Transcribed by Elsie Sampson
September 25, 1952
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We have recently obtained a copy of Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee, a rare history of Tennessee from the earliest times to the year 1800. We are informed that Dr., Ramsey, the author, had the manuscript for a second volume dealing with the history of Tennessee to perhaps about the middle of the 19th century. But it was never published and for this we are indeed sorry. We have not had time to peruse the pages of the old history very closely, but we are going to try to give in this article a few observations or points of one kind or another.
We find in this old history on page 197, a brief account of the disapperance of one Reuben Harrison, who was a member of the large company that came down from Fort Patrick Henry, on the Holston River, and later reached Nashville after a journey of hundreds of miles by flat boat, Harrison, who was presumably a hunter, is reported to have “gone a hunting and did not return that night, though many guns were fired to fetch him in.” This was on March 2, 1780. The next item in Donelson’s Journal or record of the journey is as follows: “Friday, 3rd.-Early in the morning fired a four-pounder for the lost man, sent out sundry persons to search the woods for him, firing many guns that day and night; but all without success, to the great grief of his parents and fellow travellers.”
The next item is as follows: “Saturday, 4th-Proceeded on our voyage, leaving old Mr. Harrison with some other vessels to make further search for his lost son. About ten o’clock the same day found him a considerable distance down the river, where Mr. Ben Belew took him on board his boat. At three o’clock passed the mouth of the Tennessee River, and camped on the south shore about ten miles below the mouth of Tennessee.”
This event occured 172 years ago, and took place not far below the present Knoxville. The point to which we wish to allude was that Benjamin Belew took the lost man, Harrison, aboard his boat. This man Belew was, we think, a distant relative of the writer. The Virginia line of Ballous or Bellews or Belews is our own line on our mother’s side of the house. Just who the ancestors of Belew were or his posterity we are not prepared to say. We do know that eleven Benjamin Ballous are named in the “Ballous In America,” by Adin Ballou. If any reader of the paper can furnish us with additional information about the Benjamin Belew who came down to Nashville with the flotilla in the winter of 1779-80, we shall be more than glad to have same.
Our own line of Ballou kindred arrived in the present Sumner County in 1795, but they came over the mountains, guarded by soldiers. The first of the Ballou family of whom we have any record as coming to Middle Tennessee, with the exception of the Ben. Belew above referred to, was the widow of Leonard Ballou, who with a large number of her children, left Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1795 and emigrated to Middle Tennessee. The Ballou family has had so many Leonards that it is difficult to tell just which Leonard is referred to. But we are quite sure in our identification of this particular one. He is said to have driven beef cattle to Philadelphia for sale during the Revolution, contracted smallpox which ended his life, and left his wife with at least nine children.
The names of the nine we have listed are as follows: Leonard, James, Meredith, Elizabeth, Margaret, Susannah, Tamzon, Esther and Catherine. All these were born between 1760 and 1780, in Virginia. Leonard Ballou was married first to Mary Metcalf, daughter of Anthony Metcalf, who came to Sumner County in 1794. Mary died and later her husband married Sarah Metcalf, a sister of Mary. Our line of descent is from Mary Metcalf, who was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, June 16, 1785. We have the line of descendants of Leonard’s brother, James Ballou, but we have no information as to Meredith Ballou. Esther Ballou married Elias Johns and settled on Dixon’s Creek just below the present brick church house used by Dixon’s Creek Baptist church. We have the line of their descendants. Esther died about 100 years ago.
One of the daughters above named as a sister of Leonard and James, married a Higginbotham, another an Anderson and still another a Johnson, but we do not know “which is which.” Our own grandmother, Margaret Ballou, married the two Metcalf sisters. So it appears that she received her name from her great-aunt, Margaret Ballou, a sister of her grandfather.
We might add that Adin Ballou in his book lists an even dozen Leonard Ballous and we know of at least two more that are not listed by the historion of the family. The writer, anxious to perpetuate the name, gave his son, his fourth-born child, the name of Leonard Calvin.
We have some additional data on the Ballou family. If any reader is interested in the family history, let us know and we will strive to publish same at a later date.
But to come back to the history by Ramsey, after a wide “detour,” we resume with some additional information about Elmore Douglass, who was one of the early Smith County settlers. The first mention of him, of which we have any record is as follows: “Jan. 5, 1784, in Davidson County Court-- The following military officers were sworn: --Anthony Bledsoe, 1st Colonel; Issac Bledsoe, 1st Major; Samuel Barton, 2nd Major; Casper Mansco, 1st Captain; George Freeland, 2d; John Buchanan, 3d; James Ford, 4th; William Ramsey, Jonathan Drake, Ambrose Maulding and Peter Sides, Lieutenants; William Collins and Elmore Douglass was in Middle Tennessee as early as 1784.
We have another item about him and it is found in the records of Wilson County’s first Court, which shows that the Court was held at the house of Captain John Harpole. The first Magistrates were: Charles Kavanaugh, John Allcom, (or Allcorn), John Lancaster, Elmore Douglass, John Doak, Matthew Figures, Henry Ross, William Gray, Andrew Donelson and William McLain. Here we learn that Elmore Douglass was a member of the first County Court of Wilson County. The boundary of Wilson County on the east at its formation was Caney Fork River. So Elmore Douglass and Charles Kavanaugh were evidently located in that part of Wilson County to the west of Caney Fork, and this corresponds to the records of the Smith County Court which we have been publishing for some months, Kavanaugh and Douglass both being early members of the Smith County Quarterly Court and Court of Pleas in the early part of the 19th century.
We find an account of a Peyton’s Creek event which gave name to that stream. It is as follows: “Of the other settlers at Kilgore’s were two young men named Mason, Moses Maulding, Ambrose Maulding, Josiah Hoskins, Jesse Simons and others. The two men named Mason had gone to Clay Lick and had posted themselves in a secret place to watch for deer. While they were thus situated, seven Indians came to the Lick; the lads took good aim, fired upon and killed two Indians, and then ran with all speed to the fort, where, being joined by three of the garrison, they returned to the Lick, found and scalped the dead Indians and returned. That night John and Ephraim Peyton, on their way to Kentucky, called in and remained all night at the fort. During the night all the horses that were there were stolen. In the morning pursuit was made and the Indians were overtaken at a creek since called Peyton’s Creek. They were fired upon. One was killed and the rest of them fled, leaving the stolen horses to the owners. The pursuers returned that night, in the direction of the fort, and encamped, and were progressing next morning on their way. In the meanwhile, the Indians by a circuitous route, had gotten between them and the station and when the whites came near enough, fired upon them, killing one of the Masons and Josiah Hoskins, and taking some spoil. The Indians then retreated. Discouraged by these daring depredations, the people at Kilgore’s Station broke up their establishment and joined those at the Bluff.”
The time was 1782, and this is the very first mentioned made of Peyton’s Creek, so far as we have been able to find in the old history. So Peyton’s Creek was named for John and Ephraim Peyton who first settled at Castalian Springs in Sumner County. Just at what spot on Peyton’s Creek these pioneer settlers came upon their stolen horses and the rogues, we have not the least idea. Perhaps some reader can furnish us with the desired information on this point, and we can then pass it on by means of the printed page.
We have no means of knowing what Mason was killed as the given name is omitted. However, the Mason family is known to have lived in Middle Tennessee in very early times. The Gross family is related to the Masons.
We would presume that Josiah Hoskins was a relative of the numerous members of the same family today living in Mason County. It should be stated that Kilgore’s Station was located on Red River in the present Montgomery County. “The Bluff above meant the present Nashville.
“In this year (1782) George Aspie was killed on Drake’s Creek by the Indians; and Thomas Spencer, wounded. In the fall William MacMurray was killed near Winchester’s Mill on Bledsoe Creek, and General Smith was wounded. Noah Trammel was killed on Goose Creek.”
We have no knowledge of George Aspie and the name is unknown to the writer. Thomas Spencer, we presume, was the Thomas Sharpe Spencer who spent a winter in the hollow sycamore tree at Castalian Springs. William MacMurray, killed on Bledsoe’s Creek, near Winchester’s Mill, we believe, was a relative of the McMurrays of a later date in the present Trousdale County. We have no idea as to where Noah Trammel was killed on Goose Creek, but would suppose that he was a relative of the present Trammel family in this county. It is possible that he was the man for whom Trammel Creek in the northwest part of Macon County was named.
We have another interesting item from Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee. It concerns a man named Gammon. The record is as follows: “This is the first time the advent of Daniel Boone to the Western wilds has been mentioned by historians or by the several biographers of that distinguished pioneer and hunter. There is reason, however, to believe that he had hunted up in Wataug earlier. The writer is indebted to N. Gammon, Esq, formerly of Jonesboro, now (1800) a citizen of Knoxville, for the following inscription, still to be seen upon a beech tree, standing in sight and east of the present stage road leading from Jonesboro to Blountsville, and in the valley of Boone’s Creek, a tributary of Watauga.
Cilled A BAR ON
in The Tree
Thus we find the authentic record that Daniel Boone was in Tennessee as early as 1760. We have no way of knowing who N. Gammon was. Perhaps Rev. W. J. Gammon, of Montreat, North Carolina, who is the best informed man on the history of the Gammon family we have ever contacted, could give us some information. If he is able to shed any light on N. Gammon, we shall be glad to print same. While on the subject of early Gammons in Tennessee, mention should be of Richard Gammon, a delegate to the Convention to decide on creating the state of Franklin. This occurred in 1785, with Gammon chosen from Sullivan County in East Tennessee. The same man was chosen to represent his county in the Convention of 1796, at which time Tennessee became a state. The same man was appointed as an “elector to elect an elector for their respective District.”
Richard Gammon was also a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives in the year 1799, according to Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee.
If the North Carolina minister can give us any light on either of the two men mentioned in this article, we shall be more than glad to publish same at once.
(To be continued.)