THE SCOTCH-IRISH IN TENNESSEE

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ALEXANDER CRAIGHEAD

If Presbyterians were the first, and Scotch-Irish in the front line of advance in the march toward American independence, I would be untrue to history if I did not direct attention to the fact that Alexander Craighead was the single file at a good distance in front of the column. As early as 1743, we find Mr. Craighead in Pennsylvania, charged by Thomas Cookson, one of his majesty's justices for Lancaster county, before Presbytery, for the publication of a pamphlet "which tended to dissatisfaction with the civil government that we are now under." Later we find Mr. Craighead in Hanover, Va., and from thence we follow him to Mecklenburg, North Carolina, where we hear him thus spoken of by Rev. A. W. Miller in his centennial discourse, delivered at Charlotte, North Carolina, May 20, 1875.

"To the immortal Craighead, a Presbyterian minister of Ireland, who finally settled in Mecklenburg in 1755, 'the only minister between the Yadkin and the Catawba,' who found in North Carolina what Pennsylvania and Virginia denied him—sympathy with the patriotic views he had been publicly proclaiming since 1741—to this apostle of liberty, the people of Mecklenburg are indebted for that training which placed them in the forefront of American patriots and heroes. It was at this fountain that Dr. Ephraim Brevard and his honored associates drew their inspirations of liberty. So diligent and successful was the training of this devoted minister and patriot; so far in advance even of the Presbyterians of every other colony had he carried the people of this and adjacent counties, that on the very day, May 20, 1775, on which the General Synod of the Presbyterian Church, convened in Philadelphia, issued a pastoral letter to all its churches, counseling them, while defending their rights by force of arms, to stand fast in their allegiance to the British throne, on that day the streets of Charlotte were resounding with the shouts of freemen, greeting the first declaration of American independence."

As we found an ancestor of Alexander Craighead (viz.) Rev. Robert, standing for liberty at a critical hour in the history of the church in Ulster, so we find later his son, Rev. Thomas B. Craighead, in Haysborough, six miles east of Nashville, the first President of Davidson Academy. The academy was erected into Davidson College, July 9, 1805, and Mr. Craighead became the first president. He, with John Hall, of Sumner, and Geo. McWhirter, of Wilson county, all Scotch-Irish, did more than any men of that day, west of the Cumberland mountains, to form on a high moral plane the manhood of the youth of the earlier part of the nineteenth century. Robust manhood, a high sense of honor, devotion to liberty, enthusiastic patriotism, with excellent mental training, gave to our state a bevy of great men in all that constitutes true greatness.

The first settler in Tennessee was perhaps Captain Wm. Bean, whose relation to the Scotch-Irish race is unknown. In 1770, came Scotch-Irish James Robertson, who should have by right the appellation of father of Tennessee. He was among the first settlers of Watauga. The troubled state of affairs in North Carolina soon begot a steady stream of hardy, daring settlers.

THE WATAUGA SETTLERS,

in convention assembled, formed a written constitution, and elected as commissioners thirteen citizens. They were: John Carter, Charles Robertson, James Robertson, Zach. Isbell, John Sevier, James Smith, Jacob Brown, William Beau, John Jones, George Russell, Jacob Womack, Robert Lucas, William Tatham Of these John Carter, Chas. Robertson, James Robertson, Zach. Isbell, and John Sevier, it is believed, were selected as the court—of which William Tatham was the clerk. It is to be regretted that the account of the lives of all these pioneers is so meager and unsatisfactory. The biography of each of them would be now valuable and interesting. All of the names mentioned, except Sevier, seem to be, from their agreement with the names of well known Scotch-Irish in North Carolina and the valley of Virginia, of the same race.

So far as I have been able to trace the facts, after some care bestowed upon the question, this is not only what Ramsey calls it, "the first written compact of civil government west of the Alleghanies," but the

FIRST WRITTEN CONSTITUTION

born of a convention of people on this continent. The old colonies brought with them the common law of England; they received charters from the English throne, added legislation under these charters; but of constitutions having their origin in the breast of the people, and born of a convention of the people, this is the first recorded in history. This act bears date 1772. The constitution of Virginia bears date, June 12, 1776; North Carolina, December 18, 1776; Maryland, August 14, 1776; New Jersey, July 2, 1776; Massachusetts, 1779.

These, so far as time has enabled me to ascertain, are the earliest state constitutions. I leave to the future historian the query as to whether Alexander Craighead or Patrick Henry deserves the first place as pioneers of American independence. Whether to James Robertson or Alexander Hamilton we are to give the name of constitution builder. In either case, the Scotch-Irish, with a trace of Huguenot blood, win the pre-eminence over all other races. Or if to Madison the greatest credit of the constitution belongs—his ancestors being unknown—we have the Scotch-Irish Donald Robertson, his first teacher.

It is a marvel how we have slept over these glorious achievements of our fathers, and have come to the last moment of possible rescue before we arouse ourselves to see that history shall do them justice. Had we begun this work, even thirty years ago, priceless facts had been saved from the oblivion to which they have gone. Massachusetts makes a rival constitutional claim, founded on the paper drawn up and signed by the Pilgrims before landing on Plymouth Rock. But this paper recognizes the loyalty of the signers to the king, and is destitute of the Scotch-Irish doctrine, long before announced, that right government must have its origin in the breast of the people. The author of the "Rear Guard of the Revolution," evidently on grounds of fancy, rather than proof, gives the chief credit of the constitutional movement at Watauga to John Sevier. I would pluck no laurel from the brow of Tennessee's first governor He has many, and wears them worthily, but by every token of well attested history of the two men, this act is much more like the

SCOTCH-IRISH ROBERTSON

than the French Sevier; much more the act of the statesman than the soldier. Sevier was vivacious, frolicsome, brave; Robertson, sedate, subtle, wise, and brave, as well. The superior diplomatic powers of Robertson are seen in the early meeting with the Indians to settle the question of title.[5] Robertson was the spokesman. When all had been settled, on the last day of the gathering it had been arranged that a foot-race should take place between the younger braves and the young men of the settlement, on the open ground along the southern bank of the river. The race was in full progress, and among the younger men all was mirth, hilarity, and good-natured emulation, and even the older chieftains, catching the spirit of the occasion, had relaxed from their habitual gravity, and were cheering on the contestants, when suddenly a musket-shot echoed over the grounds, and one of the young braves, the near kinsman of a chieftain, fell in his tracks lifeless. The report came from the woods near the race-ground, and pursuit failed to discover the assassin, but there could be no question that

HE WAS A WHITE MAN

It was as if the shot had been fired into a magazine of gunpowder. The Cherokees were there without arms, or there might have followed a bloody tragedy. As it was, they silently gathered their goods together, and, with threatening gestures and faces presaging a bloody vengeance, rapidly stole away into the forest.

It was subsequently discovered that the murderer was a young man named Crabtree, from the Wolf Hills (now Abingdon), Virginia, about fifty miles to the north-east. A brother of his had, not long before, been killed by the Shawnees, while engaged in exploring with Boone in Kentucky, and he had taken this inopportune time for his revenge. The Indians had left hastily, giving the whites no time fur explanation or parley. Revenge—blood for blood—was the cardinal doctrine of their theology, and, if something were not done at once to avert it, war, bloody and exterminating, would soon be upon the settlers. What could be done to avert it? To flee the country would be to merely invite pursuit, and a hundred miles of wilderness lay between them and any safe asylum. To remain was just as hazardous, for how could this handful of one hundred men sustain a conflict with

THREE THOUSAND INFURIATED SAVAGES?

Hastily, the settlers gathered together in council, and then it was that Robertson volunteered, like Curtius, to ride into the breach—at the peril of his life, to visit and endeavor to pacify the enraged Cherokees. It was a hundred and fifty miles through an unbroken forest, with death lurking behind every tree that grew by the way; but what, he said, was one life periled to save five hundred? Thus Robertson reasoned with his neighbors and friends; and then, giving a parting kiss to his wife and child, he mounted his horse and rode off into the wilderness. History contains few acts so daring, so full of the highest courage, so truly altruistic. To charge with comrades on the field of battle in no sense reaches to the sublime height of an act like this. He succeeded in his mission, and four years of peace followed.

Robertson, as is well known, came early to the French Lick settlement on the Cumberland, now Nashville. Here he repeated the same act of founding constitutional government in which he had led at Watauga. Here he repeats his skillful diplomacy with Indian and Spanish agent alike. His manly bearing, his great strength of character, and profound knowledge of men, make him the trusted leader. After detailing many of his military expeditions and negotiations, Ramsey, the venerable historian, says: "The people of Tennessee have reason to

VENERATE THE MEMORY

of James Robertson, alike for his military and civil services, and the earnest and successful manner in which he conducted his negotiations for peace and commerce. His probity and weight of character secured to his remonstrances with Indian and Spanish agents respectful attention and consideration. His earnest and truthful manner was rarely disregarded by either."

While Robertson was thus building up constitutional government and laying broadly the foundation of western empire, Sevier allowed himself to become involved in the unfortunate feuds of the State of Franklin. Every-where he appears the glorious soldier, the magnanimous friend; but had Robertson been at Watauga instead of French Lick, Colonel Arthur Campbell, who was the real originator of the State of Franklin, could never have led him to the steps taken by Sevier. He, Robertson, would never have been led to the grave mistake of the attack on Tipton's house. Colonel Arthur Campbell was a restless spirit, full of theories; a man of much more educational culture than either Robertson or Sevier; did the writing that produced the State of Franklin; prepared the constitution first presented to the convention. Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia, says, in a communication to the legislature: "The limits proposed for the new government of Frankland by Colonel Arthur Campbell, and the people of Virginia, who aimed at a separation from that state, were expressed in the form of a constitution, which Colonel Campbell drew up for public examination."

His county in Virginia did not follow his wishes and become connected with the new state. His brother-in-law, Colonel Wm. Campbell, of King's Mountain fame, opposed the movement, and was more influential with the people. Judge David Campbell, his brother, though not originally favoring the formation of a state, became afterward its ablest counselor and apologist, yet so retained, by his conservative course, the confidence of both parties, that he held the highest judicial positions under both states. I have no disposition to pursue the question growing out of the formation of the State of Franklin further than to make good a claim that the origin or maintenance of well-organized government in Watauga and in the French Lick settlement are to be attributed to the same great pioneer genius, James Robertson. I have seen the private papers of Colonel Arthur Campbell, which manifest a subtle genius, a fondness for elaborate writing. His letters, to the last, were very long, almost equal to a modern newspaper, and filled with political discussion. He was more than once on military expeditions with Sevier. In one of the most extended of the Sevier expeditions enumerated to the credit of Sevier in the "Rear Guard of the Revolution," he, and not Sevier commanded. I have seen his official report of the expedition in his own chirography.

I had at one time proposed to give the names of the early settlers'of Tennessee, both east and middle, that could be identified as Scotch-Irish, but have been led to abandon that purpose for several reasons: First. We are a generation too late in attempting to gather many of the necessary facts the last generation might have given them; this generation can not; many families have not preserved the records back of the first settlers. I have found many descendants of our more prominent families ignorant of the fact that their ancestors were Scotch-Irish, when on examining the material at hand, I have been able to find ample proof of the fact; it would therefore be invidious to "offer a list of names of families unless the list could be made comparatively complete. Second. On further study of the question, it is evident that an overwhelming majority of the early settlers of our state were Scotch-Irish, so that every Tennessean descending from our first hardy settlers is to be put down as of this people, if he can not prove his descent to be otherwise. The author of the "Rear Guard" thus speaks of the early settlers who came to Watauga after Robertson's peace with O-ka-na-sto-ta:

"They were nearly all from Virginia, and of Scotch-Irish descent, generally poor, and threading the old Indian war-path, or some narrow trace blazed by the hunters, with only a single pack-horse, which carried all their worldly possessions. But they had strong arms and stout hearts, and added at once to the wealth and security of the young community. They became, by the mere act of settlement, large land-owners, and their names are borne to-day by many of the leading families of the south-west. Forts, modeled after the one at Watauga, were built for the protection of the outlying settlers and the colonists soon felt as secure as in their old homes in Virginia."

Later, Ramsey tells of further Scotch-Irish under Colonel David Campbell, forted near Knoxville, old soldiers of King's Mountain. To show that these were not the ignorant people the author of the Rear Guard seems to indicate, I here give the names of books taken from a single shelf in my library which have come down to me—books from homes of old Scotch-Irish:

Abbe Reynal's Histories, 1750 begun.
Hume's History.
Female Spectator, 1775.
Essays, Hugh Knox, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1804.
Pollock's Course of Time.
Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, 1766.
Dodridge's Works, 1792.
Life of Ireland, Winchester, Va., 1819.
Newton's Works, 1792.
Night Thoughts, 1770.
Hervey's Meditations.
Pope's Essays.
Newton on Prophecies, 1782.
Discourses on God's Sovereignty, 1772, by Elisha Coles.
William Cowper, 1792.
The Boston Collection of Hymns, 1808.
"A Plan for Female Education," by Erasmus Darwin, 1798.
On Solitude. Michael W. Hogan, Limerick, on one of the blank pages. Title page gone.
Sin in Believers, John Owen, D.D., Glasgow, 1758.
Josephus.

Taking the early histories of North Carolina, and the annals of the settlement of middle Tennessee, it is easy to see that the largest proportion of the settlers were from the Scotch-Irish counties of North Carolina and Virginia. Among the first we have from Ramsey: "A settlement of less than a dozen families was formed near Bledsoe's Lick (1778), isolated in the heart of the Chickasaw nation, with no other protection than their own courage, and a small stockade inclosure. In the early spring of 1779, a little colony of gallant adventurers, from the parent hive at Watauga, crossed the Cumberland Mountain, penetrated the intervening wilds, and pitched their tents near the French Lick, and planted a field of corn where the city of Nashville now stands. This field was at the spot where Joseph Park since resided, and near the lower ferry. These pioneers were Captain James Robertson, George Freeland, William Neely, Edward Swanson, James Hanly, Mark Robertson, Zachariah White, and William Overhall.

"While Robertson and his co-emigrants were thus reaching the Cumberland by the circuitous and dangerous trace through the wilderness of Kentucky, others of their countrymen were

UNDERGOING GREATER HARDSHIPS

enduring greater sufferings, and experiencing greater privations upon another route, not less circuitous and far more perilous, in aiming at the same destination. Soon after the former had left the Holston settlements on their march by land, several boats loaded with emigrants and their property left Fort Patrick Henry, near Long Island, on a voyage down the Holston and Tennessee, and up the Ohio and Cumberland. The distance traversed in this inland voyage, the extreme danger from the navigation of the rapid and unknown rivers, and the hostile attacks from the savages upon their banks, mark the emigration under Colonel Donelson as one of the greatest achievements in the settlement of the west."

Without going into details, which would protract too much the time, I quote from Phelan's "Tennessee" his summary, leaving out such names as are known to be of other blood:

"The names of these adventurous navigators and bold pioneers of the Cumberland country are not, all of them, recollected; some of them follow: Mrs. Robertson, the wife of James Robertson, Col. Donelson, John Donelson, Jun., Robert Cartwright, Benjamin Porter, James Cain, Isaac Neely, John Cotton, Mr. Rounsever, Jonathan Jennings, William Crutchfield, Moses Renfroe, Joseph Renfroe, James Renfroe, Solomon Turpin, —— Johns, Sen., Francis Armstrong, Isaac Lanier, Daniel Dunham, John Boyd, John Montgomery, John Cockrill, and John Caffrey, with their respective families; also Mary Henry, a widow, and her family, Mary Purnell and her family, John Blackmore, and John Gibson. These, with the emigrants already mentioned as having arrived with Robertson by the way of the Kentucky trace, and the few that had remained at the bluff to take care of the growing crops, constituted the nucleus of the Cumberland community in 1780. Some of them plunged at once into the adjoining forests, and built a cabin with its necessary defenses. Col. Donelson, himself, with his connections, was of this number. He went up the Cumberland and settled upon Stone's river, a confluent of that stream, at a place on its south side. The situation was found to be too low, as the water, during a freshet, surrounded the fort, and it was, for that reason, removed to the north side."

The names Nashville and Davidson county are testimonials to the blood of the inhabitants, while Montgomery county adds another, and Sumner is dotted with licks and creeks which retain the names of these early Scotch-Irish settlers. The original Maury county is a cluster of Scotch-Irish with scarcely a drop of alien blood. The bravery of these people, coupled with their sturdy endurance of privation and savage warfare, is without any parallel in the early settlement of America. In the north-west the settler followed the soldier, often also the settler followed the roads; here the settler was the only soldier, and no roads were known until he created them under his own organized government.

At first, as we have seen, emigrants came by a circuitous route through Kentucky or along the dangerous navigation of the Tennessee; as soon as the settlers could organize they cut a road more than two hundred miles in length from Campbell's Station, in East Tennessee, to Nashville, and sent properly officered squads to protect the emigrants en route. The stories of the heroic actions and brave endurance of many of the women on these long journeys kindled in my boyhood a passionate admiration never to be forgotten. The part taken by Mrs. Buchanan in the fort just east of Nashville, molding bullets and carrying in her apron over an uncovered space to the men as they fired from the port-holes, has been often told. At Campbell's Station, on occasion of an attack, when the men reached the house from the field, they found the women had already barred the doors, loaded the rifles, and the commander of the fort found his wife, gun in hand, at the port-hole.

While two armies, one under General Harmar and another under Genera] St. Clair, and, finally, a third, under that thunderbolt of war, General Anthony Wayne, had been sent forward by the general government for the protection of the north-western settlers, the Tennessee settlers were left to work out their own destiny, tempted by Spanish officers, importuned by French promises. "The Indians, incited by the British and Spaniards, constantly harried around the stations, the springs, and the fields, ambushed the paths from station to station, roamed the woods like sleuth-hounds to seize the adventurous hunter, stole their horses, killed their cattle, drove off the wild game to produce famine. So terrific at one time became the ordeal, that all the stations were abandoned except Eaton's and the Bluffs (Nashville). The stationers went in armed squads to the springs, and plowed while armed sentinels guarded the fields." Deaths by Indians were of almost weekly occurrence. Many of the settlers left in despair; but the Scotch-Irish blood in the veins of Robertson, Ewing, Rains, Buchanan, and Donaldson, after solemn counsel and compact, said, we will stay.[6] On the 22d of April, 1781, the Indians, by a well planned stratagem, attempted to take the Bluffs, which was considered the Gibraltar of the Cumberland. A decoy party drew the men away from the fort into an ambush. When they dismounted to give battle, their horses dashed off toward the fort, and they were pursued by some Indians, which left a gap in their lines, through which some whites were escaping to the fort. Just then another large body of Indians were seen from the fort emerging from another ambush, intercepting the whites and making for the fort. All seemed lost. We are ready to shut our eyes upon the horrid scene, and stop our ears against the wail of women and children as they are sinking under the tomahawk and scalping-knife. But no! the heroic women, headed by Mrs. James Robertson, seized the axes and idle guns, and planted themselves in the gate, resolved to die rather than give up the fort. Just in time, she ordered the sentry to turn loose a pack of dogs, selected for their size and courage to encounter bears and panthers, and that were frantic to join the fray. They dashed off, outyelling the savages, who recoiled before the fury of their onset, giving the men time to escape into the fort. It is said that Mrs. Robertson "patted every dog as he came into the fort."

Through it all, our first progenitors held true to their first compact of equal rights, mutual protection, impartial justice, with the reserved power of removing the unfaithful from office, and to the soil where they had elected to make their struggle for liberty and homes.

To give the temper of the Scotch-Irish women, I give the following:

A WHIG WEDDING IN DERBY DURING THE REVOLUTION

In Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet for June 17, 1778, then published at Lancaster during the occupation of Philadelphia by the British, we find the following reference to the marriage of Jane, daughter of the Rev. John Roan, to William Clingan. Jr.:

"Was married last Thursday (June 11, 1778), Mr. William Clingan, Jr., of Donegal, to Miss Jenny Roan, of Londonderry, both of this county of Lancaster; a sober, sensible, agreeable young couple, and very sincere Whigs. This marriage promises much happiness as the state of things in this our sinful world will admit. This was truly a Whig wedding, as there were present many young gentlemen and ladies, and not one of the gentlemen but had been out when called on in the service of his country; and it was well known that the groom, in particular, had proved his heroism, as well as Whigism, in several battles and skirmishes. After the marriage was ended, a motion was made, and heartily agreed to by all present, that the young unmarried ladies should form themselves into an association by the name of the 'Whig Association of Unmarried Young Ladies of America,' in which they should pledge their honor that they would never give their hand in marriage to any gentleman until he had first proved himself a patriot, in readily turning out when called to defend his country from slavery, by a spirited and brave conduct, as they would not wish to be the mothers of a race of slaves and cowards."

All honor to the memories of those patriotic women of Dauphin in the war for independence! This was a Scotch-Irish county. Rev. John Roan was a Presbyterian, and the uncle who reared Archibald Roan, afterward governor of Tennessee. The latter was among the earlier settlers, and married the sister of Judge David and Colonel Arthur Campbell.

There are two men, Duncan Robertson and Montgomery Bell, who, on grounds of distinguished philanthropy and liberality, deserve to be mentioned in every sketch of the Scotch-Irish of our county of Davidson.

Monette, in his "Valley of the Mississippi," says: "Tennessee, not inaptly, has been called the mother of states. From the bosom of this state have issued more colonies for the peopling of the great valley of the Mississippi than from any one state in the American Union. Her emigrant citizens have formed a very important portion of the population of Alabama, of the northern half of Mississippi and Florida. They have also formed the principal portion of the early population of the states of Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.

The first settlers of Tennessee not only through years of manly struggle and endurance combined the work of the pioneer settler with that of soldier, but early won as volunteers the rightful claim of protector of the regions beyond them south and west. We do not deem it proper to enter into the part taken by the Scotch-Irish of western Virginia and Tennessee, and North and South Carolina, in the critical battle of Kings Mountain—that has been left for others. I may be allowed to say the men who fought that battle were almost to a man of this heroic race. In their history they are three times called upon during the revolutionary struggle to repel the combined attempt of English and Indians to crush the struggling colonies—each time they cut the lines of the advancing foe, and so dismembered the parts of the plan of operation as to thwart its ends. This is the work so brilliantly described in the pages of the "Rear Guard of the Revolution." It is too well known to detain you with its recital.

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