Early Times in Middle Tennessee
Chapter 3

By John Carr, 1857

Retyped for the page by Diane Payne, 2001

Chapter 3

In 1783, the Legislature of North Carolina, assembled at Hillsboro', erected the county of Davidson, named in honor of Col. Davidson, who was killed on the Catawba, while trying to check the progress of the British troops in pursuit of Gen. Morgan, on his march from the battle of the Cowpens. The Legislature also established a town at the Bluff, and called it Nashville, in honor of Col. Francis Nash, who fell at the head of his regiment at the battle of Germantown. At the same time, the Legislature appointed the civil and military officers of the county of Davidson. The first court was held in October 1783. Isaac Bledsoe, Samuel Barton, Francis Prince, and Isaac Lindsey, were "sworn in" as magistrates. The oldest man had the oath administered to him by the one next in seniority, and then he administered the oath to the others. Andrew Ewing was elected clerk; Daniel Williams, sheriff; Samuel Barton, entry-taker; and Francis Prince, register. The court then nominated constables for the several stations; Samuel Mason, at Mauldin's and Killgore's; James McCain, at Mansker's; Stephen Ray, at Eaton's; Edward Swanson, at Freeland's; John McAdams, at Nashville. The court next proceeded to select a place for the building of a courthouse and jail; and it was agreed that, in view of the situation of the settlement, it should be at Nashville. It was ordered that the court-house should be eighteen feet square, with a shed twelve feet in width, extending the length of the house, and that it should be furnished with a bar and benches fit for the sitting of the court. It was ordered that the jail should be fourteen feet square, of hewn logs twelve inches square, for the walls and loft, and the floor also, unless the building should be upon a rock; the work to be done at the lowest price.

The following military officers were "sworn in": Anthony Bledsoe, colonel; Isaac Bledsoe, first major; Samuel Barton, second major; Kasper Mansker, first captain; George Freeland, second captain; John Buchanan, third captain; James Lord, fourth captain; William Ramsey, Jonathan Drake, Ambrose Mauldin, and Peter Lides, lieutenants; William Collins and Elmore Douglass, ensigns.

The prospects of the colony began to brighten; and that great and good man, Gen. Robertson, realized his expectations. Middle Tennessee is under stronger obligations to him than to any man that ever lived in the country. The truth is, none could have managed like he our Indian affairs. Nevertheless, he has been greatly neglected by historians. A slight sketch of his public life will not here be out of place: In 1769, he emigrated from North Carolina to Watauga, on the Holston river, and assisted the Shelbys, Seviers, and others, in planting the first colony in that section of the country. There he braved great dangers and suffered many privations from the depredations of the Indians. Indeed, the entire frontier of Virginia was then exposed to the cruelties of the savages. We were under the British rule at that time; and Lord Dunmore ordered an army to be raised and marched to the Ohio river. Gen. Robertson was one the volunteers in that army. This was in 1774. Gen. Andrew Lewis was ordered to raise four regiments of militia and volunteers from the south- western counties, and to rendezvous at Camp Union, and to march thence down the Great Kenhawa to the Ohio river. Captain Shelby raised a company of volunteers from Watauga, and among them was Gen. Robertson. They joined Gen. Lewis at the great levels of Green Brier. Their route lay through a trackless wilderness, down the rugged banks of the Kenhawa, through deep defiles and mountain gorges, where a pathway had never been opened. Twenty-five days were consumed in slow and toilsome marches. On the 6th of October, the army reached the Ohio. The camp was upon the site of the present town of Point Pleasant. The troops being upon short allowance, select parties of hunters were kept constantly on duty to supply them with food. On the morning of the 10th, about the break of day, James Robertson and Valentine Sevier started out hunting. They had not gone far before they met the great Indian army, who would have fallen upon Gen. Lewis's camp in a few minutes. Robertson and Sevier fired upon them, and while the savages were in confusion, retreated with all speed into the camp. The battle soon commenced, and lasted till late in the evening; being, no doubt, the longest one ever fought by the Indians against the whites in this whole country. At length, the Indians were driven over the Ohio river. I knew quite a number of men who were in that battle. Next, I find Gen. Robertson, in 1779, as already noticed, planting a colony on the bluff, where now stands the city of Nashville. In 1783, he held a treaty with the Chickasaws, who had been our enemies. The Mountain-leader, accompanied by some of the principal chiefs of the nation, came to Gen. Robertson, and a treaty was held between them. They ceded a portion of their hunting ground to North Carolina. The Mountain-leader, who was naturally one of the shrewdest of men, proved a true friend to the whites. Frequent were the warnings he gave us when we were about to be attacked by the Creeks and Cherokees. When the treaty was made, he proposed to Gen. Robertson to clear out a road from Nashville to his nation, cutting out all the briers and bushes, so that they could pass and repass from one to the other. The holding of this treaty was chiefly due to Gen. Robertson. Ten years of his life Gen. Robertson spent in East Tennessee, where he had frequent brushes with the Indians, and fifteen years in Middle Tennessee -making twenty-five years on the frontiers among the Indians; and I do not believe any man could have managed Indian affairs better than Gen. Robertson. He lived to see Tennessee become a great State. The last time I saw him was in 1813, on our return-march from Natchez. He was then Agent in the Chickasaw Nation. I discovered that time had laid a heavy hand upon him. He died, I believe, in 1814, at the Agency. Peace to his ashes. I trust that he will be remembered with gratitude by generations to come, and they will rise up and call him blessed-the father of their country.

Towards the end of the year 1782, or at the beginning of 1783, Kasper Mansker, with many others, built a fort on the east side of Mansker's Creek, about a mile above the fort he had built in 1780. In the fall of 1783, James McCain, James Franklin, Elmore Douglass, Charles Carter, and others, made a settlement on the west side of Big Station Camp Creek, where the upper Nashville road crosses the creek. The widow Clark is now living at the very place. In 1784, Col. Isaac Bledsoe built a fort at Bledsoe's Lick: the land is now owned by Jerry Belote. During the same year, Col. Anthony Bledsoe built a fort at "Greenfield," about two and a half miles north of Bledsoe's Lick, on a beautiful eminence, and in the heart of one of the richest bodies of land in Sumner county; the place is now owned by David Chenault. In 1786, Esquire John Morgan built a fort on the west side of Bledsoe's Creek, near the mouth of the "Dry Fork," about two and a half miles north-west of Greenfield. This fort was also on a beautiful eminence, in the midst of a very fertile country; the land is now owned by William Baskervil1e. In 1788, I helped to build a fort at the head of Drake's Creek, on the top of the ridge, about five or six miles north of Shackle Island. It was called the Ridge, or Hamilton's Station. The land, I am told, is now owned by the widow Hunt. In 1790, or 1791, Major James White built a fort about three and a half miles north-east of Gallatin, on the waters of Desha's Creek, a west fork of Bledsoe's Creek. About the same time, Col. Saunders built a fort on the west side of Desha's Creek, about two and a half miles from White's Station. White's is now owned by the widow Martin, and Saunders's by Dr. Raymond Head. In 1790, or 1791, Jacob Zigler built a fort about a mile and a half north of Cairo, on the western branch of Bledsoe's Creek. This fort was taken by the Indians in 1792. There were four killed and four wounded, and thirteen prisoners carried to the nation. I was one of the men Who followed them. The land of Zigler's Station is now owned by James Charlton. In 1790, or 1791, Captain Joseph Wilson built a fort about three miles south-east of Gallatin; it was called the "Walnut-field" Station. The land is now owned by the heirs of Darnel. The different forts in Davidson county I leave for my brother pioneers there to point out, if it is thought desirable that their localities should not be lost from memory. It is not to be understood that these stations were all continued till the close of the Indian war in 1795. The three upper stations- Morgan's, Greenfield, and the Lick-1 believe, were kept up till the close of the war. There were no settlements east of them. There were quite a number of farms opened and improvements made from Bledsoe's to Mansker's Creek, and from the river mouth to the ridge. There were no settlements south of Cumberland river till after the close of the war.

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