Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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,  p. 15.

           The following account of the "Long Hunters" with a few slight changes, is quoted 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 preserved.

              "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.' "

The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee from its earliest settlement up to the year 1796, including the boundaries of the state. By John Haywood.

Exact reprint of the edition of 1823, pub. by W. H. Haywood, great-grandson of the author; with a biographical sketch of Judge John Haywood, by Col. A. S. Colyar. Nashville, Tenn., Printed for W. H. Haywood; Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1891.

p. 45  In the year 1761, as soon as the state of Indian affairs would admit of hunting with safety in the wilderness, certain persons, cheifly of Virginia, hearing of the abundance of game with which the woods were stocked on the Western waters, and allured by the prospects of gain which might be drawn from this source, formed themeselves into a company composed of  Wallen, Scaggs, Blevins, Cox and fifteen others, and came into the valley now called Carter's Valley, in East Tennessee.  Part of these men came from Pennsylvania, the greater part from several counties in Virginia, contiguous to each other...

 p. 46  ...They then went through Cumberland Gap, and when there, agreed that Wallen should name the mountain.  he, having come from Cumberland County, Va., gave it the name of Cumberland Mountain.  They proceeded to the river now called Cumberland, and called it North Cumberland.  Fourteen miles farther was the Laurel Mountain, where they terminated their journey, having met with a body of Indians whom they supposed to be Shawnees. 

p. 48  The next fall, which was in 1762, they hunted on the waters of the Clinch...

p. 48  In the fall of the year 1763 this same company of hunters, with the exception of one or two who staid at home, went through the Cumberland Gap and hunted for the season on the Cumberland.  In the fall of 1764 the Blevins connection made their fall hunt on the Rock Castle River, near the Crab Orchard, in Kentucky, and continued to hunt in the woods for several years afterward.  Daniel Boone, who then lived on the yadkin, came among the hunters to be informed of the geography and locography of these woods, saying he was enmployed to explore them by Henderson & Co.  Henry Scaggins was afterward employed by them to explore the country on the banks of the Cumberland, and fixed his station at Mansco's Lick.  About the last of June 1766, Col. James Smith, late of Bourbon County, in Kentucky, set off to explore the great body of rich landds which by conversing with the Indians he understood to be between the Ohio and Cherokee Rivers, which the Indians had then lately ceded by treaty, made with Sir William Johnston, to the King of Great Britain.  He went in the first place to the Holston River, and thence traveled westwardly, in company with Joshua Horton, Uriah Stone, and William Baker, who came from near Carlisle-four in all-and a mulatto slave about eighteen years of age, which Mr. Horton had with him.  They explored the country south of Kentucky, and no vestige of any white man was to be found there, more than there is now west of the head waters of the Missouri.  They also explored the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, from Stone's River down to the Ohio.  Stone's River is a fourth branch of the Cumberland, and empties into it eight or ten miles above Nashville.  These travelers so named it in their journal, after one of themselves, Mr. Uriah Stone;  and ever since that time it has retained the same name. When they came to the mouth of the Tennessee, Col. Smith concluded to return home, the others to proceed to Illinois.

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