Goodspeeds History of Stewart County

published 1887

Special Note:  In the 3rd paragraph below, the sentence beginning "In 1800, Duncan Stewart..." lists the names of many men who arrived in the county in the early 1800s, but not in the year 1800 itself.

Part 2: Early Settlement

    The Cumberland River enters the southeast corner of the county and runs approximately in a northwesterly direction until it reaches a point beyond Dover, when it turns and runs nearly due north and parallel with the Tennessee River, which bounds the western side of the county. The Tennessee Ridge forms the water shed between the two rivers. The creeks of the county are Elk, Saline, Hickman, Standing Rock, Lick, Long, South Cross, Bear, Barrett's, Nevill's, Prior's, North Cross, Bullpasture, Cub, Panther, Bird's and Rushing's.

     Stewart County was settled principally by North Carolinians, the first of whom came some time about 1795, that State having issued military grants to survivors of the Continental war, which called for large tracts of land lying in this county. Among the persons to whom these grants were issued between the years 1795 and 1805 were James and Thomas Armstrong, Duncan Stewart, James Camper, Caleb Fisher, William Hendry, John McAuslin, J.C. Montflorence, James Tabb, Abner Lamb, William B. Blunt, Lewis Cannon, William Fawn, Henry Turner, Robert Hays, Robert Searcy, Daniel Wheaton, Simon Bright, Adriah Valch, Benjamin Shepherd, James Templeton, and James Martin, all of whom received from 1000 to 1500 acres each, while grants fro 174 and 640 acres each were received by Lewis Pipkin, Martin Armstrong, Charles Stewart, John Baker, John McNeese, Joseph Brach, Nathan Alexander, Arthur Tynor, Thomas Campbell, Charles Gerard, Charles Griggs, John McNairy, Robert Calf, James Mills, Anthony Hart, Solomon Kitt, James Rice, James Gillingham, Henry Johnston, Thomas Taunt, Thomas Sharp, Jesse Massie, Hayden Wells, William Curd, James Coglin, John McAdams, Joshua Doris, James Lack, Abner Lamb, Richard Fenner, John Collins, James Douge, Bryan Whitfield, and Jesse Burton.

     Probably the first settlers of the county were George Petty, Samuel A. Smith, Brittain Sexton, James Andrews, Samuel Boyt, and Elisha Dawson, all of whom came from North Carolina about 1795. Petty settled on the Cumberland River, near where Dover now stands; Smith in the same neighborhood; Sexton on Standing rock Creek, in the Tenth District; Andrews on Lick Creek, in the Seventh District; Boyt on Panther creek, in the Ninth District, and Dawson about five miles southwest of where now stands Dover. In 1800 Duncan Stewart, Nimrod Crosswell, Robert Nelson, Seth Outlaw, William Pugh, John Stancil, Thomas Shaw, Thomas B. Ferrill, Christopher Brandon, Littleberry Hamilton, John Kingins, Z.T. Shemwell, John Ferrell, Maricy McCollum, Etheldred Wallace, Samuel Ross, William Carr, N. G. Morris, Charles Polk, John Bird, Walter Boston, Thomas Buckingham, Jack Warford, John Gardner, and Jarris Taylor came from North Carolina and settled in different parts of the county. At about the same time Joseph Smith and Larry Satterfield came together from North Carolina and settled at the foot of the Cumberland River hills, on Lick Creek, near the present site of Dover; David Lewis, another North Carolinian came in about 1803, settling in the Fifth District. About that time quite a settlement of natives of the Carolinas was formed on Long Creek, six miles southeast of Dover, among whom were Travers Moore, Matthew Manning, Bryant and Zachariah O'Neal, Thomas and David Childers, Drewry Bird, Thomas, James and William Magee, Wilson Randleand George Cathey and Philip Hornbarger was at the head of a settlement on Byron Forge Creek at the same time. In about 1804 James Scarborough, Sr., James Scarborough Jr., David Andrews, Emanuel James, Ebenezer Rumfelt, Benjamin Boyt, James Boyd and John Scarborough came from Virginia, and found farms on which to locate in different sections of the county. Among other early settlers were William Massey, James Elder, Sterling May, James Tygart, Henry Samson, John Jones, William Haggard, William R. Bell, John Trousdale, Caleb Williams, Louis Elliott, Thomas White, Moses Ward, Amos Fletcher, Ebenezer Piatt, John Cooper, William Linsey, James Galing, Samuel French, John Kyzer, Elisha Simpson, John Graham, Benjamin Downs, Jacob McCartney, Thomas Allman, John Scott, Charles Wilcox, John Hobbs, James Simpson, David Hogan, Samuel Baker, W.R. Allison, Thomas C. Clinton, William Betts, Louis Bryant, John Churchwell, Robert Lancaster, Thomas Smith, Vernon Randolph, Thomas Craig, Thomas Cottingham, James Hurd, John Boyd, Jonathan May, Henry Gibson, David Yarborough, John Frazer, Guthridge Lyon, James Moore, John Churchwell, John Carney, Warren Fortner, John Price, John Polk (cousin of James K. Polk), William Dunbar, Benjamin Bradford, Caleb Williams, Manton Wells, Zachariah Ratcliff, James Wyatt, Simon Fletcher, Nathaniel Denson, John Sanders, Robert Armstrong, Enoch James, John Scales, Elijah Simpson, Louis Keeling, James Cook, George Crassner, Silas Vincent, Wiley Wheatley, Stephen Gilbert, Thomas Mallory, William Pearce, Armstead Stubblefield, John Edmondson, James Warnock, Asa Atkins, Archabald Cook, Tapley Maddux, Anthony Lee, William Christmas and Nicholas Long.

     The first settlers found the county infested with Indians, a majority of whom were hostile, and two block-house forts were erected for better protection from the savages. Those structures were of rough unhewn logs, calculated to withstand a furious and determined attack, and stood on Lick Creek and Tennessee River. Some time before 1795 a party of surveyors, composed of seven or eight men, who had come out from North Carolina to run the lines of tracts of land in the different military grants, were attacked one night while encamped on Spring Creek (now known as Dyer's Creek), in the Fifth District, and three or four were killed by the Indians. Thomas French, one of the few settlers of that early date, was one of the party, but made his escape. Depredations of all kinds were committed by the Indians, and as late as 1812 the Tennessee River had to be constantly patrolled by the militia to prevent them from making incursions and raids on the settlers.

    Game of every description also abounded in the vast canebrakes and forests in the early days, and many a "bar" story has been handed down, one of which is as follows and is vouched for by Judge Scarborough, of Dover: some time in 1807 James Scarborough and sons left home to attend court in Dover, leaving the farm in charge of his wife, Mary. As they lived a long distance from the county seat, it was necessary to remain overnight. Along in the evening, after the men had taken their departure, a huge black bear was detected prowling around the place, and finally got in among the pigs. The dogs were set on it, and it took refuge in a large tree near the house. By this time it was dark, and Mrs. Scarborough could not distinguish the form of Bruin, so she made a large fire under the tree and sat up all night long to replenish it, in order to keep the animal in the tree, and when morning came the plucky woman got her husband's rifle and killed the bear, which was skinned, and the hide preserved as a trophy.

During the first days of the settlement there were no mills or stores nearer than Palmyra, Montgomery County, and thither went the settlers to mill and trade. A large amount of the stores used in those days were brought from New Orleans. The time required to make one of the New Orleans trips was about six months. They would load their furs, skins, and whatever produce they had on keep-boats, and float down the river. Exchanging produce for groceries, etc., they would start on the return trip. If they sold their boats they would walk home making the trip in about four months, and if the boats were brought back, as was frequently the case, the full six months were required for the trip, as it was necessary to draw the boats all the way home by hand. Among the early merchants were Mason Bennett, who in 1804 was granted license to sell whisky at his dwelling house. Bennett also kept a small assortment of general merchandise. James Russell kept a similar store, in what was afterward Dover, about the same time. At that time George Petty kept tavern at his house on the Cumberland River and John Stewart also kept tavern at his house on Wells Creek. In 1806 George Petty opened a tavern in Dover, and Philip Hornbarger kept a similar establishment at his house on Byron Forge Creek, and Phillip Wells kept a small store on Well's Creek. Nathan Skinner kept store in 1812 on Shelby Creek, and in 1815 John Ross opened store at his dwelling house.

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