History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     The writer has discovered, through his genealogy project, that he is directly related to the Muse family in the Bedford, Scott and Campbell counties of Tennessee. However, at this time, we shall relate the experiences of the Muse family in Campbell County and their beginnings. The article this week will consist of the family of Isaac and his son, John Perry Muse.
Ozias "Zie" Muse wrote a booklet entitled, "The Joys and Sufferings of a Poor Mountain Family," from which we shall take. This very informative book can be purchased through the Campbell County Historical Society/Museum in LaFollette.

     Our story begins with Isaac Muse being born in Kentucky, possibly in Pulaski County, where he worked on the family farm and other jobs, earning a daily wage of 50 cents. This money was used to purchase clothing and other domestic needs.
Isaac had developed into early manhood and began noticing the local girls, especially one Elizabeth Collins. He spruced up real nice one Sunday and asked if he could walk her home from church. It seems that young folk in that day and time were especially shy. However, he received permission to walk her to the gate and asked permission to walk her home from church the next Sunday. She agreed and from that Sunday on they began going steady which lasted almost a year.

     Then on one beautiful Sunday morning he asked her hand in marriage, which she eagerly agreed. Of course, it was up to her parents whether matrimony was agreeable with them. Upon a short consultation, Mr. and Mrs. Collins agreed. Isaac and Elizabeth set their wedding date in the fall of 1873.

     Folks in those days simply could not afford a lavish wedding. The bridegroom, Isaac Muse, pulled on his overalls and blue shirt and brogan work shoes for the occasion. The bride, Elizabeth, put on a washed gingham dress with high-topped buttoned shoes for the event. The wedding was officiated by the local country preacher.

     A few days later, the couple moved into a small two-room shack on the Collins farm, with the housekeeping and the farm work commencing at full scale. The work went on for about one year when they discovered they were to become mama and papa. On May 8, 1875, a son was born to the couple in Campbell County and given the name of John Perry. Through the years an additional four sons and three daughters were born to this pair.

     Through the years John, the eldest, matured into adulthood. He, along with his brother Frank, worked in the timber industry for several years. A neighbor, Pleasant Witt Rutherford, had recently moved to the neighborhood along with his son and five daughters. This family was very religious and attended church regularly every Sunday.

     John had his eye on one of the Rutherford girls, Lucinda, who was eighteen at the time. John cared little about church and decided to show up just as it was dismissed. He wore his washed overalls and blue denim shirt along with his work shoes. John asked Lucinda if he could walk her home from church. She hesitated and then stated that he could walk her as far as to the gate. "Cindy" agreed that John could accompany her to church the next Sunday. From that Sunday in May they went steady for almost a year. He finally talked her into marriage, the wedding date being set in the early spring of 1902.

     John Muse worked in the construction of the L&N Railroad near the Tennessee and Kentucky State line earning a daily wage of $1.00. This was the average wage for unskilled labor in the early 1900s. With total confidence, he was sure he could support his new bride.

     Just about a year from their marriage, on June 3, 1902, a son was born, which was named Isaac. On February 19, 1905, another son was born which was named William Franklin.

     Campbell County at this time was a much-depressed area with employment being next to nothing. A neighbor, who had relatives living in Leavenworth, Washington, began telling of a big boom in the timber woods and the lumber industry in Washington State. The get-rich-fever had attacked. John Muse and family decided to pull up stakes in Campbell County and head off to the far-away land and cash in on the easy money they heard about.

     In late 1905, the John Perry Muse family, along with their two sons, their relatives and neighbors, headed for their dream of prosperity. They took the L&N train and headed for the promise land, Washington State. They changed trains in Chicago by riding a horse-drawn wagon from one depot to another. Finally, after several days on the train, they arrived at Leavenworth where John purchased a tent to live in. He was fortunate to find a fairly good paying job in the lumber industry.

     Winter began rather early, around October 15th. The temperature later on dropped to well below zero with an abundance of ice and snow. Dogs and sleighs were used for transportation to and from the store and post office. The neighbors and relatives gathered in the firewood for the next night, and then lumbered to the country store to discuss their problems.
The loggers had dragged in a plentiful supply of logs to the mills in the fall prior to the snowfall. The mill crews worked one and two days a week, and hunted for rabbits and squirrels while not working. The post office was visited every day, they being proud to receive mail from the home folks in Campbell County. The relatives back home wrote about the sunny days and their adventures hunting wild turkeys and squirrels. The winter dragged by very slowly with little employment available to those men who had hoped to hit the jackpot. Spring finally arrived and employment went almost full scale.

     Late in the fall of 1906, the Campbell countians began getting homesick. They dreamed of their old surroundings and of hunting squirrels and wild turkeys. The Muse couple, expecting their third child, could not leave until its arrival. A third child was born on November 6, 1906, in the tent in which they had lived for three years. The infant was given the name of Charles Ellison.

     Soon after, the couple, along with their three sons, headed back for Tennessee. They were proud to be heading back to the place of their surroundings and to the place where they were born. After almost a week on the railroad, they arrived back in Campbell County staying with in-laws for a few days.

     John started looking for a place to live. He walked several miles from the Duff and White Oak settlement. He walked up Lowe's Creek and discovered a small one-room lumber hut left by the timber cutters and loggers. John had a well paying job during his last summer in Washington and, subsequently, he managed to save a few dollars. After discovering the small hut on Lowe's Creek, he contacted the Land Company to see about leasing the dwelling. John secured permission to move into the hut with the rental price coming later. And-so, the family and dog and shotgun located into the little one-room shack with no furnishings.

     While wandering and searching, he had found another lumber shack located about three miles away on Walnut Mountain. He again reached the Land Company and leased the shack with a small acreage for farming purposes. They ultimately nailed up beds stuffed with leaf bed-tics. John Muse walked to the town of LaFollette to purchase the necessities needed. He eventually became financially able to buy a horse.

     Early in the year of 1907, John, who had memories of working hard for almost nothing, began to clean up the land for the production of food. Cindy was doing the cooking out in the yard and attending her three small sons, and still found time to help her husband put out a small garden.

     John built a small sled and traveled to town where he bought a small cook stove, moving it into the small kitchen he had just built. This was greatly appreciated by Mrs. Muse.

     Cindy Muse was a hard worker, going through her daily chores, even helping with the outside projects, almost through the entire month of January. On January 30, 1909, a daughter was born with the given name of Mary Elizabeth.

     During the years of 1908 and 1909 the family worked almost day and night, clearing up about four acres of land plus a good-sized garden. Their relatives helped tremendously as they gave them some old bedsteads and necessities for the new home. Cindy bought canvas cloths and made bed-tics and stuffed them with leaves or oat-straw to sleep on. John Muse built a plow stock from oak wood to do his plowing. They raised potatoes and corn to sell and bought such commodities as coffee and sugar. Everything was raised on the small acreage where they finally accumulated enough money to buy a calf and a couple of hogs.

     On April 17, 1910, a fourth son was born to the couple and was given the name Clyde. By this time, they had two sons in elementary school near the head of Hickory Creek, about three miles from home.

     On December 25, 1911, another son was born and given the name of Ozias "Zie" Muse. The winter was long and hard and dragged by with the two eldest walking down a winding creek for three miles to school, crossing the creek several times by foot-logs. These two sons were changed from the small school on Hickory Creek to a school on a small mountain that divided between Walnut Mountain called the "Divide." The school was constructed on a smooth flat rock and called "Flat Rock School."

     On August 11, 1915, another daughter was born, namely, Stella. And again, on April 8, 1918, another daughter was born to this couple who was named Carrie. The latter was about two years old when she walked out into the yard where her mother had been cooking meats or beans, which was the custom of those days. The youngster walked into the bed of the fire left from her mother's cooking and burned her tiny feet until the skin peeled off them. Fever set up and she later died.

     I must say this a very sad story of a native Campbell countian and his family. If we cannot live through the many trials and tragedies that the Muse family suffered through, then we cannot possibly appreciate the many ordeals they encountered.

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