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Entered, according to Aet of Congress, in the year 1S69, by 
in the District Court of the United States for the Middle Dis- 
trict of Tennessee. 






Persons inclined to criticise this humble 
work, are requested to observe, that it is not 
entitled the, or even a, History of Tennessee ; 
but only " Tennessee History." It prefers no 
claim to original research or to completeness. 
The author has relied upon extant histories for 
materials, and from them has selected such 
topics as seemed best suited to his design of 
making a book which young persons, either 
at school or at home, will read with pleasure 
and profit. 

A long experience in the school-room has 
convinced him that the serial readers usually 
put into the hands of pupils in our schools are, 
in some essential points, ill-adapted for juvenile 
reading. In the first place, they are frag- 


mentary; being collections of pieces of every 
variety, without relation to each other, except 
that they are found in the same volume. Now, 
what the young mind craves above all other 
things is a narrative — a continuous story. This 
fondness for narrative is manifested even in the 
nursery, where nothing sooner quiets and pleases 
a child than " to tell a tale." It prevails during 
the whole period of intellectual growth, and 
will be gratified, if nothing better is offered, 
with the miserable fictions of " dime novels." 

A farther objection to the serial school-books 
in vogue, is found in the character of the selec- 
tions with which they are filled. The first, and 
perhaps the second, of the series may answer 
well for the exercise of children merely learn- 
ing to know words by sight. But the subse- 
quent volumes are made up of "elegant ex- 
tracts," in prose and verse, which none but men 
and women of literary habits are qualified to 
appreciate. Both in the subject-matter, and in 
style of composition, they are quite beyond the 
immature powers and uncultivated tastes of 


hoys and girls. Hence the reading of them is 
a dull, hard task-work to those who are forced 
through it, producing no better result than the 
habit of not understanding y and consequent dis- 
inclination to meddle with, books. By these 
remarks, it is not intended to cast any blame 
upon teachers, who employ the serial readers 
from necessity, and because they cannot procure 
more suitable works. 

Impressed with these views, the author has 
undertaken to supply a book which, both for 
the nature of the subject and the simple style 
in which it is treated, young persons will be in- 
clined to read and able to understand. While 
eschewing the nursery talk of Parleyism, he has 
endeavored to avoid all words and phrases which 
an intelligent boy of a dozen years may not 
comprehend, especially with the help afforded 
by the context of a continuous narrative. For the 
purpose of adapting it to be read by classes in 
schools, the book is divided into chapters of 
suitable length for separate lessons ; and as far 
as possible, each chapter is made to have a 


beginning and end of its own, without impair- 
ing the connection and dependence of the whole. 

While such is the primary object of the au- 
thor, he indulges the hope that such a work will 
prove both entertaining and instructive to that 
large majority of adult persons in Tennessee 
who have neither leisure nor inclination to read 
larger histories; and that the story of the 
struggles and hardships of the pioneers who 
founded our noble State, may pleasantly and 
profitably beguile winter evenings in the haj)py 
families who, in peace and plenty, are enjoying 
the fruits of their heroic toils. 

Whether in all or in any of these purposes 
he has been able to deserve success, is a ques- 
tion referred to the indulgent judgment of his 
countrymen, by their humble servant, 









A GREAT man once said, " Tennesseans are 
bound to be true and brave from respect to their 
ancestors." If so, then how necessary is it that 
each successive generation of Tennesseans should 
be made acquainted with those ancestors — 
should understand their character and princi- 
ples of action, and how they acquitted them- 
selves in the scenes through which they were 
called to pass. To assist the boys and girls, 
who must soon become the men and women of 
Tennessee, in acquiring this knowledge, this 
little book has been prepared. It is intended 



to present to them a history of old tnnes in 
Tennessee, at once pleasant to read and easy to 

No other new country will ever be settled in 
the same manner as was Tennessee. The in- 
vention of steamboats, railroads, and telegraphs 
has entirely changed the mode of proceeding in 
such matters. Hence, the early population of 
our State were placed in peculiar circumstances, 
which naturally gave rise to singular character 
and habits of life. The scenes of frontier life 
on the Holston and the Cumberland have passed 
away never to be repeated. Henceforth they 
can be viewed only in their written history. 
Curiosity alone should prompt a desire on the 
part of Tennesseans to know who and what 
sort were the men who, from 1770 to 1800, 
made Tennessee what it has since been. But 
there is yet a stronger and better reason why 
we should look into the records of those old 

The men and women who planted and cher- 
ished civil society in the "Western wilderness 
must have been "true and brave," for no 
others could have done it. "When our young 
friends shall have read the accounts here given 
of the dangers and hardships endured by the 


early settlers in Tennessee for thirty years, tliey 
will agree with us, that a frontier cabin on 
Watauga or Cumberland was not the place in 
which to look for faithless and cowardly men. 
True courage is not the less true, because it is 
not displayed to the gaze of the world on the 
broad battle-fields of Blenheim or "Waterloo ; 
nor is public spirit less to be admired and 
reverenced, because it is employed in defending 
from savage massacre the women and children 
of an humble colony in the backwoods. 

The fidelity and courage of our ancestors 
w^as proved, amid scenes of violence and blood, 
in defending their liberties and lives against 
British bayonets and Indian tomahawks. We 
live in altered circumstances, and may hope 
that, in our day, the horrors of war shall jiot 
again reach our happy land. But should Provi- 
dence grant us this peaceful destiny, w^e shall 
not the less be bound to be " true and brave " 
men and women. Our virtues must be exer- 
cised in a different way, but they will remain 
still equally essential to constitute our own 
moral worth, and to promote the welfare and 
progressive elevation of our country. 

" He that is slow to anger is better than the 
mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he 

12 OLD times; or, 

that taketh a city." In the political and social 
condition of our country at this time, there 
is much room for the exercise of that modera- 
tion and forbearance recommended in the pas- 
sage of Scrijiture we have quoted. It is easy 
to be violent and extreme, but only a " true and 
brave man" will stand for the right against 
popular delusions and the threats of powerful 
factions. To advocate unpopular truth, and to 
resist the clamors of a multitude persuading to 
injustice, are the virtues which our times de- 
mand, and to practice them to our own loss, 
requires as great courage as to face a battery 
of cannon. 

You, young readers, will soon have the char- 
acter of the State and the welfare of the people 
in your own keeping. But you have no need to 
wait for that time before you will be called upon 
to show yourselves " true and brave." Without 
faithfulness and firmness, you cannot be what 
you should be now. Except by the exer- 
cise of these virtues, you cannot fulfill your 
present duties to yourselves, your parents, your 
brothers and sisters, or even to your teacher and 
school-fellows. If " true and brave " men and 
women have always been the saviours of the 
world, be assured that they were not false and 


craven when they played football or worked 
^ samplers. 

Most of the men you will read of in the 
following pages had little education in schools, 
many of them none. This was the fault of the 
age in which they lived, wRen it w^as not so 
common as it now is to enjoy the means of 
education. Besides, the work in which they 
were engaged, was such as could be done with 
very little learning, and their praise is that they 
did that work well. But you, our young friends, 
live under a different set of circumstances. You 
can now all have the advantages of mental cul- 
tivation, and in the present state of the world, 
you can hardly perform the full duty of good 
citizens without a considerable share of intelli- 
gence, such as must be derived from reading 
and study. May you not fail to meet the 
demands upon you in a manner worthy of Ten- 
nesseans in the nineteenth century, and entitle 
yourselves to be numbered among the "true 
and brave " of the coming gener-ation ! 




The history of most civilized countries may 
be divided into ancient and modern. Take 
any of the principal nations of Europe — Great 
Britain, France, or Russia, for instance — and 
historians can give you a tolerably full and 
correct account of what has happened in any 
of them lately, especially since the art of print- 
ing was invented, about four hundred years ago. 
But when we go back beyond that time, the in- 
formation we can get is more scanty and uncer- 
tain, and the farther we go back, the more doubt- 
ful every thing becomes, until we reach a point 
of time beyond w^hich nothing is to be known. 
The history of the Jews, as given in the Bible, 
is perhaps the most ancient that is known to exist. 

But Tennessee and the other States of the 
American Union have no ancient history. There 
is no history of the country at all that reaches 
back beyond the time of its discovery and 


settlement by white men from Europe. The 
Indians that were then found wandering over 
the country, did not understand the art of 
printing or writing, nor did they possess any 
other means of preserving the memory of the 
events that had happened among them. On 
this account we cannot expect to know any 
thing about the people that had lived in Amer- 
ica for thousands of years before it was discov- 
ered by Columbus. Men of learning and in- 
genuity have tried very hard, but in vain, to 
know even a little in regard to the ancient his- 
tory of this Continent. From several circum- 
stances, it is pretty certain that America was 
once inhabited by a people more civilized than 
the Indians ; but who they were, or what be- 
came of them, we shall probably never know. 

The history of America, therefore, begins about 
three hundred and fifty years ago, and is all 
modern. The whole of it is found in printed 
or written accounts, made out by persons w^ho had 
personal knowledge of the various events that 
have occurred ; and is, therefore, as much to be 
depended on as any history of any country can 
be. And as to Tennessee in particular, as a 
separate community, its history is not a hundred 
years old, since so long ago there was hardly a 

IG OLD times; or, 

white man within the present boundaries of the 

Strange as it may seem to boys and girls, it 
is yet true, that persons are now living in Ten- 
nessee, who can remember when the whole 
country was a wilderness. These persons can 
tell you of the time when there were only a few 
log cabins where the rich and splendid city of 
Nashville now stands ; and when the land where 
Murfreesborough is was covered with a cane- 
brake, without even a cow-path leading through 
it. The first white child born in Nashville — 
Dr. Felix Robertson — died in 1864 ; and a lady 
now living has told us that she was a grown 
young woman when her father made the first 
settlement in Rutherford county. Where our 
railroads now run, the traveler, sixty years ago, 
might think himself fortunate if he could find 
a blazed path leading from one solitary settle- 
ment to another. The grandchildren of that 
generation probably do not know what is meant 
by a blazed path. Do you know ? 

Surrounded as the people of Tennessee now 
are with all the comforts, and even the luxuries, 
of life, it must be difiicult for them to imagine 
how the early settlers of the country could con- 
trive to live without any of them. Can our 


young readers think how they could get along 
hi a country without railroads, or turnpikes, or 
roads of any sort ? without churches, or school- 
houses, or dry-goods stores, or even mills to 
grind corn? without bridges or ferry-boats to 
cross the streams? How would they manage 
^to live without coffee, or tea, or sugar, and even 
without bread or salt ? And yet, the first settlers 
of Tennessee did manage to do without all these 
things, and a great many others, that we are in 
the habit of considering as necessary to com- 
fortable living. How they actually did live, at 
least in some particulars, will appear in the 
course of this history. 

It would require several large volumes to 
contain all that is known of the early history 
of Tennessee, or even so much of it as may be 
found scattered through printed books. Of 
course, we shall here attempt nothing of that 
kind. Our aim is to tell enough to give to the 
reader a clear and correct notion of the state of 
things which existed here among the people 
who cleared the canebrakes, and waged a suc- 
cessful war against rattlesnakes and Indians. 
AVe desire to present all that may serve to make 
up a faithful picture of frontier life, and nothing 

18 OLD times; oRj 



As the territory composing the present State 
of Tennessee was formerly a part of North 
Carolina, it may be well to give, in this place, a 
short account of the latter State. The " Old 
North State," as it is frequently called, was 
among the first of the English settlements in 
America. According to the charter or deed 
granted by the King of England, the province 
was to front a certain distance on the Atlantic 
Ocean, and to run back westwardly across the 
Continent to the Pacific Ocean, which was then 
called the South Sea. However, neither the 
King of England nor any of his people was at 
all acquamted with the country, except a few 
spots along the sea-coast. 

The first settlements in Carolina were made, 
as a matter of course, in the eastern parts, and 
near to the ocean, where the English ships 
could reach them, and bring supplies and as- 


sistance when needed. The earliest permanent 
settlement made by the English in the prov- 
ince was in 1663 — two hundred and six years 
ago. In process of time, as the settlers became 
better acquainted with the interior of the coun- 
try, new settlements were made at a greater dis- 
tance from the sea. In the course of about a 
hundred years, the population extended to the 
Alleghany Mountains, which are now the west- 
ern boundary of the State. But, except in some 
choice spots, North Carolina has never been 
very thickly settled ; and as much of the soil is 
poor and unproductive, it is not likely to have 
a dense population for a long time to come. 

The first white inhabitants of Carolina were 
probably all English ; but, in the course of 
time, a great many Scotch, and Dutch, and 
French, and Irish made it their home. In the 
eastern part of the province, a large tract of 
country w^as taken up by a clan of Scotch 
Highlanders, and even thirty years ago some of 
their descendants could scarcely speak the Eng- 
lish language. The part of the country where 
they live is commonly called the sand-hills. A 
colony of Quakers from Pennsylvania planted 
themselves in the western portion of the State, 
and called their settlement New Garden. It is 

20 OLD times; or, 

beyond dispute the best cultivated and most de- 
lightful part of the State. 

But there is another description of persons 
among the early population of Carolina which 
deserves a special notice, because many of the 
first settlers of Tennessee were of that stock, as 
well as many of the men most distinguished in 
its history. I allude to the people called Scotch- 
Irish. They took this compound name because 
they were descended from Scotch families, who 
had, in old times, left Scotland and settled in 
Ireland. After awhile, a large body of them 
moved from Ireland to Western Pennsylvania ; 
and again, many of them went from Penn- 
sylvania, and formed what is still known as the 
Scotch-Irish settlement in Western Carolina. 

The Scotch-Irish, who have not been much edu- 
cated, or mixed much with the world, may gener- 
ally be distinguished by certain peculiarities of 
speech, such as Aprile, for April, etc. But all 
of them are remarkable for their energetic and 
thrifty habits, and for being able to take good 
care of themselves. They are also particularly 
jealous of power, and inclined to resist au- 
thority. Those in Pennsylvania Avere at the 
. head of the " Whisky Rebellion," when Wash- 
ington was President ; and a similar outbreak, 


called the " Regulation," was gotten up by them 
in North Carolina before the Eevolutionary 
"War. James Buchanan, once President of the 
United States, was a Pennsylvania Scotch-Irish- 
man ; and in Tennessee, the names of Andrew 
Jackson, James K. Polk, Hugh L. White, and 
John Bell, may be referred to Carolina families 
of the same stock. 

Farther, in regard to the Scotch-Irish : they 
are, or at least were originally, all Presbyterians. 
Presbyterianism was the religion established by 
law in Scotland, at the time they removed from 
that country to the North of Ireland. The 
people of Ireland were then, and are yet, mostly 
Roman Catholics. Therefore, when a foreigner 
tells you he is from the North of Ireland, you 
may generally conclude that he is a Protestant 
of the Presbyterian order; but if from any 
other part of the island, you may expect to find 
him a Catholic. Perhaps it is well to mention 
here, that by Protestant, we mean all forms of 
the Christian religion, except the Catholic. 
Baptists, Methodists, and Episcopalians, are 
Protestants, as well as the Presbyterians. 

22 OLD times; or, 



The different sorts of people who make up 
^ the population of North Carolina, as stated in 
the last chapter, have mingled together until 
the distinctions among them are mostly worn 
off. But such Avas not the case at the time that 
Tennessee began to be settled by them. Up to 
that period, and even longer, the Highland 
Scotch, the Scotch-Irish, the Quakers, and the 
Dutch, continued to be almost as distinct in their 
habits and manners as if they did not belong to 
the same community. Even yet, they have not 
been so completely amalgamated, or mixed to- 
gether, as in most other States, for which a rea- 
son will presently be given. 

On the sea-coast of North Carolina there are 
no good harbors ; that is, there are no places 
where the water is deep and still close up to the 
land. The mouths of the rivers are also much 
filled up with sand-bars. In consequence of 


this state of things, large ships cannot safely 
approach the shore, and therefore there is no 
considerable sea-port to^vn to carry on foreign 
commerce. Until lately that some railroads 
have been built, the people of North Carolina 
were forced to take their produce in wagons, 
many of them hundreds of miles, to Charleston, 
in South Carolina, or to Petersburg and Rich- 
mond, in Virginia, and to get home their dry 
goods and groceries in the same inconvenient 
and expensive way. 

From the circumstances mentioned in the 
last paragraph, it may be readily supposed that 
the people of North Carolina have not been 
greatly addicted to trading in any way. They 
have been forced to live very much at home 
and by themselves, and have' seen less of the 
world than the people of the other States. And 
this is the chief reason why the different classes 
of the population have remained so long dis- 
tinct, and retained so much of their original 
peculiarities. A great deal of trading and 
moving to and fro among all sorts of folks, will 
soon bring people to think and act pretty much 
alike ; and the inhabitants of North Carolina 
have done less of this than most othere. For 
the same reason, perhaps, they are considered 

24 OLD times; or, 

to be more quiet and modest than the people of 
many other States. 

Well, young friends, we suppose you have all 
heard of Whigs and Tories. And you probably 
understand that a Tory was an American who 
took part with the English king and govern- 
ment against the people of the provinces, who 
were fighting for their freedom and independ- 
ence, and who were called Whigs. This contest, 
generally called the Revolutionary War, was be- 
gun in the year 1775, and the first battle betw^een 
the Americans and the English soldiers was 
fought in that year at Lexington, in the prov- 
ince of Massachusetts. It was in the next year, 
on the fourth of July, that the Continental 
Congress declared the provinces — thirteen in 
number — to be free and independent States. 
That is the reason why people now celebrate 
the fourth of July as a great holiday. This 
Revolutionary War lasted about eight years, at 
the end of which Great Britain gave up the 
point, and agreed to let the people of America 
be independent, and manage their own affairs 
to suit themselves. 

Well, North Carolina was one of the colonies, 
or provinces, that were engaged in this war against 
Great Britain, and her people were very much 


divided about it. Perhaps there were as many 
Tories as Whigs, and they carried on very cruel 
and distressing hostilities against each other — 
killing, robbing, burning, and destroying, as 
each party could get the advantage. The High- 
land Scotch, in the sand-hills, were all Tories to 
a man, on account of their ignorance, and their 
having been taught w^iile in Scotland that the 
king should do as he pleases, and that nobody 
should resist him. Many others, who had been 
engaged in the "Regulation" some years before, 
had been then conquered, and f/^rced to swear 
that they would be obedient to the King of 
England. This oath of allegiance: a-s it is 
called, they considered to be binding on their 
consciences, and thought it would be sinful for 
them to fight against the king. 

The Quakers think it contrary to the princi- 
ples of the Christian religion to fight in any 
way, or for any cause; therefore, they were 
neither Whigs nor Tories. They were frequently 
ill-treated by both parties, but according to their 
religious views, submitted, without resistance, to 
whatever injuries might be inflicted upon them. 
They are generally inoflensive and friendly, in- 
dustrious and useful citizens. On this account, 
by the laws of Tennessee, and perhaps other 


States, they are exempted from militia duty in 
time of peace. This is, however, a rather 
empty compliment, as they are bound, like 
other citizens, to perform military service in 
time of war. 

From this statement, our young readers will 
see that all the Tories were not bad men, but 
that many of them thought they were doing 
right when they fought for the king, or refused 
to fight against him. But there were others, who 
were Tories for what they could make by it, and 
because they wished to be on the strong side. 
Of this selfish and unpatriotic class, there were 
a good many in North Carolina, as well as in 
the other provinces. The greater part of them 
left the country upon the establishment of its 




It has been before stated that the King of 
England gave to the first settlers of North Caro- 
lina all the country lying to the west of that 
province, entirely across the Continent to the 
Pacific Ocean. If any of our young readers 
should here ask what right the King of England 
had to give away a country which w^as then in 
possession of the Indians, we can only say that 
such was the fashion of those times. Christian 
nations thought they had a right, if they could, 
to take away lands from heathens, who had no 
knowledge of Christianity. The King of Eng- 
land only did in this matter what all other 
Christian kings were then in the habit of doing, 
when they had power and opportunity. After 
receiving such a grant from the king, the people 
who undertook to occupy the country, had to 
get clear of the Indians as best they could. 

It has also been mentioned that in about a 

28 ' OLD times; or, 

hundred years from the time the English took 
possession of North Carolina, the country had 
been gradually occujDied and cultivated as far 
west as the Alleghany Mountains. There the 
settlement of the country was stopped for 
awhile, because no one desired to make his home 
in the barren soil and hard climate of the 
mountains. By looking at a map, you will see 
that Virginia lies adjoining North Carolina on 
the north side, and the line between them runs 
from the Atlantic Ocean due west. This line 
had been marked only so far as the settlements 
in the two provinces extended — that is, to the 
mountains. For this reason, when persons came 
into the wilderness on the west side of the 
mountains, they could not be certain whether 
they were on land belonging to North Carolina 
or Virginia. 

The persons who first crossed the mountains 
into that part of the country which is now the 
State of Tennessee, did not come to stay in it, 
but to hunt and to trade with the Indians. 
Wild animals were very plentiful, such as 
bears, deer, foxes, beavers, otters, minks, rac- 
coons, etc. These were easily killed with the 
rifle, or taken in various sorts of traps, and the 
skins could be sold for a good price among the 


people on the east side of the mountains. But 
if a man preferred it, he could buy the skins 
from th^ Indians for a mere trifle, such as glass 
beads, cheap knives, fish-hooks, etc. Some of 
these skins were valuable for the fur that was 
on them ; others were tanned and made into 

These hunters and traders, after traveling 
upon their business until they were satisfied, 
would pack their skins upon horses, and return 
to the settled parts of North Carolina and Vir- 
ginia. Of course, like other travelers, they had 
marvelous stories to tell of what they had seen 
and heard. The descriptions they gave of the 
rich and beautiful country on the west side of 
the mountains, naturally caused, in those who 
listened to them, a desire to see and to possess 
the goodly land. There soon sprung up in West- 
ern Carolina and Virginia a feeling of restless- 
ness and a spirit of adventure, very difierent 
from the quiet and cautious habits for which 
the people of those two States have ever been 
remarkable. So great, however, were the diffi- 
culties and dangers of the enterprise, that none 
but a few of the most daring and reckless among 
them would, for a good while, trust themselves 
on this side of the Alleghany rjdge. 


From the most western settlements in Caro- 
lina to the Watauga River, where the first emi- 
grants planted themselves, is not less than seventy 
miles, across steep and rough mountains, where 
nobody was then living, and where, even to this 
time, there are only a few scattered cabins. 
There were no roads, nor even a beaten pathway, 
for the whole distance. No provisions were to 
be had on the route, except what could be 
carried along on pack-horses, and such wild 
animals as the hunters could kill with their 
rifles. And when they had reached the Wa- 
tauga, they were not at all better off, having 
neither houses to live in, nor grain to make 
bread, nor land cleared to make a crop. But 
worse than all these things, was the danger 
arising from the Indians by whom they were 
surrounded in their new homes. I shall speak 
of these Indians in the next chapter. 

The first white man who settled in Tennessee 
with his family, was Captain William Bean, 
from Pittsylvania county, Virginia. In the 
year 1769 — just one hundred years ago — he 
built his cabin on Boon's Creek, a small stream 
that runs into the Watauga River. His son, 
Russell Bean, was the first white child born in 
Tennessee. If you will now look at a map, 5^ou 


may see that the Watauga River, near the north- 
east corner of Tennessee, empties into the Hol- 
ston, on the south side of the latter stream. 
The Holston rises in "Western Virginia, and 
runs mostly in a western direction. Other per- 
sons, with families, soon moved in, and fixed 
their new homes around Captain Bean's ; and 
thus was Tennessee begun to be settled. 

32 OLD times; or, 



At the time that the Territory of Tennessee 
was first visited by traders and hunters, it, and 
also Kentucky, were in a singular condition in 
regard to human inhabitants. There is no 
doubt that the whole country had once been 
occupied by various Indian tribes ; but at the 
time of which we speak, there was no part 
of it in the actual possession of the red men, 
except that portion of the present State of 
Tennessee lying south of Tennessee River. This 
portion belonged to the Cherokees. By ex- 
amining a map, you will see that this is the 
south-east portion of the State, bordering on 
North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and 
comprising less than one-fourth of its surface. 
This was only a part of the Cherokee lands, 
as they had extensive possessions in the adjoin- 
ing province of North Carolina, and in the 


territory now constituting the States of Georgia 
and Alabama. 

The country then inhabited by the Cherokee 
Indians is perhaps the most delightful part of 
North America ; being sufficiently elevated for 
health, with a fair proportion of hills and 
plains, well watered, and* finely timbered, a 
fertile soil, and a soft and genial climate. The 
great French traveler, M. Volney, pronounced 
it to have the only good climate in America. 
At the time of the first settlement in East 
Tennessee, the Cherokees were less powerful 
than they had formerly been, having just suf- 
fered a disastrous defeat, and lost many of their 
warriors, in a great battle with the Chickasaws. 
It was, no doubt, fortunate for the young com- 
munity at Watauga, that these Indians had so 
lately been whipped. 

The Chickasaws did not inhabit any portion 
of Tennessee, but they claimed to have dominion 
over all West Tennessee from the Tennessee 
River to the Mississippi, as their hunting-grounds. 
As the early emigrants did not come much into 
contact with the Chickasaws, it is unnecessary 
to say more about them in this place. 

The Shawnees had at one time held the 
country on the Cumberland ^^"ver, from about 
'' 2 

34 OLD times; or, 

where Nashville now stands, to the Ohio. They 
had been engaged almost continually in wars 
with the Cherokees or Chickasaws. At length, 
about a hundred years before the settlement of 
Watauga — according to Indian tradition — the 
two last-mentioned tribes had combined together, 
and entirely broken up the Shawnee Nation. 
Most of them went off and joined some northern 
tribes called the Six Nations. They still con- 
tinued, however, to make incursions into the 
lands they had left, for the purposes of war 
and hunting. In these expeditions they were 
assisted by the Six Nations, and thus Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee became the "debatable 
land," the "dark and bloody ground," on 
which were fought the fierce battles between 
the northern and southern tribes. 

As neither of the parties was able to hold 
quiet and permanent possession of these lands, 
the one kept on the south, and the other 
on the north, of the disputed territory, and 
only came into it occasionally to hunt, or 
to attack the hunters of the hostile tribes. 
In this way it happened, according to the 
best accounts that could be gotten from the 
Indians, that the first visitors from Carolina 
and Yirojinia found Tennessee and Kentuckv 


a wilderness without human inhabitant, except 
the Cherokees in one corner, as has been before 
stated. Whether this is the true account or 
not, it is a singular and important fact, that 
just when the people of Virginia and Caro- 
lina were ready to take possession of the coun- 
try, the former owners had retired from nearly 
the whole of it. 

The lands thus left vacant were among the 
most fertile on the Continent. The abundance 
of grass, cane, and other spontaneous produc- 
tions of the earth, w^ould, of course, support 
countless numbers of wild animals, and fur- 
nish, perhaps, the. most plentiful hunting- 
grounds that have ever existed anywhere. 
The absence of resident Indians, together with 
the favorable climate and rich soil, allowed the 
buffalo, bear, deer, and turkeys to multiply 
to the fullest extent; so that the pioneer set- 
tlers had nothing to do but " slay and eat." 


OLD times; oe, 



Probably most of our young readers have 
beard frequent descriptions of Indians, and 
some of them have perhaps seen one or more 
of the few that still wander about the country. 
They are frequently called red men, on account 
of the color of their skin, which is pretty much 
like that of a copper cent or a brass skillet. 
They are generally not large men, seldom 
weighing more than one hundred and fifty 
pounds. They are straight and slender, their 
limbs very trim and tapering, with small hands 
and feet. Their bones are rather small, and they 
have less muscular strength than white men 
or negroes; but they are nimble and wiry, 
and able to travel on foot with great ease and 

The Indians all have dark eyes, with a keen 
and sly look. They are not inclined to talk 
much, and when they do, usually express them- 


selves in a sliort and abrupt manner. From 
nature or practice, or from both, they are ca- 
pable of concealing their feelings much more 
than white men. However sudden or alarming 
a circumstance may happen in the presence 
of an Indian, if he chooses, he can behave just 
as if he knew nothing about it. In the greatest 
agony of body or mind, he can appear as calm 
as a sleeping infant. It is a point of honor 
with him to endure any degree of torture that 
can be inflicted without complaint or flinching. 
There are, perhaps, no cowards among In- 
dians, yet their notion of courage is not the 
same as that of white men. When engaged in 
open and declared war, it is true that white 
men, as well as Indians, will deceive their 
enemies, if they can, by tricks and stratagems, y 
But if a white man, by pretending peace and 
friendship, should seek an oj)portunity to do 
his enemy a mischief, he would feel that he 
was doing a mean and cowardly action. But 
the Indian has no such convictions. He would 
gain entrance into the house of a frontier set- 
tler to beg a morsel of meat to keep him from 
starving, and then murder the mother and 
children, and burn the cabin over their dead 
bodies. And this he would do when he and 

38 OLD times; or, 

his tribe were professing to be the friends of 
the white man. 

Of all human beings, the American Indian 
is, perhaps, the most revengeful. An injury- 
done to himself or any of his tribe, he never 
either forgets or forgives; and in seeking to 
gratify this feeling, it seems to be immaterial 
to him whether he wreaks his vengeance on the 
offender himself, or some one of the nation 
to which he belongs. Men of all nations in- 
dulge this passion of revenge more than good 
Christians should do, but civilized w^hite men 
only entertain resentment against the individ- 
ual who offers the injury or insult. They feel 
no inclination to retaliate upon his family or 
friends, and still less upon those who are 
merely his countrymen. In this respect, how- 
ever, most savage nations resemble, in some 
degree, the Indian, though in no other has the 
passion appeared to be so intense and over- 

The Indian is . very averse to labor ; that 
is, to any kind of labor which, among us, is 
called work. In hunting or in war, he will 
undergo fatigue and hardship to a marvelous 
extent; but any thing like labor in the field 
or the workshop, he seems both unvv^illing and 


unable to endure. The Spaniards, in tlie West 
India Islands, attempted to make tlie Indians 
perform the work of slaves, but soon discovered 
that the little labor which they could force upon 
them was more than they could bear. The 
natives died off rapidly under this system, and 
the Spaniards resorted to Africa for negroes to 
take their place. The little corn-patches and 
gardens among the Indians are cultivated 
almost entirely by the females, whom they call 

The Indian man spends his time in beastly 
laziness and sleep, except when engaged in war 
or the chase. All the work about his dirty 
hut, or ivigwam, is performed by the females, 
assisted sometimes by the prisoners he may 
have taken in -war. Occasionally he spends 
a half-idle day in m.aking or mending the 
clumsy instruments which he is to use in the 
battle or the hunt, but proudly disdains to be 
employed in any thing but bringing home 
venison and scalps. This description is in- 
tended to apply to Indians in their original, 
savage state. Those of them v,'ho have had 
much intercourse with the whites, have been 
furnished with guns, powder, and lead, as well 
as with other things, which they have not the 


art nor the industry to niiike. Still, the Indian 
character remains; and, except the fire-arms, 
they show very little disposition to use the 
tools of the white man. 

Can the Indians be civilized, and brought to 
practice agriculture and the useful arts of life, 
to such a degree as to form permanent and 
prosperous communities? This question has 
engaged the attention of some of the wisest and 
best men amongst us. So far as experience 
can teach any thing upon this point, the results 
have not been favorable ; and the general 
impression of the American people is, that 
" an Indian Avill be an Indian," in despite of 
all attempts to improve liim. Many of the 
tribes, that ^vere numerous and powerful a 
hundred years ago, have entirely disappeared ; 
and we can reasonably expect for them no 
other future destiny, than that they will con- 
tinue to decline, until, at no very distant day, 
the whole race will become extinct. 




At the time the earliest emigrants made 
the settlement at Watauga, neither North 
Carolina nor Virginia was crowded with joeo- 
ple. The emigrants that left those States Avere 
under no necessity of doing so in order to get 
homes. Land in both places was cheap and 
plentiful, and even to this time they have 
more waste -land than is to be found in Ten- 

In such circumstances, it may seem strange 
to our young readers that men should emigrate 
at ail. AVhile they could have lands and 
homes among kindred and friends, why should 
they expose themselves to the hardships and 
dangers of a new country ? While they could 
stay at home in safety, why should they plunge 
into a wilderness among wild beasts and fero- 
cious savages ? 

Well, though it may appear unreasonable to 


young j^ersons without much experience, it is 
just like many things that boys frequently do 
without asking the reason why. It is the same 
spirit that causes them to quit a snug room and 
a warm fire and roam through the woods on a 
cold and dark night, tumbling over logs and 
into gnllies, and getting scratched with brush 
and briers, that they may have a chance to see 
a fight between a dog and a 'coon. It is just 
the love of excitement and action — the spirit 
of adventure. 

Ease and comfort are good things to some 
men and boys, but there are others who prefer 
change and novelty, even at the risk of danger 
and hardship. It is right that it should be so ; 
and the world has always had in it both classes 
of persons — the easy and the active, the cau- 
tious and the bold. The one class is useful to 
prevent things from going too fast, while the 
other is sure to make them go fast enough ; the 
one keeps things moving, while the other keeps 
them steady. The best character for a man is 
to have just enough of both qualities, as George 
Washington had. 

Every one will readily understand that it was 
the most active and bold among the people of 
Carolina and Virginia that first came to Ten- 


nessee. Those whose motto was to "let well 
enough alone," stayed where they were born. 
For a similar reason, men of wealth were not 
among the early emigrants; for those who 
owned a large property would be unwilling to 
risk it in a wild country. Those who held high 
offices, or had great family influence in the old 
provinces, did not com'e, for, by removing, they 
must have lost these advantages. From the 
nature of the case, the men wdio laid the founda- 
tion of the State of Tennessee were poor, but 
active-, hardy, and brave — men fit for the work 
they had to do. 

The early settlers w^ere, none of them, men 
of much education ; and, indeed, had they been 
scholars, their learning would have been use- 
less in a country where there w^ere no books, 
and nothing to be done which could be helped 
by a knowledge of them. The celebrated Dan- 
iel Boone visited the Watauga country, though 
he did not stay there, but wxnt to Kentucky. 
He carved on the bark of a beech-tree a record, 
informing those who might follow, that he had 
"cilled A Bar," in that place; and Boone 
was probably not much behind other pioneers 
in the matter of spelling. But, like the others, 
he had a good rifle and a quick eye, a keen ax 

44 OLD times; ok, 

and a strong arm, and withal, a brave heart, to 
struggle with the privations and dangers of the 

Two noble traits of character were, almost 
of necessity, formed by the condition in which 
the emigrants were placed. These were a feel- 
ing of sympathy and a sense of social equality. 
Where all were equally liable, at any moment, 
to need the aid of the others, this feeling of 
equality and sympathy must grow up. Where 
the best efforts of every man and woman in the 
community were felt to be barely sufficient to 
procure subsistence and safety for all and for 
each one, no one could be disregarded as worth- 
less or inferior. Besides, in a state of things 
where the means and the manner of living 
were the same to all, there could be no room 
for that silly affectation of superior style, which 
we sometimes see in older communities. Let 
us be glad that so much of the old equality 
and brotherhood is still left among the people 
of our noble State. 




The pioneers who had fixed themselves at 
Watauga, as stated in the fifth cha^Dter, were 
soon busy in trying to make themselves safe 
and comfortable. After building a cabin to 
protect themselves from the inclemency of the 
weather, the next grand object was to clear 
a piece of ground for a crop of corn. Until 
they could raise a crop, they must either do 
without bread, or bring a supply from Carolina 
and Virginia, across the mountains on pack- 
horses. When it must have cost so much time 
and toil to get it, we may suppose that corn- 
bread was a rarity and a dainty at Watauga. 

Indeed, when they were so lucky as to have 
a little corn, they could scarcely have bread, 
for the want of mills to grind the grain into 
meal. And now, young reader — you who have 
just risen from your nice and plentiful break- 
fast, where you had hoe-cake, and batter-bread, 

4G OLD times: oe, 

aud biscuit besides — how do you suppose the 
boys aud gii'ls of those days managed to eat 
their corn ? Certainly not raw, as a hog or a 
horse does; but they would boil it like our 
hominy, or else roast it in an oven, if they 
had one, if not, in the hot ashes, and then 
crack the grains with their teeth. In those 
hard times, well-provided and happy was the 
boy that had a pocketful of parched corn. 

As to a plenty of meat, and that of the best, 
there was no difficulty at all. Whoever had a 
rifle, and powder, and lead, might take his 
choice of bear-meat, venison, turkey, and some- 
times buffalo ; to say nothing of squirrels, 
partiidges, and other small game. Fish were 
also plentiful in all the streams, and might be 
easily caught in various ways. Wild geese 
and ducks also abounded, wherever there was 
water for them to swim in. Kow, if any boy 
who reads this should be wishmg that he had 
been there to fish and to hunt, let him remem- 
ber that he must have eaten those good things 
for his dinner frequently without bread, and 
sometimes without salt, and perhaps he would 
change his mind. 

While those who had already planted them- 
selves at Watauga were thus employed in en- 


deavormg to improve their new homes, other 
emigrants continued to arrive from Virginia, 
South Carolina, and Xorth Carolina, but chiefly 
from the province last mentioned. However, 
they did not come in crowds, with all the means 
of opening and cultivating large farms, as they 
now go into Kansas, and Xebraska, and other 
frontier countries. There were no roads leading 
to Watauga, and steamboats had not then been 
invented; and besides, there was no traveling 
by water across the Alleghany Mountains. 
The emigrants came mostly on foot, with a 
horse or two to carry the old women and 
young children, with some provisions for the 
journey, and a few articles for housekeeping. 
Every new-comer was received with a hearty 
welcome, and the whole settlement would at 
once turn out to build him a cabin. The men 
who did the work were not carpenters, and they 
had neither plank nor nails to build with. 
But with such instruments as an ax and an 
auger, they managed to construct, out of the 
trees that stood around, such a shelter as might 
protect a family from rain and snow. In a 
few days, the strangers would be at home, and 
ready to do their part toward helping to settle 
the next that should arrive. 

48 OLD times; or, 

Among those who joined tlie AVatauga set- 
tlement about this time, (in the year 1771,) 
were two men who became afterward particu- 
larly distinguished in the early history of Ten- 
nessee. These were John Sevier and James 
Robertson. Sevier's father was an English- 
man, born in London, who came to Virginia, 
and afterward to East Tennessee. Robertson 
was from Wake county, North Carolina, who, 
after spending some years at Watauga, settled 
the first white colony in Middle Tennessee. 
AVe may also mention the names of John Car- 
ter, from Virginia, and Charles Robertson, 
from South Carolina, among the men of note 
in «the young community. 




In order that our readers may better under- 
stand what we have farther to tell about the 
settlement of East Tennessee, we must try to 
make them acquainted with certain important 
matters that were then going on m North 

Well, what is commonly called the Revolu^ 
tionary War was about to begin. This was, as 
we have before stated, a w^ar between the king- 
dom of Great Britain on one side, and her 
American provinces on the other side. These 
provinces were thirteen in number, all border- 
ing on the Atlantic Ocean, and all lying on 
the east of the Alleghany Mountains. They 
were New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecti- 
cut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, 
New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 
They were called provinces, or colonies, until 


after the war, and then took the name of States. 
They were governed by the laws of Great Brit- 
ain, and had each a goveraor and other officers 
appointed by the king. 

This is not a proper place to explain the 
causes of the Kevolutionary Yf ar, or to give a 
history of its events. When you are a little 
older, you can read all about it in many books 
of American history. It is enough to say here, 
that the fighting commenced in the year 1775, 
though the quarrel began several years before. 
In North Carolina especisJly, the people had 
been so»much oppressed by unjust taxes, that 
in 1771, they refused to pay them, and deter- 
mined to resist the authority of the "royal gov- 
ernor. This resistance was called the "Eegu- 
lation," and brought on a battle at Alamance, 
in which the "Eegulators" were defeated by 
the troops under the command of Governor 
Try on. 

After the battle of Alamance, Governor Tryon 
determined to punish all the persons engaged in 
the " Kegulation," or else compel them to take 
an oath of allegiance to the King of Great 
Britain. To get out of his power, a good many 
of them crossed the mountains, and took refuge 
among the people at Watauga. And so this 


disturbance in North Carolina helped to in- 
crease the settlements west of the mountains 
more rapidly than would have happened other- 

As all the provinces were ill-treated by the 
British Government, in one way or another, at 
length they all agreed to choose some of their 
best and wisest men, to meet together in Phila- 
delphia, and try to provide some remedy. This 
assembly of men wa^ called the Continental 
Congress, and after consulting together, they 
concluded it was best to throw off the British 
Government altogether, and become ^parate 
and independent States. This they did by a 
declaration, made and published on the 4th of 
July, 1776. 

Having thus rejected the royal government, 
the people of North Carolina, as well as of the 
other provinces, were without any regular gov- 
ernment at all. This, you know, is a bad state 
of things ; for even a family or a school cannot 
prosper without laws, and somebody to exercise 
authority. So the people of Carolina met to- 
gether, in counties and neighborhoods, and ap- 
pointed men to manage matters as well as they 
could, until -they should have time to make a 
new government, and establish laws to suit 


themselves in place of the English laws. The 
men so appointed were generally called "com- 
mittees of public safety." 

While the province was under the rule of 
Great Britain, the governor used to appoint 
men called Indian agents to stay amongst the 
Cherokees and other tribes, and endeavor to 
make them friendly with the white people. 
These men, being appointed and paid by the 
royal governor, were opposed to the Whigs, or 
Revolutionary party, and therefore tried to stir 
up the Indians to make war upon the frontier 
settlers,* while the king was sending his armies 
across the ocean to subdue the provinces, and 
force them to submit to his authority. 

In the fourth chapter I told you there were 
a great many Tories in Carolina. Well, these 
Tories did their best to help the King of England 
and his. generals to conquer the -Whigs. In 
the many fights that happened between them, 
the Tories would sometimes have to run ofi", and 
even to leave the province, in order to save their 
lives. Many of them went amongst the Chero- 
kees ; and as they hated the Whigs, they w^ould 
try to persuade the Indians to hate them too, 
and to make war upon the western settlements. 
You can easily see that the Whigs of Carolina, 


having the British and the Tories on their 
hands at home, would have little power to pro- 
tect the young settlements in East Tennessee. 
These were, therefore, left to take care of them- 
selves as best they could. 

54 OLD times; or, 



Shortly after Watauga was settled, a man 
named Brown, from North Carolina, took up 
his abode upon the Nolichucky River, a stream 
that runs into the Holston farther south and 
west than the Watauga. Several other families 
went with him, and they all built their cabins 
near together on the northern bank of the river. 
Brown and his companions bought as much 
land as they all wanted from the Cherokees, for 
a small parcel of goods, which he brought with 
him -from Carolina on a pack-horse. 

About the same time, John Carter and a 
small company of emigrants fixed themselves 
in what is still called Carter's Valley, not far 
from the present town of Bogersville. This 
valley was then supposed to belong to Virginia, 
and the first settlers were from that province. 
Emigrants continued to arrive at all these set- 
tlements, chiefly from Virginia and North Car- 


na. None of the Indian towns were very 
near them, and the Cherokees were quite 
peaceful and friendly toward their white neigh- 
bors. Indeed, they were well pleased to have 
persons among them with whom they could 
trade their skins and furs for guns, blankets, 
knives, etc. 

When the w^hite men took possession of the 
lands on the Watauga, they did not ask the 
consent of the Cherokees, or anybody else. 
They occupied the territory, just because nobody 
else was there to interfere with them. The 
Indians did not live nearer than a hundred 
miles from it, yet they claimed the whole coun- 
try as their hunting-grounds. To satisfy the 
Cherokees, and to keep them in a friendl)^ mood, 
the people of Watauga agreed to pay them 
goods to the value of several thousand dollars, 
for the privilege of living on the lands for a 
certain number of years. This was called leas- 
ing the land ; but the white men knew very well 
if they could hold it a few years, they could 
keep it always afterward. 

Well, a day was appointed for the head men 
of the Cherokees to come to Watauga, and 
complete the bargain about the land. At the 
same time and place it was understood that 

56. OLD times; or, 

there was to be a horse-race. A race is sure to 
bring in all the scamps and rowdies that are 
in reach of it, and upon this occasion, there 
were some of this sort from the frontiers of Vir- 
ginia. In the course of the day, some of these 
Virginians, with little or no provocation, shot 
and killed one of the Cherokees. AYe have told 
you before how revengeful all Indians are, and 
the white people at Watauga had good reason 
to dread what would happen as soon as news 
of the murder should be carried to the Cherokee 

In this alarming state of things, James Kob- 
ertson proposed that he and another man would 
go to the Cherokee towns, and endeavor to make 
up the matter. They went accordingly, at the 
great risk of their lives, and by explaining, 
persuading, and promising to punish the mur- 
derers, when they could catch them, they at 
length succeeded in pacifying the Indians, and 
preventing them from attacking the settlement. 
In this business Mr. Eobertson proved himself 
to be a man of uncommon prudence, courage, 
and public spirit ; and ever after, the people of 
Watauga looked to him for protection and 
guidance in all difficulties. 

Up to this time the settlers had no quarrel 


with tlie Indians, and all the sensible men 
among them had been very cautious not to give 
offense to those who could so easily have de- 
stroyed the weak and unprotected settlements. 
Although the great danger, arising from this 
foolish murder, was happily warded off by the 
good management chiefly of Robertson, yet it was 
not long before the Cherokees began to entertain 
a bad feeling toward the white people, and that 
without any fault of the latter. This change 
was brought about by the Indian agents of the 
King of England, the Tories, and bad men who 
had gone amongst the Cherokees to avoid being 
punished for their crimes in the provinces. 

58 OLD times; oe. 



During the year 1775, Indian traders, com- 
ing into the white settlements, gave notice to 
the inhabitants that the Cherokees were about 
to attack them. This, of course, produced great 
alarm on the frontiers, especially on the Wa- 
tauga, and Nolichucky, and in Carter's Valley, 
which Avere the most advanced settlements, and 
nearest to the Indian tov/ns. The people at 
these places began at once to make what prepa- 
ration they could to defend themselves against 
the enemy. One of the first things thought of 
v/as to build stations, and to bring all the in- 
habitants into them for protection. 

Well, what is a station? or rather, w^hat was 
it? for there are no stations in the country 
now. It WTtS just a picket-fence, made of stakes 
eight or ten feet long, set close together in the 
ground, and sharpened at top, so that the In- 
dians could not climb over them. AVith this 


sort of fence a piece of ground was inclosed, 
perhaps half an acre in extent, and inside of it 
cabins were built, sufficient to hold all the peo- 
ple. For a considerable distance round this 
inclosure the cane and other small growth were 
cleared away, so that an Indian could not get 
near to it without being seen. 

In building stations, they frequently made 
cabins close together, so that their Avails might 
answer in place of the picket-fence or stockade. 
In these walls they cut small holes, through 
wdiich they could put their rifles and shoot the 
Indians, wdiile they themselves were safe behind 
the wall of logs. These were frequently called 
port-holes, and houses thus built, block-houses. 
It was a great object in these stations to have 
running water in the inclosure, or at least in 
the cleared space around it. At one time there 
were a great many of these stations in East and 
Middle Tennessee, but they have all been re- 
moved, or have rotted down, and only a few old 
settlers can now tell exactly where any of them 

Whenever they had reason to expect an im- 
mediate attack by the Indians, all the settlers, 
with their families, would try to get into one of 
these stations, carrying with them whatever of 


their property they could, and all the provisions 
they might have on hand. It would frequently 
happen that they would be confined in the sta- 
tion for several weeks at a time, without any 
chance to procure food of any sort, and forced 
to depend on the supply they might have on 
hand. When they would be ready to starve, 
some of the men would leave the station by 
night, and steal through the surrounding In- 
dians, at the great hazard of their lives, to get 
provisions or other assistance from any other 
station or settlement in reach. 

When the Indians would find that the white 
people had gone into a station, they frequently 
went off without making any attack, and con- 
tented themselves with burning the cabins, and 
carrying off the horses and other property of the 
settlers. Sometimes, however, they would un- 
dertake to set fire to the stockade and block- 
houses, and to shoot and kill the men through 
the cracks between the logs. In this work they 
were not often successful, and as they were fully 
exposed to the fire of the riflemen within, 
many of them would be killed in such at- 
tempts. A more usual course with them was 
to lurk about the place, and cut off all who 
might attempt to leave the station, and in 


that way endeavor to starve the party into a 

It was a practice with the Indians to carry 
off the dead bodies of their warriors killed in 
battle, in order to conceal their loss. In per- 
forming this duty, as they considered it, many 
of them were killed, who otherwise might have 
escaped. Another custom of the Indian war- 
rior was to scalp his dead enemy — that is, to 
take off a piece of the skin of the head with the 
hair on it. This he would keep in his wigwam 
as a proof of his warlike exploits ; and he was 
the proudest warrior of his tribe wdio could 
show the longest string of such memorials. 

This practice of taking scalps among the In- 
dians was not always confined to the slain. 
They would sometimes scalp women and chil- 
dren, whom, for some reason, they did not choose 
to kill; and persons were often scalped who 
recovered from the injury and lived to die of 
old age. A laughable story is somewhere told 
of an Indian attempting to scalp a Frenchman 
who wore a wig. The savage seized him by 
the hair, but before he could use his scalping- 
knife, the wig came off, and the Frenchman 
ran away, leaving the astonished Indian with 
the strange thing in his hands. 

62 OLD times; or, 



Early in the next year, (1776,) the people 
of Watauga received certain information that 
the Cherokees were prepared to march against 
them in considerable numbers. The plan of 
attack was understood to be, that the Indians 
would be divided into several bands, and march 
against the several stations and settlements at 
the same time. In the distress produced by 
this news, messengers were sent without delay 
into the Avestern counties of Virginia and North 
Carolina, to get what assistance they could to 
defend the feeble colonies at Watauga, Noli- 
chucky, and along the Holston. About a hun- 
dred men, in five small companies, principally 
from Virginia, immediately started across the 
mountains, and arrived at Watauga before the 

After reaching the western settlements, the 
officers commanding these troops thought it 


would be best to go forward, and meet the In- 
dians on their way, instead of waiting till they 
should be attacked in the stations. The troops 
from Virginia and Carolina had been joined by 
all the men on the frontiers who could be 
spared from the stations, and the whole force 
amounted to about one hundred and seventy- 
five men. Near a place called the Island Flats, 
they met a party of the advancing Indians, about 
four hundred in number. A hard battle imme- 
diately commenced, in which the whites were 
finally victorious, killing about forty of the 
Cherokee warriors. Several of the white men 
were wounded, but not one killed. 

This first battle between the Tennessee set- 
tlers and the Cherokees was fought on the 20th 
of July, 1776. The victory obtained by the 
white men had a very good influence both upon 
themselves and upon their savage enemies. It 
gave courage and confidence to the whites, so 
that from that time they never feared to meet 
any number of Indians in battle. It also con- 
vinced the Cherokees that they V\'ere no match 
for the Western riflemen, and that the settle- 
ments defended by such men were dangerous 
places in which to look for scalps. It did not, 
however, cure them of their revengeful and 

64 OLD times; or, 

blood-thirsty disposition, nor prevent them from 
skulking about and murdering the whites at 
every sly opportunity. 

Another party of Cherokees had taken a dif- 
ferent route, intending to attack the settlements 
of Watauga and Nolichucky. The settlers at 
the latter place had left their homes, and 
crowded into the Watauga Station, which con- 
tained not less than one hundred and seventy 
persons — men, women, and children — w^hen the 
Indians made their appearance. They at- 
tempted to storm the fort in the usual way, 
but were beaten off, and a good many of 
them killed by the riflemen within. They re- 
mained lurking about the place for several 
days, and then departed. 

While the Indians were in the neighborhood 
of Watauga, a man named Cooper and a boy 
went out of the stockade to get some timber 
from the woods. The man was killed and 
scalped by the Indians lying in wait. The boy 
was made prisoner, carried to the Indian towns, 
and burned to death. Another man was killed 
while trying to get into the fort by night, and a 
woman — Mrs. Bean — was taken prisoner. It is 
not known what became of her, nor is it any- 
where mentioned whether or not she was the 


wife of Captain Bean, tlie first settler at Wa- 

But still another gang of tlie Indians were 
more successful in their inroad. They pushed 
for the scattered dwellings lower down the 
Holston, wdiose inhabitants had not taken refuge 
in any station. They killed and scalped every 
human being in their route, at the same time 
burning the houses and destroying the growing 
corn. They did not stop in their destructive 
course till they reached a settlement called the 
Wolf Hills, in Western Virginia. They there 
murdered several persons, but were at length 
driven off by the men at Black's Station, near 
where the town of Abingdon now^ stands. 

In the neighborhood of Black's Station lived 
a preacher by the name of Cummings. At the 
time the Indians were committing mischief in 
that quarter, Mr. Cummings and his negro man, 
in company with three others, were at work in 
a field. They were fired upon by the Indians, 
and one of the men was killed and two others 
were wounded. Mr. Cummings and his servant 
attacked the savages in their hiding-place, and 
forced them to retreat. This Mr. Cummings 
used to ride to his log meeting-house on Sun- 
day morning, with his rifle on his shoulder. 
3 ^ 


Upon getting into the pulpit, he would set it in 
a corner, ready to snatch it up on any alarm. 
He thought it as necessary, in those times, to 
watch and fight, as to pray and jDreach ; and 
he seems to have been good at all these exer- 




After the events related in the foregoing 
chapter, the Cherokees seemed to be in a very 
ill humor with their white neighbors in East 
Tennessee. They retired to their towns, but 
continued to send out marauding bands to mo- 
lest the settlements, and to steal horses and take 
scalps, wherever they could, without exposing 
themselves to the aim of the frontier rifleman. 
To put a stop to these outrages, a small army 
from Virginia, under command of Colonel Chris- 
tian, and another from North Carolina, under 
Colonel Williams, marched to the Holston, 
where they encamped for a few days. Here 
they were joined by the men from Watauga, 
and some other stations, until the entire army 
amounted to about eighteen hundred men. 

At the head of these troops. Colonel Christian 
set out for the Cherokee towns. Until they 
were near French Broad River, they heard 

Ub OLD times; ok, 

nothing from the Indians ; but they were there 
met by an Indian trader, with a message from 
the Cherokees, warning them not to attempt to 
cross that river, as a thousand warriors were 
assembled there to dispute the passage. Not at 
all daunted by this bravado, Colonel Christian 
continued to advance, and upon arriving at the 
river, was astonished to find the Indian camp 
totally deserted. The story is, that a w^hite 
trader among them had persuaded the Chero- 
kees that it was vain to oppose the white in- 
vaders, and that their only chance of safety 
was to retreat to their strongholds in the 

The army continued its march in a south- 
westwardly direction toward the Little Tennessee 
River, w^here the most important and populous 
Cherokee towns were situated. Here Colonel 
Christian expected to encounter the whole In- 
dian force, and was very careful not to be sur- 
prised. But he was again disappointed, as not 
a single Cherokee warrior was to be found. 
None but a few helpless old men, squaws, and 
children were left in the villages. The fighting • 
men of the whole nation had been seized wdth a 
panic, and thought of nothing but hiding them- 


As Colonel Christian could not bring his army 
within shooting distance of the red men, the 
next best thing to be done was to burn and de- 
stroy their towns, provisions, and crops. This 
was no doubt an unpleasant business for the 
brave and generous men who composed that 
array, but it was necessary to convince the In- 
dians that they would not be allowed to harass 
the settlements without being made to suffer 
for it in their turn. Some of the towns that 
were known to be peaceable were spared, 
which would farther convince all that it was 
their interest to be friendly toward the set- 

Finding no farther work for them to do, 
Colonel Christian disbanded his army, and the 
men returned to their homes. But in their ex- 
pedition, they had enjoyed the opj^ortunity of 
visiting and examining the most attractive por- 
tion of East Tennessee. Many of tliem w^ent 
back to Virginia and Carolina, only to bring 
their families to new homes, which they had 
already selected on the western frontier. The 
reports which they carried with them, of the 
richness of the land, and the beauty of the 
country, had a powerful effect in exciting the 
spirit of emigration among their friends and 

70 OLD times; or, 

neighbors, and, for a sliort time, the population 
of the Watauga, and other western settlements, 
was rapidly increased. 

And here, young readers, we would call upon 
you to notice that, although Colonel Christian's 
army had every thing in their power at the 
Cherokee towns, there is no instance of any in- 
jury done by them to the women and children 
of their savage enemies. And this, we believe, 
will hold true in all their subsequent conflicts 
with the Indians. Many of them had seen 
their sisters, wives, and helpless children mur- 
dered, scalped, tortured, and burnt by the 
Indians, and naturally became Indian-haters. 
They pursued their warrior enemies with a 
fierce- and unrelenting vengeance, but never 
did one of them so far forget his manhood 
as to inflict even a blow upon a squaw or 
a child. 

Another thing to be observed concerning 
these Indian wars is, that there were no Tories 
among the people in the western settlements. 
It was well understood that the savages were 
instigated and furnished with arms, to make 
war upon the frontiers, by the agents of the 
British Government residing among them. This 
produced the natural eflect of causing the 


western people to become very hostile to the 
English King, and all who snpported him. 
There was probably not a Tory west of the 
mountains, except a few who had taken refuge 
and lived among the Indian tribes. 

72 OLD times; or, 



It has been mentioned before that East Ten- 
nessee was a part of the province or State of 
North Carolina, and under its authority. But 
in fact, North Carolina did not, and could not, 
for a long time, pay attention to the condition 
of the people west of the mountains. All the 
resources of the province, all the men and 
money it could raise, were required for the Kev- 
olutionary War, in which it was engaged, 
against the British and the Tories in the eastern 
or Atlantic part of the province. The western 
settlements were not willfully neglected, but left 
alone for the want of power to clierish and pro- 
tect them. 

But a community cannot prosper, or even 
preserve, its existence for any length of time, 
without some sort of government, and some 
authority to Avhich all must submit. In their 
difficult situation, tlie people of Watauga met 


together, and made a written agreement about 
the management of their affairs, which has 
been called the " Watauga Association." They 
elected thirteen men as commissionei-s to man- 
age the affairs of the community, and five 
men as a court to settle all disputes that might 
arise among individuals. And for about five 
years, the Watauga settlement was well gov- 
erned, and the rights of all the people secured, 
without laws, or judges, or juries, or sheriffs. 

They must have been uncommon men who 
could thus be governed by their own consent 
and agreement, without any authority over 
them. And so they were — men full of hon- 
esty, prudence, and desire to promote the 
public good. If there were any of a different 
character, they could do nothing against the 
influence and example of such men as John 
Sevier, James Kobertson, Charles Robertson, 
John Carter, and Zach. Isbell, who were the 
members of the court. It is in times of difficulty 
and danger that men of real virtue and talent ex- 
ercise a natural and useful control over others. 

The people of Watauga had given to their 
settlement the name of Washington District, 
considering it as a part of North Carolina. 
There are now perhaps hundreds of counties 

74 OLD times; or, 

and towns in the United States tliat bear the 
honored name of the "Fatlier of his country;" 
but, so far as we can learn, this little colony in 
East Tennessee is the first on the list. At that 
time, George Washington had just been ap- 
pointed Commander-in-chief of the American Ar- 
mies in the Revolutionary War. Their choosing 
this name, above all others, is very good proof of 
the strong Whig spirit of these w^estern people. 
In the early part of the year 1776, a me- 
morial or petition Avas addressed to the "Hon- 
orable Provincial Council of North Carolina," 
signed by the commissioners of Watauga, and 
one hundred other persons. In that memorial 
they explained their condition, and the reasons 
which had forced them to set up a temporary 
government without the authority of the parent 
province. They denied any intention of be- 
coming indejoendent of IsTorth Carolina, and 
expressed a strong desire to have its laws ex- 
tended to the western settlements, and regular 
officers appointed to administer them. They 
declared, in earnest language, their readiness to 
take part with Carolina in the Revolutionary 
struggle which was then going on, and to bear 
their part of the taxes and other burdens of 
the war. 


In consequence of this memorial, the Legis- 
lature of North Carolina so far took notice of 
the settlements west of the mountains, as to'. 
throw them all together under the name of 
Washington County, and allow them to send 
delegates to a convention then aboHt to assemble 
at Halifax. The delegates from Washington 
county were Charles Robertson, John Carter, 
John Etaile, and John Sevier. The Convention 
or Provincial Congress met accordingly, and 
adopted a Constitution of Government for the 
State of North Carolina, including the western 
colonies under the new name of Washington 

The next year, the General Assembly of North 
Carolina passed a law regulating the militia of 
Washington county, and providing for the ap- 
pointment of justices of the peace and other 
officers in the same. The Assembly also laid 
off the boundaries of the county — and how 
large do you suppose they made it? Why, it was 
just as large as the whole State of Tennessee, as 
it now is, reaching from the Alleghany Moun- 
tains on the east to the Mississippi River on the 
west. As the country has become settled, this 
one county has been divided and subdivided until 
there are now eisihtv-four counties in the State. 

70 OLD times; or, 



We must now drop the names of Watauga, 
Nolicliucky, etc., and speak of all the settlements 
in East Tennessee under the one name that they 
had received from the General Assembly of 
North Carolina. We shall proceed to notice 
several regulations, made by the Legislature of 
that State, for the benefit of the settlers on the 
Tennessee side of the mountains. 

Among the first and most important of these 
regulations, was one allowing every head of a 
family in the western territory to have six hun- 
dred and forty acres of land for himself, one 
hundred fipr his wife, and one hundred more for 
every one of his children. So that if a man 
had a wife and five children, he could have 
twelve hundred and forty acres of good land, 
just by going to live on it. And this he could 
have wherever he chose, provided no other per- 
son had settled on it before him; A great part 


of the land thus given away would now sell for 
fifty dollars per acre. 

At the same time, a law was passed to pro- 
vide for keeping up a body of soldiers called 
"Rangers," for the protection of the western 
frontier. They were so called, because it was 
their duty to range along the outside settle- 
ments, and kill oi:, drive off any skulking In- 
dians they could find. They were generally 
mounted on horses, and so were able to move 
rapidly from one place to another. These 
Rangers received their pay, not in money — for 
the State of North Carolina had none — but in 
western land. In this way, every man, though 
not the head of a family, had a chance to pro- 
cure a fine tract of land, by serving in the 

The Legislature of North Carolina, in the 
same year, appointed commissioners to mark 
out a wagon-road, from some convenient point 
in Washington county, into Burke county, on 
the east side of the mountains. This was the 
first road ever made in Tennessee, and it was a 
long time before that became what we would 
now call a good one. Before that, the emi- 
grants, on foot or on horseback, just followed 
the blazed path, which the hunters and traders 


had first traveled. Even now a road across the 
mountains must turn and wind about, in all 
directions, in order to avoid those parts of the 
ground that are too steep to be passed over. 

Tliough the Rangers were not able to prevent 
all hostile inroads on the part of the Cherokees, 
yet the settlements became much more secure 
than they had been. On tiiis account, as w^ell 
as because of the favorable terms upon which 
land could be obtained, a great many families, 
about this time, crossed the mountains into the 
new settlements. They were mostly poor men 
who came, with nothing but stout hearts and 
strong arms to make their way in the world. 
However, as soon as the wagon-road was opened, 
some men of considerable property were found 
among the emigrants. 

The rapid increase of the population caused 
the Legislature of North Carolina, in 1779, to 
establish another county on the north of the 
Watauga settlement. The new county was 
called Sullivan, in honor of General Sullivan, 
of the Continental Army. Isaac Shelby was 
appointed Colonel of Sullivan county, as John 
Carter was of Washington. A militia colonel 
was then a much more important character than 
he is now. In this same year, the first meeting- 


house was built in Tennessee, on Buffalo Ridge, 
near Watauga. A Baptist preacher, named 
Lane, ministered to the congregation assembled 
in that probably first place of Protestant wor- 
ship in the great valley of the Mississipj)i. 

As the courts were held in private houses — 
that is, log-cabins — it is not likely that this first 
church in the wilderness was a very fine build- 
ing, nor that it was attended by people very 
finely dressed. We are not informed upon that 
subject, but feel pretty sure that the women did 
not wear hoops — certainly not large ones. The 
men j^robably wore hunting-shirts in place of 
cloth coats, with pantaloons made of dressed 
buckskin, and moccasins of the rawhide on their 
feet. Their hats were probably made at home 
of fox, or rabbit, or 'coon skins, the young men 
having the hair outside for the sake of show, 
and the old men preferring it on the inside to 
keep their heads warm. If any of our young 
readers do not know what a hunting-shirt is, 
let them ask their grandfathers. 

In this year also, under authority of the Gen- 
eral Assembly, the town of Jonesborough was 
laid off, and established as the county town, or 
seat of justice, of AYashington county. Its 
name was intended as a compliment to Willie 

80 . OLD TIMES; OR, 

Jones, of Halifax, N. C. This gentleman was a 
wealthy and loatriotic Whig, who, as a member 
of the General Assembly, had exerted himself 
to promote the welfare of the western settle- 
ments, and, on that account, had the honor of 
giving name to the first town laid off by white 
men in Tennessee. 




The great increase, about this time, in the 
number of settlers, and the security produced by 
the watchfulness and activity of the Rangers, 
had caused the people to be too careless, and to 
venture too far into the Indian country. Among 
others, a man named Lewis built his cabin high 
up the Watauga River, and at a considerable 
distance from any other settlers. The Chero- 
kees made an attack upon this family, murdered 
Mr. Lewis, his wife, and seven children, and 
burned his house. One of the children — a 
daughter — was made prisoner, and afterward 
was purchased from her Indian owner for a 

Several disasters of this kind having hap- 
pened, the Governor of North Carolina ap- 
pointed James Robertson as commissioner to 
visit the Indian towns, and endeavor to make 
some arrangements to prevent such mischief for 

82 OLD times; or, 

the future. He went accordingly, but failed tc 
do much good among them. Some of the tribes 
were disposed to be peaceable, but others were 
evidently sullen and hostile. Of the latter class 
may be specially mentioned the Chickamaugas, 
under the influence of a fierce chief whose name, 
in English, w^as Dragging Canoe. All names 
among the Indians have a meaning ; so indeed 
they have in all languages, but we cannot 
always trace them back far enough to find out 
what is that meaning. 

The difiiculty of coming upon good terms 
with the Indians was owing chiefly to the influ- 
ence of the Tories, and of the agents of the 
English King who resided among the Chero- 
kees. Not only in East Tennessee, but along 
the western frontier of Georgia, South Carolina, 
Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the same sort of 
savage hostilities was carried on. In addition 
to the natural jealousy and revengeful disposi- 
tion of the savages, they were persuaded by 
these agents that the British Government would 
protect them, and prevent the white settlements 
from being carried farther west, if the Indians 
would do their part, and help the king to con- 
quer his rebellious provinces. They were lib- 
erally furnished with guns and ammunition to 


enable, and, at the same time, to bribe them, to 
assist in the work of conquest. 

These agents of the British Government kept 
themselves generally beyond the reach of the 
injured and exasperated people of the frontier; 
and besides, as they belonged to a nation with 
which our country was at open war, they could 
only have been taken and kept as prisoners. 
Not so, however, with the Tories, who were not 
considered as subjects of the King of England 
so much as traitors and outlaws, who were 
making war upon their native country and 
their fellow-citizens. True, when these were 
made prisoners in battle, they were generally 
treated in the same manner as their English 
allies; but such of them as were caught, not 
under command of a British oiScer, killing and 
robbing the Whigs, were shot and hung with 
very little ceremony. 

In the turmoil of the Revolution, and distant 
as were the frontier settlements from the seat 
of government on the eastern sea-board, the 
inhabitants of the western counties were tempted 
to take the law into their own hands, and to 
protect themselves in the most speedy and 
effectual way against the mischievous and mur- 
derous practices of the Tories. The people of 


Watauga formed themselves into companies, 
which would now be called "Lynchers," or 
" Vigilance Committees," and hunted the Tories 
as they would so many wolves. They did this, 
not only because they considered the Tories as 
the enemies of their country, but because it 
was the only way to save their own lives and 

Up toward the head of Watauga, a Tory 
named Grimes had established himself, with 
several companions, and had attacked some of 
the nearest Whig families, and killed at least 
one man. A company from Watauga, under 
the lead of Captain Bean, Kobertson, and Se- 
vier, went against them, assaulted their lurking- 
place, and drove them over the mountains. 
Another Tory, of the name of Yearly, was 
chased out of the neighborhood of Nolichucky. 
Grimes was afterAvard caught and hung. 

And here, young friends, let us say a serious 
and sincere word to you about such proceedings 
as we have just mentioned. At a time when 
the country was passing from the English Gov- 
ernment to a new one of the people's making, 
in the midst of war and confusion, when things 
were done by force and violence on all sides, 
the conduct of the Watauga people was neces- 


sary and right. But now, when we have an 
established government, with laws to punish all 
offenses, and judges, juries, and other officers to 
enforce the laws, we can have no excuse for im- 
itating such proceedings. If anybody should' 
ever propose to you to join a company of 
Lynchers or Vigilants, do you just say to him 
that if the laws of Tennessee are not sufficient 
to punish crimes, you will help to make them 
stronger, but never to violate them. 

86 OLD TIMES; OR, f 



It was stated in the last chapter that the 
Chickamaugas were the most ferocious and un- 
manageable of all the Cherokee tribes. Their 
towns were on the south side of Tennessee River, 
from the mouth of Chickamauga River, for a 
distance of forty or fifty miles down the former 
stream. By looking at a map, you will see that 
the Tennessee here breaks through the Cum- 
berland Mountains, or rather a branch of them, 
usually called Walden's Ridge. This passage 
of the river through the mountain is called The 
Narrows, not far below the present town of 

The channel of the river here becomes quite 
narrow, and the banks high, steep, and craggy, 
to a degree almost terrible. The current being 
very rapid, and being thrown by the jutting 
r6cks first on one side and then on the other, 
the water goes roaring and foaming with a vio- 


lence equally dangerous and frightful. Even 
at this day, though much has been done to im- 
prove the navigation, it is regarded by boatmen 
as a place that requires uncommon care to pass 
it with safety. At the time of which we are 
writing, it could only be descended when the 
river was full. 

In the same neighborhood is the celebrated 
Nickojack Cave. One who has examined it, 
gives the following description of this wonderful 
place: "At its mouth it is about thirty yards 
wide, arched overhead with pure granite, this 
being in the center about fifteen feet high. A 
beautiful little river, clear as cr3'"stal, issues from 
its mouth. The distance the cave extends into the 
mountain has not been ascertained. It has been 
explored only four or five miles. At the mouth 
the river is wide and shallow, but narrower than 
the cave. As you proceed farther up the stream, 
the cave becomes gradually narrower, until it is 
contracted to the exact width of the river. It 
is beyond that point explored only by water, in 
a small canoe." 

It w^as into this cave, and into the rugged and 
precipitous country bordering on The Narrows, 
that the Chickamaugas used to retreat when 
hard pressed by a pursuing enemy. Here they 


could safely store their provisions, their warlike 
implements, and the plunder they might gather 
in their expeditions against the white settle- 
ments. And to these dismal strongholds was 
brought many a wretched captive, to pine in 
loathsome slavery, or to be tortured to death in 
an Indian frolic. When we come to speak of 
Middle Tennessee, we shall see that most of the 
disasters suffered by the early settlers in that 
quarter, proceeded from the land -pirates of 
Nickojack and The Narrows. 

But the Chickamaugas were not the only 
occupants of these abominable dens, and per- 
haps not the worst. The most savage and law- 
less of the other tribes found here a resort suited 
to their wild tempers, and companions always 
ready to encourage and assist them in deeds of 
violence and blood. When any portion of the 
Chickasaws, Choctaws, or Creeks would become 
too bold and bloody to remain in their own 
tribes, they found a welcome entrance into the 
Chickamauga bands, and full scope for the ex- 
ercise of their worst propensities. 

There were also a few white men sometimes 
to be found in company with the Indians that 
congregated about these places. But we are 
sorry to say that the company was not made 


better by their presence. Besides the Indian 
agents of the English King, the Chickamauga 
towns and strongholds were resorted to by men 
who were not allowed to live elsewhere. Mur- 
derers and robbers from the Atlantic States, 
and from Louisiana and Florida, then in pos- 
session of the Spaniards, pirates that had been 
chased from the high seas, outlaws and des- 
peradoes of all sorts, fled to these parts to avoid 
the punishment that was pursuing them. It is, 
perhaps, not stretching the truth too far to call 
the population of these infamous localities the 
enemies of the human race. They certainly 
proved to be the most destructive foes to the 
new settlements in Tennessee. 

90 * OLD times; or, 




In order to check the inroads of the pestilent 
gang of savages and others, that we have de- 
scribed in the foregoing chapter, North Carolina 
and Virginia united in getting up an expedition 
against the Chickamaugas. The troops for the 
purpose assembled at the mouth of Big Creek, 
near the present town of Eogersville, in the 
spring of 1779. They were placed under com- 
mand of Colonel Evan Shelby, and consisted 
of more than a thousand men, mostly volun- 
teers from the western counties of the two States. 
Neither Carolina nor Virginia had any money 
to defray the expenses of the expedition, and 
the funds absolutely necessary to carry it on 
were raised by Colonel Shelby's son Isaac, after- 
ward so distinguished in western warfare. 

It was determined that the army should pro- 
ceed bv water, and in a short time a suffi^ent 


number of canoes and pirogues were built by 
tlie troops to take them all down the river. 
They arrived safely at the mouth of Chicka- 
mauga, and turned up that stream. Here they 
met with an Indian, whom they made prisoner, 
and forced him to act as their guide to the In- 
dian towns, wdth the situation of which they 
w^ere not much acquainted. By his direction, 
they presently left the current and their canoes, 
and struggled through the backwater in a cane- 
brake, until they came in sight of the Chicka- 
mauga town. There were a good many Indians 
in the town, but as they were not looking out 
for such an invasion, they were taken by sur- 
prise, and, without making any resistance, ran 
off to their hiding-places in the mountains. 

The Indians having fled, and it being impos- 
sible to pursue them with any success, Colonel 
Shelby had to content himself with burning the 
town. The troops were sent out in various 
directions, and drove the enemy and burned 
their towns wherever they could come up with 
them. At Chickamauga they found one hun- 
dred and fifty horses, a great number of cattle, 
and other valuable things belonging to the 
Indians, a large part of which they had stolen, 
at different times, from the white settlers. 

92 OLD times; or, 

Among other things was a large number of 
deer-skins, which w^ere said to belong to a 
Tory white trader, named McDonald. These 
were sold at public auction. 

During this invasion of the Chickamauga 
country, Colonel Shelby and his men burned 
eleven of their towns, and destroyed tAventy 
thousand bushels of corn. It was certainly a 
great pity, in this way, to deprive the women 
and children of shelter and food ; but there was 
no help for it, if the Indians were to be pun- 
ished at all. It was a more agreeable business 
for Colonel Shelby to take possession of a large 
amount of goods belonging to the agents of 
the British Government, and with which they 
intended to bribe the Indians to make war upon 
our frontiers. Such of the goods as could not 
conveniently be carried by the men, were de- 
stroyed; but we have never heard that Colonel 
Shelby, or anybody else, ever paid the British 
for them, except in lead. 

Having done all they could to teach the 
Indians and their allies good behavior for the 
future, the army set out on its return. To 
avoid the great labor and difficulty of taking 
the boats up the river, against a strong current, 
it was resolved to march back by land. The 


boats, and whatever else of value they were 
unable to carry, were sunk in deep water, that 
the Indians might not get them. The men, on 
their way home, were a good deal distressed for 
want of provisions, and had to depend on their 
rifles to keep from starving. They all reached 
the settlements in safety, not a man being lost 
on the expedition. 

This attack upon the Chickamauga towns 
had a good effect, not only in disabling those 
savages for a time, but also in saving the whole 
frontier from invasion. The British agents and 
officers had appointed to meet the chiefs of all 
the northern and southern tribes at the mouth of 
the Tennessee River. There they were to make 
arrangements for the Indians to be joined by 
some British troops, and to attack at once all 
the settlements west of the Alleghanies, The 
loss of their stores at Chickamauga, and the 
impression made upon the Indians by the energy 
and boldness of the volunteers, prevented the 
appointed meeting, and spoiled the whole plan 
of operations. 

In their march homeward, the troops took the 
north side of the Tennessee, and consequently 
passed through some of the finest parts of East 
Tennessee. The fertility of the lands, the beauty 

94 OLD times; or, 

of the streams, and the mildness of the climate 
— all united to render the country attractive; 
and, no doubt, many a volunteer resolved with 
himself to make his future home near some 
gushing spring where he stopped, in his weary 
march, to make his meal of j)arched corn and 
broiled venison. In this way, as well as in its 
more direct object, the expedition tended to 
advance the settlements. 




"We have not undertaken to write any history 
of the Revolutionary "War, but in order that our 
young readers may better understand some mat- 
ters that are to follow, we must now glance at 
the state of that war, at least so far as North and 
South Carolina were concerned. The contest 
between Great Britain and the American Colo- 
nies had been going on for five years, but at no 
time during that period had the hopes and 
prospects of the American patriots been so low 
as they were at the time of which we write — the 
year 1780. Even those who had resolved never 
to submit, had begun to think of leaving the 
country on the east of the mountains, and of 
seeking safety and independence in the western 

South Carolina was entirely overrun by the 
British Army. Charleston, the capital of the 
State, had been taken, and the whole American 


Army that defended it, under General Lincoln, 
had been made prisoners of war. The Ameri- 
cans had suffered a bloody defeat at Savannah ; 
and again, at Camden, under General Gates, 
their whole Southern Army had been routed 
and scattered. Small parties of British and 
Tories were employed in all quarters in harass- 
ing the Whigs, taking and destroying their 
property, and abusing their helpless families. 

At this time, there was no army to oppose 
the English in all the Southern States. And 
what was even worse, neither the Continental 
Congress nor the separate States possessed the 
necessary means of raising an army. They 
were without money in the public treasury, and 
already deeply in debt. It is true, there were 
men ready and willing to spill their blood in 
defense of the liberties of their country ; but an 
army requires provisions, and baggage-wagons, 
and clothing for the soldiers, and cannon and 
muskets, and powder and lead, and many other 
things that can hardly be procured without 
either money or credit. 

In this gloomy and distressful condition, 
many of the Whigs on the east of the moun- 
tains brought their families, for shelter and 
protection, to the settlements of Watauga and 


Nolicliiicky. All who came were received with 
open arms, fed and sheltered in the poor but 
hospitable cabins of the pioneers. The tales 
told by these refugees, of their sufferings from 
British insolence and Tory rapacity, and of the 
down-trodden country they had been forced to 
leave, were not without their natural influence 
upon the bold and generous population of the 
w^est. Many of them, singly or in small com- 
panies, crossed the mountains, determined to do 
what they could to help the few Whigs who still 
refused to lay down their arms at the bidding 
of Lord Cornwallis, the British commander. 

The tw^o Colonels — Shelby and Sevier — hav- 
ing united their own small bands wdth those led 
by Colonel Clarke, of Geoi'gia, and Colonel 
Williams, of South Carolina, were a])le to strike 
some effective blows against the royal troops. 
They captured a Tory leader. Colonel Moore, 
and his whole party, o^ more than a hundred 
men. Near Enoree River they fought and 
defeated a superior body of Tories and British 
regulars, but were then compelled to retreat 
to the west of the mountains. In short, so brave 
and skillful, and, at the same time, so successful 
were they, in these irregular attempts, that 
the British officers dreaded nothing so much 

98 # OLD times; oh, 

as to encounter the deadly aim of the frontier 

Lord Cornwallis, intending to march his army 
into North Carolina, sent forward Colonel Fergu- 
son to prepare the way, by rousing up the Tories 
to join his standard. This officer found hardly 
anybody to oppose his progress in Western Car- 
olina. For a time the Whig spirit seemed to 
be almost crushed out, and he just marched 
through the country, doing his Avill among the 
inhabitants, as if they were a conquered people. 
From the eastern edge of the mountains, he 
threatened to cross over, and subdue the western 
settlements. He even sent an insolent message 
to Shelby and Sevier, telling them if they did 
not wish to have their "hornet's nest" burnt 
out, they had better be quiet, and stay at home. 

This message l*eached Watauga in the month 
of August, 1780. Immediately the nest was in 
an uproar. Shelby and Sevier consulted to- 
gether, and resolved that they w^ould raise as 
many mounted riflemen as they could in Wash- 
ington and Sullivan counties, as also from the 
western part of Virginia, and meet Ferguson 
on the east of the mountains. Under leaders in 
whom they had such confidence, every man in 
the two counties was ready to volunteer; but 


some must be left to guard the women and chil- 
dren against the hostile Indians. So they 
selected two hundred and forty men from each 
county, and Colonel Campbell, of Washington 
county, Va., soon after joined them with a force 
of four hundred mounted riflemen, the flower 
of the Virginia border. To these were added 
a few refugee Whigs, under Colonel McDowell, 
of North Carolina. 




On the 25th of September, 1780, these troops 
were assembled at Watauga, ready and eager 
to be led against their ovv-n and their country's 
enemy. And we may feel safe in saying that 
nowhere in America, or out of it, could a thou- 
sand men have been collected better qualified 
for the work before them. They were as patri- 
otic Whigs as Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams, 
and as determined to vindicate the liberties of 
America as the President of Congress, or the 
Commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary 
Army. Every man of them was a horseman 
and marksman by daily practice from boyhood, 
and had faced the Cherokees too often, to be 
startled at the sight of an armed enemy. Be- 
sides, they knew each other well, and that in 
the hour of battle there would be no flincher 
in the ranks. 

Still, there was very little of the outside of 


soldiers about these brave men. They were 
dressed in the homespun which their wives and 
sisters had spun, and wove, and made up. No 
military gewgaws, epaulets, and sashes were 
dangling about them; but each man, officers 
and all, carried a shot-pouch, a knife, a knap- 
sack, and a blanket, with his trusty rifle on his 
shoulder. Thus equipped, they were formed in 
close order around a clergyman present, who in 
a solemn and fervent prayer commended them 
to the protection of the God of battles. With 
this last preparation, the word was given to 
move, and, facing toward the mountains, they 
commenced the rapid march in search of 
Colonel Ferguson and his marauding bands. 
• Upon arriving at the settled parts of the 
country east of the mountains, they were, almost 
every hour, joined by individuals and small 
parties of Carolina Whigs, who, though routed 
and scattered, were ready to march under the 
banner of their country, wherever they could 
find it. Among others, they were reenforced by 
Colonel Cleveland and Colonel Wilkes, with 
several hundred men, and also by Colonel Wil- 
liams, of South Carolina, with about four hun- 
dred more. Colonel McDowell, who was en- 
titled by his rank to command the whole, had 

102 OLD times; or, 

gone in search of the head-quarters of the 
American Ai-my, to get a general officer to 
take the command. But the remaining officers 
resolved not to wait, but to go at once in pur- 
suit of Ferguson. 

That commander, by this time, had heard of 
the storm that was coming upon him from the 
west. He was then posted at Gilberttown, in 
Eutherford county. Upon the approach of the 
army under Shelby, he left that place in order 
to avoid a battle, until he could receive help 
from the Tories, and from Lord Cornwallis, who 
was encamped at Charlotte. The pursuers, sus- 
pecting his motives, only pushed after him with 
more rapidity. Two days before the battle, 
they selected from the whole army about nine 
hundred men, with the best horses, and hurried 
on ahead, leaving those mounted on slow and 
tired animals to follow more at leisure. 

For the last thirty-six hours of the pursuit, 
this advanced party were never out of the saddle 
but for an hour. At length they learned from 
people whom they met, that Colonel Ferguson 
had halted about three miles from them, and 
had posted his men on the ridge of a high hill, 
in order of battle. This was about twelve 
o'clock, and it had rained hard all the forenoon. 


But the clouds now cleared v.Vsaj, and the sun 
shone brilliantly, while the ofiicers held a short 
council, to arrange the plan of attack. The 
men busied themselves in putting their rifles in 
good order, especially in putting in and 
dry powder for priming, in place of that which 
had been wet by the rain. Percussion-caps had 
not then been invented, but they used flint- 
locks to fire their rifles. 

They were soon again in rapid motion toward 
Ferguson's camp ; but when within a mile of it, 
they met a man hurrying with a letter from that 
oflicer to Lord Cornwallis, stating his situation, 
and asking for reenforcements as soon as pos- 
sible. In this letter, which was taken from the 
express, Ferguson said to his commander that 
he was encamped on a hill, which he had 
named King's Mountain, in honor of the King 
of England, and that "all the rebels out of 
hell should not drive him from it." The troops 
then moved forward at a gallop, until they were 
in full view of the enemy's camp. Here there 
was a short halt, while the officers were making 
an examination of the ground, a,nd some hasty 
arrangements for the battle. 

And now, young readers, we are not going 
to describe to von the battle of Kino-'s Moun- 

104 ' OLD times; or, 

tain, for two reasons. The first is, that you 
could not understand such matters, even when 
well described; and the second is, that we do 
not ourselves comprehend such operations well 
enough to describe them. Let it satisfy us to 
know that, after an hour's hard fighting, the 
Americans were victorious, and that Colonel 
Ferguson and every man of his army were 
either slain or made prisoners. Some of the 
special incidents and results of the battle shall 
be noticed in the next chapter. 



incidents and results of the battle of 
king's mountain. 

In this battle, t-wo hundred and twenty-five 
of the enemy vrere killed, one hundred and 
eighty wounded, and seven hundred made pris- 
oners. The Americans also got possession of 
fifteen hundred guns, and many horses and 
wagons loaded with supplies. The wagons they 
burned on the spot, as they could not take them 
over the mountains for the want of roads. The 
Americans had thirty killed, and about sixty 
wounded. Among the killed was the gallant 
Colonel Williams, who fell in making a daring 
charge at the person of the British com- 
mander. Major Chronicle was slain early in 
the battle. 

Of Colonel Campbell's regiment, three of 
the Edmondsons, and ten others, were killed. 
Colonel Sevier had in his regiment six of his 
own name, amongst them tv/o brotliers and two 

106 OLD times; or, 

sons. Of the sons, one \vas only sixteen years 
old. Captain Robert Sevier, brother of the 
Colonel, died of his wounds a foAV days after the 
battle. The names of those killed on the side 
of the enemy are not known, except that of 
Colonel Ferguson. He obstinately refused to 
surrender at every stage of the fight, and twice 
cut down a white flag which the Tories had 
raised as a sign of submission. However we 
may detest the service in which he was em- 
ployed," we may not deny that he Vv^as a brave 
man, and an able and faithful officer. 

This memorable battle was fought on Satur- 
day, the 7th of October. The Americans 
camped on the ground that night, buried the 
dead of both parties on Sunday morning, and 
then commenced their return march, as they 
could not think of remaining so near to the 
large army of Lord Corn wal lis. They had more 
prisoners than there were American soldiers to 
guard them; besides, the arms captured from 
the enemy were to be taken along by some 
means. Well, they just took the flints out of 
the locks, so that the guns could not be fired, 
and made the prisoners carry them, while the 
Americans kept close behind them with their 
rifles loaded. Ten or twelve miles on their way, 


they met their friends whom they had left be- 
hind two days before the battle. 

"When they thought themselves at a safe dis- 
tance from the main British Army, they halted 
and held a court-martial, for the trial of some 
of the Tory prisoners that were known to have 
robbed and murdered Whigs. The court con- 
demned thirty to be hung, but only nine of the 
worst were actually executed, the others being 
let off with some lighter punishment. Among 
those put to death, was the same Grimes that 
had been run off from the neighborhood of Wa- 
tauga for the murder of a Whig. Our young 
readers must understand that these men were 
not punished because they were the public 
enemies of the country, but for the crimes they 
had done as private individuals. The British 
and other Tory prisoners were treated kindly, 
but not allowed to get away. 

The regiments of Campbell and Shelby now 
directed their march toward the central parts 
of Virginia, where the prisoners could be safely 
kept. Colonel Sevier and his men separated 
from the others, and cut across the mountains 
toward home. In their short absence, the 
Cherokees had again begun to threaten the 
frontiers of Washington county. No doubt 


they had been led to expect that Sevier and his 
volunteers would never return, but be either 
killed or captured in the expedition against 
Ferguson. In that event, they might promise 
themselves some sport in taking scalps. 

The victory of the Americans at King's 
Mountain was, in many ways, a most important 
event. It subdued the hostile spirit of the In- 
dians, by proving to them that the western 
riflemen could conquer even British regulars. 
It quelled the courage of the Tories, for the 
same reason, and prevented them from joining 
the army of Lord Cornwallis, as otherwise they 
would have done. But above all, it was the 
first serious check to the course of British suc- 
cess in the Southern States. The down-trodden 
Whigs began everywhere to raise their heads, 
and to look hopefully for the success of their 
cause. In a word, it was the turning-point in 
the War of the Revolution; and from that 
time, the prospect continued to brighten, till 
final victory was consummated in the surrender 
of the British Army under Cornwallis at York- 





It was not only in the battle of King's Moun- 
tain, but on several other occasions, both before 
and after, that the western riflemen proved their 
zeal and courage, in defending the liberty of 
their country against the British and Tories. 
Whenever they could be spared from guarding 
their own settlements against Indian attacks, 
they W'Cre always ready to give help to their 
countrymen, who, in North and South Carolina, 
were more exposed than elsewhere to the op- 
pressions of the public enemy. But these mat- 
ters belong to a history of the Revolutionary 
War, and not to that of Tennessee in particular. 
We will therefore let them pass, and turn our 
attention again to the condition of the western 

As mentioned in the last chapter, the Indians 
took advantage of the absence of Colonel Sevier 
and his men at King's Mountain, and a large 


party of them were marching against the white 
settlements when the volunteers reached home. 
Without resting a single day, Colonel Sevier 
put himself at the head of about a hundred 
men, and hastened to meet the advancing sav- 
ages before they should do any mischief on the 
frontiers. As soon as they could get ready, a 
larger body of troops were to follow and join 
him, in order to march into the Indian territory, 
and attack the Cherokees at home. 

After crossing French Broad River, the 
troops met the Indians near Boyd's Creek, and 
had a pretty severe battle with them. More 
than twenty of the Indians were left dead on 
the ground, and a considerable number were 
carried off w^ounded. Not one of the white men 
was hurt, though a bullet from an Indian's rifle 
shaved off the hair on the side of Colonel Se- 
vier's head. The enemy retreated toward the 
Cherokee towns, and Colonel Sevier camped in 
the neighborhood of the battle-ground, to wait 
for the volunteers that were coming on to join 

In a few days, Colonek Campbell, at the head 
of a regiment from Virginia, and Major Martin 
with the volunteers of Sullivan county, arrived 
at the camp. The army being now increased 


to about seven hundred men, the leaders 
determined to push forward into the Indian 
towns. The enemy had assembled to oppose 
their passage across the Little Tennessee, but 
dispersed and fled at sight of the volunteers, and 
without firing a gun. The towns of Chota, Chil- 
howe, Hiwassee, and many others, were burned, 
and the cattle and other property of the Indians 
destroyed. To our young readers it may seem 
very cruel thus to deprive the Indian women 
and children of shelter and food at the begin- 
ning of winter ; but it was a necessary measure 
of self-preservation for the white men, who had 
no other means of punishing the savages for 
their cruel hostilities. The troops were com- 
pelled either to do this, or suffer their own wives 
and children to be murdered, and their own 
property carried off by the Indians. 

The volunteers then continued their march 
to the Chickamauga towns, and even a consid- 
erable distance into what is now the State of 
Alabama. The Indian warriors ventured no- 
where to oppose them, and consequently they 
w^ere forced to do here as they had done on the 
Tennessee — that is, to destroy the w'igwam.s, pro- 
visions, and cattle, wherever they could find 
them. In their route, they found in one of the 

112 OLD times; or, 

towns a white man, who was proved to be a 
British agent, that stayed among the Cherokees 
for the purpose of persuading and bribing them 
to make war upon the white settlers. It is not 
necessary to say what was done wdth him. They 
also found and brought home several young 
white persons that the Indians had taken cap- 
tive, and kept as slaves. 

In this place it may be well to take notice, 
that the Indians did not always kill their pris- 
oners. It w^as indeed very seldom that a grown 
person was spared ; but children were frequently 
kept by them as a sort of servants to help the 
squaws in their work. After awhile the cap- 
tives w'ould be adopted into the tribe, and con- 
sidered and treated, in all respects, as Indians. 
In some instances, after staying some years with 
the savages, these young persons would become 
fond of that kind of life, and be unwilling to 
return and live with their white relatives and 
friends. Sometimes an Indian would save 
the life of a prisoner, for the sake of selling 
him back to his family for a high price — that 
is, for a rifle or a Ions; knife. 




The expedition spoken of in the last chapter 
was followed by several others, undertaken 
against different Indian towns. Especially one, 
under the command of Colonel Sevier himself, 
was entirely successful in breaking up some 
strongholds of the Indians, called the* middle 
towns, and situated in the mountains about the 
head- waters of the Little Tennessee. By these 
various disasters the Cherokees were much dis- 
abled, and disposed, at least for some time, to 
behave themselves peaceably. In consequence 
of this state of things, the settlements were rap- 
idly advanced, and early in the year 1782, a 
few cabins might be seen scattered along the 
south side of the French Broad River. 

On the 15th of August, 1782, the first Circuit 
Court ever held in Tennessee, under the author- 
ity of North Carolina, commencetl it^^ session at 
Jonesborough. Honorable Spruce IMcCay was 


the Judge ; Waightstill Avery, Attorney for tlie 
Sttite, and John Sevier, Clerk. In the next 
year, Washington county was again divided, 
and a new county formed, with the name of 
Greene, in honor of General Nathanael Greene, 
of the Continental Army. About the same 
time, the General Assembly of North Carolina 
passed a law, fixing the boundary line between 
the Indians and the white settlers. But as the 
Cherokees were not consulted in this matter, 
the claim of the State to the described line had 
still to be made good by western rifles. 

About this time, also, a great quantity of land 
in East .Tennessee was disposed of by the Gov- 
ernment of North Carolina. Some of this was 
given to the soldiers who had served in the 
Kevolutionary War, and some was sold to any 
one who would buy it. North Carolina, like the 
other States, was very much in debt, and the 
lands thus sold were generally paid for, not in 
money, but in claims against the State called 
specie certificates. The price of the land, as fixed 
by law, was ten pounds per hundred acres. 
Ten pounds, Carolina currency, being equal to 
twenty dollars, we see that the fine bottoms in 
East Tennessee, now worth fifty dollars per acre, 
were then bought for twenty cents. 


It had now been fourteen years since the 
fii-st cabin was built by Captain Bean, at Wa- 
tauga, and the settlements had not yet ad- 
vanced farther west than the French Broad. 
But they had become every year stronger 
and more populous, and, except on the western 
and southern outskirts, there was no longer 
any use for stations, or any great dread of 
Indian massacres. And, although game was 
still plentiful, people did not "miss a dinner 
because the rifle snapped." Sufiicient land had 
been cleared to raise *an abundance of corn and 
other crops, and the farmers had plenty of cattle 
and hogs, and they were always fat. Even some 
apples and peaches had now been raised, for 
the delight of the robust boys and ruddy girls 
of Watauga and Nolichucky. 

Still, in all this plenty of the substantial 
means of living, the people enjoyed no lux- 
uries and few conveniences. They had some 
water-mills to grind corn, but no means of 
making good flour. Even their salt had to be 
brought from Augusta, in Georgia, on pack- 
horses, and sometimes cost as high as ten dollars 
per bushel. The sugar they used was made 
from the trees in the forest; but as to coflee and 
tea, these were hardly seen amongst them. The 


first court-house built in Jonesborough had a 
roof of shingles, put on with wooden pegs in- 
stead of nails, and probably there was not a 
pane of window-glass west of the mountains. 

Amidst these great discomforts, as they may 
now seem to us, the inhabitants felt themselves 
contented and happy, and, as far as circum- 
stances would allow, turned their attention to 
the best means of improving their social condi' 
tion. In every neighborhood where a sufficient 
number of pupils — boys and girls together — 
could be collected, the huifible log school-house 
was set up, in which reading, writing, and com- 
mon arithmetic were taught. Perhaps the 
number of houses for preaching and Christian 
worship was nearly equal to that of school- 
houses, and often the same building was used 
for both purposes. The preachers, of several 
denominations, were supported by the voluntary 
kindness and hospitality of the people. 

The Revolutionary War, which had lasted 
eight years, was now at an end, and Great 
Britain had acknowledged the thirteen prov- 
inces to be free and independent States. The 
war had left the people poor, and the govern- 
ments in debt, but still with the means of es- 
tablishing a great and prosperous nation, if they 


could only be brought to act with prudence and 
moderation. As to the people of the Tennessee 
settlements, it was no new thing for them to be 
free. They had been accustomed to govern 
themselves, and to take care of their own affairs, 
from the time they first crossed the mountains. 
In the next three chapters, we shall see how 
they behaved on this occasion. 

118 OLD times; or, 



"When the Revolutionary War commenced, 
the thirteen provinces appointed delegates from 
each one, to meet together in Philadelphia, to 
consult for the public good, and to manage the 
war against Great Britain. It was agreed, by 
a written instrument, that this body of delegates, 
called the "Continental Congress," should have 
power to do certain things, but not others. 
Among the rest, this written instrument, called 
"Articles of Confederation," gave authority to 
the Congress to tax the States, but not to collect 
the tax from the people. This was to be done 
by the State Governments, and if they did not 
force the people to pay the tax, the law of Con- 
gress could do no good toward raising money. 
These "Articles of Confederation" regulated 
the power of Congress, till the year 1787, 
when the present "Constitution of the United 
States" was made and agreed to by the States. 


At the close of the war, the Congress and the 
State Governments were deeply in debt, for ex- 
penses in carrying it on. The Congress could 
not force the people to pay taxes, and the States 
would not, or at least did not. Indeed, the war 
had so entirely cut off the Americans from all 
trade with the rest of the world, that there was 
scarcely any money in the country with which 
taxes could be paid. In this difficulty, several 
of the States, amongst them jS'orth Carolina, 
gave up to Congress all their vacant lands west 
of the mountains, so that by the sale of them 
the public debt might be paid. In this way, as 
the debt was mostly due to our own people, 
if they could not get money, they might have 
land for their claims. 

In the month of June, 1784, the General 
Assembly of North Carolina passed a law, 
granting to Congress all the territory belonging 
to that State between the Alleghany Mountains 
and the Mississippi River. The counties of 
Washington, Sullivan, and Greene, lying in this 
territory, were thus cut off from North Carolina. 
The General Assembly, in the act of cession, 
gave to Congress two years to determine 
whether they would take the territory or not, 
and, during that time, it was to be under the 

120 OLD times; or, 

government of North Carolina. The members 
from the western counties in the General As- 
sembly voted for this act, as they were willing 
and expected soon to be organized into a sepa- 
rate State. 

For reasons that we cannot well explain here, 
the Congress did not at once accept the terri- 
tory thus granted to them, and the inhabitants 
of the western counties were left without any 
regular, lawful government. It is true, that 
North Carolina had reserved to herself the right 
to govern them during the two years of sus- 
pense ; but it was taken for granted that they 
would not long continue to be a part of that 
State, therefore very little attention was bestow^ed 
upon them by her authorities. In those times, 
before fast traveling by railways had been 
thought of, a community so extensive as North 
Carolina and Tennessee together, was considered 
too large to be conveniently managed; and 
therefore it had been expected, on all hands, 
that the territory w^est of the mountains would, 
at some time, be formed into a distinct govern- 
ment. * 

Well, the people of the three counties thought 
the time had now arrived, and immediately set 
about the work of providing a government for 


themselves. Delegates, elected by each cap- 
tain's company, met together to consult about 
the best manner of proceeding. This conven- 
tion recommended to the people to elect dele- 
gates to another convention, for the purpose of 
forming a constitution for the new State, and 
putting it into operation. This convention was 
held accordingly, a constitution formed, and 
provision made for electing a governor, mem- 
bers of the Legislature, and other officers. To 
the new State was given the name of Franklin, 
in honor of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the great 
American philosopher and patriot. 

Between the times of holding the two con- 
ventions, the General Assembly of North Caro- 
lina had repealed the " cession act," by which 
the territory had been granted to Congress, and 
also passed several laws for the convenience 
and satisfaction of the western counties. A 
good many of those who had at first been in 
favor of forming a separate State, were satis- 
fied with these proceedings of North Carolina, 
and were willing to continue under her juris- 
diction. Among these was Colonel Sevier, 
who had been the president of the first conven- 
tion, and had lately been appointed brigadier- 
general of the western militia. But the majority 

122 OLD times; or, 

were still for separation, and the business pro- 
ceeded accordingly. General Sevier presided 
also over the convention that framed the con- 

As provided for by the convention, members 
were elected to the Legislature of Franklin, and 
held their first session at Jonesborough in 1785. 
Among their first acts v/as the appointment of 
a governor, and that ofiice was bestowed on 
General Sevier. By the constitution of the new 
State, the governor, judges, and many other 
officers, were appointed by the Legislature, that 
are elected by the people under the present 
constitution of Tennessee. David Campbell, 
Joshua Gist, and John Anderson, were the three 
judges appointed by the Legislature at this 

At this session of the General Assembly of 
Franklin, among other good laws passed for 
the better regulation of the new State, and the 
benefit of the people, was one to establish " Mar- 
tin Academy." This was the first institution 
of learning established by law in what is now 
Tennessee — full of colleges, academies, and 
high schools. The first teacher was the Eev. 
Samuel Doak, a Presbyterian clergyman, who 
had received his education at Princeton College, 


in New Jersey. For many years this school, 
kept in a log cabin, was the only one, west 
of the mountains, where boys could be taught 
Latin and Greek, and in it were educated many 
of the leadinfr men of Tennessee. 

124 OLD times; or, 



As might have been expected, the proceed- 
ings related in the foregoing chapter were qnite 
distasteful to the government and people of 
North Carolina. While they expressed a will- 
ingness that the territory w^est of the mountains 
should, in a proper way, and at a proper time, 
become an independent State, they condemned, 
as irregular and unlawful, the course which the 
inhabitants had actually adopted. The conse- 
quence was, that a warm controversy sprung 
up between the authorities of the two States. 
The Governor of North Carolina issued his 
proclamation, asserting the rights of the parent 
State, and warning the people against giving 
countenance and support to the new govern- 
ment. This naturally called out a reply from 
Governor Sevier, in which he undertook to 
justify what had been done by the people of 
the western counties. 


But a still warmer controversy arose among 
the western people themselves. Many of them 
had, from the first, been opposed to the measure 
of forming a new State, and many others were 
dissatisfied with the constitution proposed. A 
third convention rejected that constitution, and, 
after a good deal of debate, finally agreed to 
adopt the constitution of North Carolina, with 
a few alterations. The angry discussions in the 
convention were taken up by the 'people, who 
were soon divided into two distinct parties, the 
one favoring the new State, and the other the 
old. Everywhere, in public and in private, 
men talked of little else than this absorbing 

In the meantime, the General Assembly of 
North Carolina continued to make laws, and to 
appoint ofiicers for the western counties, as if 
still a part of the old State, and as if no separate 
government had been instituted. Thus was pre- 
sented the strange and dangerous condition of 
two governments and two sets of officers, exercis- 
ing authority over the same people at the same 
time. The people were required to serve two 
masters at once, which the Bible tells us cannot 
be done. Even our young readers can see that 
if two teachers in the same school should make 

126 OLD times; or, 

contradictory rules — ^the one forbidding what 
the other required to be done — it would be im- 
posssible to obey both. 

This state of things lasted for two years or 
more ; and the great wonder is, that the western 
settlements w^ere not entirely ruined by it. 
But the people, on both sides, had been so 
practiced in self-government, and so much ac- 
customed to think for themselves, understood so 
well their own rights, and so much respected 
the rights of others — in a word, were so prudent 
and patriotic, that much less mischief grew out 
of the collision of authorities than might have 
been exjoected. True, there were violent quar- 
rels in public, and bitter enmities in private — 
the two parties sometimes broke up each other's 
courts, destroyed the records, and resisted the 
officers; and in these struggles, first and last, 
two or three men were killed. Still, there was 
nothing like general violence or insecurity to 
life or property. 

As Governor of Franklin, General Sevier ex- 
erted himself to maintain the authority and the 
dignity of the new State, while he did his whole 
duty in guarding the frontier against Indian hos- 
tilities. The seat of the Franklin Government 
was at Greeneville, in Greene county; and 


in that county the friends of the new State were 
much stronger than the other party. The " Old 
State" men, under the lead of Colonel Tipton, 
made their head-quarters at Jonesborough, where 
a majority of the people were of that side. 
Between these two popular and influential men 
— Sevier and Tipton — there sprung up a bitter 
personal hatred, which they manifested upon 
all occasions. 

At the end of two years, Governor Sevier's 
term of office expired, and he became a private 
citizen. With his usual zeal and activity, 
however, he was soon at the head of a band of 
volunteers, driving back the Cherokees, and 
securing peace and safety to the exposed settle- 
ments. Happening about this time to visit 
Jonesborough, he was arrested, at the instiga- 
tion of Colonel Tipton, on a w^aiTant issued 
under the authority of North Carolina, and 
taken across the mountains to JMorganton, in 
Burke county, to be tried for high treason. He 
was considered to be guilty of this crime, be- 
cause he had attempted to overthrovv^ the Gov- 
ernment of North Carolina in the western 

As soon as the news of this proceeding was 
spread among the people, a company of his 

128 OLD times; or, 

friends — among them his two sons — armed 
themselves, mounted their horses, and crossed 
the mountains, with a determination to bring 
him back at all hazards. When this party 
reached Morganton, they found the court in 
session, and the trial of Governor Sevier going 
on. The most of them waited outside of the 
town, while two men rode into the court-yard, 
leading Sevier's fine race-mare, ready saddled. 
One of them stayed with the horses, while the 
other went in, and gave a sign to Sevier, who 
was sitting in the prisoner's box. He instantly 
sprung from his seat and out of the door, and 
in a second was on the back of his favorite 
racer. There was some appearance of pursuit, 
but no earnest effort to retake the prisoner, 
and the Governor and his friends rode home at 
their leisure. 




During all these difficulties, the Government 
of North Carolina acted with the utmost pru- 
dence and forbearance toward the supporters 
of the new State. Instead of attempting to 
enforce its rights by an appeal to arms and 
bloodshed, the General Assembly of that State 
employed itself in enacting such laws, and 
making such regulations, as seemed best suited 
to soothe and conciliate the western people. 
Among others, it passed an act granting a par- 
don for all offenses committed against that 
State, in supporting the Government of Frank- 
lin. It was also declared that all official acts, 
done by the officers of Franklin, should be good 
and valid, as if done by the authority of North 

As John Sevier was the first, so he was the last. 
Governor of the State of Franklin. The Legis- 
lature never met after his term, and the whole 

130 OLD times; or, 

organization crumbled to pieces like frost-work. 
In the act of pardon mentioned above, it was 
declared that John Sevier should not be allowed 
to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit, 
under the State of North Carolina. But this 
was merely to save appearances. Except a few 
personal enemies, no one desired that he should 
be punished or disabled in any way; and the 
very next year, being elected a member of the 
General Assembly by the people of Greene 
county, the law against him was repealed, and 
he was permitted to take his seat upon the same 
footing as the other members. 

In the meantime, in the year 1787, the pres- 
ent Constitution of the United States had been 
formed to take the place of the "Articles of 
Confederation," and had been accepted by 
North Carolina, as well as the other States. 
The counties west of the mountains had been 
laid off into a Congressional District, and John 
Sevier was elected the first member of Congress 
from that District. It appears from the Journal 
that he took his seat in the Hall of Kepresenta- 
tives on the 16th of June, 1790, as a member 
from North Carolina. Thus ended the short- 
lived State of Franklin, and all that is now 
the State of Tennessee Avas again a part of 


North Carolina, with a little exception, which 
I must mention. 

While the State of Franklin was maintained,, 
commissioners acting under its authority, made 
a treaty with the Cherokees, by which the latter 
ceded some territory south of the French Broad 
River. The territory thus obtained was speedily 
settled, and organized into the county of Sevier. 
As the treaty was not made by the authority 
of North Carolina, and that State would not 
regard the acts of the State of Franklin as 
lawful, the county of Sevier, after the downfall 
of the latter State, w^as held to be Indian terri- 
tory ; consequently the law^s of North Carolina 
did not extend to it, and the people were left to 
shift for themselves. By voluntary association 
they managed to live peaceably and prosper- 
ously, till, in 1790, the whole country was ceded 
to the United States. 

Before finally closing the history of the State 
of Franklin, it may be well to notice some little 
circumstances, which will give a fair and forci- 
ble idea of the state of the country, in respect 
to the scarcity of money, and the ordinary way 
of doing business among the people. The 
annual salary of Governor Sevier was two hun- 
dred pounds, and those of the inferior officers in 

132 OLD times; or, 

proportion. Supposing, as is likely, that North 
Carolina pounds are meant, then Governor 
Sevier received just four hundred dollars a year. 
The Governor of Tennessee now has three 
thousand — more than seven times as much. A 
Judge of the Circuit Court, under the laws of 
Franklin, was paid three hundred dollars per 
year for his services : the same officer now gets 
two thousand. 

But farther : all taxes in the State of Frank- 
lin might, according to law, be paid, not in 
money, but in articles of country produce at 
fixed prices. Linsey cloth was to be taken at 
three shillings per yard ; beaver-skins, six shil- 
lings apiece ; fox and raccoon-skins, one shilling 
and three pence; tallow, six pence per pound; 
beeswax, one shilling ; rye whisky, two shillings 
and six pence per gallon ; country-made sugar, 
one shilling per pound; deer-skins, six shillings 
apiece ; bacon, six pence per pound ; and so of 
other articles. As the taxes might be paid in 
this way, so might the salaries of all the State 
officers. It used to be said, in waggery, that 
the Governor was paid in mink-skins. 
. This want of money does not prove that the 
people were poor. Their cribs and fields were 
full of corn, and their smoke-houses of meat, 


and every traveler was welcomed to all that 
himself and his horse could consume. No one 
thought of receiving pay for a meal of victuals, 
or, as it used to be expressed, "hog and hom- 
iny" were free for all comers. The scarcity of 
money, arising from the want of foreign trade, 
caused the people to barter one article for 
another, instead of selling and buying as w^e 
now do. "We have seen that, without the im- 
provements and conveniences of our time, the 
early settlers of Tennessee displayed the noblest 
virtues that dignify and adorn human nature. 
Let us hope that, as we rise above them in re- 
spect to the former, we may not fall below their 
standard in the latter. 

134 OLD times; or, 



During the existence of the Franklin Gov- 
ernment, and amidst the political confusion of 
the times, the western frontier advanced per- 
haps more rapidly than at any previous period. 
The War of the Eevolution being ended, the 
soldiers of the North Carolina line came, in 
great numbers, to the west, to take possession 
of the lands that had been given to them in 
payment for their military services. In the 
year 1787, the settlements extended down the 
Holston as far as where Knoxville now stands. 
Among the first settlers in what is now Knox 
county, are to be found the names of White, 
Connor, Armstrong, Campbell, Gillespie, Cavet, 
Gilliam, etc. James White occupied and owned 
the tract of land on which the town of Knox- 
ville has since grown up. 

On the south of Holston, the settlements ex- 
tended as far west as the Little Tennessee. By 


looking on a map, our young readers will see 
that the settlements, in what is now East Ten- 
nessee, were bounded nearly as follows: Com- 
mencing at the Virginia line, and running 
south-west along the Alleghany Ridge, as the 
line now runs betwee# this State and North 
Carolina, to the head-waters of the Little 
Tennessee; from thence north to the present 
Kentucky line; then east with that line to 
the beginning. But there were some portions, 
outside of this line, where there were a few 
scattered cabins, and some parts inside of it 
were very thinly settled. The number of white 
persons then in that whole region was probably 
thirty thousand — much less than there are now 
in some single counties of Tennessee. 

There w^as probably no time, in the early 
history of JEast Tennessee, when the frontiers 
were more securely guarded against Indian 
hostilities, than under the Franklin Govern- 
ment. Still, now and then, a family would be 
murdered by skulking Cherokees, and more 
frequently horses, cattle, and other property 
stolen and carried off. We have given few 
details of these massacres at any time, because 
we did not choose to harrow up the feelings of 
our young friends with such descriptions of 

136 • OLD times; or, 

blood and suffering as could impart to thera 
little useful information. There is one account, 
however, of a scene which passed about this 
time, that we will relate for the purpose of 
showing w^hat the women, in those days, were 
capable of doing, and f#m what sort of grand- 
mothers the men of the "Volunteer State" are 

Captain Gillespie had built his cp.bin south 
of Plolston, at a considerable distance from his 
nearest neighbor. He had been busy in burn- 
ing cane and clearing a field, but had occasion 
one day to leave home and go a distance of ten 
or twelve miles. A party of Indians, who had 
been lurking about for several days, found out 
that he was gone, and that nobody was at tlie 
cabin but his wife and little children. They 
immediately entered the house, in a hectoring 
and ferocious manner, and began to do what 
they pleased with the provisions, and whatever 
else it contained. Mrs. Gillespie stood it all 
quietly, thinking that her ovm life, and the 
lives of her children, depended upon not pro- 
voking the savages. 

At length one of the Indians took out his 
scalping-knife and walked to the cradle, where 
the baby was sleeping, making motions as if he 


were going to scalp it. AVhat did the mother 
do then? Did she scream and faint? Nothing 
of the sort. Although she knew very well there 
were no white men within miles of her, she 
calmly walked to the door, and called out for 
the men in the clearing to "come and drive 
away these nasty Indians." The savages, in a 
panic, bolted out of the house, and soon hid 
themselves in the cane. As soon as they were 
out of sight, Mrs. Gillespie took her children 
and ran off on the trail that she knew her hus- 
band must follow in returning home. 

She met him two or three miles from the 
cabin, and she and her little ones were taken to 
the nearest station for safety. Captain Gilles- 
pie, with two or three friends, then came back 
to see what had happened at home. The In- 
dians, finding that they were not pursued as 
they had expected, had come back in the mean- 
time, had robbed the house of every thing they 
wanted, and were just trying to set fire to it, 
when Gillespie and his party rode up. They 
at once fired upon the Indians, wounding two 
of them, and, in the pursuit, recovering all the 
stolen goods. 

j\Iany incidents, similar to this, happened in 
the early settlement of Tennessee, the particu- 


lars of which are frequently related by the few 
old pioneers who still linger among us. And 
do our readers suppose that Mrs. Gillespie, and 
other frontier mothers like her, were less tender 
and w^omanly, because they knew how to man- 
age Indians? Not so; but the trying circum- 
stances in which they lived had taught them 
firmness and self-control, and they knew that 
screams and fainting fits would not assist their 
gallant husbands in their deadly struggle w4th 
the bloody savages of the border. 





By this time — that is, in the year 1789 — the 
authority of North Carolina was entirely rees- 
tablished in the western counties, and things 
were managed just as if the State of Franklin 
had never existed. But it was soon discovered 
that this connection was not very agreeable to 
either party, and not likely long to continue. 
The western people complained, and not with- 
out some reason, that the Government of North 
Carolina did not act a liberal part toward them, 
and refused to spend any money for the im- 
provement and protection of the territory on 
this side of the mountains. They thought it 
hard that they should defend themselves against 
the Indians, and still pay taxes into the treasury 
of the parent State. 

On the other hand, the people in the eastern 
portion of the State had begun to look upon 


the western colonies as a trouble and a burden. 
Every claim presented against the treasury of 
the State, for services rendered or jDroperty lost 
in the Indian wars, was grudgingly paid, as an 
outlay of money by which the country on the 
east of the mountains could not be benefited. 
Having no thought that the two portions would 
continue permanently united, the citizens of the 
Atlantic counties w^ere naturally unwilling to 
be taxed for the support and advancement of 
those who were, in a few years at most, to belong 
to another State. 

The State of ISTorth Carolina had been very 
careful to suppress the independent Govern- 
ment of Franklin, and it might appear strange 
and whimsical in them to be so willing, in a 
year or two, to part with their western territory. 
To explain this, we must bear in mind that 
what North Carolina wanted with the territory 
was to pay off her Revolutionary debt with the 
vacant lands. This could not have been done 
if the Franklin Government had been perma- 
nently established, because the lands would then 
have belonged to the new State. By the course 
which had been taken, this purpose was now 
accomplished, and the people of the old State 
had no farther motive to oppose the separation. 


For these reasons, and perhaps others that 
have not been mentioned, the General Assem- 
bly of North Carolina, in the year 1789, passed 
an act ceding to the Government of the United 
States all the territory now belonging to the 
State of Tennessee. Under the direction of the 
act of Assembly, Samuel Johnson and Benjamin 
Hawkins, the two Senators in Congress from 
that State, by a deed, dated on the 25th of 
February, 1790, made a regular and formal 
conveyance of the same. Thus peaceably, and 
with the consent of all parties, the territory was 
transferred to the United States, and imme- 
diately accepted by Congress, as a part of the 
domain of the Federal Government. 

Before this time, Virginia and New York had 
granted all their vacant western lands to the 
General Government, and other States did so 
afterward. In every case, this was done with 
the understanding that, at a proper time, new 
States should be organized in the ceded terri- 
tory, and admitted into the Union upon the 
same footing as the "Old Thirteen." In this 
way many new States have been formed, and 
among them the State of Tennessee. In the 
meantime, until the population should become 
sufficient for a State, the territory was under 


the government of Congress, and the governor, 
judges, and other officers, were appointed by 
the President. 

We have now traced the history of East Ten- 
nessee, from the first settlement at Watauga in 
1769, till it became a part of the territory of 
the United States in 1790. So far, we have 
thought it most convenient to say nothing of 
another settlement, made shortly after that at 
Watauga — we mean the colony planted in 
Middle Tennessee, in the year 1779. These 
two settlements, in East and Middle Tennessee, 
were separated from each other by the wilder- 
ness of the Cumberland Mountains, and grew 
up for some time with little or no connection 
or intercourse. But when the frontier of one 
had been advanced toward the west, and of the 
other toward the east, till communication had 
become easy and frequent between them, it 
would be more convenient to treat them as one 
community. Hoping that our young readers 
are not yet tired with the subject, we shall, in 
the Second Book, bring up the history of 
Middle Tennessee to the year 1790. 








In the former Book of this history, it was 
necessary to mention and to explain many 
things which need not be repeated here. In- 
deed, all the matters contained in the first five 
chapters are just as applicable to an account of 
the Middle Tennessee settlement as they are to 
that of the older colony in the eastern division 
of the State. By omitting all such topics in 
this Book, we shall be able to give a clear and 
satisfactory account of the settlement on the 
Cumberland in fewer pages than were required 
for that on the Watauga. 



Before commencing the narrative of events 
that occurred in the settlement of Middle Ten- 
nessee, there are two other subjects which need 
to be discussed for the better understanding of 
both the preceding and subsequent parts of this 
history. One of these regards the treaties or 
agreements made, from time to time, with "the 
Indian tribes. Some of these have been men- 
tioned in the first Book, but the real nature of 
these transactions deserves to be more fully 
explained. We speak of treaties by which the 
white men acquired land from the Indians. 

When we consider the small price usually 
13aid for large tracts of land, now so valuable, 
our first thought is apt to be, that the Indians 
were badly treated — cheated by the superior 
cunning, or oppressed by the superior power of 
the whites. But fiirther reflection will be likely 
to change this first impression. The mistake 
arises from looking upon the Indians, as the 
owners of the land, in the same sense that men 
own land in civilized communities. But is this 
true? Did the Cherokees have any better right 
to the soil of Tennessee than the people of North 
Carolina or Virginia? 

In civilized countries, when a man owns a 
tract of land, he does so by virtue of some title, 


which the law has determined to be sufficient — 
a deed, or grant, or something of that sort. 
But it would be unreasonable to require any 
such thing of savages who have not the use of 
letters. Among them, we should consider it a 
sufficient title to have the peaceable possession 
and use of a piece of land for a number of 
years. Where the Cherokees had built their 
wigwams, and cultivated their corn-patches, it 
may be admitted that they were fairly the own- 
ers of the land which they had thus occupied. 

But were they also the owners of the millions 
of acres which they merely traveled over in 
hunting? If so, then it equally belonged to the 
Pawnees, Chickasaws, or any other tribe, who 
sometimes hunted there. So that the country 
did not belong to the Cherokees exclusively, 
and they could no more sell it to the whites 
than could the Pawnees. But the Cherokees 
claimed that the country belonged to them as 
hunting-grounds, and would have considered it 
as an unfriendly act if the white men had 
taken possession without their consent. There- 
fore it was to keep peace with the Indians, that 
the white settlers were willing to pay them 
something for the privilege of occupying the 
country. They paid, not the value of the lands, 

148 OLD times; or, 

but any thing that would satisfy the Indians 
and keep them in good humor. 

Savages who cannot or will not cultivate the 
land, must always and everywhere give way to 
a people who can and will. There is no natural 
justice in the diotion that a territory capable of 
supporting a million of agricultural inhabitants, 
shall be reserved for a few thousand lazy savages 
to hunt over. But still, the inferior race should 
be treated with all the kindness and considera- 
tion that can be safely extended to them. They 
should be regarded, in some degree, as children, 
who are to be cared for and protected, and, at 
the same time, governed and controlled. We 
will not undertake to say that the people of the 
United States have, in no instance, practiced 
cruelty and oppression toward the Indians ; but 
we rejoice to believe that in general they have 
been treated as humanely as self-preservation 
on the part of the whites would allow. 

While the country was under the British 
Government, nobody could lawfully make 
treaties with the Indians, and purchase their 
lands, except those who were appointed or au- 
thorized for that purpose by the king. After 
independence was declared, this power of deal- 
ing with the Indian tribes was lodged in the 


several State Governments, until tliey surren- 
dered it to the Federal Government, in the 
present Constitution of the United States. Still, 
sometimes purchases of Indian territory were 
made by individuals, or private companies, 
without lawful authority. A¥e have mentioned 
some instances of this kind, in the history of the 
East Tennessee settlements. Generally these 
transactions were afterward sanctioned by the 
Government, and produced no farther mischief 
than some temporary difficulty about land-titles. 
Of this kind of unauthorized Indian treaties 
was the celebrated "Transylvania Purchase," 
made by Richard Henderson & Co., of North 
Carolina, in the year 1775. For the sum of 
ten thousand dollars, paid in goods, this com- 
pany bought of the Cherokees all the lands 
between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers. 
To this purchase they gave the name of Tran- 
sylvania, and proceeded to sell it out in small 
parcels to those who wished to settle the land. 
It afterward turned out that a large portion 
of this purchase was in the territory of North 
Carolina, and the claim of the company came 
into conflict with the rights of that State. The 
matter was finally compromised, so that no 
party suffered any considerable damage. 




The other subject, to which we have thought 
it best to devote a preliminary chapter, regards 
the North American possessions of Spain, and 
the policy pursued by the government of that 
country toward our western settlements. During 
the time of which we are writing, that nation 
held extensive possessions, and more extensive 
claims, that came directly in conflict with those 
of the North American Union. Florida and 
Mexico were theirs beyond dispute, but as these 
places were not in the way of our settlements, 
extending westward, we need not give them 
any present consideration. 

But Spain also owned and occupied New Or- 
leans, and the country on both sides of the 
Mississippi River toward its mouth. Under 
the name of the " Province of Louisiana," they 
also claimed the whole territory watered by 


that river and its tributaries, from its mouth to 
the great lakes, and from the Alleghany to the 
Rocky Mountains. Perhaps it might be more 
correct to say that they claimed to an indefinite 
distance east and west of the Mississippi. Their 
title to the country was derived from the 
French, who had settled New Orleans, and a 
few spots all along the Mississippi and Ohio, 
as far as Canada, and had afterward trans- 
ferred all their "right, title, and interest" to 

By glancing at a map of North America, 
our readers will see that the Spanish claim, 
running from the Gulf of Mexico north, crossed 
at right angles that of our people, running 
from the Atlantic Ocean west. As the rights of 
the two parties in this case were equally good, 
or rather equally bad, of course the disputed 
territory would ultimately belong to those who 
should first actually occupy and settle it. 
Hence it became the settled policy of the Span- 
ish authorities in Louisiana to prevent or ob- 
struct, by all possible means, the w^estward 
progress of the settlements in Tennessee, Ken- 
tucky, etc. 

Farther, the inhabitants of the country be- 
tween the Alleghanies and the Mississippi had 

152 OLD times; or, 

no other means of getting their surplus produce 
to a foreign market but to take it in boats down 
that river to the Gulf of Mexico. The Span- 
iards, owning the land on both sides of the 
river at New Orleans, insisted that the river 
also belonged to them, and that no one could 
use it but by their permission, and upon such 
terms as they chose to exact. On this ground 
they required every boat descending the stream, 
to pay a tax or toll, such as they thought 
proper, from time to time, to demand. 

Our young readers will probably be thinking 
that the Government of the United States 
should at once have put an end to this unrea- 
sonable and oppressive demand of Spain. Well, 
there was no want of attention to the subject 
on the part of Congress and the President. 
They argued, and negotiated, and remonstrated 
abundantly, but could not induce Spain to sur- 
render her pretensions. But why not go to war, 
and whip her into compliance? Simply because 
we were not able to do it. If Spain and the 
United States had been then what they are 
now^, such a proceeding would have been quite 
practicable, and employed with little hesi- 

But the Spanish monarchy was, at that time, 


among the most powerful in Europe — strong in 
men, money, and all the resources of war. On 
the other hand, the United States were just out 
of an exhausting war of eight years w'ith Great 
Britain ; without an army or a navy, and des- 
titute of the means of raising either. While 
able and ready to defend themselves at home 
against foreign invasion, the Government and 
people of the United States had not the re- 
sources to equip and maintain an army that 
could conquer and hold Kew Orlep^ns against 
the power of Spain. In these circumstances, it 
was enough that they did not give up the right 
to navigate the Mississippi, and only waited for 
time to strengthen their hands sufficiently for a 
forcible assertion of their just claims. 

If the Spanish idea of preventing the Ameri- 
can settlements from extending to the Missis- 
sippi seems ridiculous at this day, it was not so 
sixty or seventy years ago. Besides having 
command of the Mississippi River, their mili- 
tary and trading posts along that stream and 
in Florida gave them great influence with the 
Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks. 
These last were a povvTrful and warlike tribe, 
v;ho occupied the extensive region between the 
Cherokees and the Gulf of ISlcxico. The Choc- 

154 OLD times; or, 

taws were located in the southern portion of 
what is now the State of Mississippi. As these 
two tribes interfered not at all, or very little, 
with the early settlements in East Tennessee, 
we have omitted to notice them before. 




It was in the year 1769 — the same in which 
the Watauga settlement was commenced — that 
the first party of white hunters visited the 
region now called Middle Tennessee. The 
company consisted of twenty men, some of them 
from North Carolina, others from Western 
Virginia. As most of them finally settled in 
the country, and became distinguished for their 
courage and conduct in defending the young col- 
ony against the Indians, we will here give a list 
of some of their names. They were John Rains, 
Kasper Mansco, Abraham Bledsoe, John Baker, 
Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terrill, Uriah Stone, 
Harry Smith, Ned Cowan, Robert Crockett. 

This party came to Middle Tennessee by first 
takinsr a north-west course into the southern 
part of Kentucky, crossing the Cumberland 
Mountains at a place since known as Cumber- 
land Gap, near the present State line between 

156 OLD times; or, 

Kentucky and Tennessee. By then turning to 
the south-west, they reached Middle Tennessee 
in that part now occupied by Sumner and tlie 
adjoining counties. Here they dispersed, after 
having appointed a place where they were all 
to meet, and to which they were to bring the 
proceeds of their hunting and trapping. The 
only one of the company who did not return to 
the camp was. Robert Crockett, whose body was 
found on the great war-path of the Cherokees, 
which led to the Pawnee country. He had 
evidently been killed by some of the former 
tribe, and was the first white man murdered by 
Indians in Middle Tennessee. 

This party came to the country in the sum- 
mer, and returned home next spring, thus 
spending nine months without bread, and prob- 
ably with a very scanty supply of salt. The 
account which they gave of the country, among 
their friends and neighbors in the Atlantic 
States, was such as to start another similar 
expedition the next year — 1770. Colonel James 
Knox may be regarded as the leader in this 
adventure, and he, with some others of the 
company, followed the course of the Cumber- 
land River to its mouth. In that day, these 
men were known as the " Long Hunters," from 


the extent of country which they traversed. 
They carried back with them a more extensive 
and accurate knowledge of Middle Tennessee 
than had been obtained by any previous ex- 

For several years after this, Middle Tennes- 
see — or as it was then called, the Cumberland 
country — continued to be visited by adventurous 
hunters. Some Frenchmen, before the year 
1779, had come up the Cumberland from the 
Ohio, and established a trading post at the 
" Bluff," as the place where the capital of Ten- 
nessee now stands was then called. In 1778, 
several men, amongst them Spencer and Holli- 
day, came from Kentucky, built some cabins, 
and planted a small field of corn near Bledsoe's 
Lick. Holliday being about to return to Ken- 
tucky, Spencer determined to remain by him- 
self As Holliday had lost his knife, Spencer 
broke his own blade in two, and at parting, gave 
his companion half of it, with which to skin 
and cut his venison on the journey. 

This Spencer made his home, during his soli- 
tary abode in the country, in a large hollow 
tree, near Bledsoe's Lick. He was a very large 
man, and, from the following story, would 
appear to have had a foot at least in proportion 

158 OLD times; or, 

to his body. There was another hunter staying 
not far from him, but neither of them knew 
that there was any other white man but himself 
in that whole region. Upon some of his ram- 
bles, Spencer happened to pass not far from the 
hunter's camp, and left the tracks of his huge 
feet in the soft, deep soil. Upon seeing them a 
few days after, the man concluded that there 
must be giants thereabouts, and, in great alarm, 
made tracks of his own toward the nearest 
white settlement. 

The first permanent white settlement in Mid- 
dle Tennessee was made by a colony from Wa- 
tauga, in 1779. This party was under the 
guidance of Captain James Robertson, the 
same man that had already done so much for 
the promotion of the Watauga settlement. He 
was accompanied by George Freeland, William 
Neely, Edward Swanson, James Hanly, Mark 
Robertson, Zachariah White, and James Over- 
hall. They built cabins, and planted some 
corn, on the ground which the city of Nashville 
now covers. During the summer they were 
joined by several other parties of emigrants. 
When they had done working their corn, most 
of them returned for their families, leaving a 
few men to keep the buffaloes out of the field. 


The site of the present city of Nashville 
passed, iu those early times, under several dif- 
ferent names. It was sometimes called "The 
Bluff," and sometimes "French Lick," or 
"French Salt Springs." The last two names 
were- given to it on account of a bold spring 
that sends up salt-sulphur water in the northern 
part of the city. This spring was first visited by 
French traders, and was much resorted to by 
buffaloes and other wild animals to lick the salty 
earth around it. Bledsoe's Lick, Mansco's 
Lick, and many others, took their names in the 
same way. In the neighborhood of these licks 
was the best place to find plenty of large game. 
And throughout the country generally, every 
settler who did not live near a natural lick, 
made an artificial one by scooping out a hollow 
in a log, and therein depositing a little salt, to 
entice the deer. From a "blind" near these 
"lick-logs" a deer could be shot almost at any 




In the same year that James Robertson and 
his companions planted corn at The Bluff, a 
considerable party left East Tennessee, intend- 
ing to reach the same place by water. Of this 
party were several women, among them the wife 
of Captain Robertson, and Mrs. Peyton, whose 
husband had gone by land with Robertson. 
The trip was gotten up by Colonel John Don- 
aldson, and managed chiefly under his direction. 
The fleet — consisting of several boats, canoes, 
and other river craft — started on the 22d of 
December, 1779, from Fort Patrick Henry, on 
the upper Holston. The voyage was com- 
menced in the midst of a remarkably cold 
winter, and, on account of the ice in the river, 
and various accidents, the party did not get 
farther than the mouth of Clinch by the 1st 
of March. 


Colonel Donaldson kept, a journal of this 
expedition, ^vhicli you may find printed in 
Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee. It is too long 
to be copied here, and we must content our- 
selves ^Yith noticing only a feAV of the most 
interesting incidents of this hardy and perilous 
adventure. And while we do so, let our readers 
turn to their maps and mark the situation of 
the places mentioned, otherwise they will have 
but a confused notion of what we are relating. 
Geography is one of the eyes of history, and 
you must always look at a map, if you would 
understand clearly the situation of places 
spoken of in books. 

In this progress down the Holston, you will 
see that the emigrants passed first the mouth 
of French Broad, then those of Little River 
and Little Tennessee, all on the left hand. 
Then comes in Clinch River on the right, and 
Hiwassee on the left. The next is the mouth 
of Chickamauga, on the left side, just below 
Avhich are the dangerous Narrows, described in 
the first Book. After leaving Chickamauga, 
where they saw no Indians, the hindmost boat, 
containing Mr. Stewart, his family, and others, 
to the number of twenty-eight persons, was at- 
tacked by the savages, and every one on board 

162 OLD times; or, 

was either killed or made prisoner. Mr. Stew- 
art's family had the small-pox, and, to prevent 
the rest of the party from catching the disease, 
they stayed so far behind that their friends in 
the other boats could give them no assistance 
in their terrible calamity. 

The remaining boats kept as near the middle 
of the stream as they could, to be as far as pos- 
sible from the Indians, who frequently fired 
upon them from the high banks on each side. 
Right in the most dangerous part of The Nar- 
rows, the boat of Mr. Jennings stuck fast on a 
rock, just under Avater, and where the current 
was so rapid that the other boats could not stop 
to help get it oif. The Indians soon discovered 
their situation, and began to fire at the persons 
in the boat. The only chance now was to throw 
out every thing in the boat, and so lighten it, 
that it might be shoved from the rock. Mr. 
Jennings used his rifle as well as he could, 
W'hile.Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Peyton, and a negro 
woman, in the midst of a constant shower of 
bullets from the Indians on the bank, succeeded 
. at length in getting the boat so lightened as to 
float off* the rock. 

Upon this occasion, Colonel Donaldson re- 
lates the only instance of cowardice which we 


meet with in all the history of the frontiers. 
Two young men, one of them the son of Mr. 
Jennings, and a negro, left their companions in 
the midst of the danger, and betook themselves 
to flight. It is not known what became of them. 
The three women had their clothes pierced by 
a score of bullets, but nobody was wounded; 
though an infant of Mrs. Peyton, twenty-four 
hours old, was somehow killed in the confusion. 
With the loss of all they had, but the boat and 
their lives, in about two days they overtook 
the other boats, and, with frontier generosity, 
were admitted to share the provisions and 
clothes of their fellows-travelers. 

After leaving the dangerous neighborhood 
of the Chickamauga^, the navigation was tole- 
rably smooth and safe to the " Muscle Shoals," 
in the present State of Alabama. At the head 
of these shoals Elk Kiver empties into the Ten- 
nessee, on the right hand. The passage over 
the shoals was rough and difficult, but the boats 
kll got through without any serious damage. 
After leaving the shoals, they were once or 
twice fired at by Indians on the shore, but 
at too great a distance to do much harm. The 
channel of the river becoming wide and the 
water deep, they arrived without farther diffi- 

164 OLD times; or, 

culty at the mouth of the Tennessee, and landed 
on the spot where is now the town of Paducah, 
in Kentucky. This was on the 15th of March, 
nearly three months from their embarkation 
on the Holston. 

At this point some of the boats parted com- 
pany with Colonel Donaldson, and went down 
the Ohio, bound for Illinois and Natchez. The 
remainder had a toilsome task, in rowing against 
the rapid current of the Ohio to the mouth 
of the Cumberland, Avhich they reached on the 
24th of March. The river appeared smaller 
than they expected to find it, and when they 
determined to ascend it, it was with some doubt 
whether it was the Cumberland or some other 
stream. On the 31st, however, all their doubts 
were agreeably removed, by meeting with 
Colonel Richard Henderson, who was then 
employed in running the line between North 
Carolina and Virginia. 

Having left Colonel Henderson, who gave 
them full information of the route they were to 
pursue, the party, now in good spirits, though 
worn down by the fatigues of a long and ardu- 
ous voyage, continued to ascend the river. 
They were now at liberty to refresh themselves 
by landing occasionally, and shooting buffalo 


and other game, without any danger from lurk- 
ing Indians. Proceeding in this way, they 
arrived at The Bluff on the 24th of April, 
when Mrs. Robertson and Mrs. Peyton were 
safely delivered to their expecting and anxious 
husbands, and the whole party welcomed to 
such hospitality as frontier cabins could afford. 




It was stated in the last chapter, that the 
winter of 1779-80 was excessively cold. Cum- 
berland River was frozen over for a good while, 
so that people crossed it on foot as easily as 
they now do on the wire bridge at Nashville. 
The few cattle and hogs belonging to the Bluff 
settlement mostly died from the severity of the 
weather and the want of suitable food. Even 
the wild animals — the deer, buffalo, and bear — 
amidst the deep snows and hard freezes of that 
winter, became so wretchedly poor that they 
were scarcely fit to be eaten. To add to the 
distress of the population, a good part of the 
little crop of corn, raised in the preceding sum- 
mer, was carried off by a freshet. 

The party that came by water, as related in 
the preceding chapter, did not all remain at 
The Bluff, but built their cabins at several 


points, not very distant. Colonel Donaldson 
himself settled near the mouth of Stone's River, 
a few miles above The Bluff, at the place now 
known as "Clover Bottom." It should have 
been mentioned before that Mr. Renfroe and 
some others stopped on their way, at Red River, 
near the present town of Clarksville. In re- 
spect to provisions, these separate settlements 
fared neither better nor worse than the main 
one at the Lick. In their privations, they 
might all console themselves with thinking 
that, if bread was scarce, the meat was lean 
enough to be eaten without any. 

But if the severity of the season had caused 
the new a,nd feeble colony to suffer in one par- 
ticular, it had doubtless been beneficial in 
another. It probably kept the hunting and 
war parties of the Cherokees at home, and 
saved the settlers from an attack before they 
had time to erect stations for defense. The 
Cumberland settlement was nearer to the Cher- 
okees, at least to the very hostile tribe of 
the Chickamaugas, than the colonies in East 
Tennessee. The settlers were also more ex- 
posed to the ChickasaAvs, if that nation should 
prove unfriendly ; and the northern tribes had 
the advantage of coming to The Bluff by water. 


To the daring men who had planted them- 
selves on the banks of the Cumberland, it was 
evident enough that their only earthly depend- 
ence for safety and life was upon themselves. 
Their nearest white neighbors w^ere in Ken- 
tucky, and in a condition too much like their 
own, to be able to render assistance, in case of 
need. They w^ere separated by a rough wilder- 
ness of three hundred miles from the older col- 
onies of Watauga and Nolichucky. North 
Carolina and Virginia were struggling through 
the darkest period of the Revolutionary AYar, 
and could spare neither a man nor a musket 
for the defense of a distant frontier. 

It was stated in the former Book of this his- 
tory, that when the first white men settled in 
Tennessee, there were no Indians living there, 
except some Cherokees in the south-eastern 
part. When Robertson's colony took up their 
abode on the Cumberland, there was no sign to 
be seen showing that the country had ever been 
cultivated or even cleared. It is true that, for 
some distance around .the French Lick, there 
were no bushes, and scarcely any trees growing ; 
but this was no doubt because the growth had 
been kept down by the browsing and tramping 
of the buffaloes and other large animals that 


resorted, in immense numbers, to the lick. 
There was no appearance, in all Middle Ten- 
nessee, of such clearings as the Indians were 
accustomed to have around their toAvns or per- 
manent dwelling-places. 

Yet there was proof on all hands that the 
country had once been inhabited — by whom, or 
how long before, the Indians could not tell. 
Near to all the finest springs, and in other 
places, generally on the rivers and creeks, there 
were, and are yet to be seen, large numbers of 
graves, containing human bones. When the 
first of the present race of white men were 
buried in Tennessee, it is probable there were 
more graves here than would serve for all the 
white persons that have lived and died here 
since; and yet nobody, now^ living in the world, 
has any more knoAvledge of the people who 
made and who filled these graves than if they 
had ncA^er existed. • 

But, besides the graves, there are other things 
to prove that Tennessee, and indeed all the 
Mississippi Valley, was once occupied by a race 
of men that has disappeared from the face of 
the earth. There are stone vralls, now under 
ground, that the Indians had not skill enough 
to build. These walls, as well as the graves. 

170 OLD times; or, 

have trees of the greatest age growing above 
them, and, for any thing that we know, many 
generations of such trees may have flourished 
and rotted on the same spot. In numberless 
places in Tennessee, the plow-boy, every year, 
throws up bones that may have belonged to 
men who died before Pompey the Great — it 
may be, before the Deluge. 




It was not long that the young community 
at The Bluff, and the still feebler stations 
around it, were permitted by the Indians to 
improve their new homes in peace and security. 
Instigated by the British officers and agents, 
and impelled by their own love of war and 
plunder, all the tribes, north and south, com- 
bined, in the spring of 1780, to attack the 
frontiers of Pennsylvania, Virginia, North 
Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The 
most advanced, and therefore the most exposed, 
of all this long border, was the colony at The 
Bluff. It could be easily approached from 
north, south, east, and west, without the in- 
vaders being required to pass through or near 
any other settlement of white men. 

The spring weather, which relieved, in some 
degree, the sufferings inflicted by the preceding 
hard winter, brought the Indians at the same 

172 OLD times; or, 

time with the rattle-snakes. Small parties from 
various tribes were lurking continually in the 
neighborhood, watching every opportunity to 
commit robbery and murder. If the women 
went out to milk the cows, they were frequently 
shot down in sight of the station. The men 
could not bring in a stick of wood for fuel, but 
at the great risk of their lives. Every hunter 
that ventured to kill a deer or a turkey, ex- 
pected to fight his way back into the fort, if 
he was so fortunate as to return at all. If some 
were employed in clearing and fencing a patch 
for corn, as many more had to keep watch, rifle 
in hand, against the creeping savage. 

The barbarous murders, committed almost 
every day, do not furnish very entertaining 
subjects for our young readers; but we shall 
fail to give any thing like a true history of the 
times, unless we mention some of them. Two 
men, named Keywood and Milliken, were at- 
tacked on Richland Creek, and the latter killed. 
Joseph Hay was killed on the Lick Branch, 
and old Mr. Bernard, at Denton's Lick, had his 
head cut off and carried away. Another man, 
named Milliken, was killed and his head cut 
off", in the same neighborhood. In July, Jona- 
than Jennings was killed at an island just above 


The Bluff. Higher up the river, the Indians 
killed Ned Carver and Isaac Neely, and made 
a prisoner of Neely's daughter. A little later, 
they shot James Mayfield, near Eaton's Station, 
on the north side of the Cumberland. Shortly 
after, at the same place, they killed Jacob 
Stump, and pursued Frederick Stump into the 

In the fall of this year, four men — Balestine, 
Shockley, Goin, and Kennedy — were killed 
at Mansco's Lick; and Mansco's Station was 
abandoned. Some of those who had stayed in 
it, went to the station at The Bluff, and others 
to the Kentucky settlements. After this, as 
Spencer was returning from a hunt, with several 
horses loaded with meat, he was fired at by the 
Indians, but not hurt. However, to save his 
own life, he was compelled to leave his horses 
in their hands. The same band stole other 
horses at Station Camp Creek, and then at- 
tacked Asher's Station, where they killed and 
scalped two men, and got some more horses. 
On their route they were met and attacked by 
Alexander Buchanan and other hunters, one or 
two of the Indians were killed, and all the 
horses recovered. 

The little settlement on Red River was not 

174 OLD times; or, 

more fortunate than the others. The attack on 
this place was made by Choctaws and Chicka- 
saws. First and last they killed between fifteen 
and twenty persons in this settlement, and car- 
ried off all the horses and other property they 
could find. The few who survived the slaugh- 
ter left Eed River, and sought protection at 
The BlufiT. In the course of the same year, 
Freeland's Station, south of The Bluff, was 
assaulted, and one man killed. Buchanan, 
Robertson, and others, pursued these Indians to 
Duck River, without being able to overtake 
them. About the same time, Philip Catron, 
riding from Freeland's Station to The Bluff*, 
was shot and badly wounded, but made his way 
to the fort and recovered. 

In the fall of the year, a party of Cherokees 
stole some horses from The Bluff*. About fifteen 
men pursued them, and found them camped 
on the south side of Harpeth. They attacked 
the camp at night, drove off* the Indians, and 
retook the horses. Colonel Donaldson, having 
taken two boats and a party of men to bring 
down the corn he had made at Clover Bottom, 
was returning with the boats loaded. The 
Colonel having left his boat for a short time, 
those on the water were fired upon, and all 


killed or wounded, except one white man and a 
free negro, who swam to land, and made their 
way to The Bluff. One of the killed was John 
Eobertson, son of Captain James Robertson. 
One of the boats floated down the stream, and 
was found the next day, passing by The Bluff 
with a dead man in it. The wounded men were 
made prisoners by the Indians, but Colonel 
Donaldson escaped to Mansco's Station. 

In the course of the summer, the buffalo, 
bear, and deer became fat again, and, in defi- 
ance of the Indians, there was no want of meat 
among the settlers at The Bluff. Twenty men 
went to hunt on Caney Fork, and brought down 
their meat in canoes. During the hunt they 
killed one hundred and five bears, seventy-five 
buffalo, and eighty deer. But bread was still 
wanting, and some of the settlers became dis- 
couraged by the privations and calamities to 
which they were daily exposed, without any 
prospect of speedy relief. A good many of 
them went off to Kentucky and Illinois ; those 
that remained, moved in from the outer stations 
to Freeland's and The Bluff. In this way the 
little Cumberland colony passed the hard year 

176 OLD times; ok, 



The year 1781 brought with it no cessation 
or abatement of the Indian war upon the white 
settlements in Middle Tennessee. In the dead 
of winter, a party of Cherokees made an at- 
tempt in the night to get possession of the 
block-house at Freeland's Station. They found 
means silently to loosen the chain that held 
the gate, and were inside the stockade before 
any alarm was given. Captain Robertson, who 
was staying there all night, was the first to dis- 
cover the danger, and the other inmates of the 
station were soon aroused. In the fight which 
ensued. Major Lucas and a negro belonging to 
Robertson were killed ; and one of the savages 
fell by the rifle of Captain Robertson. The 
Indians, finding that they did not catch the 
people in the station off their guard, soon left the 
premises and vanished in the surrounding cane. 

The settlers having before this all gone into 


Freeland's Station and The Bluff, the Indians 
now employed themselves in burning the de- 
serted cabins, and the fences around the little 
corn-fields, and in destroying whatever valuable 
things they could not take off with them. At 
the same time they lost no opportunity to kill 
and scalp every man, woman, and child they 
could safely attack. A Mrs. Dunham having 
sent her little daughter out of the fort for some- 
thing, the savages seized q^id scalped the child, 
but did not kill her. The mother hearing her 
cries, rushed out to save her, and Avas severely 
wounded by a rifle-ball. Both mother and 
daughter got back into the fort, and lived many 
years after. 

In the early spring, a large number of Cher- 
okee warriors joined the party that had infested 
the settlement during the winter, and the In- 
dians felt themselves strong enough to storm 
the Bluff Fort. The attack was well planned, 
and but for a fortunate accident, might have 
succeeded. The Indians were divided into two 
parties, one of which lay in the cane along the 
branch that empties into the river just south of 
Broad street. The others hid themselves in the 
cedars along the ground where the Franklin 
Turnpike enters the cit}'. Early in the morn- 

178 OLD times; or, 

ing, the party at the branch sent forward three 
warriors, who fired at the fort, and immediately 
retreated. Nineteen-men from the fort mounted 
their horses and pursued them to the branch, 
where they were fired upon by those lying in 
ambush w-ith fatal effect. 

The men from the fort at once dismounted, 
and returned the fire of the Indians. While the 
contest about the branch was at the hottest, the 
other body of the enemy rushed out from their 
concealment, and formed themselves in a line 
between the fort and the men who had left it. 
Five or six of the nineteen Avere already dead, 
and as many more badly w^ounded ; and there 
w^as no way for the remainder to reach the fort 
but by passing through the line of fresh war- 
riors. At this critical moment, the horses that 
had been abandoned at the beginning of the 
fight, became frightened, and rushed by the 
fort toward the Lick Branch. The rascally 
Cherokees could not resist the temptation to 
steal horse-flesh, and many of them left their 
places in the line and ran off in pursuit. This 
left an open space, through which the brave 
remnant of the nineteen might retreat into the 

The dogs belonging to the fort were also of sig- 


nal service upon this occasion. Being trained to 
hate Indians, when they heard the yells of the 
savages, they ran toward the branch and made a 
furious attack upon the Indians in the unbroken 
part of the line. While they were employed in 
defending themselves against the teeth of their 
four-footed assailants, the retreating Avhite men 
could more safely pass them into the shelter 
of the block -house. The warriors, finding 
that their plan had failed, desisted from any 
farther attempt during that day. At night, 
however, another body, who had not been in 
the battle, fired upon the fort, but were fright- 
ened off by the discharge of a small cannon, 
loaded with stones and pieces of pot-metal in- 
stead of balls. 

In the retreat, Isaac Lucas had his thigh 
broken by a ball, and of course could go no 
farther. As he lay upon the ground, an Indian 
ran toward him to take his scalp. Disabled as 
he w^as, Lucas managed to bring his rifle to 
bear upon him, fired, and the Indian fell dead. 
Lucas was taken safely into the fort. Edward 
Swanson was also pursued by a single Indian, 
who put his gun against his body and snapped 
it. Upon this, Swanson seized the muzzle and 
twisted the gun round so as to throw the 

180 OLD times; or, 

priming out of the pan. Seeing this, the Indian 
clubbed his gun, and knocked Swanson down. 
At this instant, John Buchanan stepped from 
the fort, shot and wounded the Indian, and thus 
saved the life of his friend Swanson. 

After the battle, only two dead Indians could 
be found ; but as they got nineteen horses, with 
all their equipments, it is likely they carried off 
the dead and Avounded bodies of a good many 
more. A remarkable incident may be men- 
tioned here, though it happened some time after 
this. David Hood was shot down, scalped, and 
trampled on by the Indians, near the French 
Lick. After they had left him for dead, Hood 
got uj), and made his w^ay, as well as he could, 
toward The Bluff. To his dismay, he came 
upon the same Indians again, wdio killed him 
again, as they thought, and left his body on 
the snow. Some men from the fort made a 
search next day, found the body, and laid it in 
an out-house as dead. Strange as it is, he re- 
vived, and lived many years afterward. 

It was probably about this time that the in- 
mates of a block-house on White's Creek, about 
ten miles north of Nashville, would seem to 
have been utterly destroyed. Some years after, 
a family by the name of Webber, settling in 


that neighborhood, discovered the house still 
standing, and hundreds of bullets buried in the 
logs. When the ground around it was put into 
cultivation, bullets were turned up by the plow 
for many years. The settlers at The Bluff 
knew nothing of the house, or of those who 
built it. The supposition is that they were 
a party of emigrants who had taken refuge 
there, and of whom not one was left to tell the 
story of their destruction. 

182 OLD times; or, 



During the next two years, the Cumberland 
colony was unceasingly harassed by Indian 
depredations, similar to those described in the 
last two chapters. The details there given will 
suffice to show the character of these hostilities, 
and the degree of suffering which they were 
calculated to inflict. The years 1782 and 1783 
abound with material for a volume of such 
narratives, but it can serve no good purpose to 
insert them here. In a state of things where 
people had to be constantly guarded in fetching 
water from the spring, and where, when two or 
more men stopped to talk, they turned their 
backs to each other for the better chance of 
seeing an Indian crawling through the cane, it 
is not necessary to dwell upon the horrid par- 
ticulars of massacre, in order to present a pic- 
ture of the universal distress. 


At length, so gloomy and nearly desperate 
had become the condition of the Cumberland 
settlement, that the inhabitants held a council 
at The Bluff, in which it was proposed to quit 
the country entirely, and betake themselves in 
a body to some other of the more fortunate 
parts of the frontier. James Robertson, almost 
alone, opposed the proposition. He argued, 
remonstrated, and exerted all his great personal 
influence to prevent such a step. He shoAved 
that they would be more exposed to Indian 
attacks, in any attempt to reach the settlements 
in East Tennessee or Kentucky, than they were 
even at The Bluff. To go to the Illinois vrould 
require boats, and they could not go into the 
woods to get timber to make them without 
almost certain destruction. In a word, he 
proved that, bad as their condition was at The 
Bluff, they would only make matters worse by 
attempting to leave it. 

In 1783 came the end of the Revolutionary 
War, and peace w^as proclaimed between Great 
Britain and the United States. As it had 
been the policy of Great Britain, during that 
war, to encourage and assist the Indians in their 
warfiire against the western border, so now that 
the war had ceased, the people on the frontier 

184 OLD times; oh, 

had grounds to hope that the hostility of the 
tribes would cease with it. And, to some ex- 
tent, this was doubtless the result; but, in this 
time, other motives had begun to urge the sav- 
age warriors to plunder and massacre. The 
passion of revenge, and the policy of checking 
the advancing settlements, before they should 
occupy their favorite hunting-grounds, conspired 
to place the red and the white men at continual 

To add to these standing causes of jealousy 
and hatred on the part of the Indians, the Gen- 
eral Assembly of North Carolina, in this year, 
passed an act fixing the boundary of the 
Chickasaw and Cherokee hunting-grounds, and 
greatly' reducing their limits. This was done 
simply by authority of the State, and without 
any treaty or talk with the head-men of those 

This act plainly shows that the members 
of that assembly did not understand the proper 
course to be taken with Indians. If a treaty 
had been held, the same territory might have 
been acquired for a very trifling expense, 
and the Indians would have thought that they 
were fairly dealt by. As it was, they saw in 
this act a determination not to ask their con- 


sent in disposing of these lands, and they re- 
sented it accordingly. 

In the second chapter of this Book, some 
account is given of the North American pos- 
sessions of Spain. About this time, (1784,) 
there was good reason to think that the Spanish 
authorities of Louisiana were secretly stirring 
up the southern Indians against our western 
frontier. There was no war between the United 
States and the Government of Spain, but the 
rival claims of the two nations in the Missis- 
sippi Valley, were understood to furnish a 
motive for this unjustifiable tampering with the 
savages. In their intercourse with the Indians, 
the Spanish officials usually employed French 
traders, who had been longer in the country, 
and were better acquainted with Indian char- 
acter, than the Spaniards. These traders were 
Frenchmen who had remained in the country 
after Louisiana had been ceded by France to 
Spain, and many of them had Indian wives 
and families of half-breed children. 

Under the impression, which the state of 
things was calculated to produce, James Rob- 
ertson, now holding the commission of Colonel, 
addressed a letti?, in 1784, to the Spanish 
authorities in Louisiana, upon the subject of 

186 OLD times; or, 

Indian hostilities. The letter was, as it should 
have been, polite in tone, and guarded in its 
language. The answer received was all that 
could have been expected or desired, as far as 
words would go. But for any effect it was ever 
known to have on the conduct of the Indians, 
this correspondence amounted to nothing more 
than a courtly ceremonial. The marauding 
expeditions of the savages were as frequent and 
destructive after it as they had been before. 

In defiance of all hinderances, the colony on 
the Cumberland continued gradually to improve, 
and was occasionally strengthened by the incom- 
ing of fresh parties of emigrants. Nothing wor- 
thy of special notice occurred in the year 1785. 
The usual amount of Indian murders and rob- 
beries we deem it useless to mention. But in 
1786, commissioners, appointed by Congress, 
made a treaty with the chiefs of the Chickasaw 
Nation, settling the boundary line between them 
and the whites. It was believed that this treaty 
would have a good effect in securing the peace 
and friendship of that tribe, and, in a short 
time after, a great many came to Middle Ten- 
nessee, from the old States, who had been kept 
away only by their dread oiS^tndians. • 




The General Assembly of North Carolina 
had provided for the raising of a battalion of 
mounted troops, to be commanded by Major 
Evans, for the defense of the Cumberland fron- 
tier. But the business proceeded slowly, ^not- 
withstanding the earnest representations of 
Colonel Bledsoe and Colonel Robertson upon 
the subject. At length it was resolved to make 
an expedition into the Indian country, with 
what forces could be raised in Cumberland, 
without waiting for farther authority or assist- 
ance from the State. The experience of the 
East Tennessee settlements had proved that the 
most effectual way to check Indian aggressions, 
was to attack the savages at home. With this 
view, a hundred and thirty men were embodied, 
from all the Cumberland settlements, for an 
invasion of the Cherokees. This body was 
commanded by Colonel Robertson, and, under 

188 OLD times; or, 

him, Colonel Robert Hays and Colonel James 

In the month of June, 1787, the troops started 
for the Cherokee town on Coldwater Creek, 
that empties into the Tennessee on the southern 
side, just below the Muscle Shoals, and near 
the present town of Tuscumbia, in Alabama. 
They had along two Chickasaw^s as guides, and, 
without any accident, reached the Tennessee, at 
the foot of the shoals. By the help of a boat 
belonging to the Indians, which they found 
here, they crossed the river in the night, and 
halted on the other side, to prepare for farther 
movements. They then entered a beaten path 
that led off from the river, and, after riding 
several miles, came to Coldwater Creek, and the 
Cherokee village on the opposite side, and about 
three hundred yards from the Tennessee River. 

Colonel Robertson, wdth most of the troops, 
crossed the creek, and rode right into the town. 
The Indians, surprised and frightened, ran 
down the ^vestern bank of the stream, hotly 
pursued by the horsemen. Captain Rains, who 
wdth several others had been left on the eastern 
side of the creek, ran down also toward the 
river, and met the Indians as they hurried 
across to escape their pursuers on the w^estern 


side. Rains's party delivered a deadly fire that 
brought down three of the warriors on the spot, 
and wounded others. The Cherokees then took 
to their boats, lying in tlie mouth of the creek, 
and paddled out into the river, where they were 
repeatedly fired upon by the white men from- 
the bank. Many of the Indians jumped from 
the boats into the water, and were shot while 
swimming, like so many otters. 

In this affair twenty or thirty savages were 
slain, mostly Creek warriors, and, at the same 
time, three French traders and a white woman, 
who had got into a boat, in company with the 
Indians, and refused to surrender. The French- 
men and the white woman Vvcre buried by the 
troops, the town burned, and all the domestic 
animals destroyed. Their duty having been 
faithfully discharged, the two Chickasaw guides 
were presented each with a horse, a gun, 
blankets, etc., and sent away to their own 
people. Five or six French traders were made 
prisoners, and possession taken of all their 
goods on hand, consisting of sugar, coffee, 
blankets, powder, lead, knives, tomahawks, and 
other articles suited to the Indian market. The 
troops then prepared to return to The Bluff. 

The French prisoners, and the goods taken 


from them, were put into several boats, under 
the charge of Jonathan Denton, Benjamin 
Drake, and John and Moses Eskridge. These 
were directed to descend the river, Avhile the 
mounted men rode down on the south side to 
■ some convenient place for crossing. After being 
lost for a time in the pine woods, these latter 
came to the river, where they found the boats, 
and crossed over at a place where the banks 
were favorable on both sides. At the encamp- 
ment on the north side of the river, the pris- 
oners were put into a canoe, with some sugar, 
coffee, and other provisions, and were allowed 
to go up the stream. The boats, with the cap- 
tured goods on board, were directed to proceed 
down the Tennessee to its mouth, then up the 
Ohio and Cumberland home. The troops struck 
across the country, and arrived at The Bluff, 
without having a single man killed or wounded 
in the expedition. 

While the boats were on their way, another 
piece of good fortune befell the party. Several 
boats loaded with goods, belonging to some 
other French traders, who were on board, were 
met coming up the river. The Frenchmen, 
thinking that our people were countrymen of 
theirs returning from the Cherokee towns, fired 


off their guns by way of salute. The Ameri- 
cans came alongside, with their guns charged, 
and easily made prisoners of the deluded 
Frenchmen. They and their cargo of goods 
were taken up Cumberland, nearly to The 
Bluff. There the prisoners received a canoe, 
with permission to go down the stream, as far 
as might please them, leaving their goods, 
wares, and merchandise behind. 

Some of these traders, it is likely, were acting 
under the instructions of the Spanish Govern- 
ment, and exciting the Cherokees to hostilities 
against our western frontier. Others of them 
were, however, probably innocent of such de- 
signs, and only traded with the Indians with a 
view to the profit to be made thereby. Still 
these latter, as well as the more guilty ones, 
deserved to lose their goods, and to suffer what- 
ever rough treatment they met with besides. 
They knew very well that the powder, and lead, 
and tomahawks, which they furnished the In- 
dians, would, whether they desired it or not, in 
all likelihood, be used for warlike purposes 
against the whites. Such articles are, accord- ^ 
ing to the law of nations, contraband, and self- 
preservation justified the colonists in preventing 
the trade, and punishing the traders 




The impression made upon the Creeks and 
Cherokees, by the energetic measures related in 
the preceding chapter, did not prove to be of 
long continuance. Small bodies of them were, 
soon after, prowling among the weaker settle- 
ments, and occasionally murdering individuals 
and unprotected families. Among the victims 
of their cruelty about this time, was Colonel 
Anthony Bledsoe, a man much beloved and 
confided in by the people of the West, and 
who had rendered signal service to the new 
settlements, both in East Tennessee and on the 
Cumberland. In the pursuit of one of these 
marauding bands, an Indian boy was captured, 
the son of a Creek warrior, and afterward 
exchanged for a son of Mr. Naine, that had 
been carried off by the Creeks some time before. 

The troops ordered by North Carolina, for 
the protection of the Cumberland colony, came 


in small companies, each one usually guarding 
a party of emigrants through the dangers of the 
wilderness. When arrived, the soldiers were 
placed at the different stations throughout the 
country, and added much to the security of the 
inhabitants. Colonel Robertson also organized 
companies of patrols, or rangers, whose business 
it was to keep in motion along the most ex^^osed 
parts of the frontier, and be constantly on the 
watch for Indian enemies. One of these com- 
panies, under command of Captain Rains, be- 
came distinguished for the skill with which it 
could detect Indian signs, and for the courage 
and perseverance with which it pursued and 
attacked the skulking foe. 

These defensive measures, and the greater 
safety of the settlements arising therefrom, 
caused the population of Cumberland to in- 
crease quite rapidly in the year 1788. Still, 
Indian hostilities w^ere not entirely suppressed, 
and danger was to be constantly apprehended 
from the unfriendly disposition of the Creeks 
and Cherokees. It was generally believed that 
these Indians were acting under the influence 
of the Spanish officials in Louisiana and Flor- 
ida. To obtain farther information upon this 
point, Colonel Robertson addressed a letter, in 

194 OLD times; or, 

very smooth and friendly terms, to McGille- 
vray, the head-chief of the Creek Nation, ask- 
ing what causes of complaint his nation had 
against our people, and promising, if any 
wrong had been done them, that it should be 

This letter was taken to the chief by Mr. 
Ewing and Mr. Hoggat, who brought back an 
answer of quite a moderate and friendly tone. 
McGillevray said, in substance, that, during 
the War of the Kevolution, his people had been 
the friends and allies of Great Britain, and had 
made war accordingly. After peace was made, 
he said, the Creeks had no hostile feelings 
against the wdiite settlers, until some of their 
warriors had been killed at Coldwater. They 
had now been sufficiently revenged for this 
affair, and he would endeavor to prevent them 
from any farther hostilities against the people 
of Cumberland. Such were the sentiments 
which the great chief thought proper to express 
upon paper, but they had no eftect upon the 
behavior of the Creeks, who continued their 
depredations as before. 

Colonel Robertson was as shrewd and pru- 
dent as he was energetic and upright. On the 
3d of August, 1788, he wrote again to McGille- 


vray, expressing great satisfaction with the 
reply of that chief to his former letter. He 
proceeded farther to inform him, that, from 
feelings of high regard toward McGillevray, a 
lot in the new town of Nashville, on the Cumber- 
land, had been presented to him, and the deed 
recorded in his name. He even w^ent so far as 
to ask him if he would accept the gift of a rich 
tract of land in Middle Tennessee. In conclu- 
sion, he intimated that, if the people of the 
western settlements should be kindly treated by 
the Spaniards, they might be induced to break 
off all connection wdth the Atlantic States, and 
put themselves under the protection of the 
Spanish Government. 

Properly to understand these proceedings of 
Colonel Robertson, the reader should look again 
into the second chapter of this Book. In order 
to extend and strengthen their own dominion 
in North America, the first policy of the Span- 
iards was to cut off our western setttlements by 
the agency of the Indian tribes along the fron- 
tier. When this should fail, their next object 
was to induce the people west of the mountains 
to attach themselves to the Spanish province 
of Louisiana, for the sake of having peace with 
the Indians, and the free navigation of the 

196 OLD times; or, 

Mississippi. By encouragiDg them in this no- 
tion, Kobertson expected to secure their influence 
with the Indians in favor of the Cumberland 
colony, and he was sure that McGillevray would 
communicate to the Spanish authorities -svhat 
he had said in his letter. 

But was there any thought among the west- 
ern people of joining themselves to the Spanish 
provinces? Perhaps there was, with a few, and 
at a later period the feeling became both 
stronger and more extensive. Under all the 
circumstances, such an inclination would not 
be unnatural, nor altogether without excuse. 
It was essential to the prosperity of the Ten- 
nessee colonies that they should be protected 
against the Indians, and have the free use of 
the Mississippi Biver ; and both North Carolina 
and the Federal Government had so far failed 
to obtain for them either of these advantages. 
However, Colonel Bobertson's immediate object 
was only to secure peace to the frontiers, until 
the settlements should become strong enough 
to protect themselves. 




So far we have been occupied exclusively 
witli the relations between the Cumberland 
settlers and the Indians, and the efforts of the 
new community to protect itself against external 
enemies. It is now time that we should look a 
little at its internal regulations, and the means 
employed to preserve order and enforce justice 
among the inhabitants. For this purpose we 
must return to the year 1780, when the colony 
was first planted. And here the special thing 
to be remarked is, that although the territory 
was within the acknowledged limits of North 
Carolina, yet for several years that State had 
as little concern with the government of Cum- 
berland as did the State of Massachusetts. 

From Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, to 
Kaleigh, now the seat of government of North 
Carolina, is a distance of six hundred miles, 
and in 1780, more than half of it was an un- 

198 OLD times; or, 

broken wilderness. Besides, the parent State 
was too entirely absorbed in the War of the 
Eevolution, to allow her attention to be directed 
to the concerns of a little cluster of cabins, on 
the bank of the Cumberland. James Robert- 
son's colony was therefore left, in its own way, 
to govern itself at home, as well as to protect 
itself against enemies abroad. The people at 
The Bluif had to do for themselves all that is 
now done for us by the combined agency of the 
State and Federal Governments. 

As the pioneer settlers at The Bluff were, 
some of them, the same men, and all of the same 
character, as those who planted and cherished 
the community at Watauga, so they naturally 
undertook to build up a society at the former, 
by the same methods which had succeeded so 
well at the latter place. They elected persons 
as trustees, and, by a written agreement called 
a covenant, agreed to refer all differences and 
disputes to their decision. By this simple plan, 
and by taking care that the trustees should be 
men of sense and integrity, justice was admin- 
istered, and the rights of all secured. Every 
signer of the covenant was entitled to a tract 
of land, which was secured to him by the public 
faith of the whole colony. 


These trustees were not only in the place 
of judges anc^i juries, but they also exercised 
the right of performing the ceremony of mar- 
riage. Colonel Robertson, who was one of 
them, married the first couple in INIiddle Ten- 
nessee — Captain Leiper and his wife. Another 
trustee — Mr. Shav/ — married four couples in 
one day — Edward Swanson to Mrs. Carvin, 
James Freeland to Mrs. Maxwell, Cornelius 
Riddle to Miss Jane Mulherrin, and John 
Tucker to Miss Jenny Herod. These marriages 
could not be strictly lawful; but people who 
wished to be married, could not reasonably be 
expected to wait for preachers to come amongst 
them, or for a slow State like North Carolina to 
appoint justices of the peace in the Cumberland 
colony. These trustees, for the various services 
rendered by them, received neither a salary nor 
fees, though the clerk employed by them was 
allowed enough to pay for pen, ink, and paper. 

In 1782, when the Cumberland settlement 
had begun to attract some attention in North 
Carolina, the General Assembly passed a pre- 
emption law, giving to each family in the colony 
six hundred and forty acres of land, and the 
same quantity to every single man who had 
settled there before the 1st of June, 1780. 

200 OLD times; or, 

Another law was passed, making a liberal 
allowance in lands, called homul^, to the North 
Carolina soldiers engaged in the Revolutionary 
War. Provision was made for these bounty- 
lands to be taken in Middle Tennessee. The 
same General Assembly also bestowed on Gen- 
eral Nathanael Greene, of the Continental 
Army, twenty -five thousand acres of land, 
which were afterward laid off for him on Duck 

In 1783, the North Carolina Assembly laid 
off the county of Davidson, the first in what is 
now Middle Tennessee. It was so named after 
General William Davidson, a native of Meck- 
lenburg county, N. C, a brave man and a 
meritorious officer, who was killed by the To- 
ries, at the Catawba River, in 1781. At the 
same session also, the Assembly established a 
town at The Bluff, to be called Nashville. This 
name was intended to commemorate the char- 
acter and services of Colonel Francis Nash, 
another son of the "Old North State," who fell, 
bravely doing his duty, at the battle of Ger- 
man town. For a good Avhile the place was 
often called and spelled Nashhorough, in place 
of the true name. 

Absalom Tatum, Isaac Shelbv, and Anthony 


Bledsoe were appointed commissioners to lay 
off the preemption and bounty-lands in Middle 
Tennessee. This was the last public employ- 
ment of Colonel Shelby, as a citizen of North 
Carolina. He shortly after removed to Ken- 
tucky, where he continued to exhibit the same 
noble traits of character which had endeared 
him to the people of Watauga and Cumber- 
land. He became the first governor of Ken- 
tucky, and was elected again in 1812. At the 
latter period, he commanded the Kentucky 
troops, under General Harrison, on the Canada 
frontier. He died, full of years and honors, 
in 1826. 

202 OLD times; or, 



On the 6th of October, 1783, was held the 
first county court, in the new county of David- 
son. Of this body Isaac Bledsoe was chairman, 
and Andrew Ewing, clerk. Among other or- 
ders made at this term, was one for building a 
court-house and a jail, the former to be eighteen, 
and the latter fourteen feet square, of hewed 
logs. Headon Wells was authorized to build a 
"water grist-mill" on Thomas's Creek — the first 
erection of the kind in Middle Tennessee. At 
the same time an order was made for opening 
a road from Nashville to Mansco's Station, 
which had been previously laid out by a com- 
mittee of the trustees. 

In 1785, the General Assembly of North 
Carolina passed an act establishing Davidson 
Academy, which has since grown into the Uni- 
versity of Tennessee, at Nashville. For the 
support of the institution, the Assembly granted 


certain lands, that were to be tax-free for 
ninety-nine years. And in this place, as well 
as elsewhere, the remark may be made that, in 
all the measures adopted by North Carolina for 
the protection or advancement of her western 
settlements, not one dollar was ever taken from 
the general treasury of the State. Every thing, 
even troops to guard them against Indians, was 
to be paid for by w^estern lands, or by taxes on 
western persons and property, kept separate 
from the general State treasury. This policy 
may not have been unjust, but surely it does 
not look quite generous. 

At the same session of the Assembly, an act 
Avas passed, directing a wagon-road to be opened 
from the lower end of Clinch Mountain, in East 
Tennessee, to Nashville. Up to this time, emi- 
grants going to The Bluff had followed the old 
hunter's trace, through the southern part of 
Kentucky. This road was intended to open a 
shorter route, across the Cumberland Mountain. 
This so-called mountain is only a high table- 
land, well suited to both agriculture and pas- 
turage, but which, at the time we speak of, had 
hardly been visited by a white man, and was 
not much resorted to by Indian hunters. 
Though lying directly between AYatauga and 

204 OLD times; or, 

The Bluff, the travel between those places had 
taken a roundabout way to the north of it. 

During the same year, 1785, the Assembly 
of North Carolina, of w^hich Colonel Robertson 
was a member, passed a law that three hundred 
men should be embodied, and kept constantly 
in service, for the defense of the Cumberland 
settlements. At any time, when their military 
services were not needed against the Indians, 
these troops were to be employed in opening 
the road across Cumberland Mountain, which 
had been directed in a previous act. The law 
farther provided that the men composing the 
militia force should be paid in land, at the rate 
of eight hundred acres to each for a year's ser- 
vice. These lands w^ere to be laid off west of 
Cumberland Mountain, according to the uni- 
form policy of the State, to make the western 
settlements pay their own expenses. 

At the same session of the Legislature of 
North Carolina, Davidson county was divided, 
and a new county organized, and called Sum- 
ner. It was so named in honor of General 
Jethro Sumner, who had served in the North 
Carolina line of the Continental Army through- 
out the whole of the Revolutienary War. The 
first session of the county court of Sumner was 


held in April, 1787, at a private house — that 
is, at the log-cabin of John Hamilton. David 
Shelby was appointed clerk, and John Harden, 
Jr., sheriff. Clerks and sheriffs were, in that 
day, appointed by the courts, and not elected 
by the people, as they are, at this time, in Ten- 

At the session of the General Assembly of 
North Carolina, held at Tarborough, in the 
year 1787, James Kobertson and David Hays 
were present as members froiji Davidson 
county. It was probably at their instance 
that the Legislature made farther provision for 
completing the road across Cumberland Moun- 
tain. For this purpose the Cumberland militia 
were divided into classes, which were called out 
in rotation to work on the road. In November, 
1788, Colonel Eobertson gave notice, in the 
"State Gazette of North Carolina," that the 
road was opened all the way, and that, at stated 
times,, a guard would berin readiness, at Camp- 
bell's Station, to attend upon parties of emi- 
grants through the wilderness. This guard 
was continued for several years, and added 
greatly to the security of travelers. 

The members from Davidson also presented 
to the Assembly a written statement regarding 

206 OLD times; or, 

the condition of the settlements in Middle Ten- 
nessee. In that document it is stated that 
thirty-three of the inhabitants had been mur- 
dered by Indians during that year. The hard- 
ships and sufferings, already endured by the 
colonists, are strongly set forth, and the dan- 
gers to be dreaded for the future are pointed 
out. Among other things, the evil influence 
exercised by the Spaniards of Louisiana upon 
the Creeks, Cherokees, and Chickasaws, is men- 
tioned as a heavy grievance, and the claim of 
that nation to the exclusive use of the Missis- 
sippi is made a subject of indignant complaint. 
The memorial concludes with a broad hint to 
North Carolina, that, if it is too burdensome 
for her to defend and cherish her western set- 
tlements, the inhabitants would prefer to be 
handed over to the guardianship of the Federal 




About this time, and for several succeeding 
years, the population of the Cumberland colony 
rapidly increased. Sufficient land, as rich as 
any in the world, had now been put into culti- 
vation to produce an abunelance of corn for 
bread, and for feeding hogs and other stock. 
The road lately made across the mountain 
region enabled families from East Tennessee, 
and from the old States, to bring with them 
much of their household goods, and the means 
of more comfortable living; and the guard of 
fifty riflemen secured them against Indian dep- 
redations on the way. The small community 
at The Bluff had now so much expanded, par- 
ticularly down the Cumberland, that it became 
necessary again to divide Davidson county, 
and to organize a third, which took the name 
of Tennessee. 

208 OLD times; oe, 

In 1789, the three counties were laid off into 
a judicial district, and a judge appointed to 
hold courts therein. John McNairy was the 
first circuit judge in Middle Tennessee. It is 
rather singular that the district was called 
Mero, after the name of the Spanish Governor 
of Louisiana. Our readers will remember 
Colonel Robertson's letter to McGillevray, as 
mentioned in the tenth chapter. Well, either 
on account of the hint then given, or because 
he was naturally a mild and kindly man, this 
Governor Mero had behaved in a very friendly 
manner toward the Cumberland boatmen and 
other traders who had visited the Spanish 
settlements. Perhaps this naming of the dis- 
trict was another piece of management, on 
the part of Colonel Robertson, to flatter the 
Sjoanish official into^ a continuance of good 

Our readers, perhaps, had a laugh over 
the account, given in the first Book, of the 
currency of the State of Franklin. But as 
far as a circulating medium, or a substitute 
for money, is concerned, the people of Frank- 
lin were at least as well off as their brothers, 
the backwoodsmen of Cumberland. The 
records of the county court of Davidson 


show, in a very satisfactory m?.nner, what 
was the commercial condition of its inhab- 
itants in the year 1787. The business be- 
fore the court was to supply the ways and 
means of supporting the battalion of mounted 
troops, under command of Major Evans. If 
such a thing had now to be done, the court 
would at once levy a tax to be paid, in gold or 
silver, or good bank-bills, to the sheriff, and by 
him to the county treasury. 

But in 1787, it was managed differently. 
The court then ordered that one-fourth of each 
man's tax be paid in corn, two-fourths in beef, 
pork, bear-meat, or venison, one-eighth in salt, 
and one-eighth in money. These articles were 
to be delivered at a particular place in each 
captain's company, and then conveyed to the 
troops. It was to answer the expense of this 
last transportation that the one-eighth in money 
was required. For these articles the following 
prices w^ere to be allowed : for corn, four shil- 
lings per bushel ; beef, five dollars per hundred ; 
pork, eight dollars; good bear-meat, without 
bones, eight dollars ; venison, ten shillings per 
hundred; salt, sixteen dollars per bushel. The 
reader will notice that venison was then much 
cheaper than beef or pork, and that salt, 

210 OLD times; or, 

at that time, cost about forty times its present 

As we took occasion to remark, when speak- 
ing of the revenue of Franklin, the want of 
money is not always a sign of poverty. A good 
and plentiful circulating medium is certainly a 
great convenience, and essential to the business 
of a commercial people ; but the inhabitants of 
Cumberland had so little commerce that their 
transactions could be pretty well managed 
without money. In this respect, indeed, they 
were very little behind the people of the Atlan- 
tic States. Men of considerable property had 
begun to seek homes in the western settlements, 
but they brought little gold or silver with them, 
for the plain reason that there was very little 
in the places from which they came. A war 
of eight years, w^hich had completely prevented 
all foreign trade, had left the whole country 
nearly destitute of money. 

As the settlers in Middle Tennessee were cit- 
izens of North Carolina, and subject to its laws, 
so they w^ere entitled to be paid out of the State 
treasury, for services rendered to the public. 
Those who had been wounded and disabled, and 
the families of those who had been killed in the 
Indian wars, had a fair claim to be provided 


for by the State. Those who had furnished 
horses, arms, or provisions for the army, were 
entitled to compensation, as also those whose 
property had been destroyed or carried off by 
the public enemy. For all such claims, a law 
of North Carolina provided that certificates 
should be issued to the claimant, which should 
be received as money in the payment of taxes. 
These certificates could be passed from one to 
another, among the people, and to some extent 
answered the purpose of the bank-notes now in 

The great scarcity of money among the Cum- 
berland people was caused, not so much by 
having nothing to sell, as by the want of a 
market. The white communities nearest to 
them were those of Kentucky and East Ten- 
nessee, and in them the inhabitants had a 
surplus of every thing that those of Middle 
Tennessee wanted to sell. The only chance for 
the latter to get even a little money for their 
produce, was to take it in flat-boats down the 
Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi, to the 
Spanish towns of Natchez and New Orleans. 
Then, after paying a tax — sometimes a very 
heavy one — for the privilege, they could sell, 
generally for a very low price, and then return 

212 OLD TIMES ; OR, 

on foot, through the Choctaw and Chickasaw 
Nations of Indians, a distance of about twelve 
liundred miles from New Orleans to Nashville. 
- Full of hardship and danger as it was, this trip 
had now begun to be frequently undertaken. 




In the fourth chapter, we gave an account 
of the passage of the party under Colonel Don- 
aldson down the Tennessee, and up the Ohio 
and Cumberland, to The Bluff. That expedi- 
tion proved successful, though the party suf- 
fered some heavy misfortunes on the way. We 
are now to relate another undertaking of the 
same kind, which ended not only in failure, 
but in the death or captivity of every person 
engaged in it. Colonel James Brown was an 
officer in the North Carolina line of the Conti- 
^nental Army. After the close of the war, he 
resolved to settle in Middle Tennessee, where 
he owned valuable lands, granted to him by 
the State for his military services. 

Colonel Brown assembled his party on the 
Holston, and there made all due preparations 
to descend the stream. He built a large boat, 

214 OLD times; or, 

the sides of which were fenced up with thick 
plank, to protect those in it from rifle or musket- 
balls, if they should be fired at by Indians. In 
the stern, or hind part of the boat, was placed 
a small cannon. Colonel Brown's family con- 
sisted of himself, his wife, two grown sons, and 
three younger ones, four small daughtei'S, and 
several negroes. In addition to these, he took 
along also five young men — J. Bays, John 
Flood, John Gentry, William Gentry, and John 
Griffin. This whole party embarked, and com- 
menced their voyage down Holston, in May, 

They proceeded without any accident till 
they arrived at the Chickamauga towns, where 
several of the Cherokees came on board, and 
appeared to be very friendly. But as soon as 
they returned to land, they sent runners to give 
notice to the warriors in the towns below that a 
boat was on the river, and that they should 
collect all the canoes they could to meet and, 
attack the party. The river at this time was 
high, and the back-water was in the bottoms. 
Brown's boat had not proceeded many miles, 
before it was met by four canoes, containing 
about forty Indian warriors. They hoisted a 
white flag as a token of peace, and pretended 


that they only wanted to trade with the white 
men. Though suspicious of their bad designs, 
Colonel Brown stopped his boat, and suffered 
them to come on board. 

These Indians were no sooner in the boat, 
than they began to make very free with what- 
ever it contained; and while they were em- 
ployed in rudely rummaging among the goods, 
seven or eight other canoes were seen suddenly 
coming out from the back-water amongst the 
cane. The boat Avas in a moment surrounded by 
them, and the whites were at the mercy of the 
treacherous and bloody savages. Colonel Brown 
was the first victim, whose head was nearly cut 
in two with a sword, and his body thrown over- 
board. Every man of the party was soon 
butchered, including, of course. Colonel Brown's 
two grown sons. As the Indians had every 
thing in their power, they preferred not to kill 
the women and children, but to make them 
captives and slaves. 

Amongst the band of Indians that committed 
this outrage, w^ere some Creek warriors, who 
took Mrs. Brown, her son ten years old, and 
three little daughters, in their share of the 
spoils. Two of the daughters were brought 
back by the Cherokees, and remained among 

216 OLD times; or, 

them, while the mother, her son George, and 
the other daughter continued to be the prisoners 
and slaves of the Creeks, whose towns were on 
the Tallapoosa Kiver. Another son, Joseph, 
belonged to a Cherokee warrior. Mrs. Brown 
and the daughter with her w^ere purchased by 
McGillevray, the head-chief of the Greeks, and 
restored to her friends about a year afterward. 
The chief generously refused all compensation 
for this act of humanity. George Brown re- 
mained in captivity about five years, but was 
then released, and restored to his friends. 

The unprovoked and atrocious slaughter of 
Colonel Brown's party, with the many other 
similar outrages, from time to time committed 
by the lawless savages of The Narrows, at 
length aroused General Sevier and his ever- 
ready volunteers to attack them in their homes 
and strongholds. "Nolichucky Jack," as Se- 
vier was familiarly called by his men, soon 
brought these Cherokees into a humor to seek 
peace upon the best terms they could get. 
Among other things, it w^as required of the 
Indians to surrender all the white prisoners in 
their hands; and upon this occasion, Joseph 
Brown and his two sisters regained their liberty. 

With this chapter will end the separate his- 


tory of tlie Cumberland colony. The short 
interval of time between the present date and 
February, 1790, when North Carolina ceded all 
her western territory to the United States, fur- 
nishes no incidents beyond the usual items of 
savage warfare. There have passed ten years 
since James Robertson and his companions 
planted themselves at the French Salt Lick, 
and twice that time since Bean set up his house- 
hold gods upon the banks of the Watauga. 
We have traced the progress of the two settle- 
ments, until a safe and easy communication has 
been established between them. Henceforth 
we are to consider them as blended into one 
community, and to pursue their farther history 
under the name of the "Territory South-west 
of the River Ohio." 










The "Articles of Confederation," which held 
the States together during, and for some years 
after, the Revolutionary "War, had been laid 
aside, and the present "Constitution of the 
United States" adopted, and was about to go 
into operation. According to that constitution, 
the Territory was to be regulated and managed 
by the Federal Government — that is, by the 
President and Congress. General Washington 
was then President, and it became his duty to 
appoint a governor and two judges for the Ter- 
ritory. The appointment of governor was be- 


222 OLD times; oe, 

stowed upon William Blount, of North Caro- 
lina, and David Campbell and Joseph Anderson 
Avere made judges. 

Mr. Blount Avas a gentleman of wealth and 
education, had been a delegate from North 
Carolina to the convention that framed the 
Constitution of the United States, and acted as 
commissioner from that State among the Indian 
tribes. He received his commission as Governor 
of the Territory in August, 1790, and in Octo- 
ber arrived in the neighborhood of Watauga 
to enter upon the duties of his office. One of 
these duties was to appoint the civil and mili- 
tary officers of the Territory. In most eases, 
he appointed the same men who had held the 
several offices under the Government of North 
Carolina, only giving them a new commission, 
under the authority of the United States. 

Governor Blount, having appointed the offi- 
cers of Washington District, which included all 
the counties in East Tennessee, proceeded to 
Nashville, to arrange the affiiirs of Mero Dis- 
trict, composed of the three counties on the 
Cumberland — Davidson, Sumner, and Tennes- 
see. Not having authority himself to appoint 
brigadier-generals, he recommended to the 
President to give these offices respectively to 



John Sevier for AVashington, and James Kob- 
ertson for Mero, and they were commissioned 
accordingly. Having thus set the Territorial 
Government in motion, Governor Blount fixed 
his official residence at Knoxville, on the Hol- 
ston, which soon became the most important 
place in East Tennessee, though at that time 
only the site of a few cabins and rough clear- 
ings. It took its name from General Henry 
Knox, t]^en Secretary of War under President 

In addition to his other powers and duties. 
Governor Blount was also the agent of the 
United States among the Southern Indians, 
namel}^ the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, 
and Choctaws. In this department he acted 
under the direction of the Secretary of War, 
who seems not to have understood so well how 
to manage the savages as Sevier or Eobertson 
did. His instructions to Governor Blount re- 
quired that officer, and the people of the settle- 
ments, to act only on the defensive toward the 
hostile Indians. An army was not, upon any 
account, to be marched into the Indian country. 
The Secretary was doubtless a man of excellent 
sense, and a good military officer, but neither 
he, nor even General Washington, had ever 

224 OLD times; or, 

had any experience of Indian warfare, in a 
country covered with canebrakes, where a hun- 
dred warriors could lie concealed for weeks 
within a hundred yards of a station. 

The business of regulating the intercourse 
between the white and the red men, Governor 
Blount found to be exceedingly troublesome. 
Being bound to carry out the instructions of 
the Secretary of War, he was compelled to wit- 
ness much suffering, and to hear loud c^mjolaint 
among the people under his charge. In Mero 
District ' the population was now about seven 
thousand, furnishing one thousand fighting 
men; and in AVashington there were perhaps 
four times as many. The two brigadiers — Se- 
vier and Eobertson — felt themselves able to 
beat any force the Indians could array against 
them, whenever they could bring them to a 
battle. But this the savages would generally 
avoid, and preferred to hide in small parties 
about the settlements, robbing and murdering 
at every safe opportunity. 

When depredations were committed, pursuit 
would immediately be made, but with very 
little prospect of finding the offenders, who 
could easily disperse and hide in the cane, or 
make their way across the Indian line, where 


the troops were not permitted to follow them. 
In such a state of things, it is not strange if 
the fiery spirit of the western soldiers some- 
times broke out into acts of impatience, which 
defied control. The authority of the Federal 
Goverment, and the proclamations of Governor 
Blount, were alike disregarded, in some in- 
stances, when the law of self-preservation and 
the instinct of vengeance w^ere too powerful for 
the law of the land. At length the Federal 
authorities themselves became convinced that 
they had mistaken the true policy to be pursued 
toward the Indian enemies of the Territory, 
and the western people were again permitted to 
defend themselves by carrying war into the 
Indian country. 

President Washington was then earnestly en- 
gaged in endeavoring to make a treaty wdth 
Spain, which might secure for us the free navi- 
gation of the Mississippi, and put a stop to the 
evil influence which the Spanish authorities in 
America were exercising over the Southern In- 
dians to our prejudice. On the other hand, the 
Spanish Government w^as aiming to convince the 
people west of the AUeghanies, that the only 
means of obtaining peace with the Indians, and 
a foreign market for their produce, was to sepa- 

226 OLD times; or, 

rate from the Atlantic vStates, and to attach them- 
selves to Louisiana. Washington was desirous to 
preserve peace with Spain, and all other foreign 
nations, until our country should grow into a 
degree of strength that would enable us, if 
necessary, to assert our rights by force of arms. 
His policy was no doubt patriotic as it was 
prudent, but it did sometimes happen that, 
under the sting of present grievances, the mur- 
murs of the western pioneers were heard even 
against the "Father of his country." 




Aftek the present Constitution of the United 
States had been adopted, the President and the 
Senate could alone make treaties with the In- 
dian tribes. Before that time, some had been 
made under the authority of North Carolina, 
some by the State of Franklin, and others 
by individuals, as has been before mentioned. 
None but those made by North Carolina were 
of any force, but yet many of the inhabitants 
of the South-west Territory were actually living 
on lands acquired by these unauthorized trea- 
ties. For the sake of peace with the Indians, 
who v^■ere often complaining of these encroach- 
ments, the President issued his proclamation, 
warning all persons to remove from the lands 
which the Indians had not surrendered by some 
lawful treaty. 

As the Indians paid no attention to their own 
agreements, but made war upon those outside 

228 OLD times; or, 

as well as witliin the lines claimed by tliem, the 
settlers thought proper to treat the President's 
proclamation with very little regard. Indeed, 
it may be presumed that nothing more was in- 
tended by the Government of the United States 
than to conciliate the Indians, by appearing to 
be very anxious to treat them with justice — at 
least, no force was ever employed to remove the 
settlers, and they did not leave. They and the 
Government knew very well that Indian hos- 
tilities would be the same, with or without the 
observance of treaties on the part of the whites. 
Nothing but their dread of the white man's rifle 
could be relied on to insure their peaceful be- 

But still, where there had been no sort of 
treaty, by which the Indians ceded theii' terri- 
ritory, nor any actual settlements made, the 
policy of the Government to keep all intruders 
off" the Indian lands was duly enforced. The 
State of Georgia then owned the territory which 
is now the State of Alabama, but the Cherokees 
had never agreed to give it up to the whites — 
in other words, the Indian title had not been 
extinguished. About this time, the Legislature 
of that State granted to a private company a 
large tract bordering on the Muscle Shoals of 


the Tennessee. The company attempted to 
settle their grant, but were ordered off by 
Governor Blount, as the agent of the General 
Government, and the Cherokees were told at 
the same time that they might drive them away, 
without giving offense to the United States. 

In the hope of putting some restraint upon 
the Cherokees, who were constantly committing 
outrages upon the frontier. Governor Blount 
thought it expedient to invite the chiefs and 
warriors to meet him in a conference, or talk, to 
be held on the ground where Knoxville now 
stands, in June, 1791. Accordingly forty-one 
chiefs, and about a thousand other Cherokees, 
attended at the time and place appointed, where 
they found Governor Blount, surrounded by 
the principal civil and military officers of the 
Territory. The Governor made his proposals, 
and the Indian orators their speeches, and a 
treaty was formed, fixing the boundary line of 
the Indian hunting-grounds, and many other 
matters. As in all other cases, the treaty was 
first violated by the Cherokees, and then nulli- 
fied by the whites. 

At this time the Government of the United 
States had determined to send an army, under 
General St. Clair, to chastise the Indians of the 

230 OLD times; or, 

North-west. In order to raise a sufficient force, 
"Washington District was called upon to furnish 
three hundred and thirty-two men. For the 
first, and so far, for the last time, Tennesseans 
refused to volunteer. The term of service was 
longer than they had been used to, and besides, 
they were to be commanded by officers not of 
their own choosing, which had never happened 
before. Another reason may be that they were 
just then a good deal dissatisfied with the Fed- 
eral Government, for what they regarded as its 
neglect to promote the interests of the western 
peoj)le. A draft, or forced enlistment, was re- 
sorted to, and at length two hundred men, by 
the great exertions of Governor Blount and 
General Sevier, were sent forward in time to 
share the disastrous defeat of General St. Clair, 
on the 4th of November, 1791. 

A singular incident occurred as the troops 
were about leaving upon this expedition. One 
of the captains — Jacob Tipton — had taken 
leave of his family, and mounted his horse. 
He then halted and called out his wife to tell 
her that, if he should be killed, she must change 
the name of their son William, and call him 
Jacob. He seemed to have a presentiment that 
he should fall, as he did, in the battle that en- 


sued. The name of his son was changed agree- 
ably to his request, and he afterward became 
General Jacob Tipton, of Tipton county, in 
West Tennessee. The county was so named in 
honor of his father, the brave and patriotic 

At the very time the treaty with the Chero- 
kees w^as being held at Knoxville, the usual 
Indian robberies and murders were going for- 
ward. A Mr. Miller and five of his family 
were killed, and his house robbed, on the Koll- 
ing Fork of the Cumberland. On the frontier 
of Virginia, Mrs. McDowell and Frances Pen- 
dleton were murdered and scalped. Shortly 
after the treaty, James Patrick was killed near 
Kogersville. Whether these depredations were 
committed by Creeks or Cherokees is uncertain ; 
but any w^ay, these and many similar instances 
plainly show that treaties had no binding force 
with the Indians, ifnd brought no assurance of 
safety to the white settlements. For some rea- 
sons, it was perhaps well enough to go through 
the ceremony of holding councils with them, 
but then it was proper to keep as sharp a look- 
out as if nothing of the kind had been trans- 




There was perhaps no time, in the history 
of the Tennessee settlements, in which the 
hostility of the savages was more constant, 
determined, and bloody, than during the year 
succeeding the council at Knoxville, spoken of 
in the last chapter. The Cherokees and Creeks 
had, by this time, found out that the white men 
were not allowed by the Government to pursue 
them into their own country, or to attack their 
towns. This they regarded as a license to their 
marauding parties to do all the mischief they 
could in the settlements, if they could only 
cross the line before the pursuers should over- 
take them. In regard to their relations with 
the Indians, the inhabitants of Washington and 
Mero were in a worse condition than the early 
settlers at AVatauga and The Bluft*; for North 
Carolina, if she did nothing for their protection, 
at least allowed them to protect themselves. 


Governor Blount and Generals Sevier and 
Eobertson did all they could, under the circum- 
stances. Troops were kept at the stations in 
tlie more exposed neighborhoods, and patrols, 
or rangers, were in motion along the frontier. 
Still this did not prevent small bands of the 
enemy from stealing into the settlements and 
committing an immense amount of slaughter 
and devastation. We shall select a few cases, 
leaving the great mass of suffering to be imag- 
ined by our readers. On the 26th of June, the 
Indians attacked Zeigler's Station, near Bled- 
soe's Lick, killed four men, and made eighteen 
prisoners. Nine of these captives were after- 
ward redeemed by their friends. The remain- 
der, as also a young woman and four negroes 
from the neighborhood, were carried off to the 
Indian towns. On the 15th of July, Penning- 
ton and Milljgen were killed on the road to 

About the same time, Mr. Gillespie and a 
boy were murdered, and another boy carried 
into captivity. One of the most remarkable 
affairs, belonging to the Indian hostilities of 
this period, was an attack made by about seven 
liundred Creeks and Cherokees upon Buchan- 
an's Station, four miles south of Nashville. At 

234: OLD times; or, 

the time of the attack, the station contained a 
goodly number of women and children, but 
only fifteen fighting men. The Indians fired a 
great many balls into the block-house, and at- 
tempted to set fire to the buildings. The white 
men inside made the best possible use of their 
rifles, and after a long and obstinate fight, the 
Indians retired with the loss of several of their 
foremost warriors. Not a man, woman, or child 
in the fort was hurt, though the Indians killed 
Gee and Clayton outside. 

It was in the next year (1792) that Captain 
Handly, with forty-tv/o men, was going from 
Washington District to assist in the defense of 
the Cumberland people. On his way, he was 
met and attacked by fifty-six Indians, some of 
them Shawnees. Except Captain Handly and 
one of his men, named Leiper, the white men 
instantly fell back out of farther danger. 
Leiper was wounded, and had fallen from his 
horse. Handly attempted to get him again on 
his horse, but while doing so, was surrounded 
and furiously assaulted by several Indians. 
To save his own life, he surrendered to one of 
them, crying out, "Canawlla!" which, in the 
Indian language, means friendship, or peace. 
Poor Leiper was killed and scalped, while 


Handly was taken to the Cherokee towns, and, 
after a long and hard captivity, was restored 
to his family and friends. 

It was not in human nature, especially the 
nature of western men, to endure these multi- 
plied wrongs and sufferings, without some im- 
patient outbreak. When they saw the bleeding 
bodies of wives and children, lying in all the 
horror of ghastly murder, upon their own 
hearth-stones, men were not in a frame of mind 
to study the laws of the land, or to observe the 
niceties of governmental policy. On the 25th 
of May, Thomas Gillam and his son were killed 
and scalped by the Indians, in the Raccoon 
Valley. Captain Beard and fifty mounted men 
immediately pursued the murderers, and forgot 
to stop at the Indian line. They killed fifteen 
or twenty savages of the Hanging Maw's tribe, 
and in the scuffle the wife of that chief also lost 
her life. Beard and his party were never pun- 
ished for this violation of law, and, indeed, 
could not have been punished, in such a state 
of feeling as then existed among the people of 
the Territory. 

On the 30th of August, two Indians came to 
Mr. Hutter's, tomahawked and scalped his 
wife, cut off* his daughter's head, and plundered 

236 OLD times; or, 

the house. Immediately Colonel Doherty and 
Colonel McFarland raised one hundred and 
eighty men for an expedition into the Cherokee 
countiy. They were out four weeks, in which 
time they destroyed six Indian towns, and 
killed and scalped fifteen warriors, at the same 
time making prisoners of a good many squaws 
and children. The scalping, in this affair, 
proves that the white men must have been un- 
usually exasperated. Those engaged in this 
attack had to undergo the censures of Governor 
Blount for a violation of law, and a disregard 
of the President's proclamation, but the matter 
went no farther. 

Andrew Creswell, with two other men, was 
living near McGaughey's Station. A party of 
Cherokees coming into the neighborhood, shot 
and wounded a man named Cunningham, who 
made his escape to Creswell's house. Among 
the men the question was debated whether it 
would be better to remain, or attempt to reach 
the station. Creswell put the question to his 
wife, who replied that she preferred to die at 
home. "Then," said Creswell, "I will keep 
this house till the Indians take me out of it." 
The building was well constructed for defense, 
and to prevent his horses being stolen, the 


stable was so arranged that the door could not 
be opened but by a person inside of the house. 
Seeing the place so well prepared for defense, 
and so resolutely guarded, the Indians thought 
best to let it alone. 




On the 24tli of September, 1793, the militia 
patrols were out all day, in the vicinity of 
Knoxville, without being able to detect any 
signs of approaching Indians. But in the 
evening of that very day, a thousand warriors 
crossed the Tennessee, below the mouth of 
the Holston, and were in full march for Knox- 
ville. This body, consisting of seven hundred 
Creeks and three hundred Cherokees, was com- 
manded by two noted chiefs — John Watts 
and Double-head. One hundred of the Creeks 
were mounted. They had selected Knoxville 
as the object of attack, on account of the public 
stores collected there, of which they hoped to 
possess themselves by this sudden invasion. 
By reason of some difficulties in crossing the 
river, and a want of agreement and concert 
among the leaders, the Indian army failed to 


reach Knoxville that night, as had been ex- 
pected by them. Not being able to surprise 
the place by a night-attack, they abandoned 
the enterprise entirely. 

But so large a force of chiefs and braves 
could not think of returning to their towns 
without plunder and scalps. Cavet's Station 
was near at hand, in which were only three 
fighting men and a family of thirteen persons. 
A thousand ferocious and yelling savages soon 
surrounded the devoted place. What could 
three- men do against such a host? What they 
did do, was to discharge their guns at the ad- 
vancing Indians, killing three w^arriors, and 
wounding three others. Tliough so greatly 
superior in numbers, the Indians concluded 
that they would probably lose several more 
men in storming the block-house, and proposed 
to the men in the station to surrender. They 
sent in a half-breed Creek, who could speak 
English, and w^ho promised that the lives of all 
should be spared if the station were given up. 

The offer was accepted, and the Indians took 
possession of the place and the prisoners. They 
kept their w^ord to save the lives of the party 
by instantly putting to death, in the most horrid 
and barbarous manner, every individual be- 

240 OLD times; or, 

longing to it — male and female, old and young 
— with one exception. A lad, the son of Mr. 
Cavet, escaped immediate death by the influ- 
ence of John Watts, but was afterward killed 
in the Indian country. The body of Mr. Cavet 
Avas found next day in the garden, with seven 
bullets in his mouth, which he had put there to 
load his rifle with. The savages plundered and 
burned all the buildings, and then started for 
their towns to hold a scal|>dance, and to brag 
of their exploits. 

The policy of the Federal Government was 
made to yield to the spirit of indignant ven- 
geance which was now aroused. In the absence 
of Governor Bloujit, Mr. Smith, the Secretary 
of the Territory, authorized General Sevier to 
invade the Cherokees and Creeks. The voice 
of "Nolichucky Jack," calling his countrymen 
to arms, never failed to meet a hearty and en- 
thusiastic response, and in a few days he w^as. 
at the head of six hundred mounted riflemen, 
and fiercely pursuing the trail of the* retreating 
murderers. In this determined band there 
were some who were, at all times and habit- 
ually, Indian-haters; but, on the present occa- 
sion, these men scarcely went beyond the rest 
in their eagerness to overtake and to punish 


the treacherous and truculent butchers of the 
Cavet family. 

The pursuers followed the trail across Little 
Tennessee and Hiwassee, to the Indian town of 
Estinaula. The Indians had deserted the tov;n, 
but left in it plentiful supplies of grain and 
meat. AVhat the troops could not consume was 
destroyed, together with the town itself Sevier 
and his men encamped that night upon the 
bank of Estinaula River, with the woods 
around them full of Indians. Next day they 
moved forward toward the Indian town of 
Etowah, upon the Coosa Eiver. The warriors 
at Etowah were known to have been under 
John Watts, and to have taken part in the 
massacre at Cavet's. How many they were 
was matter of indifference to Sevier's men, 
their only solicitude being to get within rifle 
distance of the miscreants. 

Partly by an accident, the approach and 
attack were made in such a manner that the 
Indian warriors could not get away, but were 
hemmed in between the assailants and the river- 
bank. The troops dismounted, and poured in a 
deadly fire upon them. The Indians fought 
bravely for awhile, under the encouragement 
and example of their leader, called King-fisher. 

242 OLD times; or, 

Hugh L. AVhite and two others, standing near 
each other, leveled their rifles at him, and he 
fell. Upon the death of the chief, the sur- 
viving Indians broke, and fled in all directions, 
and left the whites masters of the field and of 
the town. 

Three white men lost their lives in this en- 
gagement — Pruett, Weir, and Wallace. The 
town of Etowah was burned, and several others 
were destroyed on the return -march of the 
troops. This was the last act of General Se- 
vi'er's military career, as he shortly after went 
into the civil service of the country. For more 
than twenty years he had been the favorite 
leader of the western volunteers in all their 
wars with the Indians, British, and Tories. He 
had been in thirty-five battles, was never de- 
feated, and never wounded. In all his Indian 
campaigns, he had only lost fifty-six men, and 
this last expedition was the only one for which 
he ever received a dollar of pay. 




The cliastisement inflicted upon the Creeks 
and Cherokees, as narrated in the last chapter, 
had the usual effect of quelling their spirit and 
checking their inroads for a season only. It 
would be necessary that the lesson should be re- 
peated, in order to make a permanent impression. 
While Sevier and the volunteers were away 
in the expedition to Etowah, the Indians killed 
a boy and a woman near Dandridge. They 
were stuck in the throat like hogs, their heads 
entirely skinned, and their bodies left naked. 
As the neighbors were carrying the bodies to a 
burying-ground, two men happened to go a 
little ahead of the rest, and were fired upon by 
about fifty Indians. One of them escaped, 
though wounded, and the other being found 
dead and scalped, was buried in the same 
grave with the two corpses he had been at- 

244 * OLD TIxMES; OR, 

So great was the relief from Indian invasion 
experienced by the inhabitants of JMero Dis- 
trict for some time after Sevier's trip to Etov»'ah, 
that they sent him their thanks, and a request 
that he would soon pay another visit to the 
Indian towns. It was not long before the be- 
havior of the Indians showed very plainly 
that they were much in need of another casti- 
gation. In April, 1794, they attacked a com- 
pany of travelers, near the Crab Orchard. In 
this attack, Thomas Sharpe Spencer, the cele- 
brated pioneer hunter, was killed, and, from 
that circumstance, the place, on the great east- 
ern road from Nashville, is called Spencer's 
Hill to this day. 

Dr. Cozby was an old Indian fighter, and 
it was hard for them to catch him napping. 
On a moonlight night, a large party of them 
approached his cabin, in which were only him- 
self, his wife, and several children, of which 
one boy was old enough to use a gun. The 
Doctor, always upon the watch, saw them be- 
fore they were near the house, barricaded the 
door, and began to give orders ip a loud voice, 
as if he had a houseful of armed men. The 
Indians were deceived, and sneaked away, in 
search of better fortune elseAvhere. This they 


found at the house of William Casteel, living 
about two miles from Cozby's. 

Casteel and a neighbor, named Reagan, had 
agreed to have a hunt the next day. Reagan 
came to Casteel's early in the morning, where 
he found the whole family dead — butchered in 
the most horrid and revolting manner. The 
family consisted of Casteel himself, his wife, and 
five children — the oldest a daughter of ten 
years. "We have said they were all dead, and 
so indeed they seemed to the visitor. When 
the neighbors were preparing them for burial, 
Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, showed some 
signs of life, though wounded in six places with 
a tomahawk, besides being scalped. She slowly 
revived, and in two years was well again, was 
married, and lived long after. The rest of the 
family are all in one grave, under an oak-tree, 
still standing. 

The excitement produced by this massacre 
was scarcely less than that which followed the 
murder of the Cavets. The people were clam- 
orous for an immediate and exterminating 
invasion of the Indian towns, and it required 
all the influence and exertions of the civil offi- 
cers to restrain them from a march across the 
border, in defiance of the law. About the' same 

246 OLD times; or, 

time, John Isli was killed, while plowing in his 
field, eighteen miles from Knoxville. This was 
done by some Creeks, and the Cherokees caught 
and delivered up one of the murderers to a 
party of white men that went in pursuit. He 
was regularly tried by a court and jury for the 
crime of murder, and found guilty. His name 
was Obongpohego, which means, in English, 
"dance upon nothing." This exj^loit he was 
soon required to perform, for the satisfaction of 
the people, who greatly enjoyed the spectacle. 

"We have before noticed the defeat of the army 
under General St. Clair, by the Korthern In- 
dians, in 1791. The Government of the United 
States afterward sent General Wayne, with 
another arm}'-, against the same tribes. This 
effort was more successful, and Wayne inflicted 
upon the Indians an overwhelming and ruinous 
defeat. ISTews of this disaster to their northern 
brothers had reached the Cherokees, and they 
at once became, or pretended to be, inclined to 
^eace. Governor Blount agreed to hold a 
council with their chiefs at Tellico. It Avas 
easily agreed that, in time to come, there should 
be peace and friendship between the Cherokees 
and the inhabitants of the South-west Territory, 
and that all prisoners and property taken 


during the war, should be restored by both 

But in despite of treaties and pretensions of 
friendship, the work of massacre and devasta- 
tion went on. Not a vreek, and scarcely a day 
passed, without some cabin laid in ashes, and 
some family bereaved, or destroyed. It had 
long been seen by some, and was now evident 
to the experience of all, that defensive measures 
alone would never secure the people of the 
Territory against Indian aggression. General 
Eobertson was a cool and considerate officer, 
and every way disposed to respect the laws of 
the land, and to obey the ordei*s of his official 
superiors ; but he was, at the same time, gener- 
ous and sympathizing, and could no longer sufi'er 
the punctilios of official propriety to prevent 
the relief demanded by the united cries of his 
distressed countrymen. He assumed the re- 
sponsibility of doing what shall be related iu 
the next chapter. 

248 OLD times; or, 



In the fourteenth chapter of the second Book 
is given some account of an unfortunate attempt 
made by a party, under the direction of Colonel 
Brown, to get to Nashville by way of the Ten- 
nessee River. Our readers will also remember 
that one of Colonel Brown's sons — Joseph — had 
been detained as a captive among the lower 
Cherokees, for a year or more. He was seven- 
teen years old when he returned to the white 
settlements, and was now about twenty-two. 
He had not forgotten the cruelties inflicted by 
the savages on his father's family, nor the suf- 
ferings of his own hard captivity. Indeed, the 
Indians would not suffer him thus to forget, for 
a lurking party of them had lately shot and 
wounded him in the shoulder, b}'- which he -was 
still partially disabled. 

As has been before stated, the Chickamaugas 
and their confederates, who held the towns 


about The Narrows of the Tennessee, had been 
the most destructive enem%s of the white settle- 
ments, both in East and Middle Tennessee. It 
was doubted whether an army could be marched 
across the spur of the Cumberland Mountain at 
The Narrows, so as effectually to invade the 
towns. Joseph Brown and several others un- 
dertook an exploration for the purpose of set- 
tling this point. They made the tour, and 
re^Dorted to General Robertson that it was quite 
practicable for horsemen to get over the moun- 
tain, and, by leaving the horses on this side, to 
cross the river opposite to Nickojack. 

General Robertson at once resolved to strike 
a blow in that direction, and issued the neces- 
sary orders to his subordinates. The troops 
of Mero District were soon assembled, under 
Colonels Ford and Montgomery, and rendez- 
voused at a block-house near Buchanan's Sta- 
tion. Here they were shortly joined by a body 
of volunteers from Kentucky, commanded by 
Colonel Whitley. Colonel Orr, also, who had 
been sent by Governor Blount with a body of 
troops to assist in the defense of the Cum- 
berland settlements, was persuaded to join the 
expedition. As he was the only officer acting 
under the authority of the Governor, he took 

250 OLD times; or, 

command of the entire army, and the movement 
was generally knowi?as Orr's expedition, though 
in truth the actual direction of affairs was com- 
mitted to Colonel Whitley. 

All things being in readiness, the army, 
amounting to more than five hundred mounted 
riflemen, set out on Sunday, 7th of September, 
1794. Under the guidance of Joseph Brown, 
they took the direct course to Nickojack, passing 
near the head of Elk. It was night when they 
reached the Tennessee, where they camped, 
though some of the men swam the river before 
daylight. In the morning, after leaving a large 
guard with the horses on this side, the remain- 
der of the troops crossed to the southern bank, 
some on rafts made of dry cane, and others by 
swimming. Among the swimmers were Wil- 
liam Trousdale, since Governor of the State, 
and Joseph Brown, who could only use one 
arm in the operation. 

An exploit of William and Gideon Pillow, 
upon this occasion, deserves to be mentioned. 
As they were excellent swimmers, they were 
selected to take over a raft carrying the guns, 
powder, and clothes of their company, so as to 
keep them dry. A rope tied to the jaft was 
held by William in his teeth, that his arms 


might be free for swimming. In this way he 
pulled the raft after him, while Gideon and 
another man swam behind and j^ushed it. 
How Andrew Jackson passed the river is not 
known, but he was there, and probably this was 
his first experience in that military career in 
which he afterward became so distinguished. 
He was then a young lawyer, and had lately 
emigrated from North Carolina. 

The troops were safely landed on the south- 
ern bank, and, with their equipments all in 
good order, stood ready for the work they had 
come to do. The Indians had not the least 
notice of the attack, until the keen report of the 
rifles was heard in the very heart of the town. 
Being completely surprised, the warriors were 
equally unready to fight and unable to escape. 
Many of them— w^arriors, squaws, and children 
together — attempted to get ofi* in their canoes, 
but were mostly killed before they could put 
out into the stream. A few saved themselves 
l^y lying close in the bottoms of the canoes, 
while they were carried down by the rapid 

Running-water town, about a mile distant 
from Nickojack, shared the same fate. They 
were both destroyed, with every thing valuable 

252 OLD TliMES; OR, 

which the Indians had collected there, much of 
it plunder which for years they had been carry- 
ing off from the white settlements. About 
seventy Avarriors are known to have perished, 
and eighteen women and children were made 
prisoners. As the men were taking these latter 
down the river to the crossing-place, one of the 
squaws slyly got rid of her clothes, jumped out 
of the canoe, and swam rapidly away. She 
might have been easily killed in the water, but 
as the men could not bring themselves to shoot 
a woman, she was allowed to escape. The only 
damage suffered by the invaders was three men 
slightly wounded. 

On the same day, the troops returned to the 
north bank of the river, and rejoined their com- 
rades, who had been left to take care of the 
horses. By the same route they had pursued 
in their outward march, they returned to Nash- 
ville, where the volunteers were disbanded. 
Colonel Orr went immediately to Knoxville, 
and reported to Governor Blount the events of 
the expedition, undertaken contrary to the 
Governor's public orders. In a few days, this 
was followed by a letter of explanation or apol- 
ogy from General Eobertson, and the whole 
affair was allowed to pass without farther 


question. The great advantages Avhicli Vv-ere 
expected to result from the expedition made 
every one inclined to overlook any irregularity 
in the procedure. 

And this expectation was not disappointed. 
Indian murders and robberies did not abso- 
lutely cease, but they became much less fre- 
quent and general. At Nickojack the savages 
had been taught a severe but wholesome lesson. 
Thenceforth they seem to have been convinced 
that they could never succeed in preventing the 
occupation and settlement of the country by 
white men. Even horse-stealing, and other 
similar depredations, were practiced with less 
boldness, when they had discovered that their 
strongholds at The Narrows could not pro- 
tect them against the avenging visitations 
of western volunteers. It was not till the war 
between Great Britain and the United States, 
in 1812, that they were roused to a last, ex- 
piring effort to drive back the tide of civiliza- 
tion, which was fast covering their favorite 
hunting-grounds with farms and villages. 

254 OLD times; or, 



Under this head, as well as any other, it 
may be mentioned that the first newspaper 
published in what is now the State of Tennessee, 
was issued on the 5th of November, 1791. It 
was called the "Knoxville Gazette," of which 
George Roulstone was printer, proprietor, and 
editor. The earlier numbers were printed at 
Rogersville, in Hawkins county ; but the 2:)ubli- 
cation was soon transferred to Knoxville, as 
was contemplated from the first. About this 
time Knoxville had become the territorial cap- 
ital, and a good many buildings went up in the 
course of the year 1792. Mr. White, the OAvner 
of the land, laid off the town in the most liberal 
spirit, allowing a suitable lot for a church, an 
entire square as the site for a college, another 
for a court-house, jail, etc. 

The county of Hawkins was now divided, 
and Knox county organized, of which Knox- 
ville was the county seat. In the next year, 


(1792,) Jefferson county was taken from Greene 
and Hawkins. The first county court was held 
in Knox on the 16th of June, 1792. An ordi- 
nance was passed by the Governor and Judges, 
authorizing the county courts of the Territory 
to levy a tax for county purposes, such as build- 
ing court-houses and jails, paying jurors, etc. 
The poll-tax -was not to be more than fifty 
cents, nor the land-tax more than seventeen 
cents on a hundred acres. 

According to the ordinance of Congress for 
the government of the Territory, the Governor 
and Judges were to regulate its afiairs until the 
population should amount to five thousand 
men qualified to vote. The people were then 
entitled to have a Territorial Government, con- 
sisting of the Governor, a Legislative Council, 
and a House of Eepresentatives. Governor 
Blount being satisfied that the Territory then 
contained the requisite number of votes, issued 
a proclamation calling upon the people to vote 
for members of the House of Representatives, 
on the third Friday and Saturday in December, 
1793. Washington, Hawkins, Jefferson, and 
Knox were to have each two representatives; 
Sullivan, Greene, Tennessee, Davidson, and 
Sumner, each one representative. 

256 OLD times; ok, 

The election having been held, the Governor 
appointed the fourth Monday of February, 
1794, as the day of their first meeting, at 
Knoxville. They assembled accordingly, and 
chose David Wilson for Speaker, and Hopkins 
Lacy, Clerk. On the second day, and before 
entering upon any business, the members, with 
the Governor and Speaker at their head, 
marched in a body to the church, where re- 
ligious services were performed by the Kev. 
Mr. Carrick. Upon returning to tlieir room, 
the first business done was to select ten persons, 
of whom Congress was to appoint five, as mem- 
bers of the Legislative Council. They also 
prepared and adopted an address to the Gov- 
ernor, and a memorial to Congress, setting forth 
the condition of the Territory, and asking that 
more effectual measures should be employed by 
the Federal Government, to protect the inhab- 
itants against Indian aggressions. 

As no law could be passed without the Coun- 
cil, the representatives then returned to their 
homes, to assemble again on the 25th of August, 
1794, agreeably to the Governor's appointment. 
In the meantime, the members of the Council 
had been commissioned by the President. They 
were GrifiSth Rutherford, John Sevier, James 


"Wincliestcr, Stokeley Donclsoii, and Parmenas 
Taylor. At the appointed time, both the Coun- 
cil and the House of Kepresentatives were duly 
organized, and duly notified each other, and 
also the Governor, thaf they were ready to pro- 
ceed to business. A committee was appointed 
by each of these bodies, to consult together, and 
adopt proper rules for regulating the intercourse 
between them. 

From the "Kules of Decorum," adopted by 
the House for the government of its own mem- 
bers, we can perceive that their behavior was 
not permitted to be quite so " free and easy " as 
legislators have come to indulge in since that 
time. One of these rules was that, " Upon ad- 
journment, no member shall presume to move 
until the Speaker arises and goes before." In- 
deed, much greater ceremony was used in those 
days, upon all serious occasions, than is now 
fashionable. Governors, judges, legislators, and 
even justices of the peace, in the times imme- 
diately succeeding the Revolution, were re- 
garded as in some measure representing the 
dignity of the State, and treated with a respect- 
ful awe to which the present generation are 
entire strangers. 

Some opinion may be formed of the industry 

258 OLD TIxMES; OR, 

and earnestness with which public business was 
transacted in those primitive times, when we 
learn that it was usual for the House to be in 
session as early as seven o'clock in the morning, 
in the month of September. While they were 
working at this .rate, each member was receiv- 
ing two dollars and fifty cents per day for his 
legislative services, and that for a session of 
little more than one month. For want of ac- 
commodation in Knoxville, many members 
boarded "everal miles out, and walked to town 
every morning. As an evidence of the state of 
the country at this time, it may be mentioned 
that the two members from Knox county ob- 
tained leave of absence from the House for a 
week, that they might assist in driving off a 
band of marauding Cherokees that were doing 
mischief in the settlements. 




Both the Council and the House being now 
fully organized, and the mode of doing business 
being agreed upon, they at once took into con- 
sideration the condition of the Territory, and 
jDroceeded to enact such laws as the public 
interests seemed to them to demand. To men 
who had partaken of all the hardships and pri- 
vations of the inhabitants from the commence- 
ment of the settlements, there could be little 
difficulty in ascertaining what were the most 
pressing needs of the community to be relieved 
by legislation. The members, being almost 
entirely of this sort of persons, had little occa- 
sion to inquire what ought to be done, though 
their want of experience in such matters might 
produce some embarrassment as to the mode of 
doing it. 

Among the first acts of the session was one, 

260 OLD times; or, 

introduced by General SevierTproviding for the 
relief of persons who had been disabled in the 
Indian wars, and of the families of such as had 
been killed. By other acts, two colleges were 
chartered: Greeneville College, in Greene 
county, and Blount College, at Knoxville. The 
latter institution has since taken the name of 
East Tennessee University. A memorial was 
prepared, to be presented to Congress, in regard 
to the condition of the settlers south of French 
Broad Kiver. It has been before explained 
that this part of the Territory had been settled, 
under a treaty made with the Cherokees, by the 
State of Franklin. As this turned out to be no 
authority in law, those who had settled and 
improved lands there, were now liable to be 
dispossessed by Congress. 

The ordinance establishing a government for 
the Territory, had provided that the Council 
and the House of Representatives, by a j(?int 
vote, should elect a Delegate to the Congress 
of the United States. This duty was performed, 
and the choice fell upon James White, of 
Knoxville. The Delegate was instructed ear- 
nestly to represent to Congress the sufferings of 
the people from Indian hostilities, and to ask, 
in the most pressing manner, tliat the protection 


of the Federal Government might be extended 
to them. In this representation it was to be 
insisted that the defensive policy of the Govern- 
ment would continue to fail, as it had already 
failed, to obtain any adequate security against 
Indian aggressions. A list of the names of per- 
sons, killed by the savages in the six months 
preceding, was furnished the Delegate, to be 
laid before the President. They amount to 
more than a hundred. 

The Council and the House readily agreed 
upon all subjects, except- the single one of taxes 
to be levied. As this proved to be, for some 
years, a subject of considerable interest and 
excitement among the people of the Territory, 
and afterward of the State, it deserves a few 
'words of explanation. At this time, large 
bodies of the best land in Tennessee were owned 
by men who did not live here, but in the old 
States. In many instances, the old soldiers, to 
whom North Carolina had granted lands in the 
West, were forced by their poverty to sell their 
claims to wealthy speculators, who w^ould expect 
to make a great profit by a rise in the price of 
the lands. This increase in the value of the 
lands would depend upon the settlement of the 
country, and the settlement, of course, must be 

262 OLD times; or, 

made by those avIio v/ere, in making it, to be 
exposed to all the hardships and dangers of 
frontier life, while many of the land -owners 
were living in ease and safety elsewhere. 

In fixing the taxes for the support of the 
Territorial Government, the House of Keprc- 
sentatives, coming immediately from the people, 
were inclined to lay a heavier tax on land, and 
a lighter one on polls, or persons. They in- 
sisted on a tax of twenty-five cents per hundred 
acres, while the Council proposed only eighteen. 
As the consent of both branches was necessary 
to pass a law, this difference between them pro- 
duced a dead-loch in the Legislature for several 
days ; but at length the Council gave way, and 
the tax was settled according to the views of 
the Representatives. From a similar feeling, 
no doubt, a proposition to exempt workmen at 
iron foundries from military duty, was success- 
fully opposed by the House. 

The people of the Territory, from the time 
of its transfer to the Federal Government, had 
been looking to a separate State organization 
in a few years. On this account, much less was 
done or attempted by the Territorial Legisla- 
ture than would otherwise have ' been requisite 
and proper. The ordinance of Congress au- 


thorizecl the formation of a State whenever it 
was ascertained that^he population of the Ter- 
ritory had increased to sixty thousand white 
inhabitants. After a session of thirty-seven 
days, both Houses were prorogued by Governor 
Blount, to meet again, at Knoxville, on the 
first Monday of October, 1795. The entire 
expense of the session w' as ascertained to be tw^o 
thousand six hundred and seventy-one dollars. 
The session of the Legislature of Tennessee, in 
1859-60, cost the State more than ninety thou- 
sand dollars. 

In the interval between the first and second 
sessions of the Legislature, there were a few 
instances of Indian murder, one of which was 
attended by circumstances so singular as to de- 
serve particular mention. Mr. Mann, living 
twelve miles from Knoxville, w^as called out of 
his house at night to attend to some disturbance 
which he heard at his stable. He was fired 
upon and wounded by Indians, who pursued 
him to a cave not far off, where they killed and 
scalped him. His wife was left in the house, 
with several small children asleep. Peeping 
out, she presently saw the Indians marching up 
to the house, one behind another. She had 
that morning learned how to fire a rifle. With- 

264 OLD times; or, 

out speaking a word, she pointed the muzzle 
through the crack of the door, and, as the fore- 
most Indian pressed against it, she pulled the 
trigger. The Indian fell dead, and the one 
next to him was wounded. As the room was 
too dark for them to see into it, and Mrs. Mann 
and her children maintained perfect silence, 
the Indians concluded that there might be sev- 
eral armed men in the house, and made haste 
to get out of the supposed danger. 




As Ave have seen, the Territorial Legislature 
was to meet again on the first Monday of 
October, 1795. However, Governor Blount 
thought proper to convene them by proclama- 
tion at an earlier day, namely, the 29th of 
June. The principal reason for this step was 
the general Avish of the people that the neces- 
sary measures should be adopted to change 
the Territorial into an independent State 
Government as speedily as practicable. If 
the western settlements had been neglected 
by North Carolina, they were no less ill- 
treated, in the opinion of the inhabitants, 
by the restrictions, especially in regard to 
Indian intercourse, imposed upon them by 
their guardian, the Federal Government. In 
a word, the community felt itself to be 

266 OLD TIiMES; OR, 

now of full age, and was naturally desirous 
to undertake the management of its own 

Among the acts of this, the second and last, 
session of the Territorial Assembly, was one to 
raise " Martin Academy " to the rank of a col- 
lege, with the name of Washington. By 
another, Knox county was divided, and Blount 
county formed of a part of it. The county seat 
was called Maryville, in compliment to the 
amiable wife of Governor Blount, whose Chris- 
tian name was Mary, and subsequently another 
new county was called Grainger, which was 
her family name before marriage. Little time, 
however, was consumed in attention to minor 
affairs, and the Legislature hastened to pro- 
vide by law for those preliminary proceedings 
which were to usher in the new State. The 
feeling in favor of the change was so general 
that only one member voted against the 

Li furtherance of the desired object, the 
Legislature passed an act requiring a census to 
be taken of the inhabitants of the Territory, to 
ascertain whether or not it had the j^opulation 
required by the law of Congress. In case a 
population of sixty thousand should be re- 


ported to the Governor, that officer was then 
authorized to call upon the citizens, by proc- 
lamation, to elect five men from each county, 
to meet in convention, and frame a consti- 
tution for the new State. The convention 
was to be held at Knoxville, at such time 
as the Governor should appoint, and its 
members were to receive the same pay as 
those of the Legislature. Having thus pre- 
l^ared the way for the incoming of a new 
organization of government, the Legislature 
was prorogued, sinr. die — that is, dissolved to 
meet no more. 

W obedience to the act of the Legislature, 
the sheriffs of the eleven counties, then com- 
posing the Territory, proceeded to enumerate 
the population. From the returns made to the 
Governor, it appears that there were then in 
the Territory a total of seventy-seven thousand 
two hundred and sixty-three, of which there 
were thirty -six thousand one hundred and 
twenty-three white males, twenty-nine thousand 
five hundred and fifty-four white females, ten 
thousand six hundred and thirteen slaves, and 
nine hundred and seventy-three of all other 

Though not required to do so by law, 

268 OLD times; or, 

it seems tliat the sheriffs of all the counties, 
except Sumner, took and reported the vote for 
and against an independent State. The result 
was six thousand five hundred and four in 
favor, and two thousand five hundred and sixty- 
two opposed. 

The requisite amount of population having 
been thus ascertained to exist. Governor Blount, 
on the 28th day of November, 1795, issued his 
proclamation, directing elections to be held in 
the several counties for members of a constitu- 
tional convention. The elections were held 
accordingly, and the convention commenced its 
session, at Knoxville, on the 11th of Janftary, 
1796. The body was organized for business by 
the election of Governor Blount, as President, 
William Maclin, Secretary, and John Sevier, 
Jr., Reading and Engrossing Clerk. It was 
resolved that the session on the second day 
should be opened with prayer, and also a ser- 
mon from the Rev. Mr. Carrick. 

Two members from each county were ap- 
pointed to make a draft of a constitution, to be 
afterward submitted to the whole body. The 
work of the committee was completed, and 
reported on the 27th of January. It was 
examined, discussed, and amended, from that 


time to the 6tli of February, wlien "the en- 
grossed copy of the constitution was read, and 
passed unanimously." The President was di- 
rected to keep a copy of the constitution to 
be delivered to the Secretary of State, when 
appointed, and to forward another to the 
Secretary of State of the United States, at 
Philadelphia. The same officer w^as farther 
instructed to call upon the sheriffs, in the 
several counties, to hold the first election for 
Governor and members of the Legislature, 
under the Constitution of the State of Ten- 

Having fully accomplished their work in 
twenty -seven days, the convention was dis- 
solved. The pay of the members had been 
fixed at two dollars and a half per day by the 
act of the Territorial Legislature ; but no pro- 
vision had been made for clerks, printing, and 
other incidental expenses. To meet this want, 
the members agreed to receive only one dollar 
and a half for their daily pay, and that out of 
the remainder those expenses should be paid, 
for which no provision had been made. Under 
this resolution, the clerks received each two 
dollars and a half per day, and the door- 
keeper two dollars. For furnishing seats for 

270 OLD times; or, 

the convention ten dollars was allowed, and 
two dollars and sixty-two cents for oil-cloth 
to cover the tables used by the President and 




As authorized and required by an ordinance 
of the convention, the President issued his writs, 
directed to the several sheriffs, to open and hold 
an election for Governor and members of the 
General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. 
An election was held accordingly, and by the 
President's appointment, the first session of the 
General Assembly of Tennessee was held at 
Knoxville, commencing on the 28th of March, 
1796. James AVinchester was chosen Speaker 
of the Senate, and James Stewart of the House, 
and the two bodies exchanged messages notify- 
ing each other that they were organized and 
ready to proceed to business. 

On the same day the two Houses met in the 
chamber of the Representatives to examine the 
returns of the election for Governor. Upon 
counting the votes, it was duly shown that John 
Sevier had been chosen for that office, and the 

272 OLD times; or, 

result proclaimed by the Speaker of the Senate 
in presence of the two Houses. A committee 
was appointed to notify Governor Sevier of his 
election, and to request his attendance, at twelve 
o'clock of the next day, in the House of Eepre- 
sentatives, to take the oaths of office. Another 
committee was sent to inform Governor Blount 
of these arrangements, and invite him to be 
present at the inauguration of his successor. 

The next most important proceeding of the 
General Assembly, was the appointment of two 
Senators in Congress. This trust was commit- 
ted to Governor William Blount and William 
Cocke, Esq. The election was attended with 
much greater ceremony than is now usually em- 
ployed upon such an occasion. The joint com- 
mittee of the two Houses appointed for the 
purpose, in notifying these gentlemen of their 
election, addressed both of them by the singular 
title of "Citizen." This form of speech was 
probably an imitation of the French Republi- 
cans, for whose character and principles there 
was then great admiration among a large por- 
tion of the American people. 

Congress being in session when the Constitu- 
tion of Tennessee was adopted and transmitted 
to the Secretary of State of the United States, 


President AYaslungton immediately, by a special 
message, brought the subject before that body. 
There was at first some show of objection in the 
Senate, which, however, was at length over- 
ruled, and in June an act of Congress was 
passed, admitting Tennessee into the Union 
upon the same footing as the other States. 
Vermont and Kentucky had been admitted 
before — the former in 1791, the latter in 1792c 
Tennessee was therefore the third new State 
added to the original thirteen, and making the 
whole number sixteen. The name, Tennessee, 
was given by the convention that framed the 
constitution. Before that, the name had be- 
longed only to the great river of the country, 
and to a county on the Cumberland, which was 
subsequently divided into the two counties of 
Eobertson and Montgomery. 

Governor Sevier having assumed the duties 
of his office, and the various subordinate officers 
having been duly commissioned, the govern- 
mental machinery was at once in operation, and 
nothing was wanting to a complete organization. 
The constitution then adopted, remained in 
force till the year 1834, when another conven- 
tion was held, and a new one made. This new 
constitution, with the various amendments it 

274 OLD times; or, 

has since received, differs in a good many re- 
spects from the* old one of 1796. Among other 
matters, many officers — judges, clerks, sheriffs, 
etc. — who were formerly appointed by the 
Legislature and the circuit and county courts, 
are now elected by the people. 

The Territorial Government had left the 
public treasury in a prosperous condition. The 
State commenced its existence out of debt, and 
with some money on hand. The Federal au- 
thorities had made a treaty with Spain, by 
which that nation had agreed that the people 
of the United States should enjoy the free and 
unmolested navigation of the Mississippi Kiver, 
and thus removed a source of great irritation, 
among the western people, and of danger to the 
whole Union. The neighboring Indian tribes, 
no longer instigated by Spanish agents, and 
humbled by their defeats and disasters at 
Etowah and Nickojack, were comparatively 
inoffensive, certainly not inclined to provoke 
farther chastisement. 

But in the midst of much present prosperity, 
and the fair hopes of increasing success and 
aggrandizement, there was still left one source 
of disquiet to the people of Tennessee, which 
continued to annoy them for several years 


longer. This was the uncertainty of land- 
titles in some sections of the State, and the 
difficulties with the Federal Government, 
arising from that cause. It has been stated 
before that the people living south of the 
French Broad, were on land that had not 
been ceded by the Cherokees, except to the 
State of Franklin, whose authority had been 
set aside. In addition to this, North, Carolina 
had granted lands, (and those lands had been 
actually settled,) that were Indian territory, 
according to the treaty of Holston, made by 
authority of the United States. 

After the adoption of the Federal Constitu- 
tion, there was no authority to make treaties 
Avith the Indians, except the President and 
Congress of the United States. The occupants 
of the unceded lands were liable, at any mo- 
ment, to be removed from their homes by offi- 
cers and soldiers of the United States, some of 
whom were stationed in the country for the 
purpose of keeping peace with the Indians, and 
taking care that the whites did not intrude 
upon the lands reserved to them by treaty. 
This state of things gave rise to much angry 
discussion, and loud complaints were uttered 
against the Government, with General Wash- 

276 OLD times; or, 

ington at its head, because they did not at once 
procure an extinguishment of the Indian title. 
This was at length accomplished, but, in the 
meantime, it required much prudence on the 
part of the Federal officers, and all the influ- 
ence of Sevier and Kobertson, and other discreet 
citizens, to prevent a hostile collision between 
the people and the troops of the Government. 




With the organization of the State Govern- 
ment, we propose that this history shall come to 
an end. To give even a sketch of events np to 
the present time would swell this little book to 
a size inconvenient for the purpose it is mainly- 
intended to serve. Besides, we should have 
necessarily to dej^ more with matters of legisla- 
tion and politics than would be suitable to the 
design of this work, or to the taste and capacity 
of young readers. Another reason for stopping 
here is, that from the time of the establishment 
of the State Government, the current of public 
affairs soon began to run in the same channel 
as at present, and an account of them would 
be less interesting to persons in general than 
that of the very peculiar circumstances attend- 
ing the commencement and early progress of 
the settlement and population of the comitry. 


So singular, indeed, Avere these circumstances, 
as to give rise for awhile to a very uncommon 
state of society, which perhaps has never had a 
parallel, except in the neighboring State of 
Kentucky about the same time. Our readers, 
we think, will not be displeased, if, before 
closing our work, we devote a few pages to 
some description of the condition of the country 
and people, as they were in 1796. And it may 
be here remarked that, ^as the condition of 
things was then, it continued, with slight and 
gradual changes, for many years after. It was 
not until steam navigation and the culture of 
cotton had produced an active and gainful 
commerce, that the old pioneer character and 
backw^oods habits began to disappear. 

At the time w^hen the State of Tennessee was 
admitted into the Union, the actual settlements 
covered less than one-third of the area within 
her present limits. In East Tennessee, they 
extended as far w^est as the Little Tennessee, 
on the south of the Holston ; on the north side 
of that river, a little w^est of Knoxville. The 
Middle Tennessee, or Cumberland colony, had 
spread over the surface included in the present 
counties of Davidson, Cheatham, Montgomery, 
Robertson, Sumner, Wilson, and Williamson, 


and in these there were wide intervals Avithout 
a cabin or a clearing. West Tennessee was an 
unbroken wilderness, unless we might except a 
trading post at the Chickasaw Bluffs, on the 

In the older portions of the settlements, suffi- 
cient land had now been cleared to enable the 
occupants to raise plentiful crops of Indian 
corn, not only for their own use, but also to 
supply the large number of emigrants contin- 
ually coming into the country. Tobacco was 
cultivated to some extent, and little patches of 
cotton for domestic use. But wheat and other 
small grain w^ere scarcely ever seen ; indeed, the 
land generally was too rich for this kind of crops, 
even if there had been enough of it cleared 
to allow a part to be employed in that way. 

The trade of the country was very nearly 
none at all. Emigrants from the old States 
would consume a portion of the surplus corn 
and meat; but they w^ere seldom able to pay 
for these articles in money. The usual mode 
with them was to obtain a year's supply for a 
few months' labor, which increased the produc- 
tion for the next year. Corn could not be 
taken across the mountains to the old States, 
and the practice of driving fat hogs to Virginia, 

280 OLD times; or, 

and North and South Carolina, was then hardly- 
begun, on account of the small demand in 
those places. As to taking mules to the South, 
which has since become so common and so 
profitable, it must be remembered that Ala- 
bama and Mississippi were not then settled; 
besides, there were no mules in Tennessee, per- 
haps not a hundred in the United States. 

Occasionally a boat-load of peltries, bacon, 
honey, (gathered from the forest-trees,) and other 
similar products, would go down the Tennessee, 
the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, 
to Natchez and New Orleans. After selling out 
for what they could get — usually little enough 
— the boat w^as abandoned, or sold for firewood, 
and the boatmen had the frolic of walking 
back home, unless any of them should prefer to 
lay out his share of the profits in a Choctaw 
pony. Though such trips brought very little 
money into the country, yet it was a favorite 
adventure with the bold young backwoodsmen 
of that day, and they seldom failed to come 
back several inches taller than they went. 
Louisiana was a foreign country, and a trip to 
New Orleans then answered in place of a "tour 
through Europe," now so fashionable among 
young gentlemen. 


Dry goods, so far as there were any consumed, 
except those manufactured in families, were 
brought from Baltimore and Philadelphia, in 
wagons, either all the way, or to Pittsburgh, and 
then by water down the Ohio and up the Ten- 
nessee and Cumberland. In those days a girl 
who could get a calico dress for her wedding 
was at least as fine as her neighbors, and there- 
fore well satisfied. The small quantity of gro- 
ceries used in the country were mostly brought 
up the Mississippi in keel-boats, a kind of river 
craft that could be propelled up stream more 
easily than the flat-bottoms. A pound of coffee 
could generally be had for about the price of a 
barrel of corn, and other imported groceries in 
proportion. Whisky was made at home in the 
greatest abundance, and it is not to be denied 
that it was used with a corresponding liberality. 

A few mechanics had, by this time, found 
their way into Tennessee, but in very few places 
could any of them find constant employment in 
their trades. They usually made crops, and 
worked at their special business occasionally 
according to the demand. Blacksmiths came 
first, because most wanted. Kough carpenters 
and shoe-makers followed, but there was no call 
for brick-layers, stone-masons, painters, and the 

282 OLD times; or, 

many other workmen who now find reguhir and 
profitable emploj^ment throughout the hmd. 
If there was a tailor in all Tennessee, he no 
doubt had ample leisure for bee-hunting. Hat- 
ters and saddlers could do a better business. 
A few water-mills for grinding corn, some iron- 
works on a small scale, and two or three small 
manufactories of gunpowder, will perhaps com- 
plete the list of such improvements, as matters 
were in 1796. 




At the present time, Tennessee is among the 
foremost States of the Union in the production 
of Indian corn; but sixty years ago, it was 
much easier to raise large crops of that grain 
than it is now. The soil was more fertile, and 
required less work than farmers are now accus- 
tomed to bestow on it. The working season 
lasted about two months, and the crop could be 
gathered at any time from October to April. 
As scarcely any other kind of crop was, or 
could be, cultivated, the consequence was that 
the men were afflicted with a great deal of leis- 
ure, which they endeavored to relieve by a 
variety of occupations and amusements. As in 
all similar cases, while some of these were 
equally innocent and manly, some others were 
less to be commended. 

One characteristic of the times was a general 
and promiscuous company-keeping. As every 

284 OLD times; or, 

housekeeper had an abundance of all the coun- 
try afforded, and the wealthiest could have no 
more, this intercourse was upon a footing of 
free and easy equality. Everybody and his 
horse were welcomed to everybody's table and 
corn-crib. The expense of keeping horses was 
too slight to be regarded, and perhaps there 
never Avas a time or a country in wdiich so 
much riding on horseback w^as done, by male 
and female, old and young. AYhatever finery 
a gallant of the period could afford, was shown 
in the trappings of his saddle-horse — in his 
saddle, bridle, and martingale. The other sex 
was not behind in this particular, and a back- 
woods girl expected to be admired and courted 
only when seated with firmness and grace upon 
a well-dressed charger. 

This was all as it should be; but quarter- 
racing and horse-swapping are to be less ap- 
proved. In every neighborhood, where there 
was clear space enough for a quarter-track, the 
youngsters were often assembled to try the 
speed of their nags. This frequently led to 
bets, and to gambling in other modes, and, with 
the help of whisky, to quarrels and fights. As 
these meetings were never attended by women,- 
they Avere always inclined to become scenes of 


unchecked rowdyism, from which none returned 
with improved morals or manners. As to 
swapping horses, it was for a long time almost 
a mania in Tennessee, and the jockeys of this 
State were j^erhaps never matched for skill and 
management, except when they encountered a 
Kentuckian. It was frequently pursued, as 
men play games, merely for excitement. 

A less exceptionable mode of spending time 
was in match-hunts. The young men, and 
sometimes old ones, of a neighborhood, would 
divide themselves into two parties, and hunt 
for several days. The scalps of the game 
killed — squirrels, hawks, crows, etc. — were to 
be produced and counted, at a time and place 
agreed upon, and generally with the under- 
standing that the beaten party should pay the 
expense of a barbecue, to which everybody was 
invited. These hunting-matches were not only 
useful in destroying animals that were doing 
great damage to the corn-fields and poultry- 
yards, but were occasions of much^social enjoy- 
ment and innocent mirth. Stories are told 
about the number of scalps sometimes taken in 
these hunts, that would hardly be believed by 
a boy of the present day, who thinks he has 
done pretty well if he has brought down one 

286 OLD times; or, 

squirrel and two woodpeckers in a day's ramble 
with his gun. 

But all this did not satfsfy the social spirit 
of the people. House -raisings, log-rollings, 
and corn-shuckings drew together all the 
dw^ellers within five miles. When a cabin 
was to be put up, whether for a dwelling, or a 
kitchen, or a barn, not only men enough to do 
the work, but all the families around were 
called in. While the men were employed upon 
the house, the women and girls generally had a 
quilt on hand, and w4ien both jobs were done, 
the evening was usually closed with a merry 
dance. But how could so many be entertained 
in a small cabin? Well, if only the women 
could find shelter in it, the hearty and robust 
backwoodsmen knew very well how to make 
themselves comfortable around a log-fire in the 

In the fall season, or early winter, wdien the 
corn had been brought into a heap near the 
house, the n^n of the neighborhood, black as 
well as white, were summoned to a shucking 
frolic, usually at night. A shucking was held 
at nearly every house in succession, as each 
farmer happened to get his pile ready. To the 
negro especially these were the most joyful and 


exhilarating occasions of his life, hardly ex- 
cepting Christmas ; and at the corn-pile he was 
allowed to display his antics with freedom, to 
the great amusement of the white men. They 
still delight to chant the corn-song, which had 
its origin in those scenes of merry labor, which 
have now nearly passed away, with other cus- 
toms of the olden time. Similar to the shuck- 
ing frolic w^as the log-rolling, except that it 
had in it much more of hard labor. 

In these days farmers in Tennessee are very 
careful to save their trees, all of them being 
needed for fencing and firewood; but sixty 
years ago; the great object was to get clear of 
the timber, and to have land enough ready for 
the plow. In this war of extermination against 
the forest, the agency of fire was employed to 
assist the ax in the work of destruction. During 
the winter months, every settler was busy in 
felling trees, and cutting up the trunks into 
manageable lengths, and in the early spring 
the rolling took place. It was an operation 
that required considerable force and more hands 
than were usually to be found in any one family. 
It was therefore customary for neighbors to help 
each other in the work of getting the logs into 
huge heaps, which were afterward fired and 

288 OLD TIMES ; OR, 

burnt, during the dry and windy days of March 
and April 

In the early settlement of Tennessee, very 
few of the settlers were in circumstances to 
manage these matters — of raising houses and 
rolling logs — without calling in the help of 
neighhors. But the custom continued to pre- 
vail long after the necessity which first pro- 
duced it had passed away. In despite of the 
hard work to be done, they were always occa- 
sions of mirth and festivity, and kept alive 
feelings of sympathy and neighborly kindness 
among the people. The man who had his corn 
shucked, or his house raised, or his logs rolled, 
without asking his neighbors to help, and help- 
ing them in turn, was regarded as a selfish and 
unsocial fellow, who cared for none but himself. 
These old customs still linger in some newly 
settled parts of West Tennessee, but elsewhere 
the altered condition of the country has caused 
them mostlv to be disused. 



IN 1796. 

In the course of this history, we have noticed 
the establishment of one or more colleges by 
authority of the General Assembly of Tennessee ; 
but our young readers must not be misled ]:)y 
names. All the appointments of the best col- 
lege then actually established would hardly be 
considered sufficient for a country academy of 
the present day. Log houses with, or perhaps 
without, glass windows, with benches and desks 
roughly made of puncheons, furnished accom- 
modation to the sophomores and seniors of the 
olden time. A few copies of the Latin and 
Greek classics, with a scanty supply of tattered 
grammars and dog-eared dictionaries, consti- 
tuted the college library. A surveyor's compass 
and chain was probably the sum total of math- 
ematical apparatus, and a few Indian arrow- 
heads in the pockets of the students might 
furnisli the geological cabinet. 

290 OLD times; or, 

If sucli were the chartered colleges, it is not 
difficult to infer the character of the common 
schools, scattered here and there throughout 
the settlements. Even to this day people have 
not generally learned the importance of a com- 
fortable building to accommodate a school of 
whatever grade. Then when the wealthiest of 
the population lived in ru'de cabins, it need not 
to be told that our grandfathers and grandmoth- 
ers in Tennessee did not learn to spell from 
"a-b — ab to crucifix," and "cipher to the rule 
of three," amidst the appliances of a palatial 
structure. As is mostly the case even now, the 
school-room and its furniture v»'ere just a little 
inferior to the. accommodations which the pupils 
enjoyed in their own homes. These things, 
however, were hardly worse in Tennessee than 
in the old States of North Carolina and Vir- 
ginia, w^here an "old-field school-house" has 
ever presented the image of all discomfort. 

Such being the description of buildings for 
school purposes, we are led to inquire as to the 
character and qualifications of the teachers. 
And we are inclined to think, from all we can 
learn upon this jDoint, that generally they did 
not deserve, and could not have used to good 
purpose, any better accommodations than they 


had. A few exceptions there doubtless were — 
men of solid learning and aptness to teach ; but 
the great majority of them were not teachers, but 
mere school-keepers — men who took to the calling 
because they were too lame or too lazy to work. 
Such men were overpaid with a salary of sixty 
dollars a year, which was then about the ave- 
rage income of ordinary schools. 

Do our young readers ask how it was possible 
for boys and girls to be educated by such men 
under such circumstances? Well, the truth is, 
that very many of them did not get learning 
enough to read a newspaper, if such a thing 
had been in their way : a few acquired enough 
to transact common business; and still fewer 
became fitted for eminent positions in Church 
and State. These last educated themselves, with 
the very little help derived from their school- 
masters. And we desire here solemnly to im- 
press it upon every boy and girl that reads this 
book, that if they would be well educated, they 
must do the work themselves. The best teachers 
and the best books, with all the facilities of the 
best-managed schools, can only help them in 
the work. They must depend upon nothing 
but their own voluntary and independent labor. 

The best educated men, and therefore the best 

292,^ OLD times; or, 

teachers, in the early times of Tennessee, were 
mostly ministers of the Presbyterian Church. 
This was simply because that Church alone, of 
all then in Tennessee, had always required 
its ministers to have a liberal, or at least a clas- 
sical, education. Nearly all of them, at that 
day, were graduates of Princeton College, in 
New Jersey. This flistinction, how^ever, in favor 
of Presbyterians has long since disappeared, 
there being now as much intellectual culture 
and scholarship among the ministry of other 
denominations as among them. Perhaps, how- 
ever, other denominations have not adopted any 
precise rule upon that point, but among them 
much is allowed on the score of "gifts and 
graces," apart from mere scholastic training. 

Enough has been said in the foregoing his- 
tory to show that the emigrants from the old 
States did not leave their Christianity behind 
them. The prevailing denominations were the 
Presbyterians chiefly among the Scotch-Irish 
portion of the population, and the Baptists and 
Methodists among the rest of the settlers. 
There Avas, indeed, little of the machinery and 
external pomp of ^vorship — no resounding or- 
gans, nor cultivated choir-singers, to raise the 
raptures of a fastidious audience reclining on 


cushioned pew-seats. But we are not to su}> 
pose, from the absence of these, that reverence, 
and piety, and fervent trust in God, were absent 
from the hearts of the people. On the con- 
trary, it is reasonable to suppose that the 
circumstances of privation, hardship, and dan- 
ger to wdiich they were constantly exposed, had 
a mighty influence in imparting a deep sincerity 
and pathos to all religious feelings. 

We cannot forbear to notice here one very 
peculiar religious institution, or rather mode of 
worship, which sprung up among the western 
settlers, though a few years later than the period 
to wdiicli our' history reaches. We mean camp- 
meetings, which had their origin in the want of 
proper buildings for religious assemblies, and 
the difficulty of getting together a congregation 
in the ordinary way, owing to the scattered 
state of the population. Like most other things, 
camp-meetings have continued long after the 
circumstances which produced them have ceased 
to exist, and altogether have played a most 
important part in the history of Christian 
influence in Tennessee. Like the primeval 
forest, in the bosom of which the early meetings 
were held, they are now fast disappearing. 

Our task is now finished, and our readers are 


at the last page of this little book. In it we 
have endeavored to present a faithful picture 
of old times in Tennessee, and a true account 
of the character, feelings, and conduct of the 
"brave and true" men and women, who laid 
the foundation of society and government in 
our glorious State. .Since the year 1796, two 
generations of men have passed, and probably 
not a man is now living who followed the 
banner of "Nolichucky Jack" in the Indian 
wars. In a few years the boys and girls, who 
have been our companions through this history, 
will have the character and destiny of Ten- 
nessee in their keeping. We bid them farewell, 
in the hope that, like their forefathers, they 
may prove themselves "true and brave" — the 
guardians and defenders of the rich blessings 
they have inherited. 


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