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■>(y- ELLEN OLIVIA MITCHELL HIA TT
PART YET STANDING OF HOME OF JOHN MITCHELL,
ABOUT 1820. NEAR INMAN
A HISTORICAL SKETCH
ELLEN OLIV lA ^MITCHELL HL^TT
MARGUERITE HI ATT
Though neath JistanI skies we -jcander.
Sti/I our thoughts u-ilh ihee must dwell. "
Printed for the Author. Publishing House of the M. E. Chun-h
South. Nashville, Teiin.
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.
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.
^"Settlers established villages near these or-
chards because of the fragrant blossoms," says Mr.
Roosevelt in "Winning of the West."
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
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"
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-
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.
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-
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
brother "took the Sequatchie road from
In 1820 the \"alley contained four
thousand and five people. Ten years later
the increase was a little more than six
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.
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-
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
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
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
SEQUATCHIE \^ ALLEY
on the main road from Knoxville to Ath-
ens, Ga. The stage road from Knoxville
to Huntsville, Ala., crossed the Georgia
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.
Nothing cheap about that — nearly sixty
This company was also offering for
sale thirty-nine lots in Chattanooga.
FAIR GROUNDS, SOUTH PITTSBURG.
'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
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.
''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-
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
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
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."
"Phelan, "History of Tennessee."
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.
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
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
Homespun was worn by men, women,
and children. Dresses made of linsey and
cotton were often quite pretty. A calico
MOUNTAIN ABOVE JASPER.
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
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
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
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 ?
H156 74 578
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