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THE LONG HUNTERS
Long Hunter -
Long Hunter was peculiar to
no group in history, who contributed so much to the knowledge of the
topography of our country, have been so nearly completely by-passed
by historians as have the long hunters of the late colonial days.
In almost every instance when the pioneer settler moved toward the
extreme frontier, he had long since been preceded by the long hunter.
When the first settlers were arriving at
of the rivers and steams, gaps, salt licks, mountains and valleys
had long ago been named by these hunters. When the first settlers
arrived, they, in most cases, adopted the names bestowed by the long
hunters on natural land marks, with very few changes, and we are still
using most of them after a lapse of nearly two centuries. Dr. Thomas
Walker, on his trip to the
In the annals of American history there is no braver lot than these early hunters. Not only did they endure the rigorous winters in crude shelters but the danger of sickness, privation, exposure, hunting accidents, and the very real and ever present danger of being scalped by the Indians. They were especially disliked by the Indians, being looked upon as robbers of their hunting grounds, which they truly were, and also, as forerunners of the ever-spreading, land-clearing, soil-tilling settler.
why was this particular group of men given to hunting, instead of
tilling the soil as most settlers? Perhaps there are three answers
to this question; first, the spirit of adventure born in some people
which they are unable to quell, among whom were James Dysart and Castleton
Brooks who were quite well-to-do, as well as Colonel James Knox, who
is referred to as the leader of the long hunters and who later became
very wealthy. Secondly, there were those who enjoyed, above all else,
the spirit of the hunt, among whom were Elisha Wallen, William Carr, Isaac
Bledsoe, and others, who, all their lives were hunters and nothing
but hunters. The last answer, but certainly not the least, was the
profit derived from these hunts. It was not uncommon for a hunter
to realize sixteen to seventeen hundred dollars for his season's take,
and this was far in excess of what he could earn in almost any other
lucrative endeavor. The hides and pelts were sold along the coast,
where animals were no longer plentiful, and in
The long hunter today would be called a scientist, naturalist, explorer, or some other high-sounding name, for he had to be master of many arts. He knew the sky and what a sunset foretold; he knew the wind and could tell it by smell, as to whether dry or moist, and could wet his finger with spittle and tell in which direction it was blowing. He could, in numerous ways, tell the seasons, predict the weather, and by the stars he could tell the time and direction. He knew the plants and where they grew, and by feeling the moss and shaggy bark of a tree, determine the north and find his direction by night. He knew the medicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailments therefrom.
He knew his rifle, how to use it, repair it, and even in some instances how to make one. He knew the use of the hunting and skinning knife, the tomahawk, and other tools and weapons of the hunt and the kill, which was oft times the kill of an Indian whose skill and cunning he was forced to match and outwit in order to survive. He was aware of, and knew the habits of animals and birds and was able to distinguish the true call of such from the imitation by an Indian. He received his training from masters, for all who lived on the frontiers had to be masters of natural history to survive. The very toys of his childhood were imitations of his future life.
to Redd, the long hunters seldom hunted
in parties larger than two or three men. Their reasons for this were
two-fold; first, larger parties were more apt to scare game away,
and secondly, the Indians were less likely to become suspicious of
a small group robbing their hunting grounds, not to mention that smaller
parties were less likely to be discovered by the Indians. Redd
tells a very interesting story about
miles south of Martin's Station on
Redd tells of another interesting camp he saw in
another letter to Dr. Lyman C. Draper, Redd
has this to say in his answer to a query made by Draper: "The
remains of the camp I saw in Powell Valley were on its north side
and as well as my memory serves me, were within forty or fifty yards
of the mouth of Wallen's Creek at the ford
of Powell's River. The camp was built beside a large limestone rock
which served for the back of the camp. The names of the persons whose
bones I saw there I should be unable to accurately distinguish were
I to hear them. This may be possibly the camp pitched by Boone's war
party. The bones I saw were not known certainly to be those of the
two long hunters having gone on a long hunt in
Redd's reference to "Boone's war party" must be a reference to the spot where Daniel Boone's party camped in 1773 to await the party coming to join them from Castlewood, which was ambushed and massacred near the head of Wallen's Creek on October 10, 1773. The location described by Redd also fits the general location of Elisha Wallen's long hunting camp of 1761. Redd says the long hunters set out with two pack horses each, a large supply of powder and lead, a small hand vise and bellows, a screwplate and files for repairing their rifles, and while he makes no mention of it, they also carried a supply of flour for bread. In fact, on the way out they could carry quite a lot of supplies as each hunter had two pack horses.
The long hunters went out together in large parties, built a station camp, then fanned out in twos and threes to range and hunt over large areas. The first known station camp established in Powell's Valley was that of Elisha Wallen in 1761. It is thought his party consisted of eighteen or nineteen men, but since no list has been preserved, only the names of a very few are known certainly to have been in the party. Wallen's Station camp, set up at the mouth of Wallen's Creek, was probably like other station camps, built of poles, sometimes only eight by ten feet, covered with puncheons or bark, walls on three sides, the front open, along which a fire was built for warmth. Upright poles were set up - often a forked pole was driven into the ground, with a cross pole on which the bark or puncheons were laid, sloping toward the back in order to drain melting snow or rain away from the fire. This type of shelter was known as "half-faced" camps. Other times an extra large, already-fallen tree or large rock was used for the backwall of such a camp shelter. Some of Wallen's party are said to have seen the eleven-year-old carving of the name of Powell and so named the Valley, river and mountain. Ambrose Powell had been a member of Dr. Thomas Walker's exploring party of 1750." (6)
"Redd says that when he knew Wallen
on Smith's River in
"Wallen, along with the Blevinses
and Coxes, who were connected with him by marriage, lived on Smith's
Redd's statement of Wallen's movements is borne out by a letter written to Dr. Draper by F. A. Wallen, a nephew to Elisha, from Fairland, Livingston County, Missouri, dated Octobe 15, 1853, in which he says: "He (Elisha) moved from Virginia to Tennessee, thence to Kentucky, thence to Washington County, Missouri, at a very early date."
lived for sometime in
this William Pittman, John Redd says: "In the latter part of February, 1776,
Pittman and Scaggs came to Martin's Station
"When they arrived at the camp, they took some of the ore, and by means of their hand bellows and some thick oak bark, it was melted and they found it to be silver ore. They brought it back with them to Martin's Station- the silver they had extracted and some of the ore. The silver was pronounced by all who saw it to be very pure."
"Scaggs and Pittman were said to be men of a very high sense
of honor and very great truth. By the next fall the war with the Indians
broke out and they went no more on their long hunts." (10) He further states that in 1776 Scaggs and Pittman lived on
Scaggs left the area and moved on into
William Carr little is known, except the little left to us in the
Reminiscences of John Redd, who says: "He
was raised in
the same suit John Montgomery, another witness said: "William
Carr is supposed to be a near relation to General Joseph Martin."
In connection with Agness Fugate Mahan's
statement about William Carr being a Negro man of color, John Redd
tells this intriguing story: "William _____ was born in
the early part of the spring of 1775, I became personally acquainted
with William at Martin's Station in
William Carr was in Captain Robert Doak's
Another long hunter, who was in the Clinch are for sometime, was Uriah Stone, and it seems he made land improvements in many places where he hunted, probably with the hope of selling them as he did one in the present Tazewell County, as shown by a land suit in Augusta County Superior Court, Maxwell vs Pickens, filed 1807. In this suit James Maxwell states: "In 1772 I went from Botetourt County where I lived to present Tazewell County to make a settlement. I was in company with Samuel Walker. Found a tract with some improvements, viz: the foundations of a cabin, some rails split and some trees deadened. That night we fell in with a party of hunters, among them Uriah Stone, who claimed to have made the improvement, and I purchased it."
the same land suit Lawerence Murray stated:
"Thirty-three years ago (1774) I was in Wright's Valley at Uriah Stone's cabin."
James Smith, a Pennsylvanian, left his home in the fall of 1765, and the following spring of 1766 found him in the Holston country of Virginia where settlement was thickening in the general vicinity of Samuel Stalnaker's place. There, Smith, in company with Joshua Horton, William Baker, Uriah Stone, for whom Stone's River in Tennessee was named, and another James Smith from near Carlisle in Pennsylvania, had gone west. (15) Stone returned to middle Tennessee again in 1767, and at this time, or soon after, Stone made an improvement on a claim to "A certain place known as Stoner's Lick, on the east side of Stone's River. (16)
Stone was a juror in the Fincastle Court of July 7, 1773, and on this same date, he, along with Obediah Terrell, Gasper Mansker and Castleton Brooks were witnesses in the case of John Baker versus Humphrey Hogan, all of whom were long hunters. Then again in the Fincastle Court of November 3, 1773, there was a motion of Uriah Stone to stay the proceedings of a judgement obtained against him by Obediah Terrell. The last mention of Stone in the Fincastle records was on December 6, 1774, when Gasper Mansker was plaintiff against Uriah Stone and Jacob Harmon. ichael Stoner, whose real name was George Michael Holsteiner, along with Isaac Bledsoe, Gasper Mansker, John Montgomery and Joseph Drake were on the Cumberland in 1767 and are said to have had a station camp in 1768 on what is now Station Camp Creek, north of Cumberland in middle Tennessee. A group of hunters from South Carolina, who were on the Cumberland in 1767, make mention of meeting James Harrod and Michael Stoner on Stone's River, who were from Fort Pitt by way of the Illinois. (17)
This is the very same Michael Stoner who was at Castlewood and went with Daniel Boone in 1774 to Kentucky to warn the surveying parties of Indian dangers just prior to the outbreak of Dunmore's War, and without proof, there is every evidence that Stoner was much better acquainted with Kentucky than was Boone, for Boone's first trip through Cumberland Gap was in 1769, and after having missed finding the gap on previous trips, he was at this time led through the gap by John Findley, another long hunter and settler on the Cumberland River in Tennessee.
While trying to find someone to send to Kentucky to warn the surveying parties, on June 22, 1774, Colonel William Christian wrote to Colonel William Preston that he was thinking of sending out a certain Crabtree to search for the surveyors, having him do this as a sort of atonement for his late achievement in murdering some friendly Cherokees. Having some doubt about the ethics of this, however, he next thought of sending out Joseph Drake, who, as one of the long hunters, was tolerably well acquainted with Kentucky.
Colonel Preston wrote Captain William Russell of Castlewood about this matter, and Russell, on the 26th of June 1774, answered Preston saying: "I have engaged to start immediately, on the occasion, two of the best hands I could think of, Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner, who have engaged to search the country as low as the Falls (Louisville), and to return by way of Gasper's Lick on Cumberland, and through Cumberland Gap." (18)
Michael Stoner went to Kentucky with Boone when he made his settlement at Boonesboro, and Cotterill, in his "Kentucky in 1774" implies that Stoner was with Boone's party when they made their unsuccessful attempt to settle in Kentucky in 1773, and that he had been a close associate of Boone for several years before, Boone and Stoner having first met on the New River, and that, when Boone's party was turned back in 1773, he had probably been living with the Boone family on the Clinch. Stoner, born about 1748, was also a member Boone's road-cutting party through Cumberland Gap and was still alive in 1801, when he made a deposition in Wayne County, Kentucky. (19)
He married a daughter of Andrew Tribble. He was wounded at the siege of Boonesboro, fainted from loss of blood after he had refused to let anyone come to him, for he was outside the fort walls. His wounds were only flesh wounds, one in the hip and another in the arm. After losing his land grants he settled with his father-in-law near Price's Station. (20 Two other long hunters of Powell Valley were William Crabtree and James Aldridge, both of whom were probably in Wallen's hunting party of 1761. Of these two, John Redd, says: "I have seen them both frequently, but know nothing of interest connected with their long hunts. More of an Indian scout and hunter than a farmer, William Crabtree was a real backwoodsman, tall, slender and with slightly red hair." (21)
The Crabtrees lived on the Holston, a numerous family, with many of the same name, therefore it is hard to distinguish which William was the long hunter, but it is believed he was the William who was a son of William and Hannah Whittaker Crabtree whose residence was at the Big Lick near Saltville. If so, he was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, circa 1748. His first wife was Hannah Lyon, sister to the long hunter Humberson Lyon. After her death he was married in 1777 to Katherine Starnes and she died in Tazewell County in 1818. The father of William Crabtree, whose name was also William, lived near the Salt Works (now Saltville) where he died in 1777.
Redd says: "I know not where Crabtree was from originally. In 1777 he was living on Watauga, not far above its junction with the Holston. I know not what finally became of him. He was about thirty years of age." Of the long hunter, James Aldridge, this writer has been unable to recover any data of significance, as he seems to be mentioned in none of the court records. Some writers have said that he lived on the New River, but John Redd says he lived in the neighborhood with the Crabtrees on Holston. He is described as being about 30 years of age, a dark haired, heavily built man, stoop shouldered, but with a spritely mind.
Humberson Lyon, was another of the long hunters who early hunted on the Cumberland. He was a brother-in-law to William Crabtree, having married his sister, Hanna Crabtree. His will was exhibited in Washington County, Virginia, court on March 16, 1784, and proven by the oaths of Isaac, Job, and Hanna Crabtree, and who, along with William Crabtree were witnesses to the will. Abraham Crabtree was Administrator of his Securities were William and James Crabtree. The will was probated March 16, 1784, and he left his estate to his wife and sons, William, James, Stephen and Jacob, and daughter Susanna. Humberson Lyon was a Juror in Fincastle County in 1773, and was recommended Captain in the Washington County, Virginia militia, October 9, 1780.
Elisha Wallen went out again in 1763 with much the same group as were in his party of 1761. Glowing reports of the Cumberland and Ohio River basins brought back by Uriah Stone, Joshua Houghton, or Horton, and others of the long hunters fanned the urge for exploration to the boiling point. Plans were laid for a great hunt in Tennessee and Kentucky. The rendevous was to be on New River, eight miles from Fort Chiswell, in June 1769. This party consisted of at least twenty of more men, and Williams, in his "Dawn of Tennessee History," names ten, to wit: John Rains, Gasper Mansker, Abraham Bledsoe, Joseph Baker, Joseph Drake, Obediah Terrell, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Ned Cowan and Robert Crockett. (22)
To these ten, the following names also should be added: Isaac Bledsoe, William Carr, James Dysart, Jacob Harmon, William Crabtree, James Aldridge, John Baker, Thomas Gordon, Humphrey Hogan and Castleton Brooks. "Passing through Cumberland Gap and far into Kentucky, a station camp was built, and the company there dispersed into small hunting parties, as was the custom. Traveling southeast, one of these parties reached Roaring River and Caney Fork of the Cumberland. On what is now known as Matthews Creek of Roaring River in Overton County, Tennessee, Robert Crockett was killed, Indians firing upon him from ambush."
Of the above group of nineteen long hunters, not heretofore mentioned, is John Rains who became one of the first settlers on the Cumberland, going there from the New River settlements in Virginia, where he had first settled after emigrating from Culpepper County, Virginia. He was noted for his woodcraft and Indian fighting, became an officer of militia, and like Gasper Mansker, survived close to twenty-five years of Indian warfare, fifteen of those on the Cumberland; yet he lived to be 91. (23) Of Humphrey Hogan, little is known. The only record found of him is in the Washington County, Virginia, court where on November 17, 1778, he was on bail for Alexander Hamilton. He moved to Tennessee where he became one of the first school teachers. It is not known just what he taught for he signed his name with an "X".
Gasper Mansker, luckier than most long hunters, in that he kept his scalp, but was engaged in more skirmishes than most, was outspoken and then only twenty years old. He had been born aboard ship, of emigrating parents, and spoke with a heavy German accent, but sometimes described as a "Dutchman." He was reared on the Virginia borders in the region of the South Potomac. After twenty-five years of Indian warfare in which he got several wounds, he died in 1822 on the lands over which he had hunted in 1769.
He built a Station Camp near Gasper's Lick in 1779, and had a wife and a brother George Mansker. It was to Mansker's Station about twelve miles above what was to be Nashville, that Andrew Jackson's future wife, Rachael Donnelson, fled with her kin in the troubled Indian times of 1780. (24)
Gasper Mansker lived on Moccasin Creek in present day Scott County, Virginia, prior to his going to Tennessee. On the 6th of December 1774 he entered 190 acres of land in old Fincastle Land Entry records, lying on Moccasin Creek. He was married to Elizabeth White of Virginia, who eloped with him. He had a Station near Goodlettsville, in Davidson County, Tennessee. He lived at Mansker's Lick in 1792, and never had any children.
Terrell, for whom Obey's River in Tennessee,
was named, was a chunky, small-sized man with a club foot. (25)
While on the Clinch frontier, Obediah Terrell lived on Obey's Creek in Scott County, Virginia, which was named for him. The last official court record pertaining to him in Washington County, Virginia, was April 22, 1778, when he was appointed Overseer of the road from "two big springs" on Copper Creek to the head of Moccasin Creek, and on August 18, 1778 when he was appointed Administrator of the estate of Thomas Kindrick. It was perhaps soon after this date that he moved to Tennessee, for less than sixteen months thereafter Daniel Smith was spending the night with him on Obey's River in middle Tennessee.
and Ephraim Drake were brothers, and Ephraim seems to have been much
less a hunter than was his brother, Joseph.
He married Margaret, a daughter of Colonel John Buchanan, and after his death, she married a man named William Jones. Drake left one son John who was living in Nicholas County, Kentucky. Joseph Drake went from his father's home near New River, and near Anchor and Hope Plantation (present Max Meadows) to Southwest Virginia, at least by 1772, and probably before, according to the court records. He took up a tract of 326 acres on Carlock's Creek. This is the creek that flows into the Holston just east of Chilhowie, and along the road that leads from Chilhowie to Saltville today.
Drake got a tract from Colonel John Buchanan's land, the Hall's Bottom land (South of the Bristol Howard Johnson Restaurant) and went to live there, but there was a German living there, named Jacob Young, who had moved in on the land and squatted. He came to Drake's home and fired a pistol across the front porch and heckled Drake in general until he moved. James Dysart was Sheriff of Washington County and wanted to help Drake run Young off, but Drake moved away nonetheless. Dysart wanted to help Drake because of his attachment to him. He said he had been hunting on three long hunts with Drake - one in 1769 for seven months, in 1771 for nine months, and a third for eleven months in 1772.
Drake moved to Kentucky in 1777 from the Hall's Bottom land. He had bought his Carlock tract from the Loyal Land Company early - about 1771-72. Drake had moved his family to the Hall's Bottom tract in 1775, and then with the outbreak of the Cherokee War in 1776, moved back up New River near his father's home. (28)
It will be recalled that William Christian to Colonel Preston, in a letter dated June 22, 1774, in regard to sending someone to Kentucky to warn the Surveyors, said: "Next thought of sending out Joseph Drake, who, as one of the long hunters was tolerably well acquainted with Kentucky." In Fincastle County court of January 6, 1773, Joseph Drake was granted permission to keep an Ordinary (Inn), and on January 5, 1773, he was appointed road Overseer from the Town House to Eighteen Mile Creek, proving his residence in the vicinity of Chilhowie at that date.
Joseph Drake was killed by Indians near Boonesboro in August, 1778. He had married Margaret, a daughter of Colonel John Buchanan, and his brother, Ephraim Drake had married her sister, Anna Buchanan. These Buchanan girls who married the Drake brothers were first cousins in General William Campbell (whose mother was a Buchanan), and of Captain James Thompson, whose mother and wife of Colonel Buchanan were sisters and the daughters of Colonel James Patton. (29)
In 1769, a party of approximately forty hunters with James Knox as their leader spent more than a year in the Cumberland country. Many conflicting accounts of this party of 1769 have been written. Much of the confusion because the party split into several smaller parties, each going in a different direction. Everybody is pretty well agreed that they went in a body over the Hunter's Trail to Flat Lick (near Stinking Creek, about eight miles north and a little west of Cumberland Ford.) (30)
Just about all the long hunters heretofore mentioned in this manuscript were on this hunt, and those not mentioned previously being the Bledsoe brothers, Anthony, Abraham and Isaac, John Baker, Thomas Gordon, Jacob Harmon, Castleton Brooks, John Montgomery, James Dysart, Humphrey Hogan, David and William Lynch, Christopher Stoph, William Allen, Joseph Bowen, and Ned Cowan.
The Bledsoe brothers, Anthony, Abraham and Isaac were tall men of fair complexion and of English origin. Their parents had come from England to Culpepper County, Virginia. Their mother died and they left home because of an unkind stepmother. They came about 1767 to the New River country. Anthony, the eldest, married Mary, the daughter of Thomas Ramsey, a noted Indian fighter and active in French and Indian War. (31)
Abraham Bledsoe became a professional hunter, but Isaac and Anthony were interested in land. Both settled in middle Tennessee about 1784, Isaac, at this time about twenty-four years old, and after surviving years of border warfare in Virginia and Eastern Tennessee, spent two or three years in Kentucky, and, when that was safe from the Indians, went back to Bledsoe's Creek, and there he was killed as was his brother Anthony, by the Indians. Isaac Bledsoe was a Captain in the Cherokee Campaign in 1776. He lived on Highway 58, between Bristol and Gate City, about five miles outside Bristol. His land is now the property of the Spahr family who bought from him in 1782.
A very interesting letter is to be found in the Draper Collection written by General William Hall, of Locustland, Tennessee, to Dr. Draper, dated 21st of July 1845, wherein he says: "Sir, you wish to know something about Colonel Bledsoe's discovering Bledsoe's Lick, and the route of the long hunters, and Colonel Mansker's killing the buffaloes at Bledsoe's Lick for the tallow and tongues."
"The long hunters principally resided in the upper country of Virginia, and North Carolina, on the New River and Holston River, and when the intended to make a long hunt, as they called it, they collected near the head of Holston, near where Abingdon now stands. Thence they proceeded a westerly direction passing through Powell's Valley crossing the Cumberland mountain where the road now crosses leading to the Crab Orchard in Kentucky. Then crossing the Cumberland River where the said road now crosses Rockcastle, and leaving the Crab Orchard to the right and continuing nearly the said course, crossing the head of Green River, going on through the Barrens, crossing Big Barren River at the mouth of Drake's Creek; thence up Drake's Creek to the head, crossing the ridge which divides the waters of the Ohio River from the waters of the Cumberland, and the hunters, after crossing the ridge, either went down Bledsoe's Creek, or Station Camp Creek to the river and then spread out in the Cumberland ready to make their hunt."
The first trip that the long hunters made was about 1772 or 1773. There were several very enterprising, smart, active members along. I will name a few: Colonel Isaac Bledsoe, Colonel John Montgomery, Colonel Gasper Mansker, Henry Scaggs, Obediah Terrell, two Drakes (this would be Joseph & Ephraim), and a number of others could be named. When the hunters crossed the dividing ridge first named, they fell on the head of Station Camp Creek, and went down it about three miles and from Cumberland River, came to a very large, plain, buffalo path, much traveled, crossing the creek at right angles north and south. The south side of the creek was a pretty high bluff and a beautiful flat ridge made down to the creek. The hunters pitched their camp on the bluff and on the buffalo path, and they made their Station Camp from which the creek took its name.
"Colonel Bledsoe and Colonel Mansker, the first night they pitched their camp, agreed that the buffalo path that ran by their camp must lead at each end to Sulphur Licks or springs, and they made an agreement that night for Colonel Bledsoe, in the morning, to take the north end of the path, and Colonel Mansker to take the south side of the path, and each to ride one half day along the path to see what discoveries they could make and give themselves time to return to camp that night and report what they had seen."
"They were both successful in their expectations. One found Bledsoe's Lick at the end of thirteen miles, and the other found Mansker's Lick at about twelve miles. They both returned that night, with great joy, to their companions at the camp, and make known their discoveries of the two licks." "Colonel Bledsoe told me when he came to Bledsoe's Creek, about two miles from the lick, he had some difficulty in riding along the path, the buffaloes were so crowded in the path, and on each side, that his horse could scarcely get through them, and when he got to the bend of the creek at the Lick, the whole flat surrounding the lick of about one hundred acres was principally covered with buffaloes in every direction. He said not only hundreds but thousands."
"The space containing the Sulphur Springs was about two hundred yards each way across, and the buffalo had licked the dirt away several feet deep in that space, and within that space there issued out about a dozen sulphur springs, at which the buffalo drank. Bledsoe said there was such a crowd of buffaloes in the Lick and around it, that he was afraid to get off his horse for fear of getting run over by the buffaloes, and as he sat on his horse he shot down two in the lick and the buffaloes trod them in the mud so that he could not skin them. The buffaloes did not mind the sight of him and his horse, but when the wind blew from him to them, they got the scent of him, they would break and run in droves."
The same year that Bledsoe discovered the lick, a Frenchman by the name of Denumbre, who lived at Kaskaski on the Mississippi River, with a party of French hunters, in a keel boat, came up the Cumberland River to the mouth of Bledsoe's Creek, and came to Bledsoe's Lick and killed at the Lick, and around in the vicinity of the Lick a sufficient number of buffaloes to load their boat with tallow and buffalo tongues. The second year after, when Bledsoe and the long hunters returned, when they crossed the ridge and came down on Bledsoe's Creek, in four or five miles of the Lick, the cane had grown up so thick I the woods that they thought they had mistaken the place until they came to the Lick and saw what had been done. Bledsoe told me that one could walk for several hundred yards around the lick, and in the lick on buffalo bones. They then found out the cause of the canes growing up so suddenly a few miles around the Lick which was in consequence of so many buffaloes being killed.
"Sir, you was mistaken in thinking that I told you that Colonel Mansker was the person that had killed the buffaloes at Bledsoe's Lick for tallow and tongues." (32) The Frenchman referred to as Denumbre, in the foregoing letter, was really Demunbreun, and of him Williams, in his "Dawn of Tennessee History", states: "Some long hunters about 1766 or 1767 observed on the bluff near French Lick, a hut or trading post - evidently that of Timothe Demunbreun who, about that time arrived at that place in a sail boat and began to trade with Indians and hunters."
In a long footnote Williams tells a lot about this Frenchman. The footnote says in part: "He and his family for some time lived in a cave on the banks of the Cumberland between the mouth of Mill Creek and Stone's River. A marker at this cave has been erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Demuenbreun had a lineage and a career more remarkable than our historians conceived. His name in full and correctly was Jacques Timothe Boucher de Montbrun, descendant of Pierre Boucher who was the first French Canadian to be raised (1661) to the rank of nobility in recognition of his work in bringing colonists into Canada."
Williams, in "Dawn of Tennessee History," says, in speaking of Castleton Brooks, that he also came to the Cumberland, most possibly merely to see the country, for he was a man of means, and six years later, served as witness for the biggest land deal in all the history of the west. (33) (Henderson's purchase of the Cherokee land.)
Brooks lived on the Holston and served as
a Juror in Fincastle in 1773 and in 1777 was appointed by the Washington
County Court as "Constable from Patterson's Mill as far down
the river as there was settlers." James Knox was referred to
as "leader" of the long hunters, because of his instrumentality
in organizing these hunts. He organized the group who went out in
1769 and in 1771. Knox, a Scotsman, had emigrated from northern Ireland
when he was fourteen. He had soon learned the
James Knox was a member of the Surveying party under John Floyd in 1774, when Governor Dunmore sent Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner to Kentucky to look for them and warn them of danger prior to the outbreak of Dunmore's War, Knox deserted Floyd's party with a man named Allen, perhaps William Allen, another long hunter, Knox and nine others, perhaps all deserters from Floyd's party, were fired upon by the Indians while encamped on Salt River and James Hamilton, and Jared Cowan were killed. Jared Cowan is perhaps the long hunter sometimes referred to as Ned Cowan. (34) After this Knox and his party made their way back to the Clinch, arriving at Castlewood on July 9, 1774.
In 1784, James Knox led a caravan, which had started out from Augusta County over the Wilderness Road, to Kentucky. This caravan had been joined by settlers along the way down from Augusta and many from the Clinch and Holston settlements joined it, and when Knox took command at Bean's Station, it numbered some 300 people. Many of these pioneers settled in Jessamine County, Kentucky.
Another Scotch hunter from Northern Ireland was young John Montgomery. As previously stated, he was related to the Bledsoe brothers through marriage, marrying a daughter of Josiah Ramsey, and a niece to Anthony Bledsoe's wife. The Montgomerys lived in what is now Montgomery County, Virginia, and from the family the county derived its name. Lieutenant Colonel John Montgomery who had been commissioned very young, was sent by Virginia in April 1779 to help George Rogers Clark in his Illinois Campaign and received distinction for his efforts in that campaign. He went down the Holston-Tennessee rivers by boat to Chattanooga with General Evan Shelby, going on to the Illinois in the same boats. Drury Bush from Castlewood, and the Kincaid brothers, James and Joseph, who lived directly across Clinch River from St. Paul, were with Montgomery on this trip. (35) Colonel John Montgomery founded Clarksville in Tennessee, and died there in 1794. (36)
Still another Scotchman from Northern Ireland was James Dysart, an orphan, who came to America as a teenage boy. He, like many immigrants, had landed at Philadelphia and gradually worked his way south and west to the Holston River country. His old home "Book Hall" stood east of Abingdon on Highway U. S. 11. "He may have, on his way to Southwest Virginia, carried a few books. In his old age, after service at King's Mountain where he was wounded, he removed to a remote section of Rockcastle County, Kentucky, but when a friend commented on his isolation he answered, 'I am never lonesome when I have a good book in my hand.' He, in time, collected quite a library and lived to enjoy it, dying when he was 74 in 1831." (37)
After settling on the Holston River in Fincastle County, Dysart married Agnes, a daughter of John and Eleanor Beatty. He served as Captain in General William Campbell's regiment at the Battle of Kings' Mountain. He was a signer of the call for the Rev. Charles Cummings in 1772, and, when Washington County was organized in 1776, he became a Justice of the Court and first Sheriff of Washington County in 1776. He rose to Major in the Washington County Militia, and held many minor offices. He had a mill and owned more than 2000 acres of land scattered from the Holston to Powell Valley, mostly in small tracts. John Finley, another long hunter and the one who led Daniel Boone through Cumberland Gap on his first trip to Kentucky, after Boone had previously missed finding the gap, was also a resident of Southwest Virginia, and was on early trips to the Cumberland country.
I first find him mentioned in the Fincastle Court records November 2,1773 when he bought land. In the Washington County, Virginia Court of 26th of February, 1777, is entered this order: "John Finley making it appear to the satisfaction of the court of Washington County that he upon the 20th day of July, 1776, received a wound in the thigh in the battle fought with the Cherokees, near the Great Island, and it now appears to the said court that he, in consequence of said wound, is rendered unable to gain a living by his labor as formerly. Therefore his case is recommended to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
was in Edmondson's Company at the Battle of Long Island Flats (now
Kingsport) when he was wounded, and was probably in the same company
at King's Mountain. At one time he was probably a resident of the
In speaking of the long hunters, Jonathan Daniels, in his book, "The Devils' Backbone," says that John Rains, one of the long hunters who settled in Tennessee, in referring to the lawyers, doctors and politicians arriving on the frontier, said, "We used to think we had the Devil to pay (and a heavy debt, running in long installments) before the doctors and lawyers came, but the doctors introduced disease and the lawyers instituted suits, and now we have all to pay."
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