Transcribed by Kathleen Hastings Whitlock
April 28, 1949
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed our last article with a promise to write something of Pleasant Shade. This town of perhaps 150 souls lies in Smith County, about 15 miles southeast of Lafayette and about 12 miles northwest of Carthage, at the juncture of Big Peyton’s Creek and a stream that comes in on the east side of the main creek, made up of the waters of Sloan Branch, Sanderson Branch, and Boston Branch. Sloan Branch runs into the combined Sanderson and Boston Branches only about 100 yards above their juncture of big creek. Peyton’s Creek was either named for John or Ephraim Peyton, who were early settlers at Bledsoe’s Lick, later known as Castalian Springs. The Indians about 1782 had raided a settlement perhaps in Sumner or Robertson County, and had carried away a number of horses. Ephraim and John Peyton were in the party that followed the red men with their stolen horses. On the waters of what is now called Peyton’s Creek, they overtook the thieves, falling upon them decisively and killing a number of the horse rogues and re-capturing the missing horses. From this incident, Peyton’s Creek is said to have obtained its name. It rises at the Highland Rim, its westernmost headwaters being in the vicinity of the Nima Gregory Hill, seven miles east of Lafayette; and the easternmost part of Gibbs Cross Roads, some twelve miles east of Lafayette. This is a historic stream upon which some of the earliest settlers of what is now Smith County built their log cabins in early days. Our own ancestors were on this creek as early as the autumn of 1791, settling in the Nixon Hollow, as it is now called. These early Gregory settlers were Thomas Gregory, a Rev. soldier, his two sons, Bry and Squire William H. Gregory, soldiers in the same war; Thomas Gregory’s brother, John Gregory’s widow and children. John’s widow was prior to her marriage Miss Judy Morgan, according to the best information obtainable at this late day. Her sons were Jeremiah Gregory, our great great grandfather on our father’s side of the house; Major Gregory, who went to Robertson Co., perhaps about 1815; Little Bill Gregory and John Gregory, commonly known as Joe Gregory. They had an older sister, but her name is not known. Bry’s wife was Elizabeth, but her maiden name is unknown. His brother, Squire William H. Gregory, is said to have married a Miss Martha Bledsoe, Jeremiah Gregory married Miss Barbara Rawls. Little Bill and John Gregory married sisters, Davis girls. Jeremiah and Barbara were the parents of a large number of sons and one daughter, one of the sons being Major Gregory, the father of Stephen Calvin Gregory, the father of Thomas Morgan Gregory, who was our father.
Another early family on Peyton’s Creek was Christian Boston, who was of the Dutch descent. His wife’s name is unknown, although some believe she was a Miss Jenkins. He had a son, George Boston, born in 1793 and who lived to be nearly a hundred years old. He had also a daughter, Kate, who was born probably about 1800. When our great grandfather, Major Gregory, was a young man, he married a Miss Nash, who dearly loved to dance. This marriage occurred about 1822. A son, John Gregory, was born. Then on Christmas Day, 1825, she bore him another son, who was named Thomas Gregory. About Jan. 15, 1826, when this son was three weeks old, this young couple had an invitation to an old-fashioned, breakdown dance. With a baby only three weeks old, Mrs. Gregory decided to attend this dance, wading the creek the next morning to get back home. She sickened and died from this unusual episode, leaving her husband with two sons, one an infant of about a month and the other two years old. Some months later, he married Miss Kate Boston, the wedding taking place about 1826. She was a fine looking woman, except for a very ugly crooked nose. On Oct. 30, 1827, our grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory, was born, and he had a Roman nose. Since that time, there have been Roman nosed Gregorys in our line down to the present. The writer gets his handsome (?) Roman nose from the Boston woman. We wonder how much longer it is to last or grow (?) in our line of descent.
Pleasant Shade was first called Herod’s Cross Roads for here crossed the road leading up Peyton’s Creek and the trail or trace, known as the Fort Blount Road, so named for a fort located some miles further east on Cumberland River at the place where nearly all the early emigrants to North Middle Tennessee crossed after coming through Cumberland Gap. Fort Blount was located just above Williamsburg, the first county seat of Jackson County, the ruins of which still may be seen. This Fort Blount road wound up Salt Lick Creek, crossed the hill North of Kempville, thence through the present Difficult, up the big hill to the West of Difficult, then down the present Sloan Branch and onward to the West, passing through the present Pleasant Shade, West of Pleasant Shade, it crossed over Porter’s Hill, up Toetown Branch, across Nace’s Hill, down the Young Branch, crossing Dixon's Creek just below the present Dixon’s Creek Baptist Church, thence over the hill to the present Good Will church, through Mungle’s Gap, to Hartsville and on through Sumner County, into Robertson County. On this old road or trace many, many travelers in their covered wagons, on horseback or on foot, moved toward the setting sun in their quest of a new home in the rich lands of what was then known as the West. Among those who have traveled this road were John Sevier, Andrew Jackson, and others of the long ago. About a mile and a half West of Pleasant Shade stands the old Wade Smith home. Here Andrew Jackson used to put up for the night while traveling this road. However, the old pioneer house has been replaced by a later building.
The Herods for whom the cross roads was once named, were James Herod and his brother, Peter Herod, both of whom once lived near the present Pleasant Shade. James Herod owned what is now known as the Ellis Porter farm. They were the sons of William Herod, it is believed. At least their father was a Virginia soldier under George Washington in the French and Indian Wars and later fought under Washington in the Rev. War. He died previous to 1808. His son, Peter Herod, was born March 31, 1787, and began adult life as a teacher. He fought in the war of 1812 under Jackson at Horseshoe Bend, and also at Pensacola, Florida. So far as we have been able to learn, Herod’s Cross Roads was the first name the present Pleasant Shade ever had. Later on a post office was established in the home of a Mr. Sloan, at the site of the present Billie Sloan home, a short distance east of the Cross Roads. There were many weeping willows about the Sloan home and Sloan was postmaster. Because of the many trees, the present name, Pleasant Shade was given the office and it has gone by this name since, a period of perhaps a little more than 100 years, although 50 years ago, it was still referred to as “The Cross Roads.”
Smith County as organized December 1799, with the first County Court meeting in the home of Tilman Dixon, about seven miles west of Pleasant Shade. The county then extended from Kentucky to Alabama and the sessions of the Quarterly or County Court were held at various places. One session was held at the present Pleasant Shade in the first decade of the 19th century. The place of the meeting is said to have been in what is now a field, near the Bob Williams home. The record of this court meeting is to be found in the office of the County Court Clerk at Carthage.
Among the Herods born at Pleasant Shade were: George W., born most probably in 1816, became a physician and then died of typhoid fever in 1844; Ben Franklin Herod born 1819, died 1886; and Martin Luther Herod, born perhaps about 1821, dying as a youth when a rolling log snuffed out his life, near the present home of Mrs. P. D.Smith.
The Smith family was another early group at Pleasant Shade. Perhaps the earliest member of the family to settle on Peyton’s Creek was Daniel Smith, a Baptist minister born August 6, 192 in Chatham County, North Carolina, this being the same county from which the Gregorys came.
He came in 1811 to Smith County, fought under Andrew Jackson at New Orleans and then returned to his Peyton’s Creek home. In 1824 he began preaching and soon became a leading pioneer minister. He had a son, Elder Daniel Wiseman Smith, who was perhaps the peer of any minister this section of the country ever produced. Wiseman Smith died about seven miles east of Lafayette in 1893.
Still another early Smith County settler on Peyton’s Creek was Elder Malcolm Smith born in 1765 in Chatham County, North Carolina, and probably quite closely related to Daniel Smith. From this Malcolm Smith was descended Elder Luther Smith. Our good friend, Elder J. H. Smith who is pastor of the Maple Grove Baptist church, near Lafayette is a great, great great grandson of Malcolm Smith.
The Sloan family has long been associated with Pleasant Shade. Among the early Sloans were Jason and Archiblad Sloan. The Hesson family has been in the Pleasant Shade section for about 150 years, the first of whom we have any record being Arthur Hesson, then spelled Hessian. For many years, they were called as if the name were spelled “Hashun.” Still another very early family was the Sandersons, for whom one branch of the creek was named. It has been a long, long time since we talked with any of the family, but our memory is that the earliest to arrive on Peyton’s Creek was Edward Sanderson, who lived in that section in 1811 and perhaps earlier. Another early family was the Winklers. Still another family was the Kittrells. But we do not have time nor space to enumerate all the early settlers even if we knew them. We might add that the Dickerson, the Ballous, the Porters, the Cornwells, the Wilkersons, the Witchers, the McDonalds, the Jenkins, the Goads, the Oldhams, the Greaneads, the Parkhursts, and perhaps several others whose name are no now recalled, were early settlers on Peyton’s Creek.
The grandfather of our good friend, Elder C B. Massey, lived where John C. Sloan, Pleasant Shade rural carrier, lives at this time, in 1842 when the “Big Fresh” or freshet came on May 19th of that year. Massey had a considerable family, and as the water arose around his house, he began to carry out his children, making for the higher ground at the point of land between the two streams. Several things have come down to us about Massey’s effort, which the struggling father did and finally managed to get all his family to safety. This was the same heavy rain referred to in our last article that came so near washing away the old Ballou house about a mile further up the stream. Our own grandfather, then 15 years old, went down to Peyton’s Creek to see the raging waters. We once heard him say that the stream was from hill to hill, and far, far higher than he ever had seen it before or ever saw it afterward, and it might be added that he lived nearly 80 years. He also reported a horse as swimming out to the main current of the stream that was like a fiver and then swimming back to the shore on the Nickojack Branch side, on which stream our grandfather lived. It has also been reported that as Peyton’s Creek emptied its torrent of waters into Cumberland River, the force and volume were so great that the creek shot its waters clear across the river and perhaps threw up drift on the opposite shore of the Cumberland.
More next time. D.V.