I was thrilled when I found the story (below) that mentions our Moses (of Smith and Giles Co TN and Lauderdale Co AL). It’s wonderful to be able to visualize an actual life event like this when all that we usually have is data such as dates, places, etc. that we collect with genealogy. I thought I’d type it up and share it so that other Grisham/Grissom descendants could enjoy it as well.
Please keep in mind when reading the story, that the “I” in the story is Joseph Bishop (not the author Gray), “Double-Head” is Joseph’s dog (possibly named after the famous Indian chief), and the county he’s talking about is Smith County, Tennessee.
This is an excerpt from the book, “The Life of Joseph Bishop” which has the long sub-title, “The Celebrated Old Pioneer in the First Settlements of Middle Tennessee, Embracing his Wonderful Adventures and Narrow Escapes with the Indians, his Animating and Remarkable Hunting Excursions, Interspersed with Racy Anecdotes of Those Early Times.”
Joseph Bishop is almost 100 years old when he is relaying these stories in about 1868.
If you would like to read the whole book (236 pages) you can find it by going to Google-books and searching on the title “The Life of Joseph Bishop.”
From “The Life of Joseph Bishop”
By John W. Gray, M.D.
Published in 1868 by the author, Nashville, Tennessee
Chapter XI (starting on page 143)
In the spring of 1796, I came with Elmore Douglass and others to commence a settlement on the south side of Cumberland River. When we arrived, we stuck the pegs of our tent, the first that were ever stuck within the present boundaries of Smith county, at the head of a fine fountain of water which we found breaking up in the midst of a beautiful forest, now a charming lawn spreading out extensively before a handsome two-story mansion, the early residence of that splendid old citizen, Hickerson Barksdall, whose recent death has been so much lamented by a large circle of friends, and mourned over by five promising sons and one interesting daughter. It is now occupied by Thomas, the oldest child. This mansion was also the abode, at an early date, of a very excellent old pioneer, Capt. Green B. Lowe. Soon after our arrival, John Ward and his wife, with an infant son Bryan, came and settled within a mile of the same place, where they were soon blessed with another son, whom they gave the name of Henry; and while Douglass and myself were the first settlers, Henry was the first child born in the county. The good old parents, with whom many of those now composing the present generation of this section of Tennessee were familiar, have long since gone down among the tombs. They have several other children, but their two eldest sons, Bryan and Henry, though their locks are white as snow – the former having lived out his three-score years and ten, and the latter following hard by – may yet be seen lingering upon the old homestead lands of their father, still erect for men of their age, riding to and fro over their possessions, their fine fields, and rich pastures, beside their fountains, among their horses, sheep, and cattle, and always ready to show the spot where the germ of the county was planted, and from which it has sprung up and reached its present maturity.
All the settlers being dependent upon me for meat, I again betook myself to the woods, and opened a tremendous warfare upon the wild beasts and fowls which roamed and flew in the regions round about, soon proving to those who looked to me for meat that they would not look in vain, for each day I laid at their respective doors an abundant supply. During my hunt the weather became very cold. The waters of the Cumberland, instead of continuing to dance to the music of the whistling winds, became one solid sheet of ice, extending from bank to bank; and one day as I was going up stream, after traveling a distance of five miles along the river, I saw a flock of swans upon the opposite shore. The distance for a shot was very great, but I presented arms and fired, and two of them fell flapping their wings on the ground. I reloaded, passed over on the ice, shot the third, gathered them up, recrossed, and carried them all to the work-hands.
But it soon became evident that our luck must change. Our supplies of meat were exhausted; the last slice had been divided and swallowed, and we were driven to the necessity of scraping a couple of fresh bear-skins, and making of the gleanings another meal, or do worse. Fortunately for the settlers, however, the rigidity of the weather gave way and was succeeded by a spell approaching in mildness that of a summer’s day. Jesse McLendon – of whom I have heretofore spoken – and myself, buckled on our hunting paraphernalia and immediately disappeared from the huts, and after hunting a few miles, our ears were greeted by the joyous baying of Double-head. He was thus telling us that he pursued some good game, for we knew that he, like the eagle, never stooped to catch flies. We hurried to the spot. His eyes were gleaming with mingled expressions; brightening with joy when he looked at us, and flashing as fire when he turned them upon the bear. I saw the bear enter a hole, and started back after an axe and a horse, advising McLendon to shoot if she showed her head. I soon reached the camp, procured a horse and an axe, and being joined by Moses Grissom, returned to the scene which seemed to be so rapidly driving dull cares away, and on our arrival we saw that the bloody deed was done – the bear was dead. She had been shot in the mouth, and dropped back into the hollow of the tree; not, however, until she had heaved one of her cubs out, as ‘twere an hostage to stay for a moment the hand of the enemy. I left McLendon and Grissom to cut the tree down, and took another little round at hunting, and before they had finished the work they had undertaken to do, I had fired upon and killed another bear. We now had two and but one horse, and Grissom being the lightest man among us, we put it on him to ride and carry them. The horse manifesting some terror at the sight and smell of the load he had to carry, we were compelled to blindfold him, and we split the bear’s feet for stirrups, and tying them together, threw them upon his back. We now mounted Grissom, handed him the bridle, turned the horse’s head homeward and cleared the track, whereupon he with one tremendous bound went almost three times his length, throwing his load high above his back and running from under it. All came down to the ground in one common pile, though the rider was worse alarmed than hurt, happening, as one of he party said, to catch the flat of his back upon the ground. We caught the affrighted horse, he not being able to run fast with his blind, brought him back and threw the bears upon him again, and while two of us led by the bridle, the other followed behind with a brush, and by pulling and whipping, we succeeded in delivering our load of meat to the hungry expectants at the camp-ground