Saturday, July 13, 2013

Deposition of Thomas Cox and James Robertson

Deposition of Thomas Cox and James Robertson

The depositions of Thomas Cox and James Robertson were recorded in Minute Book 1 of the County Court for Maury County. The two were questioned concerning a land survey that was conducted in 1783. The names of many early Davidson County settlers are given in the depositions.

Maury County, Tennessee County Court book 1, pp. 64-75

Absolom Boren & John McCabe who had heretofore been appointed to attend Henry Sheppard at the beginning corner of a tract of five thousand acres of Land entered in the name of and granted to John Haywood to hear testimony for the purpose of perpetuating the same made the following return in to the court (to wit)

State of Tennessee }
Maury County }

February 10th 1809

In pursuance of a warrant or Commission to us directed from the Worshipful Court of said County at their December term 1808, John McCabe, John Fry and Absalom Boren have proceeded to take the depositions of Thomas Cox and James Robertson touching the boundaries and special places called for on Entry of five thousand Acres of Land in the name of John Haywood made in John Armstrong’s office by entry no. 388 relative to the identity of said location who after being sworn on the holy evangelist of almighty God deposeth and saith;

Thomas Cox first
Question (by Gideon Pillow) Do you recollect of coming down the Creek on your return from Elk River with the Commissioners & Guard

Answer. I do not all I recollect is this: When we left Elk River we came up Indian Creek and fell in on a little creek that run into Richland Creek on the south side but as to any particular knowledge of this creek being the same I know not.

Question (by Richd Hightower) Do you recollect nearly what course you came down the said small creek

Answer. I do not recollect that I once noticed the cource nor particularly how the woods looked I was generally behind and following our Pilot and Commissioners and farther this deponant saith not signed before us the date above written

(signed) Thomas Cox
John Mc Cabe (Commissrs)
Absalom Borin

James Robertson after being duly sworn for the purpose above named deposeth and saith that he have been called upon to show the creek and Spring called for in said location and that he have examined Richland Creek above and below here for a considerable distance and that he have no manner of doubt but this is the spring and creek called for in said location and that he have seen several places between here and Elk River in the same course that he recollects having seen in his return and for this and many other reasons, that he is well convinced that this is the same creek and spring called for in the said entry that no other creek and spring that he can find from the local situation and Country he came will by any means answer the description of the above named creek and spring or anything near it.


Question (by Richard Hightower) was it before or after you had made the discovery of the spring and creek that you searched of a spring & creek called for in said location

Answer. It was before and when I first saw this spring and creek I was so well satisfied that this was the spring and creek called for in said location that I examined no farther this with other reasons that an old Indian path crossed said small creek near its mouth when it runs into Richland Creek and when we struck that path we saw fresh tracks of two small bear footed horses in the path which there is the appearance of it now very plain where it crossed the creek

Question (by Gideon Pillow) How do you know this to be the same Spring and Creek is it your own knowledge alone or is it by being in possession of any notes of information had from any of the company that was with you at that time

Answer. Having got Genl. Daniel Smith notes that he kept of said journey together with my own knowledge I have no manner of doubt of this being the place. I perhaps might not have looked for it here as soon as I did had it not have been for his notes and my ideas recollection and knowledge concern with his notes

Question (by William Pillow) Was it or was it not in a flush time of water when was here at that time

Answer. It was in a flush time of water this creek was much flusher then that now and the spring then appeared to be much larger with respect to the quantity of water

Question (by Jas Reed) Is or is not there a Creek & Spring, very much like this which runs into Richland Creek near McCutchins trace

Answer. There is a creek nearly the same size but the spring woods and looks of the creek did not by any means answer for said creek and spring agreeable to my Ideas and knowledge of it nor did the course answer

Question. did you not once think it was the same place

Ansr. I did from the information of other people till I examined it.

Question (by Abner Pillow) Have you ever seen the camp on the north side of Richland creek named in said location or had any leading circumstances to believe that the said camp would be in your course from here on your rout a going to the settlement or have you ever searched for said camp.

Ansr. I have searched for it considerably before I found this spring but very little since and have seen ground over there that looks very much like the same ground together with some old Tomahawk Marks but have never seen the camp or anything from here forward towards the settlement that proves anything certain to my recollection as to being there or passing it on our rout homeward.

Question. (by Wm. P Anderson) do you recollect at what time you left Nashville when you went out?

Answer. In 1783 I think in February but I am not positive as to the time of the month

Question (by W P A) What number of persons was with you at that time

Ansr. I am not positive but I think between sixty & eighty persons

Question what were their names or as many as you recollect of

Ansr. The names of those I recollect at present are as follows Anthony Bledsoe, Daniel Smith, Isaac Bledsoe, Kasper Mansker, Philamon Thomas, Elijah Robertson, Frederick Stump, Thomas Cole, Andrew Casselman, Benjm Casselman, William Davis alias Davidson, William Loggans, Andrew Boyd, two by the name of Shelly, Three by the name of McMurry, Patrick McCutchin, Saml McCutchin, & I think James McCutchin, but not positive, James Hollis, Turner Williams, Sampson Williams, James Clendenning, David Frasure, Samuel Barton, Robert Branks, Ephraim McClean Jur., Julias Saunders, William Collinsworth, David Hay, James Todd, Thomas Spencer, John Gibson, Edward Cox, William Bradshaw & Nathaniel McClure.

Question (by Do) What was the object of at the rout of which the above named persons formed part of the Company.

Answer. After leaving the other commissioners to wit Isaac Bledsoe & Absalom Tatum and the balance of the guard at the Harpeth Glade on the big south road to go on and ascertain the southern boundary of the state was the object of this party above named

Question (by Do) what course did you steer from by aforesaid Harpeth Glades and how far ____ all go Southwardly.

Answer. Our aim was to go a south course took several observations the last of which was two days running on Bradshaws creek within one or one & a half miles of its mouth rain fell on us there so as to raise Elk as we were supposed past fording it was concluded to go to Elk build a canoe and part go over and ascertain the south boundary of the state we did likewise go to the Elk and judge that we went about two miles before we struck Elk General Smith was the observer took the observations concluded that we were in about three miles of the south boundary of the state and being a good deal of Indian sign sign and Indians Horses concluded to turn back on marking a number of trees which place is now know by the marked trees where McCutchins trace crosses Elk and this is as far as we went south.

Question (by Do) You have said you designed to go south from the harpeth glade do you recollect in pursuing this course where you crossed Duck River and where you crossed Richland and every other remarkable stream and what number of encampments you made from said Glades to the marked trees on Elk River and if any where they are.

Answer. We did aim to go south and we discovered at times by the cloudy weather that we were off of that course we encamped the first night between flat Creek of Duck River and Harpeth but I believe on the waters of Harpeth the next day we crossed flat creek I suppose two miles from Duck River then crossed Duck at what I believe is called the shallow ford then we went bearing down Duck and encamped the second night on what we then called floating camp creek now known by the name of cyder creek the third night I think we lay on what is called Robertsons creek a fork of Richland Creek but don’t recollect on what side of Richland we camped I recollect crossing rich land where it was tolerable large and we went directly across Richland but don’t recollect whether above or below the mouth if Robertson creek the we crossed some ridges and encamped the fourth night on some branches of Bradshaws creek the next night we camped on Bradshaws creek stopping there before 12 o clock to take the latitude and stayed there two or three nights and the next day after leaving that camp early we went to the trees on Elk as above named

Question. What course do you suppose the marked trees on Elk river is from the Harpeth Glades

Answer. I think it is very near south but if any difference to the west of south if any a very small distance

Question. What kind of encamping places did you make between these two points the Harpeth Glades and the marked trees and if any to what extent of marks or signs did you make and each place

Answer. I did suppose that names were cut at each camping place until I saw one of our old camping places at the mouth of snow creek latterly and only saw two trees marked by Isaac Bledsoe Thomas Cox William Davidson alias Davis the weather was cold and very disagreeable and we cut at each camping place considerable timber for firewood and a number of fires not less than one dozen at each place and as to any other sign I do not distinctly recollect

Question. Have you ever sought after or saw since the year 1783 any of these camping places between the marke Harpeth Glades and marked trees on Elk.

Ansr. I have neither sought after nor saw any of them since then.

Question. Did you come down the aforesaid creek named Robertsons Creek, who named it who named Richland and when were they named.

Answer. We did come down creek I don’t recollect who named it except it was by Brother Elijah or some circumstance about him I named Richland and they were both named during the aforesaid rout as well as Bradshaw Creek and Indian Creek.

Question What object had the party in view when they left the marked trees.

Ansr. to Hunt a body of Good land to run out General Greens twenty five thousand acre tract anywhere south of the line that the commissioners were running East and West which is now called the commissioners old line.

Question. Did they effect that object and where was it

Answer. It was affected and run out on the south side of Duck including the mouth of little tom bigby greens lick & c.

Question. What water of duck were the first that you fell on from the marked trees on Elk.

Ansr. What is now called Fountain Creek and continued down it near the fork of said creek

Question. What course did your party persue from the marked trees on Elk to Fountain Creel what number of encampments did you make between there and Fountain creek what remarkable water courses did you cross describe fully and the face of the Country through which you passed

Answer. My own opinion is we steared for a general course nearly north west from the marked trees to Fountain Creek we made two encampments from the marked trees to Fountain Creek as appears from General Smiths notes but I recollect positively of but one that was on the north side of Richland about six hundred yards as near as I can guess or recollect from the creek in the first place we went up Indian creek I suppose nearly to the head branch but do not recollect whether Eastern Middle or western branches then we kept up a good clear little creek which I believe is now known by the name of Buchanons Creek which appeared last summer to me very plain to be the ground we passed along turned over ridges to another small Creek which I apprehended was not the same waters when we came to that small creek there was a very plain Indian path and fresh the path leading eastwardly up the creek we took up the path I suppose at least one mile it being out of our course we turned over ridges again tot get into our course and fell on a small creek which empties into rich lands took down it I recollect seeing two springs on said Creek I am confident called Haywoods Creek we continued down said near the mouth falling into a large old path leading up & down Richland Creek we took the end of the path leading up the creek I am confidant not less than one quarter of a mile but might have been one mile or two crossed the creek and I believe camped at about the distance I before named and camped on the east side of a little branch running in on the north side of Richland creek being high ashy and I think poor Land where William Loggans and Frederick Stumps mares were wounded by the fall of a tree next morning we set out I suppose about a North course crossing a number of ridges and small streams running to the right got into a small Indian path which lead over a main high dividing ridge Dividing the water of Duck and Elk came to Fountain Creek and down it.

Question: You speak of haywoods creek when was it named and by whom

Ansr. I suppose not more than two months since I heard it called by that name as by whom it was named by I do not know but the first that I ever heard it by that name or any other I saw a place with it marked in it by the name of Haywoods creek.

Question. Are you acquainted with this creek now called Haywoods creek from the head to the mouth.

Answer. I am from the mouth to a mile above whats called the locating spring which spring is the highest up of the two heretofore spoken of .

Question. Do you know of any other springs on said creek

Answer. Not of my own knowledge but I am told there are some very good ones

Question. Do you know of any other creeks above or below the said Haywood creek running in on the south side of Richland having springs on them

Answer. There is one above and below not to exceed a mile the upper one has good springs but neither of them are creeks of more than half the size

Question. is it not usual to see Indian and tommahawk marks in different places through this Country and at old Indian camping grounds and is it not difficult to distinguish them from white mens camps where there is no other sign than tomahawk marks

Answer. It is common to see Indian marks and it is equally difficult to distinguish them from marks of white people

Question. did you locate this five thousand acre tract granted to John Haywood by Grant no 184 and surveyed by William Nash or are you otherwise directly and indirectly interested by the establishment of said claim

Answer. I did not locate it by brother Elijah Robertson located it and either Judge Haywood or William T Lewis came to me at Hillsborough in October 1783 showed me the location before it was handed off to the office which I read or heard read and obtained my opinion on the same which I recommended as one of the best kinds of tracts. I am no father interested than William Hightower telling me I should be satisfied for my trouble in Hunting or finding the creek or spring

Question (by Wm Hightower) Did Judge Haywood or William Shepherd since the entry of said tract of five thousand acres of land grant no 184 apply to have the same surveyed

Ansr. I believe both did but William Shepherd applied repeatedly both by word and letter

Question ( W P A) Do you know that the said tract was surveyed or have you ever seen the beginning corner.

Ansr. I don’t personally I have not even seen the beginning corner there is blazes at the distance of one mile from the aforesaid upper spring on the bank of the creek some old and some new the old appear to be Inidan Blazes as I suppose

Question. You say you encamped six hundred yards from Richland Creek on the nor side as you returned would you know that ground and camp if you was to see it

Ansr. I believe I would and father this deponant saith not.

Examined and signed in presence of William Pillow Harvey Johns Charles McCabe disinterested persons

(signed) Jas. Robertson

John McCabe
Absalom Boren

Transcribed by Debie Cox, from document presented by Paul Clements.

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