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Rutherford County
Historical Society





Dr. James M. Dill





Rutherford County Historical Society
Publication No. 9


Dr. James Madison Dill (1831-1916) a native of Rutherford County,
for whom the community of Dilton was named, is featured on the cover
of this publication. His parents were Isaac and Gilley Cooper Dill
who were natives of South Carolina. The old country doctor, a highly
respected member of the community, was buried in the Harrell Cemetery
at Dilton.

Rebecca L. Smith is the author of this very fine history of Dilton.
The Rutherford County Historical Society is proud to publish this
history which Miss Smith has prepared.

Thanks to Rutherford County Judge Ben Hall McFarlin and Mrs. Susan R.
Jones for their assistance in publishing this book.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Published by the


President ...» ...,<.,,,,,..,.,,...»... . Dr. Robert B, Jones m

Vice-President. Dr. Homer Pittard

Recording Secretary Miss Louise Cawthon

Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer. Mrs. Dorothy Ma heny

Publication Secretary Mr. Walter K. Hoover

Directors ..,,.......,..,.... Mr. Ernest K. Johns

Miss Mary Hall
Mr, Robert Ragland

Publication No. 9 (Limited Edition-350copies) is distributed to mem-
bers of the Society. The annual membership dues is $5. 00 (Family-$7„ 00)
which includes the regular publications and the monthly NEWSLETTER to
all members. Additional copies of Publication No. 9 may be obtained at
$3. 50 per copy.

All correspondence concerning additional copies, contributions to
future issues, and membership should be addressed to.

Rutherford County Historical Society

Box 906

Murfreesboro, TN 37130


SOCIETY, Box 906, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 37130;

Publication # 1, 2, 4: Out of Print.

Publication # 3: Rutherford Marriage Records, 1857-59; Pre-history of

Rutherford Co.; Gen. Griffith Rutherford; 1803 Petition for Formation
of County; Militia Commissions 1821-1830; and Rock Springs Church
"istory. $3.00 + $.50 postage

Publication # 5: Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad; Rutherford Co. Post
Offices and Postmasters; The Rutherford Rifles; and Hardemans Mill.

$3.00 + postage

Publication # 6: Link Community; History of LaVergne; Fellowship Community;
and the Sanders Family. $3.00 + $.50 postage

Publication # 7: Hopewell Church, 1816-1883; Stones River Presbyterian Church;
Cripple Creek Presbyterian Church; Early Militia Order, Petition by
Cornelius Sanders for Rev. War Pension. $3.00 + $.50 postage

Publication # 8: Bethel-Leanna Community; Crowders of Readyville; View of
Stones River Battlefield from N. Y. Times, Sept. 2, 1865; Record of
Jordan Williford, Rev. Soldier; Company Roll of Hardy Murfree, Sept. 9,
1?78. $3.50 + $.50 postage

1840 Rutherford Census ; With index. $5.00 + $.50 postage

Deed Abstracts of Rutherford County . 1803 - 1810 . Names of land owners and

other genealogical information from early deeds. $10.00 + $.50 postage

Griffith : A beautifully Illustrated bi-centennial publication. 60 pages.

$2.00 + $.50 postage


Map of Rutherford County showing roads, streams, and land owners, dated 1878.

$3.50 + $.50 postage

Cemetery Records published jointly with the Sons of the American Revolution:
Vol. 1: Northwest portion of county including Percy Priest Lake area

and parts of Wilson and Davidson Counties, 256 cemeteries with

index and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage

Vol. 2: Eastern portion of Rutherford Co. and the western part of Cannon

Co., 241 cemeteries with index and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage
Vol. 3: Southwestern portion of Rutherford County, 193 cemeteries, index

and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage



Prepared by Mrs. D. C. Daniel, Jr.

IMPORTANT: Publication of queries in this column is free to all members
as space permits. Each query must appear on a full sheet of paper which
must be dated and include member's name and address. Please type if
possible. Queries should give as much pertinent data as possible, i.e.
approximate/actual dates of birth, marriage, death, etc. Queries must
refer to RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE FAMILIES and immediate connections.
Address all correspondence relating to queries to the Society, P. 0.
Box 906, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37130.

Deadline Dates: March 31 for Summer Publication and August 31 for
Winter Publication.

No. 1 MORGAN -WINSTON: Carey Morgan b. VA. CA 1776-80 (parents: Elizabeth
Clay and Joshua Morgan, m, 1817, Ruth. Co., Nancy Winston b. 1791).
Is 1860 tombstone in old Murfreesboro Cemetery for Nancy Morgan,
wife of Gary, hers? Nancy is daughter of Nathaniel Winston per
Ruth, Co, deeds CA 1824. Children: John m, in Denmark: Robert d.
without issue; Samuel m. Ruth. Co. 1860's, Tabltha Avent: James m.
Rachel Posey (great-granddaughter of Gen, John Coffee's sister):
Elizabeth m, J. C. Wortham: Mary m. Sam Moore. Compiling Morgan
family tree, especially need to know where they came from in Virginia
and whether they settled temporarily somewhere else before coming
to Ruth. Co. Mrs. James E. Sraotherraan, Route 1, College Grove,
Tenn., 37046.

No. 2 WARREN-SOAPE/SWOPE/SOPE/SOAP/SWOAP: Need parents, family of

Elizabeth Warren b. 8 April 1821 Cannon Co., Tenn,, d. 18 April
1851, Panala Co., Tex., m. 7 Sept, 1840 Cannon Co., Tenn.,
Absolom Fowler Soape, son of James Soape & Elizabeth Fov^ler.
Wants to correspond with any person interested in Soape (& various
spellings) family. Eleda Soape Decherd, 5603 Green Craig, Houston,
Tex., 77035.

A member of our society is a genealogist: Mrs, Lalia Lester

1307 Wo Korthfield Blvd.
Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37130
Tel. (615) 896-9089


This history represents a blend of anecdotal information with infor-
mation obtained from deeds, wills, tax and census records, newspapers,
and books. Raymond B. Harrell and Jack R. Mankin made their manu-
scripts available as source material. Oral information was provided by
several men and women who either live now or have lived in the Dilton
community. Two of these, who were especially helpful, are Mrs. Clemmie
Harrell Ring and Mr. Joe J. Jemigan, both of whom are ninety-three years
old and blessed with excellent memories. I am grateful to my parents,
William Hoyt and Pearl Marlin Smith, and to my grandparents, Ernest
L. Smith (1871-1968) and Mary Ann Harrell Smith (1881-1960), for their
memories of life in the community. Stories passed on by them were drawn
not only from their own personal experiences but also from those of their
parents and grandparents and from friends and neighbors who lived before
them in Dilton. I am also indebted to Roy E. Tarwater, who suggested
that this history be written; to all those who contributed written or oral
information to be used as source material; and especially to Mrs. Jean
Overall Thompson for reading the manuscript and making suggestions for

its improvement.

Rebecca L. Smith



Rebecca L. Smith

I. Location pg. 1
II. Circumstances Surrounding Early Settlement pg. 2
m. Early Settlers

A. William smd Elizabeth Kelton pg. 10

B. The Philips and Childress Families pg. 14

C. Other Early Settlers pg. 36
rv. Outstanding Post Civil War Families pg. 38

V. Folklore and Folk Medicine pg. 47

VI. Unusual Event pg. 49

VII. Churches pg. 51

VIII. Schools pg. 67

IX. Social Activities pg. 77

X, Roads, Trade, Agriculture, and Industry pg. 84:


Map of Cherokee Country, compiled by J. P. Brown

(Shows Black Fox's Camp on the Trail of Tears). pg. 9

Plat of Kelton Property, 1816 (See Black Fox Spring

and Branch) . pg. 13

Matthew Rhea Map, 1832 (Portion of map showing

the old road from Murfreesboro to Wartrace

which followed Ljrtle Creek through the area

now known as Dilton). pg. I6

Beers Map of Rutherford County, 1878: District

Eighteen. pg. 22

Sketch of Philips House, by Gari Webb. pg. 34

Childress /Philips Genealogy (Two generations) . pg. 35

1915 Map of Rutherford County showing Dilton. pg. 46

Oaklands Academy, 1896. pg. 71

Dilton Stores, circa 1900. . pg. 85, 86


The Dilton Store, situated on the southeast comer of the Bradyville
Pike and the Dilton-Mankin Lane, marks the center of the Dilton com -
munity. History records that early settlers moved iu long before it
acquired the name of "Dillton" in 1887, 1 the year the community acquired
a post office named for Dr. James Madison Dill, who was physician, post-
master, and storekeeper. ^ The center of the community is five and one-
half miles southeast of the Rutherford County Court House and two and
three -tenths miles by way of Bradyville Pike from the present city limits
of Murfreesboro. (See map on page 45 .)

The original settlement had its center at Black Fox Camp, located
around an unusually large spring about one and one-fourth miles from the
Dilton Store toward Murfreesboro. ^ For many years this spring supplied
the town of Murfreesboro with water. Because of the extraordinary sup-
ply of water at Black Fox Spring and the influence of men such as William
Kelton and Joel Childress, who were among the first settlers, it was con-
sidered in 1811 as a possible site for Rutherford County's seat of govern-
ment. ^

lAccording to Mrs. Jo Anne Kelton, Dilton was spelled with two I's during
the late 1800 »s. Mrs. Kelton is a great granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs.
Dill, and her husband, Sammie Kelton, is a descendant of William and
Elizabeth Kelton.

2Raymond Harrell, "Genealogy of the Dill Family" (Workbook, n. d. ,
n. pag.).

3 Carlton Sims, History of Rutherford County ( Murfreesboro: Sims,
1974), p.l9. 4jQterview with Roy E. Tarwater, December, 1976.

^ The Goodspeed Histories of Maury . Williamson . Rutherford , Bedford,
and Marshall Counties of Tennessee , reprinted from Goodspeed's History
of Tennessee , 1886 (Columbia, TN: Woodward and Stinson, 1971), p. 814.

Approaching the Dilton commimity from Murfreesboro, one sees a
countryside; quite different ia appearance from the virgin forest land which
was used as a campground by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians
when they came here to hunt each year prior to 1790. ■•■ However, if these
Indians could return today, they would recognize the spring beside which
they camped, the creek where they fished, and the hills which form a blue
backdrop ia the southeast for the Dilton area scenery. Three of the hills

are known to Dilton residents today as the Gowan, the Dave, and the Long

Ridge. It would be interesting to know the names by which they were known

to Enolee. Enolee was the Indian name for Black Fox, the Cherokee chief

for whom the spring was named. Indian trails through the woodlands

were known as traces; several traces led to Black Fox Spring. (See map on

page 9 . ) The Indians used the spring and the area around it as a base for

hunting expeditions, as well as for surprise attacks on the early settlers.

Prior to the Indian uprisings it served as a trading post where the Indians

exchanged wares with the early settlers.

It is tempting for some to thiak that life for the Indians who camped

around the spring was idyllic and peaceful before the first settlers from

•^Sims, p. 4.

^Interview with Charles B. Smith, December, 1975.

3 John P. Brown, Old Frontiers (Kingsport, Tenn. : Southern, 1938),
pp. 311, 331. Other spellings used were Enola and Inali.

4a. W. Putnam, History of Middle Tennessee (KnoxvUle: University
of Tennessee Press, 1971, first published, 1859), p. 479.

Ssims, pp. 64, 65.


North Carolina and Virginia arrived. The woodlands and streams provided
a plentiful amount of food and furs while the Indians hunted in this area for
bear, elk, deer, and a large variety of smaller wild creatures. Although
their life- style has appeal for some people in our complex time, we know
that life for the Indians was not always simple and peaceful. The Cherokees,

Chickasaws, Chocktaws, and Shawnees ia Tennessee had often fought among

themselves, but they were to become a united people in the early 1790 's ,

when they had in common a desire to push back the streams of white set-
tlers from Virginia and North Carolina.

Black Fox's name and mark appear on the Treaty of Holston, ^ signed
in 1791, along with the names and marks of other Cherokee chiefs. Forty
chiefs, twelve hundred warriors, squaws and children assembled at White's
Fort (Knoxville) early in July of that year and agreed upon a treaty which
ceded a large portion of that area of Tennessee to the United States. In
return, the Cherokee nation received certain presents and an annual pay-
ment of $1, 000 a year; feeling themselves intimidated and tricked, the

Cherokees were dissatisfied with the Treaty of Holston.

According to John Brown, evidence that the Indian troubles were

becoming serious by 1792 is found in the American State Papers, Indian

Affairs , Vol. 1, p. 264. The Shawnees invited the Southern Indians to join

^C.C. Henderson, The Story of Murfreesboro (Murfreesboro; News
Banner, 1929), p. 6. ,

2w.R.L. Smith, The Story of the Cherokees (Cleveland. Tenn. : Church
of God Publishing House, 1928), p. 17.

^Brown, p. 311. ^Ibid. Ibid. , p. 312.

them ia war against the United States and hoped to drive back its entire
western frontiers. Dragging Canoe, an imcle of Black Fox, was sent

as a messenger from the Cherokee nation to the Chickasaws with a plea for

confederation, but he died soon after he returned. At a Cherokee Council

at Estanaula, June 26-30, 1792, Black Fox had these words to say in eulogy:

The Dragging Canoe has left the world. He was a man of
consequence in his country. He was a friend both to his own and
the white people. But his brother is still ia place, and I mention
now in public, that I intend presenting him with his deceased
brother's medal; for he promises fair to posess sentiments simi-
lar to those of his brother, both with regard to the red and white.
It is mentioned here publicly, that both whites and reds may know
it, and pay attention to him. ^

Because of the surprise attacks on the Tennessee settlers, scouting
parties were sent out in 1792. Abraham Castleman, the favorite spy of
the settlements, who withdrew from his men and scouted alone is described
as "fearless, with a quick sight, and a sure shot. He made no noise or
tramp as he walked and , with his body a little bent, he seemed ever look-
ing for Indians or marks on the trees.' When he returned from this mis-
sion, he reported that he had been as far as Black Fox's Camp, where he
had seen signs indicating that a numerous party of Indians had been there
shortly before him. "^ Castleman had spied upon the Indians there before

l lbid. , p. 328. ^Jhid. , p. 329.

^Spellings used by some other sources are Ustanaula and Oostanaula. It
is locatea m Georgia on the Coosawatie River a few miles above its junction
with the Canasauga.
"^Brown, p. 331.

Sjohn Haywood, Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee
(Knoxville: Tenase, 1969, c. 1823), pp.368, 369.
6putnam, p. 392. Ilkid.

and knew the hunting season was not over; therefore he was concerned about
their absence.-^ He felt it was an ominous sign and reported this to his
superiors, who regarded his assessment with skepticism. In a letter to
Governor Blount on August 22, 1793, General James Robertson wrote that
Abraham Castleman was not only a soldier but also a disorderly person who
had several of his relations killed by Indians. ^ Soon after Castleman made
his report, a party of two hundred and eighty Indians'^ attacked Buchanan's
Station about five miles south of Nashville^ on September 30, 1792.^ The
Indians being Creeks (83) and Cherokees (197), Black Fox and his people
could have been among them, as Castleman feared. General Robertson
apologized to Castleman and, summoning a force of 150 men, marched in
pursuit and followed the retreating Indians as far as Stewart's Creek, report-
ing that at least seven hundred Indians were in the war party. '

In the spring of 1793, soldiers were sent again into the area by Gen-
eral Robertson with hope of checking the forays and plunderings of the
Indians by a display of military power, but they turned back at Black Fox


Spring. Since this mission failed to accomplish its purpose, Major James
Ore's expedition of 550 men was sent out by General James Robertson.

■^Putnam, p. 393.

^Thomas E. Matthews, General James Robertson (Nashville: Parthenon,
1934), p. 344.

3john Trotwood Moore, Tennessee , The Volunteer State (Chicago:
S.J. Clarke, 1923), vol. 1, p. 214.

^Haywood, p. 314.

5james G. Ramsey, The Annals of Tennessee (Charleston, S. C. :
Walker and Jones, 1853), p. 600.

^Moore, loc. £it. "^Putnam, p. 394. ^Henderson, p. 10.

%aywood, p. 407.

They followed the Indian trace by way of Murfreesboro and camped at Black
Fox Spring on September 7, 1794. On the next day they proceeded toward
Nickajack and arrived there on the following Thursday.-^ At Nickajack
and Running Water, they defeated the Indians, finding many scalps and a
quantity of ammunition powder and lead lately arrived from Spain. In a
letter to Robertson, Major Ore says "From the best judgment that could
be formed, the number of Indians killed in the two towns must have been
upwards of fifty and the loss sustained by the troops under my command
was one lieutenant and two privates wounded.'

A legend grew that en route to Nickajack when General Ore's men
overcame a group of Indians at Black Fox Spring, the Black Fox jumped
into the spring and disappeared to avoid capture. Some said he drowned,

but the story that he came out alive where the waters emerge from the earth

again at Murphy Spring is the most delightful facet of the legend for those

who have listened to the story tellers over the years. When bones were

found in Murphy Spring Cave, the legend took another twist. The bones

were said to be the bones of Black Fox. ^ The legend which allowed him to

escape alive is the more reasonable one as his name and mark appear in

the Treaty with the Cherokee of 1805, It appears again in the Treaty with

^ Ibid. ^Matthews, p. 368.

3lhid. , p. 367.

"^Sims, p. 65. Murphy Spring is located at the edge of the Bellwood Estates
on the hillside across Broad Street from Mercury Blvd. The water which
submicrges at Black Fox Spring comes up again at Todd Lake and again at
Murphy Spring.

^Plenderson, p. 11.

^C. J. Kappler (comp.), Indian Treaties , i778-_1883 (New York:
Interland, 1973), p. 84.

the Cherokee, 1806, which states that the old Cherokee Chief, Black Fox,
should be paid annually $100 by the United States during his life. A secret
agreement or bribe was arranged in 1807 by Agent R.J. Meigs with Black
Fox allowing him $1, 000, a rifle, and an annual allowance of $100 in return
for his promise to keep the Indians content. ^ "From 1801 to 1811 Black
Fox was Principal Chief, save for a two year period (1808-10) during which
he was "broke" from power because of his leading roll in an unpopular
scheme to effect westward movement of the tribe. " If Black Fox did, in
fact, jump into the Spring in 1794, he must have found a way to keep his nose
out of water until dark or until the soldiers had gone away. The pool around
the spring is large, perhaps covering almost a half acre and containing
many reeds, cattails, and a great amount of water cress. Black Fox could
have hidden himself beneath the water cress or among the cattails and
breathed through a reed.

The area around Black Fox Spring was probably used for the last time
as an Indian campground in 1839. From October 1, 1838, until March of
1839, thirteen thousand members of the Cherokee Nation, divided into
contingents of one thousand each, traveled westward from the mountains of
East Tennessee on their forced and tragic migration to lands west of the
Mississippi River. After crossing the Tennessee River at Hiwassi Island,

%appler, p. 90. S^j^-own, p. 453.

^HenryT. Malone, Cherokees of the Old South_ (Athens: University
of Georgia Press, 1956), pp. 75, 76.
Brown, p. 512. .

they foJlowed the old Black Fox Trail, south of Pikevillc, through
McMinnville and across the Cumberland to Nashville. The "Trail of
Tears" passed through the Dilton area as shown on the map on the following
page. The Indians traveled an average of ten miles per day, and at the
end of each day, each contingent buried its dead. ^ There is a legend in
the community that Indians were buried in the vicinity of the present day
Dilton Cemetery. It may be that some of the Cherokees v/ho began the
journey but could not finish it were buried in this area. It is known that
four thousand Cherokees were left in unmarked graves along the "nunna-
da-ul-tsun-yi" or "trail where they cried. "

^Brown, p. 513. ^ Ibid . , p. 515.

3 Ibid . , p. 519.



Many families from North Carolina and Virginia began to move into
Tennessee in the late 1790's, when the danger of Indian attacks had diminished.
They were an agressive, hardy, liberty -loving people who were mostly
Scottish Presbyterians. Outstanding examples of such men and women
were the Keltons and Childresses, who were among the early settlers in
the Black Fox Spring area.

William and Elizabeth Kelton came to Tennessee from North Carolina,
where, according to the 1780 census record, they lived with a large family
and numerous slaves. ^ They lived in Smith County, Tennessee, for a
short time before purchasing land in Rutherford County. ^ William Kelton
purchased 619 acres from Thomas Harris's 2,057 acre grant. The tract
began in the middle of a "blue hole in the Black Fox Spring, to the corner
past Hawkins and Cummings property, thence. . .to a stake in the original
corner to Joseph McDowell, " etc. ^ The indenture was made on July 16,
1801, for $600. ^ The deed was registered on October 23, 1804, and was

acknowledged before Andrew Jackson, at that time one of the judges of

the Tennessee Supreme Court of Law and Equity.

The first house in Rutherford County is believed by some to have

Goodspeed, p. 811.

^Zella Armstrong (comp.). Notable Southern Families (Chattanooga:
Lookout, 1922), p. 215. Sjbid.

^Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. : Deed Book A. p. 30.

Sjbid. ^Ibid-

■^iienry G. Wray (comp. ), Rutherford County, Tennessee , ^eed.
Abstracts (Smyrna: Henry G. Wray, n.d.), Vol. 1, 1804-1810, p. 7.


been built at Black Fox Spring, but it is not known v/hen or by whom. ^
It is known that on a plantation around the spring, William and Elizabeth
Kelton established their family. ^ Elizabeth Kelton was a charter member
of the First Presbyterian Church near Murphy Spring. It is said that her

four sons went into the woods around the Kelton plantation to hew logs for

the building of the church.

On October 25, 1803, Rutherford County was organized by an act of
the General Assembly at Knoxville; the first court met at the home of
Thomas Rucker on January 3, 1804, in which William- Kelton was one of the
grand jurymen. ^ Murfreesboro was founded in 1811, but it was not until
November 5, 1813, that elections were ordered to be held at Murfreesboro
instead of Black Fox Spring, indicating that much of the county business
had been transacted there.

According to Deed Book K, p. 457, the holdings of William Kelton
(1753-1813) were divided among his widow and eight living children. A
plat of the property made at the time of this division (October 10, 1816) has
been reproduced on page 13. The boiondary drawn at the top of the page
is the eastern boundary, and the one on the right is the southern boundary.
Although most of the water goes underground at Black Fox Spring, a branch
shown in the plat flows toward the northwest from the spring. Although

ISims, p. 19. 2Apn^, p. 217. ^gij^g^ p. 195.

4 Armstrong, p. 217. ^ Ibid. ^Goodspeed., p. 815.


not shown, the Kelton cemetery may be seen today on the farm owned by

1 3 4 5 6 7

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