Transcribed by Mary Knight
January 10, 1952
"Oh,dat's-easy," said the colored woman. "I took de fust part of the word, 'ecze," and made de name, Exie; and the last part and made the name, Zema." So the census man had learned that there is no way of telling just what it to be expected 'when it comes to naming children. Such is the order of things today, but in Bible days every name had a meaning. Adam meant, "red earth." Eve meant the "mother of all living." Moses meant, "drawn from the water." Jacob meant, "usurper." But today just any old thing will do for our children's names, no matter how foolish or uncalled for a name may be.
"Silas Jernigan is appointed Constable for two years, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law." We have offered previous comment on Silas Jernigan, to the effect that he most probably has descendants now living in Springfield and Portland. "Uncle John Jernigan, as he is called, is a barber at Springfield. Elder Jernigan is a Church of Christ minister of Portland.
"John Kavanaugh is appointed Constable for two years, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law." The Kavanaughs came into the record this session of Court for the first time, so far as we can find. Who they were, we do not know. We presume that the Kavanaughs came from what is now the south side of Smith County, which apparently had been enlarged to take in all of the vast section lying to the South of the original bounds of the county, all the way to the Alabama line. What a huge county Smith really was at that time! But it should be remembered that the territory to the South to Alabama was largely a wilderness and that it had very few settlers indeed as early as 1801.
"Daniel Draper is appointed Constable who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law." Where this man lived is a conjecture, but we would suppose that he was most probably a resident of the Jennings' Creek section.
"Ordered that settlement of the estate (of) Cain Acuff be received and entered of record." The word, "of," was left out of the original and we have added it in parenthesis to make the sense. Who Cain Acuff was we have not the least idea. Whether he was a relative or ancestor of Roy Acuff, of "Grand Ole Opry" fame, we do not know. The name, "Cain," given to the deceased, is also in line with some of the strange way of naming children "practiced" by some parents. Just why one would want to name his son, "Cain," we confess we cannot tell. If Cain of the Bible had a single redeeming quality, we confess that we do not recall it in the entire record of this evil man. We are made to wonder if the original name of the deceased was not " Canaan." We recall that an early member of the Stafford family was Canaan Stafford, who was familiarly known as "Cain" Stafford. This might have been the original name of the dead man Acuff mentioned in the above item.
We have known one or two persons that had the name of Judas, but this was a common name in Bible days and there were others mentioned in the Scriptures besides Judas Iscariot who bore the name. We have known of one or two by the name of Pilate, but we have thought that a parent who gave his son the name, "Pilate," was handicapping the child in the very beginning of his life. However, it is perhaps a mere matter of opinion, and there may be those who think that persons who have given their sons the name, "Calvin," have ruined them for life.
"Deed, 140 acres, Peter Turney to Lewis Smith, proven by the oath of Landy Shoemake, one of the subscribing witnessess. Ordered to be registered." we have already spoken of Peter Turney, an early settler of the Young Branch, owning a large plantation, part of which is now the property of Bud Garrett. Lewis Smith is entirely uknown to Cal. Neither does he know where the land involved in the deal lay. Landy Shoemake is another of whom we know nothing.
"Deed, 450 acres, Henry Lawson to Lewis Corder, proven by the oath of Willie Jones, one of the subscribing witnessess. Ordered to be registered." Here we have three persons about whom we have no knowledge whatever. We have known a few members of the Lawson family, but nothing of their ancestry. Lewis Corder was a member of a family, not one of whom we have ever met in life. Willie Jones was perhaps related to Leonard Jones, one of the first settlers in Smith County, but this is mere supposition.
"Court adjourns until tomorrow nine o'clock." Thus ends the work of the Court for Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1801.
We continue with the old records of 150 years ago. The last closed on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1801. Two days more of that session remained and we begin with the record of Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1801.
"Wednesday, Dec. 23rd. Court met according to adjournment. Members present, viz: Charles Kavanaugh, John Lancaster, Elmore Douglas, William Kavanaugh, and Arthur Hogan." We presume that William and Charles Kavanaugh were brothers and that they resided in what is now the south side of Smith County. Just what had become of the older members of the Court, Tilman Dixon, in whose home the Court was being held; Peter Turney, James Hibbetts, and various others, we do not know.
"John Carter, who appears to have been subpoenaed at the instance of Alexander Suite, in the suit, John Sevier and George Gordon against him (Suite), failed to appear. Whereupon the Court ordered that he be called out on his subpoena, and that Scire facias issued against him, agreeable to law." The John Carter above mentioned is another unknown to the writer. The Alexander Suite has already been mentioned a number of times, as being most probably the fater of Elder W. N. Suite, an early Baptist minister in Smith County and surrounding sections. The dictionary definition of Scire facias is as follows: (Law) "A judicial writ, founded upon some record and requiring the party proceeded against to show cause why the party bringing it should not have advantage of such record, or (as in the case of scire facias, to reveal letters patent) why the record should not be annulled or vacated." It perhaps might have had a slightly different variation in meaning in the above cause, as Carter had not appeared as a witness in the suit.
"James Gwin is appointed County Trustee, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to the law." We do not know who James Gwin was, nor do we know of any of his descendants. We presume that he was a relative or the ancestor of the Gwins of the present day and time. We have here in Macon County quite a number of Guinns, but do not know if the two families were originally one and the same. But we feel they were.
"Robert Cotten is appointed Constable, who came into Court, gave security and qualified according to law." We know nothing whatever of Robert Cotten. There is now, so far as we know, not one member of the Cotten family in all this part of Tennessee.
"Stephen Copeland, John Peyton, John Fitzgerald and James Taylor are appointed a jury to view, by the assent of the parties in the case of Sevier and Gordon against Alexander Suite, Aaron Robbins and John Livingston, to meet on the premises at such time and place as the Surveyor may appoint." Here we have another step taken by the Court in an effort to remedy a situtation which had developed on account of claims by Sevier and Gordon, dealers in land, that Suite, Robbins and Livingston were on the lands of the complainants. Stephen Copeland was an early member of a family now found in Overton and some of the other Upper Cumberland Counties. John Peyton was once a resident of Castalian Springs or vicinity, and was one of the men in the party that surprised horse-stealing Indians on the present Peyton's Creek, overpowered the rogues and recovered the horses, which incident gave the name to present Peyton's Creek. This occurred, we believe, in 1782. We have wondered many times at what point on Peyton's Creek this happening took place. The raid was made by the Indians about the present Cross Plains in Robertson County, and Peyton and others had trailed them to Peyton's Creek . The Indians, thinking themselves free from any danger of having been followed, had their stolen horses picketed out; and were lying around a warm fire when suddenly the white men came upon them. The Indians fled in disorder, abandoning their horses which were returned to their owners. Peyton's Creek, which rises in this county, took its name from the incident. If any reader of the paper knows where this event took place, please write us as fully as you can and we shall be more than glad to publish it. We suppose that the John Peyton referred to above, was the father of the Hon. Bailie Peyton, of the next generation, and a noted Tennessean. John was also a twin brother of Ephraim Peyton. The two brothers, with a third brother, Thomas Peyton, and Squire Grant and John Frazer, made up the party that was surprised by the Indians under a chief by the name of Hanging Maw, and lost their horses and surveying instrument on the present Defeated Creek in February, 1786, from which incident Defeated Creek took its name, as the whites were "defeated," fleeing in disorder in the night and each man "looking out for himself," until Castalian Springs was reached.
John Fitzgerald is supposed to have been a citizen of the territory now embraced in Clay County. James Taylor is unknown unto the writer. The four men, Stephen Copeland, John Peyton, John Fitzgerald and James Taylor were to meet as a jury, we suppose, to settle the dispute between Sevier and Gordon on the one hand, and Alexander Suite, Aaron Robbins and John Livingston on the other.
"Court adjourns until tomorrow nine o'clock." This appears to have been a short day's work for the Court.
"Thursday, Dec. 24th. Court met according to adjournment. Members present, viz: Tilman Dixon, John Lancaster, Arthur Hogan and William Kavanaugh, Esquire, Gentlemen." This is the fourth day of Court, and the time is Christmas Eve. Readers will note the closing part of the item: "Esquire Gentlemen." To the writer this seems to indicate that the Clerk had a lot of respect for the members of the Court, or else he wanted the "Esquires" to think he did. Arthur S. Hogan was one of the leading citizens of Smith County, and we presume he was the man for whom Hogan's Creek, just to the south of Carthage, was named. Hogan performed the second marriage ceremony in Smith County in 1803, the contracting parties being Richard Hodges and Delilah Risen. The first couple ever married in Smith County were Robert Smith and Lucy Gordon. We do not have the date, but it was between Oct. 26, 1799, when the county was formed, and 1803 when the second couple, just mentioned above, were married by Squire Hogan.
"Charles Kavanaugh is appointed overseer of the road leading from the head of Walker's Creek to Charles Kavanaugh, Esquire's plantation, and that the hands who usually worked on the road work under him." Walker's Creek is a small stream flowing generally to the east into Smith's Fork Creek and lies largely northeast of the present Alexandria. It is, therefore, presumed that Charles Kavanaugh must have lived in the general vicinity of Alexandria and Brush Creek. Anyway, he owned a plantation.
"Ordered that Elijah Gaddi be appointed overseer of the road from the Cross roads at Squire Kavanaugh's plantation to where the county line crosses the Nashville road, and the same hands work under him as usually did." We do not know where this road lay, but it was evidently somewhere in the vicinity of Brush Creek and New Middleton, and the work of Gaddi, as overseer, was to extend to the County line. We would judge this to have been the county line between Smith and Wilson Counties.
"Silas Jernigan has resigned his appointment as overseer of the road leading from Dixon's Lick to Peter Turney's; and Alexander Ferrell is appointed in his place, and the same hands to work under him as worked under the late "overseer." Dixon's Lick Creek is the westermost branch of Dixon's Creek, and empties into the main creek about a mile west of Dixon Springs. Just where the salt spring or lick, that gave the streem its name, was located, the writer has sought in vain to learn. All creeks that bear the name of "Lick" were called such from a salt spring or springs located somewhere on the stream. Such licks were great places for hunters to visit and shoot down the deer and other wild animals that went there for salt from the waters. We suppose that Silas Jernigan must have lived between the present Lick Creek and the old Turney farm which is about three miles further east, on the Young Branch of Dixon's Creek, Peter Turney was the father of the well-known lawyer, Hopkins L. Turney, and the grandfather of Peter Turney, who was governor of Tennessee from 1893 to 1897.
"John (Joseph?) Bishop is appointed overseer of the road leading from Bishop's Ferry to the cross roads leading from the Round Lick to Nashville, and that Elmore Douglas and William Kavanaugh furnish said overseer with a list of hands." Here we have an item that has a question mark in it. The reader will note that there seems to be some uncertainty as to whether it was John Bishop or Joe Bishop who was appointed overseer of the road. We do not know where Bishop's Ferry was but presume it to have been somewhere on the Cumberland. Perhaps it could have been somewhere in the bend above Rome, but this is just a conjecture. Round Lick is a stream emptying into the Cumberland just above the present Rome. We wonder if the Joe Bishop here mentioned could have been the young man who was one of the first hunters in the present Macon County. He and others came up from the stockade at Bledsoe's-borough, now Castalian Springs, and camped about the present Keith White place, about ten miles southwest of Lafayete, (sic) and on Middle Fork of Goose Creek. This was about 1792 and Bishop became lost from his buddies and reached the Highland Rim a short distance west of the present, Lafayette. Night settled down and he had not the least idea as to the direction in which his camp lay. He sat down in a somwhat discouraged state of mind as the shade of night gathered about him. He was leaning back against a giant black walnut tree, meditating on his plight and perhaps thinking of his parents who were still in North Carolina. While he sat thus and his mind back to the old home, his (sic) heard in the distance a long-drawn out howl, and knew that it was the cry of a wolf. He soon heard an answering call or cry in another direction. These calls began to float on the still night air from every direction, and Bishop could soon see a row of eyes in every direction gleaming in the darkness which had by this time settled down on the wild forest of large trees, with a minimum of undergrowth and quite a lot of vines that covered the earth on the Highland Rim in that day and time.
Bishop decided that unless he began to prepare to defend himself that he would be eaten by the hungry wolves, and he got a "hustle on." He drew from his pockets, a piece of flint, some steel, tow and dry, rotten wood, called "punk." In a matter of a few moments he had sparks flying from that piece of flint which he was striking with the piece of steel. These sparks fell on the tow first and set it afire. With the burning tow the "punk" was fired and then leaves and dry twigs were placed on the piece of burning "punk." In a matter of only a few minutes he had a bright fire and the wolves, being afraid of fire, slunk back. He kept that fire going all night. When the fire died down the wolves came closer, licking their "chops." Then Bishop would throw on more fuel and as the flames rose up, the wolves moved back grudgingly. As the first faint streaks of light appeared in the east, the wolves left without their "breakfast," and Bishop had saved his life by his knowledge of woodcraft and the ways of wild animals. As soon as the sun appeared in the east, Bishop got his bearings and set out for the hunting camp which he reached in perhaps an hour or two after daylight.
The big walnut tree stood on what later became the Rhoades farm, near the Gap of the Ridge, and was not cut down until about the time of the Civil War. It was a distance of perhaps four or five miles down from the Gap, by way of the present Cedar Bluff church house, to the hunters'camp. Somewhere not far from the Gap, Bishop shot a large bear and obtained a fine supply of meat, which was one of the dainties of that day and time. Later the home of Squire Claiborne was built on the very spot where Bishop shot the bear.
That Joe Bishop hunted as far eastward as the present Gordonsville appears evident from his account of a terrible storm that overtook him while hunting on Mulherrin Creek, not far from Gordonsville, on the road leading to Carthage.
We once had the book by Bishop, but we do not now recall what has become of it. If any reader of this paper has a copy of this old book, will you please communicate with the writer?
The fact that Elmore Douglas and William Kavanaugh were to supply Bishop with a list of hands to work on the road, and some other information gained from the old records may indicate that both of them lived somewhere between the Cumberland and the present south boundary of Smith County. Members of the Douglas family lived in the recent past on Hogan's Creek, and some may still reside there. The Kavanaugh family no longer lives in any part of Smith County. We wonder if Elmore Douglas could have been a close relative to the Thomas B. Douglas who married a sister of our great-great-grandfather, Bry Gregory, about 150 years ago. It should be added here that the same two men, Elmore Douglas and William Kavanaugh, were to furnish a list of hands for work on a road at the extreme west end of the County, going toward the present Hartsville.
(To be continued)