During the Civil War, Confederate General John Crawford Vaughn with 100 men tracked Captain Goldman Bryson's newly enlisted Union Company through Tellico and Coker Creek on the Unicoi Turnpike. Vaughn had orders from Union General Braxton Bragg to track down and destroy Bryson's Company. On Oct. 27, 1863 Vaughn caught and attacked Bryson's unit at Evan's Mill on Beaver Dam Creek, about 10 miles from Murphy. Two of Bryson's men were killed there and 17 were captured. On the way back to Tellico some of the 17 were murdered in cold blood and their bodies were left along the trail. Most of the rest were shot near the base of the mountain on Tellico River, near the house of Dr. Hall. Bryson escaped back to Six Mile on Coker Creek but was trailed and killed there. Bryson's muster roll of his union men was taken from his body. The list of names was later used after the war by Thomas Boyd, Vaughn's brother-in-law and Regimental Adjutant from Mount Vernon, and Vaughn to defraud the Federal government out of more than $100,000 on fraudulent claims in the name of the men that Vaughn had killed.
In 1871 both Vaughn and Boyd were arrested for the fraudulent claims. Isaac Lenoir, founder of Sweetwater, put up most of the $40,000 bond for Boyd's release. Boyd hired Justice of the Peace, B. P. Reagan and his son-in-law, Perry Hensley, to help him in his defense. On September 6, 1872 these three were on the Unicoi Turnpike heading toward Murphy to find evidence for Boyd's defense. About dark, they began to make camp at Laurel Branch on the Unicoi Turnpike between Tellico Plains and Coker Creek. Five men dressed as Ku Klux Klansmen bearing guns descended upon the group from the trees by the road. The "Klansmen" tied up Reagan and Hensley, and took Boyd up into the woods. There they made a lot of noise and pretended to kill Boyd. The "Klansmen" then left what appeared to be Boyd's body burning in a fire. The charred remains of what appeared to be Thomas Boyd were immediately taken to Eleazar cemetery and buried. As it turned out the charred body was the body of Samuel Bowles, a 17 year old Negro who had lived with the Boyd Household. Boyd had faked his death and escaped to Canada. However, Boyd was eventually brought back to stand trial in Knoxville, where he was found guilty and sent to jail for four years. When Boyd was released from jail, he returned to Sweetwater and was elected Mayor of the town. A few years later, Boyd was killed on the street at Sweetwater by one of his own relatives, whom Boyd had cheated. When one of Boyd's friends was asked if he was going to Boyd's funeral, the answer was, "No, I went to the first one!"