yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Transcribed from The American Historical Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 1902), pp. 55-78.

[The paper of Mr. Howard, which follows, was written at the request of ax-Governor James D. Porter. in 1883, for the Tennessee Historical Society. Although he was then far advanced in years, the manuscript is, throughout, neatly and clearly written, with few erasures and interlineations, only where Mr. Howard wished to add pertinent facts.

On account of the great length of the paper (about ninety closely-written pages), very many passages have been omitted and the language (for brevity) has been condensed. The manuscript gives the names of many early settlers, references to the soil, timber, and water courses of the territory which he surveyed, and will repay an examination by one interested in the settlement of West Tennessee and the disposition of the public lands here.

Mr. Howard was a man of great purity and uprightness. His long life in the woods had given him the quiet and meditative disposition frequently noticed in men who have spent mach time alone. The exactness of the skilled surveyor characterized all his business transactions, and is shown in his manuscript, which, written when he had seen more than four-score years, contains hardly an imperfect letter.
His memory should especially be cherished by the citizens of Nashville, for his benevolence to their institutions. Dying in 1887 in Philadelphia. Mr. Howard gave to the Howard Library the sum of $15,000; to the Old Woman's Home, about $11,000, and substantial bequests to the Howard School Library, Fisk University, the House of Industry, the Protestant Orphan Asylum, the Woman's Mission Home, and the Tennessee Historical Society.]

After expressing some modest doubts as to the value of his paper and apologizing for possible inaccuracies, Mr. Howard's paper begins:

I was born on the 14th of December, 1798, in Granville County, North Carolina, and at the age of twelve years, or thereabout, was taken from school and put into a country store, about a dozen miles from home, where I was to get no wages, hut my board only with one of the two proprietors of the store in which a general assortment of such dry goods and groceries was kept as was usual in such establishments; including apple and peach brandy, which were in as active demand in a retail way as any article on hand; especially once a month. On Saturdays what were called warrant tryings—magistrates' courts where small debts were adjudicated—took place, at which the neighboring people would congregate and often indulge in drinking and sometimes in quarreling and fighting, thus making a most unchristian Sabbath eve, extending sometimes into the ensuing night. I remember well the first whiskey I ever saw was brought to the store in an old-fashioned, short, square, big-mouthed Scotch snuff bottle by an old man named Ned Jones, for his own drinking; and when I got him to let me smell and taste of it I found it as revolting in a crude state or with water only as other strong drinks, which should be used only medicinally and but little in that way.

The war of 1812 with Great Britain coming on goods could not be obtained to replenish the store, and when I had been there about seventeen months it was closed and I made up my few things into a bundle to take home. When about to leave I was agreeably surprised at the gift of twenty-five silver dollars from my employer, and went home in cheerful mood, the richest boy in the neighborhood. All sorts of merchandise became scarce and dear; salt got to be five dollars per bushel; sugar, coffee, iron, steel, etc.; equally exorbitant in price and such produce as the people made for market scarcely worth transportation to one. Money was, of course, exceedingly scarce and every one impecunious.

I was at once put to work with the negroes on the plantation until an uncle and my father made up a load of manufactured tobacco, with which, a negro man and I were sent to the lower part of North Carolina to peddle from house to house, camping out at night; and if tar could be had cheap to take that article back, as we did, having procured it for one dollar and fifty cents per barrel of some thirty or forty gallons.

In this swampy country—near the Great Dismal swamp, where large swamps were called "pocosons," there was in common use native tea, secured from a bush resembling the privet of Tennessee, which might become valuable if properly managed, and was known there as Yapon. It has been used by some Indian tribes, and known as the "black drink," as I have been informed by R. J. Meigs, of Washington, formerly of Nashville, who in early life spent sometime at an Indian agency with an uncle who was agent, but with what tribe I have forgotten. It seems that when they met in council for business, two men would be delegated to fill a large kettle with water into which a quantity of the leaves and twigs would be placed; when ready for use it would be handed hot first to the chief and then to the others again and again until their stomachs would be so full they would eructate and cast up a portion of the liquid; they then considered themselves ready for business. This tea was extensively used in that country, sweetened with honey, which was more abundant than I had seen before. I have thought this tea was like, if not identical with, the once famous matti of Paraguay, which the Frenchman Bonpland went there to investigate and was detained a number of years by the tyrant, Dr. Francia, who seemed to control the people as perfectly as if he had them caged or under lock and key.

On another occasion the same negro man and I were sent on another expedition of the kind named to the southern part of North Carolina and the northern part of South Carolina; and again I was sent with another darkie to Petersburg, Va., with a wagon load of tobacco prized into hogsheads, and a neighbor sent another load under my care.

In this way, and working on the plantation and on that of a bachelor uncle, who had entered the army, I was employed about two years and until I was offered in November, 1815, after the close of the war, a situation in a store in the country village—Oxford—at seventy-five dollars and my board for the first year. In this establishment I became bookkeeper after not many months, was given in charge the key of the safe, and seemed to be more trusted than a young man whom I had found there, several years my senior, and he left. The active man of the firm of two persons who owned the establishment was Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court and it fell to my lot to copy bills, answers, depositions; count every word, and endorse on the copy the number of copy sheets consisting of ninety words for which the clerk's fee was twenty cents per sheet. In addition, one of us had to be at the store at night to charge the day's work of two negro blacksmiths owned by one of our employers, as everything was carried on on the credit system.

My employers had also a tan yard and we had to receive hides, weigh and pay for them, send to the tan yard and receive from it and sell the leather. Keeping accounts of these various matters required so much attention that I had sometimes barely time for eating and necessary sleep.

My wages gradually increased to one hundred and eighty dollars per annum when I was offered by an uncle, Dr. Thos. Hunt, who had formed a partnership with Samuel Dickens to locate land warrants in West Tennessee, then known as the Chickasaw or Forked Deer country, the liberal and inviting salary of four hundred dollars per annum, which I accepted. My former employers offered me an equal interest in their business if I would remain, but I went assured that I would have an easy time examining lands and getting the situation of good lands to be entered when the offices were opened for entry. I found it an exceedingly rough, hard business, camping in the woods, which I did nearly all the time for about four consecutive years—the latter part on my own account—until sleeping on the ground on raw bear or deer skins, which are impervious to water, became as familiar and as much a matter of course as it is now to sleep in a house on a bed.

My employer made in two years, and mainly from my labor and attention to his business, I suppose more than twenty thousand dollars; which he, being brought up in ease and abundance and being of an extravagant and liberal disposition, soon got rid of, as with a considerable inheritance also; his partner's plan was to get all he could and keep all he got. My wages were to be eight hundred dollars after the first year and for risqueing my health and life, I got no money but about one thousand dollars in property. My employer failing, I lost by him about four times as much as I received.

* * * * * * * * *

Some years previous to 1820 and at that time there had been and was much litigation growing out of conflicting land titles, which often required copies of entries, grants, etc., which could only be obtained from North Carolina at considerable expense and delay. John C. McLemore, who had become somewhat prominent in land matters, conceived the plan of procuring from North Carolina copies of all titles to lands in Tennessee, which emanated from that State and at great expense and trouble did so, having copies taken almost entirely, in bound books. Certified copies from these books were in a short time made legal, many of which I made out. The books proved a great convenience to the community, but not very profitable to Mr. McLemore.

A law was passed by North Carolina in 1780, donating to the officers and soldiers of the North Carolina line in the army of the Revolution land warrants with which to enter lands in her western territory, now Tennessee (Haywood 116). In 1781 a law seems to have been passed giving warrants to men employed to guard the white settlements and were known as guard right warrants (Haywood 128); pre-emptions were allowed in 1780 (Haywood 123).

In 1783 John Armstrong was appointed by North Carolina to sell land warrants to raise revenue with which to pay off the State's indebtedness, and sold some three millions of acres in parcels of five thousand acres or less.

A large part of Middle Tennessee was taken up under these warrants and some by pre-emption or head right and guard right claims, probably as much as 300,000 acres in 1783, on surveys made by Isaac Robards, Henry Rutherford, _____ Harris and perhaps one or two others, which were very imperfect on account of the hostility of the Indians. These surveys were made to run to the point of the compass, and all surveys made in West Tennessee (and none were made till after the cession by the Chickasaw Indians to the United States in 1818) were required to be run to the true meridian; that is parallel to and at right ankles to the South and North boundaries of the State, which is six and a half degrees to the left of the point of the needle.

John Armstrong warrants only were located in West Tennessee prior to December, 1820, I believe; beside those granted therein as named above a considerable number were entered under N. E. about the same time and were called special entries and were granted by Tennessee after 1818. Whether the Rice and Ramsey tracts on which Memphis is situated were special entries I am not sure, but believe the latter was. Quite a number of special entries were made adjoining the State line; the first called for beginning at the southwest corner of the State on the Mississippi river and running east with the State line, then north, etc. Others called for that one and each other thus extending east along the old State line for many miles.

I remember but one North Carolina claim, a special entry, I believe, being made in West Tennessee on Tennessee river; which was for 1,800 acres in the name of William P. Anderson, at and including the mouth of Birdsong creek, some miles below Johnsonville, including the only extensive body of good land I met with on that river, which I meandered from Reynoldsburg up about ten miles and found it one of the worse jobs I ever undertook on account of canebrakes, in one of which I spent an uncomfortable night. Isaac Robards, only, of the surveyors named above entered West Tennessee from its east side and he from opposite the mouth of Duck river, thence ran west to Big Sandy at a bluff where he made a corner and from it four 5,000-acre tracts were granted to my grandfather, Memucan Hunt; Robards made another corner in the forks of Beaver creek, of Obion river, and located other grants of 5,000 acres each to my grandfather on one of which Huntingdon now stands until he had 75,000 acres in his name; he had as partners, however, Thos. Polk, Jas. Galloway, Jesse Benton (father of Thomas H.), Pleasant Henderson, who settled on one of the tracts near Huntingdon, and died there, and A. Murphy. This company, including Isaac Robards, owned 140,000 acres all together. In 1827 or 1828, I had occasion to perpetuate the testimony of Henry Blair, then of Wilson County, as to a corner made in 1783 two miles east of Huntingdon, when I am pretty sure he told me his powder horn was shot from his side by an Indian on this expedition and not in Middle Tennessee as stated in Haywood's history.

After the cession of West Tennessee to the United States in 1818, it was required to be laid off in five surveyors' districts, of which Samuel Wilson, Adam R. Alexander, Robt. E. C. Doherty, John B. Hogg and Gen. Samuel Williams were appointed principal surveyors. The surveyors were required to survey their districts into sections five miles square and to have a map of each made on a scale of three hundred and twenty poles or one mile to the inch with all rivers and creeks represented thereon. Surveyors were allowed to vary from closing each section not more than twenty poles. Section corners hewed six or seven inches square, and showing three feet, were planted firmly in the ground, each face placed toward the contiguous section and having cut an it the range and section to which it pointed. At one mile in each direction a post was put with one notch on one side and four on the other; at two miles another with two chops on one side and three on the other and so on from one corner to another. All range and section lines were marked on trees with a blaze, and a chop above and below.

All claims to land emanating from North Carolina were required to be represented on the district map if they could be identified, as nearly all of them were, before the offices were opened for entry under the laws of Tennessee, and nearly or quite all were made on John Armstrong warrants—amounting, I suppose, to 300,000 acres or more in West Tennessee.

The offices of the five districts were opened simultaneously in December, 1820, at different points; one where Lexington, Henderson County, now stands; one a mile or two below where Jackson is situated; one on the bluff (Memphis); one where McLemoresville, Carroll County is, and one eight or ten miles north of Jackson at Col. Robert H. Dyer's. Entries were recorded in a book, copies were furnished to deputy surveyors, who surveyed the lands and returned the plots and certificates to the office, where they were recorded in another book; and with the warrants were delivered to the locator, who filed them with the State register at Nashville, who issued grants on them; subsequently an office was established at Jackson from which West Tennessee lands were granted.

A law was passed by North Carolina escheating to the university of that State such warrants as had been issued to persons for military service who had died without lawful heirs or proof of this fact; and Col. Thos. Henderson, of Raleigh, was authorized to procure such proof receiving a percentage for his services.

He employed a number of men in different parts of the State, and many warrants were obtained to which the university became entitled. The entire amount of the military warrants I never knew. Hunt and Dickens located many of them and of John Armstrong warrants—some 300,000 or 400,000 acres. No other company located so many except that composed of John C. MeLemore and James Vaulx.

In going west from Nashville we purchased cloth at Reynoldsburg for a tent, when we crossed the Tennessee about April 24, 1820; it was then a prosperous village with twelve or fifteen stores, but proving sickly the county seat was moved to Waverly; the last time I was at Reynoldsburg, some twenty-five years ago, it contained but one family which lived in the old court house.

We began camping on the first high land, three or four miles from the Tennessee on the old Natchez road and procured tanned deer skins for leggings to guard against snakes, briers, vines, prickly pears (Indian tear blankets), etc. Our horses not being accustomed to live on the range were exhausted in a few months, but our two mules stood it better.

Mr. Dickens being taken sick with fever on Tennessee river, we provided a log hut ten or twelve feet square covered with boards and floored with puncheons. We had no fireplace and no candles and in it the sick man, Samuel McCorkle and I had a doleful time for a week or two.

The sick man became alarmed and requested us to sing for him, he a member of the church and we not. We happened to know a song or two, and did the best we could. McCorkle could sing, but indifferently, and I less. The sick man was soon able to travel and left for Middle Tennessee, never to enter the [woods again, and left the labourious and rough business of the Company in my charge-his partner, whom I represented, having remained in N.C.]* With McCorkle, Joel Pinson, James McDaniel, David Moore woods again, leaving the laborious part of the business to me and two packmen, I proceeded on foot to the Forked Deer and Big Hatchie rivers. Our method was to send the two packmen from a section corner along a range or section line for five or ten miles to another section corner, where all were to meet and camp. One of the packmen kept directly on the line, stepping as regularly as possible and counting every other step, having been furnished with a leather strap a foot long which had in it sixteen holes along its middle, and a leather string, longer than the strap run through its holes, both fastened to the breast of the coat. Practiced men knew how many steps would make an "out" and would pull the string out of one hole. Sixteen outs would make a mile. The other men would proceed on lines parallel to these with compasses; those having the short line one day would take the long one the next. We soon became remarkably accurate in our own measurements, nearly as much so as if carelessly measured with a chain. Each party had a horn by which we could generally find each other.

On emerging from the swamp of Forked Deer river about a dozen miles from Jackson, we found a bold spring and near it a mound six or seven feet high and large enough for a house, which we named Mount Pinson. We did not then know of the large mounds two or three miles farther south and persons who had seen them supposing it was these we had so named adopted the name as having been intended for them and they have borne that name since. I saw the large mound later and supposed it to be about seventy or seventy-five feet high and nearly four hundred yards in circumference. Near it was a square mound about twenty feet high, and other smaller ones, dikes, etc., abounded thereabout.

The land, including the spring and low mound we had named Mount Pinson, was entered by Hunt and Dickens for Col. Thos. Henderson, who built and lived on it.

We soon learned that near all mounds there was almost certainly good land and constant running water.

We worked south and west until within sixteen miles of the Bluff (Memphis), near where Fanny Wright afterward made a settlement she named Nashoba—the Indian name of wolf—and went there for a supply of provisions; I got as much flour as we needed and all the bacon the place afforded, some sixty pounds. At this time, autumn of 1820, Marcus B. Winchester and Anderson B. Carr had a store at the Bluff, as did a Mr. Rollins, their trade being almost entirely with Indians, many of whom were hunting over the southern portion of the Western territory, it being their last chance there. A man named James kept a log tavern on a small scale near the mouth of Wolf; a Mr. Irvin had located at Ft. Pickering where there were two blockhouses. Grace lived on the river not far above the mouth of Wolf. William Lawrence, a deputy surveyor of the district, made that his home as did John Ralston, another deputy. Paddy Maka had located there and had some sort of claim to the largest of a group of islands opposite the mouth of Wolf, which were called Paddy's Hen and Chickens.

I was at the house of a Spanish judge named Foy across the river; a man named Robards, I believe, had settled President's Island and a family of bachelors named Person were locating on Nonconne creek, six or seven miles from Memphis. No other persons had settled in Shelby County at that time that I know of unless Jesse Benton had done so on Big creek.

There were four bluffs within Tennessee on the Mississippi known as the Chickasaw Bluffs: one opposite Lauderdale County; the second, above Big Hatchie, was entered by Judge Jas. Trimble in 1820, and is occupied by the town of Fulton; the third, a few miles lower, is occupied by Randolph, and the fourth one by Memphis.

One man had settled in what was for a while part of Tipton County, now Lauderdale, named Samuel Givens; there were a few at the time in Henry County; a few in Carroll on Big Sandy, in Henderson and McNairy along the Natchez road, and in Benton. Thomas Fite had settled in what is now Gibson, six miles from Trenton, and was its only occupant unless Randolph had done so. In Hardeman, Fayette, Haywood, Crockett, Weakley, Dyer, Obion and Lake counties, there was not an inhabitant that I am aware of. Thomas Fite had a mortar for converting corn into meal operated by water. He had erected on the bank of Little river a water wheel, which was turned by the current and which operated an upright beam or pestle. The affair would operate until stopped by arrangements constructed for that purpose, but Mr. Fite told me would occasionally beat up a squirrel which had been tempted by the corn.

All work in the woods had to cease in November and we came in to prepare for the opening of the land office in December. I was literally in rags and nearly shoeless and hatless; everything I had on was barely worth a dollar. I camped many nights after this year, 1820, near Bayou Gayoso, near Memphis, where business with the land office required my attention. Once some fifty Indians had congregated at the Bluff for a great spree; racing their ponies over an old field, pommeling each other with empty bottles and winding up with swelled faces and sore heads. One stout old fellow with several grown sons camped near me and with him I exchanged a pretty nearly used up pack horse for a pony, giving him six dollars boot, of which he placed in the hands of Dr. Davis, who had recently settled at the Bluff, and whom he knew, two or three dollars with which to get something to eat and material for shirts after they had spent the balance in a drunken frolic they had agreed to have.

When the time for opening the land offices arrived I went to the Bluff with fifty or sixty thousand acres of warrants; the company going were Gen. Jas. Winchester, Judge Jas. Trimble, Judge Jno. Overton, O. B. Hayes, all of Tennessee; B. F. Hawkins, of North Carolina, and others had gone before me, but I overtook them and we reached the Bluff together where we transacted our business.

About the beginning of 1822 Jno. C. McLemore, Sugars McLemore, Samuel Dickens and I formed a partnership to locate land warrants, Mr. Dickens to furnish my part of the capital as being equal to my services in the woods; and we located more than three hundred and thirty thousand acres of warrants; among them over a hundred thousand acres of escheated claims, which the Legislature of Tennessee refused permission to be entered unless her colleges could come in for a share with the university of North Carolina. This effected a compromise by which the university got about forty per cent of this new batch of warrants, Cumberland College, at Nashville, about thirty-five and East Tennessee College about twenty-five per cent. I estimated what each got from the quantities of these warrants entered by us for the three institutions and I believe we entered most, if not all. For the entering of these and other warrants the land offices were again opened in December, 1822, and I was assigned to the most difficult one to reach, that at the Bluff, and took with me about fifty-six thousand acres of warrants.

I may mention that the largest military warrant issued by North Carolina was to the heirs of Gen. Robt. Howe, and was for sixteen thousand acres. It was entered north and northwest of Paris, Henry County, and the Rev. Samuel Hawkins, a relative and heir, occupied and disposed of it. The next largest, so far as I know, was for the services of a chaplain—whose name I have forgotten— for seven thousand two hundred acres and was entered by me in Henderson County.

Of the many persons engaged in the business I was in, only one death occurred in the woods, that one, Mr. Richard Hightower, father-in-law of O. B. Hayes, of Nashville. This occurred, I think, in 1820, at a fine spring a few miles south of Covington, Tipton County, which was afterward known. as Hightower's spring.

I followed the business as it was offered to me for about sixteen years—much longer than any one else did, and I believe they are all dead except me. For many years I saw no newspapers and few books.

The only man I knew of who settled and lived on the land which the warrant issued for, for service in the army of the Revolution was named Bab, whose warrant for six hundred and forty acres was entered some six miles southeast of Paris, and I presume he died on it. The Legislature did itself credit by passing an act permitting him as many offsets and corners as he thought proper, leaving out the bad and including the good land.

Sixty-six warrants were issued by a resolution of the Legislature of North Carolina called Resolution Warrants and were entered in the names of the persons to whom issued, by McLemore, Dickins & Co. These resolution claims as we called them were when entered worth all together about eighty thousand dollars, the aggregate number of acres being 32,742.

About 1833 or 1834 some of the authorities of Mississippi became dissatisfied with the line between that State and Tennessee as it then existed and wished it run again as accurately as possible believing it would go farther north and perhaps include part of Memphis. Commissioners were accordingly appointed who met at the corner of Mississippi and Tennessee on Tennessee river and proceeded west along latitude thirty-five degrees with great care and precision, but instead of bearing to the north of the existing line went constantly the other way until the two lines when they reached the Mississippi were about three and a half miles apart; thus adding about two hundred or more square miles to Tennessee. Learning of this and controlling some thousands of acres of land warrants, I went to Lagrange and examined a large part of the strip gained by Tennessee from her neighbor, supposing it might be subject to entry by the warrants I held, in which I was mistaken.

Returning to Lagrange one evening from a day's exploration, I learned that the Methodists had held a meeting that day at their church, and as the congregation was dispersing a Dr. R— had waited at the door with a whip or stick to castigate the preacher, and made the attack. The preacher was too much for him, took away his weapon and knocked him down with it. The fray extended until it became a sort of free fight. I give it as I heard it.

I have heard it said that the Indians, when asked why none of them lived permanently in West Tennessee, replied that it leaked too much. For a time after I first went there I thought it rained, hailed, thundered and lightened with more wind that I had known elsewhere.

About 1826 or 1827 I reached the house of Rev. J. Wright just before night. I think he was a Methodist, and lived six or seven miles northwest of Paris. I found there, or he arrived soon afterward, Elder Smith of that church, and as we were to spend the night there we were informed there was to be a witch-killing for the relief of a daughter of Mr. Wright, who had been bewitched by another woman, and that all who were to stay at the house must be within before daylight disappeared and not go out until broad daylight next morning, as doing so would destroy the efficacy of their intended operations. We of course remained in. An oven was placed on the hearth filled with liquid of some sort with some of the bewitched woman's hair, trimmings of her nails, etc., the lid put on and closely sealed with stiff clay, and fire put on and under the oven. The witch in diminutive form had by some means been gotten into the oven and when the liquid in it was about to give out the patient would by some kind of influence of the witch be powerfully impressed with the desire to relieve her. The bewitched woman was placed in bed near the center of the room, her father and husband by it. Elder Smith and I were on a bed in a corner wide awake to witness the scene. When the liquid in the oven was about to give out and the other things be burned, the patient began to roll back and forth on the bed; sprang out suddenly to relieve the witch, was seized by her husband and father and they had it up and down, hip and thigh, on and over the floor until the woman was placed forcibly on the bed where she was confined until daylight, when the doors were opened and all were let out. The woman's husband died soon after and I never heard of her troubles again. She may have died too.

The bewitching it appeared had occurred where they moved from and Mr. Wright had been told if he could draw blood from the witch above her breath it would cure his daughter. He had gone to the house of the alleged witch, seized her and scratched her forehead with something and drew blood; for the assault he was sued and well-nigh, or quite ruined by damages and costs.

The lawyers of those days in going the rounds of the courts would have their fun. On one occasion at Huntingdon a bull owned by the clerk of the court made his appearance about night with other cattle and having a bad name for breaking into cornfields, was caught, tied to a stump on the square and tried for his crimes. Prosecutors and defenders were appointed, witnesses summoned and a great part of the night was spent in the trial. I heard but did not see this scene. Adam Huntsman, Berry Gillespie, and Abe Martin let off their fun-making propensities in this way: Huntsman had a wooden leg, and once when charged with the paternity of an illegitimate child replied if it had a wooden leg he would own it, but not otherwise.

Another man and I, in passing Col. David Crockett's house called to inquire about getting over a little river some miles ahead, a bridge that was over it having been destroyed and there being no good, or tolerable ford at the place; and he walked several miles with us to put us on the path that led to a good ford. At Trenton there was a meeting of candidates seeking office; the Colonel being up for Congress, made a speech, and as well as a gentleman (George W. Terrell) and I could make out what he said—in part—we being on the outside of the crowd: it was that the ruffle-shirt fellows about the villages were all against him, but not being able to break him down had imported one of Wellington's redoubtable troops to certify against him—a man that came to this country in Gen. Ross' army that captured Washington City, and deserting had turned lawyer and located in a village not far off; that he would not give his name, but would describe him so that some of the persons present would understand who he meant. He said the man looked as if he had been burned in a log cabin, snatched out of the ashes, and had his face sewed up with leather whangs; it was well understood who he meant. I knew the man. He had a large, broad homely face, and was as badly marked by smallpox as can be imagined.

Mr. John Harding told me that in descending the Mississippi river, on his way to Natchez with some negroes for sale he stopped at New Madrid, where there was a settlement of white people, and a negro man made his escape and he had to proceed without him; after having been awhile at Natchez he learned that the negro had been captured and was in confinement. He started alone in a skiff up the river, and paddled against the current to New Madrid, a distance of some six or seven hundred miles; got his man, started down the river, stopped at Judge Foy's opposite Memphis and sold him the negro; was paid for him in silver, which he poured into the bow of his skiff, and covered it over with earth on which he did his cooking, and proceeded to Natchez. At that time there was no settlement between New Madrid and Memphis, I believe, and none from there to Natchez, unless at Vicksburg, or Warrenton, ten miles farther down.

On one occasion, Harry Garrett, a young lawyer of Dresden, and I stayed one night at a Mr. Terrill's who had located at a narrow place of one of the Earthquake Lakes in which were dead trees still standing. The next morning Mr. Terrill took us a short distance from his house to show a place where an earthquake crack as they were called, had passed under and split open a large tree, parts of the dead trunk of which were still standing on each side of the crack.

About 1840 I went with Col. Louis D. Wilson, of North Carolina, and Mr. Frank McGavock, of the vicinity of Nashville, to examine a tract of land they owned on the Mississippi at Hale's Point. We found the river had carried away all the land but forty acres; we intended spending the night there, but finding the famous mankiller, Col. John Smith T, of Missouri, there and his death-dealing weapons visible lying about in the room, and expecting to have to sleep in the same room if we stayed there all night, we thinking we could sleep better elsewhere, on very brief consultation determined to leave for Dyersburg, some sixteen miles, late as it was and reached there some time after night.

Col. Smith T had the name of having killed about half a dozen men, one of them in Nashville, and how he managed to escape punishment I do not know. He was claiming the land adjoining Hale's Point and died at Mr. Hale's soon after. I heard when I went first to West Tennessee there were but few roads or paths in it, most of them being newly made and leading to new settlements. The oldest of any extent was, I believe, the Massac trace, which entered the State nearly south of Sommerville and passing some five or ten miles west of that village, and near Wesley, led to Ft. Massac, situated in Illinois on the Ohio river about opposite the mouth of the Tennessee. The United States had had made a pretty good road from Reynoldsburg on the Tennessee a few miles below Johnsonville, going something west of south through West Tennessee to the Chickasaw nation on which a few families, generally remote from each other, had settled. A pathway had been made nearly on and along the old south boundary line of the State by the first party of Cherokees which moved west, on which were built two or three very rough bridges over the main upper branches of Big Hatchee river. I have traveled along this Natchez road and Cherokee path, the entire extent of the former and along the latter from Memphis to the Natchez road. There were also paths from the Chickasaw Nation leading to the Bluff (Memphis), where Indian goods were kept.

There lived immediately around where I was born and reared eight Revolutionary soldiers, all of whom I knew, and I went to school with the children of most of them. My paternal grandfather and his eldest son were of the number, the latter having entered the army at the age of sixteen. Benjamin Hester and two of his brothers were of the number and it used to be said of the first that at the battle of King's Mountain an American officer rode up to a company during the raging of the fight and asked if there was among them a man with a first-rate rifle and was himself a first-rate shot; to which Ben. Hester replied he was the man and had the rifle. The officer pointed to an exceedingly active officer, Col. Pat. Ferguson, commander of the British forces, and said, "I want you to take him off his horse for he is a host of himself." Hester took deliberate aim at the officer and he fell. Wheeler (p. 107) says: Ferguson had seven or eight bullets shot through him; Hester's may have been one of these or may alone have brought him down.

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