Transcribed by Elsie Sampson
January 24, 1952
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We resume with the old records continued again this week. The next item, as recorded that Christmas Eve day, in the year 1801, is as follows: “James Rother is appointed overseer of the road leading from the cross roads to William Kavanaugh, Esquire’s, and that the same men furnish said overseer with a list of hands as above.” We have no way at present of knowing exactly where Squire Kavanaugh lived, but we are almost certain that he resided somewhere to the north of the present Brush Creek. We do not know where the cross roads was. James Rother, we presume, was in reality James Rather, which is still a quite, common name to be found in both Tennessee and Kentucky. We never knew a man or family named Rother.
“John Capinger (Caplinger) is appointed overseer of the road leading from Hickman’s Creek from William Kavanaugh, Esquire’s, to a spring about a mile north from James Kitchen’s, and that the same hands work under said overseer as usually worked on said road.” This item further confirms the opinion just expressed that William Kavanaugh lived north of the present Brush Creek, a village on the waters of Hickman Creek. We wonder if the spring referred to could have been the one that still flows strongly from the south side of the road about a mile northeast from New Middleton. We never knew any member of the Kitchen family. If any reader of the paper can give additional information about the location of the road on which John Caplinger was appointed as overseer, you will do the writer a favor by furnishing him with such information. We wonder if the old pronunciation of the name Caplinger could have been as if the name were spelled Capinger.
“James Kitchen is appointed overseer of the road leading from his own house to Charles Kavanaugh’s, and that the same hands as usually worked on said road, work under said overseer.” So reads the next item. Evidently William and Charles Kavanaugh were brothers and lived in the same general section, in the south side of the present Smith County.
“Thomas Banks is appointed overseer of the Bledsoe’sburough Road to the County line, and that Elmore Douglas and William Kananaugh, Esquires, furnish said overseer with a list of hands. The Bledsoe’sburough Road was that leading from Dixon Springs westward through the present Hartsville and on to Castalian Springs, which was then called Bledsoe’sburough. We presume the Thomas Banks was either the son or a brother of Richard Banks, who with his wife, Kerenhappuch Banks, were charter members of Dixon’s Creek Baptist church. We infer from the location of the roads that Banks must have lived in the vicinity of Dixon Springs, as the road over which he was to be overseer, led from Dixon Springs to the County line, which meant the line between Smith County and Sumner County, then just east of the present Hartsville.
“Colo. William Martin is appointed overseer of the road from the ford of Dixon’s Creek to Peter Turney, Esquire’s, and that all the hands above said road work under him.” William Martin was a leading citizen of Smith County and of the State, for that matter, 150 years ago. Just where the ford of Dixon’s Creek was, we cannot say positively. There is a ford now bridged about 150 yards below the Dixon Springs of today, and another about the same distance above Dixon Springs. Which of these, if either, was meant, we have no way of knowing. He was to have charge of the road to Peter Turney’s home, which was on the present Bud Garrett farm, and about a mile and a half down the stream on which the writer “discovered America” on July the 8, 1891.
“Arthur Hogan, Esquire, is appointed overseer of the road from the mouth of Caney Fork toward Creek, and that all hands that formerly worked on said road, work under him.” We know where the Caney Fork River empties into the Cumberland, just above the present Carthage. The Creek is not identified by name, but we suppose it is the stream now known as Hogan’s Creek, which is the first creek below the mouth of the Caney Fork to empty into the Cumberland. However, this would have given Hogan only about a mile of road to oversee. The next creek emptying into the Cumberland on the same side of the river is Plunkett’s Creek, which is located a few miles west of the mouth of the Caney Fork.
“Silas Rolls is appointed overseer of the road from Ward’s Creek to Round Lick Creek, and that the same hands that usually worked on said road, work under him.” Here we have an item of peculiar interest to the writer. We are quite sure that Silas Rolls was none other than Silas Rawls, and we presume that this was the man for whom the present Rawl’s Creek, a tributary of Plunkett’s Creek was, named. We admit we do not know where Ward’s Creek was. Perhaps some older reader of the paper can enlighten us on that point. Round Lick Creek is the next stream to enter the Cumberland below the mouth of Plunkett’s Creek, joining the Cumberland just above the present Rome, Tenn. The writer has had a number of Baptismal services where Round Lick empties into the Cumberland. But our special interest in this item concerns Silas Rolls or Rawls. One of the writer’s great-great-grandmothers was Barbara Rawls, who became the wife of his great-great-grandfather, Jerry or Jeremiah Gregory, about 150 years ago. We are almost certain that the two members of the Rawls family were closely related, if not brother and sister. Our great-great-grandfather, Jerry Gregory, was the son of John and Judy Morgan Gregory, John and Judy living in the Hillsboro district of Chatham County, North Carolina, when Jerry was born. A daughter was the first child born to John and Judy. Her name is unknown. Other sons were Little Bill, John, commonly known as Joe Gregory, both of whom married Davis sisters; and Major, who left Smith County about 1815 and went to the Red River section of Robertson County, where he died about 115 years ago.
John Gregory died in Chatham County, and never visited Tennessee. But his widow and children removed to Smith County between 1790 and 1798, settling on the water of Peyton’s Creek. About 1800 Jerry married Barbara Rawls, by whom he had a large family of children. We have heard conflicting reports about this early pioneer couple. One of their nephews, whom Cal knew personally, once informed the writer that Jerry and ”Barbrey,” as he called his old aunt, were so stingy that they took to the hills on Sunday and stayed out all day to keep from having to feed any company that might have visited them. This man was born in 1827 and should have known “whereof he spake.” Jerry lived till November, 1856, when he died at his home on the present site of the home of Henry Taylor, on Nickojack Branch of Peyton’s Creek. He is buried in an old family cemetery at the Cicero Taylor home place, only a few hundred yards from where he died. We do not know whether he or his wife died first.
The other report concerns another side to Jerry’s character. Mt. Tabor Baptist church was formed in 1836, and Jerry was an early member. And we might add that Jerry’s great-great-grandson, Calvin Gregory is identified with the same congregation. It is reported to the writer that on one occasion, more than a hundred years ago, as Jerry approached the church house, a remark was made by some man already on the ground for the service, “Yonder comes a man against whom a woe is pronounced.” One of his listeners asked for an explanation, and the reply was, “The Bible says, ‘Woe unto you when all men speak well of you,’ and I never heard a word against that old man in all my, life.” So we are left to wonder whether two of our ancestors were good or bad, according to the standards and judgment of that distant day and time.
Not so very long after Jerry arrived in Smith County, he was hunting not far from the place where he died. Finding a flowing spring and nothing out of which to drink, he lay down on the ground to quench his thirst, with his trusty rifle by his side. Somehow he had a feeling that all was not well, that something was amiss. He gazed suddenly into the trees above the spring to discern a large “painter” in a tree over the spring. He watched almost fascinated as the big cat placed his feet time after time to get ready to spring on the man down below. But being a man acquainted with dangers of pioneer life, he speedily seized his rifle, took deliberate aim, fired and brought the animal down, dead at Gregory’s feet. This spring still flows on and is located just below the present home of Thomas Dias on the waters of Nickojack Branch of Peyton’s Creek. The writer has drunk from this spring many times; but, as a child, he was somewhat afraid, imagining that a panther was ready to spring from the trees which still surround the old spring, and alight upon a boy whose imagination then was very vivid and who felt “skeered” to stay there alone.
This spring flows on just as in pioneer days, sending forth its waters to quench the thirst of the passerby. But those of the long ago are today but memories. This spring was for many years the property of Mrs. Martha Gregory Shoulders, widow of James (“Fatty”) Shoulders, a descendant of Malachi Shoulders. She was known as “Aunt Marth,” and was the granddaughter of the Jerry Gregory above referred to, her father having been Pitts Gregory, son of Jerry. We still recall the little, stooped woman who lived in the long ago on the hillside about 100 yards from the spring, and from which she “packed” water for perhaps a half century.
One other episode is recalled at this spring. Sixty five years ago and more, and to some extent less, people enjoyed playing pranks on innocent victims. Here at the spring the Shoulders family put down their scalding box at hog-killing time, and here the hogs were removed from the scalding box and the hair removed, generally on rails. One winter night, about 65 or 70 years ago, a group of youths, all of whom are now dead, came by the spring and noticed the rails all covered with hog hair. They also knew the old woman’s way of coming down to the spring very early in the morning. So they took the rails, all covered with hair, laid them across the spring, and then weighted the rails down with large heavy stones. Next morning, and we believe it was Christmas morning, Mrs. Shoulders came down for her customary bucket of water, to find the spring closed to her. Her one remark about the episode has lived down through the years, “Whoever done this didn’t have any heart. They just had a gizzard.” One of that number later became one of the best friends Cal ever had, our uncle, Bill Bob Gregory who has been gone more than ___ years. He got a great “kick” out of that episode each time it was recalled.
If any reader wishes to have the names of Jerry’s sons and daughter, let us know and we will try to give them. One of them was named Stephen and that is Cal’s first given name as well as the first given name of our grandfather, Stephen Calvin Gregory. One of our grandsons bears the name of Stephen Wooton Gregory.
But to come back to the old records, after a rather wide , “detour,” we give the next item which is as follows: “Armistead Moore is appointed overseer of the road leading from Round Lick to the County line, and that the same hands work under said overseer that usually worked on said road.” Armistead Moore is presumed to have been the ancestor of the Moore family, of the vicinity of Carthage. The road he was to oversee extended, we suppose, from Round Lick westward by way of the present Rome to the west end of Smith County, on the South side of the Cumberland.
“Ordered that Thomas Banks, Daniel Burford, Williams Thompson, Jones Bishop, Silas Rolls, Samuel King and William Hankins be appointed a jury to view, mark and lay off a road from Banks’ Ferry to intersect the road that leads to William Kavanaugh’s, and that they report same to our ensuing Court.” We suppose the road to be viewed and etc., started about opposite the mouth of Dixon’s Creek as Banks’ Ferry is reported to have been near the mouth of that stream. It is supposed that it extended by the present Knob Springs Baptist church, and thence to the present Rome. But these are conjectures and we do not have proof that we are right. It is supposed that this Daniel Burford was the first pastor of Dixon’s Creek Baptist church, and later became county Register. We do not know anything of William Thompson. Jones Bishop is another of whom we have no direct knowledge, but presume that he was of the same family as the man for whom the Bishop Hollow, about two miles south of Pleasant Shade, was named. It is called today, in the common vernacular, “The Bushop Hollow.” An old lady, named Bishop, once lived on Peyton’s Creek, and it is presumed that she was a widow, and she probably lived in the same “Hollow,” above mentioned. Anyway, someone knocked one of her cow’s horns off, and Mrs. Bishop’s reaction was expressed in the words, “Law me, now you have ‘disbugled’ my cow and she will never look like anything again.” We suppose she was striving to use the word, “disfigured,” but she missed it badly. (To be continued.)
This Article Appeared In The Times
But Was Not Actually In Cal’s Column
John B. McDuffee, one of the very oldest people in Macon County, and without doubt the most active for his years, celebrated the 93rd anniversary of his birth with a big dinner at his home at Hillsdale, Jan. 20th. He also received a number of nice gifts and the good wishes of numerous friends for other happy anniversaries. A big dinner was enjoyed at the noon hour, brought in by his descendants and friends.
Among those present were: Mr. and Mrs. Will Oldham, of Cato; Mr. and Mrs. Will Cothron, of Pleasant Shade; Mr. and Mrs. Buford Haley, of Hillsdale; Mr. and Mrs. Burnis Oldham and children, of R. 2, Hartsville; Mr. and Mrs. Benton Williams and son, Roger; Mr. and Mrs. Bea Earps; Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Massey, and children, Maurice, Barbara, Marlyn and Brice, all of Route one, Dixon Springs; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Oldham and children, Annette, Shirley, Ronald, Lida Faye, Samuel and Bobby, of Hillsdale; Mr. and Mrs. James Lee and daughter, Judy; and Oakley Parker, all of Hartsville; Mr. and Mrs. Houston Davis and son, Jackie, of Cato; Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Morgan and son, Walyn, of Lafayette; and perhaps others.
“Uncle John,” as he is called by his hundreds of friends, is a remarkably well preserved man, being about as straight and erect as many men of 50. He is still able to mount a horse without difficulty, to drive his own car, and to get about as well as the average man of 50 to 60 years. He is able to lie down and sleep soundly all night.
He has a very fine memory and delights in recalling events of 75 years ago or even longer. He was born in the Ebenezer section of this county on Jan. 20, 1859, the son of Eli and Martha Thomason McDuffee. His father, Eli McDuffee, was born in 1817 and died Jan. 25, 1870 when “Uncle John” was only 11 years of age. Thus he was left in a large measure to make his own way and to take a man’s work upon himself at an early age. He developed self-reliance and a willingness to meet life’s difficulties long before others did. He became a strong, useful and well-developed young man, caring for his widowed mother as long as she lived.
His grandfather, Neal McDuffee, came from North Carolina while yet a youth. This was the first man of the name to come to North Middle Tennessee, leaving his brother, John McDuffee, and other brothers and some sisters in North Carolina. Neal married Thenie Gregory about 1815. She was the daughter of Bry Gregory, the old Revolutionary soldier, who was also one of the editor’s great-great-grandfathers.
The children of Neal and Thenie Gregory McDuffee were as follows: Eli, already mentioned; George, married Martha, (“Duck”) Kemp; Lew, fatally injured by a yellow stallion owned by John Hargis; Tapley, married Emmaline Andrews; Norman, went to Civil War and never returned, leaving his widow and three children; Burton, married Lizzie Perkins; Sabrina, married Taylor Gregory, son of Pitts Gregory, son of Jerry Gregory, another of the editor’s great-great-grandfathers; Nancy, married Arch Wilkerson; and Polly, married Arch Jenkins, later killed during the Civil War by Buck Smith, the guerrilla, who shot Jenkins off a stump and left him to be devoured by buzzards.
We hope later to give the descendants of these sons and daughters of Neal and Thenie Gregory McDuffee, but space forbids it now.
We are proud of “Uncle John” and wish him at least a century of the good living that has characterized his 93 years just concluded.