Thursday, January 31, 2008

Washington Irving, re: North Carolina settlers

From The Life of George Washington, Volume IV, by Washington Irving, published 1857:

    "The original settlers were from various parts, most of them men who had experienced political or religious oppressions, and brought with them a quick sensibility of wrong and a strong appreciation of their rights, and indomitable spirit of freedom and independence. And this part of the state was of a hard Presbyterian stock, the Scotch-Irish, as they were called, having emigrated from Scotland to Ireland, and thence to America, and was said to possess the impulsiveness of the Irishman 
with the large resolution of the Covenanter. The early history of the colony abounds with instances of this spirit among its people. 'They always behaved insolently to their governors,' complains Governor Burrington, in 1731; 'some they have driven out of the country—at other times they set up a government of their own choice, 
supported by men under arms.' It was, in fact, the spirit of popular liberty and self-government which stirred within them, and gave birth to the glorious axiom: the rights of the many against the exactions of the few. It was this spirit that gave rise to the confederacy called the Regulation formed to withstand the abuses of power, and the first blood shed in our country in resistance to arbitrary taxation was at Alamance, in this province, in a conflict between the Regulators and Governor Tryon. Above all, it should never be forgotten that at Mecklenburg in the heart of North Carolina, was culminated the first Declaration of Independence of the British crown upward of a year before a like declaration by Congress."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Origin of the McDowells

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, pp. 381, 383:

By William McDowell.
    The McDowells are of Pictish origin and natives of Scotland, and away back about 200 B. C. one of them, the first that I can find anything about, had a duel with one of the Kings Habakon. You will find another William McDowell—was governor-general of Scotland in 1293, and had charge of Sterling Castle. You are further aware that this name is as old as the Creation. They are not of Celtic origin, they are not Irish; but the best blood that ever landed upon the American continent. They were early settlers in America. A great many of the McDowells that are in America are from Ireland. They went over there the time of the Cromwell settlement, in Ulster. You will find a great settlement of the McDowells near Belfast, along the Legon River, about fourteen miles from Belfast. You can find out there where the McDowells came from that landed there; some in the County Derry, County Monaghan—all over the north of Ireland. You likewise will find out that in Renfrewshire, Scotland, there are a great many, and in Ayrshire, and in Dumfrieshire, and in Gallowshire; there would be very little difficulty of finding out all about the McDowells in America—the McDowells that came later from Scotland. Sometimes the name is spelled McDowall, but after the Scotch Revolution the settlers in Ireland spelled it McDowell. They are all of Presbyterian, Covenanter origin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Watauga Association

From the Tennessee Historical Society, The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, © 1998:

    By 1772 about seventy homesteads or farms had been established along the Watauga River in northeastern Tennessee (now Carter County). The area lay outside the boundaries of British colonial government and within the recognized boundaries of Cherokee territory. Disregarding the British mandate, the settlers negotiated a ten-year lease with the Indians for "all the country on the waters of the Watauga."

    In 1772 the settlers established the Watauga Association to organize the region. The "constitution" of the association incorporated the Virginia code of laws and outlined the organization of government. Five elected magistrates formed a court and conducted the business of government, including executive, legislative, and judicial matters. A clerk recorded deliberations of the court, and a sheriff executed judgments. The first five commissioners of the court are unknown, but a plausible list can be reconstructed. John Carter likely served as the first chairman. James Robertson was probably a member, and he may have suggested the name "Watauga Association." Charles Robertson and Zachariah Isbell may have been members, and the fifth member was probably either John Sevier or Jacob Brown.

    The court existed for four years, regulating affairs of the Watauga community. The court probably concentrated on judicial business, since the adoption of Virginia laws alleviated the need for legislative action; the only surviving record of the association is a lawsuit handled by the court. The court also conducted negotiations with Indians, agents of the British government, and colonial governments of North Carolina and Virginia. To provide military defense for the area, the court created and directed a militia.

    For about two years general peace and order prevailed in the Watauga settlement, before lawlessness and Indian attacks disturbed the peace of the community. After 1775 the Watauga Association participated in the American Revolution. In 1777 the area became a part of North Carolina, and the Watauga Association disappeared the next year.

"The Over Mountain People"

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse, by John Buchanan, ©1997, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 206-207:

    The Over Mountain People were largely Scotch Irish, but the mixing had already begun, for among them were sizable numbers of English and some Germans and Welsh. At the time of which we write they lived in the extreme northeastern corner of what is now Tennessee, along the Watauga, Nolichucky, and Holston Rivers, where Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina meet. They were squatters on Cherokee land, for it was the official policy of the British government to keep white settlers east of the mountains, so to that end the Proclamation Line of 1763 was established. The line followed the watershed of the Appalachian Mountains. The country west of the line was Indian territory under the charge of the commander in chief of the British Army in America. That did not prevent sixteen families from North Carolina, led by James Robertson and his deputy John Sevier, from crossing the mountains and stopping their wagons on the banks of the Watauga River, at a beautiful spot called Sycamore Shoals (modern Elizabethton, Tennessee). There they established the Watauga settlements and leased two large tracts of land from the Cherokee.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Borden's Grant settlers request a "Captin"

from a petition to Governor Gooch of Virginia, dated July 30, 1742, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i, p. 235:

    "We your pettionours humbly sheweth that we your Honours Loly and Dutifull Subganckes hath ventred our Lives & all that we have In settling ye back parts of Virginia which was a veri Great Hassirt & Dengrous, for it is the Hathins [heathens] Road to ware, which has proved hortfull to severil of ous that were ye first settlers of these back woods & wee your Honibill pettionors some time a goo petitioned your Honnour for to have Commisioned men amungst ous which we your Honnours most Duttifull subjects thought properist men & men that had Hart and Curidg to hed us yn time of [war] & to defend your Contray & your poor Sogbacks Intrist from ye voilince of ye Haithen-But yet agine we Humbly persume to poot your Honnour yn mind of our Great want of them in hopes that your Honner will Grant a Captins' Commission to John McDowell, with follring ofishers, and your Honnours' Complyence in this will be Great settisfiction to your most Duttifull and Humbil pettioners-and we as in Duty bond shall Ever pray...."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Col. John Lewis of Augusta County

From Chronicles of Border Warfare, by Alexander Scott Withers, William Powers, William Hacker, Reuben Gold Thwaites, Lyman Copeland Draper; pub. 1895, R. Clarke Company:

    John Lewis, the father of Gen. Andrew Lewis, was probably of Welsh descent, and born in 1678 in County Donegal, Ireland. About 1716 he married Margaret Lynn, of the famous Lynns of Loch Lynn, Scotland. In a dispute over his tenancy (1729), he killed a man of high station,—some say, his Catholic landlord,—and fled to Portugal, whence in 1731, after strange adventures, he emigrated to America, and was joined there by his family. Fearing to live near a sea-port he established himself on the frontier, in the Valley of Virginia, two miles east of the present site of Staunton. His house was of stone, built for defense, and in 1754 it successfully stood an Indian siege. Lewis was colonel of the Augusta county militia as early as 1743, presiding justice in 1745, and high sheriff in 1748. In 1751, then 73 years of age, he assisted his son Andrew, then agent of the Loyal Company, to explore and survey the latter's grant on Greenbrier River. It was because the old man became entangled in the thicket of greenbriers, that he gave this name to the stream. He died at his old fort homestead, February 1, 1762, aged 84.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

1799 Tennessee Boundary Survey (part 5)

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 43-45:

    VANCE'S CAMP. From the Bald mountain, now in Yancey county, it seems that Col. Love became their pilot; and five or six miles further on in "a low gap between the head of Indian creek and the waters of the south fork of Laurel, we encamped and called it Vance's Camp." The richness of the mountains is noted.

    THE GRIER BALD. This Bald is sometimes called the Grier Bald from the fact that David Grier, a hermit, lived upon it for thirty-two years. Grier was a native of South Carolina who, because one of the daughters of Col. David Vance refused to marry him, built himself a log house here in 1802, just three years after Colonel Vance had passed the spot, and it is probable Grier first heard of it through this gentleman. In a quarrel over his land he killed a man named Holland Higgins and was acquitted on the ground of insanity "and returned home to meet his death at the hands of one of Holland's friends."

    BOONE'S COVE. On Wednesday the 19th of June, after having suffered severely the previous night from gnats, they went to "Boone's Cove, between the waters of Laurel and Indian creeks," while on the 20th they had to pass over steep and rocky and brushy knobs, with water scarce and a considerable distance from the line. All day Friday their horses suffered from want of water and food, part of the way being impassable for horses; while on Saturday it took them "four hours and 23 minutes" to cut their way one and one-fourth miles to the top of the mountain, where, after getting through the laurel, they "came into an open flat on top of Beech mountain where we camped till Monday at a good spring and excellent range for our horses."

    A RECRUIT OF BACON. On Monday, the 24th of June, their provisions began to fail them again, but they proceeded on the line six miles and "crossed the road leading from Barnett's Station to the Brushy Cove and encamped in a low gap between the waters of Paint creek and Laurel river." They had a wet evening here; but as they "suped on venison stewed with a recruit of bacon Major Neely brought in this day from the Brushy Cove settlement," we may hope their lot was not altogether desolate; for it is possible that this enterprising commissary, Major Neely, might have brought them something besides that "recruit of bacon"; for it will be recalled that on a former occasion he went for a pilot and returned not only with a pilot but with two gallons of a liquid that "had such marvelous powers" that it made a very "bad place" "tolerably comfortable."

    BARNETT'S STATION. At any rate, they knew they were nearing the end of their long and arduous journey, for they had now reached the waters of Paint creek, which they must have known was in the neighborhood of the "Painted Rock," their destination. The Barnett Station referred to above was probably Barnard's old stock stand on the French Broad river, five or six miles below Marshall.

    OFF THE TRACK FOR AWHILE. After losing their way on the 25th and "having a very uncomfortable time of it" on Paint creek, they got on the "right ridge from the place we got off of it and proceeded on the line five miles and encamped between the waters of F. B. R. [French Broad river] and Paint creek."

    "HASEY" AND "ANCTOOUS." "Thursday 27. This morning is cloudy and hasey. The Commissioners being anctoous to get on to the Painted Rock started us early"; but they took a wrong ridge again and had to return and spend an uncomfortable evening.

    DROPPING THE PLUMMET FROM PAINT ROCK. However, on Friday, the 28th day of June, 1799, they reached the Painted Rock at last and measured its height, finding it to be "107 feet three inches high from the top to the base," that "it rather projects out," and that "the face of the rock bears but few traces of its having formerly been painted, owing to its being smoked by pine knots and other wood from a place at its base where travellers have frequently camped. In the year 1790 it was not much smoked, the pictures of some humans, wild beasts, fish and fowls were to be seen plainly made with red paint, some of them 20 and 30 feet from its base."

    ANIMAL PICTURES HAVE DISAPPEARED. How much more satisfactory this last sentence would have been if he had only added: "I saw them." For, as the rock appears today, the red paint seems to be nothing more or less than the oxidation of the iron in the exposed surfaces, while all trace of "some humans, wild beasts," etc., mentioned by him have entirely disappeared.

    THE REAL "PAINTED ROCK." However, he leaves us in no doubt that they had reached the real Painted Rock called for by the Act of Cession, ceding "certain lands therein described"; for he goes on to say that, while "some gentlemen of Tennessee wish to construe as the painted rock referred to" another rock in the French Broad river "about seven miles higher up on the opposite or S. W. side in a very obscure place," that "it is to be observed that there is no rock on French Broad river that ever was known as the painted rock but the one first described, which has, ever since the River F. Broad was explored by white men, been a place of Publick Notoriety."

    SURPASSES A "BEST SELLER" OF TO-DAY. This is the next to the concluding sentence in this quaint and charming narrative—a narrative that one hundred and fifteen years after it was penned can still be read with more interest than many of the so-called "best sellers" of the present day. " We then went up to the Warm Springs where we spent the evening in conviviality and friendship."

    THE LONELINESS OF BACHELORHOOD. But it is in the very last sentence that one begins to suspect that John Strother was at that time a bachelor, for we read: "Saturday, 29th. The Company set out for home to which place I wish them a safe arrival and happy reception, as for myself I stay at the Springs to get clear of the fatigue of the Tour." One wonders whose bright eyes made his "fatigue" so much greater than that of the others and kept him so long at the springs.

    TO THE "BIG PIGEON." The line from the Painted Rock to the Big Pigeon was run a few weeks later on by the same commissioners and surveyors; but we have no narrative of the trip, which, doubtless, was without incident, though the way, probably, was rough and rugged.

1799 Tennessee Boundary Survey (part 4)

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 43-45:

    MOUNTAIN MOONSHINE. On Monday they "proceeded on between the head of Rock creek and Doe river, and encamped in a low gap between these two streams. The next day they went five or six miles to the foot of the Iron mountain to a place they called Strother's Camp, where they had some good songs, "then raped [wrapped] ourselves up in our blankets and slep sound till this morning." Here "Cols. Vance and Neely went to the Limestone settlements for a pilot, returned to us on the line at two o'clock with a Mr. Collier as pilot and two gallons whiskey, we stop, drank our own health and proceeded on the line. Ascended a steep spur of the Unaker mountain, got into a bad laurel thicket, cut our way some distance. Night came on, we turned off and camped at a very bad place, it being a steep laurelly hollow," but the whiskey had such miraculous powers that it made the place "tolerably comfortable."

    BAD LUCK ON THE THIRTEENTH. On Thursday the 13th, if they were superstitious, the expected bad luck happened; for here they were informed that for the next two or three days' march the pack-horses could not proceed on the line—that is, could not follow the extreme height of the mountain crest. This was a calamity indeed; but what was the result? How did these men meet it? We read how:

    BETWEEN HOLLOW POPLAR AND GREASY COVE. "Myself [John Strother] together with the chain-bearers and markers packed our provisions on our backs and proceeded on with the line, the horses and rest of the company was conducted round by the pilot a different route. We continued the line through a bad laurel thicket to the top of the Unaker mountain and along the same about three miles and camped at a bad laurelly branch." On Friday, however, they came "to the path crossing [the Unaker mountain] from Hollow Poplar to the Greasy Cove and met our company. It rained hard. We encamped on the top of the mountain half a mile from water and had an uncomfortable evening."

    DEVIL'S CREEK AND LOST COVE. It seems that the information Mr. Collier had given "respecting the Unaker mountain was false," and Mr. Strother prevailed upon the commissioners to discharge him on Saturday the 15th of June. They then crossed the Nolechucky "where it breaks through the Unaker or Iron mountain." Here it is that that matchless piece of modern railroad engineering, the C. C. &. O. R. R., disputes with the "Chucky" its dominion of the canon and transports from its exhaustless coal mines in Virginia hundreds of tons of the finest coal to its terminus on the Atlantic coast.

    ROBERT HENRY MEETS HIS FATE. Here, too, it being again found "impracticable to take horses from this place on the line to the Bald mountain, Mr. Henry, the chain-bearers and markers, took provisions on their backs [and] proceeded on the line and the horses went round by the Greasy Cove and met the rest of the ompany on Sunday on the top of the Bald mountain, where we tarried till Tuesday morning."

    "TARRYING" IN THE GREASY COVE. One cannot help wondering why they "tarried" here so long; but no one who has ever visited that "Greasy Cove" and shared the hospitality of its denizens need long remain without venturing a guess; for it is a pleasant place to be, with the "red banks of Chucky" still crumbling in the bend of the river and the ravens croaking from their cliffs among the fastnesses of the Devil's LookIng Glass looming near. The C. C. & O. have their immense shops here now, covering almost a hundred acres of land.

1799 Tennessee Boundary Survey (part 3)

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 41-43:

    WAS THIS EVER "NO MAN'S LAND"? When the surveying party came to the Yellow they found that the compass had been deflected when it had been sighted from the peak just north of Watauga Falls, caused doubtless by the proximity to the Cranberry Iron mountain, of whose existence apparently they then had no knowledge. Of late years some have supposed that the "territory between the Iron mountain and the Blue Ridge, after the act of cession, was left out of any county from 1792 or 1793 till 1818 or 1822, and was without any local government till it was annexed to Burke county." L. D. Lowe, Esq., in the Watauga Democrat of July 3d, 1913, gave the following explanation: "It is quite true that there was no local government, but it was not for the reason that this part of the territory was not claimed by Burke county; but it was because the lands had been granted to a few, and there were only a limited number of people within the territory to be governed, hence there was very little attention paid to it." In previous articles in the same paper he had shown that "the reason this territory had not been settled at an earlier date" was because "the State had been paid for more than three hundred thousand acres embraced within the boundaries of six grants," but had failed to refer to the fact that "these grants or some of them had especially cxcepted certain other grants within their boundaries—for example, certain grants to Waightstill Avery, Reuben White, John Dobson and others. Within the past twenty-five years it has been clearly demonstrated that some of the Cathcart grants run with the Tennessee line for 14 miles."

    HOME COMFORTS. "Mr. Hawkins and myself went down to Sugar creek to a Mr. Currey's, where we got a good supper and a bed to sleep in," continues the diary. Evidently the food in the camp had about given out, for we hear nothing more of meals "fit for a European Lord;" but, instead, of the comforts of good Mr. Currey's bed and board. Here too they "took breakfast with Mrs. Currey, got our clothes washed and went to camp, where Major Neely met us with a fresh supply of provisions. It rained all day [and] of course we are still at our camp at the head of Sugar creek."

    PLEASANT BEECH FLATS. The next day they crossed "high spur of the Roan mountain to a low gap therein where we encamped at a pleasant Beech flat and good spring." Any one who has never seen one of these "pleasant beech flats" would scarcely realize what they are like. As one ascends any of the higher mountains of North Carolina, the size of all the trees perceptibly diminish, especially near the six thousand feet line, to be succeeded, generally, on the less precipitous slopes, by miniature beech trees, perfect in shape, but resembling the so-called dwarf-trees of the Japanese. They really seem to be toy trees.

    JOHN STROTHER'S FLOWERS OF RHETORIC. It was here that they "spent the Sabbath day in taking observations from the high spur we crossed, in gathering the fir oil of the Balsam of Pine which is found on the mountain, in collecting a root said to be an excellent preventative against the bite of a rattlesnake, and in visioning the wonderful scene this conspicuous situation affords. There is no shrubbery grows on the tops of this mountain for several miles, say, and the wind has such a power on the top of this mountain that the ground is blowed in deep holes all over the northwest sides. The prospect from the Roan mountain is more conspicuous [extensive?] than from any other part of the Appelatchan mountains."

    CLOUDLAND. A modern prospectus of the large and comfortable hostelry, called the Cloudland hotel, which has crowned this magnificent mountain for more than thirty years, the result of the ardor and enterprise of Gen. John H. Wilder of Chattanooga, Tenn., could not state the charms of this most charming resort, now become the sure refuge of hundreds of sufferers from that scourge of late summer and early autumn and known'as hay fever, more invitingly.

    UNSURPASSED VIEW. Of the magnificence of this view a later chronicler has this to say: "That view from the Roan eclipses everything I have ever seen in the White, Green, Catskill and Virginia mountains." This is a statement put into the mouth of a Philadelphia lawyer in 1882 by the authors of "The Heart of the Alleghanies," p. 253.

1799 Tennessee Boundary Survey (part 2)

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 40-41:

    RATTLEBUGS. On Saturday, June 1st, they came upon "a very large rattlebug," which they "attempted to kill, but it was too souple in the heels for us." On the night of May 31st they had had "severe lightning and some hard slaps of thunder."

    LAUREL AND IVY. There are some who, nowadays, contend that ivy and laurel did not grow in these mountains while the Indians occupied them, and cite as proof that it is almost impossible to find a laurel log with rings indicating more than a hundred years of growth. But Bishop Spangenburg mentions having encountered laurel on what is supposed to have been the Grandfather mountain in 1752, and John Strother, in his diary of the survey between Virginia and North Carolina in 1799, repeatedly mentions it, both before and after crossing the ridge which divides the waters of Nollechucky from those of the French Broad. What are now known as the "Ivory Slicks," is a tunnel cut through the otherwise impenetrable ivy on the slope between the Hang Over and Dave Orr's cabins on Slick Rock, south of the Little Tennessee.

    TWO WAGON ROADS ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS. Even at that early date there seem to have been two roads crossing the mountains into Tennessee, for the very next call of the statute is "thence along the ridge of said mountain between the waters of Doe river and the waters of Rock creek to the place where the road crosses the Iron mountain." Bright used to live at the Crab Orchard, long known as Avery's Quarters, about a mile above Plum Tree, and where W. W. Avery now lives. On the 5th of June Major Neely "turned off the line today and went to Doe river settlements for a fresh supply of provisions," and was to meet them at the Yellow mountain, where on that day the trees were "just creeping out of their winter garb," and where "the lightning and thunder were so severe that they were truly alarming." From "the yellow spot" on the Yellow, whither they had gone to take observations, but were prevented by the storm, "we went back and continued the line on to a low gap at the head of Roaring or Sugar creek of Towe river and a creek of Doe river at the road leading from Morganton to Jonesborough, where we encamped as wet as we could be." This fixes the main road between North Carolina and the Watauga settlement, which had been finished in 1772, and over which Andrew Jackson was to pass in the spring of 1788. Robert Henry mentions a Gideon Lewis as one of the guides from White Top mountain, and it is remarkable that a direct descendant of his and having his name is now living at Taylor's Valley, near Konarok, Va., and that several others now live near Solitude or Ashland, N.C.

1799 Tennessee Boundary Survey (part 1)

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 38-40:

    THE FIRST TENNESSEE BOUNDARY SURVEY. From the narratives of David Vance and Robert Henry of the battles of Kings Mountain and Cowan's Ford, as well as from the dairy of John Strother, can be gathered a fine account of the survey from Virginia to the Painted Rock on the French Broad and the Stone on the Cataloochee Turnpike. The survey began on the 20th of May and ended Friday the 28th of June, 1799. The original of Strother's diary is filed in the suit of the Virginia, Tennessee & Carolina Steel and Iron Company vs. Newman, in the United States court at Asheville, N. C. The actual survey began May 22d, "at a sugar-tree and beech on Pond mountain, so called from two small ponds on it." Both trees are now gone, and a stone four feet by two feet by sixteen inches in thickness, is buried in the ground where they stood, with a simple cross, east and west, chiseled upon it. Its upper surface is level with the ground, and it was placed there in 1899 or 1900 by a Mr. Buchanan of the United States coast survey. Marion Miller and John and Alfred Bivins assisted him. Mr. Miller still lives within a mile and a half of the corner rock. Strother's party set out from Asheville May 12, and reached Capt. Robert Walls on New River, where Strother arrived on the 17th, and met with Major Mussendine Mathews, of whom Judge David Schenck says that he "represented Iredell county in the House of Commons from 1789 to 1802 continuously. He was either a Tory or a Cynic, it seems." They were awaiting the arrival of Col. David Vance and Gen. Joseph McDowell, but as they did not come, Strother went to the house of a Mr. Elsburg on the 18th.

    THE PARTY GATHERS. Col. Vance and Major B. Collins arrived on the 19th, and they all went to Captain Isaac Weaver's. They were General Joseph McDowell, Col. David Vance, Major Mussendine Mathews, commissioners; John Strother and Robert Henry, surveyors; Messers. B. Collins, James Hawkins, George Penland, Robert Logan, Geo. Davidson, and J. Matthews, chain-bearers and markers; Major James Neely, commissary; two pack-horse men and a pilot. They camped that night on Stag creek. On the night of the 23d of May they camped "at a very bad place" in a low gap at the head of Laurel Fork of New river and Laurel Fork of Holston at the head of a branch, “after having passed through extreme rough ground and some bad laurel thickets.” A road now runs through that laurel thicket, built since the Civil War, and runs from Hemlock postoffice, where there is now a narrow gauge lumber railroad and an extract plant, to Laurel Bloomery, in Tennessee. A small hotel now stands half on the North Carolina and half on the Tennessee side of the line those men then ran, and the gap is called “Cut Laurel” gap because it is literally cut through the laurel for a mile or more. Thousands of gallons of blockade whiskey used to be carried through that gap when there was nothing but a trail there. It is called by Mr. Strother a low gap, but it is one of the highest in the mountains. On the 28th they went to a Mr. Miller's and got a young man to act as a pilot. Strother went from Miller's “to Cove creek, where I got a Mr. Curtis and met the company in a low gap between the waters of Cove creek and Roan's creek where the road crosses the same,” on Wednesday night, the 29th.

    CROSSED BOONE'S TRAIL. This, in all probability, is the gap through which Daniel Boone and his party had passed in 1769 on their way to Kentucky. It is between Zionville, N. C. and Trade, Tenn., and the gap is so low that one is not conscious of passing over the top of a high mountain. Tradition says that an Indian trail went through the same gap, and traces of it are still visible to the north of the present turnpike. The young man who had been employed as a pilot at Mr. Miller's house on the 28th was found on the 29th not to be a “woodsman and of course he was discharged.” On June 1st they came to the "Wattogo" river, where they killed a bear, "very poor," upon which and "some bacon stewed together, with some good tea and johnny cake we made a Sabbath morning breakfast fit for a European Lord." There is a tradition among the people living near the falls of the Watauga at the State line, that the line between the peak to the north of the falls and the Yellow mountain was not actually run and marked; but the field notes of both Strother and Henry show that the line was both run and marked all the way. The reason the line was run from the peak north of the Watauga to the bald of the Yellow was because the act required it to be run in precisely that way; the language being "to the place where Watauga river breaks through it [the mountain], thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain where Bright's road crosses the same." As it is impossible to see the Yellow from the river at the falls where the river breaks through, it was necessary to get the course from the top of the peak north of the river.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Tennessee / North Carolina Boundary

From A History of Watauga County, North Carolina, by John Preston Arthur, published 2002, Genealogical Publishing Company, page 120:

    Running the State Line.— As the Cherokees occupied the territory southwest of the Big Pigeon River in what is now Haywood County, no provision was made for running the line beyond this point. Generally speaking, the line was to follow the tops of the Stone, the Smoky and the Unaka Mountains from Virginia to Georgia, but to be surveyed and marked only from Virginia to the Pigeon. The surveying party consisted of Col. Joseph McDowell, David Vance, Mussendine Matthews, speaker of the House, commissioners. John Strother and Robert Henry were the surveyors. The party met May 19, 1799, at Captain Isaac Weaver's, near what is now Tuckerdale, a station on the new Virginia-Carolina Railway, in Ashe County.
From the diary of John Strother, surveyor:
    25th [May 1799]. – We had a very disagreeable night the morning appears gloomy – some of our horses lost. Mr. Logan cut his foot; it will be bad. The horses were at length found. We all eat our breakfast & set out on the line, went ¾ mile. It set in and rained hard and obliged us to take up camp at the first place that offered, which was a branch of Roan’s Creek, where we spent an uncomfortable evening. The next day being the Lard’s day we spent it here in prayers for a plesant tour to ye Painted Rock. Genl McDowell left us this day. He is sick.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gold Quality: Georgia vs North Carolina

From The Gold Placers of the Vicinity of Dahlonega, Georgia, by William Phipps Blake, Charles Thomas Jackson, published 1859:

    It is the universal testimony of those who have worked in the placers of Georgia, that the gold is generally in larger lumps and particles, or is coarser than in the placers of the western parts of North Carolina, in Burke, McDowell and Rutherford counties. Mr. Blake also observes that the quality of the gold is excellent, rarely yielding less than 90 per cent., or 900 parts in 1,000, the difference being silver. The standard of gold of the United States consists of 900 parts of gold to 100 of alloy.

Gold: North Carolina to Georgia

From The Gold Placers of the Vicinity of Dahlonega, Georgia, by William Phipps Blake, Charles Thomas Jackson, published 1859:

    According to [John] Wheeler,* the first piece of gold found in the United States, was picked up in 1799, by Conrad Keed, a boy twelve years of age, in the bed of a small stream on his father's farm in Cabarus [sic, Cabarrus] county, North Carolina, It was about the size of a small smoothing-iron, and was kept for several years in the house to hold the door open, and then sold to a silversmith for three dollars and a half. In the same stream many pieces of gold were afterwards found at intervals of several years, the largest being the twenty-eight pound lump so often cited. In 1829, the placers were opened in Burke and McDowell counties, in the same State, and from these mines the gold was traced southward into Georgia, where it was first discovered on Duke's Creek, in Habersham, now White county, in part, in the same year. The first fragment found weighed three ounces, and was taken out by John Witheroods, of North Carolina, but his claim of priority of discovery in Georgia is disputed by Jesse Hogan, also of North Carolina, who claims to have first taken out gold on a branch of Ward's Creek, in Lumpkin county, not far from Dahlonega, then in the Cherokee nation.
    ... At that time [1829] Habersham was an organized county, but the rest of the gold region was included in the Cherokee nation, over which the United States exercised a supervisory care. The richness of the newly-discovered mines soon brought together a large number of miners from Georgia and the adjoining States. These commenced mining chiefly on the lands of the Cherokees, and on that portion now included within the limits of Lumpkin county, the Chestatee River then being the eastern boundary of the Cherokee nation. This rush for the mines brought into the country thousands of men of great diversity of character, many of them dissipated and regardless of the future. Shanty groceries were set up all over the country, where whiskey was freely sold, and mountebanks attended with all kinds of tricks and shows, in the endeavor to share the easily-gotten gold of the miners. Drinking, gambling and righting were rife, and laws were little known and less cared for. The poor Indians saw with dismay their beautiful hill-sides, where they and their fathers had chased the deer for centuries, occupied by these centres of vice and immorality, and their lovely valleys and cool dells dug over and rendered hideous to the sight. These were known as the "times of the intrusion." To protect the Cherokees from this intrusion the United States stationed troops about five miles below where Dahlonega is now situated. The attempt was made to drive back the intruders beyond the Chestatee into Habersham county, where mining was also in progress, but with little or no success. While the miners were being driven from one creek or valley they would return to another, and so the robbery of the Cherokees continued. Parties often formed to cross the river in the night, and secure as much rich gravel as possible from some selected spot, with which they would recross the river in order to wash it out during the next day. Many deposits were stealthily worked and in great precipitation and haste, only the best spots being selected.
*History of North Carolina, ii. p. 64.