 
given his guarantee to Smith that water would be 
found in thirty feet from the surface. Smith's faith 
in the mystic art had induced him to name thirty 
feet as the distance Parker would have to dig to find 
water. The average wells of the neighborhood were 
sixty feet, and Parker declined digging any deeper 
unless he got an increased number of ears of corn 
per foot. Smith was not willing to accord it, and 
the digging stopped. Smith was excitable by nature, 
a man of immense size in flesh, and the heaviest 
man in the neighborhood by an hundred pounds. 
He vowed, and swore he would stand by it, that if 
Parker didn't continue digging until he found water, 
he should not have another ear of corn. Parker, 
whose frame of bones was capable of carrying more 
flesh than Smith's did, the largest raiv-bony man in the 
settlement, and with all an acknowledged good 
fighter, swore that if Smith didn't let him have the 
number of ears due him on the digging, he would 
whip it out of him. Smith was firm and Parker 
resolute. They soon met. It was on road-working 
day, where all the neighborhood had gathered to 
work on the road. Each party had their friends, 
and the fight was to be a fair one; no interference 
until Parker had whipped his two hundred and fifty 
ears of corn out of Smith, if he should prefer that 
kind of a settlement. Smith announced that he 



' in West Tennessee. 139 

was willing to that kind of a settlement, if it would 
satisfy Parker, when he got through. So at it they 
went, stripped to their shirts. Smith was amiable 
in standing fair for Parker's blows, making it his aim 
to keep them out of his face and e3^es, showing him- 
self an adept in fencing oiF the well aimed blows at 
his head and face. Parker, becoming a little weary 
in his futile effort in that direction, commenced his 
heavy digs in Smith's short ribs, and what he con- 
ceived to be the tender place, about the pit of his 
stomach, belaboring himself in using first one fist 
and then the other, until he was well nigh exhausted. 
In the meantime Smith's friends yelled out that 
Parker ought to be satisfied, when Parker, becoming 
good natured all at once, declared himself satisfied, 
saying that he would as soon undertake to fight a 
bag of feathers. 

"And," says Smith, "I would as soon undertake 
to strike at a horn-beam stump." 



140 Rmiiniscences of Old Times 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Character of the Men who Settled West Tennessee — 
Tipton County, its Original Territory and Topographical 
Features — Organization and Officers of the First Courts 
— The First Venire of Grand and Petit Juries — Jacob 
Tipton — Uohert Sanford — Covington — The first Mer- 
chants — The First Physicians — The Calmes Tavern — 
The Tavern- Keeper — The Boys about Town — The New 
Sign and the Bell-Ringing — The Calves in the Court- 
House — Holnhousefs Court — Old Johnny Giddins — 
Tacket Kills Mitchell — Gray Case; his Life Staked upon 
a Game of Cards — Rufus Garland — Grandville D. 
Searcy — The Fourth of July Celebration — Charles G. 
Fisher — Nathan Adams — William Coward and the Wolf 
Story — Armstead Morehead — David, Crockett and his 
Competitors for Congress. 

It was not from the cesspools and scum of the 
society of old States that West Tennessee was peo- 
pled. The rich and fertile virgin lands of the dis- 
trict early attracted the enterprising and industrious 
men of wealth and intelligence, the strongest and 
best material from the old States — a historic fact 
well attested by many now living who have kept 
pace with " ever marching time." 

The brave hearts and strong arms of the heroic 
fathers, husbands and sons were nobly sustained by 
the heroism of their wives, mothers and daughters, 



in West Te7iness€e, 141 

who shared with them the toils and hardships of 
subduing the wilderness. 

Oh, ye daughters of sunshine and ease ! ye lovely 
women of romance and pleasure I ye dwellers in the 
gay "social solitude!" ye revelers in the fashions 
of gay city life, delicate exotics of a soft, luxuriant 
society ! think of the noble, brave-hearted mothers, 
wives and daughters who triumphantly battled 
against the perils and hardships of a frontier life, 
aiding and encouragingtheir husbands, fathers, sons 
and brothers in subduing the forests and opening up 
the wildwoods, making it the fitting abode for refined 
civilized enjoyment. Noble mothers ! Fond mem- 
ories of their heroism are embalmed in the heart's 
affection, the common heritage of their successors. 

The eye of the traveler when passing through West 
Tennessee of the present day is amazed with pleas- 
urable delight in seeing its broad acres teeming with 
wealth and luxury, with its beautifully built cities 
and towns, its lovely resident mansions and refined 
and elegant society, and wonders when told that it 
is all the growth of less than half a century; that of 
the early settlers, who came with the pocket-compass 
in their hands, followed by the blazer with his ax, 
many are yet among the active men of the present 
day — are j^et living to recount where the first 
" corner-stone " was laid, and point to where the first 
tent was pitched in the wilderness. The limits of 
these reminiscences, however, is restricted alone to 
the past, to " old times," and it is of Tipton and Cov- 
ington that I would write in this chapter. 

It was not until the year^ 1818 that the Chickasaw 



142 Beminiscences of Old Times 

title to the lands west of the Tennessee river, within 
the limits of the State, was extinguished. The year 
following, 1819, by an act of the Legislature, the 
territory known as the Big Hatchie country was 
attached for judicial purposes to the county of Har- 
din. In 1821, by the act fixing the boundaries of 
Madison and Shelby, the territory forming the county 
of Tipton was attached to Shelby, until 1823, when 
it became a separate and independent county, and 
the boundaries established. ^ 

Bordering on the Mississippi river to the west, 
to the north and south by the waters of the Forked 
Deer and Loosa Hatchie, with the Big Hatchie 
running through the center, no county in the State 
could boast of so rich a body of virgin lands, or 
oflered such inducements to the enterprising agri- 
culturist. The topographical features of the county 
differ but little from the other counties in West 
Tennessee, noted only for its beautiful western front, 
overlooking the great river. The "Mill Stone 
Mountain," an mteresting feature, found among the 
range of hills bordering on the Big Hatchie, near 
itB mouth — a novelty of itself — is the more inter- 
esting for its being a solid mass of concrete rock, 
from which is wrought the best mill-stones in use ; 
said to be equal, if not better, than the celebrated 
French burr. Less than a half mile in diameter at 
its base, it rises in cone shape from the banks of the 
Hatchie, towering above the tallest forest trees, its 
apex perfectly level, overlooking the surrounding 
country. Above and near it, on the banks of the 
Hatchie, is a well marked ancient fortification, from 



in West Tennessee. 143 

the foot-prints of time judged to belong to the pe- 
riod when the " Mound Race " inhabited the country. 
The location seems to have been well taken, in an 
abrupt bend of the river, and constructed after the 
manner of constructing fortifications in modern 
days; in the ditch forming a crescent towards the 
land-front, numerous forest trees are growing of 
huge size, in age apparently equal to the oldest in 
the forest. Within the fortification are several 
*' mounds," from which human bones have been 
taken, with specimens of pottery or earthen ware. 
It is related to the writer, by a descendant of one of 
the oldest and first settlers in Tipton, that many 
years ago a fragment of a well burnt brick was 
picked up in the vicinity of this ancient fortification, 
upon which the foot-print of a goat w^as well defined. 
To suppose about it, would be that the goat left his 
foot-print upon the brick while lying upon the yard, 
and before it was put into the kiln to be burnt. 
In the same vicinity, many feet below the surface of 
the earth, charcoal and charred pieces of wood have 
been dug up. That brickbat, as well as the old 
fortification with its connecting history, must be left 
to the pen of the curious, who may assume to write 
of the period beyond the dark ages; of an extinct 
race whose only history is left in the silent tombs of 
their own making, possibly before E'oah was called 
upon to lay the keel and temper the ribs of the ark. 

It is of Tipton and the first settlers under the do- 
minion of the State of Tennessee that I w^rite. 

On the first day of December, 1823, the first court 
was organized and held at the house of Nathan 



144 Reminiscences of Old Times 

Ilartsfield, two or more miles southwest of where 
Covington now stands. It was organized and held 
by the iirst magistrates appointed for the county by 
Governor Carroll, and were Nathan Hartsfield, John 
T. Brown, Jacob Tipton, Andrew Greer, John C. 
McKean ahd George Robinson. John C. McKean 
was made chairman of the court. The court being 
organized, they went into an election for county 
officers, which resulted as follows : 

Andrew Greer, Clerk; John T. Brown, Sherift*: 
I^athan Hartsfield, Register; William Henson, Ran- 
ger; George Robinson, Coroner. It may be observed 
that the members of the court elected themselves 
to the first offices of the county. We are not to 
conclude, however, that it was for the emoluments, 
but for the lack of material in men to fill them. It 
is mentioned as an instance of the sparseness of the 
inhabitants of the county, that in that year the first 
wedding took place, and every white family in the 
county was invited, and when gathered together 
the male adults numbered not more than sixty. 

It may not be uninteresting to the readers of Old 
Times in Tipton, to read over the first venire from 
which the petit and grand jurors were chosen for 
the first courts held in the county after the organi- 
zation, on the first of December, 1823. They were 
Owen Evans, Samuel P. Givens, Matthew Isaacs, 
Matthew Alexander, Alexander Robinson, Daniel 
Young, William Wright, William Henson, John 
Smith, K Elliot, G. Yarbrough, Clarke Burdsall, 
M. Hutchinson, William Robinson, Samuel Robin- 
son, A. R. Logan, Jubilee Gagin, G. Kenney, John 



m West Tennessee. 145 

Robinson,. Tefferson Childress and Addison D. Packs- 
ton. Of these names, inchiding the members and 
officers, none are now among the living. In 1824 
the county site was located at 

COVINGTON, 

and in 1825 the town was laid off, and the lots sold 
at public sale, on the twelfth day of April of that 
year, by commissioners appointed by the court. The 
commissioners were Marcus Calmes, John Eckford, 
Robert G. Green, E. T. Pope and Alexander Robin- 
son. Covington is beautifully situated on an emi- 
nence overlooking the surrounding range of hills. 
Within a stone's throw of the public square gushes 
a bold spring, capable of affording water for a 
populous city, beside numerous smaller ones of 
excellent water. The town, when located and estab- 
lished as the county site, was near the center of the 
cownty, which comprised a large and fertile territory 
north of the Big Hatchie. In 1836 the county of 
Lauderdale was established, leaving Tipton alone 
south of the Hatchie, and Covington within six 
miles of its northern boundary. 

The county was called for the gallant Jacob Tip- 
ton, who was killed while leading his men in a charge 
against the Indians, near Fort Washington, under 
command of General St. Clair, in 1791. History* 
mentions that when the intrepid Captain was on the 
eve of moving with his command to the support of 
General St. Clair, and after he had mounted his 
horse, he rode back in hearing of his wife, and left 
with her, as his last request, that if he should be 

*Rampey. 

7 



146 Reminiscences of Old Times 

■* 
killed in the perilous service he was about entering, 
to change the name of their youngest son, who had 
been named Armsted Blevins. to Jacob. (Rot Wil- 
liam, as is mentioned in Ramsey's history. The 
writer is enabled to make this correction by author- 
ity of the immediate family of the late General 
Tipton.) On the fourth of iN^ovember, 1791, the 
brave Captain w^as killed, and his last injunction to 
his wife was complied with, and Armsted Blevins 
became Jacob ; the late General Jacob Tipton , among 
the first and most prominent settlers in Tipton 
county. He was appointed to the clerkship of the 
Circuit Court upon its organization in the count}^ 
which office he filled for many years. One of 
nature's noblemen, he was noted for his kind and 
'generous hospitalities and courteous mien. A good 
and true man, his long and useful life was spent 
where he first settled, breathing his last midst -his 
family and numerous friends in the old homestead. 
His name and his noble life fills an honored page 
in the early history of Tipton county. 

ROBERT SANFORD 

succeeded to the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court 
of Tipton. He was called from the plow-handle, 
and learned to handle the pen in the Clerk's office 
as deputy clerk. He soon became master of the 
situation, conducting the office with such marked 
intelligence and business precision that it was not 
long before he became the de facto Clerk. He was 
continued in the office by the votes of his fellow- 
citizens for many long years. Living to a ripe old 
age, highly esteemed and venerated, he was gathered 



in West Tennessee. 147 

to his fathers, and sleeps among the tombs of his 
deceased cotemporaries. 

Covington had its steady, sober — always sober — 
men, beside its frolicsome and rolicsome boys. 
Among the early settlers and merchants of the 
place was Major Armsted Morehead. The Major, 
after a residence of more than a quarter of a century, 
fixed his residence in the vicinity of Memphis, 
where he still resides, honored and esteemed as an 
honest, upright man. For twenty odd years he has 
supplied annually the market of Memphis with 
choice watermelons of his own raising; having 
reached his three-score and ten years, he is yet 
found, as always heretofore, driving his own team. 

Marcus Calmes owned and kept the only tavern 
in Covington. He had been elected Sheriff of the 
county; the duties of the office conflicting with his 
tavern keeping, he offered to sell or lease his tavern; 

Good schools had been established in Covington* 
My father had decided to move there to educate his 
children. It was suggested to him that he had made 
reputation among the lawyers, riding the circuits, 
for feeding^' man and beast;" that he would do well 
to lease Calmes' tavern, and make money while his 
children were going to school. Obtaining my 
mother's consent for him to become a tavern- 
keeper in Covington, he entered upon his new en- 
terprise. 

THE OLD LOG TAVERN, 

situated on the north side of the public square in 
Covington, is, or was, standing a few years ago. It 
was built in 1824 or '25, of hewed logs, sixty feet 



148 Beminiscences of Old Times 

long by twenty wide; two stories high, a frame shed 
in the rear its full length, and a broad front gallery, 
with sleeping apartments overhead, containing ten 
rooms, including the dining room and ball room. 
The ball room was large, and when a press of guests 
came in, it was filled with cots and beds, which 
only occurred when court was in session, or on the 
occasion of a general muster. My father entered 
earnestly upon the duties of tavern-keeping, enter- 
taining all the travelers and many boarders. Cov- 
ington soon began to be a thriving village, with brick 
stores and handsomely built frame dwellings, painted 
white, with green blinds. Its first settlers were 
of the first families from the old States and Middle 
Tennessee. The rich, fertile lands of the county 
invited wealth and enterprise. Among the leading 
merchants of Covington were Booker, Clarkston, 
Holmes, Adams, Clarke, Smith and Morehead. 
The doctors were Stone, Green, Fisher, Hall, and 
David Taylor Woodward Cook, the latter a capital 
good fiddler. Old Dr. Cook was a great favorite 
with the boys and all lovers of good music. The 
practice of physic was an after-thought with him. 
The lawyers were Robert G. Green, Tom Taylor, 
* an old widower,' and Grandville D. Searcy, young 
and sprightly. Phil Glen and Yankee White were 
added to the list a few years after. 

The Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists had 
good churches. In those days everybody went to 
church on Sundays. It was a great day for the 
exhibition of gallantry and finery. A young man felt 
lonely in going to church without a young lady 
swinging to his left arm. 



in West Tennessee. 149 

No town or village in the western district had better 
schools at that time than Covington. The Eeverend 
Doctor Chapman long connected with, and late the 
President of Chapel Hill, l!^orth Carolinaj filled a 
high place both in the church and educational de- 
partment. His family was an acquisition to the 
society of Covington. 

Among the men of wealth and personal merit, 
who earl}^ settled in the vicinity of Covington, were 
the Tiptons, Dunhams, Garlands, Browns, Kober- 
sons, Hills, Harpers, Pryors, Lauderdales, Cowards, 
Cottons, Taylors, and many others whose names 
are identified with the early settlement of the Big 
Hatchie country — connecting the past with the 
present. 

Covington was not without its dancing master 
in those days. Who of us, who were young then, 
who learned how to " forward and back — one — two 
— three — four and five, and back to ^^lace, swing 
corners and balance all," that don't remember old 
man Chapman, the dancing master, and his tall and 
handsome son Gary ? 

Christmas, New Year's Day, the Eighth of January, 
Twenty-Second of February and the Fourth of July 
never passed without a big ball, and no town was 
without its dancing master, as well as preacher. 
No store was considered to be well stocked with 
goods without silk stockings and dancing pumps. 
"Old times" in Covington were her best days. 

Of the early settlers of Covington but few are 
among the living at this writing. 



150 Reminiscences of Old Times 

DR. CHARLES G. FISHER, 

among the earliest settleri, has survived all of his 
cotemporaries. He still resides in the place — re- 
siding in the same house that he huilt more than 
forty years ago. He was a practicing physician in 
my father's family forty -five years ago. His long 
and useful life v^ill entitle his name to a memorial 
window in every household in and around Coving- 
ton as one of the fathers of the land. 

Of the merchants who were then in active busi- 
ness life, now among the survivors of that early 
period, whose eventful career comes down to this 
present writing, none is deserving more of honorable 
mention than 

NATHAN ADAMS. 

I remember well his first appearance in Coving- 
ton. Young and handsome, (he was so regarded 
by the fair young women), with glossy black hair; 
intelligent, bewitching dark eyes; always han(?somely 
dressed, with artistically tied cravat. I thought him 
the very model of a refined, well-dressed gentleman. 
"When the annals and history of West Tennessee 
shall be written, his name will merit a high place in 
the pages of her progress, in both city and country. 
Verging to a ripe old age, having passed his three 
score years, he yet moves with the elasticity of thirty 
years ago. A man of progress, an able financier, 
he now ranks among the wealthy, enterprising men 
of Memphis. Possessing a refined and appreciative 
taste, he enjoys life in the circle of his many friends. 
Among the cotemporary early settlers in Tipton, 
now living, and whose name has been identified 



in West Tennessee, 151 

with the local interest of the country for near a half 
century, none is more worthy of mention than 

WILLIAM COWARD, ESQUIRE. 

"Starting in the world a poor boy," he began life in 
Jackson, Madison county, 1824-5, with Amour & 
Lake, clerking and running keel boats down the 
Forked Deer and Mississippi, carrying cotton to 
New Orleans, they trusting to his integrity to bring 
back the proceeds. In 1826 he took a look at 
Memphis, when it was a village at the mouth of 
Wolf. Aiming to be a tiller of the soil, the rich 
lands of Tipton attracted him to where he settled in 
the woods near Covington. He still lives where he 
first settled, and in the house he first built, where, 
by his industry and probity, he has amassed a large 
fortune. Believing in the old adage, '^ that a rolling 
stone gathers no moss," he has never sought new 
places, or engaged in new enterprises. Wm. 
Coward always has a dollar to lend, and none knows 
better how to lend it, or who to lend it to. Ap- 
proaching three-score and ten years, he is yet an 
active business man, looking after and turning over his 
honest gains. It is not inappropriate to relate an 
occurrence that happened in his early life, illustra- 
tive of his care and vigil over what belongs to him. 
He went to New Orleans, with the first crop of cot- 
ton he made in Tipton, bringing back the proceeds 
in hard money in his saddle-bags. Arriving at 
Randolph, he swung the saddle-bags containing this 
''hard cash" accross his shoulder and started on foot 
for home, twelve or fourteen miles distant. Nisrht 
overtook him soon after leaving the settlement near 



152 Reminiscences of Old Times 

Randolph, having many miles of wilderness to pass 
through. When passing through the most unfre- 
quented portion of it, he was attacked by a hungry 
pack of wolves. Several miles distant from any 
house or settlement, with nothing to defend him- 
self but his hickory walking-stick, he was forced to 
take refuge in the nearest tree. Luckily, a small 
bending oak was at hand, and up it he went, to 
where a large limb grew straight up. Finding the 
weight of his saddle-bags too great to climb the 
limb with it on his shoulder, he swung it on the first 
limb and pulled himself above it. The hungry wolves? 
in their furious attack, would run up on the bend- 
ing portion of the tree. Finding they could not reach 
him, they commenced snapping at the bag of hard 
cash. To keep the hungry beasts from rending the 
saddle-bags and spilling out all the money. Coward 
w^ould swing himself down, holding on with one 
hand while laraping them over the head with his 
hickory stick. Thus he was kept up the tree de- 
fending and keeping the wolves off of his saddle- 
bags until relieved by daylight, when the hungry 
wolves left for their dark holes. 

The Calmes tavern had no sign indicating that it 
was a place of entertainment for travelers, other 
than a horse-rack in front for them to hitch their 
horses. An expert sign-painter came along, and 
pursuaded my father to have a fine sign painted and 
swung up. The suggestion met with favor, and the 
sign-painter went to work upon a four by four 
square board. At my mother's suggestion, the name 
" tavern " was dropped, and " hotel " adopted. *' Gov- 



in West Tennessee. 153 

ington " was painted in the form of a crescent, in 
large letters, a star in tlie middle, and ''hotel" be- 
low, gilded with gold; the ground was blue, be- 
spangled with brilliants. The sign, swung high up 
in a frame upon a large post painted white, was a 
credit to the painter, recommending him favorably 
to the town. For several days it was the attractive 
point for the boys. Covington had a hotel ! A bell 
was then added to the hotel, put up in a neat belfry 
on top of the building; which was another attractive 
point with the boys. Covington could boast of its 
rolicsome, frolicsome boys, as well as other towns. 
Hardly a week passed without recording some of 
their innocent deviltry, such as changing sign 
boards, etc. Holmes & Adams would walk into 
their store of a morning under Booker & Clarkson's 
sign ; it was onl}^ the trouble of changing them back 
again. One morning all the milkmaids were run- 
ning over town inquiring if any one had seen such 
and such a calf. One "with red sides and white 
back and belly;" another "with spots all over it, 
and white in the face." The cows filled the streets 
lowing their utmost. The town was about to go to 
breakfast without milk in its coffee, when, from 
the lowing of the cows, a calf was heard to bleat in 
the court-house. In the meantime, the inquiries as 
to the missing calves becoming general, the town 
folk began to gather on the public square. The 
cows, hearing the bleating of the calf in the court- 
house, gathered around it, and the calves set up a 
unanimous bleating in the court room. The milk 
women and the boys (who didn't know anything 



154 Reminiscences of Old Times 

about it) opened the court-house door, and the calves 
came jumping out, kicking up their heels and pairing 
off with their mothers, l^ot so, however, with an 
old hilly goat, that remained in the court room 
thumping on the Judge's stand. He was tied hard 
and fast in the chair occupied by his Honor in pre- 
siding. The town gathered to see his Honor on the 
bench — presiding in horns! The boys enjoyed the 
result of their pranks, innocent of any knowledge 
as to how came the calves, and honest Billy White's 
old billy, in the court-room. It all passed off as a 
joke, intended for the ears of the Judge of the 
" Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions," who was in 
the habit, when on the bench, of getting dry, and 
calling on the Sheriff: 

"Mr. Sheriff, adjourn court, and let's all go and 
take a horn J' 

Many amusing incidents and anecdotes were told 
of old Holtshouser's court. He was firmly impressed 
with the idea that his court could not err; he re- 
garded himself as the arbiter dictum of the court and 
the law, as was illustrated in the case of old Johnny 
Giddins. The old man had absented himself from 
home for some cause known only to himself. He 
had gone in the direction of Arkansas, fatal ground 
to travel over in those days. His long absence had 
confirmed his family and friends in the belief tliat 
he had "gone to that bourne from whence no traveler 
returns." Application was made to Holtshouser's 
court to declare his estate vacant, and for an admin- 
istrator to be appointed. The requisite proof of liis 
demise was made, and the administraton of his es- 



171 West Tennessee. 165 

tate regularly opened. The usual time allowed for 
winding up and closing the administration elapsed, 
and the estate was distributed among the heirs and 
legatees. In the course of a short time old man Gid- 
dins turned up alive, and appeared before Holts- 
houser's court persona personam, demanding that his 
estate be restored to him. Holtshouser heard him 
through, and then replied : 

" Sir, your case seems a hard one, but it can't be 
helped now. This court has declared that you are 
extincius defiinctus — dead I It is the decision of this 
court now. This court can't err. Mr. Sheriff, ad- 
journ court, and let's all go and take a horn." 

My father was very little suited for a tavern- 
keeper. Conscious of his personal rights, and stern 
in maintaining them, he exercised little patience in 
the short-coming of others. He worried under a 
practical joke. A rigid old-side Presbyterian, he be- 
lieved in training up the young " in the way they 
should go." He put his foot down upon the night 
amusement of the "boys about town." It but 
sharpened their appetites for a little fun at his ex- 
pense. The new bell, put up in the belfry, was in- 
viting for a little innocent amusement. They began 
their fun, to his great annoyance, by ringing the 
bell in the dead hour of night. The bell was never 
rung at night, except a few taps for the hostler, or 
in the event of fire. Every few nights the bell 
w^ould ring. It annoyed him so that he vowed that 
the next night it rang he would find out, by some 
strategy or other, who did it, and pepper the fellow 
well with duck shot. The boys were delighted that 



156 Reviiniscences of Old Times 

the " old 'Squire," as they called him, was annoyed; 
it was what they played for. They went to work, 
upon a strategy of their own, to increase the volume 
of their fun, and increase if possible, the " 'Squire's" 
annoyance. One night (the moon was shining 
brightly), the bell commenced ringing; my father 
got up and dressed himself, and put fresh priming 
in his gun, charged with a load of small shot. My 
mother endeavored to dissuade him from going out; 
that it was better to let the boys alone ; that they 
would stop ringing the bell when they found that it 
did not vex him. He was resolved, however, to put 
a stop to it; then calling up the hostler, he threw 
his cloak around him, and went for the bell-ringers, 
sending the hostler up on the building to find out 
by the string the boys had tied to the bell, the di- 
rection they were concealed. The bell continued to 
ring furiously, as if the town was on fire. The 
hostler reaching the top of the building, discovered 
the fellow that was ringing, he sliped ofi:' of the roof 
and down to the ground as quick as he could, say- 
ing : 

'''Mastery master! I found him, he's straddle 
the new sign aringing all his might ! come quick, he 
couldn't help seeing me when I was on top of the 
house; come quick, before he gets away." 

My father moved round in front, and there the 
fellow was, sitting straddle of the sign, pulling at the 
string with increased jerks, the bell ringing louder 
than ever. 

"Come down from there, you miscreant! Come 
down, or I will pepper you good," he said. 



in West Tennessee. 157 

The fellow's arm continued to jerk the string, and 
the hell kept ringing. 

"Stop ringing that bell — and come down from 
there, or I will fill you. full of shot. Won't you 
stop ringing that bell and come down ?" 

The fellow straddle the sign continued to jerk the 
string as though he would drive the clapper through 
the rim of the bell. In the meantime the town 
people had began to gather on the public square, the 
man on the sign continuing to ring furiouslj^ My 
father could stand it no longer. He had given the 
fellow fair warning, and he still continued his 
aggravating jerks at the bell. He raised his gun, in 
the act of shooting. Tom Taylor, the lawyer, put his 
head out from a window above and hallooed out, 
"Don't shoot, don't shoot, 'Squire, it will be mur- 
der — bring a ladder." 

It was too late — bang went the gun. 

"Let it be murder," he said, as he brought the 
gun down from his face. The fellow didn't flinch, 
but continued jerking away at the bell-string, the 
bell peeling away in the clear, still moonlight. My 
father became excitingly mad, and vowed that he 
would load up with buck-shot and bring him down. 
Just then the ladder was brought. The hostler was 
ordered to go up and fetch him down. 

"Bring him down," said my father, "dead or 
alive." 

"He ain't dead, sir, see him ringing as hard as he 
can," said the hostler, as he went up the ladder. 
Reaching near enough to r^et hold of his leg, he gave 



158 Reminiscences of Old Times 

it a tremendous jerk, bringing it away from his 
body, and let it drop, saying : 

" There's his leg, master^ you shot it off; he's don 
stop ringing now." 

A good many of the town people had gathered 
around after the firing of the gun. When the leg 
dropped to the ground, with the hostler's remark, 
" You have shot his leg off, master," a rush was 
made to see it. It was neither flesh, bone, nor 
blood. The joke had exploded. The bell-ringer 
was brought down — a well-shaped man of straw, 
minus a leg. The "sell" was complete. Many of 
the town people felt that they were equally " sold" 
with my father, who, after the excitement passed off, 
enjoyed the joke in his dry way. The boys were 
satisfied, but nobody knew who did it. The ex- 
planation but increased- the interest of the " sell." 
It was well-planed, as the boys about Covington 
knew how. The strategy was a success. The new 
sign stood in a line with the belfry, and the old 
court-house, which stood in the public square, and 
was two stories high. The man of straw represented 
a well-shaped man, dressed, capped and booted. Sev- 
eral strong fishing lines tied together, one end tied 
to the bell-clajDper, and the line stretched across to 
the upper window of the court-house, the hand of 
the man of straw fastened to it, gave the operator 
inside of the court-house perfect control. Whenever 
he would pull the line, it gave the appearance of 
having been done by the man astraddle of the sign. 
It being a bright moonlight night, the operator 
could see through the window what was going on 



in West Tennessee. 159 

around the signpost, so when the hostler got hold of 
the man of straw the joke exploded, and the ope- 
rator left his place of concealment. 

A tavern or kotel was more particularly a public 
place than now. The public felt that it had a right 
to say and do pretty much as it pleased, so the bills 
were paid. Swearing, the taking of the Lord's 
name in vain, was common then as now. ITothing 
annoyed my father more. Vulgar and profane 
language he abominated; profanity at his table was 
beyond his endurance. Passing through the dining- 
room one day (it was during court week) his atten- 
tion was arrested by '^dam that mule! dam that 
mule! what a h — 1-fired wicked beast he must have 
been!" Just then my father reached the chair of the 
individual using the profane language. It proved 
to be his old friend Major Richmond, from Browns- 
ville, who was attending court. The humorous 
Major had dropped his knife and fork, had his gaze 
fixed in the face of another guest who had taken 
his seat at the table opposite him, when my father, 
laying his hand on the Major's shoulder, inquired 
the cause of such language. The Major sprang to 
his feet upon the instant, without taking his fixed 
gaze from the face of the man before him, ex- 
claimed: 

" I icas only contemning the da — , tlte iiifernal^ con- 
founded, everlastinghj-wicked beast — the son or daughter 
of a jackass, f 01- spoiling the beauty of that gentleman's 
face,''' pointing at the man across the table. 

"Tot, tot, tot," says my father,*' Major, that is one 
of uur most excellent and worth}^ citizens — his face 



160 Reminiscences of Old limes 

becomes him much. Mr. Shaakle, allow me to in- 
troduce to you my old friend Major Richmond!" 

Shankle accepted the introduction, and he and 
the humorous Major joined hands a^jross the table, 
the Major humorously apologizing for his mistake. 
The reader must know, as %11 who knew him will 
attest, that if an " ugly club " had been formed in 
Tipton, our friend George Shankle would have been 
unanimously chosen its first president. 

Major Richmond and George Shankle became 
firm friends after that. Shankle used his influence 
in getting the Major employed in all the " road cases," 
which, in those days, encumbered the docket on 
*' State days." An old time and highly esteemed 
first settler was 

MAJOR JAMES SWEENEY, 

a neighbor of George Shankles. The Major kept a 
house of entertainment on the road from Covington 
to Randolph. Always in a good humor, he delighted 
to have his friends stop with him ; fond of good eat- 
ing himself, none knew better how to gratify the 
need and appetite of his guest. Few men were 
better or more favorably known in the county. He 
was noted for his excessive laughter, his risables 
ever in tention; often when alone he was know^n 
to break out in a horse laugh at some humorous 
thought of his own. In asking or answering ques- 
tions, his habit was to use language in the relative. 
His manner and language in the use of words was 
peculiarly his own, rarily ever failing to produce 
merriment and laughter. For instance, he would 
walk into a store when wishing to purchase a pair 



in West Teimessee. 161 

of children's shoes, he would inquire of the clerk 
or store-keeper if they had anything relative to little 
children's running about out of doors. Knowing 
well his manner of expressing his wants, the store- 
keeper would, without further question, hand out 
the article called for. A party of the Major's friends 
was passing his house one day in the month of I^o- 
vember; the Major was hard at work in his garden 
digging away with a hoe. The party halting at the 
fence on the roadside, hallooed to the Major in- 
quiring what he was driving at. He rose up from 
his laboring posture, with one of his side-shaking 
laughs, saying: 

"I was just getting the rust off this grubbing- 
hoe, by way of preparing a bed relative to straw- 
berries and cream next spring." Major James 
Sweeny is kindly remembered by the people of Tip- 
ton for his hospitality and many kind acts. 

Covington was a thriving new town ; stores and 
business multiplying, particularly the tippling shops. 
People drank then, as now, except they then took it 
at intervals, but now they take it as a regular, con- 
stant drink. Liquor seemed to have more efiect 
upon the people then than now; it may be that it 
was stronger, or possibly their not taking it regu- 
larly, as is done now, had something to do with it. 
The best men then, as they do now, "imbibed," or, 
in the language of the " Court of Pleas and Quarter 
Sessions," they all took a " horn." When court was 
in session, and on public days, the country emptied 
itself of the mail population into town, and none 
blushed to take a drink, who felt like it. Liquor in 



16*2 Reminiscences of Old Times 

those (lays seemed to make people more belligerent 
than now; it may have been that they feared less to 
fight, because of the absence of the revolver in every- 
body's pocket, as is not the case in the present age. 
Certain it is, that never a public day passed off in 
Covington without sundry fights; without some- 
body's nose smashed, eyes gouged, or heads bruised. 
Liquor was said to be the cause of it all. • It was 
very seldom that any one was fatally hurt. The 
first killing I remember to have occurred in Coving- 
ton under the head of murder, was by old Tackett. 
We all remember old Tackett; he had killed his 
man in North Carolina, and escaped the gallows by 
fleeing to Tennessee. He put a load of squirrel- 
shot in Deputy Sheriff Mitchell's breast. Mitchell 
lived several days after he was shot. Upon a post- 
mortem, examination being had, it was found that 
five or more shot had penetrated his heart. Tackett 
was tried for the murder, and found guilty of mur- 
der in the first degree; his lawyers obtained a new 
trial for him. Upon his second trial he was found 
guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to be branded 
in the palm of the left hand with the letters " M. S.," 
which was done. 

Another murder case occurred not long after 
yet remembered by the old citizens for the nov- 
elty of the mode of arriving at a verdict. A man by 
the name of Gray was accused and indicted for 
killing his wife. Few cases excited more interest 
than Gray's case; he was defended by the best 
talent the bar afforded, and the case occupied sev- 
ei'al days; the jury received the judge's charge late 



in West Tennessee. 163 

at night, being well nigh tired out from their pro- 
tracted sitting during the trial. Returning to the 
jury room it was soon fmind that six were for hang- 
ins^ and six for clearins; the criminal. Findinc^ that 
they could not agree upon a verdict, they sent the 
balitf over to the judge's room to say that they were 
hung — that it was not possible for them to agree 
upon a verdict. The judge told the balitf to go 
back and inform the jury that if the}- did not agree 
upon a verdict they might remain 'hung' to the end 
of the term. The baliif reported back the pleasure 
of the Judge. They went to work again to find a 
verdict, but couldn't; they seemed more firmly 
'hung.' To remain hung for the balance of the 
term was trying to their worn-out patience. When 
it was proposed as the shortest and the only way 
they could 'agree,' that the best 'old sledge' player 
be selected from each side of the verdict, and a 
game of six-card seven up decide. To this propo- 
sition they 'agreed;' a member from each side was 
chosen, a deck of cards brought, and the game be- 
gan. Gray's life was staked upon the turning of 
a card. The game was close, six and six, when the 
juror from the clearing side turned jack. They found 
a verdict posthaste, and the baUff was sent tobring the 
Judge over. The Judge was prompt in getting on 
the bench, and ordered the Sheriff to bring in the 
jury. They were standing at the door of the jury 
room waiting. The Clerk called over their names 
and asked: 

"Gentlemen, have you agreed upon a verdict?'* 
The paper was handed up and read : 



164 Reminkcences of Old Times 

"We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty." 
The writer is informed that the juror who " turned 
up jack" is yet ahve to attest the truth of history. 

An aggravated stabhing under the law occurred 
not long after the Tackett killing, at the "movers' 
camping ground" near town, on the Brownsville 
road. Rufus Garland, a most excellent good citi- 
zen, of good family and high respectability, lived 
some four miles northeast of Covington. Rufus 
would get into a spree once in awhile, and when in 
a "spree" he was permitted by all who knew him 
"to have his own way." His friends, and he had 
many, would facilitate his vein for humor and fun, 
rather than oppose him. To say Rufe, "you must 
not do this, or that,'' or take hold of his horse's 
bridle when he should want to ride him in the 
galleries, or through the house, was like putting 
your foot upon and adder's head. Quick as an ar- 
row from its bow, he would strike: it made no dif- 
ference who. He played sweetl}^ upon the fiddle. 
When in one of his sprees the fiddle was his boby. 
He would mount his horse, with fiddle and bow in 
hand, and ride, as on a race, all around the square 
playing. His horse was trained to suit his frolics, 
and seemed uqually fond of it with his master. 
Going up flights of steps and leaping out again was 
one of his favorite amusements. But Rufe's sprees 
finally got him into trouble. Starting home one 
night, (he never left town, when in a spree, until 
after dark), several of his friends and neighbors 
with him; passing the movers' camp fires he reigned 
up his horse and vawed he would make him leap 



in West Tennessee. 165 

the long log fire that was burning brightly. Head- 
ing him to it he put spurs; before reaching the fire 
a stout young man rose to his feet and seized the 
bridle and checked up the horse, with an angry 
oath, ^Tll be damned if you do." Garland was off 
of his horse before his friends could get to him, 
perforating the young man all over his chest with 
his little four and a half inch dirk. Garland was a 
small, very small man, quick as lightning and 
active as a cat. The effect of liquor upon him 
only set his brain on fire. He had stabbed the 
young man in a dozen or more places, many of them 
fatally aimed. Doctors were sent for and they pro- 
nounced him mortally wounded. Garland got on 
his horse and rode home, saying that he would 
come to town next morning. The young man was 
quartered in a house near by, and properly attended 
and nursed ; his life vvas dispaired of from day to 
day for many weeks. In the meantime Garland went 
to jail. It was not deemed a bailable case in the event 
of the death of the young man, and he was kept in 
jail for several weeks. The jailer was a good, jolly 
fellow, and having perfect confidence in Garland's in- 
tegrity, he gave him the freedom of the limits of 
the building. The jail had just been finished ; large 
and new. The jailer with his family lived in it. He 
was a tinner by trade, and had his shop in one of the 
rooms of the jail. Garland had him to make a tin 
fiddle, which he strung up and amused himself with 
making tinny music. The people from the coun- 
try, as well as town, flocked to the jail to see the tin 
fiddle and hear Rufus play on it. The reader can 



166 Reminiscences of Old Times 

well imagine the character of sound that would come 
from a tin fiddle. It was artistically made in all its parts, 
with sound-post, and well strung. With the magic 
bow in Rufus' hand it in very truth gave out sweet 
strains of tinny music. Those who were boys then 
can certainly never forget E-ufus G-arland's tin fid- 
dle. 

The young man finally got well; Garland was 
bailed out, and what the verdict of the jury was in 
the case is not within the recollection of the writer, 
there being no malice in the case, and Garland 
being a worthy good citizen of property and stand- 
ing, it fell among the ordinary cases of assault and 
battery. 

,THE HIGH AND WELL-MERITED CHARACTEE OF THE 
LATE GRANDVILLE D. SEARCY 

is deserving more than a brief sketch, and a far 
better historic pen than mine. A long and strong 
personal attachment which existed between the 
writer and the subject of this brief notice, beginning 
when he entered upon his career in Covington, run- 
ning through a quarter of a century, renders the 
duty, however, a pleasing one. His high and well- 
merited character as a man and a lawyer ranked 
him pre-emintly among the men of mark in West 
Tennessee. In manners, easy and graceful, soul 
full of warm, generous impulses. His personel was 
attractive and captivating upon sight. His coun- 
tenance, unvarying in its reflex of kind and gener- 
ous sentiment, was the admiration of every person; 
unclouded intelligence scintilated from every fetv- 



in West Tennessee. 167 

tiire. A mind comprehensive with purity of 
thought, intuitively correct, fertile in expedient and 
imaginery, few were better fitted for the profession 
of the law. Clearness and simplicity marked his for- 
ensic efforts before both court and jury. When 
most vehement, and, not unfrequently, when the 
occasion was great, his full, clear, ringing voice rose 
to the chmax of eloquence itself. As a lawyer or 
advocate, he avoided the arts and crooked mays 
known as ''sharp practice," ever maintaining the 
dignity and purity of the profession. He was fitted 
for every station at the bar, and no lawyer w^as 
more successful in his cases. Before a jury, his 
manner was earnest and most impressive, never tr}^- 
ing their patience; seizing upon the strong points in 
the case, he held their minds enchanted, until, as by 
intuition, he read in their faces a verdict. As a 
criminal lawyer he had no superior — he was the lion 
at the bar on " State days." 

An incident occurred in one of his efforts before 
the jury at Covington court, illustrative of his great 
self-possession and capacity of turning to his advan- 
tage an incident calculated to break a link in the 
argument or confuse the case. It was a case in 
which the character of his client was attempted to 
be aspersed by the breath of slander; the argument 
against him had been strong and ingenious. At the 
moment when Colonel Searcy had reached the acme 
of his best forensic effort; when his genial face was 
beaming with expressions irresistible ; his rich, full 
voice thrilling in interest and delight to the intelli- 
gent peers of the laud, by an excited justiculation 



168 Beminiscences of Old Times • 

the stove behind him was jostled, and down fell the 
long stove pipe upon the tioor, between the speaker 
and the jury box, separating at every joint and fill- 
ing the court room and jurors full of dust and soot. 
Simultaneously with the rising of the dust and soot 
a gust of wind came through the windows (it was a 
blustering March day) dissipating the dust and soot, 
greatly to the relief of the jury. The incident, 
instead of interrupting or clowding the brilliant and 
glowing eloquence of the speaker, it rose higher and 
brighter. Seizing upon the mishap as opportune, and 
tipical of the downfall and breaking assunder of the 
ingenious argument of his adversary, he pointed to 
the stove pipe on the floor which had fallen apart; 
from which came the dust and soot like the foul 
breath of slander, with which it was attempted to 
blacken and asperse the character and fair name of 
his client, and which was dispelled and dissipated 
by the refreshing breeze; wafted away by the pure 
breath of heaven. His manner was majestic, and 
his eloquence burning and electric— it gave him the 
verdict. It is mentioned that the jury, in recurring 
to the case and the incident many years after, spoke 
of it as their " stove-pipe verdict^^ 

With no other source of income but that arising 
from his large and lucrative practice to support a 
large fiimily, he was kept from engaging in other 
fields of intellectual combat, save on incidental oc- 
cassions. Possessing in a high degree the mind 
and attributes, happily fitting him for the states- 
man, his name was often mentioned in connection 
with the United States Senate. He had made a 



in West Tennessee. 169 

distinguishing mark as a political debator. In ac- 
cord with the great statesmen Clay and Webster in 
political sentiment, the complexion of the rule in 
popular politics was adverse to him. Colonel Searcy 
was a native of Tennessee, his father was for many 
years Clerk of the Federal Court at Kashville, where 
he read law. Admitted to the bar in early life, he 
began his career in the practice at Covington upon 
the organizing of tlie first courts of that county. 
He removed to Somerville in 1840, and soon after- 
w^ard fixed his residence in Memphis, where he died 
in 1854, in the fullness of his well-merited honors, 
and in the vigor of his usefulness. As a friend and 
companion, his geniality of soul and temper linked 
him to his fellow-man as with " hooks of steel." 

THE FOURTir OF JULY AT COVINGTON, AND COLONEL 
CROCKETT. 

Colonel Crockett felt that his valuable services 
in the Twentieth Congress in behalf of his imme- 
diate constituents and tlie republic at large, entitled 
him to a re-election. His advent in the Congress 
of the United States had given rise to many in- 
teresting anecdotes, and amusing incidents and 
caricatures. The representative of the Big Hatchie 
District had lost nothing of his popularity; on the 
contrary it had rather increased by the aid of "Jack 
Downing" and other wits and humorous writers of 
the period. The Colonel entered the canvass of 
1829, with a bold and confident front. He had 
worked in the anti- ad ministration party, afterwards 
called the Jackson party. He was anti-tarriff in 
favor of economic reform, and letting the actual set- 
8 



170 Remmisccnces of Old Times 

tier have his land at a " bit an acre." The Colonel 
was not permitted, however, to run through the 
canvass alone ; opponents came out thick and strong; 
the field was a large one, embracing all of thirteen 
counties — Madison, Haywood, Henderson, Mc^ary, 
Hardeman, Fayette, Shelby, Tipton, Gibson, Car- 
roll, Weakly, Henry and Perry. Colonel Adam R. 
Alexander, of Shelby, felt that his merit and capacity 
was equal to the duties devolving upon a Con- 
gressman. Captain Joel Estes, a worthy and highly 
respectable citizen, north of Big Hatchie in Hay- 
wood, was a candidate. The Captain was among 
the earliest emigrant settlers in the Big Hatchie 
country, a native of "the Mother of Presidents" in 
old times, and, withall, a gentleman of more than 
ordinary ability. He sought to reach the hearts and 
minds of the voters of the district by addressing 
them through a lengthy circular, instead of taking 
the field and stump. James H. Clarke, of Tipton, 
a merchant and rising man of Covington, who had 
worked himself up from a peddler's wagon to a brick 
store, enterprising and ambitious, his mind was 
turned in the direction of Washington, and he be- 
came a candidate against Colonel Crockett. Poli- 
tics began to run high, an the mileage was no incon- 
siderable object. 

On the Fourth of July of that year Colonel 
Crockett and several of his opponents met at Cov- 
ington. The "glorious Fourth" was a big day in ^old 
times,' without being made more glorious by the 
presence of such distinguished personages. It was 
the spread-eagle day in the land, and everybody and 



in Wist Tennessee. 171 

liis neighbor was there, and for a wonder it neither 
thundered or rained. 

Before noontide^ the curling bhie smoke through 
the dark green fohage of the tall elm, and the still 
taller oak, was seen ascending from the long barbecu- 
ing pits on the hill to the southwest of town, 
indicating the place for the people to gather at. It 
was in the grove where protracted revival meetings 
were usually held. A large bush arbor had been 
made, and a broad platform stand erected for the 
orator and distinguished persons to occupy. Yankee 
White was the orator of the day — Yankee was pre- 
fixed to his name to distinguish him from the othei 
Whites of the town, beside, he came from Yan- 
kee-land, and was a very good citizen; he came 
within a few votes, on one occasion, of being elected 
to the Legislature. The day was propitious; the 
bright sunshine made everything look gay and 
beautiful, and all present were patriotically happy. 
Several volunteer companies were on hand hand- 
somely uniformed. The order of the day was an^ 
nounced from the court-house door. The procession 
formed on the public square and moved toward the 
grove, animated by the fife and the drum, discours- 
ing national music. As the procession n eared the 
stand erected for the" occasion," the horses and mules 
hitched to the young saplings and swinging limbs 
of the trees became inspirited, and began prancing 
and dancing around their moorings. Getting still 
nearer, many became excited, broke lose and vaulted 
away through the moving masses, with saddle-skirts 
flapping. Midst the neighing and snorts of the 



172 Reminiscences of Old Times 

animatecl and excited horses, whickering of colts 
and braying of mules; with the drum and fife, and 
the sea of the moving masses of men, women and 
children, closing in for position and place, and the 
clear, blue smoke passing up through the long rows 
of pigs, shoats, lambs, mutton and veal, smoking 
and brown, with fumes most appetising, the glorious 
Fourth was marshalled in. The stand Avas filled 
with the men of the day, and, after the reading of 
the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these 
truths to be self-evident, that all men are born 
equal," etc., after the order of old times celebra- 
tion, the orator of the day rose and delivered his 
"Spread Eagle" speech to the sea of upturned faces, 
whose souls, filled with patriotic impulses, made 
more glorious the " occasion" by repeated shouts and 
clapping of hands. Then came the dinner — the 
barbecue — spread out, on long tables covered with 
clean, white linen. The well browned and juicy 
ribs and saddles, bread baskets piled up with home- 
made risen bread of both corn and fiour, pots and 
pans of rich chicken pie, interspersed with tarts, 
pies, puddings, cakes and pickles for the girls (appe- 
tizing even to write about), enough for all, and 
basketsful to carry home. 

Dinner over, and toiists through with, a call was 
made for the candidates for Congress to take the 
stand. Crockett ! Crockett ! from an hundred voices. 
The Colonel ascended the stand, took ofi:* his hat, 
deliberately pulled ofi' his coat, and hung it up, 
jjresenting himself in his shirtsleeves, midst deaf- 
ening applause and huzzahs. The evening was 



m West Tennessee. 173 

close and hot — not a breeze stirring, save from the 
numerous turkey-tail fans ia motion, in the hands 
of the patriotic matrons present. The recollection 
of the writer does not serve him in giving even a 
synopsis of the Colonel's speech. It was plain and 
sensible, however, with now and then a dry, witty 
allusion to his educated opponents, which would 
bring down thunders of applause and " hurray for 
Crockett;' and " hurray for Davy.'' "Be sure you are 
right, then go ahead." The Colonel was followed 
by the other candidates in order, the last speaker 
being Major Jim Clarke. Excusing himself on 
account of the lateness of the hour, he simply 
announced himself a candidate for a seat in the 
Congress of the United States; saying that it was 
getting late in the afternoon. That, for a wonder, 
it had not rained on the "glorious Fourth;" that, 
judging others by himself, he concluded that "all 
were getting dvj. That over at his store were five 
five-gallon demijohns, which would speak for him 
in tlie fullness of the spirit with which they were 
filled." With such a talk, the Major leaped from 
the stand, and shouted for all to follow him. 
Clarke had made a "ten-strike," leaving no dead 
wood behind him. It was the only one he made in 
the canvass. The day of the election was close at 
hand. The result of -the vote was, for Crockett, 
6,786; Alexander, 4,300; Estes, 132, and Clarke 9. 
Clarke, it is due his memory, as well as the history 
of the canvass, to say withdrew from the field, and 
engaged in the building of a turnpike across the 
Big Hatchie bottom, where his hard earning went 



174 Reminiscences of Old Times 

drifting with the turbulent waters of the river. 
In justice to the memory of Captain Joel Estes, 
who was perhaps the most intellectual of the candi- 
dates in the field, it may not be inappropriate as a 
part of the history of the times, to allow a place in 
these pages, for the following, taken from the 
Jackson Gazette^ a newspaper then published in 
Jackson, Madison county, by Colonel D. C. 
McLean. It appeared in the issue of that paper of 
the 15th of August, 1829. The election having been 
held on the first Monday of the same month. 

[For the Gazette 

"Mr. Editor: As the election is now over, per- 
haps it would not be amiss, nay, justice, to say what 
was the cause of Captain Estes not holding a better 
poll. A great excitement having been raised 
among the people by the friends of the two great 
political champions of the West, Colonels Crockett 
and Alexander, that a correct, mild and independent 
political course was swallowed up in the vortex of 
ambitious buzzing. It is to be hoped that the time 
is not far distant when this electioneering mania 
will cease, and true merit, untrameled by party 
spirit, will assume her dignity of character. 

[Signed] "A Voter." 

As a specimen of the amusing interest the repre- 
sentative of thirteen counties in West Tennessee 
afforded to the newspaper men of those days, I copy 
entire a speech the Colonel is reported to have 
■ made during the canvass of 1829, by a correspondent 
of the Missouri Bepiiblican. The correspondent 
writes thus: 



in West Tenness$e. 175 

'' The honorable Mr. Crockett, being on the day 
of election at one of the hustings in Tennessee, and 
having heard two of his able opponents address the 
people, was at a loss how to attract their attention 
to the remarks he wished to make, and asked the 
gentleman who had just spoken how he should 
effect his object, to which the gentleman replied 
(intending to quiz), 'mount that stump and cry, a 
bear to be skined.' Davy taking it litterally, 
mounted the stump, and sung out at the top of his 
voice, 'A bear to be skinned,' when the crowd 
gathered around him, and he began : 

"'Friends, Fellow-citizens, Brothers and 
Sisters : On the first Tuesday, previous to next 
Saturday, you will be called on to perform one of 
the most important duties that belong to free white 
folks — that are a fact. On that day you will be 
called upon to elect your members to the Senate 
and House of Representatives in the Congress of 
the United States, and feeling that in times of great 
political commotion like these, it becomes you to be 
well represented, I feel no hesitation in offering 
myself as a candidate to represent such a high- 
minded and magnanimous white set. 

" 'Friends, fellow- citizens, brothers and sisters: 
Carroll is a statesman, Jackson is a hero, and Crock- 
ett is a horse! ! 

" ' Friends, fellow-citizens, brothers and sisters : 
They accuse me of adultery, it's a lie — I never ran 
away with any man's wife, that was not willing, in 
my life. They accuse me of gambling, it's a lie — 
for I always plank down the cash. 



176 Reminiscences of Old Times 

" ^Friends, fellow-citizens, brothers and sisters: 
They accuse me of being a drunkard, it's a d — d 
eternal lie — for whisky can't make me drunk.' " 



y >? 



in West Tennessee, 177 



CAPTER VIII. 

The Mountain Academy — James Holmes, D. D., His 
Pupils — My Boom- Mate — Style of Dress — Gamp- Meeting 
— Youth and Love. _ 

l^ORTH of the Big Hatchie was yet a part of Tipton. 
It was not until 1836-7 that it was embraced in the 
county of Lauderdale, which was established in 
that year. 

My father had become satisfied with his experi- 
ment at tavern-keeping, and returned to the old 
homestead north of the Hatchie. As yet there 
were no good schools in Tipton north of the 
Hatchie. My next eldest brother, who was being 
educated for a lawyer, was sent to college at 
Nashville, and I to the "Mountain Academy," an 
institution just founded by the Reverend James 
Holmes. 

The establishing of the "Mountain Academy" 
marked an era in the educational department of 
Tipton, and no one contributed more to the forming 
of a correct state of the society of the county than 
its able and accomplished founder and principal. 
The school was long noted as the best in West 
Tennessee, and hundreds of youths were instruced 
and trained there, who became eminent as teachers 
and professional men. The name of James Holmes, 
D. D., is more intimately connected with West 



178 Bernmiseences of Old. Times 

Tennessee as an educator and instructor of the 
young, both male and female, than, perhaps, any 
other man of letters. Imbued with the fundamen- 
tal principles of practical philosophy, his every 
undertaking was marked by the clearest light of 
reason and sound jundgment. As a man, he lived 
a life of Christain virtues, ignorant of remorse, and 
blameless. 

Mr. Holmes was a native of Pennsylvania, his 
birth-place Carlye. His father died when he waft 
in his childhood, leaving him to the tender care 
and training of a pious mother. He was noted in 
early life for his studious habits; graduating at 
Dickinson College before he was twenty-one, he 
repaired to Prinston, and entered the theological 
school. His feeble state of health, however, re- 
quired that he should relax his studies for the 
ministery, and seek a recuperating field ; none better 
offered than the mission among the Chickasaw 
Indians, which he accepted in his twenty-third 
year. 

In 1824, we find him among the Chickasaws, 
opening a school for the teaching and training of 
the red children of the forest. The reader can 
picture to himself the youthful missionary assem- 
bling the red men of the wilderness, grouped under 
the shadows of the noble forest trees, near where 
Pontotoc, Mississippi, now stands. The old chief 
and his braves, seated upon the ground, the old 
men, women and children, forming the back ground 
of the picture, with the 3'Oung griidnate standing 
erect before them, relating the object of his mission. 



in West Tennessee. 179 

Alone in that wild territory he stood, in the spring 
time of life, away from old associates and familiar 
scenes. May we not conclude that his language 
and words spoken, were in the spirit of the great 
and pure founder of his native State. When speak- 
ing to the Algonquins he said : 

" We meet on the broad pathway of good faith and 
good will. I will not call you children nor brothers 
only, for brothers differ. The friendship between 
you and me, I will not compare to a chain, for that 
the rains might rust or a fallen tree break. "We are 
the same as if one man's body were to be divided 
in two parts. We are all one flesh and one blood" — 
(pointing to the heaven above) 

* W&ere the souls of heathens go, 
"Wh ) better live thai we, though less they kaow.'" 

Mr. Holmes labored among the Chickasaws from 
1824 to 1833, when it was decided to remove them 
west of the Mississippi. 

As a mark of the high esteem in which he was 
held by the Chiakasaws, a large number of Indian 
girls and boys followed him to Tipton, and remained 
under his tutilage until they were required to return 
to join their red friends in their removal West. 

The second year of Mr. Holmes' sojourn among 
the Chickasaws he was accepted as the husband of 
the noble and heroic Miss Sarah Van Wagenon, of 
Newark, N. J., whose first wedding tour was among 
the children of the forest, who cheerfully exchanged 
the luxuries and comforts, the pleasures and enjoy- 
ments of the cultivated and refined society of h«r 
native city, and braved the perils and hardships in- 



180 Reminiscences of Old Times 

cident to life in a savage territory, to live with the 
man she loved, and share with him his pleasures and 
triumphs. Few wives are marked with such hero- 
ism. Mrs. Homes survives her noble husband, 
after a happy wedded life of forty-seven years. 

The ''Mountain Church'" was organized in his 
house in 1834, and he was made a ruling elder. 
Feeble lungs, and consequent weak voice, debared 
him from taking an active part in the ministry. In 
the early history of the "Mountain Church" an 
occasion oftered illustrative of his great character 
and influence. It is related that some difficulty 
grew up in the church, difficult to settle, and likely 
to work harm. When the cloud of discord por- 
tended evil, and was most thrilling, his smooth, 
even-tempered good sense hghted up the reason of 
the contentious, producing an immediate, amicable 
adjustment. He possessed in a high degree a sa- 
gacity of mind wdiicli enabled him to separate that 
which belongs to individual prejudice from that 
which commends itself to the more raiional. He 
ever avoided the jars and jarring of men, and con- 
troversies. His words, at all times "freighted with 
truth," commanded the car and enjo^'ed the conli- 
dence of all men. 

The degree of D. D. was conferred on him in 
1846. In 1849 he was elected to the Presidency of 
the West Tennessee College at Jackson. The col- 
lege never prospered more than while under his 
management. Still preserving his love and attach- 
ment for the people of Tipton, with fond memories 
of Iris early teaching at the "Mountain," he dis- 



in West Tennessee. 181 

solved his couuectiou with the college at Jackson, 
and fixed his residence in Covington, taking charge 
of the ''Female Seminary" at that place, which con- 
tinued under his management up to the time of his 
death. That large band of young women, who live 
to adorn the society of West Tennessee, trace with 
pride and pleasure their training and education and 
refined deportment back to the " Mountain Acad- 
emy" and the "Female Seminary," and attest the 
truth of this brief sketch of my old preceptor, whose 
memory we alike venerate. 

I had commenced this brief sketch of Mr. Holmes, 
and had written to him asking a synopsis of his 
early life, and was answered by his son, referring 
me to an obituary notice of him. 

A more loving character I never knew — a theme 
worthy a better pen. His long and eventful life 
has become history; his noble Christian virtues live 
embalmed in the memories of all who knew him. 
He had lived all the days allotted to man ; born on the 
21st of August, 1801, and died on the — day of 
February, 1873, in the seventy-first year of his age. 

A touching incident, beautifully illustrative of 
the wonderful power and influence exercised by Mr. 
Holmes over those who fell under his training and 
pupilage, I may be permitted to relate a story told 
me, most interesting in Indian life. On the fourth 
Chickasaw bluff, in the vicinity where Court Square 
is situated, long before Memphis was a village, at 
the mouth of Wolf, stood an Indian hut, the dwell- 
ing place of a half-breed; (his wife was a full blood). 
From them sprang many sons. One of them, the 



182 Reminiscences of Old Times 

eldest, perhaps, mingled much with the whites us 
they came in and settled upon the bluff. lie soon 
learned to drink whisky, and like most whisky 
drinkers, became dissolute. Wishing likewise to 
acquire a knowledge of books, to read and write 
like the white man, he resolved to join the school 
of instruction, which had commenced its operation 
by Mr. H. Holmes. Prevailing on others of his as- 
sociates to go with him, it was soon arranged and the 
day fixed for them to start. Filling his pack and 
binding up his blanket, none were found ready on 
the day appointed but himself In his eagerness, 
he left alone and on foot to join the missionary 
school, situated near where Pontotoc now stands. 
At noontide he stopped by the side of a bright run- 
ning stream for rest, and to refresh himself from his 
scanty stores. Seated on the bank of the stream, 
its bright waters rippling at his feet, alone in the 
deep shades of his native forest, he drew from his 
pack, among other things, a bottle of whisky. 
Holding it up in the clear sunlight he began to re- 
flect — as he had never done before — of the evil and 
trouble whisky had brought upon his race. Cast- 
ing his eye down upon the clear rippling waters 
flowing beneath his feet, without uncorking his bot- 
tle ho returned it to his pack, refreshed himself 
from the waters of the branch, ate of his scanty sup- 
plies, and resumed his tramp toward the missionary 
school. When night overtook him he rolled him- 
self up in his blanket and slept alone in the wilder- 
ness. Refreshed by sleep, he rose early, and re- 
isiuued his earnest steps, until he reached a suitable 



in Wc-^t Tennessee. 183 

place for rest and eating. Taking out his bottle of 
whisky again he withdrew the stopper. When in 
the act of puttino; the fiery fluid to his lips, the 
same thoughts rushed upon him again. Rising to 
his feet, and without tasting, he dashed it against 
the nearest tree. Refreshing himself again from the 
bright waters of the wilderness, he ate his frugal 
meal and continued his walk. Reaching the mis- 
sionary station — ^it was on the Sabbath — his people had 
already gathered at the chappel in the shady grove, 
he made his w\ay to it and took his seat among them. 
He had learned to speak and understand English, 
and w^as an attentive listener to the man of God. 
In the discriptive portion of the discourse, as it fell 
from the lips of the pure Christian man, truthful to 
nature and most touching and gentle in its delinea- 
tion of human devices aimed for the destruction of 
man, the young red man realized his own situation, 
and read in the strong picture of human misery and 
sin, drawn to very life, the picture of himself. 
Illustrating most truthfully incidents and scenes 
connected with his past career, he concluded at 
once that the story of his past life had been 
told to the preacher. Rising to his feet in the 
midst of the discourse, he slowly glanced his 
eyes over the gathered multitude to see if some of 
his companions and associates were not there; 
whether they had not arrived ahead of him and 
related to the good missionary much of the trutli 
of what he was saying. Fiiiding none of the 
those Ins eyes had searched for, he rusumed his 
seat riviting his eyes upon the divine sv)eaker. It 



184 Beminiscences of Old Times 

seemed to him that the burden of the discourse was 
specially directed at him. He rose again and 
scaned the members present. Finding none that 
he knew among his bluff associates, he sank upon 
his seat. The spirit of the white man's God had 
revealed to him the whole truth and he became a 
Christian. 

I boarded with "the best man in the world," old 
Father "Wilson. The Reverend Hugh Wilson was 
a co-laborer with Mr. Holmes, as a missionary and 
teacher among the Chickasaws ; his aim and object 
in teaching at the " Mountain" was to establish a 
" Manual Laboring School," the experiment failed, 
however, and he migrated to Texas. 

My room-mate was a rising young man — a benne- 
ficiary scholar — under the auspices of the Presby- 
tery sent to the "Mountain," to be educated for the 
ministry. A pure, pious Christian was Andrew 
Allison, also a beneficiary, and boarded with father 
Wilson. Everybody loved Allison, and nobody 
loved my room-mate, yet he loved himself — the very 
embodiment of selfishness. Born so, he couldn't 
help it; ugly as home-made sin, yet he was vain 
enough to think himself handsome; that he was 
vain in that, I will put his picture in a frame, and 
the reader can judge. 

In hight, he was under the average of men in 
that day, he might have been five feet five, with 
more body than legs, very square in the shoulders, 
with arms, when standing erect, reaching to the tops 
of his boot-legs, hands broader than a beaver's tail, 
with fingers like young "handspikes." Darwin 



in West Tennessee. 185 

would have selected him as a fair specimen of the 
"Origin of Man." His hair black and shiney, kept 
so by the profuse use of bears-greese ; eyes small 
and likewise black, glistening like a chinquepin ; 
dark skin, thick and bumpy, with mouth and nose 
not unlike other people. Yet, his mouth had its 
expression more peculiar to himself than other peo- 
ple, lips rather thin, were long enough to lap over, 
but he had a way of sucking them in at the corners, 
as if they had been stained with molasses. But his 
foot, he wore a No. 11 brogan, being rights and 
lefts, the right shoe was a better fit on the left foot, 
as was the left shoe abetter fit on the right foot. To 
wear them thus, the toes of his shoes didn't turn 
out any. He was rather inclined to be bow-legged 
and slightly pigeon-toed. Such is u\y recollection 
of the person of my friend and room-mate, while at 
the "Mountain Academy." He was sanetinumlously 
pious. JSTot much in sympathy with him, I was often 
the subject of a pious lecture from him. He rather 
took it upon himself to keep me in the "strait 
way," especially on Sabbath days. An incident 
occurred while we were pupils together, and dwell- 
ing in the same log-cabin, that gave me the mastery 
over him, and put an end to his pious lectures, greatly 
to my relief. Father Wilson and his good wife, 
with whom we boarded, were of the old " blue 
stocking" order. J^othing was allowed to be cooked 
on the Sabbath. Cold com risc7i bread 1 abominated, 
besides two meals were rather short, even in the 
short days of early fall. The potato patch being 
convenient, I made out, without grumbling. Mv 



186 Rrmintscevees of Old Times 

room-mate, like myself, was fond of roasted pota- 
toes. The patch was very convenient. We had 
to pass through it in getting to the cabin we 
occupied, and he was an expert grabbler. "He had a 
quick eye in discovering the best hills. Circling his 
long, "hand-spike" fingers around a well-filled hill, 
he would bring out a mess at a haul. On Sundays, 
however, he would neither grabble or eat, and lec- 
tured me for the "sin of the thing." I took his 
lectures for what they were worth, roasting rather 
more on Sunday nights, to make up for the loss of 
my third meal. 

' It was the habit of my room-mate to spend his 
Sabbath evenings down at the house with Father 
AVilson and the family, seldom returing to the cabin 
until after prayers. One Sunday night I filled the 
fire full of potatoes, and walked up the hill to pay a 
visit to my eldest sister, who was likewise a pupil 
of Mr. Holmes, and boarded with him. My visit 
was necessarily cut short, to return and look after 
my potatoes. When nearing the cabin, I discovered 
some one through the cracks of the logs stiring in 
the fire. I quickened my pace, reaching the door, 
I shoved it wide open, and who should it be but my 
pious room-mate, from whom I expected a moral 
lecture for violating the Sabbath day. He had 
taken out one of my best yams, (having smoothed 
the ashes over the remaining ones), and was in the 
act of blowiiig the ashes oft' of it as I stepped in. 
"Halloo!" says I, "you liere ? Is prayers over?" 
He had began to squirm and twist himself around 
in the chair. Replying to me, he w^hinod out (it 



in West Tennessee. 187 

was his habit to droll out his words), and said that 
he was ''feeling bad — that he. had a sorter griping^ 
His discomfortiire was so great, that I began to feel 
for him, and rattle awaj^ some nonsense or other. 
In the meantime he was squirming as though in 
pain, while shoving my yam dow^n into his breeches 
pocket. It soon began to burn beyond his endur- 
ance, when he rose, and made a quick move for the 
door, the steam rising from the smoking-hot yam, 
as he made his exit. I called to him to "hold on, 
I would go to prayers with him." Pulling my pota- 
toes out on the hearth, I leaped out of the door, 
and followed him, keeping so close that he could 
make no disposition of his hot tormentor. It was 
terrible on him. Tight pants were then the style. 
lie had on his best Sundays. The tights kept his 
burning companion close up to his skin. On he 
went leaning to it, until we reached the house, and 
opening the door, we found the family n^aking pre- 
l)aration for prayers. We sank down in the nearest 
chairs, when Father Wilson called on Allison to 
read. During the reading, my room-n^ate was very 
restless, twisting about in his seat, attracting the 
attention of Mother Wilson. My frame of mind 
was greatly in sympathy with his suffering — won- 
dering whether he could get his frame of mind in 
the straight way by the time the reading was 
through with, as he surely would be called on to 
pray. The sacred book closed; we all went down 
upon our knees, and he was called on to pray. I 
never before heard him pray so well; he prayed 
hard and earnest for all sinful flesh — for us not to be 



188 Remimsccnces of Old Times 

tempted; that we should not hunger after that which 
was forbidden, dwelling long upon the total depravity 
of man. As he warmed up the potatoes cooled 
down. I had forgiven him — he had merited for- 
giveness, and I freely forgave him in that, that I 
never let him know that I had caught him in an 
ashey trick. The joke was too good to be kept from 
Allison. 

The first camp-meeting held in that part of the 
country was in the course of preparation, in the 
Clopton settlement, some six miles from the 
"Mountain." I may be permitted to make myself 
the hero, in showing oif the fashion and style of 
dress, as well as a ridiculous mishap^ forming an in- 
cident in real life. 

It was seldom that I missed going to a big meet- 
ing or a ball, when in reach of me. To this camp- 
meeting I was bound to go. It came to m.y knowl- 
edge that ^ party from Randolph would be there, 
with whom a certain young lady would surely come, 
which greatly increased my anxiety to go. It was 
about the time for me to get a new suit of clothes. 
To get them made, and in time for the camp-meeting 
I went into Covington two weeks before hand, and 
ordered them, resolving to be in the tip and hight of 
the fashion. I went to Bill McGaughey, a fashion, 
able young tailor. Bill had just received his fall 
fashions — the latest styles from New York and 
Philadelphia. He was a very fine artist in the way 
of getting up a good fit. I was well shaped for 
eighteen — stood six feet in silk stockings and danc- 
ing pumps. Only lacking in flesh, Bill and myself 



in West Tennessee. 189 

were the same size to a button. He always wore 
fine fitting clothes of Ms own make, illustrative of 
the style, as well as the art he had attained in his 
trade. He took my measure for coat, vest and pants. 
The cloth for the suit, with full trimmings, buck- 
rum and buttons, with black silk velvet for the 
collar, was sent to his shop. The cloth for the coat, 
brown; style, frock; coming down to the knees; 
vest, buff casimere, with bright gilt buttons; and 
pants, pongee silk, lavender color. 

The handsome young professor of the "goose" 
and I were good friends. He promised me a good 
fit, and in time for the camp-meeting. I returned 
to the "Mountain," well pleased with myself and 
the rest of mankind. 

The time having elapsed for my suit to be ready, 
I went in for it. They were ready, and I tried them 
on. The fit was charming. Bill had added another 
leaf to his laurels for being the best-fitting tailor 
in town. 

The coat set well upon my square shoulders ; the 
tail full, and coming well down to the knees, with 
its high double-breasted rolling collar. The pants 
were in the tip of the style — tights — fitting tight as 
the skin from the knees up — increasing in looseness 
down to the foot ; buttoned down with broad straps. 
The vest of a light bufi:' cassimere, with fancy gilt 
buttons — buttoned up to the throat. I felt that none 
would be at the camp-meeting better dressed or 
more in the style, and was all axiety to be on the 
ground. My friend Bill put them up in a neat 
parcel, and I returned to the "Mountain." I was 



190 Reminiscences of Old Times 

up the next morniDg bright and early. I had pro- 
cured a horse from Elder Lynn, and borrowed 
Father Wilson's saddle. 

The riding on horse back six or more miles in 
my pongees troubled me, lest they should become 
soiled. I had wrapped the stirrup-leathers and 
lengthened them out, to keep from bending my 
knees, as much as possible. In jprim trim I was 
ready to mount. The horse was a tall one. Find- 
ing it difficult to bend the knee, I sought a stump, 
vaulted into the saddle and road away at a rapid pace, 
to keep ahead of the crowd. An hour's ride brought 
me in sight of the smoke and bustle of the camp- 
grounds. The site had been well selected in the 
heart of the forest; the undergrowth grubbed out, 
the young trees trimmed up, and avenues opened. 
Every possible attention had been given to render 
the grounds pleasant and inviting. It seemed as 
though everybody was there. For hundreds of 
yards around the stand every available bush and 
hitching place had been appropriated. 

Riding around to find a safe place for hitching, 
and a convenient log or stump to aid me in dis- 
mounting, I came upon the carriages and vehicles of 
the Randolph party. By accident I had fallen into 
the company of friends and acquaintances. My 
horse was taken in charge, and an invitation to make 
the carriages my headquarters. I was not long in 
finding out that Miss C. was of the party. My 
feelings were ixexpressible — in a maze of delight at 
my good luck. Either I was in love, or I was not; 
I felt that I was. And if I was not, it was all the 



in West Tennessee. 191 

same as if it were a veritable fact. I had met her 
before, and not always ''by chance." The last 
time we met was at a ball, and we danced together 
more than once, and twice in succession; and, 
wearied not of each other. It had not taken a seri- 
ous shape, however. I had only played upon the 
surface. Yet I was within a stride of deep water. 
I soon learned that the Held was not alone to me; 
a rival was upon the ground in close attendance. 
He was a dangerous one; for he was rich, beside 
he had wit, and was most agreeable. But he was 
old in years — double my age; yet he was good look- 
ing and tall; only 9. little ball on the top of his head, 
with flowing black locks. He looked best with his 
hat on. 

I felt my youth, and never was more proud of it. 
I was vain enough to think it would eventuate to 
my advantage. I feared only his riches. She, like 
myself, was young and ardent. It was most natural 
for young people to love one another. We soon 
met; he joked me about her, and complimented 
my tailor. I was pleased and flattered. I became 
bold, and felt like " taking the bull by the horns." 
I was in love. The ladies of the party were up at 
the stand. We walked leisurely to join them. 
They were grouped together on the outskirts of the 
stand. A glancing look told me that her eyes were 
upon us. Casting my eyes down upon my pongees, 
and adjusting my coat collar, I left my old bachelor 
friend and rival, and moved with the elasticity of 
vain youth and joined the party. She was the belle 
and center of attraction in the little circle. Younsr, 



192 Reminiscences of Old Times 

blithe and fresh, gay and froUcsome as a sportive 
lamb of a May morning, tall and most bewitchingly 
shaped, with clusters of bright, gloosy light-brown 
hair falling around her broad white forehead, long 
lashes, a shade darker, fringing over the purest blue 
eye, large and clear, reflecting a generous, loving 
nature — the very soul of love. Voice rich, full and 
musical as it fell from her choral lips; with her 
silvery laugh she was perfectly irresistible. Every 
feature of her young, loving face in "unison with a 
soul born to love, scintillated a pleasurable hope, 
as I walked up and clasped her soft, ungloved 
hand with a warm and impressive shake, a gleam 
of affectionate pleasure lighted up her countenance, 
assuring me that our greeting w^as agreeable — that 
she yet remembered when last we danced together. 
It was yet an hour before the noon service would 
begin. I suggested a stroll in the grove, offering 
my arm (quite a fashion in those days). Taking it, 
she expressed her delight that the opportunity 
offered by which she could escape the gaze of so 
many new faces. Passing near my old batchelor 
friend and rival, who yet remained where I had left 
him, and who had been a " looker-on," a furtive 
srlance came from under his dark brows. We 
passed on in a sportive manner and talk, regardless 
of the consequent remarks of the lookers-on, or the 
curious inquisitive, until we reached the carriages 
of the party. Entering the one she had came up in, 
we were alone to ourselves. Counting not the joy- 
ous, happy moments (hours were as but moments to 
us), we were alone until the hour for noon service 



in West Tennessee. t%^ 

to begin, in a delirium of delight and love — joyous 
as a loving dream, until the spell was broken by 
voices nearing the carriage. Several ladies and 
gentlemen of the party, including my rival, came 
up. To relieve the situation, which, by their approach, 
had become a little embarrassing and to show oft* 
the agility of youth I made a spring, leaping a dozen 
or more feet, lighting in a hard place, turning my 
ankle; my knees gave way, and in the effort to re- 
cover my feet my pongees gave way — bursted from 
knees to hip ; naught saving my utter exposure but 
the long-tail brown. My chagrin was inexpressible. 
Making the best of an hour's love and triumph, I 
slept with my room-mate that night. 



194 Remmiscenees of Old Times 



CHAPTER IX. 

Bando^ph in Old Times — Its Better Days — Lost the 
Chance of Becoming a City — Spirit of Internal Improve- 
ment of thai Day — Early Settlers — First Newspaper in 
the County — The Murrell Excitement — Expedition to 
Shawne Villagee. 

Randolph, at the period it is the purpose of this 
chapter to introduce to the reader, was the most 
flourishing business river town in West Tennessee, 
on the Mississippi. It was the " receiving and for- 
warding" town for Tipton, Haywood, Fayette, 
Madison, and Hardeman. Eligibly situated imme- 
diately below the mouth of the Big Hatchie, which 
was navigable for small steamboats as high up as 
Bolivar, it received a considerable trade from the 
counties east of Madison and Hardeman. 

Had the project of connecting the waters of the 
Tennessee river with the Hatchie, as was suggested 
by a few enterprising men of that day, and recom- 
mended by Governor Cannon in his annual mes- 
sage to the Legislature, been carried into effect, the 
whole trade and trafic of North Alabama and the 
Tennessee valley would have fallen into the lap of 
Randolph, and Memphis would have remained a 
"village at the mouth of Wolf" for an indefinite num- 
ber of years. The age of progress, however, was 
yet in the womb of time. The political prejudice of 



in West Tennessee. 195 

the day was, for the most part, averse to projects of 
internal improvement. For the life and trade of 
iEandolph, it happened to be in the infant da3'B of 
Democracy, when the minds of the people were be- 
ing educated in the doctrine of "strict construc- 
tion." The Southern bias was taking root, Jack- 
son, Clay, Crawford and Adams giving shape to 
new parties founded uj^on the economic manage- 
ment of the government. Mr. Monroe, then Presi- 
dent, had elaborated the subject of the power of 
Congress to grant aid and foster works of internal 
improvement, and took grounds against it. The 
few enterprising men in the Big Hatchie country 
had their appetites sharpened by the success and 
popularity of the subject along the northern lakes, 
where canals were being cut. The great Clinton, of 
the State of I^ew York, had taken the "bull by the 
horns," and practically demonstrated the utility and 
advantage of such public work. With like feelings 
and enlarged view^s, they regarded the example a 
a good one, and sought to apply it to the develop- 
ment of their own section. It was no go, however. 
The strict-construction and economic party thought 
nature ought to take its course. They thought it 
best to permit the Tennessee river to continue to 
roll on in her transverse course, washing the 
shores of a higher latitude, and entering the Mis- 
sissippi, with the waters of the Ohio, two hundred 
miles above the mouth of the Big Hatchie. 

As a specimen of the narrow views to which the 
people were being trained and educated in those 
days, in reference to works of a public character, 



196 Reminiscences of Old Times 

the proposition for the construction of a post-road 
from opposite Memphis to Little Rock, amply illus- 
trates, and is referred to as a part of the history of 
'' Old Times." 

Among the many communications to the press of 
that period, I copy the following from the Jackson 
Gazette, a newspaper published in Jackson in 1826. 
It purports to be from the pen of one of the lead- 
ing men of that day. It begins thus : 

"Mr. Printer — In looking over the last week's 
Gazette, I notice, with astonishment and surprise, that 
Congress has ordered a road to be cut, at 'public 
expense, from the Village of Memphis, better known 
as the Chickasaw Bluffs, on the Mississippi river, to 
Little Rock, in Arkansas territory. The making of 
this new proposed road will cost the United States 
an immense sum of money, and little or no good will 
result from it except it will be to hold out the idea 
that Memphis, like the famed city after which it is 
named, is conspicious upon the general plan of the 
map of our State — an Indian trading post, at most, 
insulated from Tennessee. The minds of the 
people have become heated and intoxicated upon the 
subject of internal improvement. This mania for in- 
ternal improvement, I fear, will never rest until it 
has caused the United States Treasury to be disgorged 
of her last shilling. There are, in my opinion, such 
things as national sins, and though punishment to 
individuals may be reserved to another world, 
national punishment can only be inflicted in this. 
The evils we are suffering must be put an end to." 

Now, reader, what think you was the amount ap- 



in West Tmnessee. 197 

propriated by Congress, out of the United States 
Treasury, toward cutting the proposed road? To 
be exact, it was eleven thousand six hundred and 
seventy-four dollars and eighteen and three quarter 
cents. So Eandolph, after holding Memphi-j in 
check for fifteen or more years, lost her only chance 
of becoming a city — the largest commercial cit}^ in 
West Tennessee. 

The removal of the Chickasaw Indians west of 
the Mississippi river, and consequent bringing into 
cultivation the rich and fertile lands of N^orth 
Mississippi, facilitated the birth of the era of rail- 
roads to Memphis, and Randolph waned. As Mem- 
phis prospered Eandolph declined, until her mer- 
chants and business men drifted with the current of 
prosperity, and landed at the mouth of Wolf. 
Bayless, Bowles, Smithers, Stewart, Laurence, 
Steel, Booker, Temple, Latham, and many others, 
who did business under the bluif at Randolph, 
changed the heading of their ledgers, and posted in 
their earnings from the bluff at Memphis. Ran- 
dolph as it was, is now only in name, and lives 
alone in the history of " Old Times in the Big 
Hatcliie Countr3^" 

The rich and fertile table lands in the vicinity of 
Randolph early attracted men of wealth and intel- 
ligence. Among the first was 

JESSEE BENTON, 

who settled below Randolph, on the Mississippi, 
before 1824, as in that year we find him a candidate 
on the Presidential electoral ticket as a Crawford 
elector. Memphis was the nearest postoflice. Im- 



198 Reminiscences of Old Tunes 

placaLle, with siDgularly strong personal prejudice, 
he became a law unto himself, and soon migrated, 
when menaced by settled neighborhoods, to a more 
frontier country — Texas. Uncompromising in his 
personal predilections and opinions, it is said that 
he was inexorahle in his enmity toward his brother 
Thomas H., and General Jackson. Many incidents 
illustrative of his character are remembered, the 
following, possibly, the strongest : He had entrusted 
a lot of stock to an individual in whom he had con- 
fidence, to take to Louisiana and sell. Upon his 
return, he reported that he had been robbed on his 
way back, of the money. Benton rejected his story, 
and required that he produce the money or suffer 
such torture as he thought fit to inflict upon him. 
He still vowed that he had been robbed. The im- 
placable Benton did not, or feigned not to believe, 
and ordered his overseer, with several negro men, 
to take hina across the river to an island and box 
him up in a certain hollow tree, and there to be 
kept, without food and water, until he disgorged or 
told the truth about the money. They did as he 
commanded — dared not do otherwise. After several 
days he went over to receive his confession, making 
the negroes take a cross-cut saw along. The hollow 
tree afforded just room enough for his victim to 
stand upright. In that position he had been kept 
more than three daj^s. Finding that he could not 
starve him out (for he still held to his same story), 
he ordered a couple of negro fellows to take hold of 
tke saw and saw the tree down. To work they 
went, the saw soon cutting its way into the hollow. 



in West Tennessee. 199 

The delinquent, finding it was Benton's intention 
not only to saw the tree down but to saw him into, 
cried out, as soon as the sharp teeth began to menace 
his flesh, to hold on, that he would tell all the truth. 
With a most pitiable wail for his life, he told that he 
had gone into a gambling house in New Orleans 
and lost all his own money, and in trying to get it 
back he had staked up Benton's money, and lost 
that, and had to work his passage back, etc. Ben- 
ton, believing that he had gotten the whole truth 
out of the fellow, spared his life. In the meantime 
courts had been organized in. the county, and the 
matter got before the grand jury. 

Orvil Shelby, a generous, kind-hearted, genial 
companion and neighbor, became the owner of, and 
fixed his place of residence upon, the "Benton 
place," and contributed to the interest and advance- 
ment of society in and around Randolph. The 

ALSTONS, 

in whose veins coursed the best blood of the "Old 
ISTorth State," established a large plantation several 
miles back, and became, by their native courtesy 
and good manners, an acquisition to the society of 
the village and vicinity. They owned two of the 
best fiddlers the followers of Terpsichore ever 
danced after — Jim and Ossian — father and son. They 
were the pupils of the celebrated Korth Carolina 
violinist, Iley N"unn. They played at all the balls 
in the county, and were often sent for to play at 
Jackson and Brownsville. 

Colonel Tom Robertson lived a happy life " up 
on the hill," the "latch-string" of whose door was 



200 • Reminiscences of Old Times 

always on the outside. Generous and most hospi- 
table, full of anecdote and passionately fond of a 
good joke, he entertained gloriously. One good 
laugh of his would dispel the ennui of the village. 

FRANK LATHAM 

was the pioneer newspaper man of Tipton. He 
early settled at Randolph, and published the Ran- 
dolph Recorder, a '^rich, rare and spicey " little sheet, 
whose editor was -most excellent good company. 
Noted for his lively, personal character, with a genial 
smile always upon his ruddy face, without blemish in 
the " social," he was a welcome guest in every house- 
hold. Life with Frank Latham, in " old times," was 
ever in the merry sunshine. He yet enjoys life in 
the shade of venerable years. 

Randolph came in for her share of the Murrell 
excitement, prevalent in those days. The " Murrell 
Clan" were not myths; they were veritable men of 
extraordinary boldness and daring. They counted 
their numbers by hundreds, and ranged from the 
Walnut Hills, at the mouth of the Yazoo, to the 
mouth of the Big Hatchie. They held their "Grand 
Council " in the deep, dark woods of the Mississippi 
bottom, in Aakansas, twelve or more miles below 
Randolph and some six miles from the river, near 
Shawnee Village. The writer yet retains a lively 
recollection of the many scenes and incidents of 
that thrilling and eventful period. Robbery, theft 
and murder occupied and filled the minds and en- 
gaged the attention of the people from Vicksburg 
to New Madrid. It was the theme in the quiet 
family circle, as well as public talk, and the subject 



171 West Tennessee. 201 

of municipal ordinances and regulations. Every 
town along the river had its vigilant committee and 
patrol, for the protection of life and property. Ran- 
dolph had its vigilant committee and organized 
patrol, and every stranger that entered the town and 
neighborhood was "spotted "until his business and 
personal became satisfactorily known to the guard- 
ians of the town. 

The Clansmen's most usual place of crossing the 
Mississippi, was a short distance below the "Benton 
place." In tracking their way to and from the 
" Grand Council Tree," a notable sycamore, stand- 
ing in the tickest of the deep forest, towering above 
all other trees — discernible for miles around — a 
beacon to guide the foot-steps of the Clan in gather- 
ing. They seldom traveled over the same trail 
more than once, that they might elude the vigil of 
all who were not of their clan. The size of the 
" Council Tree," at its base, equaled the notable In- 
diana sycamore at the mouth of the Big Pigeon, 
which is said to measure, at its base, seventy-five 
feet around, and capable of stabling in its capacious 
hollow, twenty-four horses at a time. It was at this 
tree, and in its great hollow, that John A. Murrell 
and his Clansmen met in grand council, and formed 
their dark plots, and concocted their hellish plans. 
Most of their depredations were committed along 
the river, and in the night time. Seldom a night 
passed at Randolph without the capture of susjn- 
cious jjersons. It is keenly remembered by the 
writer, who was a member of the patrol at Ran- 
dolph, in those " dark and bloody days," that one 



202 lictiiiniscaices of Old Times 

dark night (the darker the night the hetter for 
their wicked purposes, and the greater the neces- 
sity for the patrol to be on the alert), the patrol 
were out on the river front above town. In the 
dead, silent hours of the night, the gentle rippling 
of the still waters from the sharp prow of a boat 
came gliding down near the shore. The patrol had 
taken a position at the mouth of a deep cove, formed 
by the flow of the waters from the high bluff. It 
afforded a safe mooring for small boats. The sus- 
picious craft moved in close to shore, and ran into 
the cove. Several yards from the river's edge, 
waiting until they had made fast by running an oar 
down in the soft mud, when the Captain of the 
patrol threw the light from his dark lantern full 
upon them, the patrol at the same time leveling 
their double barrels. Three stout, broad-shouldered 
sinners stood before us; an old gray-haired lark, and 
two younger — father and his two sons. The old 
man, who stood in the stern of the boat, dropped 
something from his shoulder into the water as soon 
as discovered. The water being shallow, however, he 
was required to fish it up. It proved to be a wallet 
filled with burglar's tools. They were marched 
up to the headquarters of the vigilance committee, 
and immediately put upon trial under tlie code of 
Judge Lynch. The wallet contained sufficient evi- 
dence to insure conviction and speedy execution. 
On account of the gray hairs of the old sinner, and 
youth of his two sons, the penalty was modified to 
corporeal castigation. They were sentenced to be 
denuded of every vestige of their clothes, stretched 



ill West Tennessee. 298 

across a cotton bale, and striped with a three and a 
half foot '^cowhide," at intervals, until day began 
to break, the old man to receive two licks to the 
boys one. That when day began to dawn, that they 
be taken to their boat, stark naked, tied hand and 
foot, and fast to the bottom of the boat, face 
upwards, gagged, with a placard posted upon their 
foreheads, written upon each, that if " ever caught 
again on the east bank of the Mississippi, in Ten- 
nessee, a twenty-five pound bag of shot would be 
tied around their necks and they become food for 
the catfish;" the boat to be carriedout in the mid- 
dle of the current and sent adrift without oars. 
The sentence was fully executed, and their up-turned 
faces greeted the first rays of the morning sun. 

It was during those bloody days that an occur- 
rence happened some twelve miles below Randolph 
that shocked the whole country. A most atrocious 
and diabolical Avholesale murder and robbery had 
been committed on the Arkansas side. The crew 
of a flatboat had been murdered in cold blood, 
disemboweled and thrown in the river, and the boat- 
stores appropriated among the perpetrators of the 
foul deed. The "Murrell Clan" were charged with 
the inhuman and devilish act. Public meetings 
were called in diflerent parts of the countrj^ to 
devise means to rid the country and clear the woods 
of the " Clan," and to bring to immediate punish- 
ment the murderers of the flatboatmen. In Cov- 
ington a company was formed to that end, under 
the command of Maj. Hockley and Grandville D. 
Searcy, and one, also, formed in Randolph, under 



204 Reminiscences of Old Times 

the command of Colonel Orvil Shelby. They met 
at Randolph and organized into one company, un- 
der command of Colonel Shelby. A flatboat, 
suited to the purpose, was procured, and the expe- 
dition, consisting of some eighty or an hundred 
men, well armed, with several days' rations, floated 
out from Randolph, and down to the landing where 
the wholesale murder had been committed. Their 
place of destination was Shawnee Village, some six 
or moie miles from the Mississippi, where the 
Sheriff of the county resided. They were firet to 
require of the Sheriff to put the offenders under 
arrest, and turn them over to be dealt with accord- 
ing to law. To Shawnee Village the expedition 
moved in single file, along a tortuous trail through 
the thick cane and jungle, until within a few miles 
of the village, when the whole line was startled by 
a shrill whistle at the head of the column, answered 
by the sharp click! click! click! of the cocking of 
the rifles in the hands of the Clansmen, in ambush, 
to the right flank of the moving file, and within less 
than a dozen yards. " 

The chief of the Clan stepped out at the head of 
the expedition, and in a stentorian voice commanded 
the expedition to halt! saying: 

"We have man for man: move forward another 
step and a rifle bullet will be sent through every 
man under your command." 

A parley was had, when more than man for man 
of the Clansmen rose from their hiding places in 
the thick cane, with their guns at a present. The 
expedition had fallen into a trap; the Clansmen had 



in West Tennessee. 205 

not been idle in finding out the movements against 
them across the river. Doubtless many of them 
had been in attendance at the meetings held for the 
purpose of their destruction. The movement had 
been a rash one, and nothing was left to be done 
but to adopt the axiom that *' prudence is the better 
part of valor." The leaders of the expedition were 
permitted to communicate with the Sheriff, who 
promised to do what he could in having the ofl'enders 
brought to justice; but, alas for Arkansas and 
justice ! the SheriiF himself was thought to be in 
sympathy with the Clan, and the law was in the 
hands of the Clansmen. The expedition retraced 
their steps. Had it not been so formidable, and 
well known by the Clansmen, every member of it 
would have found his grave in the Arkansas swamp. 
It was not long after, when, through the heroism 
of Virgil A. Stewart, John A. Murrell fell into his 
trap, which resulted in the Clan being scattered, 
and their organization broken up. 



206 Heminiscences of Old Times 



CHAPTER X. 

Ltiuderdale Formed out of Big Hatchie Territory — Key 
Corner Fstablished^ by Henry Rutherford, in 1789 — 
Rutherford and Poiier the First Permanent Settlers — 
David T. Porter the First Born — Cole Creek Bluffs — In- 
teresting Topographical Features — Discovery of the Three 
Graves; Their History Worked out in Romance. 

Tipton, north of Hatchie, together with a slip 
off the northwestern corner of Haywood, and a 
fair loaf off of the southwestern part of Dyer, 
formed the present limits of Lauderdale, which was 
erected into a county by an act of the Legislature 
in the year 1835. 

The first magistrates appointed for the county 
were Robert C. Campbel], Benjamin F. Johnson, 
Jeremiah Patrick, Milton G. Turner, John H. Max- 
well, Able H. Pope, William Strain, Elijah B. 
Foster, Henry Critchiield, Cristopher G. Litsworth, 
Henry R. Crawford and Henry R. Chambers. They 
met at the house of Samuel Lusk the following 
year (1836), and organized the first County Court, 
electing Robert C. Campbell, Chairman; William 
Carigan, Clerk; Guy Smith, Sheriff; Isaac Bradon, 
Coroner; Samuel Lusk, Ranger; Thomas Fisher, 
Register; William T. Morehead, Trustee; Milton 
G. Turner, John II. Maxwell, Able II. Pope and 
Robert W. Campbell, Revenue Commissioners; 



in West 'Ihincssce. 207 

Griffeth L. Rutherford, R. S. Byru, Hiram C. Keller, 
Henry R. Crawford and Robert W. Campbell, Com- 
missioners to sell the lots in the newly established 
county town, Ripley. 

The first Circuit Court was held at the house of 
George Byler, in 1836, and David Gillilan'd ap- 
pointed the first Clerk. It is not within the limits 
of the plan fixed by the writer of these reminis- 
cences to treat of the period when Lauderdale 
became an independent county. The territory 
forming the county, beiog within the limits of the 
Big Hatchie country in " old times," takes in " Key 
Corner" and the "Cole Creek Blufis," which is not 
more interesting for its wild and romantic scenery, 
than bordering the famed hunting ground of Davy 
Crockett, and the many incidents in pioneer life. 

KEY CORNER 

dates its history from the year 1789. When the 
State of North Carolina meditated the transfer of 
her territorial rights to the lands embraced within 
the limits of the present State of Tennessee to Con- 
gress, with a view of its being erected into a State, 
certain owners of North Carolina land grants ob- 
tained the services of Henry Rutherford, a surveyor, 
to push forward west of the Tennessee river, upon 
the lands then owned by the Chickasaws, and make 
certain locations. Rutherford, organizing his sur- 
veying party on the Cumberland, descended that 
river in the fall of the year 1789. Working their 
way down to the mouth of the Forked Deer, he 
poled up that stream until he struck the first high 
laud, which happened to be at the point of inter- 



208 Reminiscences of Old Times 

section of the Cole Creek Bluffs with the Forked 
Deer river. There he landed, and made his first 
mark upon a small sycamore tree in the shape of a 
key, which he established as the corner of his future 
surveys, from w^hich time (1789) it has been known 
as the " Key Corner" upon all the maps of subse- 
quent surveys. 

In 1819-20, Henry Rutherford and David Porter 
found their way down the Cumberland and up the 
Forked Deer, and made a permanent settlement at 
the ''Key Corner," which became the nucleus of 
the first settlement on the Forked Deer river, which, 
before the counties of Tipton, Haywood and Dyer 
were formed, was known as the "Key Corner Set- 
tlement." Henry Rutherford and David Porter 
were among the first prominent settlers in West 
Tennessee, and among the most pominent men. 
The first "grist mill" was built at "Key Corner," 
known as " Rutherford's Mill." The first settlers 
about Brownsville sent their corn to the "Key Cor- 
ner" to be ground. Rutherford was made County 
Surveyor, which ofiice he filled as long as he lived, 
preserving to the day of his death, which occurred 
but a few^ years ago, remarkable good health, and a 
most wonderful recollection of the earl}^ incidents of 
his life, and marked with clearness and precision the 
survej^s made by him more than three score of years 
back. 

The first child born on the territory embraced 
within the limits of Lauderdale county, was 

DAVID T. PORTER, 

in the year 1820, at the "Key Corner." Reared in 



in West Tennessee, 209 

the house of his birth, he is honored by having 
never lived un^'vvhere else. Like the fixedness and 
stability of Rutherford's sycamore, he has lived 
fifty-three years at the same place, having, during 
that time, resided in three counties by continuing 
to live at home. Prominent among; his neio-hbors, 
and highly esteemed for his courage and manly 
bearing, he was made a Captain in the Confederate 
service, which position he filled with honor. 

John Flippin came from Knox county and settled 
near the "Key Corner" in the year 1822, and shared 
with the early pioneers the perils and hardships of 
the wilderness, and left his name identified with the 
land of his early adoption through his sons; the 
most prominent of whom, Benjamin M. Flippin, is 
yet living in Lauderdale in the vicinity where his 
father first settled. 

The Cole Creek Blufifs, beginning at the "Key 
Corner," on the Forked Deer, range southwest to 
the upper point of the first Chickasaw BluflT, on the 
Mississippi river, a distance of some fifteen or more 
miles, and constitute the most interesting topo- 
graphical features of Lauderdale county. They 
overlook that large body of bottom land lying to 
the west and north — the land of the many newly- 
made hikes — the famed hunting-ground in "old 
times," when the screw-cutter and Davy Crockett 
hunted together, before the rents and cracks pro- 
duced by the shakes of 1811-12 had all healed over. 

It was on the highest knob of this range of bluffs, 
within near distance of the great Father of Waters, 
the god of day, which had been intensely bright. 



110 Bemmiscenccs of Old Times 

was fast loeing its force upon tlie hills, its glancing 
rajs diiFusing a gentle ftiding crimson through the 
yellow-tinted foliage of the wild-woods, reflecting 
back a bright golden luster from the tops of the far 
oft' trees to the east; looking to the far west, over 
the tops of the ocean of tall trees that shaded the 
broad acres below, the eye no longer contracted by 
the "sharp sunbeam," the full vision gazed upon 
one uniform glory. The lakes had received into 
their placid bosom the last lingering ray of the sun- 
set. 'Way yonder, across the mighty river, the 
flitting fragment of a cloud, with its purple edges, 
lingers, the fading luster of the crimson blending 
until the shades of night gain possession of the 
heavens. How good it was in "our Father in 
Heaven" to give us the "moon and stars to shine 
by night;" how cheerless and gloomy the world 
would have been without them — the very thought of 
black darkness makes one shudder. Gloom and 
ghostly apparitions seize hold of his very thoughts. 
The moon and stars never shone brighter, however, 
than they did that night on the screw-cutter and his 
little hunter companion. By accident they had 
pitched upon the loveliest spot on the blufts, far 
above the gloom of the dark shades of the deep 
woods below them ; through the tops of the tall 
trees the eye penetrated and caught glimpses of the 
bright waters of the lakes trembling in the silvery 
luster 'neath the full moon in mid-heaven. Upon 
that lovely knoll they yielded to "tired nature" 
their first night upon the Cole Creek Bluft>, in the 
early part of the month of November, 182 — . Rolled 



ifi Wt.-t Tc)ilU's;^Ct. 211 

up ill their bLinkets, they sought the " sweet restorer, 
balmy sleep." 

Neither cloud nor displeasure marred the glory of 
the mornii]g. The gray streaks of the early mora 
gave promise of a fair day. Taking their morning 
meal — tender steaks cut from the loin of a 3^earling 
deer the screw-cutter had shot down the evening 
before — they wandered Jiway to find a spring of fresh 
water. Winding down the high hill, they struck a 
bright little stream of running water, and followed 
the course of its curving up a deep gorge. Soon 
the gorge narrowed, barely allov/ing room to pass 
between the branch and the high overhanging blutf 
sides. Going through the narrow pass, they stepped 
into a lovely little glen of several rods in width — a 
most enchanting little spot, the margin of the bright 
little branch grown over with tall water-lilies, em- 
bowered b}^ the thick overhanging foliage from the 
steep hill-sides, terminating at the head by a per- 
pendicular bluff, from under which gushed a bold 
spring. 

" See ! see there ! it's an old, abandoned hut in a 
state of decay. Yes, it is the remains of an old 
mud hut, the front and one end crushed in by the 
shivering of that stately oak; 'twas a thunder-bolt 
that did it. Well, if this isn't a discovery in this 
wild, uninhabited countrj^ Halloo! the world is 
coming to an end, surely. No, those who once in- 
habited this quiet little nook found their end; for, 
as I am alive, they are dead. Here is three well- 
marked graves. One of them seems old — old of 
long standing; the other two seemingly of more 



212 Bouinisccnces of Old Times 

recent date, yet quite old enough for their friends, 
if they have any, to forget them; it is so odd. Oh! 
that the dead coukl speak from tlieir long and lonely 
resting place ; what a tale, perhaps of sorrow and 
tears, could be told here." 

" Sit down under the shadows of this grove of elm 
and oak by the side of that gurgling spring of bright 
water, and after thou wilt have refreshed thyself, 
let the imagination work it out. 

" Many years ago I had a young and fast friend. 
We were in the habit of hunting these woods — 
hunting down the Obion to its mouth, and up Reel- 
foot, spending months in the chase together," said 
the screw-cutter. "Young, handsome and brave- 
hearted, I loved him dearly. The sight of those 
graves revives in me a sad remembrance; they bring 
to mind what I had well nigh forgotten. Sad mem- 
ories ! Could the living reunite the dry bones be- 
neath those little hillocks and clothe them in the 
freshness of youth, what a tale of romance could 
be told of these woods. Enough is remembered, 
however, to remove the mystery that hangs over 
them. 

" On the occasion of our last hunt in these woods 
we had been out several weeks. My hunting com- 
panion became strangely afflicted for a hunter. 
After our morning meal, he would take his gun 
and be gone all day, returning to the camp after 
nightfall happy and gay, without reporting the kill- 
ing of any game. In answer to inquiries as to his 
day's hunt, he would express himself the happiest 
man in the world, giving a most glowing description 



in 



West Tennessee. 213 



of a beautiful lake he had discovered some three or 
four hours' walk from the camp. 

"A more noble fellow or braver hunter never 
shouldered a rifle. He became a maniac. Those 
graves must have had something to do with his 
going crazy. The lake we got a glimpse of last 
night is doubtless the same he was so fond of talk- 
ing about. 

" The story is a long one, I will tell it as we go 
along. We must go back to our horses now." 

They started back to their horses, continuing the 
narrative as they went along. 

"My hunting companion returned to camp one 
night more thoughtful than usual, expressing him- 
self tired of the hunt, and urged that we break up 
camp. We had killed more bear than we could 
well pack away; beside, the hunt, from the turn 
of mind my young friend had taken, had pretty 
much lost its interest. We ended the hunt and 
returned to the settlement. We separated. He 
returned to his home. He lived with an aged 
mother near the Madrid settlement. 

" When the next hunting season came round he 
did not join us. It was a year after before we met 
again. Wild and uncontrollable, he had abandoned 
himself to the wild haunts in the woods. It was in 
the woods that we met. He threw his arms around 
me, embracing me with the fond affection of a 
brother, shedding teare as a child. The scenes when 
last we had been together seemed to haunt him. 
The burden of his wild talk was of the beautiful 
lake and his lovely ' White Lily. ' I carried him home 



214 Itcm'umcences of Old Times 

to Lis old mother. He neither ate nor slept. I re- 
mained with him until he died. 

"After his death his old mother took from an old 
secretary a roll of papers. Handing them to me, 
she said: 

"'Victor's last request, before he lost his mind, 
was that after his death I should hand these papers 
to you ; that they would unravel a mystery.' 

" Thus the story runs : 

" ' Curious to examine the sunk lakes, lower down 
from where our camp was pitched, I had walked 
several hours in a southern direction, when I came 
upon a beautiful open lake, the loveliest I had dis- 
covered in the bottom. I struck the head of it, 
from which point I obtained a full view of its length 
and size. Tray-shaped, it was longer than it was 
broad — perhaps three or more miles long. Like 
most lakes, it was shalloAv around the margin, getting 
deeper in the middle; judging from its being open 
in the middle, and other appearances, deeper than 
the tallest of surrounding forest trees. It beirg free 
from undergrowth and fallen timbers along the mar- 
gin, I strolled around it. In passing along, my 
attention was attracted by the fish darting from near 
the shore into deep water. The lake seemed to be 
alive with them. 

" ' Coming to a shady spot, where a large tree had 
blown up, falling over the lake, its strong roots hold- 
ing it suspended over the surface of the water, I 
halted to rest. Setting my gun by the roots, I 
walked out on it several feet from the shore and lay 
down upon its huge trunk. My attention was soon 



in West Tennessee. 215 

attracted to a clump of tall water-lilies growing in 
the water near the shore, by the jumping and floun- 
dering of the fish; so charmed with the countless 
numbers of the tinny tribe darting through the 
clear sunny spots upon the bright surface of the 
water, passing to and fro among the lilies, that I 
must have been there an hour or more when the 
sound of a gentle rippling of the waters, rapidly 
approaching from behind me, arrested my attention. 
Without rising from my reclining position, I turned 
my head and eyes full upon the loveliest form in human 
flesh I ever beheld — a vounff woman standing: erect 
in a trim little canoe, driving its sharp prow swiftly 
over the surface of the placid water. So great was 
my amazement that I felt transfixed to the log. 
Her long golden hair thrown back upon her shoul- 
ders, her head uncapped ; fair as a lily, and fresh as 
a new-born rose, she was a very picture of female 
beauty and loveliness just budding into womanhood. 
Looking neither to the right nor left, her eyes fixed 
upon the clump of water lilies, she gently raised her 
long slender paddle out of the water, the sharp 
bow of her little boat gliding in among them. Slie 
had not observed me, so intently were her eyes 
peering down into the clear water. Schools of the 
bright scaly tribe closed in around her, flouncing 
and cutting up all sorts of finny antics. Running 
her long paddle down in the soft mud to steady her 
little boat, intent alone upon the object of her mis- 
sion, she stooped forward, her long golden locks 
falling over her face. She seated herself in the 
bottom of her frail little craft, burying her head 



216 Reminiseences of Old Times 

among the tall lilies, humming in a soft musical 
strain, as in converse with the countless numbers of 
iish that gathered around her. There she remained, 
feeding and chanting to her little lake companions, 
within a rod of me. 

" ' Mj eyes, from gazing so intently upon such a 
dazzling beauty, began to grow blind. I expected 
every moment that the loud beating of my heart 
would arrest her attention. In such a delirium of 
delight and amazement, I felt pinned fast to the 
tree. The opportunity, however, was favorable for 
rising from my recumbent position. In an instant 
I was upon my feet, as yet wholly unobserved by the 
fair queen of the lake. 

" ' Getting through with her little charities and talk 
with her finny companions, now and then running 
her long white hand under the clear water, the 
little silvery-sided tribe gathering around it, and 
passing through her long tapering fingers, bidding 
them good-bye for the evening, she arose to her 
feet, and we stood face to face. The excited amaze- 
ment which had held me spell-bound, had began 
to pass off". It came her time to exhibit surprise 
and amazement. Throwing her large, clear, blue 
eyes foil upon me, raising both of her hands, throw- 
ing back her long, yellow tresses, she imploringly 
said: 'Who! and what are you land why are you 
here?' 

"*Her manner was bewitchingly earnest. In 
words as gentle and soothing as possible, I replied: 

^'^I am a hunter, and came in these woods to 
hunt; that in rambling about in the woods, I came 



in West Tennessee. 217 

upon this lake, and was attracted to this enchanting 
spot, where I have been for hours, amusing myself 
with the movements of the numerous beautiful fish 
passing to and fro among the tall lilies.' Having 
replied to her two pointed questions, I then asked her 
to tell me who she was, and why she was alone upon 
this beautiful lake in the wild-woods?' 

'''Who I am, I beg you will not inquire, or seek 
to know. I am here to feed and commune with my 
little lake companions, where I have not failed to be 
since my childhood. I beg that you will ask me no 
more questions, or seek to find me out, and that 
you will not again come to this lake,' her voice soft- 
ening and becoming more subdued as she finished 
speaking, still keeping her large blue eyes in a fixed 
gaze upon me. 

" ' I begged that she would not lay upon me such a 
burden, or to seal my lips against nature's ardent 
promptings. That I would have to be more than 
human to abide her biddings. That it was asking 
more than the human heart could stand. 

'"In what have I put upon you more than is 
human to bear?' she said, her voice still softening. 

"'Why, in requiring that I shall not seek to know 
you, or find you out, now that I have seen you; that 
we have met and spoken, that I know these woods 
contain one so beautiful and lovely, the thing you 
ask is impossible.' 

" ' Then you will destroy all the pleasures I have 

in life. I can come to these enchanting waters 

no more. I will never see and commune with my 

little lake companions any more,' said she, a soft, 

10 



218 Reminiscences of Old Times 

sorrowing gloom suffusing her sweet face as she 
pronounced the last words. 

"*I then asked her to answer me a few more ques- 
tions; whether she had parents, or whether she was 
alone in the wild forest. 

" ' Mother I have not; I know nothing of a mother, 
I have an old father who is good to me; I love and 
honor him above all things except my Bible. I 
have promised him, and he exacts the promise to be 
renewed every year, that I will decline the acquaint- 
ance of all persons; that the time will come, and 
soon enough, when I will know of the world and a 
new life, but not until after his death.' 

" ' Have you ever met with any one in these woods 
before ? ' I inquired. 

"'ISTever; you are the first and only man I ever 
saw, save my old father. From him I have learned 
much. I have read much of the world. I read 
from my Bible that the world is full of sin, and 
man is desperately wicked.' All the while she had 
not taken her eyes from me. She seemed charmed 
by the first specimen of young flesh in human form. 
With softened tone of expression she seemed willing 
to prolong the interview. 

" 'I said to her that the wild-woods was my home, 
my companions were my dogs and my gun, young 
and full of warm impulses; that in her limited 
knowledge of the world, as derived from books, she 
knew but little of the human heart. That she, like 
myself, had a heart full of generous, loving im- 
pulses; that from the Bible she had read that man 
and woman were made tor each other, and to make 



in West Teimessce: 219' 

one another happy, and that it was not go^jd to be 
'alone in the world.' 

" ' Yes, the Bible reads that way. We read of the 
first man and the first woman in the garden. We 
read that they were happy nntil a knowledge of the 
world brought sin.' 

"'Imploringly I asked that I might talk with her 
when she came as-ain to hold converse with her 
lake companions. I promised that I ivould then 
abide whatever her decision might be. Before she 
had spoken, I read in her melting blue eyes her 
answer. She replied, 'I promise.' With the word 
ringing in my ears, she shoved her little bark out 
in the deep water and shot across the lake. I stood 
gazing upon her receding form until it was lost to 
view in the thick foliage overhanging the margin 
of the lake on the opposite shore. 

" ' The next da}^ I was at the lake long hefore the 
hour of her coming. I lingered around the en- 
chanting spot of our meeting the previous day. 
Prompt in coming, I kept out of her view until she 
should have gotten through with her pleasing, self- 
imposed duties. I could but observe that when 
approaching the lilies, she raised those large blue 
eyes and took in a survey on land. I was greatly 
encouraged to hope. After she had gotten through 
with the scaly tribe (she seemed more hurried than on 
the eveningbefore), she rose to her feet, when I discov- 
ered myself to her.' She came upon shore, extending 
her hand. We strolled down the lake shore in the 
silent wood. We talked of a new life, and whis- 
pered love to each other. Upon the silent shores 



220 Reminiscences of Old Times 

of the ^Lake of fhe Lilies' we plighted our love, 
with a ' promise ' that I should visit her old father 
at his secluded dwelling-place the next day. 

"'At the appointed hour the next day we met on 
the opposite shore of the lake. A short walk 
through the dark forest brought us to a deep ravine 
winding up in the hills, through which flowed a 
bright little rippling brook. Eeaching the head 
of it the banks became bluff, deeply shaded over 
by the thick foliage of the giant forest overhead. 
From under the bluff" gushed a bold spring. The 
old trapper hermit was seated before the door of 
his mud hut. As we approached he rose to his feet 
with the dignity and true politeness of an old time 
gentleman, his long silvery locks falling down over 
his broad shoulders, with snow white beard cover- 
ing his well-formed chest. He extended his hand 
to me, sa3dng: 

" ' The White Lily, my daughter, the light of my 
life, has told me all. It is only that which I most 
feared, and possibly had a right to expect. Her 
young life knows nothing of sorrow or disappoint- 
ment; mastering all the studies and knowledge I 
was able to teach or capable of imparting, yet she 
is ignorant of the world and a stranger to sin. 

" ' For fifteen years she has been the light and life 
of an old man, who lives a trespasser upon many 
years beyond the period allotted to man upon earth. 
It is not surprising that her ardent young nature, 
loving as it is, should have accepted the heart and 
hand of young flesh, one like yourself, who seem 
the gentleman, though a hunter. I am only a 



171 West Tennessee. 221 

trapper ; I huve faith that you are a true man, and 
will make her a good husband. My age forbids that 
I should oppose her wishes ; I fear to risk doing her 
an injustice; I have been to her a good guardian 
and father.' 

" ' Taking her hand and putting it in mine, he bade 
us to kneel before him. Laying a hand upon each 
of our heads he said : 

" ' Receive the blessing of the old trapper Nichol. 
Two months and four days from to-day will be my 
ninety-fourth birthday. On that day, which will be 
my last, I will take the White Lily, the light and 
life of my last day, to the settlement at Madrid ; be 
there, and she becomes your wife. Until then, upon 
the pain of your losing her, come not to this place 
again.' 

" ' So long ! two months and four days; permit me 
to come for her,' says L 

'"No ! you are the only person who has visited this 
place or seen me in these woods, or the White Lily 
since I first saw 3^on spring, now more than fift}^- 
seven years ago, save him whose remains lie 'neath 
that moss-covered grave at the end of this cabin and 
the young w^oman who shall be your prize for keep- 
ing away. Let it be so.' 

"'With his last words, 'shall be your prize for 
keeping away,' I turned to join her at the spring, 
and the old trapper disappeared in his dark hat. 
Our last hour upon the green velvet moss by the 
side of the rippling brook was as a love dream — a 
delirium of blissful delight. 

'"Two months and four days — sixty-four days to 



^ 



222 Rcmnisccnecs of Old '1 bites 

wait! Had it been a sentence to the scafibld, time 
would have been craved; but — well, I have to wait. 
The two months came round; but the four days and 
four long nights — each day seemed a month, and 
the last of the four I thought would never pass. I' 
seemed as though the sun would never reach noon- 
tide; that, as in the days of Joshua, it had been 
bidden to stand still. 

"'The two months and four days had passed. I 
stood upon the bluff at the place appointed for me 
to receive the object of love — the sole absorbing 
object of m^^ heart's affection. With lengthened 
vision my eyes kept watch to get the first glimpse of 
the old trapper, with the 'light of his life,' as they 
should hove in sight below. Hour after hour I stood, 
and not an object came in sight upon the broad 
waters of the great river. With straining eyes I 
stood alone npon the bank looking down the reach, 
until with heavy heart I turned my face from the 
waters, when the eye could no longer penetrate 
through the darkness of the night. On the bank I 
walked — walked all night, with ear sharpened to 
catch the sound of the oars' stroke. I^one came, 
and broad daylight found me with eyes still open 
]5eering down the river. In the agony of my soul 
I stepped into the first boat and pushed off to meet 
them. Down I rowed, on I pulled ; never did skiff" 
glide over water faster. Glancing at every turn 
back over my shoulder to get a sight of their com- 
ing, I relaxed not a stroke of the oar until night 
came upon me. 

"'Reaching the point of landing the nearest to 



in West Tennessee. 223 

the old trapper's hut as the morning sun rose over 
the high point of the first Chickasaw Bluff, I bounded 
awa}^ for the ' Lake of the Lilies.' I easily found 
my way to the old trapper's hut. Casting from 
me the gloomy spell which had bound me for the 
past twenty-four hours, doubting not that ought else 
than the whim and caprice of an old man who felt 
that he was parting with the light and life of his 
last daj^s detained her, I moved up the sparkling 
branch with new life. 

*' ' Reaching the hut, the door was closed. Signs of 
life had departed in every direction the eye turned. 
There was no smoke curling up from the broad 
throat of the cabin — gloom and desolation seized 
hold of my senses. With dread awe, I stood at the 
door of the hut, with hand raised to rap, when my 
eyes fell upon a newly-made grave by the side of 
the ancient moss-covered one. Overwhelmed with 
a presentiment of woe, I leaned heavily against the 
door, when it swung open, upon its heavy grating- 
hinges, exposing to view the lifeless form of the 
old Trapper. Dead, dead, dead! Half alive I lay 
upon the door step. A voice from 'neath the fresh 
clod ringing through my ears, dead, dead, dead! 
Staggering, I arose, and strode to the spring, the 
still voice following — tingling in my ears, penetra- 
ting to the soul, dead, dead, dead! More dead than 
alive, I fell upon the green moss, where last we had 
talked and dreamed in a wild delirium of bliss and 
happiness. 'Twas here she had grown up, and 
enjoyed the early fruits of her young life — here, 
under the shades of the overhanging foliage, now 



224 Bemmiscences of Old Times 

drooping in silent sorrow, shedding their virgin 
tears upon her newly-made grave. Up yonder hill- 
side, she frisked and frolicked, with the young 
morning, blythe and gay as a young May lamb. 
Oh! life, even in spring time, thou art but 'a poor 
pensioner upon the bounties of an hour.' For 
hours I lay as in a dream, living life over again. 
It all seemed wrapped up in a few days of the near 
past; fortune I had none; the light and promise of 
the future had gone; vacancy, broad sterile vacancy, 
loomed up before m.e. It had taken the place of 
all that was lovely. I had aught now to live for. 
Xear me the gurgling waters arose from beneath 
the high bluff, playing with the bright sunbeam as 
they rippled past in their silvery, winding course 
down the gorge. I arose, and bathed my feverish 
temples in the cool refreshing waters, and went to 
the cabin, to put away the old Trapper, in remem- 
brance of her, and because she loved and honored 
him. He lay as though he had died under a 
Christian hand; every limb in its proper place, his 
head resting upon a roll of rare furs, his hands 
clasped across his broad chest, in one a small slip 
of paper, upon which was written: 'Bury my 
body by the side of the newly-made grave, where 
sleeps the light of my life — April 4, — .' Signed 
Nichol. The light of his life had gone before him. 
He died on his ninety-fourth birthday — the day of 
his appointment. 

"'Near him, on a rude table, lay a roll of manu- 
script. On the outer side was written: 'For the 
affianced of the 'White Lily.' Here, then, is the 



in West Tennessee. 225 

mistery. Oh! manhood, why hast thou forsaken 
me? I was ouce called when in the chase, ^Victor, 
the lion-hearted.' I am no longer the ' lion-hearted.' 
The soft illurements of woman's love has won the 
victory — the grave has become the victor, and left 
its sting — the barbed arrow corroding in my bleed- 
ing soul. But the mistery. We will read it after 
putting the old man away. 

FROM NICHOLS' MANUSCRIPT. 

" On the fourth day of April, should I be Hving, 
I will have lived to see my ninety-fourth birthday, 
and for more than fifty-seven years I have lived a 
trapper hermit, in this hut. 

"On my twenty-sixth birthday I married with 
a lovely English woman, the daughter of a British 
oiBcer, stationed on Lake Erie. She was fair and 
rosey, gentle in disposition, and free from guile. My 
love for her knew no bounds. "We had been mar- 
ried four years, when I carried her and our only 
child, a daughter, our darling little Marie, to stay 
with her father at Fort Pitt, until my return from a 
fur-hunting expedition on the upper lakes. I had 
expected to be gone but one winter. Fortune did 
not favor us, however, and we were absent two 
years. During that time the war-whoop was raised 
on the lakes — the Pontiac war broke out, of which 
we had heard nothing, until on our way back, at 
Green Bay. I had a presentiment, foreboding evil 
to my wife and child, and neither ate or slept 
until I reached the fort. Too truly had been my 
fears and misgivings. Both wife and child were 
butchered and scalped by the ruthless savage. 



226 Beminiscmces of Old Times 

"I remembered nothing more from the day of 
my arrival in the fort until some four months after, 
when I found myself under the treatment of the 
kind physician of the fort. When I was sufficiently 
recovered to be permitted to leave the fort, I met 
with a warm friend and companion. We had messed 
together and slept under the same blanket during 
our two winters on the upper lakes. He knew of 
my deep affliction and sympathized with me, advis- 
ing that I leave the scenes of the lake and go south 
to Louisiana. I agreed — would have agreed to have 
gone with him anywhere, as for myself I cared not 
which way it was. We soon were ready with a 
good boat and requisite outfit for the trip. Reach- 
ing the Mississippi we soon passed the mouth of 
the Ohio. It was in the month of August, the 
weather very hot, and the water bad to drink. My 
friend took sick and was getting worse every day. 
Reaching the first high bluff after many days drift- 
ing, we stopped to find good water, and a cool, 
shady place, intending to remain until cool weather 
before proceeding on down the river. After many 
hours' search I found this spring of delightful water 
in this cool, shady nook in the woods. Return- 
ing to the boat, my friend being just able to walk 
out to it, I went to work and packed out our tra{)S 
and things. He drank heartily of the cool water 
that evening and felt greatly refreshed. In the 
morning he felt much better. Before noon, how- 
ever, he was taken with a chill and died in it. I 
buried him where he died, and built this hut by the 
side of his ^rave, resolved never to leave it while 



in West Tennessee. 227 

life lasted. Here I have lived, and alone during 
the first forty odd years, occasionally taking a trip 
up the river to dispose of my furs and lay in needed 
supplies. I trapped it up the Obion, indeed up all 
the water courses, and through the hottom for thirty 
miles up the river. At home in the v^oods, I only 
returned to my hut v^hen my wallet became ex- 
hausted. 

"I witnessed many of the wonderful freaks of 
nature in those awful days of eartliquakes and 
shakes. During the worst of it I had gone up the 
Obion, roaming through the bottom in search of 
beaver sign. My attention was arrested by a rumb- 
ling noise. At first I thought it the approach of a 
storm or big wind. Soon the sound seemed to be 
everywhere, and from the bowels of the earth it 
became fearful. I tried to gather in my thoughts 
and fix in my mind what to look for. When the 
ground upon which I stood began to tremble, heave 
and shake Avith terrific violence, the vibrations be- 
coming quicker and more terrible, until it became 
impossible to stand upon my feet without holding 
on to the small trees around me. I knew not which 
way to tarn or whither to go for safety. The giant 
forest around and over me swayed and groaned, 
clashing and crashing their great laps, keeping time 
with the undulating movement of the earth in which 
they were rooted. Soon the earth began to quake, 
and crack around and beneath where I was stand- 
ing. In the wildest confusion it began to break and 
open before me, then to sink, sink, sink, carrying 
down with it a great park of trees, until the tops of 



228 'Reminiscences of Old Times 

the tallest among them dropped out of sight. In 
awe and wonderment I stood reeling as one drunk 
with wine, and witnessed the birth of Reelfoot 
Lake. 

" My boat ! I had left it in a nook, near the Obion. 
Fearing to lose it, I made for it in quick haste. The 
waters had ebbed from it, leaving it high and dry. 
Soon, however, the flow returned, with the violence 
of a mountain torrent. Lashing it to a small tree, 
I succeeded in keeping it from being ' swamped.' 
The waters becoming sufficiently quiet, I rowed 
down the mouth, passing out with the flow of the 
waters, which had filled the whole bottom many 
feet. In passing up the gorge, to my hut, I found 
that my spring branch had gone drj^ On reaching 
the spring, the first thing noticeable was a fearful 
rent in the blufi:', reaching down below the spring- 
bed, and not a drop of water in it. ' Confusion 
worse confounded' seemed spread out all over the 
land. Openings appeared as by magic from the high 
hills to the great Father of Waters, many newly- 
formed lakes had been created in close proximity to 
my heretofore seemingly safe and quiet dwelling- 
place. The loss of my spring! I had begun to 
thirst, and water was not to be had nearer than the 
newly-made lakes. I had begun to think of the 
necessity of finding a new place of abode, when the 
earth began to tremble and quake again, the air 
soon becoming sufi*used with a sulphuerous smell. 
I sat in my cabin and waited the terrible pending 
resLilts, when I noticed the hurried flow of black 
muddy water leaping down the spring branch, 



ill West Tennessee. 229 

sweeping aucl bending the herbage and small under- 
growth in its angry surging course. Having lost all 
personal fear midst the terrible freaks of the earth 
and water around me, I arose, and walked to the 
spring, to witness the changes going on. The deep 
split in the bluff had closed up as though under the 
power of a great battering-ram. Black muddy 
water was gushing up through the spring and all 
around it, emitting a most disagreeable odor. Soon 
the flow of water began to decrease and get clear ; 
before night-fall my spring had resumed its ancient 
regime. 

" The next morning I had gone to the river to look 
after m}^ boat; while standing upon the bank, I 
noticed a boat drifting in the current. Rowing out 
to it, I was amazed beyond fitting language to ex- 
press, to find lying in the bottom of the drifting 
skiff a lovely child, her sweeet little face turned up 
to the heavens. At first I could not tell whether 
she vras living or dead. Her long brown lashes 
were fringed over her closed eyes ; her bright golden 
curls had fallen back, exposing to the sharp rays of 
the sun the most angelic-like face I had ever beheld. 
I stood looking upon her lovely features as in a 
dream, when an angelic smile came to her sweet 
countenance, followed by a soft and gentle breathing. 
She was not dead — only sleeping. 

"Gently I fastened the drifting craft to mine 
and pulled for the shore. My boat coming up 
to the bank abruptly, jarring the boat she was in, 
startled her. In a moment I was in the boat with 
her, taking a seat to steady it as she arose to her 



230 Reminisceyices of Old Times 

little feet, rubbing her eyes, seemingly not yet fully 
awake. Opening her large clear blue eyes, she dis- 
covered me. Springing into my arms, she cried 
out: 

"'Oh! papa, papa; w|iere is mamma?' 

"Burying her sweet little face in my bosom for 
several moments, I pressed her little head to my 
heart, stroking her soft hair, while scalding tears 
came trickling down over my old brown, furrowed 
cheeks. Her angelic face had struck a cord in my 
heart, calling up before me my murdered wife and 
child. I held in my bosom the image of my long 
lost little Marie, and pressed her little face to my 
aching heart. 

" She raised her little head, looking me full in the 
face, and fixing her clear blue eyes on mine, she 
spoke, saying: 

"'1 thought you was papa. I don't know you. 
W^hat makes you cry ? ' 

" Moments passed before I could give utterance to 
a word. Recovering myself, however, and without 
answering her inquiring looks as to who I was, I 
asked her to tell me her name. 

"'Mary,' she said. 

" ' Ah ! yes ; Marie — Mary what ? ' 

"'Just Mary.' 

" ' What is your papa's name ? ' 

"'Charley.' 

"'Charley what?' 

"'Only just Charley. Mamma calls him only 
Charley.' 

" ' Well; what 's mamma's name ? ' 



' in West Tennessee. 231 

"'Katy — Katy darling, papa calls her sometimes.' 

" ' Where is your papa? ' 

"*Don't know where papa is.' 

" ' How did yon get in this boat ? ' 

'"You see, when everything was shaking so, and 
the houses was falling, papa picked me up and 
run down to the river and put me into the boat; 
then he went back to bring mamma. Mamma was 
coming down the hill. When papa and mamma 
got down the hill the boat was way out in the river. 
As papa jumped into the water to catch the boat 
the big water come and run all over the bank and 
all over mamma. The boat rocked and shaked so 
bad I fell down in it, and didn't see papa and 
mamma any more.' 

"Fully comprehending the dread catastrophe 
which had made an orphan of the dear little crea- 
ture, I remained silent for several moments, when 
she asked me if she would see papa and mamma 
any more. I expressed to her my fears that she 
would not. Without undertaking to explain to her 
little mind the cause of the dreadful calamity which 
had happened to her papa and mamma, I told her 
that I would be a good papa to her, and that I would 
love and take care of her. The dear little creature 
evinced a clearness of mind unusual in one so young. 
She may have been as much as four years old. She 
had cried until the fountain of her tears had dried 
up. She soon became perfectly reconciled to her 
situation, and by degrees ceased to speak of papa 
and mamma. From all I could gather from her, I 
became satisfied that New Madrid was the scene 



332 Reminiscences of Old Times 

of her misfortunes; the result of the great earth- 
quake. 

"I took httle Mary to my hut. She soon learned 
to love me. As she grew up I sought to amuse 
and interest her little mind in every way possible. 
The wild-woods, with its beautiful flowers, and many 
changing scenes, aftbrded a wide field for the pleas- 
ures of her childhood. I taught her to read and 
write. She acquired all the knowledge I was capa- 
ble of imparting. She was most fond of her little 
Bible, which she had read through and through 
more than a half dozen times. She learned to 
mark the Sabbath days, and to keep them more 
holy than other days. Her sanctuary was in the 
deep shades of the glen, and her pew the green 
sward, guarded by the halo of her own pure 
thoughts. Joyous and happy in her own Eden, she 
knew nothing of guile, and not a stran of one of 
her golden ringlets had been touched with evil. 
She lived in the pure atmosphere of her own soul, 
tempered by the teachings of the Virgin Mary; 
born to love, her loving nature went in search of 
something to love. On the lake she was most fond 
to dwell; communing with and caressing her little 
finny companions, she taught them a language of 
her own. Oh ! she was so happy. The light and 
life of m}^ old days, it was the resume of my 
younger and happy days. 

"From the day that the handsome young hunter 
appeared to her upon the lake, from the hour when 
they parted under the shadows of the blufi* by the 
spring, she seemed to live and breathe a diflerent 



in West Tnwfssee. 233 

atmosphere; all that she had once loved and cher- 
ished became oblivions. She went no more to com- 
mune with and caress her little lake companions. 
She seemed awakened to a new and foreign life — 
love's imagination had possessed her very soul. 
'Twas like onr first mother, when the scales fell 
from her eyes and she beheld the first man Adam. 
The first evil had touched her and entered her pure 
soul, and made it flesh fleshy. The angel of the 
Lord came in the night time before she had changed 
her paradise on earth and rescued her pnre, sinless 
soul and transported it to the paradise in heaven, by 
the side of the Virgin Mary. The White Lily was 
dead! dead! dead! the morning of the day she was 
to have joined her Adam on earth. As she lay 
upon her humble little couch the morning which to 
her was to be the brightest on sinful earth, when 
the first ray came over the bluff, reflecting its light 
upon her sweet fiice, her bright blue eyes had lost 
their glory — the angelic smile yet lingering upon 
her bright countenance pointed as an index-finger 
to a more glorious realm on high, to which her soul 
had taken its flight. 'Twere better so, or 'twere 
better fiir, that her little lake companions were alone 
left to moan her absence from the bright waters of 
the ' Lake of the Lilies.' 

"Of myself I write, that I was born in France, on 
the fourth day of April, 1737. I was christened, in 
the holy Catholic faith, Pierre Saint Martin Mchol. 
My father was of honorable birth; becoming bank- 
rupt by investing largely in John Law's Mississippi 
bubble, I was taken from school when in my seven- 



234 B.emiaiscences of Old Times 

teeiith year. Of ardent and restless temperament, 
I joined an expedition fitting out for Canada, and 
will have lived in America on to-morrow — to-mor- 
row! The light of my life has gone; my soul 
folio weth to-morrow." 



in Wed Tennessee. 235 



CHAPTER XL 

Ifayivood County — Colonel Richard Nixon, the Pioneer 
Settler— N. T. Perkins— Hirnni Bradford— The Taylor 
Family — Major Widiam R. Hess — His Appearance be- 
fore the County Court — The Moody Excitement. 

Haywood — named for one of ^ortli Carolina's hon- 
ored and trusted sons, Judge John Haywood — was 
erected into a county in the year 1821. One of the 
second tier of counties from the Mississippi river, 
lying between the w-aters of the Big Hatchie and 
Forked Deer rivers, it embraces withiti its limits a 
larger area of rich and arable territory than any 
other county in West Tennessee. The early immi- 
grant settlers to it, were men of character and wealth, 
who shaped and modeled its institutions, and gave 
tone to society. 

Among them v/3re Col. Richard Mxon, L. Mc- 
Guire, Mcholas T. Perkins, the Sanders, Taylors, 
Bradfords, Bonds, Estes, and many others, whose 
brave hearts and inflexible will sustain them in the 
perils and hardships of pioneer life, and who stand 
as amon^ the noble fathers of the land. 

The first court was organized and held at the 
house of Colonel Richard Mxon, on the eighth of 
March, 1824, by Richard Mxon, Laurence McGuire, 
Nicholas T. Perkins, Jonathan T. Jacobs, William 
Dodd, Britton II. Saunders, David JeflTries and 



236 Reminiscences of Old Times 

Blackmail Coleman, Ricard Nixon being elected 
Chairman. The following officers were then elected : 
Britton H. Saunders, Clerk; John G. Carutherp, 
Sheriff; Richard W. Nixon, Trustee; William Dood, 
Ranger; Reuben Alphin, Constable. 

The following named gentlemen composed the 
venire from which the first grand and petit juries 
were formed: Richard Nixon, Edward Howard, 
Charles Howard, William H. Henderson, Alfred 
Kenedy, John Mc White, Jonathan Nixon, Thomas 
Gr. Nixon, Lewis Welerbv, Julius Saunders, John 
Johnson, John R. McGuire, John Jones, Nathan 
Bridgeman, S. W. Farmer, Hardy Blackwell, Wyatt 
Twity, Willie Patrick, R. AV. Nixon, William H. 
Dyer, H. A. Powell, James York and Thomas 
Ghent. 

The first order of the court was to the Sheriff, 
requiring that he collect the sum of six and three- 
fourth cents per every one hundred acres of land in 
the county, as a "fund to pay the tallismen and 
jurors one dollar a day." 

The first Circuit Court was held on the fourteenth 
day of June, 1824, at the house of Colonel Richard 
Nixon; Joshua Haskell, Judge, and Blackmau 
Coleman, Clerk. The first settler in Hayw^ood, was 

COL. RICHARD NIXON, 

who blazed out his course and cut his own road 
from the settled vicinity of Jackson, to where he 
pitched his tent, on the creek which took his name 
(Nixon's creek), three miles east of Brownsville. 
The red men of the woods were encamped on the 
same creek — the noble Chickasaws — with whom he 



m West Ihmessee. 237 

cultivated kindly relations, and for many weeks 
shared with them the hospitalities of their camp. 

The first civil courts of the county were organ- 
ized and held in his house, as also, the first religious 
meeting where prayer was made. As the county 
began to settle up, the hardy pioneer boys and girls 
would meet at his house and enjoy the old time 
dance. He was at the birth and naming of the 
county site, acting as one of the commissioners in 
laying off the town (Brownsville). 

A member of the Magistrate Court from its incep- 
tion, he was chosen as its chairman, wbich position 
he retained until his death in 1831. A novel case 
arising in the early courts of Haywood, involving a 
question of title to some land or free-hold, governed 
by the laws and adjudications of the courts of ItTortli 
Carolina, requiring a certain law book, which was 
not to be had or found in the law libraries of Ten- 
nessee, he mounted a courier on horse-back and 
sent him post-haste all the way to Raleigh, ]^. C, 
for the law book, and had it produced on trial of 
the case at its next term. 

His last mingling among his fellow-citizens of 
Haywood, was as President of a Fourth of July cele- 
bration at Brownsville, a few months before his 
death, on which occasion tlie following volunteer 
toast was offered by a cotemporary settler, Mr. H. 
Haralson, and drank with hats oft': "To Colonel 
Richard Nixon, President of the day. The first 

SETTLER, AND MO'^T PROMINENT CITIZEN." Coloucl 

Nixion was born in Korth Carolina in the year 1769. 
He represented the people of his native count}^, 



238 Remmiscenccs of Old Times 

I^ew Hanover, with distinguished honor for many 
years. ]S"oted for his genial hospitality, kind and 
generous heart as a neighhor, his name will ever he 
kindly remembered by all who knew him. 

Wliile it is not the purpose of the writer of these 
semi-historic reminiscences to become the biogra- 
pher of all the old and worthy pioneer settlers in 
the Big Hatchie country, he cannot, without a 
breach of courtesy due the " old folks," whose long 
and eventful lives have come down to the more 
modern days, leave unnoticed the name of 

ESQUIEE NICHOLAS T. PERKINS, 

who, with a small colony of his name and kindred, 
immigrated from East to Middle Tennessee at 
an early day, and as soon as the way was 
opened up to the out-skirts of civilization, pressed 
on and settled in Haywood in the year 1823. In 
1824 we find him one of the first acting magistrates, 
and one of the commissioners to lay ofi" and estab- 
lish the site for the seat of justice for the county, 
which he, in conjunction with the other commis- 
sioners, named Brownsville, in honor, it may be 
vanity to presume, of one of the ^N'orth Carolina 
Brow^ns. 

In March, 1825, he acted as a commissioner with 
L. McGuire, Charles White, William H. Henderson 
and Thomas G. IS'ixon, under appointment from the 
Worshipful Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, as 
it was then called, selling at public sale the lots in 
Browmsville. 

'Squire Perkins was born in Nox county, Tenu., A. 
D. 1793, and died in Brownsville in 1872, having 



in West Tennessee. 239 

lived six years beyond the period allotted to man, 
and within a few months of a half century in Hay- 
wood. Most exemplary in the moral, and without 
spot or blemish in the social, always faithful in trust 
for himself, he became the executor, administrator 
and guardian of naore of the widows' and orphans' 
property and estates, than any man in the county, 
which attested the truth of the saying, that " he who 
managed his own affairs well, could be trusted to 
the fiduciary management of others." He enjoyed, 
to the last day of his long and useful life, the confi- 
dence of everyone, never betraying a trust. He dis- 
charged the various duties devolved upon him with 
marked business tact and capacity, and sterling 
integrity and fidelity. He died as he had lived — 
highly esteemed, respected and venerated. 

Brownsville " was without form and void " until 
the opening of spring, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred and twenty-five. " Goods, 
wares and merchandise" had been sold in Jackson 
from the establishing of the town, which was done 
in 1822 — the town lots having been sold in August 
of that year. Brownsville was the next oldest 
county town, and had the honor of having the first 
store between the latter place and the Mississippi 
where a yard of tape or a paper of pins could be 
had, and 

HIRAM BRADFORD 

was the first store-keeper. He was long the leading 
merchant of the place and business man of the 
county. His long and eventful career is worthy, 
not only of a page in the early history and settle- 



240 Reminiscences of Old Times 

ment of Brownsville, but of imitation by all begin- 
ners in hewing out the rough and difficult path- 
way of life, when self-reliance is the only sustaining 
element. In his youth, he had made it his aim and 
object in life to become rich, and to brave whatever 
of peril and hardship it might coet him in its accom- 
plishment. He got his first start by trading in 
horses and mules, taking them to the old settled 
part of Louisiana, through the many miles of wild 
Indian territory, and often returning home to his 
father's house on the Cumberland, in Stewart coun- 
ty, on foot, when he would not see a white man's 
face from the settlement at N^atchez until he reached 
Tennessee. In his frequent trips to Louisiana, he 
had examined the country, then in the cradle of the 
wilderness, from the Big Hatchie to the Yazoo, cul- 
tivated friendly intercourse with the Indians, and 
"talked injun" equal to a Chickasaw or Choctaw. 
Reaching the age- when it becomes man's duty to 
" pare off" and assume the responsibilities of a good 
citizen, he married and resolved to ^x his residence 
among the Tunica hills of Louisiana, w^here he had 
seen cotton growing. He went to work, in part with 
his own hands, and built him a flatboat, against the 
earnest protestations of his father and neighbors, 
(netting his boat ready by fall, he loaded it with 
corn, leaving room for his young family and house- 
hold. So much opposed was his father and family, 
including his two negro men, to his moving to 
Louisiana, which was regarded as a sickly country, 
and to thwart his going, in the dead of night, before 
the morning fixed for his leaving, his flatboat was 



in West Tennessee. 241 

scuttled by tlie negroes and sunk in the waters of 
the Cumberland. 

He rose early the next morning and repaired to the 
scene of his discomfiture. The people of Dover, a 
little town on the Cumberland where his father 
resided, gathered to the river bank. The boat was 
yet fast to the bank, and about one-half of the front 
part of it out of the water. Hiram pulled off his 
coat and with his two negro men went to work, 
throwing out the corn, which was in the after-part 
of the boat. Soon she began to rise, when he, with 
a face beaming with delighted hope, ran up on the 
bank, jumping high up and slapping his heels to- 
gether, cried oat: "Hurrah for Louisiana!" His 
friends, taking inspiration from his ardent and 
undaunted spirit, though loth to see him go, fell to 
with him, and by noon had the boat afloat and ready 
for loading up again. Filling it again with corn, 
and putting aboard his young wife and one child, 
with such comforts as would be needed on the trip, 
he, with his two negro men, cut loose the moorings 
and floated out from Dover in the fall of 1817. 
Meeting with no difficulty on the voyage, he floated 
down the Mississippi, landing at Bayou Sara, meet- 
ing with the first steamboat he had ever seen on the 
way. 

With his two negro men, he labored in the cotton- 
field, succeeding well in raising cotton. The hot 
sun and long summers of Louisiana, together with 
the unhealthy state of the country, determined him 
to move back to Tennessee. Familiar with the rich 
virgin lands west of the Tennessee river, he resolved 
11 



242 Bcminiscences of Old Times 

on fixing his future place of abode in Haywood. 
Learning the day fixed for the sale of the lots in 
Brownsville, he gathered together his accumulations, 
with which, and his cotton crop of ten hales of that 
season, he went to New Orleans and bought him a 
stock of goods, ordering his family to be ready on 
the bank of the river for the boat as she came up. 

Shipping his goods- on the steamboat , and 

taking his family aboard as she passed up, he landed 
at Fulton in the latter part of February, 1825. His 
aim was to attend the sale of the lots at Browns- 
ville. Procuring a couple of horses at Fulton, he 
mounted one of them, taking one child before him 
and another behind him. His wife rode the other, 
with the third child behind her. He started oiF for 
the lot sale, making his way as best he could along 
Indian trails, until he reached the neighborhood of 
Brownsville, stopping at Reuben Alfin's. He was 
among the first on the ground, when the sale of lots 
began, and bid off the first lot, No. 1, situated on 
the corner of the Public Square and East Main 
street, south side. Having his two men with him, 
he put them to work the next day upon a large 
oak tree that stood near the corner, which he had 
split into slabs, twelve by fourteen feet long, and 
built the first store-house erected in Brownsville. 
It was built over the stump of the tree that fur- 
nished the material for its construction. The Major, 
leaving his family with Reuben Alfin, returned to 
Fulton, and, by the time his new store-house was 
covered in and floored with puncheons, he had his 
boxes of goods ready on the ground to be opened. 



in West Tmnessce. 243 

During that year he erected a saw-pit on the same 
lot, and had sawed out by hand lumber with which 
he built the first hotel in the town, adjoining his 
store-house, which, for size and respectability, was 
not equaled by any house of public entertainment 
in the district. It was continued as the finest and 
best hotel in Brownsville until within a few years 
past, when it had to give way for the more modern 
improvement in brick and mortar. In front of his 
hotel, he set out the first shade tree on the Public 
Square, which also fell a victim to the progress of 
the age, to make room for a shelter of dry boards, 
the stump of which still clings to mother earth, to 
remind the passer-by of the hand that put it there, 
where for forty-six years it bloomed and blossomed 
(it was the flowering locust) over the front windows 
of the hotel, under which the gay young men of the 
town stood and coursed loving talk to the beautiful 
young women, daughters and sisters of the proprie- 
tors, long, long ago, through the raised windows and 
flowing curtains. 

Few men lived so long and blameless a life as 
Hiram Bradford, enjoying the fruits of a well-earned 
fortune and an honorable name, all of which he left 
as a noble heritage to his surviving children. 

THE TAYLOR FAMILY. 

Five brothers of them, Richard, Howell, John Y., 
Edmond, and Buck, with the old patriarch, their 
father, migrated from Virginia in the year 1827-8, 
and made permanent settlements in Haywood. 

Men of parts and large property, zealous in the 
advocacy and vindication of law and order, noted 



244 Rewiniscences of Old Times 

for their patriotic zeal and Christian virtues, none 
contributed more in the forming of sound morals 
and the general well being of society. Their lives 
we:'e a noble example to posterity, illustrative of the 
passion that animates man in the character of a good 
citizen. The writer regrets his inability, for lack 
of sufficient data, to give such a personal sketch of 
the several members of the family as their long and 
useful lives so justly merit; as also, of many others 
of the old and first settlers whose names are worthy 
to be mentioned in these pages. 

The first physicians who settled in Brownsville 
were Wilham C. Bruce, Dorthel, Penn, Dillard, 
Johnson and Barby. 

ALLEN J. BARBY's 

name as physician, citizen and benefactor stands 
alone in Haywood. One of nature's noblemen, he 
stands to-day without a living peer among his early 
professional associates. The writer, for lack of the 
necessary data, is unable to give such a personal 
sketch of Dr. Barby as his long and useful life justly 
merits. Few men, whether in the professional or 
private walks of life, have enjoj^ed the uniform con- 
fidence and esteem of his fellow-man more than 
Doctor Allen J. Barby. 

DAVID MCLEOD, 

the pioneer tailor of Brownsville, is yet among 
the living. Before the town had a corporate exist- 
ence, he worked at his trade in a shop built of logs. 
To aftbrd the necessary light to his tailor's bench, a 
side-log was sawed out. The old tailor, though 
bent a little with the weight of many years, takes 



in West Tennessee. 245 

pride in pointing out where the big stump stocd 
upon which he used to build a fire to heat his 
"goose," with which he pressed oiF the first suit of 
clothes he made, for Colonel Mxon, from cloth 
bought out of Hiram Bradford's " rail-pen store/' 

DANIEL CHERRY, 

with other owners of land grants west of the Ten-^ 
iiessec river, had a drawing for choice of locations. 
Mr. Cherry drew the first and second choice, and as 
early, perhaps, as 1821, visited West Tennessee, 
locating his first choice where he afterward settled, 
on the Forked Deer river, and his second choice at 
"Poplar Corner." It was ncrt, perhaps, until 1823 
that Mr. Cherry fixed his permanent residence on 
the south fork of the Forked Deer river, where he 
early made his mark as a man of enterprise and 
thrift. His first aim in opening up the country, 
was to provide well- the "staff" of life." His choice 
of lands were unsurpassed in fertility, and particu- 
larly adapted to the culture of corn. He soon 
became noted as the best corn grower in the dis- 
trict. Corn and meat he always had to sell. The 
writer, in looking over the files of the Jackson 
Gazette (a newspaper published in Jackson by 
Colonel D. C. McLean), finds an advertisement of 
Mr. Cherry's, which, with his teeming fields of corn, 
shows the fatness of the land. The advertisement 
reads thus: 

"bacon. 

"I have about 15,000 pounds of bacon and 1000 
pounds of lard for sale at Harrisburg, in Haywood 
county. Daniel Cherry. 

"April 23d, 1825." 



246 licminiscmccs of Old Times 

In another place in the same paper he advertises 
several thousand bushels of corn for sale. lie 
showed ^'reat enterprise in the building of a mill 
on the Forked Deer, by which the surrounding set- 
tlements were supplied with good meal. Selecting 
his mill-site on a slough at the edge of the high 
land where he had fixed his residence, he built a 
broad levee across the bottom above the overflow, 
upon Avhich the public could travel at all seasons of 
the year. To afford ample water for his mill, he 
contracted the width and consequent flow of the 
waters of- the Forked Deer, causing an increased 
flow into his mill-pond. 

By his probity and practical good sense he grew 
rich, and reared a large family of sons and daugh- 
ters, many of whom, with their sons and daughters, 
live to adopi the society of West Tennessee. 

Mr. Cherry was a native of ITorth Carolina. He 
lived a long and useful life. His memory will be 
venerated as long as the place (Cherry ville) which 
bears his name shall be known through future 
generations. 

THE FIRST EXECUTION. 

The first execution issued against personal pro- 
perty, and put in the hands of the Sheriff", Reuben 
Alfin, acting deputy was levied upon a male of the 
cow kind, a large red bull, belonging to the defen- 
dant in execution. The acting deputy felt kindly 
toward the defendant, and had made it his special 
business to make it known to all the people of 
the country the day on which the noble animal 
would be sold, and had spoken much of the pro- 



in West Tennessee. 247 

perty in execution, of his blood and pedigree, for 
he was of the best stock of cattle from Middle 
Tennessee. His owner had taken great pains in 
his raising, and handled him easy. The kind- 
hearted deputy had practiced with him some, in 
order that he might handle him to advantage on 
the day of sale. The day, according to tlie notices 
pasted up through the country, came around, and 
the bull was brought to town and tied to a large 
stump in the Public Square, with many feet of rope, 
to allow him the use of himself as well as to graze 
around. It was summer, and not uncommon in 
those days for the grass to grow on the square, or in 
the streets. 

As the hour for the sale approached, the people 
from many parts of the country began to pour in, 
and gather around the bull, to examine and take a 
look before the sale commenced. He was a monster 
bull, a dark mahogany-red, without spot or blemish, 
fat and sleek — a prize to a modern butcher. The 
time arrived for the sale to begin; the good-hoartod 
deputy mounted the stump, to which the property 
in execution was tied, and made proclamation of the 
terms of the sale, etc., and called for bids. Many 
cattle-raisers were there, and soon an active compe- 
tition among the bidders sprung up. The good- 
hearted deputy sheriff kept up a lively crying of tlie 
bids, now and then pausing to expatiate on the line 
qualities and immense value of the noble animal. 
In the meantime, the town folks gathered on the 
square and around the bull. Curiosity and interest 
on the part of the numerous bidders caused the 



248 Reminiscences of Old Times 

crowd to press in close and around the bull, thus 
pushing him out to the extent allowed by the rope — 
some thirty or more feet from the stump to which 
he was tied. Comprehending nothing of the gath- 
ering and excited interest around him, the bull 
began to grow restive, shaking his great head and 
tearing up the ground. He was regarded as per- 
fectly gentle and docile, however, and his becoming 
excited and animated only increased the interest of 
the surrounding by-standers. In the meantime the 
bidding increased in interest and rivalry, and was 
going on bravely, when a laboring man came out 
of a well that he was digging near, and, attracted by 
the crowd on the square, he pressed in to get a sight 
of the object of so much interest. The bull by this 
time had become infuriated. The well-digger con- 
tinued to press through the crowd until he got 
within a few paces of him, as though he proposed 
" taking the bull by the horns !" N'o sooner did the 
infuriated animal get a sight of his red flannel shirt 
than he made a rush upon him. The man in the 
red flannel turned and made his best run to keep 
out of his way, taking his course circling around the 
stump, and for the most part on the outside of the 
bidders and by-standers. In the bull's run the rope 
slacked up, taking the crowd along about the knees. 
The bull had performed the circle, leveling every 
one to the ground who stood within it. The situa- 
tion was becoming painfully terrific. The man with 
the red shirt kept on the outside, beyond the reach 
of the mad bull. The kind-hearted deputy, to re- 
lieve the situation immediately around him, pulled 



in West Tennessee. 249 

out his knife and cut the rope, freeing the bull, when 
he broke for the red shirt. Away they went amid 
the excited shouts of the crowd, across the square, 
the bull gaining on him every jump, until the well- 
digger reached his well, only saving himself by 
swinging on to the well-rope and letting himself 
down out of sight. The bull, finding himself at 
liberty to go his way, broke for home. The injury 
and damage around the stump was purely inci- 
dental, lacking in malice, and the bull was freely 
forgiven. 

The last and highest bidder was not remem- 
bered by the deputy sheriff. The day for return- 
ing the execution was close at hand, and how to 
make his return upon it was a puzzle. 

Had Vol. Sevier been a resident of the town at 
that day, it would have been said that he had had 
something to do with the well-digger's coming out 
of his well with a red flannel shirt on. 

Prominent among the lawyers who early settled 
in Brownsville, was 

MAJ. WM. R. HESS, 

ingenuous and amiable in aspect, square in build 
and medium in stature ; his hair, for lack of a bar- 
ber, usually fell low upon his broad shoulders. In 
dress he was careless, sometimes to slovenliness. A 
good dinner and full bottle pleased him much. He 
liad wit, learning and elocution, sprightly in debate, 
with all the dignity of a professional man, yet he 
was m.odest and retiring. Admitted to the bar when 
quite young, he soon took a high position, and gave 
promise of a brilliant future. Few men, in so brief 



260 Reminiscences of Old Times 

a career, attained to a higher degree of eminence, 
or held within his grasp a power of mind that woukl 
have insured the full measure of a laudable ambition. 
His genius and learning, however, were counterbal- 
anced by indolence and a too great fondness for 
personal ease and self-gratification. The public 
weal concerned him little, refusing on several occa- 
sions to accept positions, requiring him to mix with 
the voxpopuli; yet he was good company, and en- 
joyed the social of a small circle, and a good joke? 
not unfrequently perpetrating one himself. 

It is remembered of him, that on one occasion 
he appeared before the Magistrate's Court — the 
Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions — one winter 
day. He had just risen from a good dinner and an 
empty bottle, and remembering that he had a motion 
to make before the Court adjourned, he strode to- 
ward the Court-house. Losing nothing of his 
accustomed dignity of manner, with measured steps 
he walked into the court-room. Unbuttoning his 
old green blanket overcoat, throwing back the 
heavy colar, and thrusting his left thumb in the 
arm-hole of his vest, he presented himself to the 
Court, announcing his wish to make a motion. The 
Court, being engaged in some matter then before it, 
paid no attention to him. He announced again that 
he wanted to make a motion, yet the Court heard 
him not. Patiently he stood, the personification of 
the great Webster in the United States Senate. 
lvai^^ing his clear, ringing voice, he repeated, for the 
third time — 

"May it please this must Worshipful Court, I 



in West Tennessee. 251 

have a motion to make. Will you please hear ? " 

Still no recognition. Putting on his hat, he 
turned upon his heel and walked out of the court- 
room, with the same steady step that he came in. 
Passing out to a pile of brickbats that lay in the 
court-yard, he filled the great pockets of his over- 
coat, and retraced his steps to the court-room, with 
a brick in each hand, as well as one in his hat, and 
again presented himself before the Court. 

"]^ow, Mr. Chairman," he said, "I will make a 
motion that will engage the attention of this Court." 

Suiting his action to his words, he let fly at the 
Chairman's head. He dodged and fell under the 
Judge's bench, the brick shattering the window- 
glass behind him. The Major let fly another, and 
another, at the associate members of the Court, un- 
til his pockets w^ere emptied. In the meantime, the 
"Mr. Chairman," who lisped badly, was all the 
while crying out to his associates : 

" Lah loh, boyth, lah loh, all on you ! He'll hit 
thom on you, if you don't lah loh." 

The Major, after exhausting his ammunition, re- 
tired in good order, but the Court, apprehending 
liiri return with another pocket full of bats, ordered 
the Sheriff to adjourn Court, and they left the bench 
eniovinc: the last "motion." 

"The Moody Case," occurring several years later, 
in which the Major figured^ was the last case of any 
note in which he was connected. The case is mem- 
orable for the interest and excitement it produced in 
the county. It occurred in the days that Murrell 
and his clansinen figured, and Moody was regarded 



252 Reminiscences of Old Times 

as one of the clan. As now remembered, it was a 
jnima facie case, under the law, of negro stealing. A 
negro man, belonging to a highly respectable and 
worthy citizen of the county, Egbert Shephard, Esq., 
was missing from his master's premises. Whether 
decoyed otf or " run away," was a question soon 
solved in the minds of the people, by the negro 
being caught in a watermelon patch somewhere be- 
tween where his owner lived and the Mississippi 
river, and Moody, who had been " spotted," found 
upon the premises. The negro was brought back, 
and lodged in jail for safe-keeping, until the sup- 
posed negro stealer could be apprehended. Lan- 
guage is tame to say the county and town was in a 
blaze of excitement. The popular mind was in 
fever heat previous to the occurrence of this case. 
I^egro stealing was becoming common, and the in- 
stitution was becoming menaced and threatened in 
divers ways ; so it was not long before Moody was 
brought for trial. The gathering on the Public 
Square that day was large, and the excitement and 
indignation surpassed anj^thing that occurred before 
or since. The old and best men of the county were 
there ready to participate in anything that was nec- 
essary to be done, whether to hang the offender, or 
to keep him Irom being hung, without judge or 
jury. But, alas! for the offended law, proof of the 
right sort was lacking, i^egro proof was not legal, 
and it was the only kind of testimony in proof of 
his guilt that could be offered. Yet in the minds 
and consciences of every one he ivas guilty. He 
plead not guilty, however — stood up with a bold 



in West Tennessee, 253 

and defiant mien, and challenged proof before the 
men of the law of the land and God ! He vowed 
that he neither knew the negro by sight, nor did 
the negro know him. 

It was arranged to put his avowed innocence to 
the test. The populace formed a ring, in the mid- 
dle of which a number of men known to be stran- 
gers to the negro, together with Moody, was left 
standing. The negro was brought out of jail, and 
turned loose, and told to go in the crowd and find 
the white man who had decoj^ed him away from his 
master's premises. He passed in through the outer 
circle, and up to where Moody, with a dozen men, 
were standing, and, to the amazed astonishment of 
the would-be innocent accused, laid his black hand 
upon his shoulder and announced him to be the man. 
A scene ensued that beggars description. 

Moody winced and wilted, while the populace 
with one voice announced him guilty. He was then 
taken in the court-room, and before the committing 
magistrates, the owner of the negro having made 
afi3.davit, and of necessity was the prosecutor. Maj. 
Hess had engaged to defend him. The court-room 
was jammed with the intensely excited and indignant 
citizens. In the meantime many of the old and 
young heads were in council on the other side. 
Negro testimony not being admissible under the 
law, and no othei tangible proof at hand or likely 
to be found, the wise heads concluded that a trial 
before the courts would result in a fiiilure, if not a 
farce, and resolved, upon his being discharged by 
the magistrates, to take the case in their own hands. 



254 Reminiscences of Old Times 

Upon the resolution being taken they proceeded to 
the court-room and awaited the action of the magis- 
trates, who, upon their being no proof or witnesses 
produced, dismissed the suit against the offender. The 
court-room filled to overflowing — every man a wit- 
ness in his own heart and conscience of the guilt of 
the prisoner. To see him discharged, to go hence 
without day, was grievously vexing. Just then a 
dozen or more of the leading bold spirits of the day 
rushed in with pistols in hand, leaping the outer 
railing, seized the culprit, and took him in their 
hands. The gallant Major, who had stood in his 
defense under the law, and who, by nature and in- 
stinct, was averse to the use of deadly weapons, 
gathered up his law books and announced to the 
new regime that he did not practice in their 
court. 

The " case" was then opened upon a new hearing. 
The people threw themselves into a committee of 
the whole, upon their original sovereign rights, and 
drew from among themselves a panel of twenty-five 
jurors, before whom Moody was arraigned and put 
upon his trial. Sundry speeches and harrangues 
were made, inflammable and conservative. The 
drift of conscience sentiment was inflexibly that 
Moody was the veritable man, and a full verdict of 
"guilty" was rendered by the twenty-five citizen 
jurors. Failing to fix the penalty for so grave an 
ottence, and being for the most part in favor of 
hanging, they recommended that another jury be 
drawn, composed of twelve of the most conserva- 
tive and discreet citizens, who should fix the pen- 



ill West Tennessee. 255 

alty, which was doue, and constituted a part of the 
original proceedings. 

According to the finding of the jury of his peers, 
the jury of twelve pronounced sentence according 
to the Korth Carolina laws; " that he be taken out 
and receive a given number of lashes upon his bare 
back, and be branded upon his left cheek with the 
letter ' R,' and required to put the Mississippi river 
or some other State line between himself and the 
State of Tennessee, within the twenty-four hours 
next ensuing." The sentence was fully executed, 
and Moody went according to the requirements of 
the people, acting in their sovereign capacity, and 
the "Moody Case" became history. 



256 Reminiscences of Old Times 



CHAPTER XII. 

The First Steamboat — The Denizens of Haywood Gather 
on the Bank of the Big Hatchie to see it — Valentine 
Sevier, the Wit and Humorist of Brownsville — Cox, the 
Postmaster — Old Herring Bones — The Young Horse- 
Trader. 

"Old times" in Haywood is memorable for many 
amusing incidents, anecdotes and "good things." 
Among tlie most amusing, and yet remembered 
with a lively interest, occurred on the appearance of 
the first steamboat that came up the Big Hatchie. 
Her coming was heralded over the county several 
days in advance, and the day she would be at the 
Brownsville landing named. All the men, women 
and children that could muster a horse or a go-cart 
(and many walked), turned out "to a man." A big 
circus or a general muster never drew a larger assem- 
blage of people than was assembled on the banks of 
the Big Hatchie on that memorable day to see the 
first steamboat. 

From Brownsville they had gone in procession 
order, with banners flying, led by the orator of the 
day, Major Hess, who had been chosen to welcome 
the Captain and his steamer, the Red Rover, in an 
appropriate speech. The day was propitious, and 
everybody that could go was there and in waiting. 
Every available twig, limb, sappling or stake, from 



ill West Ttimessee. 257 

the river bank for many yards back, was put in 
requisition to hitch and fasten the horses to. 

For miles below the ''puff" of the boat was heard. 
With steam up to the highest gauge, and every 
pound turned on, she came up " booming." 

Along the river bank, on the bluff', and every 
available place for getting a sight, was crowded; 
many, for want of standing room, and to get a bet- 
ter view, got up into the trees. As the boat ncared 
the landing, the press and anxiety to see — to get the 
first sight — became intense. Amid shouts and yells 
she hove in sight, turning the bend below with the 
last inch of steam turned in her cylinder, driving 
her keel through the swift waters of the Big Hatchie, 
to the amazing delight of tlie hundreds of anxious, 
throbbing hearts that stood upon the bank. 

The dexterous pilot, judging well the place of 
landing as indicated by where the largest crowd 
was standing, w^ith flyino^ banners brought her to 
in a blaze of glory amid shouts of welcome. Run- 
ning out her head and spring lines she was made 
fast. The populace pressed in close to get a better 
sight, as well as to hear the speech of welcome. Just 
then the engineer raised his valves and let off steam, 
and the scene that ensued bci^gars all description. 
Men, women and children broke as for dear life, 
some shrieking and screaming amid the deafeuiug 
noise of the blowing-off sham, which had reached 
its culminating point in the boilers. The tVightened 
horses had broken loose, where the}' could, and were 
tearing belter skelter through the woods and up the 
road, and those that could not break loose were 



258 Remmiscences of Old Times 

rearing, pitching and dancing around the trees and 
places that held them. Everything looked as thongh 
the devil had broke out of his harness. Many were 
so badly frightened that they did not stop running 
or look back until they v^ere out of breath, and the 
frightened liorses never stopj^ed until they got home. 

The imagination of the reader may run riot in 
picturing himself such a scene as is here attempted 
to be described, which occurred in real life forty- 
five years ago. Not one in thirty of those who 
were there that day ever saw a steamboat, or knew 
anything about them save through scraps in the 
newspapers describing the horrible "blowing up" 
and destruction of life. It may be said that the 
"let-off steam" of the boats in those days was in- 
comparably louder than now, and was as frightening 
then as a "blow up" would be now. 

The reception proceedings were broken up for that 
day. The Captain and his officers were tendered a 
dinner at Brownsville the next day, where the Cap- 
tain was welcomed and toasted. A cotemporary 
of "old times" promised to furnish a copy of Major 
Hess' eloquent speech on that occasion, which is yet 
preserved. It is to be regretted that it could not 
be obtained, together with the proceedings of that 
memorable day, and find a place in these pages. 

Life, when viewed through the dim vista of by- 
gone days with attending incidents, often appears as 
a curious piece of fiction wrought from a feverish, 
dreamy brain. The boys who walked four or six 
miles ("survivors of that vast gathering) to see the 
first steamboat, whose quick and elastic step is now 



in West Tennessee. 259 

touched by gout or stifFoncd by the long walk of 
time, yet retain a lively recollection of the am using 
incidents and scenes of that day, while little hillocks 
and white stones mark what remains of the middle- 
aged and old, save the fond memories of affection 
and love, 

Valentine Sevier, a wit, humorist and practical 
joker of no mean order, yet lives in the memories 
of "old times in Brownsville." A decendant of 
the old stock of Seviers, who began life in Tennes- 
see when it was "the State of Franklin, he inher- 
ited his full share of the genius of his forefathers, 
with the wit of his mother. Brave and generous, 
life with Vol was ever in the merry sunshine. 

The town was never out of a joke — a fresh one 
for every day when times were dull — during his 
residence in it ; the old and young came in for a 
measure of his wit. His manner, so frank and can- 
did, yet grave and intensely pious when need be, 
that the victim of his jokes of yesterday, would fall 
into his trap set for him the next day. An old and 
respected citizen was F. S. Cox, long the postmaster 
at Brownsville. Cox had his personality, border- 
ing on excentricities. Kind-hearted and generously 
submissive to whatever of fun that grew out of a 
joke practiced upon him, he not unfrequently con- 
ceived himself the real personage of a witty pun, or 
become seriously affected in imagination, by an inno- 
cent and harmless incident. So unsuspecting was 
his generous nature, that he often became a victim 
to Vol's jokes. Among the many amusing jokes 
perpretrated upon him, the following, in some 



260 Reminiscences of Old Times 

degree, illustrates the man. One August afternoon 
he was returning from his dinner, when near the 
public square, he came to a little white fice dog 
and another little dog grining and growling at each 
other on the sidewalk. In passing, they were in 
his way; he gave the little white fellow a rough 
shove with his foot, when the little dog turned and 
grabbed him by the calf of his leg, pinching him a 
little. Passing on, he paid no further attention to 
it. Vol Sevier was standing in Charley Guyger's 
store door and saw it. Picking up a double-barrel 
shot gun that set near, he sliped out the back door, 
and made his way around through an alley, and 
came up in a hurried walk to where Cox was just 
joining a crowd in front of the postoffice, inquiring 
aloud, as he came up, if any one had seen a little 
white fice dog. Passing up to Cox, he said: 

" Mr. Cox, did you see anything of a little white 
fice dog on your way down from dinner?" 

"Yes," says Cox, "if he belongs to you. Vol, 
you'll find him down there," pointing to where he 
had seen him. 

"ISTo," says Vol, "he is not mine, but I am after 
him to kill him; he is mad !" 

" Mad ! did you say ? " says the postmaster, gath- 
ering up his leg — " mad did you say ? — hydrophobia ! 
hydrophobia!" he cried out, jumping upon one leg, 
holding on to the other until he reached the nearest 
seat. "Tench, Tench, my son, I am bitten by a 
mad-dog, my son. Oh ! hydrophobia ! hydrophobia ! 
run my son for the doctor, and tell him I am bitten 
by a mad-dog." 



in West Tennessee. 261 

Tench obeyed, and the postmaster hobbled in the 
back room, holding on to his bitten leg. In the 
meantime Vol slipped around and intercepted the 
doctor, and gave him the cue. The friends of Cox 
had gathered around him, not suspecting the joke, 
and wanted to see where and how he had been 
bitten. 

"No," said Cox, holding on to the calf of his leg with 
both of his hands, " wait until the doctor comes." 

The doctor soon came in with a smile in his eye. 
Cox related to him the manner and Low he was 
bitten, laying himself flat of his back on a cot 
for the doctor to examine his leg. His pantaloons 
were carefully drawn off, his drawers turned up 
above his knee, and the doctor went to work to 
examine the fatal bite. 

*' Whereabouts is it," says the doctor. 

"Right there," says Cox, putting his hand on the 
calf of his leg. 

"Well," says the doctor, "take your hand away, 
and let me examine it." 

The doctor looked and examined, but could find 
no bite or sign of a dog's tooth. 

" Why, Cox, there must be some mistake. There 
is no mark of a dog's tooth on this leg." 

" Yes he did bite me, and that must be the leg; 
it was the nearest to him — there is no mistake about 
it, I am bitten by a mad-dog. I am sure that I am 
bitten, for I felt it when Vol Sevier told me the dog 
was mad." 

"Who told you the dog was mad?" says the 
doctor, with a grip upon his risable. 



262 Reminiscences of Old Thnes 

"Yol Sevier; he was after him with a double- 
barrel." 

The doctor could hold in no longer, bursting 
into a laugh, he said: 

"Why, Cox, you are only bitten by one of Vol's 
jokes, there is no sign of a dog bite on your leg." 

The good-natured postmaster realizing the hoaks, 
dressed himself and joined his friends in the joke. 

Vol played a joke off on old Robin, a notable 
character of " old times " in Brownsville. Robin 
was familiarly known as "Old Herring Bones," an 
appellation he inherited from his native State, Xorth 
Carolina. His early raising was near the herring 
shoals of the old North State. He indignantly re- 
sented the slam upon his nativity. Known and 
respected for his age and fidelity to his owners, he 
became a sort of free man about town and a 
privileged character. The old negro swore like a 
trooper; and when provoked his tongue knew no 
bounds. Robin always walked with a long staff — 
sometimes it would be a corn-stalk. When the 
boys about town would find Robin with his corn- 
stalk, they would poke fun at him by calling him 
"Old Herring Bones;" when he would lose his 
self-command, and chase them to the school-room, 
or some safe place of retreat. Robin claimed revo- 
lutionary honors — that he served, with his old 
master, Macon, in the Revolutionary War. He was 
brought to Haywood by George Jordan, stepson of 
Colonel Mxon, and last belonged to Colonel Mans- 
field Ware, who, venerating his age and past faithful 
services, allowed him great latitude about town. 



in West Tennessee. 263 

On one occasion he bought for Robin the cloth 
for a line suit of clothes, and told him to take it 
over to Eddings' tailor shop and get Mr. Eddings to 
take his measure and cut them out, and his mistress 
would have them made. Robin took the cloth and 
walked across the square to Eddings' shop. Mr. 
Eddings was out. Yol Sevier happened to be in the 
shop at the time. 

Robin, after waiting some time, began to get im- 
patient for Eddings to return. Vol inquired of him 
what he wanted with Eddings. Robin told him that 
the Colonel had bought him cloth for a suit of 
clothes, and sent him to Mr. Eddings to have his 
measure taken and the suit cut out. 

"AYcll," sa^^s Yol, "Robin, if you are in a hurr^- 
I can take your measure, and when Mr. Eddings 
comes in he can cut them out." 

''What! you tailor, Yol Sevier? You no tailor; 
no, sir; can't spile this cloth, that you won't." 

"But," says Yol, "Robin, I can take your measr re 
and the tailor will do the cutting." 

Yol's manner of speech became convincing, and 
removed old Robin's doubts as to his ability to take 
his measure. He hnally consented, if he would be 
in a hurry and do it quick, as the Colonel would be 
waiting for him. 

" Well," says Yol, "take off your coat and vest." 
Robin did as he was told. 

"ISTow take off your pants and shirt, Robin," says 
Yol. 

Robin faltered, and began to doubt whether Yol 
knew what he was about. Yol soon convinced him, 



264 Reminiscences of Old Times 

however, that he did, and he consented to take off" 
everything he had, if Vol would only he in a hurry 
and let him off quick. 

The old negro denuded himself of his shirt and 
hreeches. 

"N'ow," says Vol, "Kobin, get up on this broad 
table; it was made for the purpose." Robin did as 
he was told. 

" !N'ow lay flat on your back." 

Robin obeyed as a medium in the hands of a mes- 
merizer. 

Vol straightened and fixed Robin's legs and arras, 
and taking a piece of chalk commenced taking his 
measure. Beginning at Robin's head, he traced 
around and down his neck to his shoulder, then 
down his arm and round up to his arm-pit, then 
down his body and around his hip down to his heel, 
thence up the inside of the leg and down the other 
leg to the heel, thence up the other side as before 
to the beginning. 

Just as he was makino^ the finishino^ mark, Colonel 
Ware stepped to the door and asked for Robin. 
The old negro raised himself up in a sitting posture. 
The Colonel, comprehending in a moment what Vol 
had been at, commenced scolding Robin for allowing 
himself to be made a fool of by Vol Sevier. Robin, 
realizing his situ^ation all in a moment, commenced 
cursing Vol, jumped off' the bench, and gathered 
his long staff". Vol, understanding old Robin when 
he thought fun was being poked at him, leaped out 
of the front door and ''Old Herring Bones" after 
him, and the Colonel calling to old Robin to come 



in West Tennessee. 265 

back and put on his clothes, an old fool, and go 
home. 

It was several months before Vol Sevier would 
let old Robin get within reach of him. 

"Old times" in Brownsville had its tailors, sad- 
dlers, tanners, ginmakers, and shoemakers, but 
was without a barber. The tailors, on account of 
their handling the scissors well, were often called 
on to do the hair-cutting; sometimes the dexterous 
young clerks, who always had sharp scissors, were 
called on. Vol in his kind offices toward his fel- 
low-man, learned to handle the scissors, and was 
regarded as the best hair-cutter in town, and was 
often called upon when he was not in the humor for 
the job.' It was only his partial friends, and they 
were many, that he would barberize. 

There came to Haywood, most every fall, a hand- 
some young man from Middle Tennessee, trading 
in horses and mules. He had made the acquaintance 
of the young men about town, and, withal, was an 
agreeable young man, and a pleasant companion. 
He dressed well, rode a fine horse, and always 
had money in his pocket. He was admitted into 
society — just enough to admit of his maldng the 
acquaintance of a few young ladies. 

His hair needed cutting very much; learning that 

Vol was an expert hair-cutter, he hunted him up. 

Vol, with a half dozen or more gentlemen of 
12 



266 Ttemmiscences of Old Times 

leisure, were sitting under the shade trees, before 
Welch's tavern, when the young man came up. 
Approaching him, he said : 

" Mr. Sevier, I learn from your friends in town 
that you are in the habit of cutting hair, and that 
you are the best cutter in town; will you cut 
mine ?" Vol threw his humorous laughing eye 
upon the handsome young trader for a moment 
before replying. 

" I hope I am not mistaken in the gentleman ; 
your friend Mr. Cox, the postmaster, pointed you 
out to me, and told me you were the best hair-cut- 
ter in town, and that you would cut it for me." 

Vol had decided, telling the young man to go over 
to Eddings' tailor shop, and get a pair of ^scissors. 
The evening was pleasant, and by the time the 
young horse-trader returned with the scissors, the 
crowd under the shade trees had increased in num- 
bers. The young man returned, his face beaming 
witli delight. Camp-meeting was going on out at the 
camp-ground, and he wanted to look his best the 
next day. Yol rose and fixed his chair for the 
young man to sit in, who, taking oiF his coat, fixed 
himself straight up and was ready for the operation. 

Vol pulled off his coat, and commenced without 
asking him how he wanted it cut. His hair was long 
and bushey, and inclined to be redish. Vol combed 
it out straight, parting it in the middle from his 



in West Tennessee. 267 

forehead to the nape of his neck, and commenced 
on one side where it was parted, and Avorked down 
to his ear. As the scissors clipped off the last long 
lock on that side, the crowd around looking on, 
began to giggle and snigger. The young man, 
devining that it was something about his head they 
were amusing themselves at, put his hand up to the 
barberized side, and feeling no hair, he bursted out 
into a rage of flaming words, jumped up and swore 
that it was an outrage — " that he had rather than 
the price of his fine horse, not to have had his head 
ruined." Yol, in his bland manner, without a 
smile, while the bystanders were in a roar of laugh- 
ter, persuaded the young man that his hair was not 
"ruined," and before he cut the other side, to walk 
in the public room of the tavern, where he woukl 
find a looking glass, and he would see that it was 
not ^^ ruined.'' 

The young trader took him at his word ; went 
in and saw himself in the glass, as others had seen 
him. He grew furious and uncontrolable ; swore 
and cursed at Sevier, and everybody else, but par- 
ticularly at Cox, for recommending him as a hair- 
cutter. 

He swore "if anybody would fight him, he would 
fight the whole town." 

All the while Vol kept his face un wrinkled, per- 
suading the young man, who had become wild with 



208 Reminiscences of Old Times 

passion, to take his seat and let him finish the job. 

But no! he would not. He vowed that "he 
should not put his hand on his head again or cut 
another hair." 

The joke had taken rather deep root, and seemed 
likely to become serious. However, Vol possessed 
great fertility of expedient, and he was bound to 
work out of it. Few men knew better the workings 
of the human passions. A master performer exer- 
cised not more power over his instrument than he 
did in mastering the springs of feeling and thought 
of his subject, or with whom it was his wont to 
play. His joke had taken well, and he was willing 
that it should go forth as a preventive to future 
annoyances in the way of hair-cutting. Letting the 
young trader rage and fume until the mirthful 
crowd were satisfied (which satisfied him), remaining 
all the while without a wrinkle or reflex from his 
face to show that it was purposed, he threw his en- 
chanting coils around his green subject, and seated 
him again, for the other side of his head to be done 
likewise; and when finished, convinced the ow^ner 
of a well shaved head that it became him admira- 
bly, which was attested by those around turning 
their mirth into admiration of his dexterity in 
handling the scissors. 

Sevier took much interest in things about town, 
and frequently contributed to the interest and va- 



in West Temiessee. 269 

riety of the local trade. To exemplify his passion in 
that way, an anecdote is preserved of him, in which 
he caused his friend Cox to become the contributor.. 
Cox was concerned in the tanning business, and 
was the largest purchaser of green hides in town. 
It was customary to weigh and sell the horns with 
the hide at the established price. Vol happened to 
be down at the tanyard one day when a lot of hides 
belonging to an honest, hard-working countryman 
were being weighed and delivered. He noticed one 
of them without horns — the hide of a w.uley cow or ox. 
The country gentleman took the weight of the hides 
and went up town to get his pay from Cox. Vol 
went along with him. Going along, he suggested 
to the owner of the hides that he was entitled to 
homage on one of his hides. 

"What?" says the countryman, "how! what did 
you say?" 

" Homage^'' says Vol. " One of your hides was a 
mulej^ — didn't have any horns. It is worth moi-c^ 
than those with horns. So, when Mr. Cox goes to 
pay you, you must claim homage." 

The hide vendor understood it. Handing in the 
weights, the calculation at so much a pound was 
made and the money being counted out, when the 
country gentleman stated to Mr. Cox that he was 
entitled to homage on one of the hides — that it was 
a muley hide. 



270 Reminiscences of Old Times 

"Homage! wliat?^' says Cox; "who ever heard 
of such a thing as homage?" 

•'1 have," says the gentleman seller, "and you 
have got to pay me homage on that muley hide." 

In the meantime Vol stepped in, and his friend 
Cox appealed to him, to know if such a thing was 
ever heard of before, and what he thought about it. 

"Yes," says Vol, "it's right." "Homage" was 
established in the tanyard thereafter, upon Vol's 
decision. 



171 West Tennessee, 271 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Fayette^ Its Geographical and Topographical Features — 
County Sites Established for Seven Counties — L. P. 
Williamson — Hardeman — Bolivar — EzekialPolk — Jack- 
son — Colonel C. D. McLean, 

Fayette. — The year after the Chickasaw title to the 
lands ill "West Tennessee was extinguished by the 
United States government (in 1818), by an act of 
the Legislature, the territory embracing the present 
limits of Fayette, Hardeman, McNary and Shelby, 
was attached to Hardin, and comprehended Hardin 
county. Afterward, and during the period of the 
same session, by a supplemental act, the present 
limits of Shelby was defined and fixed. 

In 1821 Shelby county was established, and the 
territory now forming the counties of Fayette and 
Tipton, was attached, and Hardeman and Haywood 
attached to Madison. 

In 1822 Hardeman was established, then embrac- 
ing the territory, which, the year following (1823), 
was laid off and erected into a county, and called 
" Fayette''^ in honor of, and for • 

GENERAL LAFAYETTE, 

who, the year following, was the '•'' nation^ s guest.'^ 



272 Reminiscences of Old Times 

In the year 1824, the counties of Fayette, Harde- 
man, Haywood, Tipton, Dyer and Gibson, became 
separate and independent counties, with separate 
judicial jurisdiction. Previous to that period, and 
up to 1821, the inhabitants of the territory, now 
Fayette county, were embraced within the jurisdic- 
tion of Hardin; and from 1821 to the period when it 
was established as a separate county, under the 
jurisdiction of the courts of Shelby. 

In the same year (1824) commissioners were 
appointed by the Legislature to locate and establish 
county sites for the new counties embraced in the 
act of that year. 

In 1825, Somerville was established as the perma- 
nent county site for Fayette, and the lots were sold 
by the commissioners, appointed by the county 
court, in September of that year. It is worthy of 
note, that the county sites for the counties of Hay- 
wood, Tipton, Obion, Hardeman, Gibson, Dyer and 
Fayette, were located and established in the same 
year. Commissioners by the several county courts 
were appointed to lay off the towns and sell the 
lots, the several sites having been located upon 
grounds donated for that purpose. 

The commissions forBrownsville, Haywood county, 
were L. McGuire, K T. Perkins, WiUiam II. Hen- 
derson and Thomas G. Kixon, and the sale took 
place the third Monday m March. 



in West Tennessee. 273 

The commissioners for Covington, Tipton county, 
were Marcus Calmes, Robert G. Green, John Eck- 
ford, Alex. Robinson and E. T. Pope ; sale twelfth 
of April. 

The commissioners for Dresden, Obion county, 
were John Terrell, John Schultz, Mear Warner, 
Ferry Vincent and Martin Lawler; sale fourteenth 
of April. 

For Bolivar, Hardeman county, Thomas J. Har- 
deman, John H. Bills, IS'at Steel, West Harris and 
John T. Cockran; sale on twenty-second of April. 

For Gibsonport, Gibson county, J. B. Hogg, 
William C. Love, John W. Evans, Robert Finkle 
and John P. Thomas; sale July twentieth. 

For Dyersburg, Dyer county, J. Rutherford, 
Griffin Rutherford, Ben Porter, Wilham Martin and 
Thomas ISTash; sale twenty-sixth of July. 

Commissions for Somerville, were Henry Kirk, 
Daniel Johnson, Hamilton Thornton, William Owen 
and John T. Patterson; sale on the fourteenth day 
of September. 

During that year (1825) immigration to the new 
counties exceeded any other year. 

Fayette — the territory embraced within the limits 
of Fayette, bordering north on the waters of the Big 
Hatchie, south by the pure silvery watei^s of the 
Wolf, the Loosa Hatchie, with its numerous feeders, 
rising up through the center — no county in West 



274 Beminiscences of Old limes 

Tennessee was more inviting to the early immigrant 
settler, or could boast of richer virgin lands, peculi- 
arly adapted to Southern agriculture, and capable of 
sustaining a large population. Settled by men of 
enterprise, intelligence and wealth, it early took a 
stand among the most favored counties in the dis- 
trict, noted for the refined, cultivated taste and 
good morals of its citizens. Prominent among the 
early pioneer settlers of Fayette worthy of honorable 
mention, and whose long and useful life, beginning 
with his early manhood, was the late 

LEWIS p. WILLIAMSON. 

With an energy and enterprise unknown to the 
present age, he exchanged the luxuries and com- 
forts, the pleasures and enjo^^ments of a cultivated 
and refined society in the "Old Korth State" for 
the hardships, dangers and difiiculties incident to 
the early settlers in the wilds of West Tennessee. 
His boyhood days spent in his native State, North 
Carolina, his early manhood at " Yale," where he 
graduated with honors in his twentieth year ; he re- 
turned to his native home, an elected member 
to the State Legislature before he was twenty-one 
years of age. iSTine miles northwest of Somer- 
ville he fixed his residence, in the loveliest spot in 
the wilderness, and built him a round-log house loith 
a imssage in the middle, like other new comers of that 
day, and called it '* Ivenness," alter a }ilace in (Jld 



in West Tennessee. 275 

Scotland, from which his wife's ancestors emi- 
grated, where he with his happy tamilj lived, im- 
proving and beautifying it until his death, which 
occurred in 1865, having lived three score and four 
years, and the last forty in Fayette. 

Mr. Williamson was a ripe scholar, a polished 
writer, ^n eloquent speaker and ready debater. He 
several times represented his fellow-citizens of Fay- 
ette in the State Legislature with notable ability. 
He was the author of, and secured to West Tennes- 
see the first railroad charter, the Memphis and 
LaGrange railroad ; which was afterward adopted, 
and formed a part of the Memphis and Charleston 
railroad. 

In the early days of Whigery he entered the field 
of politics, under the banner of "Harry of the 
West," and became a candidate for Congress. His 
glowing eloquence in the cause of Whigery — in 
advocating and maintaining the principles of govern- 
ment as taught by the great statesmen, Webster 
and Clay — distinguished him as a man of merit, and 
eminent among the first men of West Tennessee. 
Koted.for his refined, cultivated taste, strict moral 
deportment, and his utter abhorrence of "grog-shops " 
(he was a great advocate in the cause of temperance), 
he relied alone upon his personal merit and the just- 
ness of his cause for votes. In the celebrated 
canvass in which he made a distinguishing mark as 



276 Reminiscences of Old Times 

a speaker and ready debater, C. II. Williams, of 
Madison, and W. C. Dunlap, of Shelby, were his 
opponents. Williams was of the same school of 
politics with himself, and Dunlap a Democrat. Mr. 
Williamson and Mr. Dunlap made the canvass of 
the district together, on horseback. Personally 
warm and fast friends, an anecdote is told of them, 
illustrative of the men and mode of electioneering. 
Traveling together one day, they came to a cross- 
roads store, where liquor was kept also. Colonel 
Dunlap, forgetting nothing of the qualities constitu- 
ting a successful canvasser for votes, discovering 
several men standing in the store door, halted as 
they rode up in front, remarking to his friend 
Williamson that he felt dry — that if he, being a 
temperance man, would hold his horse for a 
moment, he would get down and " take a drink." 
The kind Mr. Williamson readily consented. 

Colonel Dunlap dismounted, and witli a generous, 
smiling face entered the store. Calling for a drink, 
he turned to the bystanders, and said: 

"Gentlemen, join me — candidate for Congress — 
passing through your country— glad to make ac- 
quaintances. Come, gents, join me in a drink." 

He was of course joined by half a dozen or more 
hardy voters, they thinking it was their rightful 
duty to drink a candidate's liquor. While all were 
tilling their glasses and exchanging glances at each 



in West Tennessee. 277 

■t 

other, the Colonel, throwing his eyes across his 

shoulder, remarked : 

" See that man on his horse? lie is a temperance 
man; delivers a fine temperance speech. He 
wouldn't be caught in such a place as this for all 
the votes in the neighborhood. lie is my opponent. 
My name is William C. Dunlap, candidate for Con- 
gress — good day, gentlemen; I can't be with you 
longer; my friend is holding my horse." 

Mr. Williamson's devotion to the case of Whigery 
induced him to retire from the canvass in favor of 
his political confrere, Colonel Williams, when his 
prospects of election were considered brighter than 
any other candidate in the field. His compass of 
mind fitted him for every intellectual pursuit. His 
rare business capacity and refined cultivated taste was 
evidenced in the management of his agricultural 
and domestic affairs and the beautifying of the 
home of his family. 

It was, perhaps, in the year 1856-57, that the 
Agricultural Bureau of the State oftered a prize for 
the best agricultural essay and address on the occa- 
sion of the Fair held that year at Jackson. The 
contestants were Governor James C. Jones, Gov- 
ernor A. A. Brown and Lewis P. Williamson. The 
prize was awarded to Mr. Williamson, and ordered 
printed in the report of the Agricultural Bureau. 

As a Christian gentleman, worthy and honorable 



278 Reminiscences of Old Times 

in every pursuit in life, no more fitting tribute and 
eulogy upon his fair name and character could be 
offered than the following quotation the writer is 
permitted to make from a touching letter from his 
widow, after his death, to a friend, and who survived 
him but a few years. She says : 

"From the period of his conversion throughout 
his whole life he was a Christian in the sublime and 
exalted spiritual sense of the word, and was ever 
ready to give a reason for the faith that was in him 
with meekness and fear. While his worth was like 
a heajp of gold that could not he counted, the great char- 
acteristic feature of his noble nature was his disin- 
terested benevolence. From the time he left college 
up to the close of his useful life, he had the care of 
the widow and the orphan, managed a great many 
estates for rich and poor, and never accepted com- 
pensation save in one instance, when it was forced 
upon him. His labors of love and works of good- 
ness were abundant, and known only to the few, for 
all were done in a quiet, unostentatious manner, not 
letting his left hand know what his right hand did. 
But his work is with liis God, and his record is on 
high ! " 

HARDEMAN. 

In 1822 Hardeman was formed, and the counties 
bordering on the Hatchie extending to the Missis- 
sippi, including Shelby, were attached for judicial 



In West Tennessee. 279 

purposes. The courts were held at " Ilatchie Town " 
until 1824, when Bolivar was laid oiF and established 
as the county site. The county was named for 
Thomas Hardeman, member from the county of 
Davidson to the first territorial convention, held at 
Knoxville on the 11th of January, 1796, to frame a 
constitution preparatory to Tennessee becoming a 
State, and the town of Bolivar was called for the 
great "liberator of his country," Simon Bolivar, the 
hero of South America. 

BOLIVAR 

was a Venezu clean, born in Carraccas in the year 
1785. Of noble blood, he was educated in the re- 
fined courts of Europe, a companion and traveler 
with Humboldt. When in his twenty-sixth year 
he returned to his natal land, offered his services to 
the Congress of Grenada to rid his country of the 
Spanish yoke, and with six hundred men marched 
against the great Spanish General Morillo. After 
eleven years struggle with varied successes, he 
finally triumphed over Morillo and his Spanish 
troops, confirming the title which had been given 
him of being the "liberator of his country." 

N'oted among the first settlers in Hardeman wi\s 

COLONEL EZEKIEL POLK. 

The advanced as:e to which Colonel Polk had Jit- 
tained Avhen braving the trials and hardships inci- 
dent to pioneer life, in bringhig the ax and plow 



280 Reminiscences of Old Times 

where alone the savage hunter's footpriiits had trod 
the wilderness — the haunts of the wild beast — 
marked the strong and inflexible will and indomita- 
ble energy of the man. Colonel Polk's early life, 
his habits and proclivities, had fitted him for such 
an undertaking. A revolutionary patriot, he had 
served with the rank of Captain and promoted to 
that of Colonel in our struggle for independence. 

He was a member of the first convention held in 
South Carolina to take measures against British 
encroachments. With a widely-extended and intel- 
ligent understanding, he displayed a sound judgment 
in the management of his affairs, marked with strong 
idiosyncrasys of character, as was notably attested 
by his writing his own epitaph. As a curious piece 
of literature of *' old times in the Big Hatchie coun- 
try," it is here reproduced for the amusement and 
interest of the reader, without comment: 

" Lines to be inscribed on the grave-stone of E. 
Polk, written by himself June 24th, 1821, in the 
seventy-fourth year of his age : 

" Here lies the dust of old E. P., 
One instance of morjility ; 
Pennsylvania born, Carolina bred ; 
In Tennessee died upon his bei. 
His youthful days he spent in pleasure, 
His latter days, in g.ithering treasure; 
From superstition lived quite free. 
And practiced strict morality. 



in West Tennessee. 281 

To holy cheats, was never willing, 

To give one solitary shilling. 

He can foresee, and foreseeing, 

He equals most men in being. 

That church and State, will join their power, 

And misery on this country shower ; 

The Methodist, with their camp-brawling, 

"Will be the cause of this downfalling ; 

An error not destined to see, 

He wails for poor posterity ; 

First fruits and tenths are odious things. 

And so are bishops, tithes, and kings. 

As there are no rocks in this country fit for 
grave-stones, let it be done on durable wood, well 
painted, and placed upright at my head, and a 
weeping willow planted at my feet." 

The Colonel died three years afterward; this, 
among his last injunctions, was obeyed. 

JACKSON. 

Jackson, Madison county, the abode of ease, ele- 
gance and refind civilized enjoyment, the homes of 
the interprising and intelligent, the beautiful and 
cultivated, the seat of learning and temple of the 
law, was the first hahitahle town in West Tennessee. 
It was peopled before Browns\Hdle, Covington, 
Somerville, Bolivar and other county towns, had a 
local habitation, or a name, by the best families, 
from the old States. It was there the first courts of 
law were organized and the first academy of learn- 
ing established, and gave birth to the first neiospaper 



282 Bnmmsceiicrs of Old Times 

published in West Tennessee. It stands to-day, 
with its blocks of brick and mortar, fashioned in 
the most approved taste and style of modern archi- 
tecture — its fine public buildings, and private resi- 
dences, with its enterprise in manufactures and 
commerce, thrift and wealth, second only to Mem- 
phis, with its many moie advantages, beside the 
great " inland sea." rolling past its front. Yet it is 
within the recollection of the writer, when it was 
but a hamlet on the ban ks of the south fork of Forked 
Deer, dependent for its sugar and coffee upon the navi- 
gation by " keel boats" of that little tortuous stream. 
It is regretted — the more to be regretted, as '' old 
times in West Tennessee " had its birth at Jackson — 
that the reminiscences and incidents of early life 
in that place is debarred its full share in the pages 
of this little volume. Should the theme which has 
engaged the pen and interest of the writer, find 
favor with the readers of these " reminiscences in 
the Big liatchie country," he may be encouraged to 
a larger and more inviting field, w^hich \\\\[ take 
Jackson and Madison county as the starting point, 
and "work up the timber," according to the 
original " blazes^." The apology, if indeed, an 
apology be necessary, for going to Jackson, is to 
make honorable mention of one of the pioneer 
newspaper men of West Tennessee (and the first 
paper published in the district) 



in West Tmnesscv. 283 

CHARLES D. M'lEAN, 

'' the best in the world," whose long and iisefu 
life has been spared through the vicissitudes and 
gradations of establishing a country, wrought from 
the wilds of a savage territory into a highly 
improved State, teeming with wealth and popula- 
tion — the work of only a half century. But few 
men are older, and who have been longer connected 
with the early and late history of A^^est Tennessee 
than Colonel McLean. A native of Virginia, he was 
born in the year 1795. Emigrating to West Ten- 
nessee, he settled in Jackson in 1823-4. On the 
twenty-ninth day of May, 1824, he, with Elijah 
Bigelow, issued the first number of the Jackson 
Gazette, which was continued to be published 
under his supervision and management until the 
year 1830, when it came under the editorial man- 
agement of the late J. H. McMahon, and its title 
changed to that of the Truth Teller. The Gazette 
was the immediate successor to the Pioneer, the first 
newspaper published at Jackson, which ceased to 
be published after the death of its editor, occurring 
in a few months after the first number was issued. 
The Gazette was the only paper published in the 
district for several years. It was published in the 
interest of General Jackson and David Crockett, 
from 1824 to 1830 inchisive; the files of which is 
yet preserved by Colonel McLean as a relic of 



284 Reminiscences of Old Times 

" old times " in West Tennessee, and is a welcome 
guest among the " Old Folks at Home," of which 
he is their honorable President, and ranks the 
oldest. Colonel McLean was honored by a seat in 
the State Legislature, from the county of Madison, 
during his residence iii that county. Li the year 
1833, he fixed his place of residence in the vicinity 
of Memphis, where he continues to reside. Hav- 
ing lived to a green old age, his venerable form, 
beginning to bend a little with the weight of many 
long years of usefulness, may be seen on the streets 
of Memphis every bright day, enjoying life in a 
good joke, " the best in the world," which is the 
Colonel's universal response to an old friend, when 
inquiring as to his health — it is always the " best in 
the world." 



in West Tennessee, 285 



CIIAPTEK XIY. 

Bright and Lasting Memories of Youth — Linking the 
Past with the Present — The Old Log Schoolhouse — 
The School- Path and Play- Ground — Demanding a 
Bay's Holiday — Barring Out the Schoolmaster. 

The most lasting of memories graven upon 
the young mind — the scenes and incidents of young 
Ufe — become brighter and fresher in after life, link- 
ing, by fond and endearing memories, the past with 
the present, forgetful of the long intervening years 
of pain, peril and strife. With the vision of the 
past, the aged look back through the dim vista to 
the days of their youth, as a bright thrilling dream, 
enchanted by its memories, as a lover in pursuit of 
the object of his aflections — ^bright pictures upon 
the unstained v^alls of youthful memory most truth- 
ful in nature. 

The old schoolhouse, where they first learned to 
" spell baker," the play-ground with its scenes and 
incidents, the big spring and the sparkling spring- 
branch, rippling over its pebbly bed through the 
deep shades of the forest to the creek, where at 
sumnier's-noon they learned to "swim;" the 
school-path, narrow and winding through pleasant 



286 Reininisceiices of Old Times 

grounds made hard and smooth by the daily tramp 
of many little feet ; the " foot-log " across the deep 
creek, where they were wont to stop and cast peb- 
bles into its bright waters, or amuse themselves 
with the schools of little fishes rising to the surface 
to gather the crumbs from their '^school-basket;" 
the five and thirty '^ school boys " banding 
together, to demand of the '' schoolmaster" a day's 
holiday to go to a log-rolling or house-raising ; or, 
perchance, to a fish-fry, or a shooting match, and 
he, in his individual sovereignty protesting against 
their juvenile wishes — their natural rights. The 
final decision taken, the early gathering of the boys 
at the " schoolhouse ; " the barring of the doors and 
windows; the anxious waiting, and appearance of 
the " old schoolmaster," as he rises the hill ; his 
wroth and angry will at being barred out of his 
rightful castle, and being dethroned of his authority 
— he demands entrance, denouncing the " assumed 
rights," declares it a revolt, and threatens vengeance 
upon the leading rebels; the whole school backs 
up the leaders, while they stand pleading through 
the open cracks in the logs, disclaiming ill-will, and 
expressing their perfect willingness " to submit to his 
rule and discipline to-morrow ; " the schoolmaster 
still refuses, holds on to his iron will, and renews his 
threats of punishment; he rto the boys to more 
desperate measures; the final catastrophe culmi- 



m Wfst Tennessee. 287 

nates, the doors are unbarred, and the five and 
thirty heretofore obedient scholars gather round 
the schoolmaster, a half dozen of the largest gather 
liim up upon their shoulders, and he is borne away 
to the creek — the usual place of going in swimming. 
The old incorrigible kicks and writhes, threatening 
vengeance; the pool is reached, and the whole 
school cry out, " souse him — souse him ; it will cool 
him off; " the hard-hearted " schoolmaster " begins 
to soften; the tyrant begins to beg and promise 
to let them have the day. Too late, too late, souse — 
he goes under ! " Souse him again ! " by the whola 
school. Imploringly he cries, "stop ! hold! do it no 
more and you shall have a wreck's holiday." That 
will do — let him oft", let him off," was the verdict of 
the school. Smiling and good natured he clambers 
up the bank, and all hands join in expressing good 
will, with promises to be punctual to school Monday 
morning, and study hard. 

The most joyous and happy gatherings of the 
neighborhood, in " old times," were at the quiltings. 
It was seldom that the young people in the settle- 
ments got together except at a quilting frolic. 
During the early winter months a week never passed 
without a quilting, which always ended in a dancing 
frolic, followed soon by several weddings. It was 
common, during the " log-rolling " season, for quilt- 
ing to be going on at the house while the men were 



288 Beminiscenees of Old Times ^ 

out in the field or new-ground rolling logs. It was 
usual to invite the whole settlement to a log-rolling 
— the men to come and bring their wives and 
daughters. It was always the occasion of a big 
dinner. The field-work done, and the quilt finished, 
everything was cleared away for the hardy young men 
and girls to have their frolic. A fiddler who could 
play two or more tunes was always on hand. It 
would puzzle the "pleasing recollections" of "old 
times" to treasure up the varied innocent country 
amusements that brooded over the land. The fair 
and happy country lass thought not of making herself 
beautiful by art. Her plump, glowing cheeks put to 
blush the face-physic, common to "dressy" young 
women of the present day. Unwittingly they 
romped and played, unmindful of the outside tissue 
or tinsel; decked in innocence, she doth all things 
sweet and graceful; 

" to paint the lily ; 

To throw a perfume on the violet, 

to add another hue 

Unto the rainbow 

As wasteful, and ridiculous excess," 

OUR MOTHER. 

Gentle reader, the strongest and most enduring 
passion of the human heart is for our mother. 

" AH other passions fleet to air," 

Sweet, endearing memories of our mother, who 



in West Tennessee. 289 

loved us ere we had a being, from whom we drew 
our young life — thy image, the brightest engraven 
upon " memories wall," becoming brighter — unfad- 
ing and undimmed by time, is embalmed in the 
heart's affection. That little hillock raised upon 
the bosom of mother earth, overgrown with green 
moss, or decked with flowers, marks her last resting 
place; it has for us a resistless charm — we would not 
ask 

" to give us back our dead ; 

Even in the loveliest looks they were." 

Through all the wanderings and varied mazes 
our wayward feet have trodden since our youth, the 
image and sweet memories of our mother endear- 
eth ; growing brighter and more lovely as the hair 
upon our heads takes upon it the frosts of many, 
many winters. 

Reader, are you ever reminded of your mother, 

unbent and stately — stately among the stateliest, 

with elastic step, easy under the weight of venerable 

years — as she moves with an ear at all times kindly 

open, and a heart generous, loving to the prattle 

and whims of her children's children, her grand 

and great grandchildren, in their shining new frocks 

and clean white aprons, vieing with each other as 

to who should do this or who that for her ? They 

were very sunshine to her in the vale and shadows 

of her last days. Such are the sweet memories of 
13 



290 Reminiscences of Old Times 

my motlier when last I saw her in life. May I not 
claim, in filial respect to her memory, the mention 
of her name in these pages as one of the brave- 
hearted mothers and wives who shared with their 
husbands and sons the perils and hardships of the 
pioneer settler's life in the Big Hatchie country ? 
It would be filial impiety not to. 

Born and reared in the lap and ease of plenty, 
she, when fortune's frowns were most bitter, joined 
with her husband — my father — in the wish to seek 
new faces and a new home in the far ofi^' "West. Leav- 
ing behind all painful regrets, with the true heroism 
of a wife, she followed the fortunes of her husband 
through the long and wearisome travel from Cum- 
berland county, North Carolina, through the sands 
of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, to Cov- 
ington county, Mississippi, taking camp fare and 
camp comfort common to the movers of that day 
(1822). With no misgivings as to the future, always 
cheerful and joyous, sustained by a pure Christian 
soul undimmed by adversity, she felt rich alone in 
the objects of her afiection — her husband and chil- 
dren — her six little jewels, the youngest an infant 
and the oldest but twelve years. Sojourning a few 
years in Mississippi, she enters the same vehicle in 
which she had traveled from the " OldN'orth State," 
with her six little jewels and another added, and shared 
the mover's comfort through the Choctaw and Chick- 



in West Tennessee, 291 

asaw "nations" to the Big Hatchie country, as men- 
tioned in the first chapter of these reminiscences. 

My mother, whom my father was fond to call 
Patsey^ was born in North Carolina, December 26th, 
in the year 1790, and was christened Martha Macon. 
Macon was the maiden name of her mother. She 
was the fifth child of Joseph Seawell and Martha 
Macon, and third daughter, and next to the youngest, 
who was a son. Their names were Harry, James 
and Nat, Nancy (Ann), Betsey (Elizabeth), and Patsey 
(Martha), my mother. She survived them all — her 
brother James only a few years. 

My mother married my father in the year 1806, 
when in her seventeenth year. Under her loving 
care five sons and three daughters grew up to man 
and womanhood. She lived to enjoy the society 
and mingle in the domestic circle of her children 
until all had grown old together, and to hless with 
her fondest love and affection fifty-six grandchildren, be- 
side great grandchildren. 

She survived my father by thirty years (remain- 
ing a widow), her youngest child (a daughter), nine 
years, and eldest (a son) by two years, and was by 
her surviving children followed to her last resting 
place in Elmwood, April, 1867, having lived seventy- 
seven years and seventeen days. Zealously attached 
to her church (the Presbyterian), of which she had 
been a member sixty-one years. Loving, kind and 



292 Reminiscences of Old Times 

charitable, exercising charity toward the uncharita- 
ble, she was notable for her deep piety. With strong 
intuitive love for her children, she closed her eyes to 
their many shortcomings, while her soul was in 
prayer in secret. If to be blind to the faults and 
frailties of one's children be sinful, it was my 
mother's greatest sin. Loving, jealous, she watched 
over them with the same care and affectionate 
attention, as when they were around her footstool 
as little children. 

It is difficult for the writer, in this short personal 
sketch of his mother, to separate her moral from 
her intellectual character. In her personal, she was 
a fair representative of the true majesty of woman, 
spirited and gay in society, eloquent and chaste in 
conversation, tempered with feelings of tenderness 
and respect for the opinions and fancies of others. 
She was always the welcome guest in the social of 
her friends and acquaintances. 

The genuine sentiment of her loving, kind, and 
generous nature, combining all the charming 
accomplishments that so beautifully adorn the 
Christian daughter and sister, wife and mother, dis- 
tinguished her as a neighboe. 

Ardent in her temperament, devoid of fickleness, 
she was firm and constant in her friendships; 
devoted to her Bible, her religious feelings grew 



in West Tennessee. 293 

stronger and her faith brighter in the evening of 
her long life. 

The truths and beauties of the Christian gospel 
were fully illustrated in her death, as they had been 
exemplified in her long life. Such, gentle reader, 
was one of the pioneer wives and mothers, who 
enjoyed life in the first settler's cabin and among 
her neighbors, who " spun cotton and wove cloth," 
long before envy and jealousy, common to fashion- 
able life, entered the settlements — who lived to see 
the wilderness disappear for the broad cultivated 
acres, the finely constructed mansion take the place 
of the settler's cabin, and refined cultivated taste 
brood over the land, where the howl of the wolf, 
and sharp, startling scream of the panther first 
became familiar sounds. Such was my mother, 
who, in life, was highly esteemed, and enjoyed the 
society of many friends, and whose memory is 
embalmed in the hearts of her surviving children. 

An incident occurred in connection with my 
mother's last and mortal illness, vouched for by 
members of the family, which, however, it may 
encourage the dogmas of spiritualism, is deserving 
of mention. My mother's late residence in the town 
of Somerville was a retiree! and qiuet cottage home, 
beautifully improved, and fashioned after her own 
taste and fancy, and for the most part by her own 



294 Reminiscences of Old Times 

hands. '^ My little cottage home,'' she was fond to 
call it. 

Upon the mantle in her room stood an old time 
clock; it had been a companion in time with her for 
near a half century. For several months previous 
to her death, the old clock had refused to run. 
Several repairers of clocks had tinkered at it, yet it 
would not go — it refused to make time any more — 
it worried my mother. She finally gave up the 
undertaking of making it run, and left it with its 
weights sitting loose inside the case. A few days 
previous to her death she rode out to her daughter's, 
several miles in the country; it was on a Monday 
she went out. Tuesday night at about eight o'clock 
the members of the family who were sojourning 
with her in her " little cottage home," were startled 
and amazed by the "striking" of the old clock. 
Sitting in an adjoining room (there being no one in 
my mother's room), they, in mute astonishment, 
followed the strikes until it struck twelve. Some 
minutes afterward, and while the members of the 
family were speaking of the unaccountable incident 
(for every adult member of the family were aware of 
the abandoned condition of the old clock,) a messen- 
ger rapped at the door, announcing the sudden 
illness of m}^ mother, and for a doctor to be sent in 
haste. At twelve o'clock the day following the morn- 
ing, she breathed her last. Connected with this inci- 



in West Tennessee. 295 

dent, and which made it the more impressive and sad, 
she had sent in on Tuesday morning, writing a note, 
for certain articles of dress and material to be sent, 
which she desired should be made up and ready for 
shrouding her mortal remains. 

Our mother I 'tis but thy mortal life death can sever ; 

Thy sweet image lives embalmed in our heart's affection forever. 



a 



(^ 



Deacidified usin^ the Bookkeeper proce 
Neutralizing Agent: Magnesium Oxide 
Treatment Date: _ 

199 




JUL 



II 



PRESERVATION TECHNOLOGIES. L 
1 1 1 Thomson Park Drive 
Cranberry Township, PA 1 6066 
(724)779-2111 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 




014 498 615 5