About the close of the year 1781 the settlers enjoyed a brief season of quiet, but early in February following, signs of the enemy again appeared. Soon thereafter John TUCKER and Joseph HENDRIX were fired upon near the sulphur spring while returning by the buffalo trail from Freeland's to the bluff. Each had an arm broken, but in the race which followed they reached the fort ahead of the savages. Having grown careless they had on this occasion gone out unarmed, a mistake seldom made by the settlers.
From this attack it was evident that the Indians were again on the warpath, and a signal gun was fired to warn the residents of Freeland's and Eaton's. A party of scouts set out at once from the Bluff in search of the band which had made the attack on TUCKER and HENDRIX, but they had made good their escape.
A few days later David HOOD was traveling the same road from Freeland's to the Bluff. When in the sulphur spring bottom several Indians who were hiding in the cane gave chase, firing at him as he ran. Thinking there was no chance for escape HOOD fell forward on his face, feigning death. The savages, coming up, gathered about him, and concluding that he was dead, one of them twisted his fingers in the hair of their victim and with a dull knife deliberately sawed off his scalp. This operation HOOD endured without moving a muscle or uttering a groan. His tormentors then stamped him several times on the back with their feet and journeyed on toward the fort. When their footsteps were no longer heard he raised his head cautiously and seeing no sign of danger, got up and started toward the Bluff. For some reason the Indians had halted just over the hill, and HOOD, following them unaware, suddenly found himself again in their presence. They promptly fell upon him the second time, and after inflicting what they supposed to be mortal wounds, threw his body on a brush heap and left him for dead. Next morning he was found by some of the settlers, who, thinking him dead, carried him to the station and placed him in an outhouse adjoining. Some of the women went out to see him and insisted there were signs of life in the body. At their direction he was taken into the fort, his wounds dressed and restoratives administered. He soon recovered and by midsummer was able to be about his work.
HOOD was a cooper by trade and a bachelor. He was long and lank of body, a great wag, and withal a noted character among the early settlers. He lived at Nashborough for many years after the events above described. The settlers at Kilgore's Station, in Robertson County, had so far been undisturbed. They had come to suppose that because of their distance from the other forts they were free from attack. In this, however, they were doomed to disappointment. The sharp eye of the avenging savage had spied them out. Late in the summer of 1782 Samuel MARTIN and Isaac JOHNSON, two occupants of the station, were captured near by and taken prisoners into the Creek Nation. JOHNSON soon escaped and returned to the fort, but MARTIN remained with his captors for about a year. He came home elegantly dressed, wearing silver spurs on his boots and bringing with him two valuable horses. It was currently reported and generally believed that during the period of his alleged captivity he had accompanied the Creeks on some of their marauding expeditions and shared with them the captured booty.
In the fall two young men by the name of MASON went from Kilgore's to Clay Lick to watch for deer. They hid in a canebrake close by, and while thus in waiting seven Indians came to the Lick, probably for the same purpose as themselves. The MASONS fired and killed two of them, the remainder of the band retreating. Elated at this easy victory the young men hastened back to the fort and there were joined by three or four of the settlers with whom they returned to the lick and scalped the dead Indians.
Late the same evening John and Ephraim PEYTON, en route from Bledsoe's Station to Kentucky, stopped at Kilgore's to spend the night. When they arose to pursue their journey next morning they discovered that their horses, together with some of those belonging to the settlement, had been stolen. Suspicion at once pointed to a band of Indians who at that time were prowling around the neighborhood. Pursuit was made and the thieves overtaken on Peyton's Creek, a stream afterwards so called because of this incident. The whites opened fire, killing one of the band and retaking all of the horses. On their return, and while they were encamped for the night, the Indians made a circuit and lay in ambush at a point in the road between them and the fort. As the whites were going on toward home next morning the savages poured into their ranks a deadly fire, killing Josiah HOSKINS and one of the MASONS. The bodies of these were carried to the fort and buried nearby. The settlers at Kilgore's now became so much alarmed that they moved to the Bluff, thus breaking up their station. Among those residing at Kilgore's Station at the time it was broken up were the KILGORES, Moses and Ambrose MAULDING, Jesse SIMONS and others.
The occupants of all the forts were at this time so much harassed that they could neither plant nor cultivate their fields. Sentinels must be stationed on every side, and even while one person knelt at a spring to drink another must stand ready, rifle in hand, to shoot a creeping savage who might suddenly appear. If three or four were assembled on the open ground on business or for social visitation, they dared not face each other, but standing back to back, they looked north, south, east and west, watching in every direction for the stealthy approach of a skulking foe.
A general council was now called to consider the best
interests of the settlement. Many favored a removal to a place of greater safety. This, however,
was vigorously opposed by Colonel ROBERTSON. He pointed out to the assembled colonists
the impossibility of escape either to East Tennessee or to the forts in Kentucky, as all the roads
thither were now known to be heavily guarded by the Indians, in evident anticipation of such an
attempt. He argued that a journey could not be made by water to Natchez or Kaskaskia. There
were no means of transportation. Nearly all the boats belonging to the DONELSON flotilla had
been dismantled and the material used in building cabins and outhouses adjacent thereto, and it
would be imprudent at this time to venture into the woods for material with which to build
another fleet. Thus in whatever way they might begin the journey they would be surely stalking
into the jaws of death. Indeed, this meeting marked a crisis in the history of the settlement.
Before its adjournment all came to recognize the face that conditions and not theory must guide
their deliberations, and the idea of removal was abandoned. Later in the fall of this year General
Daniel SMITH, Hugh ROGAN and William MCMURRY were traveling the buffalo trail from
Bledsoe's to Mansker's Lick. When near the present site of Cragfont, the ancient home of Gen.
James WINCHESTER, in the First Civil District of Sumner County, a party of Indians opened fire
upon them, killing MCMURRY and wounding General SMITH. The gun of the latter fell from
his hands, but he caught it up again, and, with ROGAN, began a fusillade with the enemy, who
soon got the worst of it and ran, making their escape into the tall cane. General SMITH
recovered and afterwards became Secretary of the territorial government and later succeeded
Andrew JACKSON as Senator from Tennessee in the Congress of the United States. He was
born in Farquier County, Virginia, October 29, 1748; was a skilled civil engineer, and by actual
survey made the first map of the State of Tennessee. Coming to Middle Tennessee at an early
period in its history, he married a daughter of Col. John DONELSON, and selected a fine body of
land on Drake's Creek, near Hendersonville, in Sumner County. Here in 1784 he built "Rock
Castle", his historic residence, which still stands. Under General SMITH'S own supervision it
was built from stone taken from a quarry a few hundred yards away. The land on which it stands
is now the property of his great-granddaughter, Mrs. Horatio BERRY, of Hendersonville.
General SMITH died at rock Castle, June 16, 1818, and was buried in the family cemetery nearby.
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