By reason of the westward flowing tide of immigration the settlement this year continued to increase in population. However, there was but little extension of its boundaries except in the region around Red River. As a whole the year was indeed one of bloodshed and disaster.
The population of Davidson County had previously increased to the extent that it was entitled to an additional representative in the state Legislature. Thereupon Col. Isaac BLEDSOE was elected to that position, and together he and Colonel ROBERTSON had traveled to and fro across the mountain between the settlement and the State Capital. But this year BLEDSOE, being now a citizen of the new county of Sumner, David HAYS was elected in his stead. The latter was related by marriage to the family of Colonel DONELSON, and as previously stated, had founded Fort Union, afterwards known as Haysborough. He was a man of superior talents and withal a conspicuous figure among the pioneers. The first official act of ROBERTSON and HAYS this year was the presentation of a memorial to the Legislature. In this they set forth the sufferings of their constituents by reason of the barbarous attacks of the Creeks and Cherokees. They also detailed the part played by the Spanish Government in inciting such hostility. This recital closed with a petition that North Carolina follow the example of other States by ceding its western territory to the Federal Government. These far-sighted frontiersmen foresaw the ultimate organization of a new State west of the mountains, and the above action was the beginning of a movement looking toward such an end.
Sumner County now became the storm center of savage fury. A man by the name of PRICE and his wife were killed on the town creek just south of Gallatin. Judge HAYWOOD, in recording this incident, says that the Indians also "chopped the children".
John BEARD was murdered with a tomahawk and scalped near the headwaters of Big Station Camp. At Bledsoe's Lick, James HALL, son of Maj. William HALL, was killed on June 3, near his father's residence. He and his brother, William HALL, Jr., afterwards Governor HALL, were going from the barn through the woods to a neighboring field after some horses. A party of fifteen Indians were in ambush beside the path; ten of them behind a log heap, and the others further on in the top of a fallen tree. The first party allowed by boys to pass their hiding place, when with rifle in one hand and battle axe in the other, they rushed upon James, who was some distance behind his brother, and laying hold of him struck a tomahawk deep into each side of his forehead. William, terrified at the sight, fled down the path, but soon encountered the party in the treetop, who now came running toward him. When one of them raised an axe to strike, the little fellow, as if by sudden forethought, turned aside and ran into the cane. The Indians followed, but he outwitted them, and by dodging from place to place reached his father's home unharmed. The latter would probably have been burned and the occupants murdered had it not been that just as the boy ran up there arrived a company of young people who were coming to spend the day with the family. The young men of the party, all of whom were armed, went at once in search of the Indians, but the latter had already made good their escape, taking with them the scalp of their victim. News of the attack was sent to Bledsoe's Fort, and five men therefrom, led by Maj. James LYNN, started at once in pursuit. It was found that the Indians had taken the buffalo trace leading from Bledsoe's to what was known as Dickson's Lick, in the upper country. The settlers did not take this trail lest they might be led into ambush. They traveled another which ran parallel and formed a juncture with the first at a crossing on Goose Creek, in Trousdale County. Just at this ford they came upon the fleeing savages, upon whom they opened fire, wounding two of their number. The culprits escaped, but in doing so threw aside their guns, tomahawks and baggage, all of which were captured and brought back to the fort. Tied to one of the packs was found the scalp which had just been taken.
Maj. William HALL was at this time absent from home, having been summoned to Nashville by Colonel ROBERTSON to attend a council the latter was holding with Little Owl and other Cherokee chiefs. A few weeks before this a raid had been made upon Morgan's Station, at the mouth of Dry Fork, and a number of horses stolen. The Indians who committed the theft made a circuit through the knobs, expecting to recross the Cumberland at Dixon Springs and thus escape to the Cherokee nation. However, their movements were betrayed by the sound of a bell worn by one of the horses. Suddenly pouncing upon them in the hills above Hartsville the Stationers killed one of their number and recovered the stolen property. It was believed that the murder of young HALL was in revenge for this pursuit and subsequent attack by the MORGAN party. When Major HALL returned from the council at Nashville and learned what had happened he consulted with his neighbors, Messrs. GIBSON and HARRISON, as to whether they should stay out until crops were laid by or remove at once to the fort. It was decided to brave the danger for the time being, but that each household should employ two spies or scouts who should stand guard during the remainder of the summer.
No alarm was occasioned until August 2. On that day the scouts reported that a party of thirty Indians were skulking about the neighborhood. Early next morning the HALL family began moving to Bledsoe's Fort. The household goods were conveyed thither on a sled. Mrs. HALL and the smaller children remained at the farmhouse to assist in packing and loading. The eldest daughter went to the fort to set up the furniture and arrange for the reception of the family. Three loads had been brought during the day. With the fourth and last load late in the afternoon came Major Hall, his wife, three sons and a daughter. With them also were Major HALL'S son-in-law, Charles MORGAN, and a man by the name of HICKESON. When about halfway between the house and the fort they were attacked by a party of Indians, who were in ambush for a hundred yards or more on either side of the road. Uttering a warwhoop the savages sprang up and poured into the settlers a deadly fire. Richard, the eldest son, who was in advance of the rest, received a fatal shot and fell in the woods a short distance away. HICKERSON, who was next in line, bravely stood his ground, but his gun missed fire. Receiving six rifle shots almost at one time, he sank to the earth, mortally wounded. The horse on which Mrs. HALL was riding now became frightened, and dashing through the lines of the enemy, carried her in safety to the fort. William HALL, Jr., who was driving the sled, dropped the lines and ran back to his little brother, and sister, Prudence, that, is possible, he might save them from capture. Major HALL ordered them to scattering the woods while he and MORGAN covered their retreat. All three of the children reached the Station unharmed. Major HALL and MORGAN, now left alone face to face with the enemy, made a gallant defense, returning the fire with telling effect. Finally, however, MORGAN, finding himself severely wounded, ran into the woods and thus escaped. Major HALL fell in the road, his body pierced by thirteen bullets. The Indians scalped him, and taking his rifle and shot pouch, disappeared in the forest. Maj. HALL'S untimely death was a loss greatly deplored by his fellow settlers. Other outrages were committed during the summer and fall. John PERVINE was killed two miles northeast of Gallatin on the farm formerly owned by Dr. DONNEL. Early in the fall John ALLEN was surprised and shot through the body a short distance north of Bledsoe's, but escaped and recovered. Mark ROBERTSON, brother of Col. James ROBERTSON, was captured in a cane thicket on Richland Creek and brutally cut to pieces with tomahawks and knives. From the broken cane and blood on the surrounding shrubbery it was evidence that he had contended long and fiercely with the savages before being finally overcome.
Soon after the events above mentioned, the father of Esquire John MORGAN was killed just outside the stockade at Morgan's fort. Two companies gathered from the stations in Sumner County, started in pursuit of the murderers. One of these was under command of Maj. George WINCHESTER and the other was led by Capt. Wm. MARTIN. There seems to have been no definite understanding as to the route to be followed, and while searching through the cane in the Bledsoe Creek bottom the parties suddenly approached each other. One of WINCHESTER'S men, thinking he had come upon the Indians, fired into MARTIN'S party, killing William RIDLEY, son of George RIDLEY, late of Davidson County. Saddened by this unfortunate accident the troops abandoned the search and returned to their respective stations.
During the winter of this year Charles MORGAN, who a few
months before was wounded while defending the family of his father-in-law, Major HALL,
together with Jordan GIBSON, was mortally wounded and scalped a few hundred yards from the
HALL residence while they were on their way to Greenfield Station. MORGAN lived for several
days, and before he died stated to the attendants that the Indian who scalped him had a harelip. It
is believe this was a celebrated chief called "Moon", who was killed on Caney Fork two years
later by Capt. James MCCANN. The latter was at the time a member of an expedition led into
the upper country by Gen. James WINCHESTER. The Indian killed by MCCANN was
harelipped and was said to have been at that time the only member of his race among the southern
tribes who bore such a mark.
Go to the Chapter Selection Page
Return to Sumner County Main Page