Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
November 16, 1950
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We resume our old record publication. For the benefit of any new reader, we may say that we began to publish the old records of the early meetings of the Quarterly Court of Smith County some weeks ago. We are doing this largely to help keep alive the deeds of our very early people and particularly to preserve some of the places and names for posterity. Some may not wish to read of these old events, but there is nothing to keep such readers from passing them by. On the other hand we hope that many will be glad to keep these old records and the places and persons mentioned in mind and memory. It should be added that two copies of this paper are filed each week in the State Library at Nashville to aid those doing research work in years to come.
The next item reads: “Ordered that Henry Huddleston be appointed Constable, who was accordingly elected and sworn and gave security according to law.” We presume this man was the ancestor or a brother of the ancestor of the many Huddlestons who still live in Smith and adjoining counties. Each year the Huddleston-West Reunion is held in Nashville. These families are very closely related, as well as quite numerous. If any reader has any additional information on Henry Huddleston, please let us have same. We also make the same request for any other pioneer mentioned in these columns and in this record.
“Ordered that Henry Tooley be excepted from jury duty at this term, and that William Saunders be excepted from serving as a juror at this term,” is the reading the next item. We wonder what the reasons for letting these men be excused from jury duty were. Mention has already been made of both men in previous articles.
“Ordered that a jury be appointed to view, mark and lay off a road, agreeable to law, from Dixon Springs to the mouth of White Oak Creek by way of James Gwinn’s, and that the following Gentlemen be appointed as Jurors: viz; William Martin, James Hibbetts, James Gwinn, John Fisher, Robert Looney and John Brevard, and report same to our ensuing Court.” Here we find an item of some interest. We know where Dixon Springs is, for we were born near that place. We also knew where the mouth of White Oak Creek is, but we do not know where James Gwinn lived. Some reasoning may help to solve this problem. The road could not have extended up Lick Creek and across Mungle’s Gap for the reason that that road had already been in use for a number of years. There remains only one other route and that would have been up Dixon's Creek, across the “Low Gap” Hill, to the waters of Upper Dry Fork, thence through “Dark Hollow” to the Ridge and either through the present Lafayette and thence down White Oak or else somewhere just to the east of Lafayette and down the creek, White Oak Creek, or one branch of it, rises from the old town spring in Lafayette. We believe, but do not know, that James Gwinn, one of the first Magistrates lived on the waters of Dixon’s Creek, but indications point that way.
John Fisher, mentioned above as a juror, lived, from the best information we have, somewhere on the Highland Rim not far from the head of the Dark Hollow. Robert Looney, another juror, was a resident of the same general vicinity, if we are rightly informed. However, a correction is asked if we are in error on this point.
We have wondered quite a lot where the John Brevard above mentioned lived. We are sure that he lived somewhere on the waters of Goose Creek, for he was the party who found the abandoned baby and reared the child, giving him the name of Ford because the infant had been found at a ford on Goose Creek. Brevard owned a large number of negroes according to the census of 1820. John McDuffee, who is more than 90 years of age and possessed of a remarkable memory, informs us that he understands that some Brevards are buried in a cemetery near the home of Lon Burrow on the present Carter Branch, not far from Hillsdale. If this information is correct, we would like to have the names of the Brevards who are interred there, as well as the dates of their births and deaths. We infer that the name is of French origin. There is not now, so far as we know, a single person of this name in Smith County, nor in a half dozen adjoining counties.
“Ordered that Andrew Greer, Sampson Williams, Wilson Cage and Charles F. Mahias be appointed Jurors to the Superior Court. This is the first reference to a court higher than the Quarterly Court of Smith County in 1800. This is all the information we have on this point at present. Mention has already been made of each of these jurors.
“Ordered that Garrett Fitzgerald be appointed to take a list of the taxable property for the Flynn’s Creek ‘Malitia’ Company: Charles Hudspeth, Esquire, for the Obed’s River and the Roaring River Company in settlement; William Walton he appointed for Captain Vance’s Company; Thomas Harmond, for Captain Pate’s Company; Peter Turner, Esquire for Peyton’s Creek Company; Tilman Dixon, Esquire, for Captain Bradley’s Company; James Hibbetts, Esquire, for Captain Shaw’s Company; and James Gwinn, Esquire, for Capt. Gwinn’s Company.” Such is the next item. We admit we do not understand exactly what the above item means in full. We presume that some sort of military organizations had to be maintained at all times, for protection against Indians and lawlessness and that there had to be a tax levied for this purpose. If any reader knows more on the subject than Cal does, let him enlighten us. From this item we learn that our former surmising that Garrett Fitzgerald most probably lived somewhere in Jackson or Clay County is most probably correct. Square Hudspeth, whose residence we did not know when we wrote the last previous installment, appears from the above to have lived somewhere in the vicinity of Roaring River which enters the Cumberland just above the present Gainesboro.
The next item reads as follows: “Ordered that a tax of one dollar be allowed each person for a Wolf Salp (Scalp), the wolf being ‘catched’ in Smith County, they complying with the act of Assembly in that case made and provided.” Here we learn that the bad, bad wolf of olden times was considered a pest and that his scalp was worth one dollar. We hope we are not saying too much about the Clerk’s English in our remarks about the WOLF SALP. We suppose a letter was just left out of the word Scalp. But the thing of being “catched in Smith County” is worth perhaps a little laughter. On the subject of wolves, we may add that the wolves of that day and time were the most "obnoxious” of all the pests that confronted pioneers. Bears could be eaten if they got around in shooting distance and bear meat was to be found on quite a lot of pioneer tables. But the wolf was not fit to eat and it was deemed wise to exterminate the beast. Hence the bounty of one dollar for each scalp. Here in Macon County, about three miles north of Lafayette, is a place called Wolf Hill. It was common to dig pits or deep holes in the ground, too deep for a wolf to be able to leap there from cover over the pit or pits with a thin, weak layer of brush and leaves, then hang a piece of deer meat above the pit, and out of reach of the hungry wolf, which would leap toward the meat, only to fall into the pit beneath, where he was soon found and “scalped.” Some of the remains of the old pits are said to be seen even till the present at Wolf Hill.
“Court then adjourned till tomorrow ten o’clock.”
“Court met according to adjournment, the following Gentlemen being present: viz: Garrett Fitzgerald, Charles Hudspeth, Tilman Dixon, Peter Turney, Esquires.” So reads the opening, record for the second day of the second meeting of the Quarterly Court on that March day 150 years ago. This meeting took place at the old two story house still standing near Dixon Springs, and known as the old Seay place.
(To be continued)