Thursday, April 14, 2016


(The Civil War photos do not include my relatives.)
By the time you get to be my age, my roots have shown from time to time (now I just let it go and grow).  I don't know what it is about this passage in my life, but I'm fascinated with family history more than ever, well, I've always loved history. I want to color my roots with colorful discoveries.  So, my man and I are planning a trip, just the two of us, going exploring to places we've never been, going to Tennessee, of all places, somewhere we've never seen.  It's just for fun.  Most of our lives, us po' folk just have gone to visit relatives, but this time, like my husband says, we're going to visit the dead relatives.

He became a sharpshooter at age fifteen,
only a boy...
My great grandfather, Uncle Bud and his father, grandfather, and even great-grandfather were Tennesseans, from the beginning of its formation as peace treaty after peace treaty took the land away from the Cherokee.  Unfortunately, several relatives were killed by Indians in the process.  As I've been studying White County, the town of Sparta's history, truth is stranger than fiction.  I've laughed hard, but am a little sadder too at the tragic times, like during the Civil War.  Every time you turned around, there was another lawyer--even Andrew Jackson heard cases there in Sparta sometimes having to leave the courtroom to go chase down the accused at gun point and bring him back to stand trial)--it was lawless, especially during the time of war.

One of my great grandfather's earliest memories was of his mother when she was physically wrestling with a Union Army man who was trying to take their only work horse for "the cause" and the children were crying and carrying on thinking she would be killed.  The soldier won after hitting her in the face with the halter and rode off while four year old Uncle Bud heard his mother yell, "You better run, Peas Parrs and his Texas guerillas will get you," not knowing that this horrible guerilla and his gang were indeed in the neighborhood.  The soldier found he was soon fleeing from those bushwhackers as they chased and even beheaded some of his comrades.  In doing so, Old Gin the horse ran home, fell while jumping a ditch and lost its rider only to head back to the barn.  This is the world my great grandfather grew up in.
Bloody Bill Anderson, guerilla raider
White County was divided in its loyalties to the North and the South.  The bushwhackers from both both sides used it as an opportunity to go terrorizing, raiding, robbing, killing those left at home.  They even,  on more than one occasion, rode to church with their guns blazing to rob the congregation leaving parishioners dead and wounded, right there in Sparta.  No one was safe.  A local respected judge who tried to stay neutral was robbed five times until he had nothing left; even his wife's grave was desecrated.

Psalm 62 reminds me of a tragic story of a local man I just read of who became one of these raiders named Captain Champ Ferguson, a Scotch mountaineer who became well-to-do, refined even.  He was known then to be always the southern gentleman.  Champ did not want to go to war, moved to White County to avoid the bushwhackers, but realized he must decide. 

So he went to a cave for a few days to think.  He decided to go to the Confederate side, and they put a uniform on him and made him a captain.  But the man became such a cut-throat that Confeds wouldn't let him join their units much of the time.  The captain formed his own band of men from a dozen to hundreds and fought independently.  He went so far as to go into a field hospital to kill a wounded Lieutenant after fighting in Sparta.  

You see it wasn't all that it appeared, for while he was in that cave, that lieutenant and his men had come to his house and made his wife and daughter march around their house three times naked. 

 Tinker Dave Beaty

This was the man, his enemy, who was a guerilla raider for the union.

Later, when his three year old son watched Union soldiers ride by, he was seen waving a little Confederate flag from his porch.  The innocent child was shot dead.  Champ sought revenge and eventually personally killed all sixteen soldiers who had come to his house. 

Drummer Boy who enlisted at age 11

When he was later captured by Union troops, he was sentenced to death.  Champ was only one of two men convicted of war crimes; the horrid man in charge of the  Andersonville's prison camp was the other.  Champ's wife said, "Hold up your head, Camp."  He said, "I will," and did while his wife and beautiful daughter watched him die.

Psalm 62 could have been written to a soldier like that.  God told David that even he could not build a temple for Him as he desired to do because he had so much blood on his hands: war is a terrible thing. 

"My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
How long will you assail (rage against) a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down
from his high position...
"Men of low degree are only vanity,
and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.
Do not trust in oppression,
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
For Thou dost recompense a man
according to his work
('What a man soweth that shall he reap.'
'For the wages of sin is death,
But the gift of God is eternal life.')"
(verses 1-4, 9-10)

A Texas raider who went rogue with others
went he went back home after the war.
As I read down a list of biographies of great men from White County, my relatives didn't make the list even though they lived there from practically the very beginning.  One of my "greats" had been charged with attacking a woman.  My great-great grandfather, Emanuel Robinson, had a saloon there in Sparta, in White County on Calf Killer Creek and was always hiding out from revenuers who went after the stills hidden in the hills .  The man barely escaped murder charges himself.  They lived in poverty in a dirt-floored cabin with only sheepskins to bed down on. 

Just boys, but probably about the age
David was when he killed Goliath.
Yet God saved my great-great grandmother, and eventually saved her son Uncle Bud who became an evangelist who led people to the Lord by the tens of thousands. 
"Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;
And lovingkindness is Thine, O Lord."
(verse 12)
Yep, I think we'll head for them thar hills purty soon now.

Would you like to go on a scenic tour of Sparta?

Calf Killer Creek,
named after a Cherokee Chief.

Calf Killer Creek
(No cows were injured in the making of this photo.)

More of said creek/river
Don't know if I'll meet any relatives here.

I'll be looking for Robinson Road.
A view of Appalachia
A mansion on Calf Killer Creek
 turned poor house, turned back into a private residence again.
My family lived in a log cabin after arriving in TN in about 1804.
Will miss the fall colors, but they say Spring is beautiful.
One of the earliest buildings, a stage stop.
Lots of state parks.

A suspension bridge.
Down town Sparta.

Don't let the moss grow under your feet.

Virgin Falls

Y'all coming too?  Good. 


Of course we are missing the monthly bluegrass concert in the park. 

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