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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ties in Sumner county took their names. Drake's pond,
Drake's creek and Drake's Lick took their names from
Joseph Drake. liledsoe's Lick, lUcdsoe's creek were
so named for their discoverer, Isaac DlecLoc. Ka.-per
Man.-kcr gave his name to AIan>ker's Lick and ^Lan-
sker's creek.

In July or August, 1772, about twenty-tive Cherokee
Indians came to the camp in the absence of the hunt-
ers and ])lundered it. The hunters continued there for
some time afterwards until their ammunition was
about exhausted, when ihey broke camp and started
io\- the settlements. When they ha<l gone a.s far as
]'«ig Harren river, in Kentucky, they were met by an-
olher ])arty of hunters, ui)on which I\Iansker and fi.mr

12 ]IlSTORIC SUMXKK CouxTV, Ti:xx.

or five others returned and hunted to the end of the
season, then went to their homes in the New River

Some writers call any company of hunters who were
out for any considerahlc lent^th of time, "long hunt-
ers." L. P. Summer.-., in his very interesting- book,
"Southwest \"i)-ginia atvi Washington County,'' says
"the most noted "long hunters' were Eh'sha Walden,
William Carr. William Crabtrce, James Aldridge,
William Pitman and Plenry Scaggs."

In November, 1775, 2^Iansker and some other hunt-
ers, the only names of whom that have come down to
us are the Bryants, again visited the Cumberland and
encam])ed at Mansker's Lick. I\Iost of tlTcm soon be-
came dissatisfied and returned to their homes, but the
brave "old Dutchman," }»Iansker, and three others, re-
mained for some time hunting and exploring.


Thomas Sharp Spencer and others, whose names
are not given, "allured by tlie flattering accounts they
had received of the fertility of the soil and of the
abundance of game which the country aftorded_,_de-
tcrmincd to visit it. They came in the year 1777 to
Cum1;crland river and built a number of cabins about
one-half a mile west from Bledsoe's Lick. There they
made a small clearing, and in the spring of 1778 plant-
ed some corn. That clearing was the first to be made
in the Cumberland country, and that corn was the first
to be planted ])y men of the Anglo-Saxon race in Mid-
dle Tennessee, or west of the Allegheny mountains.
]Most of the parly returned to the settlements after
planting the corn.' S]'encer aiid another man remained
in the country till 177'J.

Spencer was so pleased with the prospects fc^r fur-
ther settlement which the situation afforded that he
could not be induced to abanrlon the place and retm-n
home, as his com])anion. in vain ])er.suaded him to do.
The latter, however, determined to leave the wilder-

Dawn of Civilization


ness, but. so the story g'ocs. having lost his knife, was
unAvilhng to undertake the long journey without one
with whieh to skin his venison and cut his meat. \\'ith
backwoods generosity .Spencer accomi)anied him as
far on his \vay as the barrens of Kentucky, pu.t him on

Si'encek's Tree

the right iiath. br^jke his own knife and gave him half
of it, and tlien returneil alone to Jiledsoe's Lick, where
he made liis home for the next six months in a large
liollow sycamore tree which stood about fifty yards
south of the Lick. The tree was said to have been

14 Historic Sumner Countv, Tf.xx.

nine feet in diameter, and being but a shell, made a
commodious and comfortable home for the brave

Tradition .says tbat Spencer and his companion quar-
relled, and as' a result of that disagreement, "Ilolli-
day" determined to leave. But this writer is unable to
reconcile Spencer"s generosity with this story. He
was a peaceable man, kind and generous, as all brave
men are, declining personal wrangles and disputes,
slow to resent a wrong and quick to forgive. It is
more likely that "Hoiliday"" became homesick, and
that that alone promi)ted him to return to civilization
and to his family. Spencer remained because ho want-
ed to live with nature, where he could hear the throb
of nature's heart.

And right here another doubt arises. The first pub-
lished account of Spencer's spending the winter in a
hollow tree was given "by Ha>wood in his "Natural
and Aboriginal History of Tennessee," published in
1823. In that work the name of Spencer's companion
is given as "]\Ir. Drake.'' But in his "Civil and Polit-
ical History of Tennessee," published in the same year,
he gives tlie name as Hoiliday. and this is followed Ijy
all subsequent writers. Which is correct, or whethei
such an incident actually occurred, will never be

The story of Sjjencer and his hollow tree was told
and retold around the firesides of the pioneers for
more than forty years before it was put in print for
the first time in' 1^23. Tradition does not always cor-
rectly transmit either dates, names or incidents. Sto-
ries repeated around the camp fires and the fireside are
apt to gain or lose by repetition, the narrator often
drawing upon his imagination, adding io the facts or
omitting them. The name of Joseph Drake appears
frequently in the early history of Sumner county, but
the name of John Hoiliday appears in no other am-


First Scttlkmext 15


The curtain of history rises on Sunnier county in
the year 1779, wh.en a settlement of a dozen families
was formed near liledsoe's Lick. "Isolated in the heart
of the wilderness, their only protection from marauding
Indians was their luidaunted courage and the stockade
enclosures around their cabins."

The winter of 1779-80 brought many new settlers,
^^^jjie tide had set in, and it continued to flow, despite
many dangers and hardships which the people had

encounter. The first settlers came chiefly from the
il atauga, North Carolina and from \ irginia, though
^/t few came from Pennsylvania and South Carolin.a.
■^*''''^Many of these hardy men were fresh from the bat-
tlefields of the revolution, and lirought witli them the
rifles arid the muskets with which they had helped to
win independence for their country. Better than rifles
and muskets, they brought with them strong and vig-
orous minds, strong and healthy bodies, a love of free-
dom, undaunted courage and a determination to con-
quer dangers and difticulties and build new homes for
their descendants or die in the \\iiderness. And many
did die in the struggle. But their eli'orts v.'ere suc-
cessful, and we o\ve it to their memories to mark their
last resting pliices. to keep their graves forever green
ind to keejj in mind their heroic deeds and unselfish

The men who settled Sumner county were for the
most part of obsciu-e l.iirth and accustomed to poverty.
A few of them were men oi wealth, and a small i^er
cent, of them were of ari>tocratic descent. Some
brought with them to their new homes money and
slaves. They came to foimd in the wilderness new
homes antl greater estates and to find Ix'tter ov)])ortu-
nities for their children. Some of tlic higher social
class who had lost their fortunes in the older settle-
ments came to begin life anew. Some were sons of
the older ianu'lie>. young men. who came. purciia>ed

16 Historic Sumxek Covstv, Ti:.\x.

large estates, married and fouiulcd families. JJut the
greater number \\ere poor men, who saw no oppor-
tunities in the older settlements. It was these men
who "animated by the twin spirit of chivalry and ad-
venture united." contended with the Indians and laid
the foundation, of Tennessee. It was their sous that
followed Jackson in the Indian wars and fought under
his banner at Xew Orleans, and who fought the battles
in the war with ^lexico, and who followed Lee, Jack- ,
son, Bate and Forrest in the Civil War. ,^'

Northern historians grow eloquent v.hen they wil
about the bloodshed at Lexington and Bunker li'^
but thc}' liave little to say about the bloodshed at -\.la\
ir.ance, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Court-House/
Eutaw .Springs, Charleston and King's ^Mountain, in.
which many of the pioneers of Tennessee gained im-
perishable renown.

.''"The first organized resistance to British tyranny in.
'' America was by the people of North Carolina in 1770.
The first battlt of the Revolution which gave inde-
j)cndcnce to the colonies, and the first blood sb.O'l in
that cause was on the 16th of May, 1771. when tiic
forces of Governor Tryon, numbering 1.100 men. met
about 200 of the '"Regulators" at Alamance, in Orange
county, North. Carolina. In the battle that ensued
there was stubborn fighting until the ammunition cf
the Regulators was exhausted and tliey were driven
from the field. Twenty of these brave men were killed
and several prisoners were taken, one of whicli was
hung- without trial, and twelve others were convicted
of high treason and executed. 'Jdic loss of the Brit-
ish in killed, \\ounded and missing were sixiy-one

North Carolina, the mother of Tennessee, was the
first of the colonics to throw the gauntlet of defiance in
the face of the iiritish. 'J"he battle of Lexingi.m v as
fought on April 19, 1773. and one month and a <iay
later, on May 20, the Mecklenburg Declaration of In-

First Skttlcment 17

(lei)eiKlcncc was signed at Charlotte, twenty- seven
brave men affixing- their names thereto. A number of
the descendants of these signers found their way to
Tennessee, among them the iJrevarrls and the Alex-
anders, ancestors of the families of those names now
residents of Sumner and other c(3unties ii. Tennessee.

Edmund Burke said: "Wherever slavery exists, in
any part of the world, those who are free are by far the
most proud and jeabjus of their freedom — and these
people of the Southern colonies are much more strong-
ly and with a higlier and more stubborn spirit attached
to liberty than those tij the northward."

Bancroft said: "We shall find that the nrst voice
publicly raised in America to dissolve all connection
with Great liritaiu c.ime not from the Puritans of New
England, or the Dutch of Xevv York, nor the ]:)lanters
of \'irginia, but from the Scotch-Irish i'resbyterians"
of North Carolina, the mother of Tennessee. But the
Scotch-Irish were not all I'resbyterians, many of them
were ]Methodi.-ts, and it appears that large numbers
of the early pioneers of .Sumner county Vv'cre of the
latter faith.

Gilmore says in his "Life of John Sevier:"' "With
but one exceiuion, the trans-Allegheny leaders were all
native Virginians — Sevier, 13onel>on, and the two
Bledsoes being from the ranks of the gentry, Robert-
son and Cocke from that of tlie yeoman class, which
has given some of its iu()>t honored names to English
history. The one exception was Isaac Shelby, who
was of Welsh descent, but born and educatetl in Marv-

"The over-mountain settlers were not fugitives from
justice, nor needy adventurers seeking in the untrodderi
West a scanty subsistence, w hieh had been denied them
in the Eastern settlements. And they were not merely
\'irginians — they were the culled wheat of the ( )!d
Dominion, with all tliose grand f|ualities which made
the name of "Xiri^inia"' a badve of hcjuor throuirhout


ihc colonies. 2^1 any of tljcni were cultivated men of
larg"C property, and. thoni^ii the larc^^er nnnilx-r were
poor in this world's .qoods. they all possessed those
more .stable riches which consist of stout, arms and
brave hearts, unblemished inte,yrity and sterlings worth.
They were so generally educated that in 1776 on!}- two
in about two hundred were found unable to write their
names in good, legible English."


There are no jwsitive records as to wdiere the first
stockade was built in Sumner county, l)Ut it is probable
that the one built by Col. Isaac lUedsoe was the pio-
neer. It was built on the borders of the cleared field
before mentioned, near a large spring and about one-
quarter nn'le west from the Lick. The only remaining
vestige of that famous stockade and the cabins are a
few" scattered stones and fragments of broken Crock-
er}-. vSome of tlie logs of wdiich the cabins were con-
structed were used in building a stable at the home
of the present owner of tlie place, !Mr. I'elote.

Col. Anthony Illedsfje buiii his fort two and one-half
miles further north and gave to it the name '"Green-
field." It was situated on a beautiful eminence, and in
the lieart of one of the richest bodies of land to be
ffjund anywdiere. There were in the original tract
6,280 acres. Besides this, he owned several thousan<ls
of acres of lands clscwdicrc, some on the Mol^tnn, and
some in Kentucky.

Asher. with some others, built a fort two and onc-
bu'ilf nules southeast of where Gallatin was afterwards
located. That fort was called A.-^her's Station.

John ]^[organ built his fort on the west side of r.le-l-
.soe's Creek near the mouth of Dry Fork, about two
and one-half mile.s fn^m Grecniield.

IMajor James White built a fort about tiiuc and,
one-half miles northeast of Gallatin on the waters of
Desha creek.

20 IliSTOUic SuMxi;u County, Tknn.

About the same lime Colonel SaiKlers built one on
the west side of ])e<ha creek, and about two and one-
half miles from White's Station.

Jacob Zigler's station, or fort, was one and one-half
miles from Cairo, on the western l)ranch of lUedsoe's
creek. That fort was taken by the Indians in 179].
There were four white persons killed, four wounded
and thirteen taken prisoners autl carried to the Indian

Cai)t. Josci)h Wilson, ancestor of Jud,::^c B. F. Wil-
son, one of the members of the present Court of Chan-
cery Appeals, built a fort which he called Walnut Field
Station, about three miles east from Gallatin.

Kasper Mansker and others built a fort on Man-
sker's creek, about tlirce hundred yards below the site
of ^\'alton's Camp ground. The next year, 1782.
i\Iansker Innlt another fort about one mile east from
the one hi had pi'cviously Iniilt.

Hamilton's Station was e>tablished at the head of
Drake's creek, al.iout six miles north of Shackle Island.

Other settlements were made about the same time,
but less is known of ihem, and there is no positive
knowdedgc of their exact locations.

Elmore ])oug"kiss, James ^vlcCain, Jr^tnes Franklin,
and Cliarles Carter madic a settlement on 15 ig Station
Camp creek, where the upper Nashville road crosses
the creek. James Harrison and William Ciibson set-
tled near the Hall j)lace. William Montgomery .set-
tled on iJrake'.s creek.

Amr)ng the early settlers, of whom the widtcr has
not been able to collect tletailed information are the
following families: Alexander, Allen, liryson, i'.e-
lote, ]5entley. lirown, IJaker, I'aber, r.owyer, iJracken.
Chenault, Cantrell. Cha[)man, Cryer, Crenshaw,
Carter, Cuutining^,, Dickinson. Dunn, Darnell, Duffcy,
franklin, (jilicsijie, Clendening, Ilassell. Hargrove,
Hays, 1 1 anna, House. Harris, Joyner. King, Lewis.
Mitchner, AIuiTay. Montgomery, -McCain, Provine,
Terdue, J'ond, l*ryor, Roscoe, Read, Rawding, ivobb,.

The Killed 21

Turner, Tompkins. ]\raslin. \\'atkins, \\''heir\, \\'itlier-
si)oon, \\'oi)cI>on, Walton. ^Vi11iams. Grant, anci others.

From the beginning-, the settlers of Sumner count)'
\\-ere in constant peril. Tlie men seldom venturcu from
their homes without arms. They lived in groups of
several families, bound together by ties of common in-
terest, exposed to common dangers, and ever reaily to
hazard their lives for the common good. Most of
them had l)ecn born and reared on the frr>ntiers of
Virginia and North Carolina during the stii-ring times
immediately preceding the Jvevohuion. Tliey grew to
manhood and womanhood in the wildjrne.^.s, where
danger lurked on every hand, where Tory, liritish r,n<l
Indian foes were liable to be met at every turn. Un-
der such circumstances, where miflnight attacks were
of common occurrence, where fathers, brothers, hus-
bands and sons, wlien they went to the clearings in
the morning \verc in danger of being shot from am-
bush and their scalj^s torn from their heads before
they returned to their calnn. - . Such men courte.l (km-
gcr for danger's sake. They were cool and dispas-
sionate, and fear never entered their souls.

The Cherokees and the Creeks were constantly on
the war path. There was no safet}' for the settlers
uritil Ceneral Roijertson ordered the de.-truction of
the Chickamauga towns, and that order was success-
fully executed on September 13, 1794. After that
time tliere was peace and safet}\ I'.ut mary homes
were in mourning for loved ones who iiad lalkn ^ ic-
tims to savage cruelty,


Following is a list of .^u)nner counlains, who were
killed by the Indians, so far as has i)een obtained.
There may have been others, but their names have not
been ])rescrved :

Cicorge As]K\v, killed on l')rake's creek.

lohn Ikutloli. Ir.. August 31, 17^0. near Cireenheld.

22 Historic Sumner County, Tenn.

Richard J^.arllcy, near Walnut Fields ]M")rt.

John Beard, near the head of ]'A^ Station Camp

John Benton, near Cragfont. April 11, 1793.

Colonel Aiiihonv r)le<isoc, at Bledsoe's I.ick, Inly 20,
^ 178S.

' Anthony Bledsoe, ]v., near Rock Castle, April 21,


Anthony, son of Colonel l?aac Bledsoe, near Rock
Castle, April 21, 1794.

Colonel Isaac Bledsoe, near Bledsoe's Fort, April 9,
^ Thomas, son of Colonel Anthonv Bledsoe, near

/' Greei^iield, October 2, 1794.

William Brattan, near White's Station.

Robert Brigham. near White's Station.

Cam]:>bell, a voung; Irishman, at Bledsoe's Lick,

July 20, 1788.

Benjamin Desha, in the summer of 1790, between
Vvhite's and Sander^' Stations.

Robert Desha, at the same time and place.

James Dickinson, at the same time and place.

lohn Dixon, near General Winchester's, July 3,

John Edwards, four miles northeast frcMU Gallatin,
wliere Salem church was afterwards built.

Samuel Farr, or Pharr. near Walnut Fields FDi't.
April 14. 1703.

^h'. Gibson, near the Hall ])lace, in the winter uf

John Hacker, on Drake's Creek. May 20, 1793.

James Hall, brother of \\"illiam, June 3. 1787.

Richard Hall, another l)rother of William Hall,
June 3, 1787.

Major William Hall, father of the two la<t named,
and of William Hall, afterwards Governor. They
were killed at the same time about half a mile somh-
W'Cst from tiie Hall home, while moving to l!led<oe's
Fort for better protection from the Indians.

TiJi; Killed 23

]\ricliacl Hampton, near the head of Rod river.

\\'illiani Tlaynes, at the same place.

Robert Ilarth'n, near Fort lUount.

Mr. Hickerson, a young- man. near I'.ledsoe's Lick.

Captain John Hickerson, on Smith's Fork, August,

Ilenrv IF^wdyshell, near \Vahiut Fiekks Fort. April
14, 1793.

]\lr. Tarvis, a young man, near Greenfield, April 27,

A negro slave, belonging to Airs. Cledsoe, at the
same time.

Benjann'n Keykendall, near Sanders' Fort, 'Slay 16,

Nathan Latimore, near Rock F^land.

John Lawrence, at the head of Red river.

\\'illiam McMurray, near Winchester''^ Mill.

John ^Montgomery, on Drake's Creek, two and one-
half miles below Shackle Island, in the spring of 1788

]\.(jbcrt }*lontgomery, at the same place.

Thomas ]\lontgom.ery, at the same place.

]\lr. Morgan, an aged man, the 'father of Captain
John ^Morgan, at Morgan's ]"ort, in the winter of 178S.

Armistead ]\lorgan, at Cr;d) Orchard.

Captain Charles Morgan, near the Hall place, in the
winter of 1788.

Captain Alexander Xeely, near Bledsoe's Lici<, in
the simimer of 1790.

Two sons of Captain Xeely, at the sar.ie time an.d^

Mr. Peyton, at lUcds(.e's Lick, said to liave In'en the
last man to be killed by the Indians in Sumner county.

John I^-ovine, two miles northeast from Gallatin, in
.May. 1792.

Air. Price and his wife, near Gallatin.

Prince, a negro man.

Henry Ramsey, "the bravest of the brave," a brother
of Airs. Anthony Bledsoe, near Bledsoe's Lick, in
the summer f)f 17'\x

24 PIiSTORic Sum.\i:r Couxtv, Tkxx.

William Ivanisey, brother oi the above, at the .-aine
lime and ])lacc.

Two 5011S of Colonel San(.ler^, near Sander^' Fort,
February 23. 1793.

Thomas Sharj) Spencer, at Spencer's Hill. \'an Bu-
rcn county.

IMichael Sheaver, at Zi,::;ler"s Station, in June, 1791.
His body was burned with the fort after tlie Ind.ians
had captured it.

^Ir. Stawdcr. near Station Camp creek. ]\Iav 26,

John Steel, while g'oin;^ from 3>IorganV Fort to

Elizabeth Steel, dauc^hter of John .Steel, at the sanie
time and ]ilace.

Mug'h Tenin. on Harpeth. Dccemlicr 20, 1794.

Xatli. - Thonias, near JIartsville.

Xash Trammel, on Goose creek.

Mr. Waters and another man, whose name has not
been ])reserved, on Bledsoe's creek.

Evan \\'atkins, r.ear Winchc.-tcr's Mill, October 24.

Benjamin \\'illiams, his wife and children, and a
ncgTo lad. two and one-half miles north from Gallatin.

Archie Wilson, at Zi.<;ler's Fort.

Geori^e ^\'ilson, in Davidson county.

Major Georc^e Winchester, near the cast end of
Water street, in ( lallalin, .\uj4U>t 9, 1794. He was on
hi^ way to attend court.

Two nei^roes belong-inq" to James Clendenninp'.

Jacob ZiL^Ier, at his fort when it wa> captured [unc
27^ 1791. ■

On June 26, 1791, Zit^ler's Station was attacked by
a larqe body of Indians, first in the afternoon, when
Michael Shafcr was killed, and then at ni-ht. TIk-
.station was defended by thirteen men. Jacob Zi^^icr,
Archie \\'ilson and two others were killed; Joseph
Wilson and three others were wounded and escaped:
tliree escaped unhurt: eighteen persons were made

TiiK KiLi a:\j 25

prisoners, ^[rs. Zii^lcr stuffed a handkerchief into tlie
mouth of one of lier ehildren to prevent its cries at-
tracting- tlie eneni}', and thus made her csca]x\ \\hile
two of her children were captured. (Jf the j)ris-
oncrs, nine were retrained by purchase by their
parents and friends. ( )ne of the prisoners was
Mrs. Joseph Wilson, half-sister to General James
\\'hite, father of Hugh Lawson White. She was
afterwards rrmsomed by him. llcr daughter, who
was only nine years of age at the time, was twice re-
deemed from her captors, but was treacherously kept
away from her friends. General White determined to
make a third effort to liberate her, and accordingly
made a long journey to the camp of the Indians, and
for the third time paid a ransom for his niece, and set
out on his return home, with the gild seated on the
horse behind him. Me was soon overtaken by a friend-
ly Indian, who informed him that the Indians liad re-
pented of thei; bargain, and liad determined to ]:)ur-
suc an.d kill him and, reca]>ture th.e girl. The Indian
oflered to guide him In- a more secure route, which
offer was accepted, and he was soon beyond the reach
of his enemies.

Ahcv plundering Zigler's Fort the Indians set fire to
it, and with it was consumed the bodies of the whites
who were killed. Among the ca]:)ture(l were four ne-

The soil c»f Sumner cc.iunt}' is sacred because nu'ngled
with it is the dust of heroes and heroines, of mart\'rs in
the car.se of civilizatietn ; men who fought in tlie bat-
tles of the Revolution; men v. ho wrested this lieautiful
land from the savage red men antl ])aved the way for
empire: men wlu) saw tlicir fathers and mothers, their
l)rothers anil sisters, their wives and their children,
their friends i id comjianions fall before the rifies of
Indian foes, saw the >cal|)S torn from their headis and
their mangled bodies left as food for beasts and birds
of prey. And the women and children were no le.-s
heroic than the meti, and, if possible, they suffered

26 Historic Sumxer Couxtv, Texn.

more. In those days "heroic action sprang sponta-
neously from the hearts of the people." Many of the
men and women who toiled and struggled and con-
quered the wilderness now sleep in unmarked graves,
which time and the plow have obliterated, and in many
instances the sacred spot has been forgotten.

In Doddridge's notes we find this : "Is the memory
of our forefathers unworthy of historic or sepulchral
commemoration? Xo people on earth, in similar cir-
cumstances, ever acted more nobly' or more bravely
than they did. No people of any country or age made
greater sacrifices for the benefit of their posterity than
those which were made by the first settlers of our
western regions. What people ever left such noble
legacies to posterity as those transmitted by our fore-
fathers to their descendants?"


Sumner county was organized under an act passed
by the General Assembly of North Carolina on Novem-
ber 17, 1786. and was so named in honor of General

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

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 2 of 21)