Transcribed by Janette West Grimes
September 14, 1950
* CAL'S COLUMN *
In our article last week, we mentioned the fact that a certain man was appointed overseer of the road leading from Mungle's Gap by way of the trough spring up Middle Fork, etc. Since writing the article for last week, we believe we have located the trough spring. That it was on Middle Fork of Goose Creek is evident from the fact that the overseer was to have charge of the road leading from Mungle's Gap to the first fork of the creek above the trough spring. Then another man was appointed to have charge of the road leading from the first fork above the trough spring to Long Creek. The part of the creek that heads nearest to Long Creek is the extreme upper end of Middle Fork which heads at what is called the Gap of the Ridge, on the south side. Then just north of the Gap one finds himself on the waters of Long Creek. In fact the Gap is the highest point on the Long Creek road. We know that Goose Creek was called in the long - gone years by the various creeks or forks that made up the main creek. That part that flowed by Hillsdale was known as East Fork of Goose Creek. In fact Hillsdale Baptist church, ofrmed in 1817, was known for many years as East Fork of Goose Creek. So the Middle Fork is that part which empties into or joins the East Fork, just above the present Linville Shop. Not far from the junction of the two streams, but on Middle Fork, there was once a spring in the very edge of the creek. Sixty years ago water was used from this spring by a Linville family. J. A. Linville, now 70 years old, says that he used to carry water from this spring o his home not far away. He states also that steps had been cut out in the bluff just above the spring so that one might go down to the water, which bubbled up through a hollow log that had been set endwise into the pool of fresh, spring water. So we feel reasonably certain that this old spring is the one referred to years ago by the Smith County Quarterly Court.
From the appointment of a road overseer for Long Creek, we learn that Long Creek was embraced in Smith County at the formation of the county. This means that in our previous article we were wrong when we stated that half of the present Macon County was Smith County. With the line at least as far west as Long Creek, we now know that approximately two-thirds of the present Macon County once made up part of Smith County. If any reader knows where the line between Smith and Sumner Counties, prior to the formation of Macon County in 1842, was, will you not write to us and give the exact location of this line that was "blotted out" with the formation of Macon County?
Now we resume where we left off last week. The next item in the old record is as follows: "Letter of attorney, James Bradley to James Sanders, acknowledged." We feel sure that this was another "power of attorney," but we have no idea who either party was.
The next item states: "James Gwin was appointed County Trustee, who gave bond and security in the, penal sum of two thousand dollars, with Peter Turney, Richard Brittain and Elisha _____, his securities. And took the necessary oaths and oath of office." The Trustee of Smith County of today must make a far heavier bond than that required a century and a half ago. We would guess that his bond today is perhaps one hundred thousand dollars. Thus we learn that the county's first Trustee was James Gwin. If he has any descendants now living in Smith County, we do not know of them. His securities, Peter Turney, Richard Brittain and Elisha ____, are, in a way, known in part. Mention of Peter Turney has already been made in these columns. Richard Brittain was one of the very early members of Dixon's Creek Baptist church, which was formed less than three months after the meeting of the first Smith County Quarterly Court, and within two miles of the place of the Court's meeting. Richard Brittain was very probably a well-to-do farmer, for we know that he owned a race mare as early as 1800, for the old church records show that he had "lent" his mare to run in a "course race," and the church had him to make his acknowledgements. We are quite sure that he was the ancestor of the Mr. Brittain, of Hendersonville, who was field manager for the new Gallatin WHIN station up to recent months. Who Elisha ____ was does not as yet appear, the records showing that his last name was merely overlooked.
"Charles F. Mobias (or Mabias) came into Court and gave bond in the penal sum of five hundred dollars, with William Sanders and Henry McKinney, his securities. And also took the necessary oathsvand oath of office," reads the next item. This was the office of County Coroner. Henry McKinney named here appears for the first time in the old records. He was very likely the ancestor of the numerous McKinneys now living in Smith County.
"John Martin, Sheriff, came into Court and gave bond in the penal sum of five thousand dollars, with William Martin, Sampson Williams and Grant Allen, his securities. And also took the necessary oaths and oaths of office." Thus reads the next item. We are again made to wonder of John and William Martin were brothers. Grant Allen was the man in whose home Dixon's Creek Baptist church was organized on March 8, 1800. He lived at that time very near the mouth of Dixon's Creek. We presume that the Allens who lived in the vicinity of Dixon's Springs in our boyhood were the descendents of Captain Grant Allen. Among the earliest Allens there that we knew 50 years ago were George Allen and Major J. D. Allen. If we are wrong in our idea that these were descendend from Captain Grant Allen, we shall appreciate a correction.
The next item: "The Court then proceeded to appoint a State's Attorney, and appointed Benjamin Seawell, who was duly qualified in open Court." Here we have the first mention of a lawyer we have been able to find in the old records. Whether his name would now be spelled Sewell and pronounced as if spelled Suell, or whether the name Seawell, is a different family name we do not know. But we would guess that the names are one and the same, with a different spelling. The Sewells were rather prominent in the early history of some parts of Middle Tennessee. We wish we knew more of Benjamin Seawell, but thus far we have learned not one thing more.
"The Court then proceeded to appoint a Register, when Daniel Burford was duly elected and gave bond in the penal sum of two thousand dollars, with William Saunders and William Martin, his securities and also took the necessary oaths." This Daniel Burford was the first pastor of Dixon's Creek Baptist church. The following record of him is taken from Grime's History of Middle Tennessee: "Nothing is known of the early life of this pioneer minister. He was one of the constituent members of Dixon's Creek Church. He was ordained by this church on the day she was constituted, March 8, 1800, by a presbytery constuting of Elders William Phipps, Joshua White and Clifton Allen. He entered at once upon the pastorate of this church and served them until 1807. Perhaps, as early as 1805, he became Register of Smith County and moved to the town, or near the town, of Carthage. He then established a preaching point near where Caney Fork River empties into the Cumberland. This work was prosperous and in June, 1806, Dixon's Creek Church extended an arm there. That fall they constructed seats, where the town of Carthage now stands, and elected Elder Daniel Burford as pastor of this arm. The next year he resigned the care of the mother church and gave his time to building up this new interest and conducting the County Registry office for a support. His work here was considerably blessed and resulted in the constitution of Hogan's Creek Church, in 1810, he making one of the constituting Presbytery. He also assisted in constituting Salem Church in 1809. In 1814 he moved into the community of Liberty, Dekalb County, Tennessee, and cast his membership with Salem Church in August of that year. Deacon William Martin says he was a preacher of the first order. Such endorsement from such a source is an honor of which anyone might be proud. He has a grandson, Major Burford, who is still living at Dixon Springs, Smith County. Where he sleeps we know not, but God will find him in the resurrection at that day."
In the above account of the ordination of Elder Burford, the name of one of the members of the ordaining Presbytery, Isaac Totevine, was left out. Also Brother Grime was six years too late in his date for Burford's becoming Register of Smith County. We do not mean to be critical, but all men are subject to mistakes and we are taking the liberty of making the two corrections. Readers should understand that Grime's History of Middle Tennessee Baptists was published in 1902. We believe that some person who knows enough history to supply data about North Middle Tennessee Baptist churches, and ministers and Associations for the past 48 years, ought to be allowed to add this Grime's History and then publish the combined work. But we know pf no person qualified for this great task.
"The Court then proceeded to elect Constables; Amos Lacy, Silas Jernigan, Robert Cotton, James Strain, James Wright and also Henry Huddleston (were appointed)." So reads the next item. Cotton and Strain families are unknown in Smith or adjoining counties today, as are te Lacy and Jernigan families, but the last two families are quite well known in other places in the State. One peculiar thing about the spelling of Jernigan's name is that the old record has it in the above item, Jonakin. For what Districts the above Constables were chosen is not revealed.
"The Court then proceeded to the appointment of Ranger, when Basil Shaw was duly elected. He ten took the necessary oaths."A Ranger will perhaps cause some to wonder what his work was. We do not know precisely what Ranger Basil Shaw's work was, but we suppose it to have been to look after the stray cattle, horses and other live stock, as well as dogs.In some parts of the United States a Ranger looks after large tracts of forested lands. Just who Basil Shaw was we do not know. Perhaps he was the ancestor of one of the first men we ever knew, Jerry Shaw, a lumberman and saw mill operator, who lived for many years near Dixon Springs.
Then the Court for that December day closed with the statements: "Court then adjourned until tomorrow morning at eight o'clock."