With the death of Admiral Farragut, which took place at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Aug. 15, 1870, after a protracted illness, the country lost the officer who stood at the head of the Navy, not only in official rank but in universal estimation of merit based upon the severest tests most gloriously sustained.

David Glasco Farragut was born in East Tennessee (Campbell’s Station) on July 5, 1801, and was appointed a midshipman from that state in 1810, being only nine years old (yes, nine years old) at the time. He served under Captain David Porter during the war of 1812 in that brilliant cruise of the Essex. That is one of the proudest passages in the records of the American Navy. His own exploits many years after in the War of the Rebellion proved that he had not forgotten the lessons learned from his daring and skillful commander.

A long period of faithful and successful service, though without opportunity for startling achievements, succeeded the War of 1812, and when the Union expedition against New Orleans was organized, he was sent out in January 1862 as commander of the naval forces connected there, which soon grew into the Gulf Squadron.

Admiral Farragut in His Uniform (public domain)

In April of the same year, he passed Fort Jackson and St. Philip and drew up his squadron before the City of New Orleans, which lay at the mercy of his guns.

In May, he ascended as far as Vicksburg, passing formidable batteries and instituting in conjunction with Rear Admiral Davis, a bombardment, which proved unsuccessful for want mainly of a cooperating land force.

Farragut’s fleet was safely withdrawn to Pensacola and on July 11, he received the thanks of Congress and was, by the President, placed first upon the list of Rear Admirals.

In March 1868, he again ascended the Mississippi, passing the batteries of Port Hudson and cooperated with General Grant in the reduction of Vicksburg, which was accomplished in the early days of July.

The capture of the forts in Mobile Bay in August 1864, crowned a series of exploits, which for skill, daring and solid results, were unsurpassed in the history of Maritime warfare.

Admiral Farragut was advanced in July 1886, to the highest grade known in naval organization. His only considerable service since the war had been in a European cruise, which took on more the nature of a pleasure tour.

Farragut’s health, for a number of months prior, had been exceedingly uncertain and his recovery from a previous severe attack of illness at Chicago was a gratifying surprise to the country. He passed away at the age of 69.

The private character of the late Admiral was as admirable as his public services were glorious. He was remarkably studious of the moral welfare of the men under his command.

Note: The Battle of Campbell’s Station was a battle of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, occurring on November 16, 1863, at Campbell’s Station, (now Farragut), Knox County, Tennessee.

FarragutÆs grand funeral promoted the new Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, founded in 1863, and his monument set the early standard for the cemeteryÆs memorial architecture. In the decades that followed the admiralÆs death, the rural cemetery received a reputation as a graveyard of AmericaÆs northeastern elite and as a gallery for skilled stone carvers and architects.

Today, FarragutÆs gravesite on Aurora Hill in the Bronx of New York is the best-preserved property directly associated with the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and four-star admirals in United States history.

A One-Dollar Postage Stamp Honors Admiral Farragut

Admiral David Glasgow FarragutÆs historic grave site is in Lot Number 1429-44, Section 14, a large circle in the center of the Woodlawn CemeteryÆs larger Aurora Hill Plot, where Farragut and his immediate family are interred. Farragut was the first person to be buried in the cemeteryÆs Aurora Hill Plot. His wife, son, and daughter-in-law joined him there later.

The impressive Farragut Monument marks his gravesite. The monument is a tall, carved, marble pillar on a granite block, and was the work of New York City-based stone carvers, Casoni & Isola.

I would encourage my readers to pursue the life of this truly outstanding man.

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In 1933, a Mrs. Pouch and a Mrs. Frost, both members of the New York Daughters of the American Revolution, gave speeches at their annual meeting concerning mountain people of the South in 1905. Participants were encouraged to adorn sunbonnets, shawls and other homespun mountain dress. A few members provided musical numbers that were consistent with that era.

According to the ladies, adventuresome travelers paying a visit to the isolated hill communities in that post-century era reached their destination only after hours of travel. They were escorted in rough wagons drawn by mules over narrow mountain roads that sometimes dipped into deep mud holes and sometimes skirted along dangerous cliffs.

During that post turn-of-the-century era, travel through Southern Appalachia was slow and thorny at best, with crude roads following rocky creek beds. Primitive conditions governing transportation served to keep the mountain folk living just as their predecessors had lived after they had trekked down from Western Pennsylvania and settled along the tiny hamlets.

The mountaineers were described as being “hill-dwellers living in the “land of do without.” Mrs. Frost cautioned the members not to confuse these folks with the descendants of indentured servants and convicts who went there from the slums of England's seaport towns.

Andersonville, TN Family 1933 (public domain)

On the other hand, these inhabitants were largely the descendants of stout Scotch stock sent in 1607 to Ireland by James I. After coming to this country, they had a dispute with the Crown and settled first in Pennsylvania, which was then the western frontier of the colonies and later with a sprinkling of French Huguenots and Dutch.

Afterward, they moved south and reached the mountains where their descendants can be found to this day. From these rugged hills came such leaders as Daniel Boone, John C. Calhoun, Stonewall Jackson and Abraham Lincoln.

The DAR ladies deemed the residents to be “warmly hospitable.” “If you'uns can stand what we'uns have, come right in and sit ye down in a cher.” Mrs. Frost spoke of their honesty and independence. They retained their quaint speech, crude habits and picturesque customs of 18th century American. Hence the nickname, “our contemporary ancestors,” illiterate though they were, according to their standards, “aimed to git larnin” and vowed to sacrifice to the utmost that an ambitious child would attend one of the mountain schools. Although they knew their Shakespeare well, since books were scarce, they familiarized themselves thoroughly with what they possessed.

The two DAR ladies noted that in their speeches that one finds expressions dating back to the Saxon, older than the English tongue itself. Many of their colloquialisms were excellent Chaucer, while they have a great fondness for tautology (the use of words that merely repeat elements of the meaning already conveyed, such as “water-stream” and “tooth-dentist”).

“They’re the 'fightingest' people imaginable,” Mrs. Frost alleged. “Their family feuds are rooted in ideals of family honor, traceable to clan warfare traditions handed down by their forebears. “Of course, we're appalled by the feuds,” Mrs. Frost admitted, “but they never killed for money, so perhaps they're not as bad as so-called civilized Northerners.”

Illustrations of ballads that have been sung for centuries of mountain folks were provided by several DAR ladies. One sang two 13th century ballads, “Gypsy Laddie,” a Civil War  unnamed ballad and “Brother Green.” Two others sang, “Lady Gay” and “Sing Said the Mother.” Mrs. Frost displayed her talent on the dulcimer, a quaint musical instrument once familiar to mountain festivities.

The songs were declared to be the finest examples in the world of Scotch and English ballads. The DAR ladies then brought to a finale the highly interesting and educational program and departed for home.

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Davy Crockett (1786–1836), frontiersman, congressman and defender of the Alamo, was born to a pioneer family living on the Nolichucky River near Limestone in East Tennessee. The rugged outdoorsman is referred to by many as the ‘King of the Wild Frontier,” as in the chorus of the famous Walt Disney song. He was raised in East Tennessee and acquired a solid reputation for his enjoyment of storytelling, hunting and fishing.

The noted pioneer became a colonel for the Lawrence County, Tennessee Militia and was later elected to the Tennessee State Legislature. He became a member of the U.S. Congress in 1827 and was known for his opposing much of Andrew Jackson's efforts, specifically opposing the Indian Removal Act.

Davy Crockett Decked Out  in Hunting Garb Along With Three Trusty Canine Friends

Today's column contains one of many anecdotes taken from the woodsman’s journals that he maintained while in Congress. As any wearer of a coonskin cap can enlighten you, Col. Crockett, as he became known, served his western Tennessee district in Congress for three terms: in the 20th, 21st and 23rd Congresses.

When Davy first went to Congress, he traveled by horseback, stagecoach and often by river steamboat. Toward the end of his last term, Davy’s doctor told him he ought to travel more for his health. According to his writings, which are on file, he left Washington by stage on April 26, 1834, heading for Baltimore, a journey of about 40 mile from the Capital. It seemed significantly longer because of having to travel over bumpy, dusty coach trails.

From Baltimore, Crockett traveled by steamboat to Frenchtown, Md. where he climbed aboard for his first train ride. After some delays, everyone got seated and they moved at a snail's pace as if they were impeded. However, the wheels began to take short breaths and away they sped, leaving behind a blue streak of smoke.”

While the train was whizzing along, Crockett started reading, but all of a suddenly, he burst out laughing. A traveling companion seated near him was curious about what was so funny. Davy explained without explanation: “That's no wonder the fellow's horses run off.”

Unknown to those seated around him that heard his answer, he was referring to an incident that had been reported by a man driving his wagon with a team of horses. He was crossing a railroad track at the same time that a train was rapidly approaching. 

Crockett read from his publication: “It was growing dark, and sparks were flying in all directions from the fast moving train. In sheer panic, his horses ran off causing the wagon to separate and break and the wagon's contents to be smashed into small pieces. The man ran to the house for help and when asked what scared off his horses, he amusingly replied that he did not know, but reasoned that it must have been something big that he hoped he never witnessed again.”  

On his way to New York, Davy booked a ride from Bordentown, N.J. on the newly opened Camden and Amboy Railroad. He clacked along the one-mile route to South Amboy, which he described as being the fastest ride of his life. He wrote that “the steam horse galloped along at a frightening speed of 25 miles an hour and nigh near knocked us from our perch. We were going so fast,” he said. “that I performed an experiment by throwing an object out the open window of the car and it came back and hit me smack in the face.”

All in all, Crockett was away on his sightseeing trip over 20 days. He later wrote that he was glad he did it, but he was a bit weary, saying: “There is something about swaying back and forth on a saddle that a man can't git over.” It is not known how many train rides, if any, Davy took after his first one. 

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Obituary notices can be an excellent source of information, especially if your name was George L. Carter. A December 31, 1936 newspaper clipping offered a depiction of the man who was responsible for the early growth of Johnson City and, for half a century, was a leader in the industrial expansion of Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 

The pioneer succumbed at the age of 79 in a Washington, DC hospital of a heart attack, after enduring pneumonia for a month; funeral services were held at Hillsville, VA, the town of his birth. Mr. Carter was son of Walter Carter, an officer in the Confederate Army, and Lucy Ann Jennings. She was the only sister of Charles L. Jennings, father of S.R. Jennings, a well-known Johnson City businessman.

George L. Carter Was Prime Mover of Industrial Development in the Area

The future industrialist began his career by working in a Hillsville general store and advanced from one position to another until his holdings extended over parts of several states, causing him to be widely known.

After being associated with lead mine operations at Austinville, VA, he became interested in the development and sale of iron ore properties and was associated with George T. Mills, a prominent railroad contractor. The two built the Dora Furnace at Pulaski, VA in the early 1890s.

During the “boom” days in this section, Mr. Carter founded the South Atlantic and Ohio Railroad, which ran from Bristol to Intermont near Appalachia, VA. He also organized the Bristol and Elizabethton rail systems, which extended between the two cities, mentioned in its name, and the Virginia and Southwestern railroads, running from Appalachia into Johnson County, Tennessee. This eventually became a part of the Southern Railway route.

For several years, during which Johnson City was in its most important formative stage, Mr. Carter resided here. He continued to maintain an interest in its welfare during the years after he made his headquarters elsewhere but always kept his attractive mansion near State Teachers College ready for immediate occupancy.

At the time of his death, Mr. Carter was said to own more Johnson City real estate than any other individual. The industrialist was intimately connected with the Teachers College, whose president, Dr. C.C. Sherrod, expressed deep regret at his passing.

According to Dr. Sherrod, if it hadn’t been for Mr. Carter, the college might not have been established in Johnson City. When construction of the institution was first broached in 1910, Mr. Carter offered to give the land near his home for the school site. Since he didn’t own all the land needed, in his characteristic fashion, he went out and purchased the remainder from Joe P. Lyle. In all, he donated 120 acres.

The George L. Carte House That Was Built in 1908 on the Campus of the Normal School

The industrialist's association with Kingsport was equally intimate. Those familiar with his career said he virtually “made” the city single-handed, and at one time owned practically all the property in the vicinity. He and his brother-in-law, J. Fred Johnson, were regarded as the two leading developers of the Sullivan County City. At the height of his personal wealth, Mr. Carter held 9,000 acres of land on the site of what is now Kingsport, as well as a quarter of a million acres in Russell and Dickenson counties, VA.

George's residence in Johnson City dated from 1907 to 1920. At the time of his death, he was living in the Hay-Adams house at 800 Sixteenth Street, Washington, DC but also had houses at Coalwood, WV., Hillsville, VA and Fort Chiswell, VA. At one time, Carter owned the Bristol Herald newspaper and was also active in banking circles in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

Survivors included his wife, Mrs. May Etta Wilkinson Carter, a native of Hillsville, president of the Carter Coal company, of which Mr. Carter was vice-president; and two sisters Mrs. M.W. Doggett of Kingsport and Mrs. R.G. Wilkinson of Hillsville. A brother, James died many years prior and a sister, Miss Ruth Carter, who married J. Fred Johnson of Kingsport, died two years earlier. 

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On April 18, 1889, a newspaper writer for the Nashville Herald expressed his blatant opinion that his generation was certainly living in a mercenary age because everything appeared to have had a commercial value placed upon it. The choicest products of the human mind were said to be “laid upon the alter of Mammon, along with the treasures of the heart whose incense ennobled humanity.”

The journalist went on to say that the great, iron monger, Andrew Carnegie, was negotiating a slick deal with Johnson City, which meant that a significant portion of Johnson City would acquire his name. In exchange with his offer, the industrialist would, in turn, endow them with a $10,000 library.

During the economic boom of the early 1890s, everything was going “Carnegie.” An impressive hotel was built, old cow pastures were subdivided into lots that sold for as high as $1,500 and $2,000 each. Streets were renamed. The Three-Cs railroad commenced its line through this section, being built through Cash Hollow with a depot in Carnegie.

The paper erroneously made this statement: “Andrew Johnson, for whom Johnson City was named, was not universally admired. Although he had some grievous faults, he  was immeasurably more worthy of having his name perpetuated by Tennesseans than that of Andrew Carnegie.”

Andrew Johnson was a better model of true American characteristics to place upon a pedestal for the emulation of the rising generation than Carnegie with all his massive affluence. In East Tennessee, where he was most idolized, to dethrone his name and debauch his fame for that of a man who had his antipode in those characteristics was what won for Andrew Johnson the name of “The Great Commoner.”

Johnson City Founder, Henry Johnson (left, photo courtesy of Betty Hylton)

President of the United States from Tennessee, Andrew Johnson

As noted by The Comet, the Nashville Herald was completely uneducated with regard to the origins of Johnson City. The modest town, for which most residents were well-informed, understood that the village was formerly referred to as “Johnson's Tank” in honor of Henry Johnson, not Andrew Johnson. It acquired the railroad name because a rail company built a water tank here.

In spite of what today would be of historic importance, the big container was still standing in the center of the town, which residents described as an eyesore, adding nothing to the beauty of the city. Henry Johnson was a farmer who owned most of the surrounding land on which the city stood and also had possession of numerous buildings close to it. The modest little town certainly had a bright future ahead of it.

Mr. Johnson was the only merchant the town had for several years. When the settlement began to grow, it was called “Johnson's Depot” but soon outgrew that simplistic nomenclature, and when it was incorporated, it acquired the name of Johnson City. Although for a brief period of time, it took on a different name, Haynesville, but before long officially became Johnson City again, a designation that would be permanent.

It is easy to see why a stranger should fall into the error of supposing that Johnson City was named for the ex-president for he was a man whom Tennesseeans loved to honor. Johnson City became the most thriving town in the state and would be a fitting monument to the former president's memory, but… Johnson City had no connection with Andrew Johnson.

The Nashville Herald concluded its perplexing comments, wondering if the city would exercise its own judgment in the matter to enter into an agreement with Mr. Carnegie. For most residents of that era, it appeared that there were far bigger things than a $10,000 library at stake.

Almost overnight, the Carnegie issue dwindled dramatically, due to an economic downturn, causing the Carnegie efforts to be literally stopped in their tracks. Construction of the proposed new city was hastily abandoned, which soon became burrows for rodents, and over time, some of them burned while others decayed and collapsed. The once ballyhooed library and Carnegie development became a folk tale in the annals of yesteryear.

When the Veterans Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers opened in 1903, Walter Brownlow obtained funds from Andrew Carnegie and others to establish a library at the facility; he also started a streetcar line to transport veterans and visitors from the branch to Johnson City.

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Henry Johnson, Johnson City founder, passed from this life on February 25, 1874. His obituary notice was posted in the Jonesboro Herald and Tribune on March 26, 1874. Except for paragraph breaks, it is listed below just as it appeared in the newspaper:

“O, when affliction's friendly screen,

Shuts out life's elusive scene,

When thus she seals our weary eyes,

To all earth's glittering vanities,

A gleam of Heavenly light will pour,

Our dark, despairing spirits o'er.

Henry Johnson, Founder of Johnson City. ( Photo Courtesy of Betty Jane Hylton)

“Departed this life on the evening of the 25th February, 1874, in the 65th year of his age, Henry Johnson, after a long and painful illness. He was born in North Carolina, came to Tennessee, became acquainted with and married Mary Ann Hoss, in the 25th year of his age.

“Eighteen years ago, he located at Johnson City where he has since remained a prominent and highly respected citizen. He was the first citizen of this place and to his influence, untiring energy and undaunted courage does Johnson City owe its origin, ascribing to him the honor so justly inherited of proudly bearing his name.

“The respect, universal regret and sorrow manifested on his burial day, was unlike any that we have here witnessed previously and told plainly that he was beloved and respected by all who knew him.

“The remains were taken to the Presbyterian Church, attended by a large concourse of people, who had assembled to pay the last sad rites, and after the funeral services were concluded by Rev. Mr. Durham, were interred in the old family burying ground where sleeps many of his wife's relatives and two beloved children – one an infant daughter and the other an estimable, noble young man, who had fallen a victim to deadly missiles of death in the late war.

“He leaves a widow, two sons, one daughter, with many relatives, friends and acquaintances to mourn his departure. He was benevolent, hospitable, sociable and kind, ever-willing to alleviate the sufferings of the distressed, assist the poor, a friend to the widow and orphan. His door was ever open to all ministers of the gospel delighting to entertain them. No sufferer went away from him unrelieved when it was within his power to relieve them, and we know that he has gone to reap his reward.

“On the 40th anniversary of his marriage, he took the hand of her who had so long walked beside him down the declivity of life, who had shared his joys and soothed his sorrows, pressed it gently, and perfectly conscious that it was the last, told her he was “going home,” and in a short time breathed his last. But we have the blessed assurance that his ransomed spirit is now enjoying the elysian joys and rapturous delights of the “Golden City,” of which he often so beautifully spoke. Not many days previous to his death, he sang one of his favorite hymns.

“My latest sun is sinking fast,

My race is nearly run,

My strongest trials now are past,

My triumph is begun.

“And after, he had become quite deaf and his voice was so weak and tremulous that he could scarcely speak, he would greet his friends with “almost home,” almost home.” Thus has passed away from earth forever a kind and affectionate husband, an indulgent father, a useful citizen, a warm-hearted friend and a devoted Christian. Long, long will he be sadly missed.

“Around the old homestead, there hangs a gloom, a loneliness; there sits a vacant chair and hangs an unworn hat, with many, many remembrances clustering around them that will long speak forcibly of the departed. The once happy family circle is broken.

“The little affectionate grand-daughter, Minnie, in whom he was so devotedly attached, who loved him with all the ardor and fondness of a pure and childish love, in whose little heart there is a void and has learned its first bitter grief- wanders around lonely and sad.

“The once happy home is sadly changed, though beautiful flowers are budding around it, yet the hand that reared them lies cold and pulse-less in the embrace of death; but where flowers are blooming whose beauties never fade, but bloom in one perpetual summer where sorrow can never come.

“Where all is bright and beautiful in the golden streets of the New Jerusalem across the Ley River, that hand is becoming to those dear ones left behind to come, where the happy band can be reunited and never be broken by the unrelenting hand of death.

“How blest the righteous when he dies,

When sinks the weary sun to rest,

How mildly leaves the closing eye,

How gently heaves the expiring breath.

So fades the summer cloud away,

So sinks the gale when storms are o'er,

So gently shuts the eye of day,

So dies the wave along the shore.”

Henry Johnson's obituary notice, a history gem, offers yet another glimpse into the life of Johnson City's founder.

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Today's feature is a continuation of my mid-march Daniel Boone tree column, which contained paraphrased news briefs taken from a variety of newspapers. Today's feature is a continuation of that theme spanning 1897-16. 


News from Bristol, TN indicated that a farmer found an old battered brass kettle, which was removed from the ground on a farm near Bluff City. On the side of the kettle near the rim were the letters,: “D. Boon, 1760.” The kettle was allegedly used by the noted pioneer-hunter.


Daniel Boone Beech Tree That Once Resided in Boones Creek with Inscription and Grafitti

The Washington County Historical Society met at the famous Boone tree for the purpose of organizing a historical society there. A platform was erected at the foot of the famous Boone tree, where Judge S.J. Kirkpatrick, president of the Society, presided. The exercises were opened with singing and prayer. After that, the chairman stated that the meeting was to organize the new society, which was to act in connection with the county society in locating and marking the site of Bean's cabin. An effort was also made to have a nice marble slab placed to mark the spot where Bean's cabin stood.

Judge Newton Hacker was introduced and delivered a speech tingling with patriotism. It was scholarly, instructive and well-received by the vast audience present. At 1:30 p.m., an old fashioned East Tennessee dinner was served on the grounds, perhaps on the very spot where Boone dined on some of his “bar” meat many years prior.

In the afternoon, there were additional speeches from historians, all of which were said to be well-timed and replete with patriotic utterances and historic information, much of which could not be found in books. All this was captured and treasured by the historical society before it was lost to the ages.

Several months before the gathering, a largo limb was blown from the Boone tree, which was promptly retrieved and made into pleasant looking pipes by the owner of the land, a Mr. Maupin. He sold about a 100 of the prized relics for 10 cents each. 

The road from Jonesboro to the Boone tree was the same one that Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, used to travel more than 60 years ago. Along the way, many of the farm houses were decorated in honor of that Thursday. One large brick house, the home of William Deakins, had streamers and national colors displayed in great profusion. The word “Liberty” in large letters was suspended between two trees.

The name of “Washington” was on the front door step. Under the mail box was a picture of the Honorable Walter P. Brownlow, surrounded by a wreath of flowers, while on the other side of the gate was a magnificent portrait of President McKinley, enclosed by a wreath comprised of the national colors.

Afterward, the meeting was dismissed and the participants went merrily on their way.


In olden times, our brave pioneer ancestors wore buckskin clothes trimmed with long fringe or fur. They carried long rifles with barrels made of imported horseshoe nails, wooden stock trimmed with brass and ornamented with eagles, raccoon, deer and other objects cut from shells and set into the wood. These hearty souls also carried long hunting knives and buckskin or leather bullet pouches, often beautifully decorated with patterns of colored porcupine quills and glass beads or made of some expensive fur. Their powder was carried in cow-horn powder flasks scraped smooth with pieces of broken glass and with the surface engraved in rude designs of suns, moons, stars and figures of big game.

In their leather belt, which encircled the waists and belted in the wamus (a warm work jacket made usually in a belted cardigan style and of sturdy knitted or woven fabric), they carried trusty tomahawks. Many of the picturesque old fellows were expert in the use of little camp-axes as weapons.

Daniel Boone carried an ax of this kind and the trees he blazed with his tomahawk to mark the boundaries of land became known as “Boone trees.” In later years, lawsuits were decided by the identification of blazed boundaries that came from the unmistakable stroke of Boone's tomahawk. 


Portrait of Daniel Boone Taken in 1819 Just Prior to the Pioneers Passing at Age 86

Misfortune struck during a severe windstorm that visited the Boone's Creek and surrounding areas on a Saturday afternoon. The famous historical Boone Tree was blown to the ground, causing it to separate at a most unfortunate section – the part of the tree containing the famous inscription. The disheartening discovery of the fallen tree was made the following day, bringing a sizable procession of mourners to witness the unfortunate incident. Most who saw it spread the news that it needed to be immediately removed from the land and sent to some qualified society for preservation.

The John Sevier Chapter of the DAR took instant action, seeking first to purchase from Lafayette Isley, identified as the owner of the land where the tree stood, the part of the tree containing the carved words. The chapter was convinced that the section could be preserved as a historical relic. They further believed that time was of essence to accomplish this noble effort. The DAR was making plans to preserve the tree at the time the tree lost its footing. Their well-meaning campaign was not yet in place when the windstorm felled it.


A few weeks later, another newspaper commented on the demise of the popular Boone tree. It noted that the site that had linked the history of 156 years ago with the present time was no more. Admittedly, the letters on the tree were dimmed with age but could still be identified. The DAR acquired the lettered section and had it sent off for preservation. My information does not reveal what happened to the relic. The tree had stood as proof that Boone penetrated through the eastern chain of mountains from his log cabin on the Yadkin River in North Carolina in 1760, although contemporaneous historians place his entrance into the wilderness, as the western country was then called, several years later.

Historian J.G.M. Ramsey, who wrote “The Annals of Tennessee,” published in 1853, was the first to document the inscription and he credits his information to a person named N. Gammon. Other historians, notably Theodore Roosevelt, in his “The Winning of the West,” followed Mr. Ramsey in not questioning the authenticity of the inscription. 

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According to the late T.C. Karns, University of Tennessee professor and a turn of the century writer of Tennessee history, had this to say about Catherine Sherrill (1755-1836) in 1904. “She, a daughter of one of the first settlers on the Watauga, was tall and slender with dark eyes and hair, clear skin and a neck that was said to be like that of a swan. She was strikingly beautiful as well as being one of the greatest and bravest girls in the settlement.”

The patriotic woman faithfully provided horses, wagons, provisions, and supplies for the army. According to a DAR linage book, she was born in North Carolina and died in Russellville, Alabama.

The wild ways of this new country seemed to suit her because she enjoyed the open life of the forest, even with its ever-present spice of danger from Indians and wild animals. Proof of her athletic abilities was that she could run like a deer and easily spring over a six-rail high fence by thrusting herself off the top one.

In 1776 when Catherine was about 20 years old, a party of Cherokee Indians attacked Fort Watauga in Carter County. Prior to this, Nancy Ward sent scouts to inform her friends that the Indians were coming. This prompted almost all of the settlers to gather inside the fort for safety.

However, early one morning, several women boldly left the security of the fort to milk some cows. Among them was Catherine Sherrill. All at once, the war whoop sounded and the women ran with all their might toward the fort. Catherine happened to be the furthest away and, although she darted forward with the speed of the wind, she noticed that the Indians had gotten precariously between her and the gate. 

Catherine Sherrill's Escape from the Indians with Aid from Future Husband, John Sevier

John Sevier was in the fort and, seeing Catherine in great peril, rushed out of the gate with several other men to attempt to beat the Indians back and rescue their ladies. Knowing that Sevier could do nothing against 300 savages, his friends urged him back and began firing at the Indians from atop the fort wall.

It was a race for life and Catherine, seeing no other chance to make good her escape, turned and made her way to the other side of the fort. The wooden wall of the stockade was eight feet high, but with one mighty spring, Catherine reached the top and fell over into the arms of John Sevier. The other women also returned safely. The Indians, not prone to accept defeat, prolonged their attack for 20 additional days.

The settlers were safe behind their strong walls, but numerous of the Indians perished in the melee. Bullets rattled against the fort like hailstones but did no harm. Finally the Indians departed and returned to their homes on the Tellico River.

Four years later in 1780 and after Sevier's first wife had died, Catherine Sherrill became his second wife. The wedding took place at Sevier's new home on the Nolichucky River.

Throughout a long life, she was his faithful companion and helpmeet. But she and John never forgot the thrilling moment when she fell into his arms from the top of the fort and he called her for the first time his “Bonnie Kate.”

Mrs. Sevier often boasted that the first work she did after marriage was to spin, weave and make suits of clothes, which her husband and his three sons wore in the memorable battle of King's Mountain. She became the mother of eight children, three sons and five daughters.

John Sevier, hero of the American Revolution, whose life was one of romance, later died in Alabama. His remains were buried there for 73 years without a memorial stone to mark the place of his repose or an enclosure to guard against unhallowed intrusion. 

In 1888, Sevier's body was removed by the State of Tennessee and laid to rest beneath the sod of the state he had loved and served so faithfully. He was buried in Knoxville, along with a stately monument as a memorial of the state's everlasting though tardy gratitude to her honored son. Later, Catherine's remains were appropriately displaced next to her husband.

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Listed below are five Daniel Boone tree paraphrased news briefs taken from a variety of newspapers between 1874-97. The famous tree was popular with area history buffs throughout the years. It all started when the rugged pioneer paused at a beech tree in Boon's (Boones) Creek, likely rested his rifle against a tree and carved in it indelible characters documenting the highlight of his day's work: “D. Boon cilled a bar on the tree in year 1760.”

Painting of Daniel Boone Tree / One of the Gavels Taken from the Fallen Tree 

Gavel Courtesy of Alan Bridwell


The famous Boone tree, containing the earliest record of civilization in Tennessee, stood on the northwestern slope of a hill near the Blountville and Jonesboro stage road. The hill was thickly populated with beech, maple and oak trees. The land surrounding it was also ramified with gnarled roots, which covered the surface like an inextricable mat. The dense woods, the call of the little creek as it leaped in cascades over the tilted limestone and the deep gloominess of the forest provided wildness to the surrounding area.

At that point in time, the brave pioneer was 26 years of age and probable more than 100 miles from human habitation, relying upon his brave heart, strong arm and trusty rifle for existence. The tree was just two feet in diameter and leaned about three degrees (other sources suggest otherwise) from perpendicularity. It had been greatly defaced by visitors who inscribed their names for a distance of about 10 feet above the ground.

The large number of mounds with corresponding depressions that stretched from around the tree and several hundred yards to the southwest, were believed by some folks to have been an Indian mining camp. Others were convinced that they were the result of uprooted trees whose decaying roots left cherty (silica) beds high above the surrounding surface.


The Tennessee Historical Society held a meeting in Nashville on that date. One agenda item was an 1800 display by W.S. Mathes of Jonesboro, containing a speech by General Jackson and two different views from S.W. Keen, also of Jonesboro. It dealt with the celebrated Daniel Boone tree on the waters of Boones Creek, which is about eight miles south of Jonesboro. A third Jonesboro resident, Prof. H. Presnell, was represented in one of the pictures. The tree was prominently mentioned in J.G.M Ramsey's noted book, The Annals of Tennessee.


A large bear was spotted in Boones Creek near the Daniel Boone tree where the backwoodsman brought down a bear. When word traveled throughout the community, several sportsmen grabbed their hunting rifles and were anxious to locate and turn the usually omnivorous mammal into meat. It was believed that the deep snow in the mountains drove the bruin down in quest of a meal. The critter met with success when he feasted on chickens from the nearby farms of Jackson and Boyd. Many waited with eager anticipation when the animal would be taken down, permitting local residents to feast on bear steak for several weeks. No mention was made of the creature's demise.


A worrisome report circulated the community that some nameless individual or group was making plans to cut the Boone tree down and send it to the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Nashville. The statement created a great deal of talk spiced with a heavy dose of indignation for anyone guilty of attempting such a dastardly deed. After local resident, Captain Deaderick protested against the action, he received a telegram from Exposition officers stating that they had nothing to do with the rumor and would not accept the famed relic even if it were sent to them. 


The state agent of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, recently went to Boones Creek to further investigate the threat of someone removing the tree. After examining the tree site, he firmly stated that this should not be done, expressing his belief that the tree was strong enough to stand a century longer by being still in a fair state of preservation, including the inscription cut in its bark by Daniel Boone almost a century and a half earlier.

Look for six additional Daniel Boone tree news items in a future heritage page feature story that includes the date the famed tree fell.

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Dr. Ted Thomas, Milligan College Professor of Humanities, History, and German, sent me an interesting clipping from an August 27, 1918 Johnson City Daily Staff that dealt with a visit of four distinguished visitors to the city: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs.

Thomas Edison (L) and Henry Ford

Harvey Firestone (L) and John Burroughs

An unusually brief note in the previous day's newspaper spoke with little fanfare of their arrival. After the newspaper was distributed, the news office was besieged by readers calling to find out where they could get a peek at four of America's most illustrious citizens. 

A crowd estimated at 500 to 1000 people turned out that Monday afternoon to greet their guests. The men were en route on their annual vacation trip from New York City by automobile on a mountainous journey that culminated in Ashville, NC.

Thomas Edison was one of the world's greatest inventors, maker of the incandescent light and the sounding machine, which was a cylinder recording device and hundreds of practical electrical devices.

Henry Ford was originator of the automobile that was said to have put the mourners bench out of business and brought more joy and happiness to mankind than any other contrivance.

Harvey Firestone, who specialized in making tires, had business revenue during 1917 amounting to $65 million. He organized the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, a leading firm in the rubber industry.

John Burroughs' notoriety, unlike his companions, was being one of the world's greatest naturalists, authoring hundreds of bird stories, poems and expressions of his love of nature. The curiosity of nearby residents who witnessed the entourage was amply justified.

Accompanying the famous four were H.S. Firestone, Jr., and Russell Cline, the assistant advertising manager of the Firestone Company.

All members of the party arrived in Johnson City by the designated time, with the first to show up being John Burroughs. He captured the public's eye with his Rip Van Winkle appearance, sporting gray whiskers and a linen duster that carried his slightly over 82 years remarkably well.

The bearded outdoorsman alighted from the car in front of the Majestic Theatre and, as he strolled down Main Street, encountered local businessmen Ed Brading and Munsey Slack, who readily recognized him and introduced him to the directors of the Chamber of Commerce.

Ed was president of Cherokee Realty Company, v-president of Brading-Sells Lumber Co. and v-president of Tennessee Trust Company. Munsey was editor of the Johnson City Daily Staff.

Burroughs was astonished that anyone would recognize him and, when he was told there was an article in the local newspaper about his party coming to town, asked for a copy of it, stating that his party was, in fact, interested in the war news. He talked entertainingly of the refreshing trips that the party planned each year.

The men had departed New York a few weeks earlier bound for a trip through the mountains and asked for nothing more than to pitch their tents by the side of a refreshing spring and spend the night resting on mother earth.

The foursome had left Tosca, near Bluefield, West Virginia early the previous Monday morning and camped a few miles from Jonesboro on the Nolichucky River. According to Mr. Burroughs, during that period Mr. Edison actually slept on a hotel bed one night and that was at Connellsville, PA, where they could not find a suitable campsite.

According to the Johnson City Daily Staff: “Two weeks of gypsying through the mountains had been an incalculable benefit to them as was noted by their bronze countenances and clear visions portrayed. All four of them looked revived, well-rested and fully rejuvenated. Burroughs was the most picturesque of the party, being tall and eagle-eyed with keen penetration. One look at his countenance revealed the source of his success.”

Henry Ford, at the solicitation of President Woodrow Wilson about two months prior, had announced his candidacy for United State Senator in Michigan. He made no campaign announcements and refused to spend a cent to secure the favor of either party. The people of Michigan were delighted and told him, “Mr. Ford, you will have little trouble in Michigan in the primary.”

Ford's reply was “I hope so,” which was taken to indicate that he did not care a bawbee (Scottish halfpenny) whether he was nominated or went to build automobiles and submarine chasers at his immense factories in Detroit. Of note, Ford lost the election, but obviously did not mind.

The noted industrialist reverted his energy to war work. Everywhere he had been, the energies of the people, of the United States were bent toward winning the war. He believed that Uncle Sam would sound the gavel at the peace table within a year (as was the case).

Thomas Edison, who was seated with the chauffeur in the car with Mr. Ford and Mr. Firestone, was described as being one of the most modest men who ever visited this section of the country. He was a trifle hard of hearing and when one Johnson Citian went up to him and told him he wanted to shake hands with the greatest man in the world, he blushed and modestly denied the accusation.

Abe Slack, a Staff carrier boy, was fortunate enough to sell Edison a newspaper. The inventor's car had just stopped on Roan Street when Edison waived to him and stopped the car. He gave the youngster a dime and when he reached to get change, Mr. Edison grabbed another paper and passed it back to Ford, telling the boy to keep the change. The youngster was later offered five dollars to sell that dime but refused without hesitation.

The party departed in two large Packard automobiles, with two white trucks carrying their luggage. As expected, no business was conducted during the visit; the fellows were merely enjoying a vacation “far from the madding crowd.” They were communicating with nature, renewing their youth and having their fatigued brains soothed and their nerves healed.

The visitors liked what they saw in and around Johnson City. Mr. Ford and Mr. Firestone especially took a keen interest in everything they observed and were impressed with the number of paved city streets and the city's general air of progressiveness. 

Readers might want to further research this subject to learn more about the annual quartet's fresh air excursions. There is a wealth of information available. I wish to thank Ted for sharing this subject with me and my readers.

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