Transcribed By Pamela Vick
July 9, 1953 - Reprinted December 9, 1976
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We continue with the publication of the old records of the Quarterly County Court and the Court of Pleas of Smith County, for December 20, 1802. The next item is as follows: “Grand Jury (To wit), Leonard Ballou, Abraham Brittain, Ischal Beasley, Thomas Bowman, David Rorex, William Alexander, Daniel Hammock, Godfrey Fowler, Phillip Day, Charles McMurry, David Cochran and William Hankins, who being elected and sworn, received their charge and were sent out; and Jacob Turney is appointed Constable to attend them.”
We have offered more or less comment on most of the men above listed. Leonard Ballou, one of our great-great-grandfathers, lived at that time in what is known today as “Possum Hollow,” across the creek from the brick house of worship of Dixon’s Creek Baptist Church, and up a hollow to the northwest. He owned a large tract of land here, or nearby, as did his brother-in-law; Elias Johns: and his brother, Capt. James Ballou. Nearly every Ballou and every Johns, as far as we have learned, has removed from Dixon’s Creek. Abraham lived on the big Brittain farm which embraced hundreds of acres of land just below the present Linville Shop and to the east of the present Donoho Bridge over the waters of Big Goose Creek. He was the son of Nathaniel Brittain, an early member of Dixon’s Creek Baptist Church. George Burnley lives on the site of the old Brittain home.
Isham Beasley lived in 1802 presumably in Beasley’s Bend, to the southwest of Riddleton, although he later resided in Sullivan’s Bend, to the northeast of the present Elmwood. Isham was a soldier of the American Revolution and is buried in Sullivan’s Bend.
Thomas Bowman resided, we believe, near Riddleton on what was then called Spring Creek, now known as Bowman’s Branch. Like the Ballous and the Johns, members of the Bowman family have largely removed to other places or else have died. William S. Bowman, popular rural carrier out of Riddleton for more than 40 years, resides on Bowman’s Branch. The stream was originally called Spring Creek on account of the big spring near the C. E. Yancey home. A mill was built on the stream below the spring nearly 150 years ago. We are sorry that we do not know the ancestry of Thomas Bowman, the juror of 1802, although it is our opinion that he was a son of Robert Bowman, a wealthy pioneer settler of that section.
David Rorex’s name appears quite often in the old records, but we do not know where he lived. William Alexander was a resident of the Dixon Springs section in the long ago. He was perhaps the ancestor of the numerous Alexander family of that section at a later date.
Daniel Hammock, or Hammack, as the name is sometimes spelled, is supposed to have been the ancestor of the present Hammock family in Trousdale County and in other sections of the State. They were very numerous on Dixon’s Creek at an earlier date, although there is at present not one member of the family residing in that section. We are sorry not to have more information on the family.
Godfrey Fowler was another early Dixon’s Creek settler, residing near the present Cato. There is not a member of the family now living in that part of Tennessee. Phillip Day also residing on the waters of Dixon’s Creek, living on Lick Creek of Dixon’s Creek. The Day family of Macon County today is descended from Phillip Day. John D. Day was an active member of Dixon’s Creek Baptist Church for many years, and was also a deacon of the church.
Charles McMurry was a resident of the waters of Dixon’s Creek, residing on Lick Creek which empties into Dixon’s Creek not far below Dixon Springs and only a mile from where Dixon’s Creek enters Cumberland River. David Cochran and William Hanking are “Unknowns” to the writer, and so is Constable Jacob Turney, although we suppose him to have been a member of the same family to which Peter Turney belonged.
“Deed 640 acres, James Eastern to Joseph Cruckshanks, proven by the oath of Thomas Dillon, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto.” James Eastern was probably James Easter or later written, Eastes. There was a Moses Easter in Smith County as early as 1820. He was the head of a family of nine persons.
Joseph Cruckshanks is another of whom we have not a “shred” of information. The name does not appear in the census of 1820 or of 1830. The name is a very strange one, and so far as we can learn, there is not a member of the family in Smith County, although we recall having seen the name somewhere in our reading. Where the land was is not revealed in the record of the Court.
Thomas Dillon is another of whom we know nothing. However, there have been Dillons in Smith County for a long time. The writer finds the name of Nathan “Dillean” in the census of 1820. He had a large family of nine members at that time.
In the census of 1830 William Dillon was between 50 and 60 years of age and the head of a family of six. His nearest neighbors, judging from the place his name is recorded in the census, were: Joel Gregory, Goodrich Andrews, John R. Benton, Willie Mason and James B. Bradley.
Nathaniel Dillon is mentioned in the census of 1830 and evidently lived somewhere to the west of Lafayette, his neighbors being Fountain Haynes, Daniel Sullivan, Talafaro Hammock, Elijah Adams, Wm. L. Howell and Geo. White. Nathaniel then was between 50 and 60 years of age.
There was another Nathaniel Dillon in the same census. He was also between 50 and 60 years of age, and had as nearest neighbors, James Freeman, Robert Bratton, Thomas W. Wallace, Obadiah Wilkinson, William Wood and Josiah Howell. He evidently lived near Lafayette.
“Deed, 191 acres, William Saunders to James McClain, Acknowledged.” Saunders is supposed to have lived near Dixon Springs, although this is only a guess. We have no knowledge of McClain. “Deed, 800 acres, William Sanders to Alexander Lowery, acknowledged.” We suppose the seller was the same man who had earlier sold land to James McClain. We have no knowledge of Alexander Lowery.
“John Caplinger came into court and resigned his appointment as Road Overseer; and John Tuggle is appointed in his stead with the same hands to work under him, etc. We are sure that this road was in what is now the southwest corner of Smith County, in the vicinity of Grant. Quite a number of Tuggles once lived in that section. John Caplinger would perhaps today be called John Caplenor, with the accent on the letter e. We wonder if the original name was Caplenor or Caplinger. If any reader can tell us, please feel free to communicate with us. John Caplinger is listed in the census of Smith County for 1820, but we do not suppose it could have been the man who resigned as Road Overseer. The census record shows the following: One male under 10, and one between 26 and 45; and one female in the same age group as Caplinger, his wife no doubt. He owned two slaves.
Enoch Caplinger is listed as follows: Two males under 10, and one between 26 and 45; and one female under 10, one from 10 to 16; and one from 26 to 45. These are the only Caplinger families listed in Smith County in 1820.
“Ordered that John Caplinger be allowed to build a mill on Round Lick Creek on the land belonging to him and Harris Bradford, and that he be allowed the customary rates for grinding.” We are sure that this is the same man who had just resigned as Road Overseer. Where this mill was to be located we do not know; although there was once a mill to the west of the present Grant, on Round Lick. If any reader recalls the location of Caplinger’s Mill on Round Lick, please feel free to write us to that effect.
Some years ago we noted that the Tennessee Highway Department had put up road signs in many places on State Highways. But their “speller” did not know much about his “onions.” Instead of spelling “Lick” as it should have been, he had spelled it “Lake.” We were much amused at “Round Lake” Creek. The word, “Lick,” as applied to our streams, meant that somewhere on its waters there was a spring with salty waters, from which the place derived its name, “Lick.” This was because deer and other animals went there for salt, licking the brackish waters in an effort to satisfy their desire for salt. The place where salt-licking animals gathered was also a place for the flesh-eating type of animals to gather, to seek a prey. This naturally attracted hunters who soon discovered the salt springs and “licks” throughout this part of the country. Sometimes so many animals frequented the "licks" that game trails were made.
“Lick Branch,” a few miles north of Lafayette, is a small stream which flows into Puncheon Camp Creek. It is said to be so named from the fact that in times of heavy rains, waters from a cave on that stream came forth with quite a lot of saltpeter, which animals “licked” in the long gone days. The saltpeter was also used long ago in making gunpowder.
The upper part of Peyton’s Creek, not far from the Mima Gregory Hill, also had a small lick. Salt Lick Creek of Barren River took its name from the “lick” at the present Boiling Springs. In fact the healing waters of this famous resort were found very early by hunters who sought game at the “lick.”
We do not know where the “lick” was on Salt Lick, of Cumberland, although perhaps some of our readers recall the location of the little salt spring that gave the creek its name. The same holds true of Lick Creek of Dixon’s Creek.
Castalian Springs was for long years known as the “lick.” This was the name given because of the waters that flowed from a little spring very near where Thomas Sharpe Spencer made his home for a winter in a big hollow sycamore tree. This spring still flows on as in pioneer days, although the wild animals that once gathered there salt are no more.
But coming back briefly to old records, we find: “Court adjourns until tomorrow at ten o’clock.” Thus closes the first day of the Court’s meeting in December, 1802.
Recently we asked if any reader could give us the location of the pioneer home of James Hibbetts, suggesting that it was possibly on upper Pumpkin Branch. We are informed by Lon A. Burrow that he resides on the old Hibbbetts farm, near the lower end of the present Hillsdale. He reports that Hibbetts and his wife and perhaps other members of the family are buried there in the old family graveyard. We would suppose that the gap at the head of Pumpkin Branch, leading to Dog Branch of Dixon’s Creek, took its name from Hibbetts as this leads directly from Dixon’s Creek to the Hibbetts home, and was at the top of the last hill the traveler had to climb from Dixon’s Creek to Hibbetts’ home. We thank Mr. Burrow for his information and we are always glad to make any needed correction.
We are informed by Elder R. D. Brooks that the Greene Wright mentioned in this Column recently, married Polly Burton, a Virginian of considerable wealth. She had a sister that married George Wright, a brother of Greene. Still another sister, Susie Burton, married John Merryman, of pioneer days. We recall that the wife of Ben Wilburn, the father of Billie, Jae, Ben, Jr., Peter and Albert Wilburn, was, prior to her marriage, Miss Martha Burton. We wonder if she was another sister of the three mentioned above. If any reader can give us this information, it will be appreciated. If not a sister, was she related to the three Virginia Burton women?
Greene Wright and his wife, Polly Burton Wright, were the parents of: Robert Wright, married Mary Mayo; Mary Wright, married Charles Brooks, Eli Gammon and Jeremiah Vandenburg, Carmichael Taylor, the son of David Taylor, for whom the Taylor Branch, a few miles south of Lafayette, is said to have been named; Amanda Wright, married Jacob Cleveland; Sarah Wright, married Hamilton Payne, and one other daughter, whose name is not recalled. Greene Wright lived at the present Booker Wilburn home on upper Dixon's Creek.