Bledsoe's Lick

by Walter T. Durham
From Old Sumner, A History of Sumner County, Tennessee, From 1805 to 1861.
Reprinted with permission.

As new communities sprang up in the wake of the new settlers, the older first settlements continued to grow, also. The community around Bledsoe's Lick was typical of the growing older settlements. As land was taken up near the Lick, the location of new homesteads spread into nearby Belote's Bend of the Cumberland River.
John F. HARRIS, who like William HENDERSON had come from Albermarle County, Virginia, built a house near the Lick in 1820 that was known in 1906 as the Jim SWANEY house. One of the brothers, William or Thomas BEARDEN, built a brick house about a mile from the sulphur spring which later became know as the Dr. Humphrey BATE house. Local tradition is that the house was built while Sumner County was still a part of North Carolina, but this is hardly possible as such a date would have been prior to 1790.
John SWANEY, rider of the Natchez Trace and later a river boat captain, built a house of poplar logs near Bledsoe's Lick in 1806. It stood for over 100 years. Soon after SWANEY built his log house, Mrs. Fannie GIBSON came to America and Sumner County from Ireland and settled near the Lick. The lands on which she settled were owned in 1906 by T.S. GLENN. She is reputed to have been a physician "at a very early day" in the community.
Early nineteenth-century arrivals at Bledsoe's Lick included Dr. J.M. STEWART, who came from North Carolina with the families of William HARRIS and Asa TODD, who settled in nearby Belote's Bend. The James DICKERSON and Joshua BIGGERS families arrived on the scene in 1808.
Other doctors appeared early at the Lick. Dr. L.T. SHARPE lived there for a short while before moving to Todd County, Kentucky. Dr. J.W. GOURLEY and Dr. Ed ROBB settled and spent their lifetimes there.
About three miles north of Bledsoe's Lick on what is now Rock Spring Road, Francis WEATHERRED built a two-story brick house in 1817. The rear structure was added in 1829. WEATHERRED, who had served in the Army during the American Revolutin when living near Charlottesville, Virginia, had come to Sumner County with his son John in 1795. He was a carpenter, millwright, and a Baptist preacher. The WEATHERRED house is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.B. BATE, Jr.
Tradition says that instruction in grammar, arithmetic, spelling, and the classics was given in the neighborhood before Rural Academy was organized in 1812 near Bledsoe's Lick by a teacher named James WILLIAMS. Rural Academy was located about two miles from the Lick on land given by Mrs. Sally SHELBY and James WINCHESTER. At first school was for males only, and the young men boarded where they could in the neighborhood. The first principal was Robert MINTON. The first school building was of logs. Years later fire destroyed the schoolhouse, and it was rebuilt of brick on a stone foundation.
Belote's Bend, which took its name from Henry BELOTE, who owned extensive lands there and operated a ferry across the Cumberland for many years, was further settled by the families of James BENTLEY, John CARNEY, Robert CORUM, and Thomas STONE. Lands in Belote's Bend were also taken up by Bynum FERREL and Josiah LOCKETT.

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