Kasper Mansker

Source: Early Times in Middle Tennessee
by John Carr, 1857

Kasper Mansker was one of the first pioneers. In June, 1769, a company of adventurers, consisting of twenty men or more, was formed for the purpose of hunting game and exploring the country now known as Middle Tennessee. Among these were Kasper Mansker, John Rains, Abram Bledsoe, John Baker, Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terril, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Ned Cowan, and Robert Crockett. They were from Virginia and North Carolina. They were well equipped with guns and ammunition, and with every thing else that was essential to a protracted hunting and exploring expedition. After having met on New river, they went to the head of Holston river, the north fork of which they crossed; traveling on, they crossed Clinch river and Powell's river; and, passing through the Cumberland Mountain gap, they fell over upon the Cumberland river; and, proceeding down it, they fixed their camp at a place since called Price's Meadows, in Wayne county, Kentucky. They explored the country south and south-west, as low as the Caney Fork. They hunted mostly on Roaring river and Obed's river, which. took its name from old Obadiah Terril, a man with whom I was well acquainted. The country abounded with game, and the hunters were very successful. They hunted and explored for a long time-I believe till the spring of 1770-when part of the company returned home. Kasper Mansker, and eight or ten others, having built boats, or "dug-outs," went with the proceeds of their hunt down the Cumberland river. They were, doubtless, the first white men that navigated that stream. They discovered the French Lick; and Mansker stated that he had never before seen such vast herds of buffalo - -the whole face of the country seeming to be alive with them. The voyagers continued down stream into the Ohio river, and thence to Natchez, which then belonged to Spain. There they sold the proceeds of their hunt; after which Mansker, with some others, returned to New river, in Virginia, and the remainder of the company settled at Natchez. The adventurers who returned to Virginia and North Carolina gave such wonderful, glowing accounts of the abundance of game and the fertility of the soil on the Cumberland river, that the fever of exploring the West became very intense.

In the fall of I771, Kasper Mansker, with the adventurers, made another trip to the country now known as Middle Tennessee. Mansker was the leader of the company; and some of the others were Isaac Bledsoe, John Montgomery, Joseph Drake, James Knox, Henry Suggs, William Allen, and William and David Lynch. They were called the Long Hunters. Arriving in the country, they pitched their station-camp near the spot where Dr. Anderson now resides, on the turnpike road from Nashville to Gallatin; and that is the way Station-Camp took its name. Each hunter made a discovery, which has been signalized by the name of the discoverer. Mansker's Lick and Mansker's Creek, Bledsoe's Lick and Bledsoe's Creek, and Drake's Lick and Drake's Creek, took their names from Mansker, Bledsoe, and Drake. Stoner's Lick and Stoner's Creek were named for Mike Stoner, a Dutchman. Flinn's Lick and Flinn's Creek, in Jackson county, were named for George Flinn. Barton Creek, where Lebanon now stands, was called for Col. Samuel Barton. Spencer's Lick and Spencer's Creek were called for Thomas Spencer-of whom I will write hereafter.

Mansker stated that, when he discovered the two licks, the upper and the lower, which were only a few hundred yards apart, in passing from one to the other, he killed nineteen deer. Col. Isaac Bledsoe stated that, when he discovered Bledsoe's Lick, the buffaloes were so numerous that, though on horseback, he was fearful of being run over and trampled to death by them. Indeed, the country abounded with buffaloes, bears, and all kinds of game. This company of hunters and explorers, under the leadership of Kasper Mansker, having constructed huts out of buffalo hides, remained during the winter; and, having made a great hunt, and explored the beautiful country of Middle Tennessee, they returned in the spring to their homes.

As already stated in my narrative, Kasper Mansker, in l779 or 1780, built a fort on Mansker's Creek, not far from Mansker's Lick. I knew him long and well. He was a Dutchman, and spoke broken English; and though without education, he was a man of fine sense. He was a great woodsman and a mighty hunter-one of the best marksmen I ever saw shoulder a rifle. He was an excellent soldier; and no man among us understood better than he did how to fight the Indians; so that he rendered great service in driving the savages from the country. I have often listened with eager attention, while he told his exploits and scrapes with the Indians. He was made a militia-colonel. He was present, though far advanced in years, at the taking of Nickajack. He never had any children. He possessed a handsome property, was fond of raising stock, and loved his gun as long as he was able to hunt. In his old age he would attend shooting-matches, and frequently took prizes when they shot for beef. He died where he built his second fort, on the east side of Mansker's Creek, in Sumner county.

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