The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 12 Jun 1902, Vol. XXII, No. 15. Crab Orchard. by W.E. McELWEE.
Gov. BLOUNT and Gen. PICKENS had been empowered by the National Government to treat with the hostile Indian tribes, who were making war on the settlements, in what is now the State of Tennessee. They accordingly arranged a friendly conference with the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes, to take place at a "Lick" (near Nashville) in the summer of 1792. These commissioners left Knoxville, with presents for the Indians, under an escort of one hundred mounted men, commanded by Capt. Hugh BAIRD, about the middle of July in last year. Owing to the wagon transportation they moved slowly, camping the first night on Poplar Creek. The second night they camped at the "Blue Spring," (Nixon Place). Next morning they ascended Walden's (Wallen's) ridge. The trail passed through the gap of ridges at the place known locally as Pyott's Slope and crossed the mountain through Crab Orchard. The road descended the high ridge of hill, east of the orchard, about two hundred yards above where the Tennessee Central crosses Burk's creek. There was no "dug road" and to keep from turning over the wagons were compelled to go directly down the hill. In order to do this, trees were cut and tied to the wagons to hold them from running over the teams. Anyone having curiosity to follow this old trail, will readily admit the necesity of the precaution. They camped that night at the foot of the hill at a spring in a little meadow, now in front of the old home of Robt. RENFRO, deceased. Here they rested for a day to let their horses graze and kill game.
From this place they returned to the Walton road where it crosses Daddy's creek and followed it passing near the present town of Cookeville, and Dixon Springs to Bledsoe Lick, and there awaited the arrival of the Indian chiefs. About the 7th of August they came. Got the presents, smoked the pipe of peace, united their hands in lasting friendship and returned to betrayal and murder again of the whites. It so happening that on the very night Gov. BLOUNT and his party camped, on their return in September, at the Crab Orchard, the Indians, Creeks, Cherokees and some Shawnees, attacked and attempted to massacre the inmates of Buchanan's Station. Thomas Sharp SPENCER was a noted pioneer and Indian fighter and a man of immense stature. Many stories were told of him by the early settlers. One was of his living an entire winter in a hollow sycamore tree the only white man west of the mountains of Tennessee.
A fur trader from New Orleans came upon his track and fled the country, believing himself to be in the land of giants. Spencer's bare foot was fourteen inches and over long.
SPENCER returned to Virginia in the fall of 1791. In April of 1792 he, with fourteen others, were crossing the mountain on his return to Middle Tennessee. They camped at night of Flat Rock branch, where they were discovered by a gang of Indian hunters. There were some thirty or forty of the Indians. Seeing that SPENCER and companions were taking the trail through Crab Orchard the Indians concealed themselves in the crevices of a large square rock by the trail and under the brow of the hill. This rock is plainly visible looking east from the train as it enters the gap one mile east of the station. SPENCER and two horses were killed at the first fire and two men wounded. The Indians held a dance and went into great rejoicing because of killing the "great white chief." SPENCER was afterwards buried on top of the hill a few yards south of trail. (now a plainly marked old road). South West Point (now Kingston,) was the objective point of all the emigrants from the Carolinas and Virginia. It was by common consent the location for and destined to become a great City. For the protection of the incoming emigrants, troops were sent out to patrol the country for Indians.
In the month of August 1794 the Indians attacked the block house of Bull Run sixteen miles west of Knoxville. Capt. EVANS with a company of men was sent across the river from the Point, if possible, to intercept the Indians. He passed through Crab Orchard but seeing no sign of the Indians on that trail pushed on expecting to intercept them farther on. He saw no sign of Indians. This note he put on a stick and struck it up by the path. Shortly after he was gone the Indians came through the Orchard on their way back to the Lookout towns. Finding the paper in the stick they knew it was a white man's sign and that there would be others along the way shortly. They therefore lay in wait for any coming party.
Lieutenant McCLELLAN (afterward Col. John McCLELLAN) had been ordered with about forty men to follow up and join Capt. EVANS. On arriving at Crab Orchard he found the note in the split stick directing him to return to Southwest Point. The horses and men were tired and the Lieutenant concluded to camp over night in a little meadow at the foot of Spencer's Hill (just in front of the house of Robert RENFRO deceased). The men "spanceled" their horses and turned them loose to graze. It had been raining steadily all day and the priming in the pan of nearly all their flint lock guns was wet but they did not take the precaution to dry the pan and put in fresh powder before going about gathering wood to make fires to dry themselves and blankets. With loud whoops about one hundred Indians suddenly rushed down from both sides upon them. Some of the men got their guns but many of them would not fire. A line was formed and those who have no guns along the line and primed for those guns missed fire. The Indians were twice repulsed but seeing how greatly he was outnumbered, Lieutenant McCLELLAN ordered his men to retreat up Spencer's Hill. Some of the men ran to their horses and cutting the spancel(?), leaped on them bareback. These taking the guns that would fire made a rear guard holding the Indians back to allow those on foot to escape. One of the men who obtained his horse was James DeARMOND, a fraternal ancestor of the families of that name at Harriman and Kingston. As he sprang on his horse an Indian threw his tomahawk at him and DeARMOND, ofttimes in speaking of it, said he could see the expression of disappointment in the Indians eyes when he ducked his head and the tomahawk went over him. DeARMOND made one the rear guard up the mountain. When near the large square rock where the Indians who killed SPENCER had secreted themselves, McCLELLAN, who was a heavy man gave out and sat down by a tree saying, "I can go no farther, but never mind me. All will soon be over. Take care of yourselves." When DeARMOND came up he offered McCLELLAN his horse but the Lieutenant refused saying that he had lost his own horse and that he would not take another man's and leave him to be killed. DeARMOND sprang from his horse saying there is not a damned Indian in the nation that can catch me." McCLELLAN mounted the horse and rallying his men checked the pursuit, the Indians following no farther than the top of the hill. McCLELLAN had four men killed and one wounded who escaped. The Indians had about twenty killed whom they tried to conceal by putting them into a sink or cave into which surface water runs, about two or three hundred yards west of the battlefield.
The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 4 Sep 1902, Vol. XXII, No. 27.
Local Traditions and Reminiscences. by W.E. McELWEE.
General Sir Henry CLINTON advanced from the eastern coast of the Carolinas, first, capturing General LINCOLNS army at Charleston and driving the smaller commands towards the mountains in the west, where it was expected the last of them would be crushed between the British on one side and the Indians on the other. But the settlers from the Watauga under SHELBY had defeated this hope by destroying the Indian preparations and encampment at Chickamauga. This however did not stop the movement of the British, who overran the country, killing all who were found in arms against them. Expeditions were sent out in all directions to gather up and bring in all men known to have favored the American cause. The citizens on the Watauga having defeated the Indians were now able to help their friends on the east of the mountains. Accordingly Col. Isaac SHELBY, of Sullivan, and Col. Jno. SEVIER, of Washington county, crossed the mountain with about two hundred men each and joined a small force under Col. McDOWELL near the Cherokee ford on Broad river. This force of about 500 was put under the command of Col. SHELBY. He immediately marched to and captured a small fort on the Pacolet river. Col. FERGUSON of the British army pushed forward to try to defeat or capture SHELBY and came up with him at a place called Cedar Springs. SHELBY was forced to retreat, losing some prisoners among whom was Wm. REED. These prisoners were sent to Musgroves Mill on the Enoree river, and delivered to Capt. HAUSEY, who was lying at that point with a commnad of tories. SHELBY determined to capture this command but to do so had to pass by Col. FERGUSON'S command who was directly between them. The distance was about forty miles. SHELBY started late in the evening and marched all night passing within three or four miles of Col. FERGUSON'S encampment and arriving near Capt. HAUSEY'S camp about daylight. Before proceeding to the attack a countryman informed Col. SHELBY that Capt. HANSEY had been reinforced the evening before by Col. ENNIS with about six hundred British regulars. To attack this force would be unwise and to retreat on their tired horses, without first crippling the British, impossible. Col. SHELBY therefore formed an ambushcade at the head of a long hollow and sent Capt. Hugh INNMAN with a few men forward to fire on the British and gradually fall back as they pursued and lead them into the ambush. One of the men with Capt. INNMAN was John McCOY, a kinsman (cousin perhaps) of the prisoner Wm. REED, McCOY left Capt. INNMAN'S party and by a circuitous route entered the British camp from the rear. Going at once to the British commander he told him that Col. SHELBY was advancing to attack him but that his command was small and his men and horses tired, and that if the British commander would make a sudden rush at him with his whole force he could easily capture him. About this time Capt. INNMAN began to fire on the camp. Col. ENNIS immediately ordered an advance. McCOY liberated and armed the prisoners and returning by his former route participated in SHELBY'S splendid victory that morning. REED in giving SHELBY information in regard to British movements spoke of how McCOY deceived the British commander, saying that he "lied like Annanias." From this circumstances his comrades called him Annanias and North Carolina issued a land grant for his services in the name of Annanias McCOY. As heretofore told, Wm. REED was with Col. SHELBY in 1779, on his campaign against the Chickamauga towns and passed on his return along the Cumberland trace. Remembering the character of the country through which he had passed he returned and located his warrant on the lands now composing the Carter and the east end of the Cardiff farms. Annanias McCOY located his one thousand acres adjoining Wm. REED on the west and including Post Oak Springs. After the death of McCOY his personal effects were sold. Among them was a "settee" made by Samuel McCLELLAN, the first cabinet workman who put up a shop in Kingston. This "settee" was bought by Joseph HINDS and is now the property of his grandson, Albert N. HINDS, of Glen Alice. (Another piece of furniture made by McCLELLEN is a side board given F.B. McELWEE as a family relic by his grandfather.)
A portion of these grants were afterwards bought by John OVERTON upon which he and General Andrew JACKSON proposed to raise and train race horses, believing a horse raised in the hill country of East Tennessee would be hardier and have better staying qualities than when raised in the leveler lands of Middle Tennessee. JACKSON bought a horse in Virginia named TRUXTON that beat DICKENSON'S mare, over which DICKENSON insulted JAKCSON'S wife. JACKSON challenged DICKENSON and in the duel which followed killed him, but JACKSON was hit in the breast by a bullet, the wound of which never healed. This prevented him and OVERTON from carrying out their plans. It is not out of the way to say that Capt. J.N. BAKER, the present owner is engaged in raising horses on the same lands once selected by JACKSON and OVERTON for this business. The first actual settler on this grant was Tandy SENTER, another soldier of the revolution. His cabin was built across the road from and nearly opposite where the Baptist church now stands. His wife died here and was buried in the woods. In after times others were buried around her grave making what is now known as the Hembree graveyard. SENTER built a rock pillow over her grave which still marks the place. She was the mother of Congressman W.T. SENTER and grandmother of ex-Governor D.W.C. SENTER. Tandy SENTER'S second wife was a Miss Alice CRUMBLISS, whose father Thomas CRUMBLISS was also a revolutionary soldier.
Inasmuch as the people of to-day may not know who of the early settlers were revolutionary soldiers, the next chapter will give a list of them as far as possible and the commands in which they served, as it will lend interest to succeeding events at least to some people.