When one thinks of Tennessee, the first thing that may come to mind is Nashville, the state capital. With it’s country music heritage, the old Ryman Auditorium and of course, Music Row, Nashville holds a high rank among others with history and genealogy. Did you know that Nashville is one of Tennessee’s early settlements? Perhaps you have heard about the Overmountain Men traveling party of 1779. James Robertson and Colonel John Donelson were two of these men who created an agreement with the Cherokee and established Fort Nashborough. A lively little place with it’s port located on the Cumberland River, it allowed river transport which quickly aided in the village’s growth. Fort Nashborough was among the first settlements but it wasn’t the earliest one. During this article, you will read of the past by way of old Indian trails, hunting parties and the mountainous terrain that led to this wilderness frontier. Our destinations are set for western skies during the mid 18th century. As the words pour out upon the page, the images of former forts will begin to focus, the stories of the people will yearn to be heard and retold, the lands lying west of North Carolina’s mountains belong to the unknown west, the frontier called Tennessee.
Fort Loudon began as a British fort located in present day Monroe County. During the year of 1756, it’s construction was modest but as the months went by, the fort grew to a great barrier among the wild elements of the landscape. The relations between the occupants and the Cherokee were civil but grew to despair during the year of 1758. By August of 1760, the Cherokee attacked the fort and was able to force the surrender of Captain Raymond Demere and others. Records indicate as many as 24 individuals were killed in the raid. Those who were unable to escape were captured by the Cherokee and the fate of these souls remain unknown. Today, the fort has been preserved and rebuilt. The original plans and the placement of the buildings and their functions have been restored as a state park. Many artifacts have been discovered all through the years. As the fort stands today in remembrance of those long ago, let us remember the people who dreamed of a fort to establish trade and growth in the lands known today as Tennessee. Names associated with Loudon Fort are James Glenn, John William De Brahm, William Henry Littleton, John Elliott, John Stuart, William Richardson, Lt. James Adamson, William Richardson Davie, Henry Timberlake, Thomas Sumter and more whose names have been lost for now. The fort also housed at least sixty women and children during the years of 1756 to 1760.
Following the demise of Fort Loudon and the creation of the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763, a new settlement emerged along the banks of Boone Creek in 1769. Settlers were now able to travel to the area legally in accordance to Royal law. Captain William Bean and his wife settled the area and welcomed the birth of their son, Russell during that first year. Other families followed such as Samuel Masenngill, Henry Masengill, Julius Dugger and Andrew Greer. Many of these families arrived from both the Carolina area and the Virginia area. These lands were not purchased but leased as it was illegal to purchase lands from the Cherokee. James Robertson and John Sevier were known to lease lands from the Cherokee however, I’ve not been able to locate a written source for such documents which would prove this theory. Jonathon Tipton, John Carter, Charles Robertson and Zachariah Isbell all arrived in the area prior to the year ending in 1771. Jacob Brown, Robert Allison, Leonard Hart, Jacob Womack, Jesse Walton and Benjamin Gist were among these as well. It is known that the family of John Carr arrived from the South Carolina area and is believed that other South Carolina families made their way to this area during the years of the American Revolutionary War.
Early Land Grants 1778-1780
Land Grants from Tennessee dating from 1778 to 1780 are listed below consisting of several entries. Do you see your ancestor among those in the list? If so, please drop us line and let us know in the comment section or by contacting Piedmont Trails. The list contains name, grant number with book and page number for reference. Acreage, location by way of county and description is also given.
- John Wallace-#1, Book 36, pg. 1-240 acres-Washington County-north fork of Doe River
- David Reese-#2, Book 36, pg. 2-90 acres-Washington County-both sides of Doe River
- William Sharpe-#3, Book 36, pg. 3-400 acres-Washington County-both sides of Indian Creek
- David Reese-#4, Book 36, pg. 4-320 acres-Washington County-waters of Lick Creek
- Samuel Harris-#5, Book 36, pg. 5-400 acres-Washington County-waters of Nobb Lick Branch and Lick Creek
- David Reese-#6, Book 36, pg. 6-400 acres-Washington County-above great falls on the waters of Lick Creek
- Charles Robinson-#7, Book 36, pg. 7-640acres-Washington County-on the south side of Holston on a sinking branch
- William Sharpe-#8, Book 36, pg. 8-400 acres-Washington County-Doe River
- John Wallace-#9, Book 33, pg. 9-400 acres-Washington County-on a branch near Great Nobb Licks
- Samuel Harris-#10, Book 36, pg. 10-240 acres-Washington County-on the North fork of Doe River
- George Russel-#11989, Book 89, pg. 141-300 acres-Washington County-fork of Big Limestone Creek
- Adam Orth-#217, Book 53, pg. 165-352 acres-Sullivan County-north side of Holston River and Sinking Creek
- George Brown-#1021, Book 80, pg. 182-300 acres-Washington County-Campbells Creek
- Henry Rice-#347, Book 69, pg. 194-643 acres-Sullivan County-north side of Holstein River
- James Blair-#829, Book 74, pg. 36-200 acres-Greene County-north side of Holstein River
- James Woods Lackey-#815, Book 90, pg. 326-345 acres-Hawkins County-south side of Holston River
- Ruebin Derring-#1053, Book 77, pg. 401-200 acres-Greene County- side of Nolachucky a Draght leading into Providence Creek
- Robert King-#633, Book 82, pg. 224-640 acres-Hawkins County-end of Powells Mountain
- John Holloway, Jr.-#627, Book 81, pg. 630-200 acres-Sullivan County-land lying on two entries made by Nathan Page
- John Tate-#916, Book 76, pg. 149-50 acres-Washington County-Elk Creek, branch of Watauga
- Thomas Murray-#883, Book 76, pg. 138-300 acres-Washington County-fork of Sinking Creek water of Holston River
- Westin Williams-#1371, Book 89, pg. 404-100 acres-Greene County-On waters of Nolachuckey
This will certainly not be the last article pertaining to Tennessee and it’s early history. This enriched landscape is filled with a vast amount of history dating to the earliest of explorers and the American Indians to the statehood of 1796 and further into the Civil War and present day. Over the next several months, Piedmont Trails will explore the early trails leading into Tennessee. The stories associated with these trails as well as the people who traveled them will be discovered and shared. History and Genealogy are all around us. You only have to look around to see their presence among artifacts, paper documents and so much more. Thank You so much for visiting Piedmont Trails and be sure to stay up to date by subscribing to the website. As always, it’s free to join. Thank You So Much for your support of Piedmont Trails. I greatly appreciate it. Our ancestors left an amazing trail to follow. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!
Enjoy Your Journey !!
- Beverly Bastian, Jenna Tedrick Kuttruff, and Stuart Strumpf, “Fort Loudoun in Tennessee: 1756-1760: History, Archaeology, Replication, Exhibits, and Interpretation-Waldenhouse Publishers, Inc., 2010.
- WELLS, ANN HARWELL. “Early Maps of Tennessee, 1794-1799.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 2, 1976, pp. 123–144. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42623570. Accessed 30 Jan. 2020.
- Irwin, Ned L. “Voice in The Wilderness: John Haywood And The Preservation of Early Tennessee History.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 3, 1999, pp. 238–253. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42628484. Accessed 30 Jan. 2020.
- James C. Kelly, “Fort Loudoun: A British Stronghold in the Tennessee Country,” East Tennessee Historical Society ‘’Publications, Vol. 50 (1978)
- John Stanley Folmsbee, “Tennessee, A Short History” University of Tennessee Press 1969
- Luttrell, L., Creekmore, P., & Creekmore, P. (1943). WRITINGS ON TENNESSEE COUNTIES. Tennessee Historical Quarterly, 2(3), 257-279. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42620801
- Mary A Fry, “Tennessee Centennial Poem” Nashville, Tennessee 1897
- North Carolina State Archives 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Categories: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
Fort Loudon was supplied in colonial times out of Charleston South Carolina on a route that also ran through Fort Prince George. Fort Loudon was the furthest point on this supply chain of about 400 miles. This is the story told by park rangers and by the excellent film and signage at today’s Fort Loudon State Park. In looking at this situation, I refer to the map at this site
which does show the route as far as Fort Prince George. I understand that the route between Fort Loudon and Fort Prince George is known because the site of the massacre of the Ft Loudon residents is known and I understand that to be on privately owned land some distance from Fort Loudon.
As I have a brick wall ancestor who was born about 1798 in SE TN (west of Chattanooga) to parents who he says were born in SC, I am curious about potential routes from upcountry SC to SE TN and wonder if the road to Fort Loudon and then possibly by water would have been plausible at the end of the 18th century? The reason I bring up water is that I have another ancestor and his brothers-in-law who I think traveled by water from the area of Roane County TN to Madison County AL around 1809. TVA projects have greatly changed the waterways in E TN so that the direct water routes of our ancestors are not so apparent on modern maps.
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In regards to the time period you mentioned, many different routes were available from western SC to eastern TN. The earliest routes date to the early 18th-century, namely the Keowee Trail. Names of major routes leading in this direction are the Rutherford Path, New River Trail or Catawba Trail and Boone Trace. Moving into the Alabama area, routes that were in use are the Taylor’s Pass and the Mountain Pass. Both of these reached Muscle Shoals from TN. I would not rule out water passage in this area, but I would not think it would be plausible from point A to final destination. It would be a stop and go sort of pace, much slower versus crossing land only in this particular area. You may want to study John Russell’s map of 1794 that includes TN, GA and other surrounding territories. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!
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George Brown-#1021, Book 80, pg. 182-300 acres-Washington County-Campbells Creek
George Brown is my brick wall, He is buried in Stewart Cemetery in Putnam County, Tn. His information has been so corrupted I doubt it will ever be corrected. George Brown was a Rev. War Soldier according to his tombstone and a letter my Great Grandfather wrote in 1925.
A man who lived in Cookeville was trying to do a good thing and decided on his own to put down a stone commemorating his service in the Revolutionary War, (it is not a DAR stone). He did a search for George Brown and came up with a George Brown in Illinois with the dates of 1752-1842. That stone has been removed, but you cannot erase the damage it has done. I have tried to get people to delete this mistake from my George Brown to no avail. It has led them down a rabbit hole to nowhere.
Would Sullvan County at one time been included in Washington County. If I am not wrong the whole State of Tennessee was called Washington County
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I understand completely where you’re coming from. I find mistakes like this all the time and correcting them for future family historians is not an easy task. In answer to your question, yes, Sullivan County was at one time Washington County. And yes, once again, the entire territory known as Tennessee was under Washington County.
I wish you well on your research and best wishes on correcting the mistakes concerning your ancestor, George Brown.
I’m against the proverbial brick wall as well. Mine is Mathew Brooks, 1743 – 1797. His son was born in S.C. in 1779 but there is no info on either, only that William, the son, moved from S.C. to Cocke County, TN. I’m trying to find William’s city of birth. I just wonder if a number of people traveled together to TN.? I’m looking for paths that might have been best for travel between 1750 and 1800 to TN. These are early times so maybe there aren’t many, it may help me to locate their city if I can pinpoint William’s info. Thanks for any suggestions or info you might share.
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Taj, you must have missed our last live stream. We discussed the first roads leading into Tennessee and Kentucky. I’ll include a link here for you. https://www.youtube.com/live/0wh8QHvy2Rw?feature=share
The Keowee Trail, a famous trading route during the early 18th century, became an active migrating road from South Carolina to Tennessee.
I have an ancestor who arrived in what later became Claiborne County TN circa 1795. He lived on the Clinch River, just across that river from Grainger County.
Everything I have found to this point, indicates to me that the land they were on was still technically Indian Land in 1795-96. It was part of a Stokely Donelson survey – a survey done years before, but held and not registered until 1795. My ancestors land, as well as that of many of their neighbors who had also occupied the land for many years, were tied up in title disputes until the late 1820’s.
My question: when was this land between the Cumberland Gap and the Clinch River officially ceded by treaty?
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Thank you for your comments and your question. A great majority of Stokely Donelson’s personal papers went up on auction in January of 2021. These included original land surveys for the TN Eastern District and contained over 56,000 acres, dated 1795. The lot sold for over $1,000.00. Majority of Donelson’s first surveys are stored at the NC State Archives and the first dates to 1788. Title disputes are nothing new for this period. Many sections in North Carolina were disputed up to the 1840 decade, generations after the families originally settled the area.
As to the ownership of the lands prior to Donelson, I encourage you to learn more about the 1791 Treaty of Holston designed by William Blount. The first document that I’m aware of in the area pertains to the Treaty of Lochaber in 1770 which includes areas in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Of course, Richard Henderson negotiated a treaty in 1775 known as the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals. Also, the Treaty of Hopewell in 1785, Treaty of Dumplin Creek in 1785 and the Treaty of Coyatee in 1786 all pertain to the State of Franklin known today as Tennessee. I need to also add that many of the first settlers negotiated their own terms directly with the Cherokee. Of course, this would greatly depend on the timeline when your ancestor arrived in the area. Since you mentioned Donelson’s survey in 1795, I’m assuming that your ancestor arrived after 1795. If that is the case, the area was known as the Southwest Territory since May of 1790 with William Blount as acting governor.