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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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 7 of 21)
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upon, he deemed it an hoiior and a ])rivilege to speak
a few words.

84 Historic Sumnkr Countv, Tknx.

senator carmack.

Colonel Malonc pr.id a beautiful tribute to Senator
Carmack, wlio was expeeted to liavc made the opening'
oration of the day, and when he said that he h<jped
the principles for which Carmack stood in life wotdd
be perpetuated in his death, the audience broke into
enthusiastic and spontaneous applause. Colonel Malone
introduced Col. Oscar llled.soe. of Grenada, Miss., a
great grandson of Colonel Anthony Bledsoe, who had
contributed more than two-thirds of the cost of the
monument. Colonel IHedsoe is the oldest livings de-
scendant bearing the Jilodsoe name.


Colonel O.scar F. liledsoe, great grandson of Colonel
Anthony JUedsoe, and a resident of Grenada, Miss.,
spoke as follows:

"Ladies and Centlemen, Friends and Countrymen :
It is with the greatest satisfaction that I am, on. this
occasion, j)crmitted to view and help dedicate this
bcauiful mommient to two of Tennessee's pioneer
heroes. And I will acknowledge right here that this
monument is due in the hig^hest and main degree for
its inauguration, design and completion to the patient
perseverance and high sentiment of Colonel J. G.
Cisco, of Xashville. The thought took possession of
my mind a few years ago on a visit I was making to
Bledsoe's Lick, iliat these two brother heroes ought
to have a monument to forever mark their graves and
record their deeds to posterity I have always had
an extreme veneration for the memory of m\- lather,
whose entire name T ])ear, though T was less than 14
years old when he died, and i thought that a little of
the money derived from the start he gave me b\- his
self-sacrifice could not be cmjiloyed mure agreeably
to the behests of his invisible spirit than to help erect
a monument in this beautiful and heavcn-blcssed sec-
tion of his native State to the mcmorv of our ancestral

Kamks or r.LiiDsoi: Di:sci:xdants 85

heroes. The object accomjih^hed is incomparably
more valuable tlian tlie pecuniary outlay. For money
perishes — its continued ])Ossession is always uncertain,
birt monuments like this are eternal and iitiperishablc
in their record. They are not like books that grow
musty and need new editions and frequent perusal.

Colonel Oscar F. Blkdsok, Sixond

"This monument will always be an ci])cn book to
future generations — to the mind, the c\o. the heart,
involuntarily and without an -Tfort on the part of tlic
lieholder — and will not only mvoke high >entiment and
])atriotism. but will keep imperishable on earth the
names of these earlv heroes and marl\rs to civilization.

86 Historic Sumxkr County, Texx.

A land without monuments i? a land without great
memories and high ideals, and what grander memories
could be perpetuated than those who fell in advancing
the civilization we now enjoy?

"W'e will now notice a few facts concerning thc^e
two brotluTS who were so closely united in life antl so
little divided in death, and which entitle them to have
their memories [)reserved by such a monument as this.


'"Colonel Antht'ux- r.kdsoe was the eldest of the two
brothers, having been born in \'irginia about i7?>3.
His ancestors came from England to \'irginia as early
or earlier than the reign of Queen Anne. I5orn in
Culpepcr county, in early manhood, he moved into
southwest \'irginia when it was a wilderness, and was
a prominent -citizen in Fincastle county, a member of
the \'irginia House of liurgesses from that county and
a Justice of the Peace. In the beginning of the war of
the Revolution, he bore a commission from his native
State, and with a strong force rescued Fort \\'atauga
from the Indians, who were besieging it. The two
brothers settled on the Holston river. Ileing a man of
education, and well versed in public affairs, his worth
was immediately acknowledged l)y Governor Caswell,
of North Carolina. He, at that time, held a com-
mission as Major in the \'irginia militia. (jOvern«.)r
Caswell appointed him Colonel of militia <if the west-
ern region. Isaac i^helby, a ynunger lirother, and
closely associated with the j'.ledsoes and a constant
companion in their emigration movements, was ap-
])ointed Lieutenant-Colonel under him. and it took all
of their unitetl skill and vigilance to protect the west-
ern settlements from the Indians. wIm were constantly
on the warpath, being instigated and nriued by the
lirilish and Tories against the struggling coloni<t>.

"]5ut just here a great opportunity i)resente<l if^elf
to these brave men to serve their countrv with their

Xami;s or Ui.kdsoi-: Dk.scexdaxts 87

efficient and well-orcrJinizcd mountain men eastward
of the mountains. The earl\- |)art of the year 1780
was slirouded in f^looni for the patriots of tlie Soutli
in ■ the stru<;glc for independence. The British had
been almost luiiformly successful. Charleston and
Savannah were in their hands. Gates had been com-
pletely routed at Camden in Auc^ust, in 1780. The
only resistance was a desultory partisan warfare kept
up by Generals Marion, Sumter, Pickens and Colonel
Harry Lee. Cornwallis had been ordered by Clinton,
who had been jiresent. but had returned to Xe\\' "i'ork.
to complete the subju|L;:ation of the Carohnas and
Gcorj^'ia 1)y vicj^^orous movements. He accordiu'^ly cH-
rected I'^erj^uson to proceed westward with a body of
Ijritish regulars to protect and assist tlie Tories and
destroy their oi)ponents.

"In this crisis a c^reat effort was called for to avert
the threatening^ desolation. Every available band of
armed patriots was called u])on to unite for resistance
to Fers^uson. Colonel rvlcDowell. of the Continental
Line, calk\l on Coli,>ni-l .Anthony j^.knlsoe and Colonel
John Sevier to send help from west of the mountains.
To this appeal they proniiJily responded. After con-
sultation it was deemed Ix-st that Colonel I'dedsoe
should retain a part of the force to hold back the In-
dians from a slaut^-hter of the settlers, their women and
children — the massacre in Wyoming^ \'alley and the
nun-der and scalpin,L( of .Miss McRea were ever before
their minds — and that his }Oimc;"er subordinate. Lieu-
tenant Colonel L^aac .'^helljy, should lead all the fi:irces
that coidd be sjKtred to help their strug-glinq- brothers
in the East.

i!.\.TTLn: OK king's MOL'XTAIX.

"The result was the battle and victory of Kind's
Mountain, one of the most important in its consef|uence
of the minor en^c^a.cccments of the Revolutionary W ar.
Complete darkness seemed to have settled on the pa-
triot cause in the .'^oulh. The jxiralyzini;- defeat of

88 Historic Su.mxkk Couxtv, Tknx.

Gates, at Camden, had caused even Marion, Sumter
and Pickens to disband their forces or retire to the
suamjis. The defeat of Ferj^uson was the first rift in
the dark cloud. Fer<:^uson, under orders from Corn-
walHs, went too far beyond Xinety-Six towards Au-
gusta, and as the jiatriot bands drew toj^ctlier, com-
menced a hasty retreat to join CornwalHs at Charlotte,
North Carolina.

"Colonels CamplK-11. Cleveland, Williams, Sevier,
Shelby and Major Winston hastily concentrated their
mounted riHemen and with a select detachnuMit of 900
men pursued Ferfj^uson by night and day through a
heavy rain, imtil they overtook him on October 17,
1780, in a defensive position near the line of Xorth
Carolina, on King's ^lountain, an elevation of .^00 or
600 yards long and 60 or 70 yards wide. The battle
commenced immediately — Colonel Cam])bell com-
manded the whole, and with Lieutenant-Colonel Shel-
l)y directed the center of attack. Colonel John Sevier
and Major Winston commanded the right, and Col-
onels \\'illiams and Cleveland the left. Ferguson
charged repeatedly with bayonets, but was met with-
out tlinching by the stern and determined ])atriots.
though he threw the center and right together in con-
fusion at one time, but in his last charge the left
turned on him successfully. Ferguson met instant
death, and his whole force, with all their stores, were
immediately surrendered.

"The consequences were signal and immediate. The
patriots resmued the offensive throughout the Souihern
colonies. Tarleton was defeated soon after l)y .Mor-
gan at the Cowpens. The great Xathaniel Cireene,
having superseded Gates, held his own against Corn-
wallis — gained the brilliant \'ictory of luitaw S])ri?igs
— only Savannah aufl Charleston remained in IJriiish
hands by the fall of 1781. CornwalHs was compelled
to retreat, and the final culmination was Yorktown.
and victory and independence — for, when Lord Xorth.

Names ok Vamusov. Di;sci:xnA.\TS 89

the ]'>rilish Prime Minister, licard of the surrender of
Cornw.'dlis. he exchiinied : "Oh. (jr.d! it is all over
now,' and ■immediately commenced negotiations to
acknowled.c^e the independence of America — and the
first brin;ht l)e5^innin,o- of this fortimate series of events,
which broug'ht us inde]:)endence by a final victory on
Southern soil was the brilliant and heroic affair at
King's Mountain.

COLON i:l i^liidsoe's part.

"The idea that 1 am trying to impress is that Colonel
Anthony Bledsoe, 1)eing the superior oftlcer of the
force under Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Shelb}', wln'ch
performed such important service in the center of this
battle, and liaving been efficient in organizing, arming
and preparing this force, and having sent it forth so
promptl}- at his country's call, deserves, without any
dis]jaragement whatever to the gallant Isaac Shelby,
more historic recognition than he has ever received,
for he was permitted to enter, as reward for his ])a-
triotic services, over 6,000 acres of land over yonder
at Greenfield, aljout tw<j miles from here, and in 1807
the Legislature of Tennessee created a new county and
named it in his hoiKjr. It was in 1781 that Colonel
Anlhou}- Bledsoe moved from Holston to (^ircenfield.
following his brother Isaac, who had moved the year
befiU'C. This remo\al was an arduous undertaking.
The distance, the route they had to take, was im>re
than 400 miles. Xo wagons ov vehicles could be used
on the narrow trails through the wilderness. Only
pack horses were used to carry the possessions of the
immigrants. We can understaiul from this the j^riwa-
tions of our ancestors. But the spirit of true neigh-
borhood ]-)revailed fully. The Bletlsoes and Sheliiys
and Alexanders aiul Xeelys and otiiers always moved
together and supjjorted each other. This mutual sup-
])ort was half the victory in those i)!oneer days.

90 Historic Sumxi:r Couxtv, Texx.


"The removal of Colonel Anthony Dledsoc's famil}"
to the West was marked h\- an unusual event — a
i^oneymoon tri]). Ills eldest daut^hter, Sarah, who lies
buried there, had just reached womanhood, and ha<l
marrietl David Shelby. I will relate an incident con-
nected with this marria.£;e. Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac
Shelby, <»n his return from Kin<j^"s ^Mountain, found
that a younq' lady. Miss Susan Hart, to whom he had
been showinij^ the greatest devotion, had moved, with
her family, to Kentucky, without ka\ in<;- even a word
behind for him to come to see her. He. thereupon,
inveii^hed against the fickleness of the sex, and vowed
that he would not go to see her under the circunt-
stances, but, in a teasing, half-earnest way, said that
he would wait for Miss Sarah liledsoe. She replied
in the same wa\-, that he had better be true to his
Kentucky love instead of waiting for Miss Uleilsoe.
He afterwards relentefl, went to Kentucky, and was
happil\- married to Miss Susan Hart, who made him
a most excellent wife. Miss I'ledsoe was already, in
heart, engaged to \oung David Shelby, a private
soldier under him in the battle of King's Mountain.
They married in 1781, and maile their honeymoon trip
from the Hf)lst()n to Cumberland X'alley on horseback
— C[uite a contrast to the grand honeymoon journeys
of the present day in palatial cars and steamers. Ihit
were they less happy? Did not their privations draw
their hearts closer together? She was a model wife —
Daviil Shelby was a model husband. The old times,
with their simplicity and jjuriiy, were best, and well
ma\" we exclaim against modern domestic infelicity
and discord and sav. '(,) tempora, ' ) mores.'

"I'efore leaving the name of Sarah Cled.soe Shell)y,
whc) re^ts tlK-rc. 1 will say that her first child. Dr. juhn
Shelby, of Xashville, was the first white child hern in
Middle Tennessee. Her hu>l)antl. David ."-^Iielbx', was
a mrist exemplary and inlh-ieiuial ir.an. I ie died in

Xamks of Blijjsok Descendants 91

1822, after haviiii,^ been Clerk uf the County Court of
Sumner County for twenty years. Mis wife survived
him thirty years, having- lived until 1S52. To her
death she preserved, and would read with glistening
eyes, the dispatch from Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Shel-
by to her father giving an account of the battle of
King's Mountain. She saiil on her death-bed at Xa■^il-
ville that she desired her remains should be buried
by the side of her "honest old father." and there she
lies, with the record ])ehind her of having been a per-
fect woman, wife and mother.


''On the organization of Sumner county, so named
in honor of General Jethro Sunnier, a hero of the Rev-
olution, in 1785, as a part of Xorth Carolina, Colonel
Antliony i'.ledsoe was elected tiic first rej'jresentative
to the Xorth Carolina Legislature, and continued such
imtil his death, in 1788. In 1787. when the Indians
renewed, with increased ferocity, their attacks and
massacres, the settlers on the Cumberland seriously
debated the question of removal back to the Ilolston.
A consultation was held on the subject, anrl Colonel
Bledsoe oj^posed the movement in about these words:
'If we jierish here others will be sure to follow to
avenge our deaths and complete the work which we
have begun. If they find not our graves nor our
scattered bones, they will at least revere and lament
our memories as having deserved a better fate.' 1 lis
ideas prevailed, and we are here today in this beautiful
region and on this historic sjjot to reverence and, I
am thank ftd to say, preserve his memory. 11 is fate
was tragic. In the summer of 17S8 the Indians were
seemingh" bent on exterminating the Cumberland in-
truders on their hunting grounds. The forts were the
cMily j)rotection. Colonel Anthony P.ledsoc moved
from his fort at Greenfield to his brother Isaac's fort,
about 200 yards west from this spot. On July the 20th

92 Historic Sumxkr County, Ti:nx.

llie Indians, after prowling' about all day. slatioiic-d
themselves, about midnight, in fence corners op(josiie
an o])en passage between two elevated log cabins on
•the line of the stockade fort in which Colonel An-
thony and Colonel Isaac lUedsoe resided. The Iri-
dians caused an apparent stampede of stock by rapid
riding aU^ig the lane in front, and Colonel Anthony
Bledsoe and young Campbell, though \varned by his
sister-in-law. Mrs. Isaac Bledsoe, that the noise was
caused by Indians, imprudently stepped into the open
passage into the bright moonlight, and l)oth were shot.

"When it was found that he must die, and no lueans
being at hand to make a light in order that he miglit
make a will, the gallant Hugh Rogan volunteered to
go to a nearby settlement and procure a light, risking
being wa>laid by the Indians, and successfully accom-
])lished his mission, so that Colonel Anthony Bledsoe,
in his dying hour, made his will so that his daughters,
as well as his sons, shared in his property, a necessary
provision at that time under the law of North Caro-

"Colonel Bledsoe left five sons and five daughters.
and another daughter was born a few months after
his death. There are many of his descendants nov/
scattered throughout the land. Two of his sons, An-
thony and Thomas, were killed by the Indians. One
son, Abraham, the cMest. was a Captain under Jack-
son, in the Indian wars and at New Orleans. His S'>n,
] lenry Ramsey, also served at Xew Orleans, and his
yoimgest son, Isaac, my grandfather, was, no doubt.
a private soldier under Jackson in his campaigns
against the r>ritish and Indians. Colonel Antlvjiiy's
grandson. m_\ father, was CajUain of the Sumner \'ol-
unteers in the Semincjle War in 1836. I kej)t, lor a
long time, imtil destroyed by a household fire, a lieau-
tiful silk Hag with the inscripti<jii in large letters,
'Sumner \'c>lunteers' on its f<iMs. 1 sup])ose it was
presented tc.> the compau\ In the ladies of Sumner

Xami:.s of ]5m:i)soe Dicsckxdants 93

coniil\- ill 1836, when the command went oft to the
war in Florida. Thus you see tlie Biedsocs, no doubt,
got full revenge for tiie injuries done tlieir kindred and
neighljors in the race war between the whites and
the Indians.


"I will now give an epitome of the life of Colonel
Isaac Bledsoe, younger by a few years than his brother
Anthony. They were inseparable in heart and in life.
Every fact, the interchange of names of their children
show this. Colonel Isaac was one of the long-himters
— he was the pathfinder. In his explorations he dis-
covered the lick and the creek which bear his name,
and near which he entered several thousand acres of
land. He was made a ]\Iajor when Davidson comity
was formed, and was a member of its first court. He
was with his brother in all his military operations for
the defense of the country. He it was who. in 1878,
in order to save the settlement, volunteered to go
through the wilderness and Indians up to the Ohio
river to get powder and lead, and. with a single negro
slave as his companion, executed his task completely,
and returned with the powder and lead, and the set-
tlers felt safe. Just to the west of us, in sight, was
the field where Thomas Sharp Spencer planted the
first corn ever raisetl in Sumner county. Colonel Isaac
Bledsoe was enlarging this field, in April, 1793, by
additional clearing, and went out on a bright morn-
ing with his hands to mend his log heaps. The Indians
were lurking in that ravine yonder just south of the
public highway. Colonel Isaac 1-iledsoe, being in front,
was shot down and mortally wounded. He told his
liatids, perhaps his sons with them, t'> rush to the fort — •
that be coidd not live, and that they could do nothing
for him. The Indians scaljicd him, while dying, and
made off with their ghastly tro^^hy.

"Colonel Isaac Bledsoe's son, Anthony, aufl his
nephew, Anthony, were both killed shortly afterwards,

94 Historic Sumxrr Couxtv, Tkxx.

in this nei,^li))orhoo(l. while i^oitii^ to school, and were
scalped b_\- the Indians.-

"General Robertson, who . was a warm personal
friend of the lUedsoes, and felt their loss deeply, was
aroused by these tragedies, and led an cx])etlition to
the Tennessee river and destroyed, utterly, the Indian
villages at Nickojack. and killed all the Indians they
could lind. 'J'hen. and nut till then, did Sumner county
have rest. But till the s'reat Tennessean. Andrew
Jackson, j^-ave the tinal blow with Sumner and other
tro(jps. at 'rohoi:)eka. or Horseshoe l>end, on the 'J\al-
lapoo>a, was the race question between the Caucasian
and Indian finally settled.

'"Xo wonder when we consider these Irai^edies so
fp€(iuently enacted by the ritle and tomahawk and
scal])ing- knife, that the common saying- an.u^n^ the
settlers was 'There's no good Injun but a dead Injun.'
Even the Africaii slaves of the settlers were eager to
fight the Indians, and I have heard my father relate,
with zest, how a faithful negro slave killed an old In-
dian chief, somewhere in this neighborhood, as t!ie
chief was climbing over a rail fence.


"These men. whose memory we jierpetuate today,
and who fell in the most implacable of all war — a race
war — were the owners of African slaves, and may the
race contest which the freedom ot" tlie l)lacks has in-
augurated never reach the acute stage as that between
the white race and the Indians or red race.

"Xow let me notice some of the C()m])anions of the
r.ledsoes. There was Hugh Rogan, the gallant Irish-
man, the comj^anion of Grattan. who lletl to Amer-
ica in order to breathe the air of freetlom. He was
always ready for service, always ready to fight tlie In-
dians and iielp protect his neighbors. He was with
tlie Halls when, in the summer of 1788. they moved
from their jilace, al^om a mile from here, to Colonel

Hon. Jami.s W. P'.lackmorf. Sim:aks 95

Isaac TUedsoo's fort, in order to escape the Indians,
who. bv ambush, killed and ."^calpcd the father. Major
Hall, and two of his sons, and would have killed younq-
William Hall, a boy of 13, and afterwards Governor of
Tennessee, but the boy. having- barely escaped the
tomahawk that killed "his father, did some running:
through the cane and over the oj)en ground in order
to cscai)e the Indians, such as no Olympic runners
ever excelled. The mother .saved her life by catching
the mane of the swift and powerful horse she was rid-
ing- and 1)olting right through tiie file of Indians till
she g^ot to the fort, escaping both tomahawk and bullet.
"The names Shvll)y. Xeely, Alexander. Deshas. Wil-
sons, Peyton. Winchester. Smith. Blackmore, Doug-
lass, Cage, Donoho. and many others, were sooner or
later associated with the r.le<lsoes, and as a result of
their imited sacrifices anil labors you have now this
unsurpassed, well-tlevelopcd countrw whose prospects
for the future are as bright as the sacrifices of the past
have been great. ?\[ay this monument serve only to
arouse and ])reserve noble memories and sacrifices, and
may the silent influences which proceed from it tend
to elevate patriotism and every high sentiment oi hu-
manity and progress."


The address of Hon. James r)lackmore, of Galla-
tin, was one of peculiar force and eloquence, and be-
fore beginning the historic sketch of the iJledsoe broth-
ers he spoke in elo(|uent and in>i)iring words of ."sena-
tor Carmack, avowing that his death would mean the
triumph of the cau<e for which he lived, and again the
audience applauded enthusiastically.

Adding to the impressiveness of the program was
the singing of '"The Hills of Tennessee*' by a chorus
of yovmg ladies and the oitening song "America" anrl
the closing song ".'^weet iSye and Dye" were also very
much enjoyed.

96 Historic Sumxkk County, Tkxn.

The closing- j^raycr was offered by tlic Rev. Willie
Wilkes, whose beautiful i)rayer at tlic funeral of Clen-
eral Bate was widely coi)ied and commenterl uinMi.
]\Ir. Wilkes, it will be remembered, ba])tized (.ieneral
lUite a few years before his death in the clear waters
of lUedsoe's Creek, which flows peacefully throut^h
the ravines near where the monument was dedicated

HON'. i;lackmoui:'s address.

Hon. James Blackmore, one of the best known law-
yers at the Gallatin bar, spoke in part, as f(.)Ilows:

"This is an unusual occurrence, remarkable in the
fact that today the descendants of two pioneer heroes,
Anthony Bledsoe and Isaac Bledsoe, brothers, with the
descendants of relatives and friends of these pioneers,
and their friends and acquaintances, have assembled
for the purj)ose of unveilinj:^ a monument and to i\o
honor to the memory of these worthy patriarchs. 11.^
years in the one case and 120 years in the other, after
they had, respectively, laid down their lives for the
advancement of civilization and for the purpose of giv-
ing to their contemporaries and to those who should
come after them this beautiful and fertile section of
country, wherein peace, progress and prosperity now

"Like Abram of old. each of these pioneers heard
and recc\gnized a call to go out into a strange land to
subdue it, and make it fit for an inheritance of future
generations. Each was peculiarly fitted for subjugat-
ing the wilderness and laying the foundations of social
order and civil government, and each became, in the
language oi a fellow pioneer, 'a file leader among the
people,' and each was a lower of moral strength to
those who with them had jtlunged into the wilderness
and braved the hardships and dangers of border life
and Indian warfare to eslal)lish settlements and to act
as the advance guard of western civilization.

IIox. J.\Mi:s W. P.LACKMORi: Speaks 97

"Tiicy were 'notables,' or i^encral arbitrators, as the
judiciary of the Cnnibcrlaiul country was called, but
they seem to liave been niorc than judi^es ; tho\' wore

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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 7 of 21)