Jay Guy Cisco.

Historic Sumner County, Tennessee, with genealogies of the Bledsoe, Gage and Douglass families and genealogical notes of other Sumner County families online

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of Richmond, and by him was the mother of Henry
Vn. From the elder son of Sir Oliver St. John and
Margaret, descended the Lords of St. John of Bletsoe.

When the Biedsoes came to the American colr-nies
we do not know, but they evidently came at a very
early date, and were people of consequence, owning a
large estate in Northumberland County, \'irginia,
where we find the will of George Bledsoe recorded on
July 23, 1704. He mentions in rhe will, his daughter,
Elizabeth, and his sons, John. William, Abraham and
Thomas. Later these sons, or some of them, moved
to SjDOttsylvania county, and some to Culpeper county.
Abraham, son of George Bledsoe, settled in Spottsyl-
vania. Th°re is a record of a suit, in 1722, John
Richardson vs. Abraham Bledsoe. In the same county,
in August 1727. Elizabeth, wife of William Bledsoe,
and formerly widow of Charles Stevens, executed a
bond. \\'illiam Bledsoe was Sheriff of Spottsylvania in
1723. There was recorded a deed from William Bled-
soe, in 1759, to his sons, Moses and Joseph. It is prob-
able that this was the same William Bledsoe whose
will was probated in Culpeper County on April 19.
1770. He names his wife, Elizabeth, his sons George
and Aaron, daughter. Hannah Cave (she was the wife
of Benjamine Cave, Burgess for Orange County. 1756,
and ancestor of Vice-President Richard AT. Johnson),
the children of his deceased son. Moses, ?\fills
Wetherell (wife of George Wetherell ) and ]\[u:nford.
Joseph, v.-ho was not named in the will, was proh-ably
Rev, Joseiih. l^dcclsoe, father of Jesse Bledsoe, United
States Senator, from Kentucky.

Abraham Bledsoe, son of the George r>lcdsoe, men-
tioned above, was the father of Colonels .Vnthon.y and
Isaac, and of Abraham Illedsoc, v\-ho played important



Colonel Axtiioxv Bledsoe 57

parts in the early history of Southwestern \'irc;inia
and the Cumberland countr}- in 'J>nnessee.

The \vill of Abraham lUedsoe was dated March 13.
1753. in Granville County, and was probated on Alay
29 of the same year. ]Ie names his wife. Sarah, his
sons Isaac, Abraham, Thomas, Jacob. i\Ioses and
Aaron, and refers to "the rest of my children." The
executors were his wife, Sarah, and his son-in-law,
Henry Thornton.

Aaron Bledsoe was given a Cai)tain's commission in
Spottsylvania county in 1756.

Anthony Bledsoe, who was not named in the above-
mentioned will, was commissioned a Captain in the
colonial troops about 1774.

Isaac Bledsoe served as a private in Dunmores \\'ar,
and in the subsequent Indian wars.

Abraham Bledsoe was an Ensign in Captain David
Long-'s company in 1774.

Isaac and Abraham Pdcdsoe were famous as hun.ters
and ex])lorers in Kentucky and what is now Tennessee.

Of the other brothers we can find no trace. But
doubtless each of them preformed his part well. Of
the sisters we can find no account.

^Abraham, Anthon\-, "\\'illiam and George Bledsoe,
noted Indian lighters, who removed from Augusta to
Washington county, X'irginia. at an early date, were
probably cousins of Anthony, Isaac and _ Abraham
Bledsoe, who settled iit" Tennessee. One of the four
"brothers. Abraham, had sons. Thomas, Loven, An-
thony, William and Isaac. The last named. Isaac, has
a son. Austin lUedsoe. now living at Blackwatcr.
\irginia.

Hon. Jesse llU'ilsix-. United States Scnat<')r from
Kentuckv. \\as born in Culpepcr C(ituil\". \ irginia. on
the 6lh of Ajjril. 177^). His father. |.>.>eph i'.lcd^oe.
was a Baptist preacher. His motlu'r's maidcti name
was h'Jizabeth Miller. He receivefl a classical educa-
tion in Trans\lvania l'ni\'ersit\-, then studied lav/, and



58 Historic Sumner County, Tenn.

soon won fame at the bar. He was repeatedly elected
to the Legislature of Kentucky, serving- in both houses.
He was Secretary of State under Gov. Scott, and dur-
ing the second war with Great Britain, was elected to
Congress as a Senator. In 1822 he was appointed by
Governor Adair, a Circuit Judge. Later he was ap-
pointed professor of lavv' in Transylvania Univcrsit}-.
In 1833 he removed to 3ilississippi, and in 1835 to
Texas, and commenced gathering materials for a his-
tory of that young republic. In 1836 he died at
Nacodoches.

In early life he married a daughter of Colonel Na-
thaniel Gist, wdio survived him.

ludge Bledsoe was a cousin of Colonel .Vnthony
Bledsoe.

Probablv the most distinguished man of the Bledsoe
name was Albert Taylor Bledsoe, editor, author,
preach2r and lecturer. He was born in Frankfort.
Kentuckv, in 1809, and died in 1877. He was a Colonel
in the Confederate .\rmy, and was for a time chief of
the War Bureau and Acting Assistant Secretary^ of
War. He was professor of mathematics in the Cni-
versities of Mississippi and \'irginia : later editor oL
the Southern Kcvicz^'. He was the author of -Examin-
ation of Edwards on the Will." "Theodlev." '"Liberty
and Slaverv." "Was Jett Davis a Traitor ?"" and
"Philosophy of ^[athematics." He was eminent as a
]MethoJist preacher.

One of the most noted of the Bledsoes in the Civil
War was Captain Hiram M. Bledsoe, who was a nu-.p-
ber of the ^Missouri branch of the family. He was born
in Kentucky, and left there when he was 1/ years
of age and went West : crossed the plains with General
Donovan's brigade and went to the ATexican War. then
returned and tried to lead a settled life in Missouri.
but was attracted by the Kansas trouble in 1856. For
four years he fought in the T.ortler war. and v.hen the
Civil' war commenced he entered the service of the



Colonel Axtiionv Bllusoe 59

Confederacy as Captain of a Missouri l)attcry. lie
was a favorite with Generals Price and Joe Shelby,
and, in fact, with all the officers and men. Xo braver
man ever followed the "llonny IMue Ilai^"" than Cap-
tain Hiram Bledsoe. lie crossed the river with his
battery with Price in 1862. and was in all the battles
at Corinth and Shiloh, and between Chickamang-a and
Jonesboro. After the war he returned to his home in
Missouri, where he continued to resitle until a few
years ago, when he passed to his reward.

The only monument erected by the Confederates at
Chickamauj:;:'a \\as the .Missouri monument. The Lej^-
islature of his State, recoj;nizing- the splendid record
made by Bledsoe's battery, complimented Captain
Bledsoe by putting- his name on the monument.

Captain Bledsoe had a brother, Joseph, who com-
manded a battery under gallant Joe Shelby, in Mis-
souri. He died at his home in Texas, in October. 1898.

Colonel Anthony Bledsoe was born in that part of
Orange C()unty which is now embraced in Culpejn'r
count}-. \'irginia. in 1733. He received a liberal edu-
cation for the time, and became a surveyor. In early
life he removed to the frontier, and settled in Augusta
county, in that section \\hich was afterwards em-
braced in J Botetourt county, the new county being
formed in 1770. Col. Bledsoe had his home at l-'in-
castle, the seat of justice of the new county, where he
was a merchant, trader and surveyor. 1 le was one of
the justices of the peace for the new cotuity and Ik'M
that position for several years. In 1772 a number of
the citizens of Botetourt county jietitioned the Legis-
lature to divide the county, and out of the western
half, form a new county, to be called Fincastlc, which
was accordingly done. . In May 1770. Anthon\' Bledsoe
was ajipointed to take "the tithables from Stalnackers
to the lowest inhabitants." on the .South I'ork pf Hols-
ton. The settlers on the llolston. bek.w Bledsoe's
Port, at that time, believed that they were in \"ir-



60 IIis'iOKic Sumxi:k Couxtv, Tkxx.

ginia, but in 1771 /Vnthony Ijlcdsoc made a survey,
wliich sliowed that they were in the territor}- of Xorth
CaroHna.

On Alay 5, 1773, Anthony Bledsoe was appointed
to "take the Hst of the tithahles from Captain Camp-
bells down to the county line, on north, south and
middle fork of the Holston river.*' On Alay 4, 1774,
he was directed by the County Court to take a list
of the tithahles in Captain Looney's, Captain Shelby's
and Captain Cocke's companies.

As early as 1774 Anthony Bledsoe was a Captain in
the colonial troops. .Among the papers borrowed by
Dr. Draper from the Tennessee Historical Society,
and which he later gave to the ^Visconsin Historical
vSociety, were a number of letters written by Captain
Bledsoe, and others referring- to him. In Haywood's
"Civil and Political Hi>tory of Tennessee." and in
Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee," we find published
an affidavit of Jarreit Williams on the coiifluct of the
Indians, made before him on July S, 1776. Gilmore
says of Anthony Bledsoe: "He was one of those who
rushed to the rescue of Watauga in 1776." In that
year he served in the expedition commanded by Col-
onel William Christain. against the Indians. In Sep-
tember of that year that ])ortion of the troops under
Colonel William Russell began their march to tlie
Great Island of the Holston, at which time Bledsoe
entered two wagons in the ]~)ublic service, to convey
the baggage and ])rovisions of the troops. This was
the first time tliat a wagon was taken as low down as
Long Island. The exj^edition was out three months,
and but a single white man was killed ; his name was
l^uncan. who left a widow and five small cliildren. to
whom, the Legislature of \irginia. in June, 1777. "al-
lowed the sum of £20 for their ])resent relief, and the
fm-ther sum of £S ])er annum for a period of five
vears," with directions to Anthony Bledsoe and Wil-



COLONFX A.NTIIOXV Bl.KDSOi: 61

Ham Cocke to "lay out and expend the same lor the
support of Mrs. Duncan and her children."

Upon the return of the army to Long- Island, CoKniel
Clu-islain reorganized the same, and for the protec-
tion of the frontiers left 600 men at the island under
conmiand of ]\Iajor Anthony liledsoe. who cojitiiined
in comuKuul until April 1777, \\hcn Co!<jnel ("hrisiain
returned and resumed the commauil.

About this date the General Assembly of X'irginia
passed an act dividing the County of h'incastle and
formirig Washington county. At an election hcM in
the spring of 1777 to elect members of the Legislature
from Washington county, Arthur Camj)bell and Wil-
liam Edmiston were opposed by Anthony Bledsoe and
William Cocke. The election was hotly contested, anrl
resulted as follows: Bledsoe received 297 votes.
Cocke received 294 votes. Campliell and Edmiston re-
ceived, respectively, 211 and 144 votes.

The defeated candidates c<:>ntested the election on
the grounds that citizens of North Carolina had voted
for their opponents, and that Bledsoe held a military
command, and was, therefore, incapable of sitting as
a member of the Legislature. Bledsoe and Cocke were
declared elected, whereupon Major Bledsoe resigned
his Major's commission in the militia.

At the next election, in the sj^ring of 1778, ]\Iajor
Bledsoe and Arthur Campbell were elected members
of the Legislature. On August 19, 1779, Anthony
Bled.soe, Daniel .Smith, Joseph Black and John Blacka-
more were appointed examiners of the bills of credit
of the State of \'irginia and other states, to guard
against coiniterf citing. While a member of the Leg-
islature ]\Iajor lilcflsoc presented a bill for the exten-
sion of the line between \'irginia and Xorth Carolina.
which was passed. In thi:> )ear he was in the "l^>atlle
of the Flats."

In \7C)0 Anthony IMedsoe married ]\[ary Ramsey,
of Augusta county, anil soon altei wards removed to



62 HiSTOKTC Su^^^■I•:R Couxtv, Tcxx.

his new home on the frontier. Tlie exact location of
liis settlement is in doubt, lie located 700 acres of
land on the waters of the llolston river, where he bnilt
his fort, about thirty miles cast from Lon<,^ Island, on
the Fort Chiswell road, near the line of \'irginia. I3ur-
in,^- the pioneer jKU'iod all the settlers located contis.;ii-
ous to the lari^cr water courses, and it is probable that
Anthony I'.ledsoe was not an exception to that rule.
In 1776. when the Legislature of \ irginia passed a
law with reference to the distribution of salt among
the settlements of the southwestern frontier, commis-
sioners wore a])i)ointe(l to take a list of the tithables.
/\mong others we tind \\'illiam Edmiston was ap-
pointed to do this work from Stalnacker's to Black's
Fort, which was located where Alnngdon now is, on
the south fork of Wolf Creek. James ^Montgomery
\vas appointed to the work from Black's Fort to Maj<jr
r)ledsoc's. John Anderson's duties extende<l from
}>laior I'ledsoe's as low down as there were settlers. It
is not probable that the duties of any of these assessors
required them to cross the mountain ridges, but, in-
stead, that they followed the courses of the streams
where the settlements were. Thus Edmiston's terri-
tory extended from Abingdon down W'oli Creek to
Black's Fort, probably the place where that stream
em])ties its waters into Suuth Fork of Holston. From
there James Montgomery was assigned to do the work
ckiwn the ITolston to IMajor Bledsoes. which was on
the \'irginia line, about the mouth of Spring creek,
some ten miles east from the ])resent town of l5ri'stol.
]la}-wood says that Colonel lUedsoe extended the line
of the State as far west as Ik'aver Creek, (at Bristol).
In the fall of 17H1 Cok^iel Anthony Bledsoe re-
moved with his family to what is now Sunnier county.
Tennessee, and there, two miles north from B.ledsoe's
Lick, located 6.280 acres of land, giving to the ])lace
the name "Creentiold." The tract has been divided
into a number of splendid farms, owned for the most



Colom:l AxTiroxv Blkdsoe C3

part by mcinl)crs of the Chcnanlt family. Xot one acre
of it bclontjs to any member of the family of the
oris^inal owner.

Next to James l^obertson, Colonel lUedsoe was the
most vahiable menil)er of the Cumberland settlement.
He was a man of edueation. of cool courag^e. sound
jud.f,mient and of wide experience in public allairs.
having- held various ciA'il and military positions in the
older settlements. His relations with John Sevier.
Governor Caswell and other prominent men, were of
an intimate character. For many years he was the
bosom friend and trusted counselor of James Robert-
son, who after lUedsoe's arrival in the Cumberland
country, acted in no affair of importance without his
advice and cooperation, in the event of Robertson's
death, he was i)robably the only man wlio could have
brought the settlements safely out of the ordeal
through which they were passing.

On October (>. IJS^o. the County Court of Davidson
county, was instituted. Anthony Bledsoe. J)anicl
Smith. James Robertson, Isaac Bledsoe, Samuel luir-
ton, Thomas IMulloy. l-'rancis Prince and Isaac Lind-
sey constituted the court. Anthony Bledsoe was elected
Colonel of the Davidson County ?\Iilitia. In \7^2 An-
thony Bledsoe, Isaac vShelby and Absalom Tatum
were appointed commissioners to select and lay oil a
tract or tracts of land sufficient to meet the grants
which North Carolina had made to the officers and
soldiers of tlic Revolutionary A\'ar. I^arly in 1783 these
commissioners met at .Xashborough. and entered ujion
their duties. The line which tln-y ran was styled the
''Commissioners' line." It Ijcgan at a ])oint near where
Fdk river crosses the southern boundary, and which
has since been crdled "Latitude Hill." Tiic commis-
sion laid off, near Columbia, a tract of 25.000 acres
for General Nathaniel Greene, which hail been granted
by North Carolina, as a mark of the high sense of his
cxtraordinar\' services in the war of the revolution.



64 Historic Sumxkr County, Tkxx.

I'he commission was accomprinicd by a pi'uard of one
Imndicd men. each of whom received grants of land
for his services.

Colonel liledsoe was one of the llrst trustees of
Davidson Academy. 17S5. now the University of
Nashville. In the same year he ^\•as elected a member
of the General Assembly of North Carolina, and served
in that capacity until his death, three years later.

Colonel I'utnam, in his "History of Middle Ten-
nessee." sa\s: "Jn the severe winter of 1781-82, there
was much dissatisfaction in the Ciunberland settle-
ments. The weaker began to loose heart, and there
was much talk of abandoning the settlements and re-
turning to a safer country. Bledsoe, the stout-hearted
surveyor, the shadow of whose destiny v/as already
lengthening towards him. ]-)ointed to the future: Tf
we perish here, others will be sure to come, either to
avenge our deaths, or to accomplish what we have
begun. l\ they find not our graves, or our scattered
bones, they may revere our memories and publish to
the ages to come that we deserved a better fate.' "

Col. Bledsoe opposed the formation of the State of
Franklin, and wrote to Governor Caswell, of North
Carolina, advising moderation, and suggesting that the
Governor address a letter to the disafifected people,
advising them to return to their duty to the mother
State. In compliance with this suggestion. Governor
Caswell wrote a conciliatory letter to the people of
Franklin, which letter had the ciTect of allaying the
intense feeling which ])revailed against the parent
State. On June 1, 1787, Colonel Bledsoe addressed
a letter to Governor Caswell, asking permission to
carr\- an expedition against the Chickamaugas. On
the 12th of the same month he and Colonel James
Robertson addressed the Governor jointly, advising
him of the deplorable stale of affairs on the Cumber-
land. On August 5, Colonel Bledsoe wrote the follow-
ing letter :



COLOXF.L AXTIIOXV lU.KDSOK 65

"Dear Sir: When I last had the pleasure of seeiny^
Your Excellency, I think you was kind enough to pro-
pose tliat in case the perfidious Chickaniaui,^as should
infest this country, to n(jtif}- ^'om- J'lxcellency, and you
would send a camjiaign against them without delay.
The i)eriod has arrived that they, as I have good rea-
son to believe, in combination with the Creeks, have
done this country \ery great spoil by murdering num-
bers of our peaceful inhabitants, stealing our horses,
killing our cattle and hogs, and burning our buildings
through wantonness, cutting lUnvn our corn. etc.

"I am well assured that the distress of the Chick-
amauga tribe is the only way this flcfenselcss country
will have quiet. The militia being very few. and the
whole, as it were, a frontier, its inhabitants all shut
up in stations, and the\". in general, so weakly manned
that in case of invasion, one is scarcely able to aid the
other, and the enemy daily in our country committing
ravages of one kind or another, and that of the most
savage kind. P<X)r Major Mall and his eldest son fell
a sacrifice to this savage cruelty, a few days ago. near
Bledsoe's Lick. They have killed about twenty-four
persons in this county in a few months, besides num-
bers of others in the settlements near to it. Our de-
pendence is much that Your Excellency will revenge
the blood thus wantonl}- shed.

" A X T 1 1 o X Y B L i:d.'^( ) e .

"To John Sevier, Governor of the State of Franklin,
to be forwarded to Ciovernor Casv.-ell, of Xorth Car-
olina."

Had this appeal been complied with it would have
saved many valuable lives, among them, jiossibly, tliat
of the writer of the letter.

luirly in the >ear 1788, Colonels Robertson and
Bledsoe adilrcssed a joint letter to .McGillcvray. the
Indian chief, with reference to the repeated attacks
of the Indians. To this communication the chief rc-
jilied from Little Tallassee, promising that he would



66 JiisTOKic Sl'mxkr Colxtv, Ti:xx.

use his l)cst endeavors to put a stoj; lo the depredations.
P)Ut soon afterwards hostih'lies were at^^ain renewed,
and Colonel lUedsoc was one of the first victims.

In 1788, for g^reatcr security, Colonel Bledsoe moved
his family to the fc^rt of his brother, Isaac, at Bledsoe's
Lick, where on the nit^ht of July 20, he was killed hy
the Indirms. At the time of his death he was the first
Colonel of militia, a Justice of the Peace and a mem-
ber of the Legislature.

Following is an account of the killing of Col'jnel
Anthony Bledsoe, given by General William Hall, who
was ]jrescnt with his mother, brothers and sisters in
the fort:

"Of those killed at Bledsoe's Fort and in the neigh-
borhood, about this tifne, an account may be interest-
ing. 'i"hc f(jrt was an oblong square, and built all
around in a regular stockade except at one place,
where stood a large double cabin. This was occupied
by the two brothers, Colonel Anthony and Colonel
Isaac Bledsoe. This cabin stood in the front line of
the fort, the whole being built, it will be understood,
arouiul an open square. Fxcepting the open passage
between the two cal)ins, the whole was completely en-
closed. Here Colonel Anthony Bledsoe was killed,
with a servant of his. by. the Indians. The circum-
stances were these :

"A lane came down at right angles to the fort thus
described, the mouth of it being about thirtv vards
distant, whilst the Na.shville road ran along in front.
The Indians, it apjx'ars. had been reconnoitering the
place in their prowlings through the day, and the night
being a 1)right, moonlight one, the .savages po.sted
themselves in the fence corners fronting the i)assage
referred to as 1)etween the two cabins. Then they grit
a party to mount on horseback and gallop past, in order
to attract i)ersons into the jKissage through which the
moonlight poured in full splendor. The plot .suc-
ceeded. At the sound of the hor.ses' feet. Colonel An-



CoLoxr.r. Axtiioxv Bledsoe 67

tlion}- r>lc(ls(:ic and Caini)bcll. iho servant, belli jumped
up and stepped into the passaq-e, wlicn the Indian^ i^hrt
them both down. The Colonel died next morning, ilie
serA'ant the morning afterwards. I was in the in\i
at the time. The occurrence took place about p.iid-
niglit. This was on the 20th of July. 1788."

Gilmore. in his "Advance Guard of Civilization."
says: "Bledsoe \\as taken up. carried into the house
and laid ujjon a bed, while Hall. Rogan and Clendeu-
ning maned the port holes in exjiectation of an attack
from the savages. Xo attack followed, but it was soon
discovered that Colonel Bledsoe was mortally wounded
and could live but a few hours. Then occurred one
of those instances of heroism which were so common
among the settlers. Bledsoe had two sons and seven
daughters, and by the North Carolina law of that
period only male heirs inherited the real estate of an
intestate. He desired to make a will to protect h.is
daughters, but it was discovered that there was no
fire nor an}" means of striking a light on the premises.
Then Hugh Rogan volunteered to go for a light to a
neighboring station. This he did. and returned safely
with a burning brand in his hand, though he had tij
run the gauntlet of not less than fifty savages."

The suggestion that a will be made came from ihe
wife of Colonel Bledsoe's brother. Isaac. (Gilmore is
in error as to the number of children.)

WILL OF COLOXEL .-\XTirOXY BLEDSOE.

"In the name of God. Amen.

"Being near to death, I make my will as follows: T
desire my lands at Kentucky to be sold ; likewi.-e my
lands on Holston, at the discretion of my executors:
my children to be educated in the best manner my es-
tate will ])ermit : my estate to be ecjually ilivided be-
tween my children: to each of my daughters a small
tract of land; ni}' wife to keep ])OSsession of the four
oldest negroes for the maintenance of the family; my
lands and slaves to be equally divided between my chil-



68 Historic Simxicr County, Thxx.

c!ren. 1 api)oint my brother, I>aac lUc I.~oc. and C^)I-
oncl Danifl Smitli executors, uiih my wife. Mary Jiicd-
soe, executrix. At the decease of my wife, the four
•above negroes to be equally divider! anions: my chil-
dren. AxTiioxv Bi.KDSoK (Seal).

''Signed, sealctl and delivered in presence of us, this
20th day of July, 178S.

"Jami.s Ci.i:xi)i:xxixc.,
"Thomas Mukkav,
"I I roll RoGAX."

Colonel Putnam, in his "History of Middle Teimes-
see," in speaking of the death of Colonel Bledsoe, says:
"The heart of Colonel Robertson had been pierced
again and again. This death was an almost crushing
blow to him. With the Bledsoes he had long been in-
timate ; they had taken counsel together; they had
toiled and traveled together; they were steadfast
friends, and liy their oflices as Representatives to the
Legislature (of Xorth Carolina!, and in the recent
measure to discover, and if possible, abate or remove
the cause of enmity on the part of the Creeks, they
fervently hoped to render lasting service.

"But now this earliest of pioneers, this ujji-ight man,
reliable friend and valuable citizen, is sucMcnly cut
down, savagely murdered in his own house, and in the


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Online LibraryJay Guy CiscoHistoric Sumner County, Tennessee, with genealogies of the Bledsoe, Gage and Douglass families and genealogical notes of other Sumner County families → online text (page 5 of 21)