Transcribed By Elsie Sampson
January 4, 1951
* CAL’S COLUMN *
Since our last article was printed, we have received two letters, each containing information on one point, about which we said we did not know. This was with reference to the appointing of patrollers. These letters are both in answer to our inquiry as to whether anyone knew what the statement meant in the old records. Below is a letter from Judge Webb Allen, of Dixon Springs, and is as follows:
In a recent issue of your paper you copy from the old minutes of the Court when certain men were appointed “patrollers” for Captain Nash’s Company, and you request information as to what were the duties of these “patrollers.” It will be remembered until the year 1840, Smith County was divided into Militia Districts instead of Civil Districts, I find numerous petitions among my grandfather, David Burford’s, old papers ( he was for some time Senator from Sumner and Smith Counties), requesting the appointment of this or that person as Captain in certain Militia companies. My grandfather was a large slave owner, who possessed more than 40 Negroes at the out-break of the Civil War.
I find numerous bills of sale among his papers, in which slaves were bought and sold: and, in these bills of sale, the slaves were warranted to be “sound and healthy,” and “slaves for life.” Dixon Springs was the “mustering place” and voting place for two of these Militia Districts, which extended to the Kentucky line. Every able-bodied male was compelled by law to enlist in these Militia companies, and to “muster” and drill at least once each year. These “musters” were great events. The Captain and the Colonel were there, attired in brilliant uniforms, with cocked hats and plumes, sashes and swords, and many an old grudge was settled, one of the favorite pastimes being to gouge out the eye of an opponent.
The section in which the Militia company named by you existed, and in which the Dixon Springs section, and the Goose Creek section were included, was a large slave-owning region. The principal duty of the “patrollers” was to patrol their respective districts and to watch out for and try to prevent the escape of any runaway slaves. I remember quite well a song that I used to hear sung by the olden Negroes around Dixon Springs, the refrain of which ran: “Run, nigger, run, or the ‘patrollers’ will ‘ketch’ you.” I find in the minutes of the old Dixon’s Creek Baptist church a statement that “Tom, a Negro slave, the property of Brother Womac Parker, was ‘excommunicated’ from the church for the “sin” of running away from his master.”
I think you are correct in your idea as to the difference in the toll charges between the Edmond Jennings’ ferry and the other ferries. The river, of course was much smaller above the mouth of the Caney Fork. The river was very broad and shallow at the site of the Banks Ferry. Bennett’s Regiment of Confederate Cavalry forded the river there at the time of the Battle of Hartsville, December 16, 1862. The ferry was just below Wright’s Island and just above Cedar Bluff. The old Banks house stood until recently. It was on the South bank of the river: and the house of Captain Grant Allen was opposite, on the North bank. It was at the house of Capt. Grant Allen that the old Dixon’s Creek Baptist church was first established on Saturday before the second Lord’s day in October, 17?9. ( It might be added that it was first established at an “arm” of a church on Station Camp Creek, below Galatin, Ed.)
Edmond Jennings was one of the most noted characters of his day and time. Some day I may write you about him. Best Wishes.
G. W. Allen
We would be more than glad to have Judge Allen supply us with facts about the life of Edmond Jennings. We also thank him for the above letter. We also invite him to give us any other matters of early historic interest in the Dixon Spring’s section. Our second letter comes from Campbell Huxley Brown of the Tennessee Historical Commission . It is as follows:
18, Dec., 1950
I continue to enjoy your column. You profess some indecision about the meaning of the word, “patrollers,” for a Militia company. These, according to my understanding were the members of the company whose special duty it was to keep in touch with the Captain of the company. At his behest, in emergencies, they were supposed to go to the homes of the various members of the company and notify them of the time and place of meeting, and the nature of the emergency. Accordingly, their duties were to round up absentees from regular scheduled assemblies.
They may also had the job of rounding up runaway slaves and of seeing that slaves out after nightfall, went back to their owners. Joel Chandler Harris quotes an old Negro song about “patrollers.” I knew an old darkey who used to sing it.
Every good wish for Christmas.
Campbell H. Brown
We thank our friend, Mr. Brown, for his information. It is much appreciated. Also his favorable comments about our column are appreciated. We shall be glad to have him write again.
We resume the account of the old records, with our usual line of comment. The next item is as follows: “Deed, 228 acres, Sampson Williamson to George Thomason, acknowledged. Ordered to be registered,” We know that Sampson Williams lived near the lower end of the present Salt Lick Creek in what is now Jackson County, but we have not the least idea who Thomason was.
“Deed, Redmond D. Barry to Sampson Williams, for 228 acres, proven by the oath of Micheal Murphy, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, and ordered to be registered.” Here we have an item about which we have a little information. Micheal Murphy lived in 1800 at the present Pleasant Shade. So far as we have been able to learn, he was the first settler there. His house is said to have stood in what is now a field just back of the home built some years ago by the late Bob Williams. This was on elevated ground, perhaps 20 feet above the creek, now known as the combined Sanderson’s and Boston Branches. This stream flows into the main Peyton’s Creek, about three hundred yards below where the old Murphy home is said to have been located. Years ago when we lived at Pleasant Shade, we were told that Court once met in the home of a man who lived then just back of the present Williams home. We have since learned from the old records that his name was Micheal Murphy, and that the September 1800 Court met in his home. Redmond Barry is another “unknown” to us. The land in the two deeds above being the same in acreage, and Sampson Williams having been a purchaser in one of the transactions and a seller in another, we judge the land to have been in the same tract. But it’s location is a mystery to us.
“Benjamin Totten took the oath of Deputy Sheriff in Open Court. “ Here the record is not clear, for the name “Totten,” is hardly legible. Moreover, we have never before heard the name. So we doubt if the spelling is correct. Later items in the old records may give us light on this point.
“Ordered that Jonas Dancer be allowed a permit to sell Spirtuous Liquors until next Court, and no longer, and that he be rated agreeable to the common rates in this county.” So reads the next item. We wonder who Jonas Dancer was, where he lived, etc.
“Court adjourned until tomorrow ten o’clock.” So reads the last item for Tuesday, June 17, 1800.
Wednesday, June 18, 1800
“Court met according to adjournment, the following members being present: Garrett Fitzgerald, James Gwinn, Charles Hudspeth, James Hibbetts and Peter Turney, Esquires.” Here we have five of the members of the Court who were present for the opening part of the last day’s session in the summer of 1800.
“Ordered that William Kelton’s stock mark and brand, a half crop in the underside of the ear, and an underkeel and an overkeel and underslope in the left ear ( for hogs and sheep) and brand for cattle (K) and for horses thus (W. K.), ordered to be recorded.” We wonder why a man would want to mutilate the ears of his hogs and sheep in as bad fashion as the above indicates. We presume that the half crop in the underside of the ear meant the right ear, since the left ear is designated as the one for the “overkeel and underslope.” We also wonder why William Kelton wanted his cattle to bear the brand, “K,” while his horses were to carry both letters, “W. K.” There is to us no reason for the distinction. But perhaps he had good reason for such a big difference in brands.
“Ordered that the report of the Jury to view and lay off a road from the mouth of the Caney Fork to the Indian Boundary be received and filed on record.” We made some remarks in our report or comments on the appointing of this Jury, wondering just where the Indian Boundary was, but we are still “in the dark” on this point.
“A Venire to the ensuing Court was appointed: (to wit): David Keilow, Henry King, William Gregory, John Gray, David White, John Chambers, Benjamin Johns, William Simpson, Jeremiah Taylor, Reuben Alexander, Edward Settles, Micheal Murphy, Arthur Hessian, Josiah Payne, Philip Day, Charles Thompson, John Johnson, Charles McMurrey, Joel Dyer, Christopher Bullar, John Steel, James Vance, Uriah Anderson, Lee Sullivan, William Stalcup, Archibald Donoho, Francis Ridley, George Thompson, Frederick Turner, Hugh Stephenson, John Campbell, John Fisher, Thomas Walker, Francis Patterson, James Gibson and Thomas Draper.” Here we have a long list of those who evidently were among the leading citizens of Smith County at that time. We have already commented on most of these names. William Gregory was old Squire Bill Gregory, a soldier of the Revolution, who lived in the present Nixon Hollow of Peyton’s Creek. He was a brother of our ancestor, Bry Gregory. Squire Bill arrived at the present Nixon Hollow in the autumn of 1791, coming from Chatham County, North Carolina. Benjamin Johns we presume to be the son of Elias Johns and his wife, Esther Ballou Johns. Esther Ballou Johns was a sister of our ancestor on our mother’s side, our great-great-grandfather, Leonard Ballou. Edward Settles is said to have lived on the lower end of what is now called Stone’s Branch of Peyton Creek which empties into Peyton Creek just above the present Mt. Tabor Baptist church. We wonder if Lee Sullivan was the ancestor of our Macon County Sullivans. If any reader knows about this connection, please write to us. It is supposed that Archibald Donoho was a brother of old Billie Donoho, the old bear hunter who settled on the upper part of Defeated Creek in the very early history of Smith County, but this is only a supposition. It is possible that Archibald was the ancestor of the Donohos of the present Hartsville.
We wonder if the George Thompson called for Jury duty in the above list, was not the same as the George Thomason, to whom Sampson Williams sold the 228-acre tract of land above memtioned. It was quite common for different spellings then even as it is today. The Parkhursts and the Parkes, of Macon County, are said to be one family, originally spelled Parkhurst. The Casadys and the Cassettys of Macon County were once all known as Cassettys. If a family will retain the original spelling of its name and not change it, family historians and researchers will find a lot of help, as well as be relieved of a lot of “headaches.”
Frederick Turner’s name appears above. We wonder if this could have been the Turner who lived in pioneer days at the present Luther Jones place just east of Difficult in Smith County. There is a story about that man Turner as follows: Turner was a large man and a great “fighter, fist and skull.” One day a large man arrived at the Turner home and asked if he had found Mr. Turner. On receiving an affirmative reply, the Robertson Countian is said to have made remarks about as follows: “Mr. Turner, I hear that you are the great fighter in Smith County. I am the champion of Robertson County and have whipped every man who would fight me. I am looking for some man worthy of my fighting ability. I hear you are such a man.” Whereupon Turner is said to have remarked: “Well, you have come a long way from your home, and it is too late for you to return tonight. So spend the night with me and we will fight in the morning. Get down off your horse and I will take him to the stable and put him up.” Then the Robertson Countian is reported to have gotten down from his horse, and Turner took the horse in hand. Gates then were virtually unknown, draw bars being common, or letting down a corner of a rail fence offering a means of “getting on the other side of the fence.” There was a fence of rails between the front of the Turner home and the old-fashioned stables. Instead of letting down the draw bars or a corner of the rail fence, Turner is said to have picked the horse up and lifted him completely over the fence and onto the side where the stables were. The Robertson Countian’s eyes are said to have almost budged from their sockets as he saw a display of strength he had never before witnessed. He spent the night in the home of this modern Samson, but left early the next morning for home in Robertson County without even naming a “fight.” He had seen enough to convince him that Turner was “some man.” If any reader can give additional light on this episode, please feel free to do so.
“Report of a Jury to lay off a road from Dixon Springs to the mouth of White Oak Creek on the state line, by James Gwin. Ordered to be received and filed of record.” Comment was made by the writer when he recorded the appointing of the jury.
“Ordered that Samuel Corrothers be appointed overseer of the road leading from Mungle’s Gap to the ridge at the head of a branch of the east fork of Goose Creek. Also that Robert Looney be appointed overseer from thence to the Maple Slashes, near John Fisher’s, also that Levi Cass be appointed overseer from thence to the State line. Also ordered that James Gwinn and James Hibbets be appointed to furnish said overseers with a list of the polls to work under said overseers.” Here we have a rather lengthy item that needs some comment. We suppose Samuel Corrothers was Samuel Caruthers. The road over which he was appointed overseer led from the present Mungle’s Gap, just above Good Will church in the present Trousdale County, up Goose Creek by the present Hillsdale, to the ridge at the head of one of the branches of East Fork of Goose Creek. There are three branches of the East Fork of Goose Creek that head at the Highland Rim, here called the ridge. Now it is not clear as to whether Caruthers was overseer of a road that led up Dry Fork, or up the Sullivan Branch and thence up the Ferguson Hill to the Ridge, or up the Bratton Branch to what was for a long time called the “Winding Stairs,” a crooked and steep approach to the Highland Rim. We believe we are at liberty to eliminate the Dry Fork approach to the Highland Rim, for the road previously laid off from Dixon Springs to the mouth of White Oak Creek evidently crossed from upper Dixon’s Creek to the headwaters of Dry Fork, and thence to the ridge by way of the Dark Hollow, which is about three miles southeast of Lafayette. So we believe we have this narrowed down to the approaches to the ridge either by way of the Ferguson Hill or by the “Winding Stairs.” Either way gives us the first road through Lafayette, of which we have any record, for the Ferguson Hill is only about a mile and a half south of Lafayette, and the old “Winding Stairs” Hill is only a mile away. Perhaps later statements in the old records will reveal this matter. The “Maple Slashes” perhaps referred to the present Maple Grove, two miles north of Lafayette. If this is correct, one of the earliest, if not the earliest settler in the present Lafayette section, was John Fisher. Levi Cass’ name appears here for the first time in the records so far as we have been able to learn. If our idea of the route covered by this old road then Levi Cass must have lived somewhere in the vicinity of the present Haysville, since he was appointed overseer on the road leading from the “Maple Slashes” to the State line.
“Ordered that Terisha Turner be appointed overseer of the road leading from the Ridge between Defeated and Peyton’s Creek’s, to Micheal Murphy’s. Also that Christian Boston be appointed overseer of the road leading from Micheal Murphy’s to the Ridge between Peyton’s Creek and Dixon’s Creek, and that Peter Turney, Esquire, be appointed to furnish said overseers with a list of polls to work under said overseers,” Here we have another item which is not quite clear, Terisha Turner might have been our “Samson” as above set out instead of Frederick Turner. The ridge between Peyton’s and Defeated Creeks was crossed by the old Fort Blount Road, a mile west of the present Difficult, which is on Defeated Creek. But there is at present another crossing of the same ridge, at the head of the Sanderson Branch, which joins the Boston Branch a half mile above the present Pleasant Shade, and the joint streams run into the main Peyton’s Creek at the lower end of Pleasant Shade. We are inclined to believe this latter crossing of the ridge to be the one mentioned, for if it had been the other crossing, the fact that it was part of the old Fort Bount Road would perhaps have been mentioned. Moreover, it comes by the place where Micheal Murphy’s house is said to have been located. If we are right in our surmising on this point, Terisha Turner was in charge of hands that moved out from Difficult, up the Kemp Hollow road to the top of the ridge, thence down the hill by the old Tom Wakefield home, and the old Barnett Cornwell home, the early homes of the Sandersons and onto the present Pleasant Shade.
Christian Boston’s being appointed overseer of the road from Micheal Murphy’s to the top of the ridge between Peyton’s Creek and Dixon’s Creek is of particular interest to Cal. For Christian Boston was one of his great-great-grandfathers. He was born in Germany about 1765, coming to America about 1799, which indicates he had come to Tennessee about as early as he could after arriving in America. His son, George Boston, was born in 1793, and was said to have been six years old when the family crossed the Atlantic. Tradition says that crossing the ocean with this family were other emigrants, among whom was a little girl of three or four, who later became the wife of George Boston. There is, however, some confusion as to her name, some saying it was Cope, and others Propes. George Boston lived to be nearly 100 years old and died in the latter part of the last century. He spoke Dutch quite fluently, and was a man of more than ordinary intellect, although he was said to have been a very rough kind of man in some respects. He was the ancestor of many hundreds of persons, a large part of whom live in this county.
George Boston, however, was not our ancestor, but his sister, Kate Boston, married our great grandfather, Major Gregory, in 1826, our grandfather, Calvin Gregory, for whom the writer was named, being born on October 30, 1827. From the Boston line of descent Cal has inherited his handsome (?) Roman nose. Christian Boston’s old home was on what is now called Toetown Branch, and Wade Shoulders, our first cousin, lives on the site of the old Boston home. Old Christian Boston was overseer of the road heading by his home to the top of the ridge, now called Mace’s Hill. His work lay on the northeast approach of the hill and the writer “discovered America” on the west side at the very foot of the hill one hot Wednesday morning, July 8, 1891. We wish we knew whom Christian Boston married, but we do not. Evidently she was a German woman, but we would be glad to know her name, for she was one of our great-great-grandmothers.
“Daniel Mungle’s stock mark, a smooth crop off the left ear, ordered to be recorded.” This is the reading of the last item in the June session of the Court of Smith County 150 years ago. Daniel Mungle was the man for whom Mungle’s Gap was named. He owned a square mile of land about a mile or a mile and a half west of the Gap. Large stones were put up long ago to mark the corners. Three of these stones are said to still be in place.
“Moved to adjourn until Court in course, to meet at Micheal Murphy’s on Peyton’s Creek, Teste, Sampson Williams, Garrett Fitzgerald, Thomas Harmond, Charles Hudspeth, James Hibbets,” thus closed the record for the third County Court of Smith County. Their adjourning to meet with Micheal Murphy meant the next session would be held in Murphy’s home located at the present Pleasant Shade.
(To be continued)
Transcriber Note: A note by R. D. Brooks also appeared in the Book as follows:
Benjamin Johns was the father of Elias Johns. Benjamin Johns was from Washington County, Virginia and was a charter member of the Dixon Creek Baptist Church organized March 8, 1800. He lived near the mouth of Caney Fork River that flows into Cumberland River. Elias John’s son, married the daughter of Edward Settle/Settles and went over the Oregon Trail in May of 1853. Elias Johns went with them, although he was 73 years old at the time. It took seven months to make the trip by oxen drawn wagons to Seattle, Washington.