Thursday, September 25, 2014

Indians of Newmans Ridge


Sneedville, Aug. 16, 1878.
To the Editor of the Morristown Gazette :
Yesterday I took l. M. Jarvis horse and rode out to Joshua Davis', ten miles from here. Arriving at his residence "he was three miles off on a farm he owns in Claiborne county, so I took one of his horses and went to see him.  I found him engaged in the laudable business of building a school house on the lower part of his farm. He is a grandfather, yet, he said, he was taking right hold, hewing logs and doing' full days' work right along beside younger men, though he had not performed much out-door labor for a dozen 'years, having , .worked in his.,
blacksmith shop. He has several mineral springs near where he is working, the  water from one of which he freely drinks, which he thinks helps him. These springs are of little note a great ways from where they are situated, yet they are of local importance, and are resorted to by the people in the vicinity to their great benefit. While I was there, Mr. Hord, of New Canton, Hawkins - county, was visiting these springs, and, as he thinks, to his benefit. Mr. Hord is an old man between 70 and 80 years of age. If the great public knew of these springs they would be considerably resorted to -- as it is, it will be some years before they will be visited by invalids from great  distances, Mr. Davis thinks of pntting them in good condition, building houses and inviting patronage.- They are pleasantly situated and may, in ; time, be made objects of great interest. They are not at the bottom of hills, but come up from beneath the surface of the earth, which seems to rest upon a rock foundation,"

Returning to town called upon Sampson Williams. He is a man of some note in these parts, While he owns a large farm he has met with adversity, and like many who have been kinder to their neighbors than to themselves, have met with heavy losses. However, in his old age be has been taught by that expensive teacher, experience, and will hereafter avoid troubles which have, in times ' past, beset him. He has, for many years, held offices, such as post-master, deputy-sheriff, magistrate, &c but has passed ambition for office and taken out license as a lawyer. Mr. Jarvis has been initiating me into the history of the past, concerning Sneedville and vicinity. I was over on Blackwater creek, a famous section of Hancock county, on Thursday last. He has a farm there, on which he says is a most excellent chalybeate spring. It is resorted to for its efficacious waters.

Where the village of Sneedville is situated was once an Indian town. There are any quantity of flints half finished, scattered about over a wide extent in and around the village, showing that this was a place where they manufactured darts for their arrows, with which they killed their game. Many battle-axes, tomahawks, pestles, and remnants of Instruments and vessels of pottery used by the aborigines have been picked up in years gone by, so that now they are seldom found. Within a quarter of a mile of the court-house there is still visible a round-shaped knoll which may be a mound. It was once much sharper than it now is, so sharp that cattle never resorted to it for rest. It has been ploughed over and cultivated; and is now very much flattened.. I have seen many mounds, and am inclined to express it as my opinion that this - is a regular mound.

It could soon be determined, however, by digging into the middle of it down near to the level of the land around it. In size it was probably aboutt 30 feet wide in its extreme width and 60 feet long. It was built, if built at all, egg-shaped, or nearly so, and was very regular in its outline.

On a hill, not far from here, there is any amount of petrifcations. Mr Jarvis has furnished me with many specimens. They are vegetables turned to stone by some process not well understood by the unscientific. The curious thing about them to me is, because they are upon a hill, in limestone and gravelly soil. Most petrifactions are found in the earth in low and wet places. The bodies of human beings are sometimes turned to stone, but they are always, so far as I am  aware, found in low places, where silver or mineral waters are  found. Possibly some of the specimens found near here are animal petrifactions. Certainly, whole snakes are petrified, on Newman's ridge, and perhaps elsewhere hereabouts. But I have not time to stop to examine those curiosities in their several localities. I have some of them in my possession, which I will show you when I return home.

Right here, allow me to say that I am in correspondence with the officers of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C, who request me to collect all evidences of these singular formations, and transmit information and specimens to them. which I am doing, and respectfully request those who have any Indian battle-axes, tomahawks, arrow heads pottery, or other implements or trinkets once in posession of the Indians who formerly roamed over this country as "lords of creation," to send them to me at Morristown.

It is particularly requested that information shall be sent to me where the specimens were found and by whom they were sent. I am not authorized to pay anything for them. I have already some specimens collected, and want many more. Curious petrifactions are also invited. If left with John H. Tate & Co., they will find me. I am greatly under obligations to L. M. Jarvis, Esq., for hospitalities favors, information and other benefits for which I return him thanks on your behalf. Sine I was in this county last winter a great change for the better has taken place.

Berry has nearly, if not quite, broken up moonshining, and there is no ''grocery" kept in this place. Hence, peace and quiet prevail,  which proves that the shooting and cutting, so frequent for a short time last winter were sporadic rather than chronic.

Several new buildings have been built in this village. The Methodists have erected a very neat meet house, and William Y. Campbell has just finished a substantial and neat dwelling house. I hear the sound of the plane and other tools which speak well for Sneedville.
Powell House, Rogersville, )
August 20. 1878.

To the Editor of the Morristown Gazette

My last letter to you was written at Sneedville. One or two items were omitted, You will see by the returns of the election in Hancock county, that the majority in favor of W. H. Smith for County Court was only four over R. D. Green, his Republican competitor, It was said, when I left Sneedville,  on the 17th, that Mr. Green intends to contest, on the ground that several of the ballots on which the name Green appeared without any prefix or given name were thrown out uncounted.

James Green received 33 votes and R. D. contests that part of the rejected votes were wrongfully rejected, because he can find more than four persons who voted on their ticket the name of Green, intended their vote for the contestant X . The Democrats claim that any name without a prefix or given name should in all cases be thrown out but, to say the least, here is a case for lawyers to disagree.

I am told that a beech stump standing in the village of Sneedville is petrified. George Mitchell, who lives some miles out from Sneedville, just on the edge of Hawkins county, showed me a piece of bark which he said he took from it, and which seems to be partially petrified if not wholly.

Lewis M. Jarvis also told me that there was a mine of red lead 'and another' of yellow ochre, both of which a painter here had ground and made into excellent paint. These are valuable minerals.

The bar of Hancock county consists of six members, - viz ;" L  M.Jarvis, Sampson Williams; William B. Davis, H. K. Herd and Messrs. Doughty, and Coleman. . three reside in town and  three on their farms, 'eight  and nine miles from town, in different directions becauset hey cannot support themselves by their practice alone.

Leaving Sneedville on Saturday, I took a seat with  Joseph Brooks who was going out to his farm five miles away, behind two horses, and accompanied him four miles, when he turned away to go to his farm and then I called upon the venerable Dr. Mitchell, who had spent a long life as physician in Sneedville, but who has retired from practice and resides on his farm situated on Clinch river.

The old gentleman was pleased to meet with some one who understood the art of budding fruit trees, and had me teach his son and grandson the art, for, old as he his 72 years of- age he desired to improve the quality of his orchards. And I will here observe. that the people in Claiborne and Hancock counties are way behind the times in this respect, taken as a whole, and need to be taught how to improve their orchards.  As a general thing, the Horse apple prevails, though the Limber Twig has been shown a  reference. In some in stances a very few have purchased new kinds of trees, to the number of 100 or more. The peaches are generally the kind - which were grown 75 years ago, though there is beginning to be an improvement in the purchase and planting of the new kinds. Both apples and peaches, as a rule, are of the late kinds. There are plenty of both apples and peaches along the whole distance I have traveled the past thirteen days, and men, women, and boys and girls are busily engaged in drying large quantities of them.

Saturday, just at night, found me at the hospitable door of William B. Davis, who heartily bid me welcome to his bed and- board. For traveling over rough roads under the influence of a scorching sun, I was tired and ready to accept of a good harbor for the night. Mr. Davis resides on a farm on Blackwater creek, consisting of the very moderate number of nine hundred and sixty acres. He is and has been a man of considerable importance, both at home and abroad, and besides being one of the six lawyers of his county, is  P. M. of Blackwater P. O.

Sunday morning the family started off for meeting, as there was to be baptizing in the Clinch river. Elders George Davis, John Davis and Click had been holding a two weeks meeting in the Davis meeting house, and a number of persons had been converted, and were that day to be buried in baptism with Christ, according to the practice of the Baptists. The place for baptizing was a mile or more from the meeting house, and on the way Mr. Davis showed me his father's farm, which is situated immediately on Clinch river, was settled 70 or 80 years ago, and stated that a bunch of asparagus is still growing which was planted the same time,

This led him to point out the place where was once an Indian village.  Specimens of the rude pottery of the aborigines are still found scattered about, and then he gave me a piece of Indian history, which is new to me, which he learned some years ago, in Arkansas, when he was Indian agent among the Cherokees at Fort Gibson. He learned it from old Jim , who was then sub-Chief. Jim told him that many, many years ago, a band of some 200 young men of this tribe left and went west to explore the country and find new and better hunting grounds, because, I suppose, they were encroached upon by the greedy whites.

They were never more beard of. But it seems when the Cherokees were transported to their new home in Arkansas that they found traces of an old Indian village, and specimens of pottery similar to those used by the Cherokees and made only by them. On Inquiry, the Cherokees found that their lost band went out to the head waters of the Arkansas river and settled there, and coming in contact with the Indians of the plains were annihilated.

Soon we came to the place of baptizing.  The services were conducted by Elder Click. Six persons were baptized. First, an old man who had already entered upon "the sear and yellow leaf of life,'  Brother Rogers, who had attained the age of sixty-six years; then a young man, followed by three youths fifteen to sixteen years of age, and a young woman. The company was orderly and the scene impressive. The crowd returned to the meeting-house where were to be held other, services and I passed over the river and on towards Lee Valley P. O.

A few miles ahead I found the road flocked by a union, basket meeting. Passing through, it I took a seat under the shade of a tree, supposing myself to be an entire stranger, but soon your correspondent, "Clinch." came along and made me feel quite at home.'

The forenoon meeting over, a recess of an hour and a half was had when preaching  recommenced. These meetings were conducted by local preachers ------preachers to the manner born, I mean-  a  Brown,  a Davis and others whose names I did not learn. It was an  occasion of considerable interest.

The name of --Trent is mouthed about as often in that section as Noe is in Hamblen county.  Clinch put me on his horse, whether I would or not, and walked himself three miles to bis father s residence, where I stopped over Sunday night.

On the the way we stopped and called upon George, son of Dr. Mitchell. George gave me some small specimens of petrifactions which are rare. . . .., Among them a bora of some animal I know not of. It is some two inches long with the rings around it in regular order, showing that it was an old animal. - The petrifaction is perfect. He has an Indian pipe eight or nine inches long, made in the form of a duck, which I would like for the Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

I was well entertained by Clinch and his father, William Berry, and on  Monday morning, pursued my weary way. The sun shown out clear, warm and oppressive, and at about one o'clock I reached the neat and attractive residence of John Starnes, where I found Dr. B. B, Owens and family, of your place. His wife is a daughter of Mr. Starnes, and she has a sick sister, on whom the Doctor is specially waiting. The issue of life and death is still uncertain, but if an attentive physician and the unremitting care of a mother and sister can restore her to health she will survive. Everything that can add to her comfort is provided by a devoted father. Oh what little heaven is there in such a house.

The doctor told me of a fool-hardy performance of a young man, in District No. 2 in Hawkins county, which resulted in his death. Tivis Cook was, on July 21, at a neighbor's house. His neighbor had a sweet apple tree. The apples were hardly medium sized. He bantered the owner to eat as many apples as be would, but the contest was not accepted. Cook then said he would see how many apples he could eat, and after cramming into his stomach 20, or, possibly, a few more, took a recess and went to the spring to drink, with the intention of returning to his task. But after drinking he was taken sick and vomited, but threw up only cider. He continued to grow worse and worse, and Dr. Owens was called to attend him.

He attempted to relieve the young man by vomiting and purging, but could get no operation, because, the excessive and inordinate stuffing had forced the pumice of the apples out of his stomach undigested, and they lodged in the small intestines in a compact mass. Cook died on the 24th of July.  Moral young men, never try to jump as far, run as far, or lift as much as you can, for fear of being ruptured do not cram your stomachs, beyond their capacity to digest food. Remember, always, that enough is as good as a feast,  and be content, for fear that a like death, will overtake you.

Coming over Clinch Mountain I found myself at the house of Andrew, he is a very old man of whom everybody speaks well.  He has a chalybeate spring on his farm to which invalids resort. Stopped over Monday night with Dr. Gillenwaters. He told me that there is a fatal disease among cattle in his neighborhood he lives five miles from this town which the people know nothing about. The cattle are taking with swelling in the thighs, suffer intensely and die, I have heard of it elsewhere, but know no remedy for it.

Arrived here .this morning, but have  not time, nor have you roomfor more, this time. You mixed up my Mulberry Gap and Sneedville letters curiously. You left off the Sneedville date and placed the last paragraph 'of the Mulberry Gap letter at the bottom of the Sneedville one.

We had a tremendous rain in this region last night, and more today. - J. S. W. ;

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment and it will be posted upon approval.

The First Gibsons

I have decided to do some spring cleaning and post some of my research.  Most of what will be posted can easily be sourced by googlin...