History of Campbell County, Tennessee
 

Time Line

Prehistoric Inhabitants in the Vicinity of Jellico , Tennessee

By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. 

This writer has been given permission to use this material by the author, James Hayden Siler. I will record it as was originally written. Dallas Bogan.

The History of Jellico by James Hayden Siler...1938 unpublished manuscript.

     The earliest inhabitants of Kentucky belonged to the Algonquian Linguistic group. Much later, but before the first exploration of the white man beyond the Appalachians, The Cherokees of the Iroquoian Linguistic group came into Kentucky. The land where Jellico is now located was owned by the Cherokee, and was retained as hunting ground even after Kentucky and Tennessee became states (1792 and 1796 respectively), and was not ceded to the United States until 1805 by the Treaty of Tellico Plains, Tenn. The land ceded in this treaty included the present Kentucky counties of Knox, Whitley, McCreary, and Wayne, and grants of land in this section became known as "Tellico Grants." Dr. Funkhouser and Dr. Webb, archaeologists of the University of Kentucky, writes that "As would be expected from its location of the Cumberland River, that great southern highway for the aborigines with its wealth of cultural significance, Whitley County is rich in evidences of prehistoric occupation. Unfortunately the authors have been able to make only a very cursory survey of the region but enough is known of its possibilities to predict that it is well worthy of extensive examination." The actual sites recorded by Dr. Funkhouser and Dr. Webb in 1931 include the remains of a town on the Cumberland River near Williamsburg, mounds on Laurel River, Watts Creek; some quite extensive remains on the Snyder farm a mile above Williamsburg; mounds at Nevisdale, Lot, on Jellico Creek and a few others.The earliest inhabitants of Kentucky belonged to the Algonquian Linguistic group. Much later, but before the first exploration of the white man beyond the Appalachians, The Cherokees of the Iroquoian Linguistic group came into Kentucky. The land where Jellico is now located was owned by the Cherokee, and was retained as hunting ground even after Kentucky and Tennessee became states (1792 and 1796 respectively), and was not ceded to the United States until 1805 by the Treaty of Tellico Plains, Tenn. The land ceded in this treaty included the present Kentucky counties of Knox, Whitley, McCreary, and Wayne, and grants of land in this section became known as "Tellico Grants." Dr. Funkhouser and Dr. Webb, archaeologists of the University of Kentucky, writes that "As would be expected from its location of the Cumberland River, that great southern highway for the aborigines with its wealth of cultural significance, Whitley County is rich in evidences of prehistoric occupation. Unfortunately the authors have been able to make only a very cursory survey of the region but enough is known of its possibilities to predict that it is well worthy of extensive examination." The actual sites recorded by Dr. Funkhouser and Dr. Webb in 1931 include the remains of a town on the Cumberland River near Williamsburg, mounds on Laurel River, Watts Creek; some quite extensive remains on the Snyder farm a mile above Williamsburg; mounds at Nevisdale, Lot, on Jellico Creek and a few others.

     In 1824, Rafinesque, that most remarkable early Kentucky celebrity, who was a professor at Transylvania at Lexington, made a trip to Whitley County. He visited (or at least described) an ancient town "on the Cumberland above Williamsburg" but did not give the exact location. He stated that it contained a teccalli, three hundred and sixty feet long, one hundred and fifty feet wide, and twelve feet high, and the remains of houses. This information, with information concerning prehistoric remains in other parts of the state, he included in his "Ancient Annals of Kentucky" which was published in Frankfort in 1824 in Humphrey Marshall's History. Rafinesque's Ancient Annals is one of the most valuable of all early works on Kentucky.

     Webb and Funkhouser examined the site of an ancient village on the Cumberland, on the farm of Willoby Inman. It is not certain if this be the site mentioned by Rafinesque. (I have heard that this site was near the confluence of Meadow Creek, but can get no definite information concerning it.)

     As to the mound at Lot (formerly, Boston), Webb and Funkhouser write "...has been a local landmark for many years. It has been cultivated over, but has never been excavated and is still very prominent, Reported by H.R. Rule."

     Continuing they write, "Artifacts of many kinds and in large number have been found in most parts of Whitley County and residents of the county are constantly finding surface material, which, however, is seldom preserved. Included in this material are unusually fine specimens of flints, especially the beautiful, highly-polished, bi-concave, large flint discoidals, commonly known as chunkee stones' which seen to be characteristic of the region. Mess Hattie M. Sullivan of Williamsburg has a particularly fine specimen of this interesting gana stone, and Willoby Inman has a number of such specimens."

     Webb and Funkhouser cite Bennett Young's Prehistoric Man in Kentucky which mentions a large knife which came from Whitley County. It was eight and one half inches in length, two and three-fourth inches in width and three-eights of an inch in thickness and showed signs of much use.

     To my knowledge no work exists nor has any search been made classifying prehistoric remains in Campbell County. In spite of evidence of a village or two along the Cumberland this entire region was used more for hunting purposes than for a permanent residence by the Indians.

     The early settlers of this section had a few "Indian problems" along with other Kentuckians. In October, 1786 several families comprising McNutt's company were surprised in camp at night between Big and Little Laurel Rivers. Twenty-one persons were killed, and the rest dispersed or made prisoners.

     John Tye and his son and two or three others while encamped on the head of Big Poplar Creek (probably now in Knox County) were attacked at night by a party of Cherokees. Tye's son was killed, and the story goes that two large dogs helped defend the camp, and that one Indian was seriously wounded by them. Joseph Johnson was killed by three Cherokees on Lynn Camp Creek (near the present Corbin) in his house while his wife was milking. The Indians then pursued Mrs. Johnson, but she reached another house before they could overtake her.

     As to the authenticity of these stories I cannot say; they are to be found in Collin's "History of Kentucky," and are as near to Jellico as I can find stories of Indian trouble

 

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