The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 5 May 1904, Vol. XXIV, No. 8.
About Roane County People. by W.E. McELWEE.----A.L. MONROE, about the year 1818, moved from Poplar Creek in Roane County, to the vicinity of Clarksville, Tenn. He owned at the time and took with him, a negro man named Ephraim. Eph was a pretty good mechanic and was gifted especially in the art of making bread trays. At that date, all trays were hand made and the trade was given over exclusively to the negro. No white man engaged in the business. Before the blazing log fire, Eph would sit, during the long winter nights with trowel and inshave, fashioning trays from juggles, split from a buckeye log. These trays sold at from fifty cents to one dollar apiece. Eph made one or two a week and the money for which they were sold was carefully laid away. In 1836, Eph bought his freedom, paying seven hundred and fifty dollars therefor, and had enough money left to start into business on a rented farm. The transfer of ownership of negroes was made in writing called a "bill of sale." When Eph bought himself his owner executed to him a "bill of sale," with the usual guarantee that, he was "thirty six years old, sound in body and mind and a slave for life. MONROE died shortly after making the sale. In 1828 Eph brought suit "by next friend, a Mr. QUARLES, " upon a breach of warranty in the "bill of sale," alleging that, he had been imposed on by having been sold an unsound negro. The case was tried before Judge HASKELL, the father of Wm. T. HASKELL, the famous whig orator. Eph showed by medical testimony that, he was unsound at the time of his purchase, and that the fact was unknown to him, but was known to his master. Under the charge of the judge, the jury brought in a verdict for seven hundred dollars damage, which was paid out of the estate by the widow. With his money Eph bought the farm upon which he lived and soon recovered his health. At the time of his death in 1861, he owned and operated one of the finest tobacco farms in that country. He took pride and often boasted of the fact that he had made his money trading in negroes and tobacco. H.L. MONARCH now owns the farm but it fails to show the thrift of the "old negro trader" as Eph was always called by his neighbors.
"Capt. W.E. McELWEE as A Story Writer." Capt. W.E. McELWEE has promised us a few short stories-- the first appears in this issue. The articles are about Roane county people. We very much appreciate the Captain's writings. He is one of the old landmarks, born and raised int he county, served as an officer with distinction in the Confederate army, but today is as loyal to the flag of his country as any man who wore the blue. There will be a dozen or more of these stories and many, if not all, will be touched with humor and be highly interesting.
The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 12 May 1904, Vol. XXIV, No. 9.
About Roane County People. by W.E. McELWEE.--- On the 27th of February 1819, John C. CALHOUN, then Secretary of war, concluded a treaty with the Cherokee indians by which they ceded the lands between the Tennessee and Hiwassee river to the State of Tennessee. The lands ceded on the Tennessee were at one sectionized and sold to settlers. Among the purchasers was a man by the name of SIMPSON, who settled upon the lands purchased and raised a numerous family, some of whom went west. One (John) located at the town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was industious, manly and frugal, thus winning the confidence of those with whom he came in contact. Having saved his earnings he bought property in the town, and in 1856 married the daughter of his former employer. The country around Fayetteville is undulating, broken by occasional hills and ravines. The town is located upon high ground overlooking a deep ravine on the south and west, through which flows a small rivulet. The court house, a rather imposing structure, is in the center of the town, and the streets are laid off in the exact form of the diagram in the old game of "Bushel." SIMPSON'S house was southwest of the courthouse, on south side of the second street out and just at the crest of the hill. There was a basement that opened on a level with the street. Upon this brick basement stood a neat and comfortable frame building, in which SIMPSON and his wife lived with but one thing lacking to their complete happiness, no children blessed their union. The civil war came on and the people of Fayetteville were intensely southern in sentiment and sympathy. Its entire available populations went into the confederate army. After the defeat at Elkhorn the federal army encamped in and around the town, which in main part they demolished. SIMPSON'S house however having been taken for "headquarters" escaped. After the close of the war SIMPSON returned and he and his good wife went about restoring their home. The town built up again and there was an air of thrift and enterprise on every hand. It was a Sunday in June. The sun rose bright in the east, kissing the dew drops from the grass, and birds in the tree tops trilled their songs of joy. The church bells rang out their invitation, as if saying, come, on, come, on! and join in praise of the creator. But cirrus clouds fleaked the sky, stretching rapidly from west to east, followed with a dark haze gathering along the horizon. Quick flashes of lightening shot upward as if jerking the black pall toward the zenith. A low rumbling thunder grew louder and more distinct. There was commotion in the clouds, and light and dark spots chased each other like the waves on the surface of a wind beaten ocean. A deathlike stillness settled over the town. The people knew that the signs portended, but where would the cyclone cut its way. Mrs. SIMPSON sat in her room in the basement combing her long, brown and silken hair. On the rug, at her side, lay her little pet dog. SIMPSON watched from the back yard the gathering storm. A large spot, black as the fabled darkness of Egypt, began to whirl in the clouds, surrounded by a white ring. From the center they projected a point, lengthening out directly toward the ill fated down. As SIMPSON turned to go in to inform his wife of the impending danger, the wind struck him, when he revived he was lying against the street wall covered with blood, his wife was in corner of the basement dead. The house was gone, all the south half of town was gone. The debris and the dead was piled into the deep basin on the east of the town. A farmer found the little dog and a child, almost a year old, three miles away, unhurt. As no one knew to whom the child belonged SIMPSON asked for and the good and kind hearted Mrs. POLLARD gave it to him. The house has been rebuilt, another Mrs. SIMPSON presides over the home. If it should ever be your fortune to share the kind hospitalities of the home do not let little Providence, as they call her, tell you of her dreams or SIMPSON of the cyclone, just before retiring for the night.