Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
December 7, 1950
* CAL'S COLUMN *
The next item is one that we have hesitated to print. The reason are given below. The item in the old records is as follows: "Recognizance of James Ballou taken before James Hibbetts and Thomas Harmond on a charge against him by Polly Reynolds for Bastardy, returned into Court and ordered to be filed of record." At first we held back some from publishing this item. We feared that somebody might have an idea that we meant to "throw off" on James Ballou or on his relatives. But more mature consideration brings out the facts that he has not a living descendant so far as we have been able to learn. Moreover, he lived and died more that a hundred years ago. Then, again, the writer is perhaps as closely related to him as any other living person, since he was a brother of our great-great-grandfather, Leonard Ballou. This makes him the writer's great-great-great-uncle. New readers may wonder why we publish an item like this. Our answer simply is to give the facts as recorded in the record of 150 years ago made by the quarterly Court of Smith County, Tennessee, to let readers know that human weaknesses and errors were then the same as they are today, that there is perhaps hardly a family anywhere that has not had some "black sheep" in it, and that the family tree of nearly all of us has "some dead limbs on it." The writer has done a lot of research work in the past, and he has found that in practically every family, there is s "skelton in the closet." In the Gregory line of descent, we have found that Rob Roy, the old Scotch freebooter, was a distant relative of ours, and was Sir Walter Scott's hero in his tale, with the title of "Rob Roy." East of Loch Lomond in Northern Scotland lies a section still known as the "Rob Roy country." On the shores of Lock Lomond, the Gregory family had its origin in the ninth century. Readers of Scott's tales will recall perhaps many an episode in the life of Rob Roy that was not quite all it might have been.
Some time ago a relative of ours, who lived in St. Louis and was a prominent man and cashier of a large bank, arrived in Lafayette and sought out the writer. He asked that we go with him to Carthage and look through the old records to learn, if we could, whose son his great-great-grandfather, Laban Gregory, was. Cal frankly confessed that he did not know. So we went over to Carthage and began to prowl through the old court records. In a matter of perhaps 15 minutes, we found this item: "Laban Gregory appeared before the Court and stated that Nancy Wilmore had given birth to an illegitimate daughter, who had been named Eliza Wilmore, that he believed the child to be his, that he wished to make her his heir and that her name be changed to Eliza Gregory." The writer handed over the old record book to his St. Louis relative and noted the reaction. "Whew! the old man had been stepping out. My sister, who is very conventional, will disown the old man when she learns of this." We informed him that he was not as bad as he could have been, giving as our reasons that he sought to undo as far as he could, the wrong he had committed, and seemed to have repented of his error. Our banker friend did not disown his ancester, but sought to find out who Eliza Wilmore was, but was unable to learn any additional facts. Later investigation revealed that Laban Gregory was the son of old Bry Gregory, the writer's great-great-grandfather. So there is no need for any family to feel that it is so far above the "common herd" that there could not have been a "black sheep" in the family, or a "dead limb" on the family tree.
We do not know who Polly Reynolds was, whether the child in the case was a son or a daughter. We do know that James Ballou married a Shelton and a Shields, but there is no record of any of his descendants now being alive. We also know that James Ballou lived on the waters of Dixon's Creek at what we once knew at the Uncle Johnnie Smith place, about a mile and a half above the present Pleasant Shade.
"Ordered that a road be 'layed' off from Flynn's Lick in the nearest settlement on Obed's River, agreeable to law, and that James Blackburn, James Jones, James Armstrong, William Dale, Enoch Fox, Sampson Williams and Moses Fiske be appointed as a Jury to view, mark and lay off said Road." This road doubtless led up the Cumberland on the South side in what is now Jackson County, for Flynn's Lick is in that county at this time. Moreover, Obed's River empties into the Cumberland at Celina. Dale Hollow Dam backs up the waters of Obed's River. The names of the jurors for this work indicates something of their place of residence, for it was not reasonable that men who lived 40 or 50 miles away would be chosen for such a project. We have already stated that we supposed that James Blackburn lived on Blackburn's Fork, which runs into Roaring River just above the present Gainesboro. And the new road had to cross Roaring River not far from Blackburn's Fork. Sampson Williams lived only a short distance from Flynn's Lick. Enock Fox, we presume, was the ancestor of the Fox family at present in Jackson County., William Dale, we suppose, was the ancestor of the Dales who now live in Clay County about Celina. Moses Fiske, we presume, was the ancestor of Bill Fiske, a few years ago editor and owner of the Clay County paper, Bill Fiske's Bugle. We have no information or "surmising" as to James Jones and James Armstrong.
"Ordered that a road be 'layed' off, agreeable to law, from the Fort Blount Road near the crossing of Salt Lick Creek, to the northern boundary of this State, near the head of Salt Lick Fork of Barren River, and that Thomas Draper, James Draper, Jacob Bowerman, Jacob Jenkins, Pleasant Kearby, William Pate, Henry Huddleston and Sampson Williams be appointeed a Jury to view, mark and lay off said Road." So reads the next item. We know about where the Fort Blount Road then crossed Salt Lick Creek, which is about a mile below the present Gladdice in Jackson County, on lower Salt Lick Creek. Sampson Williams lived only about a mile from this crossing. But we are now confronted with a question. Which way did the road go from its starting point at that crosssing? Did it extend across the big hill between Salt Lick Creek and Wartrace Creek, up Wartrace and thence to Jennings' Creek and thence northward to the Kentucky line? We wish we knew, but so far have found nothing to shed any light on this early road. Some things indicate that the road went as above outline, for Jacob Bowerman, one of the jurors, was from the Jennings' Creek section, and there is reason to believe that the two Draper men were from the same section. Jacob Jenkins, another jurer, was evidently a citizen of the Jennings' Creek section. On the other hand there are some indications that the road starting at the cross of Salt Lick, went right up Salt Lick Creek to what is now Dean Hill, up that rather rugged escarpment of the Highland Rim, thence northward to the present Willette, thence northward to the present Red Boiling Springs, and then on to the Kentucky line, perhaps in the vicinity of the present Gamaliel. Color is lent to this theory by the fact that Pleasant Kearby most probably lived not far from this suggested route. Moreover, William Pate and Henry Huddleston are believed to have lived 150 years ago on Salt Lick. Later disclosures from the old records will probably give us the facts about this matter. But if any reader knows the route chosen by the jury for the first road from Salt Lick of Cumberland to the Salt Lick For k of Barren River, let us have it.
"Ordered that a road be 'layed' off from the northern boundary of this state, near Mr. Irons on Obed's River to intersect the road leading from Stockton's Valley to Mr. Blackburn's at the most convenient place, and that John Sprowls, William Dale, Edward Irons, John Irons and John Dale be appointed as a Jury to lay off said road and report same to our ensuing Court." So reads the next item. Again we "are stumped," for we have but little knowledge of the exact location of this new road. Mr. Iron's home on Obed's River, or near there, was to be the starting point. This evidently was where Obed's River emerges from Kentrucky into Tennessee. This new road was to intersect or join the road already laid out which led from Stockton's Valley to Mr. Blackburn's. This would indicate that it joined the Stockton's Valley-to-Blackburn's-road somewhere in the valley of Obed's River. John Sprowls is a new name not before found in the records, and so are the names of Edward Irons and John Irons. We have a curiosity to know whether it could be possible that the present Arms family of Clay County was once the Irons family of 150 years ago. Reader, can you enlighten us on this point?
"Ordered that Henry McKinney, Garrett Fitzgerald, Sampson Williams, James Blackburn, Uriah Anderson, James Jones, Thomas Jones, Edmond Jennings and Benjamin Blackburn be appointed to view, mark and lay off a road from Fort Blount to Mr. Blackburn's, agreeable to law." So reads the next item. Here we have some other points that are not clear. We know where Fort Blount was. It stood on the bank of the Cumberland a few miles below the present Gainesboro and we are presuming that the Mr. Blackburn referred to was James Blackburn, who most probably lived somewhere on the waters of Roaring River, which empties into the Cumberland just above Gainesboro. To us at this distant day, it would appear that this road would have intersected the one above mentioned that was to lead from Flynn's Creek to the nearest settlement on Obed's River, since Flyn's Lick and Fort Blount were only a short distance apart. We have a new name in this group, that of Benjamin Blackburn. Whether he was a brother of James or a son or just what their relationship was, we do not know. We really would like to have any information that can be given us on these points that are now unknown to the writer.
"Ordered that William Walton, John Crosswhite, William Shaw, James Payne and John Campbell be appointed to view, mark and lay off a road leading from the mouth of the Caney Fork to the Indian Boundary, agreeable to law" Such is the wording of the next item. Here we are "in the dark" on one or two points. We know where the mouth of the Caney Fork River is, just above Carthage, but we confess that we do not know where the Indian Boundary was. Can any reader supply this information? We know nothing of John Crosswhite, of William Shaw, or James Payne or John Campbell. If any readers can supply us with this information, we shall be glad to pass it along.
"Ordered that William Martin, Grant Allen and John Brevard be appointed as Commissioners to settle with the County Trustee; or, such settlement, when made, to report to our said Court." This is the reading of the next item and we suppose no comment is expected, for it seems to be clear.
"Ordered that David Venters be allowed to build a public mill on Goose Creek, near the head of the big spring which is between, the forks of Goose Creek, he complying with the law in that case made and provided." Here we have another item of interest. This, we believe, to have been the first permit for a mill on Goose Creek. Where the big spring referred to was, we do not know. Who David Venters was is another "unknown" to us. We have not a person of this name in all this area now.
"Ordered that Moses Ashbrooks be appointed overseer of the road leading from the crossing of Salt Lick Creek to the top of the ridge between said creek and Defeated Creek, and all the hands that worked under Mr. Kearby are to work under said Overseer." We presume this referred to the road that leads at present from just below Gladdice up little Salt Lick to the top of the hill, just north of Kempville.
"Ordered that Charles Mundine's stock mark be recorded; comment here is about the word, vir: Both ears 'cropt' and an underbit in the left ear." Our only "cropt," which, to the writer at least, is a brand new one. We have already stated that we know nothing of Charles Mundine.
"Court then adjourn until Court in course. Teste, Sampson Williams, Garrett Fitzgerald, Peter Turney, James Hibbetts, James Gwinn, (Magistrates.)