These articles are available by the courtesyof the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia and Rhonda Robertson(firstname.lastname@example.org).
Taken from the Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia (Bulletin of theHistorical Society of Southwest Virginia), #5, March, 1970. pages 29 through 61.
The Historical Societyof Southwest Virginia" was formed in 1960. The Historical Society publishesthe bulletin: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia in March of each yearand each volume contains between 80 and 150 pages. The By-Laws and Constution ofthe Society state that the articles published in Historical Sketches are notcopyrighted and are free to be used and copied, in return the Society requeststhat credit be given to the author of the article and the Historical Society ofSouthwest Virginia. Dues to the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia are$7.00 per year for individual and $10.00 for a couple...dues include the yearlybulletin. Please send checks or money orders to: The Historical Society ofSouthwest Virginia, P. O. Box 3877, Wise, VA 24293.
THE LONG HUNTERS
By Emory L. Hamilton
The Long Hunter was peculiar to Southwest Virginia, only, and nowhere else onany frontier did such hunts ever originate. True, there were hunters and groupsof hunters on all frontiers in pioneer days, but they were never organized andpublicized as the long hunts which originated on the Virginia frontier. Most, ifnot all of the long hunts originated on the Holston in the vicinity of presentday Chilhowie, but were made up of hunters who lived on both the Clinch andHolston rivers. The idea of this manuscript is to prove, beyond a reasonabledoubt, that these long hunters were native to the area and were land owners, orresidents along the waters of these two rivers. Perhaps no group in history, whocontributed so much to the knowledge of the topography of our country, have beenso nearly completely by-passed by historians as have the long hungers of thelate colonial days. In almost every instance when the pioneer settler movedtoward the extreme frontier, he had long since been preceded by the long hunter.When the first settlers were arriving at Wolf Hills (Abingdon) and Cassell'sWoods in 1768 and 1769, the long hunters had long ago by-passed these points andwere then hunting far away in the Ohio and Cumberland river basins of Kentuckyand western Tennessee. Most of the rivers and streams, gaps, salt licks,mountains and valleys had long ago been named by these hunters. When the firstsettlers arrived, they, in most cases, adopted the names bestowed by the longhunters on natural land marks, with very few changes, and we are still usingmost of them after a lapse of nearly two centuries. Dr. Thomas Walker, on histrip to the Ohio, entered in his Journal on April 9, 1750, this statement: "Wetraveled to a River, which I supposed to be that which hunters call Clinche'sRiver, from one Clinch, a hunter who first found it." (1) Thisentry was made almost twenty years before a settlement was made on the ClinchRiver and leaves little doubt as to how the river got its name. In the annals ofAmerican history there is no braver lot than these early hunters. Not only didthey endure the rigorous winters in crude shelters, but the danger of sickness,privation, exposure, hunting accidents, and the very real and ever presentdanger of being scalped by the Indians. They were especially disliked by theIndians, being looked upon as robbers of their hunting grounds, which they trulywere, and also, as forerunners of the ever-spreading, land-clearing,soil-tilling settlers. Just why was this particular group of men given tohunting, instead of tilling the soil as most settlers? Perhaps there are threeanswers to this question; first, the spirit of adventure born in some peoplewhich they are unable to quell, among whom were James Dysart and CastletonBrooks who were quite well-to-do, as well as Colonel James Knox, who is referredto as the leader of the long hunters and who later became very wealthy.Secondly, there were those who enjoyed, above all else, the spirit of the hunt,among whom were Elisha Wallen, William Carr, Isaac Bledsoe, and others, who, alltheir lives were hunters and nothing but hunters. The last answer, but certainlynot the least, was the profit derived from these hunts. It was not uncommon fora hunter to realize sixteen to seventeen hundred dollars for his season's take,and this was far in excess of what he could earn in almost any other lucrativeendeavor. The hides and pelts were sold along the coast, where animals were nolonger plentiful, and in England, for making leather, especially buffalo skins.The British market was lost at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and thelong hunts were never again pursued after the Revolutionary War began.
The long hunter today would be called a scientist, naturalist, explorer, orsome other high- sounding name, for he had to be master of many arts. He knewthe sky and what a sunset foretold; he knew the wind and could tell it by smell,as to whether dry or moist, and could wet his finger with spittle and tell inwhich direction it was blowing. He could, in numerous ways, tell the seasons,predict the weather, and by the stars he could tell the time and direction. Heknew the plants and where they grew, and by feeling the moss and shaggy bark ofa tree, determine the north and find his direction by night. He knew themedicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailmentstherefrom. He knew his rifle, how to use it, repair it, and even in someinstances how to make one. He knew the use of the hunting and skinning knife,the tomahawk, and other tools and weapons of the hunt and the kill, which wasoft times the kill of an Indian whose skill and cunning he was forced to matchand outwit in order to survive. He was aware of, and knew the habits of animalsand birds and was able to distinguish the true call of such from the imitationby an Indian. He received his training from masters, for all who lived on thefrontiers had to be masters of natural history to survive. The very toys of hischildhood were imitations of his future life. The long hunters usually went outin October and returned the latter part of March, or early in April. Theirwinter's take consisted of both fur pelts and hides, especially the hides ofbuffalo which were wantonly slaughtered for the hides only, the carcass left tobe devoured by animals and vultures. There are recorded events where hundredsand, a few times, where thousands were slain, and certainly the Indian wasjustified in his feelings that his hunting grounds were being robbed. The bestdescriptions of the long hunter have been left to us by John Redd, who knew manyof them intimately, both in his native Pittsylvania County, and also in PowellValley when he came out to Martin's Station in 1775. (2)According to Redd, the long hunters seldom hunted in parties larger than two orthree men. Their reasons for this were two-fold; first, larger parties were moreapt to scare game away, and secondly, the Indians were less likely to becomesuspicious of a small group robbing their hunting grounds, not to mention thatsmaller parties were less likely to be discovered by the Indians. Redd tells avery interesting story about Powell Valley that was related to him by the longhunter, William Carr. "Twelve miles south of Martin's Station on Powell River,there was a very rich piece of bottom land called 'Rob Camp'. In this there wasthe remains of an old hunting camp from which the land took its name. Some fiveyears before Martin's Station was settled, *three men, with two horses each, andwith their traps, guns and other necessary equipment for a long hunt, settleddown in the bottom above alluded to, built a camp and spent the fall, winter andpart of the spring there in hunting."
At that time peace existed between the whites and Indians. These hunters werevery successful in killing game and lived in perfect harmony with the Indians,who frequently visited the hunters and congratulated them upon their success intaking game. This intimacy continued until the spring, at which time, thehunters concluded that they had as much fur and skins as they could convenientlycarry home. Accordingly, they commenced packing, loaded their horses and were inthe act of setting off for home, with the earnings of their successful hunt,when twelve or fifteen Indians came up, took possession of their horses, furs,guns, and in fact all the hunters had, and in exchange gave them three of theirold guns, and told the hunters that the land they were hunting on belonged tothe Indians, and also the game, that they would spare their lives that time, butcautioned them never to return." (3) Reddtells of another interesting camp he saw in Powell Valley. He states: "I wasborn on the 25th day of October, 1755. In January 1775, when we were on our wayout to settle Martin's Station in Powell's Valley, in going down Wallen's Creek,near its junction with Powell River, where the hills closed in very near thecreek, was found the remains of an old hunting camp, and in front of the campthe bones of two men were lying bleached. They were said to be the bones of twomen who went out hunting in the fall of 1773 and never returned. Their names Ihave forgotten. (4) Inanother letter to Dr. Lyman C. Draper, Redd has this to say in his answer to aquery made by Draper: "The remains of the camp I saw in Powell Valley were onits north side; and as well as my memory serves me, were within forty or fiftyyards of the mouth of Wallen's Creek at the ford of Powell's River. The camp wasbuilt beside a large limestone rock which served for the back of the camp. Thenames of the persons whose bones I saw there I should be unable to accuratelydistinguish were I to hear them. This may be possibly the camp pitched byBoone's war party. The bones I saw were not known certainly to be those of thetwo long hunters having gone on a long hunt in Powell Valley in 1773, who hadnot returned. The camp was eight or ten miles from Martin's Station." (5) Redd'sreference to "Boone's war party" must be a reference to the spot where DanielBoone's party camped in 1773 to await the party coming to join them fromCastlewood, which was ambushed and massacred near the head of Wallen's Creek onOctober 10, 1773. The location described by Redd also fits the general locationof Elisha Wallen's long hunting camp of 1761. Redd says the long hunters set outwith two pack horses each, a large supply of powder and lead, a small hand viseand bellows, a screwplate and files for repairing their rifles, and while hemakes no mention of it, they also carried a supply of flour for bread. In fact,on the way out they could carry quite a lot of supplies as each hunter had twopack horses.
The long hunters went out together in large parties, built a station camp,then fanned out in twos and threes to range and hunt over large areas. The firstknown station camp established in Powell's Valley was that of Elisha Wallen in1761. It is thought his party consisted of eighteen or nineteen men, but sinceno list has been preserved, only the names of a very few are known certainly tohave been in the party. Wallen's Station camp, set up at the mouth of Wallen'sCreek, was probably like other station camps, built of poles, sometimes onlyeight by ten feet, covered with puncheons or bark, walls on three sides, thefront open, along which a fire was built for warmth. Upright poles were set up -often a forked pole was driven into the ground, with a cross pole on which thebark or puncheons were laid, sloping toward the back in order to drain meltingsnow or rain away from the fire. This type of shelter was known as "half-faced"camps. Other times an extra large, already-fall tree or large rock was used forthe backwall of such a camp shelter. Some of Wallen's party are said to haveseen the eleven-year-old carving of the name of Powell and so named the Valley,river and mountain. Ambrose Powell had been a member of Dr. Thomas Walker'sexploring party of 1750." (6) "Reddsays that when he knew Wallen on Smith's River in Pittsylvania County in 1774,he was then some forty years old and had been a long hunter for many yearsbefore. That he usually hunted on a range of mountains lying on the east ofPowell's Valley and from Wallen the mountain took its name. Wallen described theridge and surrounding country on which he hunted as abounding in almost everyknown specie of game. The animals and birds had been intruded on so seldom thatthey did not fear his presence, but rather regarded him as a benefactor, butsoon learned to flee from his presence." "Wallen, along with the Blevinses andCoxes, who were connected with him by marriage, lived on Smith's River inPittsylvania County in 1774. They owned no land, but were squatters. During theRevolutionary War, the Virginia Legislature passed a law that British subjectswho owned land must come in and take the oath of allegience or their lands wouldbe confiscated. Redd says that some in Pittsylvania County did this, and Wallen,the Blevinses and Coxes, packed up 'enmass' and moved to the frontier for fearthey would have to pay many years back rent as squatters. He states that theBlevins and Cox families settled on Holston River, above Long Island, (nowKingsport) and that Wallen settled on the Holston about eighteen miles aboveKnoxville, and that in 1776 he stopped by to see him, and was informed byWallen's wife that he had then been on a hunt for two months. Redd furtherstates that Wallen later moved to Powell Valley, lived there a short time andthen moved to Missouri." (7) Redd'sstatement of Wallen's movements is borne out by a letter written to Dr. Draperby F. A. Wallen, a nephew to Elisha, from Fairland, Livingston County, Missouri,dated October 15, 1853, in which he says: "He (Elisha) moved from Virginia toTennessee, thence to Kentucky, thence to Washington County, Missouri, at a veryearly date." That Elisha Wallen lived for sometime in Powell Valley, nearMartin's Station is further proven by a letter of Colonel William Martin, son ofGeneral Joseph Martin who built Martin's Station. This letter is dated DixonSprings, (Tennessee) 7 July 1842, and is also to Dr. Draper. In the letterWilliam Martin tells of going on hunting trips with Wallen who lived near hisfather's station in Powell Valley. He said Wallen told him of going back andforth to Pittsylvania County where he lived, of his helping Colonel (William)Byrd establish Fort Chiswell (1761), of being at Fort Loudon, and of building afort at Long Island of Holston. Col. Martin says that he was intimatelyacquainted with Wallen in his latter days. The time Col. Martin knew Wallen wasin 1785 or thereafter, as he did not come out to his father's station in PowellValley until 1785. (8)
In Wallen's party of 1761, some were known to hunt as far away as theCumberland River in western Tennessee. Among those known to have been in thisparty, besides Wallen, there was his father-in-law Jack Blevins, hisbrother-in-law, William Blevins, Charles Cox, William Newman, William Pitman,Henry Scaggs, Uriah Stone, Michael Stoner, James Harrod and William Carr. Atthis time, William Pitman was in his early twenties, six feet tall and of fineappearance. There were several Pittmans and more than one named William. (9) Of thisWilliam Pittman, John Redd says: "In the latter part of February, 1776, Pittmanand Scaggs came to Martin's Station in Powell Valley. They were returning from along hunt they had taken in the "Brush" on the northwest side of CumberlandMountain. They returned earlier than usual and their reason for doing so wasthat they had seen a great smoke some distance off which they knew was Indians"ring-hunting", and besides, they had seen Indian tracks through the woods wherethey were hunting; whereupon they set out for home. They spent some eight or tendays at the Station. While they were with us, they showed some silver ore theyhad found on top of a little hill in their hunting ground. They said that whilethey were hunting, a snow fell some twelve to eighteen inches deep. Scaggs andPittman went out through the snow to kill some game. After going a shortdistance from their camp, they discovered that on top of a certain hill, therewas no snow, while all the surrounding hills were covered with it. This led themto go upon the hill and see the cause of its not being covered with snow likethe rest. On arriving at the summit of the hill, they discovered that it wascovered with a very heavy kind f ore. Each of them put some of the ore in theirshot bag and returned to camp.: "When they arrived at the camp, they took someof the ore, and by means of their hand bellows and some thick oak bark, it wasmelted and they found it to be silver ore. They brought it back with them toMartin's Station - the silver they had extracted and some of the ore. The silverwas pronounced by all who saw it to be very pure." "Scaggs and Pittman were saidto be men of a very high sense of honor and very great truth. By the next fallthe war with the Indians broke out and they went no more on their long hunts."(10) Hefurther states that in 1776 Scaggs and Pittman lived on New River. In WashingtonCounty, Virginia Land Entry Book 1, page 86, dated November 8, 1782, I findwhere William Pittman once owned the land on Sugar Hill, overlooking St. Paul,Virginia. This is the land upon which John English settled in 1772, where hiswife and children were killed by Indians in 1787, and which he sold to theFrench Baron Pierre De Tubeuf in 1791, and the site where the Baron was murderedin 1795. The land had changed hands many times by assignment of warrant beforethe Baron bought it. English obtained it from Henry Hamlin, who had obtained itfrom Joseph Drake, another Long Hunter, and Drake had gotten it from WilliamPittman, who in turn had received it from Thomas Pittman and he (Thomas) had itassigned to him from Chippy Allen Pucket. Thomas Pittman was supposedly a son ofUriah Pittman. On May 5, 1774, Arthur Galbraith sued this Thomas Pittman andJoseph Drake. Just what relation Thomas was to the long hunter, William Pittman,is unknown.
Henry Scaggs left the area and moved on into Kentucky, dying on Pittman'sCreek in Taylor County, Kentucky about 1808 or 1809, upwards of 80 years old. (11)Collins, in his "History of Kentucky," says: "He was six feet tall, darkskinned, bony, bold, enterprising and fearless. He and his brother (perhapsCharles) were noted hunters, and nothing but hunters. It was from Scaggs thatScaggs Creek in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, got its name." "In 1779 HenryScaggs was living on the Clinch in Tennessee. He had been hunting for twentyyears on the other side of the mountain, and this fall in addition to a party ofupwards of twenty men, with extra pack horses, he took his young son. In PowellValley, his party had the not-very-unusual luck of being attacked by Indians,who, though they killed no man, took all but eleven of their horses. All thehunters turned back except Scaggs, his son, and a man remembered only by thename of Sinclair, (Undoubtedly this was Charles Sinclair who lived on New Riverat Sinclair's Bottom.) Scaggs' young son sickened and died on this trip andbecause of the severe winter of 1779-80, the ground was so frozen he had to buryhim in a hollow tree." (12) Theseverity of this winter is attested in many Revolutionary pension claims. In1779, William Pittman was recommended for Lieutenant in Captain John Dunkin'sMilitia Company, Captain Dunkin ived in Elk Garden in Russell County. WilliamPittman also reflects in the 1772 tithable lists on the Clinch. Whether theseentries are for the long hunter Pittman or another, there is no way toascertain. Of William Carr little is known, except the little left to us in theReminiscences of John Redd, who says: "He was raised in Albemarle County,Virginia, and at a very early age removed to the frontier. In 1775 I becameacquainted with him in Powell's Valley. He lived on the frontier for twentyyears or more and had spent the whole time hunting. Carr hunted over inKentucky, beyond the Cumberland Mountains to the right of Cumberland Gap in aplace called "The Brush." Carr always returned with his horses laden with fursand skins. He described the game as being so gentle the animals would rarely runfrom the report of his gun." "Carr was the most venturesome hunter I ever knew.He would frequently go on these hunting expeditions alone. After the breakingout of the Indian war of 1776, few men ventured on these long hunts. Carrdetermined to take one more long hunt, and as no one would go with him, hedetermined to go alone. Accordingly, he supplied himself with a good supply ofpowder and lead, his steel traps, two good horses, and set out on a long huntand was never heard of afterward. He was no doubt killed by the Indians."(13) I donot know just where Carr resided on the frontier. It is hard to trace the namesince the records show both a William Carr and William Kerr, and whether theyare one and the same I do not know. In a land suit in Augusta Superior Court in1809, (Fugate vs Mahan) with the land in question lying on Moccasin Creek, AgnesFugate Mahan, widow of Francis Fugate, said:
"That in 1771, Francis Fugate purchased the land in question from WilliamCarr, a 'Negro man of color,' and that Carr was supposed to have bought the landfrom John Morgan, one of the first settlers in that area." In the same suit JohnMontgomery, another witness said: "William Carr is supposed to be a nearrelation to General Joseph Martin." In connection with Agness Fugate Mahan'sstatement about William Carr being a Negro man of color, John Redd tells thisintriguing story: "William _____ was born in Albemarle County, Virginia. He wasthe first son of his mother; notwithstanding his mother and her husband wereboth very respectable and had a fine estate, yet when William was born he turnedout to be a dark mulatto. The old man being a good sort of a fellow and withal,very credulous, was inducted by his better half to believe the color of his sonwas a judgement sent on her for her wickedness. William was sent to school andlearned the rudiments of an English education and, at the age of eighteen, hewas furnished with a good horse, gun and some money and directed by his reputedfather to go to the frontier and seek his fortune and never return." "In theearly part of the spring of 1775, I became personally acquainted with William atMartin's Station in Powells Valley. He was then about forty years of age; henever married, and had been living on the frontier something like twenty years.He lived in the forts and stations and lived entirely by hunting.Notwithstanding his color he was treated with as much respect as any white man.Few men possessed a more high sense of honor and true bravery than he did. Hewas possessed of a very strong natural mind and always cheerful and the verylife of any company he was in. He had hunted in the 'brush' for many yearsbefore I became acquainted with him. He was about the ordinary height, littleinclined to be corpulent, slightly round shouldered and weighed about 160 or 170pounds and very strong for one of his age." (14) OneWilliam Carr was in Captain Robert Doak's militia company June 2, 1774, and aWilliam Carr was also in the Cherokee Campaign under Colonel Christian in thesame year. Bickley, in his "History of Tazewell County," tells of a hunter namedCarr making an early settlement in Tazewell County, Virginia. Another longhunter, who was in the Clinch area for sometime, was Uriah Stone, and it seemshe made land improvements in many places were he hunted, probably with the hopeof selling them as he did one in the present Tazewell County, as shown by a landsuit in Augusta County Superior Court, Maxwell vs Pickens, filed 1807. In thissuit James Maxwell stated: "In 1772 I went from Botetourt County where I livedto present Tazewell County to make a settlement. I was in company with SamuelWalker. Found a tract with some improvements, viz: the foundations of a cabin,some rails split and some trees deadened. That nigth we fell in with a party ofhunters, among them Uriah Stone, who claimed to have made the improvement, and Ipurchased it." In the same land suit Lawrence Murray stated: "Thirty-three yearsago (1774) I was in Wright's Valley at Uriah Stone's cabin." Another land suitin the same court, Wynn vs Engle's heirs, the same Samuel Walker referred to inthe other case, stated that he came to the head of the Clinch in 1771, and thefollowing year he came again with Robert Moffett. Shortly thereafter two mencame out, viz: Uriah Stone and John Stutler.
James Smith, a Pennsylvanian, left his home in the fall of 1765, and thefollowing spring of 1766 found him in the Holston country of Virginia wheresettlement was thickening in the general vicinity of Samuel Stalnaker's place.There, Smith, in company with Joshua Horton, William Baker, Uriah Stone, forwhom Stone's River in Tennessee was named, and another James Smith from nearCarlisle in Pennsylvania, had gone west. (15) Stonereturned to middle Tennessee again in 1767, and at this time, or soon after,Stone made an improvement on a claim to "A certain place known as Stoner's Lick,on the east side of Stone's River. (16) Stonewas a juror in the Fincastle Court of July 7, 1773, and on this same date, he,along with Obediah Terrell, Gasper Mansker and Castleton Brooks were witnessesin the case of John Baker versus Humphrey Hogan, all of whom were long hunters.Then again in the Fincastle Court of November 3, 1773, there was a motion byUriah Stone to stay the proceedings of a judgement obtained against him byObediah Terrell. The last mention of Stone in the Fincastle records was onDecember 6, 1774, when Gasper Mansker was plaintiff against Uriah Stone andJacob Harmon. Michael Stoner, whose real name was Geoge Michael Holsteiner,along with Isaac Bledsoe, Gasper Mansker, John Montgomery and Joseph Drake wereon the Cumberland in 1767 and are said to have had a station camp in 1768 onwhat is now Station Camp Creek, north of Cumberland in middle Tennessee. A groupof hunters from South Carolina, who were on the Cumberland in 1767, make mentionof meeting James Harrod and Michael Stoner on Stone's River, who were from FortPitt by way of the Ilinois. (17) Thisis the very same Michael Stoner who was at Castlewood and went with Daniel Boonein 1774 to Kentucky to warn the surveying parties of Indian dangers just priorto the outbreak of Dunmore's War, and without proof, there is every evidencethat Stoner was much better acquainted with Kentucky than was Boone, for Boone'sfirst trip through Cumberland Gap was in 1769, and after having missed findingthe gap on previous trips, he was at this time led through the gap by JohnFindley, another long hunter and settled on the Cumberland River in Tennessee.While trying to find someone to send to Kentucky to warn the surveying parties,on June 22, 1774, Colonel William Christian wrote to Colonel William Prestonthat he was thinking of sending out a certain Crabtree to search for thesurveyors, having him do this as a sort of atonement for his late achievement inmurdering some friendly Cherokees. Having some doubt about the ethics of this,however, he next thought of sending out Joseph Drake, who, a one of the longhunters, was tolerably well acquainted with Kentucky. Colonel Preston wroteCaptain William Russell of Castlewood about this matter, and Russell, on the26th of June, 1774, answered Preston saying: "I have engaged to startimmediately, on the occasion, two of the best hands I could think of, DanielBoone and Michael Stoner, who have engaged to search the country as low as theFalls (Louisville), and to return by way of Gasper's Lick on Cumberland, andthrough Cumberland Gap." (18)
Michael Stoner went to Kentucky with Boone when he made his settlement atBoonesboro, and Cotterill, in his "Kentucky in 1774" implies that Stoner waswith Boone's party when they made their unsuccessful attempt to settle inKentucky in 1773, and that he had been a close associate of Boone for severalyears before, Boone and Stoner having first met on the New River, and that, whenBoone's party was turned back in 1773, he had probably been living with theBoone family on the Clinch. Stoner, born about 1748, was also a member ofBoone's road-cutting party through Cumberland Gap and was still alive in 1801,when he made a deposition in Wayne County, Kentucky. (19) Hemarried a daughter of Andrew Tribble. He was wounded at the siege of Boonesboro,fainted from loss of blood after he had refused to let anyone come to him, forhe ws outside the fort walls. His wounds were only flesh wounds, one in the hipand another in the arm. After losing his land grants he settled with hisfather-in-law near Price's Station. (20) Twoother long hunters of Powell Valley were William Crabtree and James Aldridge,both of whom were probably in Wallen's hunting party of 1761. Of these two, JohnRedd, says: "I have seen them both frequently, but know nothing of interestconnected with their long hunts. More of an Indian scout and hunter than afarmer, William Crabtree was a real backwoodsman, tall, slender and withslightly red hair." (21) TheCrabtrees lived on the Holston, a numerous family, with many of the same name,therefore it is hard to distinguish which William was the long hunter, but it isbelieved he was the William who was a son of William and Hannah WhittakerCrabtree whose residence was at the Big Lick near Saltville. If so, he was bornin Baltimore County, Maryland, circa 1748. His first wife was Hannah Lyon,sister to the long hunter, Humphrey Lyon. After her death he was married in 1777to Katherine Starnes and she died in Tazewell County in 1818. The father ofWilliam Crabtree, whose name was also William, lived near the Salt Works (nowSaltville) where he died in 1777. Redd says: "I know not where Crabtree was fromoriginally. In 1777 he was living on Watauga, not far above its junction withthe Holston. I know not what finally became of him. He was about thirty years ofage." Of the long hunter, James Aldridge, this writer has been unable to recoverany data of significance, as he seems to be mentioned in none of the courtrecords. Some writers have said that he lived on the New River, but John Reddsays he lived in the neighborhood with the Crabtrees on Holston. He is describedas being about 30 years of age, a dark haired, heavily built man, stoopshouldered, but with a spritely mind. Humberson Lyon was another of the longhunters who early hunted on the Cumberland. He was a brother-in-law to WilliamCrabtree, having married his sister, Hanna Crabtree. His will was exhibited inWashington County, Virginia, court on March 16, 1784, and proven by the oaths ofIsaac, Job, and Hanna Crabtree, and who, along with William Crabtree werewitnesses to the will. Abraham Crabtree was Administrator and his Securitieswere William and James Crabtree. The will was probated March 16, 1784, and heleft his estate to his wife and sons, William, James, Stephen, and Jacob, anddaughter Susanna. Humerson Lyon was a Juror in Fincastle County in 1773, and wasrecommended Captain in the Washington County, Virginia militia, October 9, 1780.
Elisha Wallen went out again in 1763 with much the same group as were in hisparty of 1761. Glowing reports of the Cumberland and Ohio River basins broughtback by Uriah Stone, Joshua Houghton, or Horton, and others of the long huntersfanned the urge for exploration to the boiling point. Plans were laid for agreat hunt in Tennessee and Kentucky. The rendevous was to be on New River,eight miles from Fort Chiswell, in June 1769. This party consisted of at leasttwenty or more men, and Williams, in his "Dawn of Tennessee History," names ten,to wit: John Rains, Gasper Mansker, Abraham Bledsoe, Joseph Baker, Joseph Drake,Obediah Terrell, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Ned Cowan and Robert Crockett. (22) Tothese ten, the following names also should be added: Isaac Bledsoe, WilliamCarr, James Dysart, Jacob Harmon, William Crabtree, James Aldridge, John Baker,Thomas Gordon, Humphrey Hogan and Castleton Brooks. "Passing through CumberlandGap and far into Kentucky, a station camp was built, and the company theredispersed into small hunting parties, as was the custom. Traveling southeast,one of these parties reached Roaring River and Caney Fork of the Cumberland. Onwhat is now known as Matthews Creek of Roaring River in Overton County,Tennesse, Robert Crockett was killed, Indians firing upon him from ambush." Ofthe above group of nineteen long hunters, not heretofore mentioned, is JohnRains who became one of the first settlers on the Cumberland, going there fromthe New River settlements in Virginia, where he had first settled afteremigrating from Culpepper County, Virginia. He was noted for his woodcraft andIndian fighting, became an officer of militia, an dlike Gasper Mansker, survivedclose to twenty-five years of Indian warfare, fifteen of these on theCumberland; yet he lived to be 91. (23) OfHumphrey Hogan, little is known. The only record found of him is in theWashington County, Virginia, court where on November 17, 1778, he was on bailfor Alexander Hamilton. He moved to Tennessee where he became one of the firstschool teachers. It is not known just what he taught for he signed his name withan "X". Gasper Mansker, luckier than most long hunters, in that he kept hisscalp, but was engaged in more skirmishes than most, was outspoken and then onlytwenty years old. He had been born aboard ship, of emigrating parents, and spokewith a heavy German accent, but sometimes described as a "Dutchman." He wasreared on the Virginia borders in the region of the South Potomac. Aftertwenty-five years of Indian warfare in which he got several wounds, he died in1822 on the lands over which he had hunted in 1769. He built a Station Camp earGasper's Lick in 1779, and had a wife and a brother George Mansker. It was toMansker's Station about twelve miles above what was to be Nashville, that AndrewJackson's future wife, Rachael Donnelson, fled with her kin in the troubledIndian times of 1780. (24) GasperMansker lived on Moccasin Creek in present day Scott County, Virginia, prior tohis going to Tennessee. On the 6th of December 1774 he entered 190 acres of landin old Fincastle Land Entry records, lying on Moccasin Creek. He was married toElizabeth White of Virginia, who eloped with him. He had a Station nearGoodlettsville, in Davidson County, Tennessee. He lived at Mansker's Lick in1792, and never had any children.
Obediah Terrell, for whom Obey's River in Tennessee, was named, was a chunky,small-sized man with a club foot. (25) Hespent several years on the Cumberland as a farmer and hunter, and beforepermanent settlement was made in Tennessee, hunted and camped along the river inwhat later became Cumberland and Pulaski counties. In 1780 Daniel Smith spentone night in his camp near the mouth of Obey's River while on a buffalo hunt. (26) It ishighly probable that Captain Daniel Smith and Terrell knew each other back onthe Clinch in earlier years, for Smith was a militia officer and Surveyor forFincastle and Washington counties in Virginia, before his removal to Tennessee.While on the Clinch frontier, Obediah Terrell lived on Obey's Creek in ScottCounty, Virginia, which was named for him. The last official court recordpertaining to him in Washington County, Virginia, was April 22, 1778, when hewas appointed Overseer of the road from "two big springs" on Copper Creek to thehead of Moccasin Creek, and on August 18, 1778 when he was appointedAdministrator of the estate of Thomas Kindrick. It was perhaps soon after thisdate that he moved to Tennessee, for less than sixteen months thereafter DanielSmith was spending the night with him on Obey's River in middle Tennessee.Joseph and Ephraim Drake were brothers, and Ephraim seems to have been much lessa hunter than was his brother, Joseph. Joseph Drake had apparently been inDaniel Boone's party to Kentucky in 1773, when his son, James Boone and HenryRussell, with others were killed on Wallens Creek on October 10, 1773. Heprobably left the Clinch with Boone in 1775 for he was killed by Indians atBoonesboro in 1778. (27) Hemarried Margaret, a daughter of Colonel John Buchanan, and after his death, shemarried a man named William Jones. Drake left one son John who was living inNicholas County, Kentucky. Joseph Drake went from his father's home near NewRiver, and near Anchor and Hope Plantation (present Max Meadows) to SouthwestVirginia, at least by 1772, and probably before, according to the court records.He took up a tract of 326 acres on Carlock's Creek. This is the creek that flowsinto the Holston just east of Chilhowie, and along the road that leads fromChilhowie to Saltville today. Drake got a tract from Colonel John Buchanan'sland, the Hall's Bottom land (South of the Bristol Howard Johnson Restaurant)and went to live there, but there was a German living there, named Jacob Young,who had moved in on the land and squatted. He came to Drake's home and fired apistol across the front porch and heckled Drake in general until he moved. JamesDysart was Sheriff of Washington County and wanted to help Drake run Young off,but Drake moved away nonetheless. Dysart wanted to help Drake because of hisattachment to him. He said he had been hunting on three long hunts with Drake -one in 1769 for seven months, in 1771 for nine months, and a third for elevenmonths in 1772. Drake moved to Kentucky in 1777 from the Hall's Bottom land. Hehad bought his Carlock tract from the Loyal Land Company early - about1771-1772. Drake had moved his family to the Hall's Bottom tract in 1775, andthen with the outbreak of the Cherokee War in 1776, moved back up New River nearhis father's home. (28) Itwill be recalled that William Christian to Colonel Preston, in a letter datedJune 22, 1774, in regard to sending someone to Kentucky to warn the Surveyors,said, "Next thought of sending out Joseph Drake, who, as one of the long hunterswas tolerably well acquainted with Kentucky." In Fincastle County court ofJanuary 6, 1773, Joseph Drake was granted permission to keep an Ordinary (Inn),and on January 5, 1773, he was appointed road Overseer from the Town House toEighteen Mile Creek, proving his residence in the vicinity of Chilhowie at thatdate.
Joseph Drake was killed by Indians near Boonesboro in August, 1778. He hadmarried Margaret, a daughter of Colonel John Buchanan, and his brother EphraimDrake had married her sister, Anna Buchanan. These Buchanan girls who marriedthe Drake brothers were first cousins to General William Campbell (whose motherwas a Buchanan), and of Captain James Thompson, whose mother and wife of ColonelBuchanan were sisters and the daughters of Colonel James Patton. (29) PartIII In 1769, a party of approximately forty hunters, with James Knox as theirleader spent more than a year in the Cumberland country. Many conflictingaccounts of this party of 1769 have been written. Much of the confusion becausethe party split into several smaller parties, each going in a differentdirection. Everybody is pretty well agreed that they went in a body over theHunter's Trail to Flat Lick (near Stinking Creek, about eight miles north and alittle west of Cumberland Ford.) (30) Justabout all the long hunters heretofore mentioned in this manuscript were on thishunt, and those not mentioned previously being the Bledsoe brothers, Anthony,Abraham and Isaac, John Baker, Thomas Gordon, Jacob Harmon, Castleton Brooks,John Montgomery, James Dysart, Humphrey Hogan, David and William Lynch,Christopher Stoph, William Allen, Joseph Brown and Ned Cowan. The Bledsoebrothers, Anthony, Abraham and Isaac were tall men of fair complexion and ofEnglish origin. Their parents had come from England to Culpeper County,Virginia. Their mother died and they left home because of an unkind step-mother.They came about 1767 to the New River country. Anthony, the eldest, marriedMary, the daughter of Thomas Ramsey, a noted Indian fighter and active in Frenchand Indian War. (31)Abraham Bledsoe became a professional hunter, but Isaac and Anthony wereinterested in land. Both settled in middle Tennessee about 1784. Isaac, at thistime about twenty-four years old, and after surviving years of border warfare inVirginia and Eastern Tennessee, spent two or three years in Kentucky, and, whenthat was safe from the Indians, went back to Bledsoe's Creek, and there he waskilled, as was his brother Anthony, by the Indians. Isaac Bledsoe was a Captainin the Cherokee Campaign in 1776. He lived on Highway 58, between Bristol andGate City, about five miles outside Bristol. His land is now the property of theSpahr family who bought from him in 1782. A very interesting letter is to befound in the Draper Collection written by General William Hall, of Locustland,Tennessee, to Dr. Draper, dated 21st of July 1845, wherein he says: "Sir, youwish to know something about Colonel Bledsoe's discovering Bledsoe's Lick, andthe route of the long hunters, and Colonel Mansker's killing the buffaloes atBledsoe's Lick for the tallow and tongues. "The long hunters principally residedin the upper country of Virginia, and North Carolina, on the New River andHolston River, and when they intended to make a long hunt, as they called it,they collected near the head of Holston, enar where Abingdon now stands. Thencethey proceeded a westerly direction passing through Powell's Valley crossing theCumberland mountain where the road now crosses leading to the Crab Orchard inKentucky. Then crossing the Cumberland River where the said road now crossesRockcastle, and leaving the Crab Orchard to the right and continuing nearly thesaid course, crossing the head of Green River, going on through the Barrens,crossing Big Barren River at the mouth of Drake's Creek; thence up Drake's Creekto the head, crossing the ridge which divides the waters of the Ohio River fromthe waters of the Cumberland, and the hunters, after crossing the ridge, eitherwent down Bledsoe's Creek, or Station Camp Creek to the river and then spreadout in the Cumberland ready to make their hunt.
The first trip that the long hunters made was about 1772 or 1773. There wereseveral very enterprising, smart, active members along. I will name a few:Colonel Isaac Bledsoe, Colonel John Montgomery, Colonel Gasper Mansker, HenryScaggs, Obediah Terrell, two Drakes (this would be Joseph & Ephraim), and anumber of others could be named. When the hunters crossed the dividing ridgefirst named, they fell on the head of Station Camp Creek, and went down it aboutthree miles and from Cumberland River, came to a very large plain, buffalo path,much traveled, crossing the creek at right angles north and south. The southside of the creek was a pretty high bluff and a beautiful flat ridge made downto the creek. The hunters pitched their camp on the bluff and on the buffalopath, and they made that their Station Camp from which the creek took its name.Colonel Bledsoe and Colonel Mansker, the first night they pitched their camp,agreed that the buffalo path that ran by their camp must lead at each end toSulphur Licks or springs, and they made an agreement that night for ColonelBledsoe, in the morning, to take the north end of the path, and Colonel Manskerto take the south side of the path, and each to ride one half day along the pathto see what discoveries they could make and give themselves time to return tocamp that night and report what they had seen. "They were both successful intheir expectations. One found Bledsoe's Lick at the end of thirteen miles, andthe other found Mansker's Lick at about, twelve miles. They both returned thatnight, with great joy, to their companions at the camp, and made known theirdiscoveries of the two licks. "Colonel Bledsoe told me when he came to Bledsoe'sCreek, about two miles from the lick, he had some difficulty in riding along thepath, the buffaloes were so crowded in the path, and on each side, that hishorse could scarcely get through them, and when he got to the bend of the creekat the Lick, the whole flat surrounding the lick of about one hundred acres wasprincipally covered with buffaloes in every direction. He said not onlyhundreds, but thousands. "The space containing the Sulphur Springs was about twohundred yards each way across, and the buffalo had licked the dirt away severalfeet deep in that space, and within that space there issued out about a dozensulphur springs, at which the buffalo drank. Bledsoe said there was such a crowdof buffaloes in the Lick and around it, that he was afraid to get off his horsefor fear of getting run over by the buffaloes, and as he sat on his horse heshot down two in the lick and the buffaloes trod them in the mud so that hecould not skin them. The buffaloes did not mind the sight of him and his horse,but when the wind blew from him to them they got the scent of him, they wouldbreak and run in droves."
The same year that Bledsoe discovered the lick, a Frenchmen by the name ofDenumbre, who lived at Kaskaski on the Mississippi River, with a party of Frenchhunters, in a keel boat, came up the Cumberland River to the mouth ofBledsoe'sCreek, and came to Bledsoe's Lick and killed at the Lick, and around inthe vicinity of the Lick a sufficient number of buffaloes to load their boatwith tallow and buffalo tongues. The second year after, when Bledsoe and thelong hunters returned, when they crossed the ridge and came down on Bledsoe'sCreek, in four or five miles of the Lick, the cane had grown up so thick in thewoods that they thought they had mistaken the place until they came to the Lickand saw what had been done. Bledsoe told me that one could walk for severalhundred yards around the lick, and in the lick on buffalo bones. They then foundout the cause of the canes growing up so suddenly a few miles around the Lickwhich was in consequence of so many buffaloes being killed. Sir, you wasmistaken in thinking that I told you that Colonel Mansker was the person thathad killed the buffaloes at Bledsoe's Lick for tallow and tongues." (32) TheFrenchamn referred to as Denumbre, in the foregoing letter, as reallyDemunbreun, and of him Williams, in his "Dawn of Tennessee History," states:"Some long hunters about 1766 or 1767 observed on the bluff near French Lick, ahut or trading post - evidently that of Timothe Demunbreun who, about that timearrived at that place in a sail boat and began to trade with Indians andhunters." In a long footnote William tells a lot about this Frenchman. Thefootnote says in part: "He and his family for some time lived in a cave on thebanks of the Cumberland between the mouth of Mill Creek and Stone's River. Amarker at the cave has been erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution.Demuenbreun had a lineage and a career more remarkable than our historiansconceived. His name in full and correctly was Jacques Timothe Boucher deMontbrun, descendant of Pierre Boucher who was the first French Canadian to beraised (1661) to the rank of nobility in recognition of his work in bringingcolonists into Canada." Williams, in " Dawn of Tennessee History," says, inspeaking of Castleton Brooks, that he also came to the Cumberland, most possiblymerely to see the country, for he was a man of means, and six years later,served as witness for the biggest land deal in all the history of the west. (33)(Henderson's purchase of the Cherokee land.) Castleton Brooks lived on theHolston and served as a Juror in Fincastle in 1773, and in 1777 was appointed bythe Washington County Court as "Constable from Patterson's Mill as far down theriver as there was settlers." James Knox was referred to as "leader" of the longhunters, because of his instrumentality in organizing these hunts. He organizedthe group who went out in 1769 and in 1771. Knox, a Scotsman, had emigrated fromnorthern Ireland when he was fourteen. He had soon learned the ways of theborder, for by that date any community west of the Blue Ridge had plenty of goodteachers. Most of his life, like that of the other long hunters, was to be spentin skirmishes with the Indians and British. He rose to the rank of Major in themilitia and settled in Kentucky, where he married the widow of Benjamin Logan,whom some say he loved before she was married to Logan. He lived to become rich,a Kentucky Colonel and member of the Legislature from Jefferson County in 17888,and a member of the Kentucky Senate from Lincoln County from 1795 to 1800.
James Knox was a member of the Surveying party under John Floyd in 1774, whenGovernor Dunmore sent Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner to Kentucky to look forthem and warn them of danger prior to the outbreak of Dunmore's War. Knoxdeserted Floyd's party with a man named Allen, perhaps WilliamAllen, anotherlong hunter. Knox and nine others, perhaps all deserters from Floyd's party,were fired upon by the Indians while encamped on Salt River and James Hamiltonand Jared Cowan were killed. Jared Cowan is perhaps the long hunter sometimesreferrred to as Ned Cowan. (34) Afterthis Knox and his party made their way back to the Clinch, arriving atCastlewood on July 9, 1774. In 1784, James Knox led a caravan, which had startedout from Augusta County over the Wilderness Road, to Kentucky. This caravan hadbeen joined by settlers along the way down from Augusta and many from the Clinchand Holston settlements joined it, and when Knox took command at Bean's Station,it numbered some 300 people. Many of these prioneers settled in JessamineCounty, Kentucky. Another Scotch hunter from Northern Ireland was young JohnMontgomery. As previously stated, he was related to the Bledsoe brothers throughmarriage, marrying a daughter of Josiah Ramsey, and a niece to Anthony Bledsoe'swife. The Montgomerys lived in what is now Montgomery County, Virginia, and fromthe family the county dervied its name. Lieutenant Colonel John Montgomery whohad been commissioned very young, was sent by Virginia in April 1779 to helpGeorge Rogers Clark in his Illinois campaign and received distinction for hisefforts in that campaign. He went down the Holston-Tennessee rivers by boat toChattanooga with General Evan Shelby, going on to the Illinois in the sameboats. Drury Bush from Castlewood, and the Kincaid brothers, James and Joseph,who lived directly across Clinch River from St. Paul, were with Montgomery onthis trip. (35)Colonel John Montgomery founded Clarksville in Tennessee, and died there in1794. (36) Stillanother Scotchman from Northern Ireland was James Dysart, an orphan, who came toAmerica as a teen-age boy. He, like many immigrants, had landed at Philadelphiaand gradually worked his way south and west to the Holston River country. Hisold home "Brook Hall" stood east of Abingdon on Highway U. S. 11. "He may have,on his way to Southwest Virginia, carried a few books. In his old age, afterservice at King's Mountin where he was wounded, he removed to a remote sectionof Rockcastle County, Kentucky, but when a friend commented on his isolation heanswered, 'I am never lonesome when I have a good book in my hand.' He, in time,collected quite a library and lived to enjoy it, dying when he was 74 in 1831."((37)After settling on the Holston River in Fincastle County, Dysart married Agnes, adaughter of John and Eleanor Beatty. He served as Captain in General WilliamCampbell's regiment at the Battle of King's Mountain. He was a signer of thecall for the Rev. Charles Cummings in 1772, and, when Washington County wasorganized in 1776, he became a Justice of the Court and first Sheriff ofWashington County in 1776. He rose to Major in the Washington County Militia,and held many minor offiecs. He had a mill and owned more than 2000 acres ofland scattered from the Holston to Powell Valley, mostly in small tracts.
John Finley, another long hunter and the one who led Daniel Boone throughCumberland Gap on his first trip to Kentucky, after Boone had previously missedfinding the gap, was also a resident of Southwest Virginia, and was on earlytrips to the Cumberland country. I first find him mentioned in the FincastleCourt records November 2, 1773 when he bought land. In the Washington County,Virginia Court of 26th of February, 1777, is entered this order: "John Finleymaking it appear to the satisfaction of the court of Washington County that heupon the 20th day of July, 1776, received a wound in the thigh in the battlefought with the Cherokees, near the Great Island, and it now appears to the saidcourt that he, in consequence of said wound, is rendered unable to gain a livingby his labor as formerly. Theefore his case is recommended to the GeneralAssembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia." Finley was in Edmondson's Company atthe Battle of Long Island Flats (now Kingsport) when he was wounded, and wasprobably in the same company at King's Mountain. At one time he was probbly aresident of the Watauga Valley. Jacob Harman was one of the long hunters, butthere was more than one Jacob Harman, as well as many other Harmans, and allwere hunters, so it is hard to determine just which jacob was the long hunter.The long hunter may have been Jacob Harman, Jr., a son of Jacob, Sr. TheHarmans, who were all descendants of Henrich Adam Herman, a German immigrant whosettled on the New River in the late 1740s or early 1750s with a large family ofboys who were all born prior to his emigrtion to the New River Settlement. Allthese boys were great hunters and Indian fighters. In speaking of the longhunters, Jonathan Daniels, in his book, "The Devil's Backbone," says that JohnRains, one of the long hunters who settled in Tennessee, in referring to thelawyers, doctors and politicians arriving on the frontier, said, "We used tothink we had the Devil to pay (and a heavy debt, running in long installments)before the doctors and lawyers came, but the doctors introduced disease and thelawyers instituted suits, and now we have all to pay."