Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just a little more about the "White Countians."  White County was a hunting grounds for the Native Americans with numerous buffalo, bear, and deer.  Some reported finding Spanish coins that were left over from their explorers just north of Sparta.  There are mounds which when excavated brought rumors of Vikings, as well as a race of pygmies, from extra tall skeletons to small.  Some believe like I do, that they are perhaps Welsh Indians who were killed battling as they passed through as they made their way from Mobile, Alabama up the Tennessee River to the Ohio to the Mississippi to the Missouri until they settled with the Mandan tribe in South Dakota.  Others such as Moses Fiske, American Antiquarian Society, wrote in 1820 that "I examined carefully the bones of the small graves near Sparta sent me by Dr. J.H. Snodgrass, and found them to be the bones of infants and children."  "Similar graves were found in Wild Cat and Blue Springs Caves, near Lost Creek, Cherry Creek, and CalfKiller...A great common stone grave, two-hundred feet long, five feet wide, and three feet high was found near Vernon, Kentucky."  Remember Robinsons were from where Cherry Creek and CalfKiller River came together.

Rock Island
"On September 2, 1810 two well-preserved human mummies were found in a copperas cave  near the Caney Fork River (This is near Sparta), ten miles below the falls at Rock Island.  'At about six feet below the surface of the bottom of the cave something like clothing was discovered, which upon examination was found to be the shrouding of two dead bodies...male and female...judged to have been buried in ancient times.  These were dressed in a linen shirt, wrapped in deer skins around which a blanket wrapped each body.  Bodies were intact...A sort of cane mat was placed over the head of the woman.  Their complexions had been fair...The bodies had been placed in a hair-like box with a cane covering.  The eyes seemed natural and the hair of the girl a silky fine." ("Memorable Historical Accounts of White County and Area")

We visited Old Stone Fort part way between Nashville and Chattanooga near Shelbyville on this trip.  This also is considered by some to be a fort built, or at least used by the Welsh Indians.  Tests date this to about 500 A.D. while the Welsh Indians came about 1100 A.D.  2,000 feet of a stone wall covered over by dirt surrounds a field defensible on three sides down the cliff to the Duck River.  One book showed the Welsh armor supposedly found near there in burial mounds. 

Our ancestors probably came by way of Black Fox Trail or Chicamauga Path.  There had been a fortified Indian village on Cherry Creek near Sparta.  The mounds at Cherry Creek were excavated and beads and pottery were found.

 Burgess Falls near Sparta
We were only able to view the river above
since closed due to dangerous trail repairs.

Grass grew eight feet tall in some places.  Buffalo mingled with cattle.  Wild horses were said to be plentiful.  There were otters in abundance, and wolves which hampered the sheep production.  "Once a large wolf was killed which when standing, came to the waist band of a six foot tall man."  Panthers were known to try and climb down chimneys, being prevented by the wife burning the straw from a bed tick."  There was even an old hunters superstition that "no woman about to give birth to a male child was ever harmed by a panther.  But if the child were to be a girl, the attacking panther, if possible, always slew the woman."

In the early days, there were numerous conflicts with the Indians.  Along the Caney Fork  it became known as "The Dark and Bloody Ground."  After the Treaty of Tellico in 1795, settlers came in a flood. Jacob Robinson was one of these early settlers coming to Cherry Creek.  Perhaps his father Joel was with him, or even his grandfather William Robinson.  His son Emmanuel was born there in 1812.  (Jacob married Elizabeth Cherry: did this have anything to do with the name of Cherry Creek?  Hmm.)  Joel Robinson, his father, ended up in Lincoln County, Kentucky.  They had many sons.

Virgin Falls which we were unable to visit.

There were land grants given to soldiers who fought as well as to those who helped build the roads and guard the immigrants.  Again when the call for troops in the War of 1812, those of the "Volunteer State" stepped forward including those from White County.  It would be an insult to be drafted.  "Each voting male was required to donate about five days of labor to the repair and improvement of the county and public roads.  He could pay cash at the rate of one dollar per day instead of labor, or he could hire someone to put in his time as his substitute."

By the time of the Civil War, loyalties were split.  The fighting around Sparta was mostly by Confederate and Union bushwhackers with much violence, some just brutal force gangs.  "Then there was the large number of persons, both in and out of the army, who, when neighbor started taking from neighbor, quickly went into action for revenge.  Some of these bands of guerillas were little more than thieves and cutthroats, even though some of them were led by officers in uniform.  Later it even became necessary for regular service outfits to accept these assignments of helping to protect the civilian population."  "Rape and bloodshed was found whichever way they turned."  A regiment under Colonel Stokes was ordered to Sparta to break up guerilla bands under Hughes and Champ Ferguson.  Stokes was known as "Wild Bill of the Hills" "as he preferred fighting to almost anything else."  Though he was reputed to have been buried elsewhere, we saw a headstone in the Frances Cemetery where Champ Ferguson is buried that had Wild Bill carved into it, both probably buried next to our kin.  This Stokes was a White Countian as well.  There were many skirmishes with guerillas in the area around Calf Killer River."

It made me wonder what Emmanuel Robinson was doing besides keeping busy with his stills during the Civil War with all the guerilla fighting going on all around him.  It was said he wasn't around much during this time.  Was he riding with Champ or another of the bushwhacker gangs?  I have no proof, just curiosity.  It is a mighty small cemetery putting these all together though: Ferguson, Wild Bill Stokes and the Robinsons.  Emmanuel had to at least known Champ Ferguson as a neighbor.

One time "Champ Ferguson captured a wagon train on Cumberland Mountain.  The next night he gave a dinner and invited the girls of Cherry Creek.  There was a ball afterwards, after which he ordered the girls taken safely home." Now it was written in Uncle Bud's biographies how his sisters would go to such dances. It was the right time frame, the right place, the same side of loyalty to the cause....Hmm.

As I mentioned before, we didn't see any arrows
pointing down, you know like they went to the other place.

The Confederacy had to do a great deal of foraging, or depending upon the countryside for food and other supplies when their supply lines were cut off especially.  Sometimes   Sometimes one would meet another on their own stolen horse or the other wearing their stolen clothing.  There were battles  around CalfKill River once  with four thousand Federal soldiers against a local General Dibrell's 400 Calvary who beat them back leaving many casualties (a Dibrell, probably the General's father, was one of the executors of one of the older Robinsons wills).  But most were small troops fighting back and forth.  Because it had salt works on CalfKiller River, it was an important gain for the Union cause. 

"The years following the Civil War were years of strong prejudices and bitter hatreds.  The men who had fought on the side of the Union and the men who had fought for the Confederacy were back at home to live together.  It is hard for those who can not remember those days even to imagine the bitterness and the terror of that time."  This is the time and town Uncle Bud grew up in.

"The Blue and the Gray now sleep side by side.  In their breasts all wounds have healed, in their dust they are at peace; so let it be with us, and let all join in the sentiment, 'Our country once divided, but now, our country.'"
Gen. Dribell's house?

An interesting discovery is that on Miss Sally's side, her great-great grandfather James Fulkerson (a Revolutionary War soldier at the Battle of Kings Mountain) is found here in the early Tennessee records until he finally settled back up in Hilton, Virginia outside of Abingdon (Hilton's not on most maps).  The White County history reports that Louis Phillipe passed through in the Cumberland settlements.  This would coincide with the family story that these Fulkersons hosted this future King of France.  Perhaps he was given the land for his Revolutionary War service and then moved later back to Virginia later.  I certainly don't know, but I was surprised to read of him being here. I had assumed he hosted the prince while up in Hilton, but I don't know.  They did tend to move around, those spry ol' mountain men who wore the coonskin hats, leather breeches and long hunting shirts.

White County was early known for its production of cattle and hogs, meant not for local consumption but for more distant markets.  Open grazing was hampered as the area became more settled and "hatreds developed into feuds in which men fought and killed."  There was a steer raised locally that weighed in at 2,700 pounds, the largest jack (mule) was seventeen hands high, and the largest hog weighed two 2,240 pounds, which was injured injured while being taken to the World's Fair and had to be put down.

In the early days, they would fatten on the mast (I looked it up: the forage of acorns and nuts on the forest floor) and thus cost almost nothing to raise back then.  The drovers would take them to markets farther on.  Evidently they thrived quite well and still do.  I mention the hogs because of the sign we came upon at CalfKill River that closed a road due to a wild hog hunt as the hog population is hurting the deer population and injuring farmland.  Those were the ones that got away!  I don't know how I got from our families early roots to mummies and Welsh Indians to the Civil War Battles to hogs, but somehow I managed.  The next posts will gather up the last of my scraps of knowledge.

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