Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The Long Hunters"

History of Davidson County, Tennessee, with Illustrations and Biographical
Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers, by Prof. W. W. Clayton, J. W.
Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, 1880, Reproduced by Higginson book Company, 1996,
p. 15.

"The Long Hunters"

The following account of the "Long Hunters" was taken, by Prof. Clayton,
from Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee":

"On the 2d of June, 1769, a large company of adventurers was formed for the
purpose of hunting and exploring in what is now Middle Tennessee. As the
country was discovered and settled by the enterprise and defended by the valor
of these first explorers, we choose to give their names, the places from which
they came, and such details of their hazardous journeyings as have been

"May the time never come when the self-sacrificing toil and the daring
hardihood of the pioneers of Tennessee will be forgotten or undervalued by
their posterity. The company consisted of more than twenty men, some of them
from North Carolina, others from the neighborhood of the Natural Bridge, and
others from the infant settlement near Inglis' Ferry in Virginia. The names
of some of them follow: John Rains, Kasper Mansker, Abraham Bledsoe, John
Baker, Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terrill, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Ned Cowan,
Robert Crockett. The place of rendezvous was eight miles below Fort Chissel
on New River. They came by the head of Holston, and crossing the north fork,
Clinch and Powell's Rivers, and passing through Cumberland Gap, discovered the
southern part of Kentucky, and fixed a station-camp at a place since called
Price's Meadow, in Wayne County, where they agreed to deposit their game and
skins. The hunters here dispersed in different directions, the whole company
still traveling to the southwest. They came to Roaring River and the Cany
fork at a point far above the mouth and somewhere near the foot of the
mountain. Robert Crockett was killed near the head- waters of Roaring River
when returning to the camp, provided for two or three days' traveling; the
Indians were there in ambush and fired upon and killed him. The Indians were
traveling to the north, seven or eight in company. Crockett's body was found
on the war-track leading from the Cherokee Nation towards the Shawnee tribe.
All the country through which these hunters passed was covered with high
grass; no traces of any human settlement could be seen, and the primeval
state of things reigned in unrivaled glory, though under dry caves, on the
side of creeks, they found many places where stones were set up that covered
large quantities of human bones; these were also found in the caves, with
which the country abounds. They continued to hunt eight or nine months, when
part of them returned in April 1770.

"The return of Findley and Boone to the banks of the Yadkin, and of the
explorers whose journal has just been given to their several homes, produced a
remarkable sensation. Their friends and neighbors were enraptured with the
glowing descriptions of the delightful country they had discovered, and their
imaginations were inflamed with the account of the wonderful products which
were yielded in such bountiful profusion. The sterile hills and rocky uplands
of the Atlantic country began to lose their interest when compared with the
fertile valleys beyond the mountains. A spirit of further exploration was
thus excited in the settlements on New River, Holston, and Clinch, which
originated an association of about forty stout hunters, for the purpose of
hunting and trapping west of Cumberland Mountains. Equipped with their
rifles, traps, dogs, blankets, and dressed in the hunting shirt, leggins, and
moccasins, they commenced their arduous enterprise in the real spirit of
hazardous adventure, through the rough forest and rugged hills. The names of
these adventurers are not now known. The expedition was led by Col. James
Knox. The leader and nine others of the company penetrated to the lower
Cumberland, and making there an extensive and irregular circuit, adding much
to their knowledge of the country, after a long absence returned home. They
are known as the "Long Hunters.' "

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