The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 4 May 1905, Vol. XXV, No. 7.
About Roane County (Pre-Historic) People. by W.E. McELWEE.---"The article on old fort Loudon will be held, awaiting the reception of an important historical paper.
A few days ago we received a letter from John Brown DAVIS, of South Carolina. He had seen an extract copied from the Rockwood Times, and wrote us, mentioning that fact. He says that he was born in the little village of "Shakerag" in Roane county, Tennessee, and although an old man now, memory clings to the place of nativity. John's father came to Roane county from South Carolina. He had been well educated but from some cause left the parental roof and started to fight the battle of life single handed. He had information that on the mountains of East Tennessee there was a vast range of table lands, covered with almost perpetual grass, upon which cattle would feed and fatten almost the entire year. Although with slight means, he conceived the idea of building up here a great cattle industry. Short horn Durhams were then only being introduced. Heretofore the Red English were the fancy cattle of the stock raiser. The boy was given as much money by his father as it was thought necessary for him to spend in sowing his wild oats. With this money he bought a full blooded Durham bull, and set out on his journey.
Gen. John BROWN kept a tavern at the place where Henry CROWDER now lives, in Rockwood. One evening there stopped at the Inn a young man riding a pony and leading a Durham bull. That night he made inquiry of BROWN regarding the perennial pasturage of the Cumberland table lands. He was told that cattle had to be fed six months in the year. His dream of a great cattle industry on a free range, was rudely dissipated, but his determination to succeed in life's battle received no shock. Next morning after breakfast, he called his landlord out on the porch and told his story and how his plans now seemed all thwarted, then offered to sell out. BROWN asked him what he expected to do now. He said that with the money he would get for his stock he would commence the study of medicine. BROWN bought his stock and offered him free board. He got some second hand books from the library of Dr. AYRES, of Kingston, and applied himself to close study. When in need of additional means he would teach a session or two of subscription school. Thoroughness was his ideal and he commenced practice he met with eminent success. He married BROWN'S daughter, Susan, and settled in Post Oak Springs. His home was the house in which Mrs. STAPLES now lives. It was here (In "Shakerag") that our correspondent was born.
John was a rare chap and furnished many an interesting anecdote. His inquisitiveness was well developed. The Rev. Mr. LOWERY, of Kingston, was holding services in the old church house in Post Oak Springs. He had ascended the pulpit and announced as his text, "Man is fearfully and wonderfully made." John was standing in the aisle. Mr. LOWERY was very bald headed. John had never seen a man with a bald head. In his astonishment he called out at the top of his childish voice. "Fot the matter wif that mans head? Did he laid out in the yard and let the sheeps knaw the hair off." The congregations were covulsed and the good preacher was never able to tell how many bones were in a man's body.
John was a believer in the virtue of baptism. On his fourth birthday his mother gave a birthday party. John had a puppy that was charged with sucking eggs. He proposed to his little guests that they take the puppy down to the branch and baptise him to make him good. After a song service, John waded into the water and proceeded to perform the ceremony. The pug resisted and John held him under till the bad spirit would leave him. It left him, and the children held funeral services. Some time afterward the Rev. Mr. RANDOLPH was performing baptismal services in a mill race. John was on the bank holding to his mother's hand. Rev. RANDOLPH was proceeding with the ceremony and saying "I baptise you etc", when John called out, "Mr, if you hold him under too long you'll drown the pup." These were the days
"When you and I were young, John," but
"Now you are growing old, John
Your locks are like the snow,
But blessings on your frosty brow
John Anderson, my Jo, John."
John says that he was born in the village of "Shakerag." But few people, now living know that, while Post Oak Springs was the "Surname" of the place, "Shakerag" was its "given name" by which it was almost universally called. It got the name from the HUDSON family. Almost all places have a character among its people but this place had four, the four HUDSON brothers. There were poor people with no desire to be otherwise. Each of them had large families of ragged children. They were all assembled together playing by the road side. A traveler was passing and saw their rags flapping in the March wind. He facetiously named the place "Shakerag." The name was accidentally killed "enduring" the civil war, at least it has not been heard of since. One of the brothers, "Hamp" was very drunken, but like his brother John was always ready of speech. On one occasion he had been to Miles WILSON'S still house and had fallen by the wayside on his way home. A buzzard saw him and proceeded to investigate. He sailed over "Hamp" several times getting lower each time. Finally he gave a close sweep and Hamp called out, "Shew, you are a little too darn smart." This became a slang phrase. When peaking of "fistey" people to say, they are like HUDSON'S buzzard, "a little too darn smart." John did not drink as much as his brothers but when he drank he became very religious. There was to be a Sunday school organized in the old log school house. John took an active part. Testaments were needed and John volunteered to go to town for the books. Before reaching the school house a hole came in the bottom of the sack and a book dropped out. This scared the horse and it sprang forward. Another book fell and the horse ran away. As they went the books kept falling. The horse went like the wind but HUDSON hung on till the horse ran up to the school house. Everybody ran out and the minister inquired what was the matter, HUDSON said he was scattering the gospel.
John and "Meridy" were lying out in front of their cabin on the road side sunning with their feet projecting into the road. A mover's wagon came along. They lay still. The wagoner stopped to prevent running over their feet. After asking them to get out of the way the driver, said, "If I knew which was the laziest I'd give him a dollar." John held out his hand and said "Give it to me, Sir." Meridy lay still saying, "Just slip it in my pocket." It became a localism when speaking of some people to say "He is like Meridy HUDSON too lazy to hold out his hand for a dollar."
Hamp was lying near the road drunk and asleep. Some one piled leaves near to and around him, then set them on fire. The smoke and heat awoke him. He raised up on his elbow almost suffocated with smoke then laid down saying, "I may have waked up in h--l but if I have I'll never believe another preacher for it is not as hot a place as they said it was.
The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 22 Jun 1905, Vol. XXV, No. 14.
About Roane County People. ---Edward OWINGS came from the Chester district of South Carolina to Hawkins, now Roane County, Tenn., in the year 1800 or 1801. His wife was a Miss SUMPTER, a niece of Gen. Thomas O. SUMPTER, who won the soubriquet of the Game Cock of the Carolinas." He settled on Emory River where he had made an entry of one hundred acres of land. In 1805 his brother George and two sisters came to Tennessee. One of the girls married Solomon GEAREN who settled at the large spring one mile east of Harriman where Col. SHELBY fought the battle with Indians and destroyed. George and the other sister returned to South Carolina where each of them were married and where some of their descendants still live. Edward, "Neddy" as he was familiarly called married GEAREN and continued to live on his entry till the year 1809. He had bought a negro woman from Willie, afterwards Gov. BLOUNT. He had bought a 640 acre tract of land that had been entered by Wm. REED, an old revolutionary soldier, in 1792, for which he gave his Emory river tract of land and the negro woman. The tract of land began on a black oak four rods above the head of the "Oven" spring on the east fork of the first creek that falls into Tennessee river below the mouth of Clinch river and on the north side of same and lying on both sides of the old Indian or Cumberland trace.
The records in the Register's office at Kingston has been transcribed into new books and where the word "trace" appears the transcriber has written "tract" which not only fails to make sense but it falsifies the record as there is no Cherokee or "Cumberland tract." The word ought to be expunged and correctly written. The "Oven" spring is located close under the foot of Wallen's ridge (Wallen's is the correct spelling) and a half mile or more from the Indian trace which led from the Cherokee towns around Lookout mountain to Cumberland Gap. An encampment at this spring was less likely to be discovered by passing Indians that if located nearer the trace. Wm. REED, Ananias McCOY and John WHITFIELD all camped at this spring when locating entries in 1790-2. In order to make their entries special as courts term it they left an oven at the spring to hold possession of the entries and named the spring "Oven Spring" by which name it is still known. The Indian title to the land having been extinguished in 1810. OWINGS moved on the land and built a one room but two story log house. The upper story was intended as a fort in case of any future invasion by the Indians. In this house he continued to live and raised his family of eight children, four boys and four girls. Times without number, when a small boy, we have gone to his house to get long, striped, mellow "sheep nosed" apples, the grafts of which came from south Carolina, and lying under the trees resting the chin in the palms of our hands, digging into the ground with our bare toes, listened to the old man whose long thin hair fell to his shoulders, tell the stories of the olden time and go over his memories of the revolutionary war. We were only a boy still when he died but at his request we shaved him after death, and assisted at his burial. It was the first corpse we had ever touched and the cold clammy sweat stood out in great bead drops on our face as we performed the task. It takes us no effort of memory now to bring his picture as he lay there in a solid cherry coffin on the lid of which "Aunt Nellie" his daughter, laid an open bible and a card upon which was written "Awaiting the Judgment Day." He was of French Huguenot descent, his ancestors having left France after the revocation of the edict of Nantes. We had heard him so often tell the story and how he hated the very name of King Charles that in our boyish mind we wondered if when the pale horse with flowing mane and tail with his rider should speed his course through the air as told in the Apocalypse, would his hatred of the French persecutionists be held as a crime against him.