Transcribed by Becky Campbell
Sept 21, 1950
* CAL'S COLUMN *
We are getting some response from the public relative to some matters mentioned in our write-up of the old records of the Quarterly Court of Smith County in the long, long ago. We have received the following information from Mrs. Alden McClain, of Carthage: The Bill Fiske mentioned in a recent column as having been the former owner and editor of Bill Fiske's Bugle, the Clay County paper for many years, was the son of Moses Fiske. Evidently Bill Fiske's father was either a son or a grandson of the original Moses Fisk, the member of the first County Court of Smith County. The Moses Fiske referred to as the father of Bill Fiske, is reported to have been a very fine man, a resident of Hilham, Tennessee, in which place he started a school known as Fiske Academy. This Moses Fiske was twice married, his first wife's name not being known. His second wife was Miss Emma Hooten. By the first wife, he had a son named Moses. We understand that Bill Fiske has a son named Moses. We thank Mrs. McClain for her information.
From Mrs. R. D. Brooks, of Carthage, we have the following information about Charles F. Mabias, whose name we did not know exactly how to spell, putting it down both Mabias and Mobias. It appears that the correct spelling is Mabias. Mrs. Brooks gave in her communication the following items: "Monday, Dec. 10, 1804, Charles F. Mabias, Coroner, came into Court and offered his resignation, as such, which was received accordingly. Thursday, Dec 13, 1804, Charles F. Mabias, who is elected Corner, came into Court and refused to act or enter into bond and security, and withdrew.
"Charles F. Maias died in 1814. Children: Sarah, William, Daniel and Betsy Mabias. His home was on the head of Dixon's Lick Creek where Johnson Gregory now (1950) lives. This is recorded in Deed Book in 1802"
"Charles F. Mabias, Doctor, granted to Phillip Day 50 acres of land being part of 360 acres of land that John Douglas surveyed for the said Doctor Mabias. Phillip Day was the son-in-law of John Douglas. Dr. Mabias granted the land to the said Day as a gift. Later this grant came to be the home of one of Phillip Day's sons, John D. Day, and wife, Margaret Callie Day, who united with the Dixon's Creek Baptist church in 1837, the same year that John H. Ligon was to become a deacon as was Day. Ligon also was Clerk of the church for many years."
"Francois Andre Michant (Frenchman) who traveled in Tennessee in the long, long ago, made a daily record of his travels, which are set forth in a new book, "Tennessee Old and New Sesquicentennial Edition, 1796-1946, which gives the following: On the fifth of September, 1802, I set out from Nashville for Knoxville, with Mr. Fisk sent by the State of Tennessee to determine in more correct manner, in concert with the Commissioner of Virginia, the boundary between the two States.
We arrived at the fort Blount on the 9th of September. Fort Blount was constructed about 18 years ago. Since that time the Fort has been destroyed, and over this spot is a beautiful plantation belonging to Capt. Williamson Sampson."
"You will notice that the Frenchman had the name reversed. He also spent a night at Tilman Dixon's, near Dixon Springs, but the book does not mention it."
We wish to thank Mrs. Brooks for her information. We wonder if the Mr. Fisk mentioned above could have been Squire Moses Fisk, member of the first County Court of Smith County. Mrs. Brooks has rendered us a real service in giving us the facts about Mabias. However, her letter did not state positively that the first-mentioned Mabias was a Doctor, but we presume this to have been the meaning. Anyway, if, this is not correct we shall be glad to have her straighten us out on this point.
Now we resume the record of that first meeting of the first Quarterly Court of Smith County, "Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1789. Court met [area unable to read from copy] to adjournment: and the following members were present (to-wit) Garrett Fitzgerald, William Alexander, William Walton, James Gwin, Tilman Dixon, Moses Fisk, James Hibbetts, Thomas Harmond and Peter Turney." This shows that practically every member of the Court was presnt, even after having already spent two full days in the work of the Court. The first item of business is a as follows: "James Shaw came into Court and gave bond in the sum of five hundred dollars for the performance of his duty as Constable, with James Gwin his security. Took the necessary oaths." Just who James Shaw was we do not know. If he was a brother of Ranger Basil Shaw, we do not know at this distant day; but perhaps some member of the family may know of the relationship and the place of residence of each party.
" Amos Lacy, Silas Jernigan and James W. Wright all gave bond and security and took the necessary oaths and the oath of office as Constables." We presume that Silas Jernigan was an ancestor or at least a relative of John Jernigan, a barber in one of the Springfield hotels. Perhaps he was either an ancestor or relative of the Church of Christ minister Jernigan at Portland. James W. Wright we presume, was a relative of the numerous Wrights of the Dixon Springs section even till this day. However, this is supposition and is not based upon tangible proof.
"On motion of Tilman Dixon, ordered that all tavern keepers be allowed to sell spirituous liquors at the following rates (to-wit) good whiskey and brandy. 12 1/2 cents by the half pint; for breakfast, dinner and supper, twenty-five cents; for corn and oats by the gallon, twelve and a half cents; for two bundles of fodder. two pence; for pasturage 24 hours. 12 1/2 cents; for lodging, 6 1/4 cents." so reads the next item which is of much interest. Readers can easily see that the price of drinks and eats has risen quite sharply in seven and a half score years of time. We never bought any whiskey or brandy in all our 59 years, so we are not prepared to comment on this point. But we feel quite sure that the prices are very, very low compared to modern prices. On the matter of breakfasts, diner and supper, we are much more expert. Three meals for only 25 cents is a very low price indeed. Corn and oats at twelve and a half cents per gallon is a low price for horse or mule fee. Two bundles of fodder for two pence or two pennies is very low. We used to "pull fodder" in our early life and two pennies for, two bundles is "dirt cheap." The reader will note that no mention is made of hay. This was long before the use of alalfa, clover or timothy had had come to our farms. Corn, oats and fodder made up all the dry feed for horses and mules. For pasturage 24 hours, 12 1/2 cents. This showed two things. One was that travelers, were not in the hurry that they are now. Who would want to wait 24 hours while his horse was grazing? So the travelers of that date and time took their time as it were, and did not get into the big hurry of today. We wonder if life would not last a lot longer and be much more enjoyable if we, of today, could slow down and "take off time for our horses to graze." A second thing shown was that pasturage was "dirt cheap." Also the last item, of lodging for 6 1/4 cents, is about the cheapest we ever heard of. The writer used to teach school, 41 years ago he paid eight dollars per month for board and lodging, but that was more than the prices above charged for eats and sleeping.
The next item is: "Ordered that Tilman Dixon be allowed a license to keep a tavern. He therefore gave bond and sufficient security." So Mr. Dixon was licensed to take care of the traveling public and to supply their wants in food and drink, as well as to fed their horses.
Next item -- "A letter of attorney, Tilman Dixon to Thomas Allen, acknowledged." We know Dixon, but this is our first record of Thomas Allen. Perhaps he was a relative of the early Allens about Dixon Springs.
"On petition of Edmond Jennings, ordered that the said Edmond Jennings be allowed a ferry near the mouth of Jennings' Creek, who gave bond and security, and allowed him the following rates (to wit): For man and horse, 18 1/3 cents: or single man and single horse, nine cents: for a wagon and team, one dollar; for cattle, 25 cents; for each head of sheep or hogs, 8 1/2 cents; for pack horses, same as for man and horse." Edmond Jennings is most probably the man for whom the long wide valley and stream largely in the present Jackson County, was named. For ferrying a man and horse across the Cumberland, Mr. Jennings was to receive 18 1/2 cents. What a time bookkeepers and makers of change must have had when there were such small fractions as one thrid or one fourth of a cent. The single horse and single man did not mean unmarried horse or man, but meant that for ferrying one man across the river, Jennings was to have nine cents and the same rate prevailed for one horse. But perhaps the Court did not think that a traveler could save one third of a cent by coming across by himself and then having the ferryman go back and bring over his horse for another nine cents. Nine plus nine would make 18 cents, which is one third of a cent less than bringing both man and horse over at the same time. This was almost as bad as the price made by the merchant who offered to sell one item for five cents or two items of the same kind for 15 cents. We wonder why a horse could be ferried over for only nine cents, but cattle were 25 cents per head. Cattle are generally better swimmers than horses and could have easily been made to "swim the river." The last item about pack horses carries one back to the very first settlers in this section. Many of them loaded their earthly goods on a pack horses carries one back to the very first settlers in this section. Many of them loaded their earthly goods on a pack horse and brought their entire belongings to Tennessee in this manner.
"Ordered that Henry McKinney be appointed overseer of the road leading from Flynn's Creek from the South bank of the Cumberland River, and that all the hands living on the Flynn's Creek waters and within three miles of the said road on the south side of the river work on said road." reads the next item. Flynn's Creek runs into the Cumberland in lower Jackson County, not far from Granville. It is presumed that Henry McKinney must have lived in the general vicinity of Flynn's Creek. This creek, like many others, had a "lick," or place where a small spring gave out slightly briny water and where deer assembled to get their needed salt. Flynn's Lick is still recalled quite vividly by old timers. Dixon's Creek's first fork or prong is known till today as Lick Creek. Just where the "lick" on that stream was we do not know. Salt Lick, of Barren River, was so called from some salt springs near the present Red Boiling Springs. Salt Lick of the Cumberland, got its name from a "lick" but the writer does not know where the "lick" was. Some of our later writers have tried to substitute the word "lake" for the old word, "lick." The old form merely denoted a place where wild animals "licked" the slightly salty waters that came out of the earth here and there in widely scattered areas. Many years ago there was a small "lick" on Upper Peyton's Creek, not far from the Mima Gregory Hill. About these "lickds" hunters used to gather to slaughter the deer and other animals attracted by the salt. It is said that Casper Mansker, the old Dutch 'Long Hunter,' killed 17 deer in a distance of 300 yards between two salt springs on the present Mansker's Creek on the boundary between Sumner and Davidosn Counties about 1778. At a salt srping near the present Madison Sanitarium one of the tragedies of pioneer times took place in 1792, when a group of salt makers were engaged in refining the salty water into crude salt and their hunter had come into the cooking camp 300 yards from the salt making camp, with a large deer on his houlders. His 16 year old daughter was doing the cooking for the entire outfit of nealy a dozen men and asked her father to lie down and rest while she dressed the deer and cooked part of it for supper while she was thus engaged, the hunter father heard a stick break or someother unnatural sound and raised up, to be greeted with a dozen rifle shots and one or two bullets in his body, and the yells and screams of Indians. The father died in a matter of minutes and Indians made off with their prisoner, the 16 year old daughter. The salt makers, hearing the shots, the yells and perhaps the screams of the unfortunate girl, rushed down to the cooking camp to find the hunter dead and his daughter missing. The shades of night were even then falling, but their experienced eyes told them what had happened. They took the trail of the departing Indians and followed it to the river not very far away. Leaving the fleeing Indians for the time being, they returned, took up the body of the dead hunter and carried it to his widow in Nashborough, now Nashville; and informed her of the stark tragedy that had overtaken her husband and daughter. The next morning "trackers" or "scouts" as they were called came up the south bank of the river and found the trail of the murderous Indians and set out to follow them. Hour after hour the pursuit lasted until the border of Alabama was reached. There the white men turned back, apparently convinced that it was not safe to cross into territory almost wholly given over to the Indians.
The poor girl did not lose her wits because she was in the hands of cruel savages. She began to watch for an opportunity to get away from her captors and for five years, she watched carefully and continually for an opening that would let her escape. Finally the time came and she got away, to travel perhaps 150 miles through virtually unbroken forest. But she made the journey successfully and returned to her mother and other loved ones in Nashville. It was said, however, that her five-year-stay among the savage Indians gave her some of the ways of the red men for the remainder of her life.
Perhaps we should have mentioned another "lick," in the above write-up, that on the present Lick Branch near Lafayette, but we do not know the exact location of this place where salt water oozed out of the ground.
Next week we hope to resume our old records, with perhaps not quite so much digression from the subject under consideration. However, we hope that the reader will pardon our running off after other things of the years that will never come again.