Transcribed by Rae Wayne
March 10, 1949 – Reprinted June 16,1977
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed last week with a promise to return to some of the events of the long ago on Peyton’s Creek. We resume by relating a few more incidents of the past. At the upper end of the bottom in which the grove of sugar or maple trees grew in the far distant past, and across the creek from this narrow tract of land stands an old slanting beech tree just over a spring. We would guess that this old tree has stood over the spring for perhaps a hundred years or longer. This spring is the scene of one of the Civil War’s many tragedies. The Union Army had taken over the town of Carthage, with fortifications on top of the hill at the back of the old Joseph W. Allen school, some of the breastworks or fortifications still to be seen. One of the Union soldiers, Robert Allen, had somehow met Miss Tippy Herald, who is said to have been the most beautiful woman in this country in Civil War days. She resided with her brother, Cade Herald, at the place now occupied by Harvey M. Kemp, just at the lower end of the tract once covered with maple trees. Where young Allen met Miss Herald, we do not know, but he was smitten with her beauty and managed to slip away from his command at Carthage and came to her home. Whether he came horseback or on foot, we never learned. Anyway he arrived at the Herald home in due time. There he was accosted by one Andy Andrews, who was a native of that section, and who was perhaps identified with that group sometimes referred to as guerrillas. He asked the unsuspecting Allen to allow him (Andrews) to see his pistol, with never a thought of treachery. As soon as Andrews had the gun in his own hands, and knew that Allen was unarmed, he covered Allen with his own gun, made him mount a horse and Andrews with gun in hand, then mounted the same horse behind the Yankee soldier. They rode together to this spring and there Andrews shot the soldier down in cold blood without even a dog’s chance to defend himself.
Kind hearted citizens of the community prepared the body for burial, dug a grave and laid the remains to rest in the cemetery at the foot of the hill that rises between the two parts of the creek about a half mile below where he met his tragic death. The writer does not know the exact location of the grave, but he knows approximately where this victim of treachery of a pretended friend lies.
Robert Allen was from Michigan. We wrote a letter some years ago to the State Librarian at Lansing, the capital of that State, asking how many soldiers named Robert Allen enlisted in the Union Army from Michigan. A reply came at once, stating that 21 men named Robert Allen had enlisted from Michigan and that all of them were accounted for except Robert Allen, who enlisted from Marquette in that State. We presume that this Robert Allen was the man buried in an unmarked grave here in our own county and whose dust still sleeps among the high high hills of Peyton’s Creek. We wrote to the postmaster at Marquette and asked if any Allens received mail there and received no reply. Andy Andrews later lost his life when shot down by revenue men a few years after the war. It has been said that he, who had showed no mercy, died begging the government men for mercy. The graveyard mentioned above is near Gum Springs. At this place on the fourth Saturday in January, 1918, one of the coldest days we ever saw, R.M. Barton, carrier for many years on Route 2, Lafayette, came by with the mail on that bitterly cold day. He was not aware of his condition, but had already gotten beyond ability to get out of his buggy and was hardly able to speak. Kind friends took him from his buggy, carried him into a store at Gum Springs and gave him a warming up. Later he was able to return to Lafayette. He would have perhaps died from cold had not these friends noticed his condition in time to help him. On the same day, a rural carrier on the mountains out of Pikesville, Tennessee, did freeze to death. He was making his route on horseback and did not come back at the time expected. His horse returned perhaps about dark, but without a rider. Relatives started back over the rough road and found him lying dead beside the road, with his mail bag still fastened about him. In the snow they found tracks which indicated that he had dismounted, tried to build a fire, all his matches going out without his being able to get a fire started, and that he finally fell in the snow and died.
The writer remembers that day very distinctly. He was then a rural carrier on Route one out of Pleasant Shade. He owned a closed mail wagon, which was horse-drawn. On our trip we got as far east as Difficult, where we had ice nails driven into our faithful horse’s shoes. We then came back toward Pleasant Shade and got into a long “slough” with water nearly a foot deep. The weight of old Bob broke the ice through, the rear wheels of the mail wagon broke through, but the front wheels stayed on top of the ice. As our good old horse pulled his feet out of the holes in the ice, he lifted quite a quantity of water with each rear foot. This water struck the horse on his back and hips and it was so cold that it froze before it could run off. Just as we got out of this “long pond” of water right in the road, we were within three miles of our starting point, the Pleasant Shade postoffice. We decided we had enough for one day and took the short cut home and left off the remainder of the route, a distance of about 18 miles. We came home, got some hot water and proceeded to clean the ice from our horse’s legs. Three big kettles of water were required to get the ice from his legs and body. We repeat that this was one of the coldest days we ever saw, exceeded only by the bitter, bitter cold of February 12, 1899, when the back water near Dixon Springs froze to a depth of three feet. A man named Dias, who died near out father’s home, could not be buried till a thaw as it was impossible to dig a grave with the ground frozen so deeply. We were then only 8 years of age, but we remembered that our wood fire seemed to burn without heat and the cold wind that blew beneath our humble home in childhood, came through the cracks in the floor and that we could hardly endure the terrific cold. Our father had a large “wheat cloth,” with which he covered the floor and the wind lifted this up a foot high in places.
Going on down from Gum Springs for about a half mile, we come to Cave Point, named for the big cave in the hill or point between Peyton’s Creek and the Wilmore Hallow. For many years, Tetter Gregory and Peyton Gregory and perhaps others sold goods at this place. We believe that there was a little postoffice there once in the days before rural free delivery. We recall one incident that occurred in the merchandising at this place. One of our great uncles, who was somewhat a stickler for nice things, went to this store. The clerk asked his needs and he requested a pair of $10 boots. It might be remarked that this was shortly after the Civil War and $10 was a very high price for footwear. The clerk informed his prospective customer that he did not have any $10 boots in stock. The owner arrived in a short time and asked the fancy dressed young man what he wanted. He replied that he wanted a pair of $10 boots, but that the clerk had informed him that no such boots were in stock. “Oh yes, we have them right here.” So the owner sold young ------------- a $6.00 pair of boots for $10.00 and he went his way merrily, not knowing that he had been the victim of a $4.00 “skinning.” And $4.00 was perhaps as hard to obtain then as it $40 today.
Near the entrance to the cave occurred another tragedy, in 1814. This cave had then and perhaps still does have a supply of saltpeter. The Second War with Great Britain was then in progress and gun powder was extremely scarce in the western settlements. Some of the men of the community decided to take out quantities of the saltpeter and to make their own gun powder. Among those helping in this undertaking was Ansil, a 16-year-old son of our great-great-grandfather, Bry Gregory. In cutting down a large tree near the entrance to this cave, to get wood for boiling down the saltpeter, the youth was crushed to death by the falling tree. His father, who lived not a great way off, took his mule and sled, or as it was then called, a “slide,” and went to bring the body home. As he lifted his own, dead son, a youth of only 16 tender years, onto the sled, the old man said: “Now’d --n you, I guess you won’t run away any more.” Next week, or in our next article, we will tell some more of old Bry’s last days and of his death.