Sunday, April 29, 2012

Clayton's History of Davidson Co., Chapter VIII

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
Civil Government among the First Needs of the Settlers-A Voluntary Compact formed-Election of Judges
-Copy of Articles of Agreement-List of the Signers-Additional Articles-Interesting Quotations from the
Records of the Notables-Treaty with the Indians. 

THE first civil government upon the Cumberland or in Middle Tennessee was a voluntary compact entered into by the settlers on the first day of May, 1780, with additional articles adopted on the 10th. This was an object of their first care as soon as they had arrived in the country and had provided themselves with temporary shelter and a few necessary articles of subsistence. They had not been without an example of the benefits of such a voluntary association for mutual protection, and for the restraint and punishment of lawless adventurers who might come among them, in a similar organization upon the Watauga: and now that they had immigrated still farther into the wilderness, and still more remote from any protection which the civil arm of the State could immediately throw over them, they were disposed to organize and administer a local government of their own. But they designed that this government should exist only till such time as the State government could be efficiently extended over them.

The articles entered into provided that the several stations should be entitled to representatives as follows:
"From Nashborough,       3."
"From Kasper's,              2."            (Kasper Mansker's Lick.)
"From Bledsoe's,             1."            (Now Castilian Springs.)
"From Asher's,                1."            (Station Camp Creek.)
"From Freeland's,            1."            (Horticultural Garden.)
"From Eaton's,                 2."            (East Nashville.)
"From Fort Union,           1."            (Where Haysborough was.)* 

           "Which said persons, or a majority of them, after being bound by the solemnity of an oath to do equal and impartial justice between all contending parties," etc., shall be empowered and competent to settle all controversies relative to location and improvement of lands; all other matters and questions of dispute among the settlers; protecting the reasonable claims of those who may have returned for their families; providing implements of husbandry and food for such as might arrive without such necessaries: making especial provisions for widows and orphans whose husbands or fathers may die or be killed by the savages; guaranteeing equal rights, mutual protection, and impartial justice; pledging themselves most solemnly and sacredly to promote the peace, happiness, and well-being of the country; to repress vice and punish crime. This is a summary of what they resolved and ordained.[1] 

           Certainly no better evidence could be given of the intelligence, patriotism, and foresight of the pioneers. "One of the best elements," says Putnam, "of our free, popular government was expressly set forth in the compact of government at Nashborough, namely: the authority of the people; a power reserved to the people at the various stations to remove their judge or judges and other officers for unfaithfulness or misconduct, and to elect others to fill such vacancies. 

           "This tribunal exercised the prerogatives of government to their fullest extent, with the single specified exception of the infliction of capital punishment. They called out the militia of the stations to 'repel or pursue the enemy,' impressed horses for such service as public exigency might demand, levied fines, payable in money or provisions, adjudicated causes, entered up judgments and awarded executions, granted letters of administration upon estates of deceased persons, taking bonds payable to 'Col. James Robertson, Chairman of the Committee,' etc. 

           Mr. Putnam, by the discovery of the original articles of association by which this government of the Notables was formed, was enabled to add, among other results of his careful research, a very valuable and interesting paper to this portion of the history of Tennessee. He precedes its introduction into his "History of Middle Tennessee" with the following remarks: 

           "Much has been written and published respecting that 'imperium in imperio,' the State of Franklin, and its distinguished founder and Governor; but here we recover the history of a State in every respect and aspect as peculiar as that, six years earlier in date, in active existence for several years, the president or chairman of which was ever the friend of Sevier,-they par nobile fratrum, -but of which the historians of Tennessee have had but a very limited knowledge. Judge Haywood alludes to it on page 126, and others have only copied what he there says, and thus the most interesting incidents in Middle Tennessee history have hitherto remained unknown and unpublished.

           "It soon became manifest that there was much need for such a government, that it would have much to engage its attention both in the civil and military departments. The people at the various stations were urged by their sense of duty, and some apprehension of mischief from the Indians, to elect the number of Notables to which they were entitled that the contemplated government might be put promptly into operation, and suitable directions given for the election of military officers and the equipment of 'spies and sharpshooters.' 

           "The alarm was, 'Indians about!' In this very month of May they approached the strong defenses of Eaton's Station, and within sight and in open day shot down Mr. Porter and James Mayfield. Shortly thereafter they killed Jennings, opposite the first island above Nashville; and near the same time and place they killed Ned. Carver, whose wife and two children narrowly escaped and reached the Bluff. In a day or two thereafter they killed William Neely and captured his daughter."

           The first page is lost, and the second torn and defaced, but we can read distinctly as follows, supplying in brackets lost words: 

           ". . . property of right shall be determined as soon [as] conveniently may be, in the following manner: The free men of this country over the age [of twenty] one years shall immediately, or as soon as may [be convenient], proceed to elect or choose twelve conscientious and [deserving] persons, from or out of the different sections, that is [to] say :From Nashborough, three; Gasper's, two; Bledsoe's, one; Asher's, one; Stone's River, one; Freeland's, one; Eaton's, two; Fort Union, one. Which said persons, or a majority of them, after being bound by the solemnity of an oath to do equal and impartial justice between all contending parties, according to the best of their skill and judgment, having due re[gard] to the regulations of the Land Office herein established, shall be competent judges of the matter, and . . . hearing the allegations of both parties and [their] witnesses as to the facts alleged, or otherwise . . . as to the truth of the case, shall have [power] to decide the controversies, and determine who is of right entitled to an entry for such land so in dispute, when said determination or decision shall be forever bind[ing] and conclusive against the future claim of the party against whom such judgment [shall be rendered]. And the entry-taker shall make a [record thereof] in his book accordingly, and the entry . . . tending party so cost shall . . . if it had never been made, and the land in dispute . . . to the person in whose favor such judgment shall . . .
           ". . . in case of the death, removal, or absence of any of the judges so to be chosen, or their refusing to act, the station or stations to which such person or persons belong, or was chosen from, shall proceed to elect another or others in his or their stead; which person or persons so chosen, after being sworn, as aforesaid, to do equal and impartial justice, shall have full power and authority to proceed to business, and act in all disputes respecting the premises, as if they had been originally chosen at the first election. 

           "That the entry-book shall be kept fair and open by . . . person . . . to be appointed by said Richard Henderson . . . chose, and every entry for land numbered and dated, and . . . order leaving any blank leaves or spaces . . . to the inspection of the said twelve judges, or . . . of them, at all times. . . .
           "That whereas many persons have come to this country without implements of husbandry, and from other circumstances are obliged to return without making a crop, and [intend] removing out this fall or early next spring, and it . . . reason . . . such should have the pre-emp[tion] . . . of such places as they may have chosen . . . the purpose of residence, therefore it is ... to be taken for all such, for as much land as they are entitled to from their head-rights, which said lands shall be reserved for the particular person in whose name they shall be entered, or their heirs; provided such persons shall remove to this country and take possession of the respective place or piece of land so chosen or entered, or shall send a laborer or laborers and a white person in his or her stead to perform the same, on or before the first day of May, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one; and also provided such land so chosen and entered for is not entered and claimed by some person who is an inhabitant, and shall raise a crop of corn the present year at some station or place convenient to the general settlement in this country. But it is fully to be understood that those who are actually at this time inhabitants of this country shall not be debarred of their choice or claim on account of the rights of any such absent or returning person or persons. It is further proposed and agreed that no claim or title to any land whatsoever shall be set up by any person in consequence of any mark or former improvement, unless the same be entered with the entry-taker within twenty days from the date of this association and agreement; and that when any person hereafter shall mark or improve land or lands for himself, such mark or improvement shall not avail him or be deemed an evidence of prior right unless the same be entered with the entry-taker in thirty days . . . from the time of such mark or improvement; but no other person shall be entitled to such lands so as aforesaid to be reserved . . . consequence of any purchase, gift, or otherwise. 

           "That if the entry-taker to be appointed shall neglect or refuse to perform his duty, or be found by the said judges, or a majority of them, to have acted fraudulently, to the prejudice of any person whatsoever, such entry-taker shall be immediately removed from his office, and the book taken out of his possession by the said judges until another shall be appointed to act in his room. 

           "That as often as the people in general are dissatisfied with the doings of the judges or triers so to be chosen, they may call a new election at any of the said stations and elect others in their stead, having due respect to the number now agreed to be elected at each election, which persons so to be chosen shall have the same power with those in whose room or place they shall or may be chosen to act. 

           "That as no consideration money for the lands on Cumberland River, within the claim of the said Richard Henderson and Company, and which is the subject of the association, is demanded or expected by the said Company until a satisfactory and indisputable title can be made, so we think it reasonable and just that the twenty-six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence, current money, per hundred acres, the price proposed by the said Richard Henderson, shall be paid according to the value of money on the first day of January last, being the time when the price was made public [and] settlement encouraged thereon by said Henderson; and the said Richard Henderson on his part does hereby agree that in case of the rise or appreciation of money from that . . . an abatement shall be made in the sum according to its raised or appreciated value. 

           "That where any person shall remove to this country with intent to become an inhabitant, and depart this life, either by violence or in the natural way, before he shall have performed the requisites necessary to obtain lands, the child or children of such deceased person shall be entitled, in his or her room, to such quantity of land as such person would have been entitled to in case he or she had lived to obtain a grant in their own name; and if such death be occasioned by the Indians, the said Henderson doth promise and agree that the child or children shall have as much as amounts to their head-rights gratis, surveyor's and other incidental fees excepted. 

           "And whereas, from our remote situation and want of proper officers for the administration of justice, no regular proceedings at law can be had for the punishment of offenses and the attainment of right, it is therefore agreed that until we can be relieved by government from the many evils and inconveniences arising therefrom, the judges or triers to be appointed as before directed, when qualified, shall be and are hereby declared a proper court or jurisdiction for the recovery of any debt or damage; or where the cause of action or complaint has arisen, or hereafter shall commence, for anything done or to be done among ourselves in this our settlement on Cumberland aforesaid, or in our passage hither, where the laws of our country could not be executed or damages repaired in any other way; that is to say, in all cases where the debt or damages or demand does or shall not exceed one hundred dollars, any three of the said judges or triers shall be competent to make a court and finally decide the matter in controversy; but if for a larger sum, and either party shall be dissatisfied with the judgment or decision of such court, they may have an appeal to the whole twelve judges or triers, in which case nine members shall be deemed a full court, whose decision, if seven agree in one opinion, the matter in dispute shall be final, and their judgment carried into execution in such manner and by such person or person as they may appoint; and the said courts, respectively, shall have full power to tax such costs as they may think just and reasonable, to be levied and collected with the debt or damage so to be awarded. 

           "And it is further agreed that a majority of the said judges, triers, or general arbitrators shall have power to punish in their discretion, having respect to the laws of our country, all offenses against the peace, misdemeanors, and those criminals, or of a capital nature, provided such court does not proceed with execution so far as to affect life or member; and in case any should be brought before them whose crime is or shall be dangerous to the State, or for which the benefit of clergy is taken away by law, and sufficient evidence or proof of the fact or facts can probably be made, such court, or a majority of the members, shall and may order and direct him, her, or them to be safely bound and sent under a strong guard to the place where the offense was or shall be committed, or where legal trial of such offense can be had, which shall accordingly be done, and the reasonable expense attending the discharge of this duty ascertained by the court, and paid by the inhabitants in such proportion as shall hereafter be agreed on for that purpose. 

           "That as this settlement is in its infancy, unknown to government, and not included within any county within North Carolina, the State to which it belongs, so as to derive the advantages of those wholesome and salutary laws for the protection and benefit of its citizens, we find ourselves constrained from necessity to adopt this temporary method of restraining the licentious, and supplying, by unanimous consent, the blessings flowing from a just and equitable government, declaring and promising that no action or complaint shall be hereafter instituted or lodged in any court of record within this State, or elsewhere, for anything done or to be done in consequence of the proceedings of the said Judges or General Arbitrator so to be chosen and established by this our Association. 

           "That the well-being of this country entirely depends, under Divine Providence, on unanimity of sentiment and concurrence in measures; and as clashing interests and opinions without being under some restraint will most certainly produce confusion, discord, and almost certain ruin, so we think it our duty to associate, and hereby form ourselves into one society for the benefit of present and future settlers; and until the full and proper exercise of the laws of our country can be in use, and the powers of government exerted among us, we do most solemnly and sacredly declare and promise each other that we will faithfully and punctually adhere to, perform, and abide by this our Association, and at all times, if need be, compel by our united force a due obedience to these our rules and regulations, In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names in token of our entire approbation of the measures adopted.
"Richard Henderson.
William Gowan.
John McMurty.
Nathaniel Hart.
John Wilfort.
D'd Williams.
William H. Moore.
James Espey.
John McAdams.
Samuel Phariss.
Michael Kimberlin.
Samson Williams.
John Donelson C.
John Cowan.
Thomas Thompson.
Gasper Mansker.
Francis Hodge.
Martin King.
John Caffery.
William Fleming.
William Logan.
John Blackemore, Jr.
James Leeper.
John Alstead.
John Blackemore, Sr.
George Leeper.
Nicholas Coonrod.
James Shaw.
Daniel Mungle.
Evin Evins.
Samuel Deson.
Patrick McCutchen.
John Thomas.
Samuel Martin.
Samuel McCutchen.
Joshua Thomas.
James Buchanan.
William Price.
David Rounsavall.
Solomon Turpin.
Henry Kerbey.
Isaac Rounsavall.
Isaac Rentfro.
Joseph Jackson.
James Crockett.
Robert Cartwright.
Daniel Ragsdale.
Andrew Crockett.
Hugh Rogan.
Michael Shaver.
Russell Gower.
Joseph Morton.
Samuel Willson.
John Shannon.
William Woods.
John Reid.
Jonathan Drake.
David Mitchell.
Joseph Dougherty.
Benjamin Drake.
David Shelton.
Charles Cameron.
John Drake.
Spill Coleman.
W. Russell, Jr.
Mereday Rains.
Samuel McMurray.
Hugh Simpson.
Richard Dodge.
P. Henderson.
Samuel Moore.
James Green.
Edward Bradley.
Joseph Denton.
James Cooke.
Edward Bradley, Jr.
Arthur McAdoo.
Daniel Johnston.
James Bradley.
Nathaniel Henderson.
George Miner.
Michael Stoner.
John Evans.
George Green.
Joseph Mosely.
Wm. Bailey Smith.
William Moore.
Henry Guthrie.
Peter Luney.
Jacob Cimberlin.
Francis Armstrong.
James Cain.
Robert Dockerty.
Robert Lucas.
Daniel Johnson.
John Crow.
James Robertson.
Daniel Jarrot.
William Summers.
George Freeland.
Jesse Maxey.
Lesois Frize. (?)
John Tucker.
Noah Hawthorn.
Amb's Mauldin.
Peter Catron.
Charles McCartney.
Morton Mauldin.
Francis Catron.
John Anderson.
John Dunham.
John Dunham.
William McWhirter.
Archelaus Allaway.
Isaac Johnson.
Barnet Hainey.
Samuel Hayes.
Adam Kelar.
Richard Sims.
Isaac Johnson.
Thomas Burgess.
Titus Murray.
Thomas Edmeston.
William Green.
James Hamilton.
Ezekiel Norris.
Moses Webb.
Henry Dougherty.
William Farwell.
Absalom Thompson.
Zach. White.
William McMurray.
John McVay.
Burgess White.
John Cordey.
James Thomson.
William Calley.
Nicholas Framal.
Charles Thomson.
James Ray.
Haydon Wells.
Martin Hardin.
William Ray.
Daniel Ratleft.
Elijah Thomson.
Perley Grimes.
John Callaway.
Andrew Thomson.
Samuel White.
John Pleake.
William Seaton.
Daniel Hogan.
Willis Pope.
Edward Thomelu.
Thomas Hines.
Silas Harlan.
Isaac Drake.
Robert Goodloe.
James Lynn.
Jonathan Jennings.
Thomas W. Alston.
Thomas Cox.
Zachariah Green.
William Barret.
Hugh Leeper.
Andrew Lucas.
Thomas Shannon.
Harmon Consellea.
James X Patrick.
James Moore.
Humphrey Hogan.
Richard Gross.
Samuel Moore.
James Foster.
John Drake.
Elijah Moore.
William Morris.
John Holladay.
John Moore.
Nathaniel Bidlack.
Frederic Stump (in
Andrew Ewin.
A. Tatom.
Ebenezer Titus.
William Hinson.
William Hood.
Mark Robertson.
Edmund Newton.
John Boyd.
John Montgomery.
Jonathan Green.
Jacob Stump.
Charles Campbell.
Edward Lucas.
Henry Hardin.
William Overall.
Philip Alston.
Richard Stanton.
John Turner.
John Phillips.
Sampson Sawyer.
Nathaniel Overall.
George Flynn.
John Hobson.
Patrick Quigley.
Daniel Jarrott.
Ralph Wilson.
Josias Gamble.
John Owens.
James Givens.
Samuel Newell.
James Freeland.
James Harrod.
Joseph Read.
Thomas Molloy.
James Buchanan, Sr.
David Maxwell.
Isaac Lindsay.
William Geioch.
Thomas Jefriss.
Isaac Bledsoe.
Samuel Shelton.
Joseph Dunnagin.
Jacob Castleman.
John Gibson.
John Phelps.
George Power.
Robert Espey.
Andrew Bushoney.
James Russell.
Geroge Espey.
           The following additional resolutions and further articles were entered into at Nashborough on the 13th day of May, 1780; to wit.:
           "That all young men over the age of sixteen years and able to perform militia duty shall be considered as having a full right to enter for and obtain lands in their own names, as if they were of full age; and in that case not be recovered in the family of his father, mother, or master, so as to avail them of any land on their account.
           "That where any person shall mark or improve land or lands, with intent to set up a claim thereto, such person shall write or mark in legible characters the initial letters of his name at least, together with the day of the month and year on which he marked or improved the same, at the spring or most notorious part of the land, on some convenient tree or other durable substance, in order to notify the intentions to all such as may inquire or examine; and in case of dispute with respect to priority of right, proof of such transaction shall be made by the oath of some indifferent witness, or no advantage or benefit shall be derived from such mark or improvement; and in all cases where priority of mark or occupancy cannot be ascertained, according to the regulations and prescriptions herein proposed and agreed to, the oldest or first entry in the office to be opened in consequence of this Association shall have the preference, and the lands granted accordingly. 

           "It is further proposed and agreed that the entry-office shall be opened at Nashborough on Friday the 19th of May, instant, and kept from thenceforward at the same place, unless otherwise directed by any future Convention of the people in general or their representatives. 

           "That the entry-taker shall and may demand and receive twelve dollars for each entry to be made in his book, in manner before directed, and shall give a certificate thereof if required; and also may take the same fees for every caveat or counter-claim to any lands before entered; and in all cases where a caveat is to be tried, in manner before directed, the entry-book shall be laid before the said Committee of Judges, Triers, or General Arbitrators for their inspection and information, and their judgment upon the matter in dispute fairly entered, as before directed; which said Court or Committee is also to keep a fair and distinct journal or minutes of all their proceedings, as well with respect to lands as other matters which may come before them in consequence of these our resolutions.
           "It is also firmly agreed and resolved that no person shall be permitted to make an entry for any land with the said entry-taker, or permitted to hold the same, unless such person shall subscribe his name and conform to this our Association, Confederacy, and General Government, unless it be for persons who have returned home and are permitted to have lands reserved for their use until the first day of May next, in which case entries may be made for such absent persons, according to the true meaning of this writing, without their personal presence, but shall become utterly void if the particular person or persons for whom such entry shall be made should refuse or neglect to perform the same as soon as conveniently may be after their return, and before the said first day of May in the year 1781.
           "Whereas the frequent and dangerous incursions of the Indians, and almost daily massacre of some of our inhabitants, renders it absolutely necessary for our safety and defense that due obedience be paid to our respective officers elected and to be elected at the several stations or settlements to take command of the men or militia at such fort or station,-
           "It is further agreed and resolved that when it shall be adjudged necessary and expedient by such commanding officers to draw out the militia of any fort or station to pursue or repulse the enemy, the said officer shall have poxver to call out such and so many of his men as he may judge necessary, and in case of disobedience may inflict such fine as he in his discretion shall think just and reasonable, and also may impress the horse or horses of any person or persons whatsoever, which if lost or damaged in such service shall be paid for by the inhabitants of such fort or station in such manner and such proportions as the committee hereby appointed, or a majority of them, shall direct and order; but if any person shall be aggrieved or think himself injustly vexed and injured by the fine or fines so imposed by the officer or officers, such person may appear to the said Judges or Committee of General Arbitrators, who, or a majority of them, shall have power to examine the matter fully, and make such order therein as they may think just and reasonable, which decision shall be conclusive on the party complaining, as well as the officer or officers inflicting such fine; and the money arising from such fines shall be carefully applied for the benefit of such fort or station, in such manner as the said Arbitrators shall hereafter direct. 

           "It is lastly agreed and firmly resolved that a dutiful and humble address or petition be presented by some person or persons, to be chosen by the inhabitants to the General Assembly, giving the fullest assurance of the fidelity and attachment to the interests of our country and obedience to the laws and constitution thereof, setting forth that we are confident our settlement is not within the boundaries of any nation or tribe of Indians, as some of us know and all believe that they have fairly sold and received satisfaction for the land or territories whereon we reside, and therefore, we hope we may not be considered as acting against the laws of our country or the mandates of government; 

           "That we do not desire to be exempt from the ratable share of the public expense of the present war,[3] or other contingent charges of government; that we are, from our remote situation, utterly destitute of the benefits of the laws of our country, and exposed to the depredations of the Indians without any justifiable or effectual means of employing our militia or defending ourselves against the hostile attempts of our enemy; praying and imploring the immediate aid and protection of our government, by erecting a county to include our settlements, appointing proper officers for the discharge of public duty, taking into consideration our distressed situation with respect to the Indians, and granting such relief and assistance as in wisdom, justice, and humanity may be thought reasonable.
"NASHBOROUGH, 13TH May, 1780"
           The records of the government of the Arbitrators, had they been kept or preserved, would no doubt have revealed many curious and interesting facts. "From our researches," says Putnam, "we conclude that immediately after the adoption of the Articles an election was held at the stations, and that then Robertson was chosen Colonel; Donelson, Lieutenant-Colonel; Lucas, Major; and George Freeland, Mauldin, Bledsoe, and Blackemore, Captains." Although the entry-taker and the judges were each required to keep separate books in which to keep minutes of their proceedings, it does not appear that any of these are extant, or that even a fugitive sheet or scrap can be found till the 7th of January, 1783. The people were so greatly exposed and kept in such constant turmoil with the Indians that during the intervening period but little had been attended to beyond their own immediate protection. In the midst of these discouraging circumstances many had left the settlements, and their numbers were reduced to seventy men. The record which recites the revival of the government alludes pathetically to these difficulties and trials: 

"January 7th, 1783.

"The manifold sufferings and distresses that the settlers here have from time to time undergone, even almost from our first settling, with the desertion of the greater number of the first adventurers, being so discouraging to the remaining few that all administration of justice seemed to cease from amongst us, -which, however weak, whether in Constitution, administration, or execution, yet has been construed in our favor, against those whose malice or interest would insinuate us a people fled to a hiding-place from justice, and the revival of them again earnestly recommended, -it appears highly necessary that for the common weal of the whole, the securing of peace, the performance of contracts between man and man, together with the suppression of vice, again to revive our former manner of proceedings, pursuant to the plan agreed upon at our first settling here, and to proceed accordingly until such. times as it shall please the Legislature to grant us the salutary benefits of the law duly administered amongst us by their authority. 

           "To this end, previous notice having been given to the several stationers to elect twelve men of their several stations whom they thought most proper for the business, and being elected, to meet at Nashborough on the 7th day of January, 1783. 

           "Accordingly there met at the time and place aforesaid Colonel James Robertson, Captain George Freeland, Thomas Malloy, Isaac Lindsey, David Rounsevall, Heydon Wells, James Mauldin, Ebenezer Titus, Samuel Barton, Andrew Ewin, Constituting themselves into a Committee, for purposes aforesaid, by voluntarily taking the following oath, viz.:
           "I, A. B., do solemnly swear that, as a member of the Committee, I will do equal right and justice, according to the best of my skill and judgment, in the decisions of all causes that shall be laid before me, without fear, favor, or partiality. So help me God. 

           "The Committee so constituted proceeded to elect Andrew Ewin to be their Clerk, John Montgomery to be Sheriff of the district, and Colonel James Robertson to be their Chairman. And to fix the Clerk's fees." 

           We make a few extracts from the records, which continue without interruption to the organization of Davidson County: 

           "Jan. 18, 1783.
"At a Committee called by the desire of the inhabitants for the offering of an address to the State's Commissioners, in behalf of some minors and heads of families, the first of which was deprived by their minority, the others by not arriving here by the time prescribed by the act of Assembly for obtaining lands; and that they would represent their case to the Assembly, in hopes of their indulgence toward them; and that the Commissioners would, in the mean time, be pleased to receive their locations for their improvements; to the intent that they might be generally known, in hopes that others would not interfere therewith. To which the Commissioners were pleased to return them an answer, that, to the first, they would do everything in their power for them; but to receiving their locations, it did not come within the line of their duty, etc. 

           "The members present were Col. James Robertson, Capt. George Freeland, Thomas Malloy, Isaac Linsey, Heydon Weils, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, and Samuel Barton. Likewise, Capt. Isaac Bledsoe and Capt. J. J. Blackemore appeared and qualified for members of the Committee, and after discussing the above business, the same Committee, on motion of James McCain, proceeded to take up the deposition of Isaac Neely, viz.: that he, the said Isaac Neely, was witness to a bill of sale, the contents of which, he believes, was a bed purchased of Jourdan Gibson by the said McCain, and further the deponent saith not. 

           "The Committee proceeded no further to business, but referred to their former adjournment, and so dismissed." 

           "Feb. 5, 1783.
"Committee met according to adjournment. Members present-Capt. George Freeland, Isaac Linsey, Heydon Wells, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, and James Shaw, elected for Nashborough, appeared and qualified for member of the Committee. 

           "The Committee then proceeded and swore in John Montgomery to be Sheriff of the district, and Andrew Ewin, for Clerk to the Committee. 

           "On motion made, the Committee granted administration of the estate of John Turner, deceased, to Mr. John Marney, said Marney entering into bonds with Heydon Wells and John Dunham, securities for the sum of one thousand pounds, proclamation money, payable to Col. James Robertson and his successors as Chairman of the Committee, or their assignees, and also qualified as by law required. And there not being a majority of members present, they proceeded no further, but adjourned until the first Tuesday in March, 1783." 

           "March 4. 1783.
"Committee met according to adjournment. Members present-Col. James Robertson, George Freeland, Thomas Mulloy, Isaac Lindsey, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, Samuel Barton, and James Shaw. The Committee then proceeded to take into consideration an address offered to them relative to the inhabitants of the Cumberland, giving their assurance of fidelity to the government of the State in which they reside, which unanimously was approved by the Committee, and agreed that it should be done as soon as opportunity would serve. 

           "Letters of administration on several estates granted, and sundry suits continued: one against John Dunham 'for detaining a bed.' Daniel Hogan and wife vs. James Todd; parties appeared, and the Committee recommended to the parties to adjust matters themselves." 

           "March 15, 1785.
"On motion made, the Committee agree that an address to be sent to the Assembly, acknowledging our grateful sense of their late favor in granting us lands, praying them to grant us the salutary benefit of government in all its branches, and that a land-office may be opened on such a plan as may encourage the settling of the country, that the protection of it may be less burdensome. 

           "And that Col. James Robertson present the same, being elected thereto by the people. 

           "On motion, agreed that six spies be kept out to discover the motions of the enemy so long as we shall be able to pay them, each to receive seventy-five bushels of Indian corn per month (to be under the direction of Col. Robertson and Capt. Bledsoe). The subscription of Nashborough, Freeland's, and Mansker's Stations filed with the Clerk of the Committee. 

           "The Deputation of Thomas Fletcher to the Sheriffalty of the District by John Montgomery disannulled; and the Committee elect the said Fletcher, who was sworn Sheriff of the District of Cumberland. 

           "It being thought necessary to our better defense in these times of danger that officers be chosen in each respective station to embody the inhabitants for their greater safety. Accordingly there was made choice of, at Nashborough, William Pruit for Captain; Samuel Martin and John Buchanan, 1st and 2d Lieutenants; and William Overall, Ensign.
"At Freeland's Station, Joshua Howard, Captain; James Donelson, Lieutenant; and John Dunham, Ensign.
"At Heatonsburg, Joshua Ramsey, Captain; James Hollis, Lieutenant; and Joshua Thomas, Ensign.
"At Mansker's, Isaac Bledsoe, Captain; Gasper Mansker, Lieutenant; James Lynn, Ensign.
"At Maulding's, Francis Prince, Captain; Ambrose Maulding, Lieutenant.'

           "April 1, 1785.
"Gentlemen: Whereas the purchasing of Liquors brought from foreign parts and sold to the inhabitants here at exorbitant rates, and carrying away the money out of the country, will greatly tend to the impoverishing of this infant settlement: 

           "For the remedying of this evil Let it be resolved and agreed on by this Committee that from and after the first day of April any person bringing liquors here from foreign parts shall, before they expose the same or any part thereof to sale, enter into bonds before some member of the Committee, with two sufficient securities, in the penal sum of two hundred pounds specie, payable to the Chairman of the Committee and his successors as such, that they will not ask, take, or receive, directly or indirectly, any more than one silver dollar, or the value thereof in produce, for one quart of good, sound, merchantable liquor, and so in proportion for a greater or less quantity. And any member of the Committee before whom such bond is given shall grant certificate thereof to the giver.
        "And any person selling or exposing to sale any liquor brought from foreign parts, not having entered into such bond as aforesaid, the same shall be liable to be seized by warrant granted by any member of the Committee, which they are hereby empowered and required to issue; and so seized, to secure and deliver the same until they shall enter into such a bond as aforesaid, or otherwise oblige themselves to transport their liquor again out of this settlement. Provided always that if neither shall be done within twenty days after such seizure the same shall be deemed and held forfeited, and shall be sold, and the money arising thereby shall be applied to the use of the public at the discretion of the Committee. 

           "And if any person upon giving bond in either of the premises aforesaid shall afterwards make default therein, and on information and prosecution be convicted thereof by sufficient witness before our Committee, their bond shall be deemed and held forfeited, and judgment be awarded against them accordingly. And on refusal or delay to satisfy such judgment, the same shall be levied on their goods and chattels by distress, and the money arising thereby applied as aforesaid under direction of the Committee. Provided always that such prosecution shall commence within six months after default made.
           "Approved, resolved, and agreed by the Committee.
                  "ANDREW EWIN, Clerk."
           "On motion ordered that a road be opened from Nashborough to Mansker's Station . . . and another from Heatonsburg to Mansker's. Overseers appointed and directed to call out hands to work on them. The Committee then proceeded to the causes on the Docket." 

           It would be interesting to report these suits did space permit. We add the regulation concerning commerce and the vote of the stationers upon the subject of the Indian treaty at Nashborough: 

           "May 6th, 1783.
"Committee met according to adjournment. Members present: Col. Robertson, Malloy, Freeland, Barton, Rounsevall, Linsey, Titus, Shaw, and Capt. Isaac Bledsoe. When Thomas Malloy informed the Committee that he had since the last meeting, at the request of some of the members, sent letters to the agent of the State of Virginia, residing at the Illinois, and likewise to the Spanish Governor, informing them that some of our people had gone down the river this spring upon pretense of trading with the Chickasaw Indians: but by the report of some lately come from the Illinois, who met with them on their way here, we are afraid that their design was to assist in plundering some of the trading-boats; and that if any such thing should be committed or effected by or with the assistance of any belonging to us, that it was contrary to the principles and intentions of the generality of the people here, as we detest and abhor such practices; and that we would endeavor for the future to prevent any such proceedings. 

           "Which information and conduct of Mr. Malloy was unanimously approved and accepted by the Committee. 

           "On motion made, Resolved and agreed on by the Committee, That from and after the 6th day of May, 1783, no person or inhabitant of this settlement shall trade, traffic, or barter with any Indian, nor resort unto them on the other side of the Ohio or of the dividing ridge between Tennessee and Cumberland waters, nor go down these Western waters, upon pretense of trading to the Illinois or elsewhere, without permission first had and obtained of the Committee, and likewise giving bond, with approved security, in any sum at the discretion of the Committee, payable to the Chairman thereof and his successors as such, conditioning that their conduct shall not directly nor indirectly in any way prejudice the interests of this settlement. 

           "On motion made, such of the members of the Committee as had not heretofore taken the oath of abjuration and fidelity in this State proceeded to take it, which was first administered to the Clerk by Col. James Robertson, and afterwards by the Clerk in Committee to the members as aforesaid; and the rest of the members made oath of having taken it heretofore in this State, and had at no time since been engaged in the interests of the enemies of the United States.
                             "ANDREW EWIN, Clerk."
           "June 3, 1783.
"When on motion made by Maj. John Reid relative to the assembling of the Southern tribes of Indians at the French Lick, on Cumberland River, for holding a Treaty with the Commissioners appointed by the State of Virginia, the Committee considering how difficult it will be for a handful of people reduced to poverty and distress by a continued scene of Indian barbarity to furnish any large body of Indians with provisions, and how prejudicial it may be to our infant settlement should they not be furnished with provisions, or otherwise dissatisfied or disaffected with the terms of the Treaty on which consideration the Committee refer it to the unanimous suffrages of the people of this settlement whether the Treaty shall be held here with their consent or no. And that the suffrages of the several stations be delivered to the Clerk of Committee by Thursday evening, the 5th inst., at which time the suffrages of Freeland's Station, Heatonsburg, and Nashborough were given in as follows: 

"Freeland's Station, no Treaty here, 32 votes.
"Nashborough, no Treaty here, 26 votes.
"Heatonsburg, no Treaty here, 1 vote = 59.
"Heatonsburg, Treaty here, 54 votes.
"Nashborough Treaty here, 30 votes = 84.
"The other stations of Kasper Mansker's and Maulding's failing to return their votes." 

           The last act of the committee appears to have been the reassertion of the restriction on the sale of foreign liquors:
           "August 5th, 1783.
"Resolved on by this present Committee that from and after the raising hereof no foreigner bringing any liquors from foreign parts shall ask, take, or receive for the same, directly or indirectly, any more than one silver dollar per gallon, or the value thereof in produce, giving bond and security, or be liable to the same forfeiture as by the resolve of the 1st of April, 1783.
                  "Test:                   ANDREW EWIN, Clerk.
"Conclusion of the Committee." 

           These proceedings cannot be read without interest, nor without forming a very worthy opinion of the pioneers who first settled Davidson County. The majority, like those who formed the earliest settlements in Ohio and Kentucky, were men of energy, sound judgment, and moral worth. The wisdom, the intellectual discipline, the familiarity with principles of business, both public and private, the knowledge even of forms of law, exhibited in their records and documents, their good sense and use of the English language, all strike the student of their history as being remarkable for that period and for a class of pioneers settling in a new country. "They possessed neither proud extravagance nor mean selfishness, and would have been ashamed of the transmission of such vices to their posterity." The manner in which they looked after the welfare of the absent and considered the interests of widows and orphans is one of the brightest examples in the history of any people. 

           The treaty with the Indians referred to in the foregoing records deserves further mention. 

These fragmentary records and other papers deposited with the Tennessee Historical Society are the only documents which settle definitely the date and other important facts respecting this treaty, about which there has been much contradiction among historians.[4] The questions respecting this treaty were warmly debated at the stations during several weeks in which the commissioners were waiting for the assembling of the Indians. It was deemed of doubtful propriety to hold it here, in a settlement which had been plundered and robbed by the very savages invited, and whose citizens had been murdered and reduced to poverty, and could ill afford to provide such an assemblage with provisions. Besides, what right had the State of Virginia to assemble the Indians upon territory belonging to North Carolina? The question, however, had been submitted to a vote of the people, and had been decided in the affirmative. It appears that of the people on the Nashborough side of the river, where it was proposed to hold the treaty, two to one were opposed; but they were outvoted by those at Eaton's, on the east side of the river. Col. Robertson, who resided at Freeland's Station, voted "No Treaty here," as did every other man there. At Nashborough the vote was twenty-six to thirty, the majority voting for the treaty. But the controlling vote was at Eaton's, being fifty-four to one. The people at the latter station, feeling their responsibility for the treaty, promptly and nobly resolved to sustain their action with both "person and property," and to be present to assist on the day of the treaty. This resolution was signed by fifty-four voters. 

           The treaty began and was concluded in the month of June, 1783, Cols. Donelson and Martin being the commissioners on the part of Virginia. It was made with the "Southern tribes of Indians" generally, not alone with the Chickasaws. "The Indians were invited to assemble at the large Sulphur Spring, about four miles northwest of Nashville, on the east side, and a few hundred yards from the Charlotte Pike. The beautiful location had been selected by Col. Robertson for his own station and home. There he afterwards erected his brick dwelling-house. 

           The place was formerly for many years the "Nashville Camp-Ground." 

           The Indians were treated hospitably, and were dismissed with as many presents as could then be bestowed. No outbreak or disturbance of any kind occurred. The stationers exerted themselves to the utmost, not only to supply the wants of all present, but to make a good impression on their generally unwelcome guests, and succeeded, so that the Indians expressed themselves well pleased. 

           "This treaty being made under the authority of one of the States, and not of the Confederated States, was exposed to an objection similar to that which Virginia and North Carolina had made to the treaty of Colonel Henderson, and is not to be seen in the published volumes of Indian Treaties. Its provisions and boundaries were, however, subsequently confirmed, or renewed and settled, by the Treaty of Hopewell, in 1785." 

           It is mentioned by Putnam that the acquaintance formed with some of the Indians at this time was serviceable to the Cumberland settlers, for it enabled Col. Robertson to obtain information relative to the Spanish efforts to excite these Indians to enmity and warfare against the whites. "Colonel Robertson deemed it proper during this year to address a letter to the Baron de Carondelet, to contradict reports which the Spaniards had heard, or pretended to have heard, of designs entertained by the people of Cumberland to make a descent upon the Spanish possessions on the Mississippi." We shall advert to this Spanish question hereafter. 

*[transcriber's note - Clayton, along with many historical authors, mistakenly wrote that Fort Union was located at the site that later became Haysborough.]
[1] Putnam, p. 90.
[2]This paper contains also additional articles adopted May 13th, the date at which the signatures were added.
[3] War for Independence.
[4]See Monette, Hay-wood, Ramsey, and others, quoted by Putnam, p. 134.
Content on this page was transcribed and published by Debie Cox.
Copyright © June 5, 2007, Debie Cox.