Early Times in Middle Tennessee
Chapter 4

By John Carr, 1857

Retyped for the page by Diane Payne, 2001

Chapter 4

The county of Sumner was established in 1785 or 1786. It was named in honor of Gen. Jethro Sumner, a brave officer of the North Carolina line throughout the Revolutionary war. I have examined the old records of this county, and found that the first court was held on the second Monday in April, 1787, at the house of John Hamilton. The following gentlemen took the oath as magistrates for the county: Gen. Daniel Smith, Major David Wilson, Major George Winchester, Isaac Lindsey, William Hall, John Gardin, and Joseph Keykendall. David Shelby was appointed clerk of the county court-an office which he held during his life. John Hardin, Jr., was appointed sheriff, and Isaac Lindsey ranger. Soon afterwards, Col. Ed. Douglass and Col. Isaac Bledsoe were added to the bench. I have no doubt these gentlemen composed the strongest county court that has ever met in this county. The majority of them were men of first-rate talents. They used to meet and attend to the business of the county in a few hours. Times have very much changed since their day.

It was about the year 1786, or 1787, that the people of Sumner county began to suffer very seriously from the depredations of the Indians. I shall now attempt to give the names of the persons killed in Sumner county, as far as I know, from that time to the close of the war. I need not be particular in referring to dates, but will try to be so as regards names and localities. The Indians killed Mr. Price and his wife, down the creek just below Gallatin. They killed John Pervine, about two miles north-east of Gallatin, at Dr. Donnel's. They killed John Beard, near the head of Big Station Camp Creek. They killed three sons of William Montgomery, named John, Thomas, and Robert, about two and a half miles below Shackle Island, on Drake's Creek. They killed Robert Jones, near where Major Wilson settled, about two miles east of Gallatin. They came very near killing Mrs. Parker, formerly Mrs. Anthony Bledsoe, but they were kept at bay by Thomas Spencer, "the bravest of the brave," while she made her escape. They killed Richard Bartly, near the Walnutfield fort; and Henry Howdyshell and Samuel Farr, in the same vicinity. They killed Major George Winchester, near the site of Gallatin, while he was on his way to court. He was an excellent man, and we suffered a great loss in his death. The Indians killed Benjamin Williams and his wife, about two and a half miles north of Gallatin, on the plantation now owned by James House, Esq. They killed John Edwards, about four miles north-west of Gallatin, near the spot where Salem Church now stands.

They killed Robert Brigham, near White's Station; and William Bratton, near the same place. They killed James Dickinson, between White's Station and Col. Saunders's Fort; also two sons of Col. Saunders, whose names I have forgotten; and two sons of Robert Desha: their names were Benjamin and Robert. Near the same place, also, they killed Benjamin Keykendall. They killed old Mr. Morgan, the father of Esquire John Morgan, who owned the fort near that place. They killed James Steele and his daughter Elizabeth, a grown young lady, while they were passing from Greenfield to Morgan Station. At Greenfield, one morning, when the hands had gone out into the field to plough, an attack was made by a large body of Indians; and a young man named Jarvis, and a negro man, were killed by them. Immediately William Hall, William Neely, William Wilson, and James Hays encountered the Indians, and contended with them for some time. Hall and Hays each killed an Indian, and no doubt others were killed; and finally the whole body retreated before these four men. Their bravery on this occasion, I presume, was never surpassed anywhere in the country. Hall and Neely had each lost a father and two brothers by the hands of the savages. Captain Alexander Neely and his two sons were killed about a mile from Bledsoe's Lick, at the place where the widow Parker now lives. They killed old Mr. Peyton, grandfather of the Hon. Baylie Peyton, at Bledsoe's Lick. They killed Captain Charles Morgan and old Mr. Gibson, near where Gen. Hall now lives. They killed Henry Ramsey, near where Rural Academy now stands, between Greenfield and Bledsoe's Lick. They killed William Ramsey, at the mouth of the lane leading from Bledsoe's Lick Fort to Bledsoe's Creek. They killed two men down on Bledsoe's Creek-the name of one was Waters, that of the other I do not recollect. They killed John Bartly, Jr., near Greenfield. They killed James Hall, brother of Gen. Hall, near the present residence of the latter, who was with him, and made a hair's-breadth escape. They killed Major William Hall, the General's father, and his brother Richard, and a young man named Hickerson, while they were all moving from where the General now lives to the fort at the Lick. Old Mrs. Hall, and the General, and his brother John, and sister Prudence, with all the negroes, made their escape. This affair was, indeed, a dreadful calamity. The same night they killed Col. Anthony Bledsoe, and a young man named Campbell, at the fort at Bledsoe's Lick; and after that they killed Thomas Bledsoe. They also killed Col. Isaac Bledsoe, near the Station at Bledsoe's Lick; and, besides these, two sons--one of Col. Isaac and one of Col. Anthony, both named Anthony-while they were boarding at Gen. Smith's, and going to school on Drake's Creek, near Hendersonville. They killed Nathan Latimore and David Scoby, citizens of Sumner county, near the Rock Island, on Caney Fork. when Lieut. Snoddy had a severe battle with the Indians, in which he defeated them, and returned home with great honor. They killed Robert Hardin while he was hunting on the Cumberland river, near Fort Blount. They killed john Lawrence, William Haynes, and Michael Hampton, on the north side of the ridge, either at the head of Red river, or on the waters of Drake's Creek, I believe in Sumner county. They killed Armsted Morgan, a brother of Captain Charles Morgan, and a fine- humored, well-disposed young man, while he was guiding through from "South-west Point" Captain Handly and a company of men for the protection of the Cumberland settlements. When they had arrived at the "Crab Orchard," on this side of the .'South-west Point," they were attacked by a large body of Indians, and Armsted, Morgan, and two other men were killed. Captain Handly's men were thrown into confusion, and, while he was trying to rally them, he was surrounded by the Indians. But he fought so bravely with his sword that Archy Coody, the half-breed, was struck with admiration, and springing in, he saved his life. He was taken prisoner, and carried, I believe to Willstown, in the Cherokee Nation. Col. Brown states in his narrative, that he "was present at Knoxville when Coody, the half-breed, brought Captain Handly into Knoxville, and was introduced by Captain Handly to Governor Sevier and the other eminent men present, with the words, 'This, gentlemen, is my deliverer.' Captain Handly died in Lincoln county, in this State, about the year 1846. He was a very religious, as well as a brave man." Thomas Spencer was killed between Carthage and "South-west Point," at a place now called Spencer's Hill. Captain John Hickerson was killed on Smith's Fork, now in De Kalb county, where Gen. Winchester had a brush with the Indians. They killed Jacob Zigler, Michael Shaver, Archy Wilson, and a negro girl, when Zigler's Station was captured. There may have been other persons killed by the Indians in this county; but if there were, I do not recollect them. With a few exceptions, all of those killed were residents of Sumner county; and surely its settlement was paid for in blood.

In the deaths of Col. Isaac Bledsoe, CoI. Anthony Bledsoe, Major George Winchester, and Major William Hall, Sumner county suffered great loss, as they were, in a great degree, the file-leaders of the people. However, there were other prominent men, who managed our affairs, both civil and military, with much propriety; and among these were Gen. James Winchester, Gen. Daniel Smith, Col. Ed. Douglass, Major David Wilson, David Shelby, and others.

While we were harassed by the Indians, in 1787, the State of North Carolina legislated in behalf of her settlements in the Cumberland country, and agreed to send us a battalion of men. They were commanded by Major Evans, and were called Evans's battalion. The soldiers were to have four hundred acres of land as bounty, and the officers were to receive in proportion. Captain William Martin (afterwards Col. Martin, who died in Smith county) commanded one company; and Captain Joshua Hadley, who died some years ago in this county, commanded another company. The battalion continued here about two years, and rendered great service in guarding our forts and in pursuing the Indians when they had committed murder or stolen horses. The Legislature of North Carolina intended, I suppose, that the soldiers should be supported by the people of this country. At the October term of the county court of Davidson, in 1787, a tax was levied for the support of the troops that were stationed in that county. The record reads thus:
Resolved, That, for the better furnishing of the troops now coming into the country, under the command of Major Evans, with provisions, etc., that one-fourth of the tax of this county be paid in corn, two-fourths in beef, pork, bear-meat, and venison, one-eighth in salt, and one-eighth in money, to defray the expense of moving the provisions from the place of collection to the troops; and that the following places be appointed in each captain's company for the inhabitants to deliver in each his proportion of the above tax, namely: [Here follow the several stations. ] ...And it is hereby resolved, That the following species of provisions be received at the under-mentioned prices: corn at four shillings per bushel, beef at five dollars per hundred, pork at eight dollars per hundred, good bear-meat, without bones, at eight dollars per hundred, venison at ten shillings per hundred, and salt at sixteen dollars per bushel; and the superintendent is hereby directed to call for such proportions of the aforesaid tax as the commanding officer of the troops shall direct; and on any person or persons failing to deliver his or their quotas at the time and place directed, to give notice thereof to the sheriff, who is hereby directed to distrain immediately."

I presume it would be a hard matter for the people of Davidson county, at this day, to pay their taxes in bear-meat and venison!

From 1790 to the close of the war, scouts were kept out nearly all the time; and we frequently met with the Indians and gave them pretty severe brushes. Gen. Robertson had a set of brave men about Nashville, who did good service in pursuing the Indians. Capt. John Rains, Capt. John Gordon, and Capt. Thomas Maury, with their followers, were always ready at a minute's warning. Capt. Rains gave the Indians many a brush, and killed large numbers of them. One of the most successful trips was made by Capt. Maury. The Indians having killed a man named John Heiling, at Jonathan Robertson's, and having stolen a great many horses, Gen. Robertson gave orders to Capt. Maury to pursue them. Capt. Maury's company was composed of daring fellows, such as Col. William Pillow, and others who might be mentioned. They pursued the Indians almost night and day, and overtook them on the Tennessee river. They charged upon them. and killed seven warriors and took two squaws prisoners. recaptured all the horses. and got possession of their camp equipage. Thus successful. they returned home with great applause. Capt. Maury commanded a company at the taking of Nickajack. He was afterwards promoted. and became major. He settled in Sumner county, raised a family, and died there, after having sustained the character of a respectable citizen.

While we were under a territorial government, a county was laid off on Red river, and called Tennessee county. It embraced all that section of country now composing the counties of Roberston and Montgomery. Considerable settlements were made from the mouth to the head of Red river-particularly where Springfield now stands. The leading men in that county were Gen. Thomas Johnson. father of the Hon. Cave Johnson. Francis and William Prince, the Forts, and others. The Indians did a good deal of mischief among them. They killed Mrs. Roberts and Thomas Reasons and his wife, and plundered their houses. On another occasion, they killed Col. Isaac Titsworth, John Titsworth, and others-seven white persons in all-and took several prisoners. They were pursued immediately, and that fact having been discovered by them, they tomahawked and scalped three children. Valentine Sevier had settled about where Clarksville now stands, and had there a small station. The Indians made an attack during the absence of all the men except Sevier and Snyder. Mr. Snyder and his wife and son John, Joseph Sevier, John Sevier, and Ann King and her son James, were killed. Besides, many other depredations were committed in that county down to the close of the war.

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