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Full text of "Sequatchie Valley, a historical sketch"


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■>(y- ELLEN OLIVIA MITCHELL HIA TT 









PART YET STANDING OF HOME OF JOHN MITCHELL, 
ABOUT 1820. NEAR INMAN 



Sequatcl^ie 'Valley 

A HISTORICAL SKETCH 



BV 

ELLEN OLIV lA ^MITCHELL HL^TT 



Photographs bu 
MARGUERITE HI ATT 



Though neath JistanI skies we -jcander. 
Sti/I our thoughts u-ilh ihee must dwell. " 






Author 



Printed for the Author. Publishing House of the M. E. Chun-h 
South. Nashville, Teiin. 



K 



IX LOVING MEMORY OF MOTH- 
ER, FATHER. SISTERS, AND 
BROTHER, TO WHOSE TENDER 
CARE I OWE SO MUCH 



It was my good fortune to be born and 
partly brought up in Sequatchie V^alley. 
Here the happiest days of my Hfe have 
been spent. A year or two ago I began a 
search for written history of the Valley, 
but found none in any connected form. 
In publishing this little volume it is with 
the hope that those who read it will find 
some pleasure and benefit, as I have in the 
writing. The Author. 

7 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY. 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY lies be- 
tween Walden's Ridge on the east 
for most of its length and the Cum- 
berland' Mountains on the west. For its 
entire length it is watered by the river of 
the same name, which empties into the 
Tennessee a few miles south of Jasper. 
According to an early historian,' the "riv- 
er rises near Crab Orchard,' runs into 
Grassy Cove, and is soon lost for eight or 
ten miles, then bursts out in a clear, cold 
fountain. This is the head of the Valley, 
which is three miles wide for eight miles." 
This \^alley is seventy miles long and 
four wide. The scenery is most pictur- 

'Named for the Duke of Cumberland. Former- 
ly sometimes called Great Laurel Ridge. 

"Imla}'. 

^"Settlers established villages near these or- 
chards because of the fragrant blossoms," says Mr. 
Roosevelt in "Winning of the West." 



* 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

esque and beautiful. The mountains rise 
abruptly on either side to a height of a 
thousand or twelve hundred feet. Some- 
times, particularly in winter, when the 
weather is clearing, they stand out in ma- 
jestic relief from the background of the 
sky, at other times blend gentlv with the 
landscape, and vet again the clouds almost 
obscure them. 

The pleasing name '*Sec[uatchie"' is of 
Cherokee origin. It is derived from Si 
Gicctsi, a traditional Cherokee settlement 
on the French Broad River. 

The first inhabitants of Tennessee of 
whom there is any trace were the Natchez 
Indians, now extinct, having been annihi- 
lated by the French after they were ex- 
pelled from Tennessee bv the Cherokees. 
The Natchez were considered descendants 
of the mound builders. Traces of what 
are supposed to be mounds exist to-day in 

^The unlovely meaning is supposed to be "hog" 



TO 




COURTHOUSE, PIKEVILLE. 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

Sequatchie Valley. The Cherokees came 
to Tennessee in 1623. 

More than one hundred and twenty 
years ago a battle was fought between 
whites and Indians near the mouth of 
Sequatchie River. The Indian villages of 
Nickajack and Running Water were to- 
tally destroyed, the inhabitants taken 
prisoners, and their power forever broken 
in that part of Tennessee. Joseph Brown 
guided the raiders. Years before, when 
Joseph was a child, his family, some 
young men, and a few servants were 
floating down the Tennessee in a flatboat 
on the way to Cumberland when all wxre 
captured by the Indians. One historian 
says that the men were slain and the 
women and children and held as captives. 
Another account states that only the small 
children were saved. Joseph was one of 
the latter. After a time he was ex- 
changed and grew up to take this fearful 
revenge on his captors. 

Sequatchie Valley was probably ex- 
12 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

plored first about 1795 by Gilbert Imlay 
and Daniel Smith. An old map dated 
that year and made by the latter is fairly 
accurate as to location. On it Sequatchie 
River seems to be called Crow Creek. 

In 1805 three men, who were to be the 
first white settlers, came here on a pros- 
pecting trip. These men were Amos 
Griffith and Isaac and William Standifer. 
The following year they returned with 
their families, accompanied by other fam- 
ilies, and made permanent settlements. 
These men were originally from Virginia. 
Amos Griffith located near where the 
town of Whitwell now stands. A spring 
near there still bears the name of Griffith. 

There was no "going back home" for 
these brave men and women. They had 
come to stay. They or their fathers had 
fought in the Revolution. Some of them 
perhaps had helped in settling the new 
State of Frankland,' ''Land of the Free," 

^Afterwards changed to Franklin. 
13 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

and maybe had a voice in framing its con- 
stitution, the first written one west of the 
Alleghanies. This lovely Valley, with 
its never-failing springs and streams, rich 
farming lands, mountains that furnished 
game for the ready rifle and which in 
years to come were to bring forth such 
an abundance of coal and iron, seemed to 
these newcomers a place to rest and make 
homes for themselves and their children. 

Most of these settlers were of Ameri- 
can birth. They are supposed to have 
come from Mrginia and the Carolinas. 
Many probably brought their slaves. 

The first white children born here were 
William Standi fer Grifiith, in 1807, and 
Louise Anderson, who afterwards be- 
came a Mrs. Kirkman. 

Other settlers soon came, and by No- 
vember 30, 1807, the population was suf- 
ficient to erect a county, which was 
named for Col. Anthony Bledsoe.^ 

^One writer sa3\s it was named for Jessie Bled- 
soe. 

'4 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

The first village established in this new 
county was Pikeville, so named in honor 
of Gen. Zebulon Pike, an American sol- 
dier and explorer. It became the county 
seat in 1813. "The first county seat was 
Old Madison, six miles from where Dun- 
lap now is. The first court met at the 
cabin of a Mr. Thomas.'" Outsiders 
were well informed of this locality. John 
Owen's Journal of his removal from Vir- 
o-inia to Alabama in 1818 states that his 

o 

brother "took the Sequatchie road from 
near Kingston." 

In 1820 the \"alley contained four 
thousand and five people. Ten years later 
the increase was a little more than six 
hundred. 

In 1833 Pikeville's population num- 
bered one hundred and fifty. Among 
this number were one lawyer, James A. 
Whiteside, and two doctors. The princi- 
pal public and business places were: Five 



'J. G. Cisco. 
1 ^ 




COURTHOUSE, JASPER. 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

stores, some saddlers (everybody rode 
horseback in those days), two taverns, 
two cotton gins,^ and an academy. Thus 
early did these pioneers provide for the 
education of their children. 

In i860 the population was two hun- 
dred. There were a library association, 
an academy (called Lafayette), a union 
church, and various business buildings, 
including two hotels — "taverns" no lon- 
ger. 

Pikeville to-day has about five hundred 
people. It is situated on the west bank of 
the river and is surrounded by a beautiful 
farming and stock-raising country. The 
Sequatchie Valley Branch of the Nash- 
ville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway 
terminates here. 

Marion County, named for Gen. Fran- 
cis Marion, of South Carolina, an Ameri- 
ican patriot, was formed in 181 7. Eight 

^Cotton-raising was not followed to any great 
extent. 

17 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

years later Jasper, so called for William 
Jasper, also of South Carolina, was incor- 
porated and made the ''seat of justice." 
It had been a post office for several years. 
Like all other towns in the Valley, Jasper 
is west of the river. Perhaps this is be- 
cause of more level land on that side. 

A ''Gazetteer of Tennessee," by Eastin 
Morris, compiled in 1834, states that the 
year previous Jasper contained "thirty 
dwellings, about one hundred and eighty 
inhabitants, twenty mechanics, six profes- 
sional men, five stores, one tavern, and a 
good courthouse and jail." The first 
court held in Marion County is said to 
have been at a log house called the old 
Cheek house. The lawyers were : William 
Standi fer, D. W. Campbell, George W. 
Wood, and James H. Wilkinson. 

In i860 there was a population of three 
hundred. A business directory of that 
year gives Alexander & Griffith, general 
merchants ; David Chandim, postmaster ; 
and W. S. Griffith, planter. Jasper w^as 
18 



SEQUATCHIE \^ ALLEY 

on the main road from Knoxville to Ath- 
ens, Ga. The stage road from Knoxville 
to Huntsville, Ala., crossed the Georgia 
road here. 

According to land agents, a great fu- 
ture was before Jasper. Present-day real 
estate agents have nothing ''on" their 
predecessors of seventy or eightv vears 
ago. Here is an advertisement of prop- 
erty for sale in 1842 by the East Tennes- 
see Land Proprietors, London: 

One-third mile from Jasper. Upper Kelley 
farm. 300 a. Comfortable log house ; stables ; also 
cabin. Town creek runs through farm. A never- 
failing spring near house. Jasper County town, 
which is handsomely laid out. Lower Kelley farm, 
2 miles from town at junction of Sequatchie and 
Tennessee Rivers. 40 a. first river bottom land, 
20 do. deadened (timber), do. 250 woodland first 
river bottom. 100 a. 2d bot. Fine timber. Price. 
£11,632. 

Nothing cheap about that — nearly sixty 
thousand dollars. 

This company was also offering for 
sale thirty-nine lots in Chattanooga. 

19 




FAIR GROUNDS, SOUTH PITTSBURG. 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

'Trice, £6,336. This place contains be- 
tween 1,200 and 1,500 inhabitants. The 
rapid increase of trade and population al- 
most without parallel, . . . and it will no 
doubt . . . become a large city." Which 
prediction is coming true. 

Residents of Jasper and vicinity were 
also expecting much of their Valley. The 
following extract is from a letter written 
in 1849: "This section of country is des- 
tined to be (and that in a short time) one 
of the most desirable portions of the 
State, from the fact of its possessing 
more communicational facilities than any 
other part of the Southwestern States." 
The writer says that two railroads were 
being built to Chattanooga — one from 
Nashville, the other from Charleston. 
But it was not until after the Civil War 
that a branch line was built from Bridge- 
port, Ala., to Jasper. In the middle sev- 
enties this was extended to Victoria. 
''Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad 
building line to Victoria. Everything 
21 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

done in the very best style.'" Some years 
later the extension was made to Pikeville. 
Politics abounded then as now. The 
letter quoted above continues: "I got beat 
for the legislature, as I expected. There 
were three Whigs of us and one Demo- 
crat. The Whigs of this county [Marion] 
held a convention to settle the matter. 
. . . I got the nomination. The other 
two candidates and their friends turned 
against me and went for the Democrat, 
. . . which has laid them on the shelf 
for all time. I w^as a son of temperance. 
There is no chance to run against the jug 
in this country." Perhaps politicians had 
degenerated, as in the earlier settling of 
the State ''no person who denies the ex- 
istence of God or future state can hold 
civil office," but ''ministers are not eligible 
to a seat in the legislature." Salaries of 
State officials were sarcastically said by 
Daniel Webster to have been paid in skins. 

'Killebrew, 1876. 
22 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

''To the Governor, one thousand deer 
skins ; to the Secretary, five hundred rac- 
coon skins." Perhaps this is apocryphal; 
but skins passed current in trade, taxes 
being paid with them. 

Sequatchie County, the youngest of the 
three comprising the \^alley, was formed 
in 1857. Dunlap, the county seat, was so 
called in honor of William Dunlap, of 
Knox Count V. This village is near the 
mountains. Fires from the coke ovens 
may be seen at night. These are worth a 
visit. Dunlap can claim no great beauty; 
but it is a quiet, peaceful-looking village. 
A pretty little creek meanders by, over 
which is a picturesque footbridge. 

The towns of Whit well and South 
Pittsburg, in Marion County, have sprung 
up within the last thirty or forty years. 
Both are products, so to speak, of the 
iron and coal industries. The site of 
Whitwell was once called Liberty. The 
last census gives a population of twenty- 
five hundred. 

23 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

South Pittsburg boasts a fine fair 
ground, with a good half-mile race track. 
The inhabitants numbered two thousand 
in 19 10. This spot used to be called Bat- 
tle Creek, after the creek of that name 
near by. 

Forty years ago there was only one 
bridge, and that a poor one, over the 
Lower Sequatchie River. A few miles 
below was a ferry and also a ford for low- 
water use. A big rock midway of the 
river was the danger sign. The roads 
were often almost impassable in winter. 
But to-day the Federal government, the 
State, and the automobile are changing all 
that. There are miles of turnpike. Be- 
sides this, the Dixie Highway will soon 
be built across the mountains, bringing 
Chattanooga much nearer than by rail. 

Although no mention was made of 
churches in those early days, there must 
have been a place of worship. The set- 
tlers w^ere mostly a religious folk. Per- 
haps, like the wandering Israelites, they 

25 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

took their ark with them. Maybe the 
lonely mountains and dark forests served 
awhile as a great solemn church. These 
were "r civil, orderly people, moral and 
religious, kind, generous, hospitable, giv- 
en to establishing churches, institutions of 
learning, schools of divinity ; . . . and, 
to crown it all, there are Sabbath schools 
all over the land.'" One stanch Method- 
ist layman was for fifty years superin- 
tendent of the Sunday school at Shiloh 
Church, near Inman. 

Methodism was early brought to Ten- 
nessee. Jeremiah Lambert traveled the 
Holston Circuit in 1783. The circuit rid- 
er went to his appointment through all 
kinds of weather, regardless of himself. 
"Providence permitting," he was there. 
''Without aid beyond that of his spiritual 
exultation, he stepped into a mental at- 
mosphere of cold and solitary elevation."" 

^Thomas A. Anderson, "Southeast Tennessee." 
London, 1842. 

"Phelan, "History of Tennessee." 

26 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

There was recently celebrated in Wash- 
ington City the centennial of the death 
of Bishop Francis Asbury/ one of the 
founders of Methodism. It is proposed 
to erect in that city an equestrian statue 
to honor his memory and to commemo- 
rate the circuit rider. 

Baptists and Presbyterians were also 
early arrivals in the wilderness. Cum- 
berland Presbyterians seem to have had a 
strong membership. School-teaching was 
not a profitable occupation a hundred 
years ago, salaries being sixty dollars an- 
nually. The best teachers, Presbyterian 
ministers, had nearly all graduated at 
Princeton. Possibly these were better 
paid. The schools at Pikeville and Jasper 
doubtless compared favorably with those 
of other Tennessee towns. Country 
schools also kept for some months each 
year as the population increased. Then 
there were the singing schools. Itinerant 

'Died March 31; 1816. 
27 




VIEW OF MOUNTAINS FROM VALLEY. 



SEQUATCHIE V ALLEY 

teachers went from place to place and 
lield a two or three weeks' session. Ev- 
erybody sang then. That was one of the 
pleasures of going to church. Instead of 
listening to the singing, everybody joined 
in. 

Some customs of seventy or eighty 
years ago would seem strange now. Eve- 
ning church services were announced to 
begin at ''early candlelight." Bridal re- 
ceptions, called "infairs," took place at 
the home of the groom's family on the 
second day after the wedding. The bride 
wore her "second-dav" gown. The fol- 
lowing is part of an advertisement of 
men's clothing which appeared in a Jas- 
per paper in the late sixties: 

And after the wedding and in fair were over. 
He found that his daughter had married John 
Dover. 

Homespun was worn by men, women, 
and children. Dresses made of linsey and 
cotton were often quite pretty. A calico 
29 




MOUNTAIN ABOVE JASPER. 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

dress was thought fine. Sheeting, pillow- 
case linen, and beautiful bedspreads were 
all made at home. If the lady of the 
house did not herself spin and weave, she 
could direct her servants. Mattresses 
consisted of big feather beds as soft as 
down. The substitute for summer use 
was ticks filled with sweet-smelling straw. 
It was almost a disgrace for a bride not 
to own a feather bed. It used to be said 
that where geese were on the farm it in- 
dicated woman's domination. However 
that may have been, many families raised 
these noisy fowls. Feathers had to come 
from somewhere. 

But, w^hatever changes have come, 
whateA^er has altered and improved the 
landscape, nothing can add to or take 
from the indescribable glories of the sun- 
rises or the sunsets, whose reflected rays 
make golden the clouds which hang above 
the mountain tops, reminding one of St. 
John's description of the streets of the 
New Jerusalem. No hand of man can 

31 



SEQUATCHIE VALLEY 

lift the mists as they slowly rise, dispelled 
by the warmth of the morning sun, re- 
vealing the varying hues of the silent 
mountains. These remain unchanged. 

From the bluffs above Jasper is a pic- 
ture of wonderful beauty. At one's feet 
is the village, with its shady streets and 
pretty houses; toward north and east, 
valley and mountain ; looking south, more 
fields and shallow streams and, beyond 
that, Tennessee River, a silvery gleam in 
the sunlight. 

When the Dixie Highway is finished, 
the tourists who come will want to come 
again. The fame of this Valley will be 
spread far and wide. The vision of our 
forefathers may be realized for others in 
a way that they never even dreamed of. 
Who knows ? 

32 



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