Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery

We sometimes imagine that such oppressive laws were put quickly into full force by greedy landowners. But that's not the way slavery was established in colonial America. It happened gradually -- one person at a time, one law at a time, even one colony at a time.

One of the places we have the clearest views of that "terrible transformation" is the colony of Virginia. In the early years of the colony, many Africans and poor whites -- most of the laborers came from the English working class -- stood on the same ground. Black and white women worked side-by-side in the fields. Black and white men who broke their servant contract were equally punished.

But that is not the way it remained.

To read about how this transformation happened: Click Here.

This segment is part of a larger PBS production on slavery in America. To start from the beginning: Click Here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Final Reminder!!

The 33rd Annual Hancock County Fall Festival is this Saturday, Oct. 3, and Sunday, Oct 4, in Sneedville. The MHS will have a booth at the festival -- be sure to drop by if you're attending! -- and Jack Goins' new book, Melungeons: Footprints from the Past, will be available for purchase on the spot.

For more about the festival: Click Here.

For more about Jack's book: Click Here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hening's Statutes at Large

Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia
from the first session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 [to 1792].

By: William Waller Hening

Transcribed for the Internet by: Freddie L. Spradlin, Torrance, CA.

All thirteen volumes are now online, including an index to persons named in the text adjusted to combine variant spellings under one entry.

To view: Click Here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Appalachian Images

Realm of blue beneath the sky
Waters swiftly rushing by
Ancient land of destiny
Cloaked in green serenity
Trees stand watchful on its hills
And along its creeks and rills
Nature in a dance sublime
Measured by celestial time
Echoing throughout its glades
Whispers from its darkest shades
Mountain murmurs, heart of coal
Appalachia has a soul

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Barbara Allen

Perhaps the most famous of the old Appalachian ballads brought from across the Atlantic, there are countless versions of Barbara Allen, also known as Bar'bry Allen, Barb'ry Ellen and Barbara Ellen, among other variations. It is over three centuries old. Samuel Pepys refers to it as the "little Scottish tune" in his Diaries in 1666. I's origins are somewhere in the British Isles: Scotland, England and Ireland all claim it, although Scotland is probably the most likely. Versions are found as far afield as Italy and Scandinavia, as well as the US. According to one source, there are over 98 versions of the tune in Virginia alone.

To visit a site with nine versions of the lyrics: Click Here.

To visit a site with three very old variations, presumably closer to the original: Click Here.

Don't forget, the 33rd Hancock County Fall Festival begins one week from today! Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4. For more information: Click Here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Greene County History and Genealogy

The present Greene County, Tennessee, located to the southeast of Hawkins County, was organized in 1783. Eleven years earlier, Jacob Brown, a merchant, with several families from North Carolina, tentatively settled on the banks of the Nolachuckey River. He secured a lease on a large tract of land from the Cherokees. Three years later, in March, 1775, an indenture was signed between Jacob Brown and the Cherokee chiefs which gave Brown title to some of the best lands on both sides of the river.

In 1776, the settlers of Watauga and Nolachucky petitioned the protection of North Carolina. The area then became The District of Washington. A year later, the District became Washington County, essentially the entire state of Tennessee.

In 1778, the first Washington County Court was convened. Between 1778 and 1783, a number of settlers came into the area.

Greene County and Greeneville were named in honor of General Nathanael Greene, a Rhode Islander who was credited with outstanding military ability. He played an important role in the American victory over the British in the South during the Revolutionary War. After the war, in 1785, the state of North Carolina granted General Greene a 25,000 acre land grant which encompassed a part of Greene County. That grant is the first recorded deed in the County.

In 1784, North Carolina ceded western lands to the Federal Government. The State of Franklin was organized, with John Sevier as the Governor, and the following year Greeneville became the capital of this short lived political entity. Four years later, the State of Franklin collapsed, and Greene County once again became a part of North Carolina.

The following year, 1789, North Carolina again ceded western lands, and in 1790 Greene County became a part of the Territory of the United States South of the Ohio River.

To visit Greene County's USGenWeb site: Click Here.

To visit a Greene County genealogical site: Click Here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More on Buck Gibson

Buck Gibson was born about 1765 and along with Vardy Collins was called the 'head and source' of the Melungeons of Newman's Ridge. It is not known who his parents are or where he was born. He first appears in Wilkes County, North Carolina in the part that would later be called Ashe County. It is also unknown who his first wife was but it would appear he had been married before he married to Matilda Denham who was born about 1802. There has been much speculation as to who Buck's father was but today it remains speculation.


The first Gibson found in Wilkes County was John Gibson, son of Gideon Gibson of the Pee Dee Settlement in South Carolina. John was probably born around 1740 and married by 1767 to Agnes Adair, daughter of James Adair, Indian trader and author of "History of the American Indians" published in 1775.

To continue reading: Click Here.

To review last Thursday MHS Blog entry on the Gibson family of Louisa County, Virginia: Click Here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autosomal Test Opportunity

New 23andMe Autosomal Test Opportunity -- Very Limited Time

By MHS Board Member Roberta Estes

Recently I have been invited to gather a group to participate in a very special beta group at 23andMe.

I want to state very clearly this offer is for a very limited time. If you wish to participate, KITS MUST BE ORDERED BY SEPTEMBER 30TH (2009) AND RETURNED TO THE LAB NO LATER THAN OCTOBER 30TH.

When I took this test, it cost $995. The current public price is $399 for the full service test and this special beta price is dramatically less, in fact, it’s only slightly more than their Research Edition test listed here, but because of the special nature of this project, you get the full test for the discounted price which is slightly more than the Research Edition.

For this special price, you receive all of their Ancestry results which you can see here and their 116 genetic traits which you can see here

For complete information: Click Here.

Note: This offer is being presented here because it is a very good deal from a reputable DNA testing organization, vouched for by a highly reputable MHS board member with much experience and expertise in this area, which may be of interest to some MHS Blog readers. Do note, however, that autosomal testing provides only limited and very general ancestral information. DNA testing is not a substitute for sound, documented genealogical research. And please note in particular that this is not a test for Melungeon ancestry. There is no DNA test for Melungeon ancestry. The only way DNA testing can ever prove Melungeon ancestry is by proving actual descent from a known, historically documented Melungeon whose DNA is available for comparison.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Six Turn of the 20th Century Hangings

In Wise County Virgina

The Hangings at Gladeville (Now Wise)
By Luther F. Addington

No one knew better the gruesome tales of the hangings at Gladeville than the late Charles Renfro, whom the writer interviewed.

Charles Renfro said:

"When I was made a member of the Wise County Vigilantes back there in 1892, I little dreamed that I was to become the scaffold maker or noose knot tier for all the six men who were to die on the gallows in my country. But it was that way.

The Vigilantes had been organized in Big Stone Gap, Virginia by Josh Bullitt as a protection against the bad men of the hills when the first coal boom came. John Fox, Jr., the author of the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, was a member of the guard, I recollect.

To read this very colorful and detailed account: Click Here.

Note: Despite the reference to vigilantes, these were legal, court-ordered executions, not lynchings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Melungeons: Footprints from the Past

Just Published!!!

Melungeons: Footprints from the Past

By Jack Goins
Eminent Melungeon Researcher
MHS President and Hawkins County Archivist

In Melungeons: Footprints from the Past, author Jack H. Goins revisits several events described in his previous book, Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families, using new evidence from court records and DNA testing. Goins trails the Melungeons from the Pamunkey River to the Flat River, then to the New River, Fort Blackmore, Blackwater and Newman's Ridge. Goins was born in Hancock County, Tennessee and is a descendant of several pioneer families who settled in the Clinch River Valley circa 1800.

Quoting Jack himself: "This book represents a lifetime goal of putting into writing a true story about the lives of my pioneer families and also the lives and migration route of the people labeled Melungeon, where they came from, their parents, their bloodline, which is based upon their own testimony and backed by documented evidence, including DNA testing. [Also] included is a brief autobiography of my first few years of this research journey, and of growing up on a farm with the hard times my parents had in the beginning of their marriage."

The book is priced at $25, shipping included, and may be purchased directly from the author by writing, calling or emailing him at:

Jack Goins
270 Holston View Drive
Rogersville, TN 37857
(423) 272-7297

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Native Peoples of the Chesapeake Region

We have a story to tell: Native peoples of the Chesapeake region
From the Smithsonian Institution's
National Museum of the American Indian

The Native peoples of the Chesapeake Bay region were among the first in the Western Hemisphere to encounter European explorers and colonists. Their stories, however, have usually been told by others, and usually only when their history helps to shed light on the birth and early development of the English colonies and the United States. Their perspectives have been overlooked and ignored in exhibitions, the media, educational materials, and most histories of the region. This guide offers contemporary Native perspectives about the historical experiences of the Native Americans of the Chesapeake, in particular, the Powhatan, Nanticoke, and Piscataway peoples.

To view this multimedia guide: Click Here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Man Who Married The Thunder's Sister

A Tale of the Cherokee
Excerpted From
Myths of the Cherokee by James Mooney
Bureau of American Ethnology
19th Annual Report to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Published by the US Government Printing Office, 1900

In the old times the people used to dance often and all night. Once there was a dance at the old town of Sâkwi'yï, on the head of Chattahoochee, and after it was well started two young women with beautiful long hair came in, but no one knew who they were, or whence they had come.

They danced with one partner and another, and in the morning slipped away before anyone knew that they were gone; but a young warrior had fallen in love with one of the sisters on account of her beautiful hair, and after the manner of the Cherokee had already asked her through an old man if she would marry him and let him live with her.

To this the young woman had replied that her brother at home must first be consulted, and they promised to return for the next dance seven days later with an answer, but in the meantime if the young man really loved her he must prove his constancy by a rigid fast until then. The eager lover readily agreed and impatiently counted the days.

To continue reading this wonderful story: Click Here.

For 125 more Cherokee tales collected by James Mooney: Click Here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More on Gravestone Symbolism

I received a surprisingly strong email response to Tuesday's MHS Blog entry on gravestone symbolism.

For another extensive list of gravestone symbols and their meaning: Click Here.

That list, unfortunately, has only a few photographs but the written descriptions are clear enough.

For the very informative "Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbolism" blog with a great many photographs scattered throughout: Click Here.

For a page from that blog devoted to Masonic symbolism: Click Here.

The Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) was founded in 1977 for the purpose of furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. AGS is an international organization with an interest in gravemarkers of all periods and styles. Through its publications, conferences, workshops and exhibits, AGS promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives, expands public awareness of the significance of historic gravemarkers, and encourages individuals and groups to record and preserve gravestones.

To visit its web site: Click Here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Gibson Family of Louisa County, Virginia

Shepard "Old Buck" Gibson was one of the oldest and now best known of the Melungeons in what became Hancock County, Tennessee. He is believed to have migrated from Louisa County,Virginia to Hancock (then Hawkins) County by way of Wilkes County, North Carolina. However, his exact connection to the 18th century Gibson family of Louisa County is unclear and unproven.

To quote Jack Goins and Loaetta Reddington :
It is traditionally believed Shepard Gibson, born about 1765, was the son of Andrew Gibson. Believed to be the son of George and Mary Gibson of Louisa County, VA and Orange County, North Carolina. This George was a brother to Gedion and Jordan, sons of Gilbert Gibson. (Louisa County, VA Wills and Deeds). By 1790 Andrew Gibson was listed as part of a Company (militia?) in Wilkes County, NC. This part of Wilkes County became Ashe County in 1799. One indication that Shepard was related to the elder Andrew was, he named his first son Andrew who was born 1809 according to the information given for him on the 1850 census of Hancock County, Tennessee. Historian William Groshe’s notes state that Shepard, who would have been about 25 years old, had already moved to Tennessee from Virginia before the 1790 census. However, on August 11, 1800, Shepard entered two land deed applications in Ashe County, NC. Deed Book page 184 says: “100 acres beginning near the mouth of a “dreen” that makes into ‘Baire’ Creek and runs up said creek”. On page 185 it further says: “50 acres beginning near George Miller’s lower line and runs down south fork of New River”.

For information about Buck Gibson and to read this quote from a previous MHS Blog entry in context: Click Here.

For genealogical information and documentation about the Gibson family of Louisa County, Virginia: Click Here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Evidences of Freedom

By MHS Board Member Kevin Mullins

Contained in miscellaneous record book containing minutes of Mayor's Court, Knoxville (07 March 1838-January Term 1840) and minutes of meetings of Knoxville Mayor and Aldermen May 1886-August 1889. Book is now in the holdings of the Knox County Archives. Microfilm of volume is in the McClung Historical Collection.


James Goins

James Goins presented the following as the best evidence that he can
obtain of his Freedom

State of Tennessee }
Hawkins County }
County Court, May Term 1857
Personally appeared in open court Aaron Mooney & Rodham Chesnutt
residents of said county &
state who being duly sworn according to Law depose and say that they
are well acquainted with
James Goins a colored man who lately resided in Hawkins County
Tennessee and that they knew his
mother who was a white woman and his reputed Father was a mulatto, and
that the said James
Goins was born free.

State of Tennessee }
Hawkins County }
I James H. Vance Clerk of the County Court of said county do
certify that the foregoing is a true
[begin strike through] copy [end strike through] transcript from the
Record of my Court.
Given under my hand and official seal at office in Rogersville
the 7th day of May 1857.
J. H. Vance Clerk


Mary Elizabeth Williams

State of Tennessee }
Hawkins County }
I Richard Mitchell a resident and citizen of Hawkins County
Tennessee for upwards of Fifty
years do certify that the bearer of this Mary Elizabeth Williams a
colored girl aged nineteen years is
free was born free that I raised her Grandmother and mother who were
both free.
Given under my hand this 10th day of May AD 1847.
Richard Mitchell
State of Tennessee }
Hawkins County }
I do certify that I am well acquainted with the above named girl
Mary Elizabeth Williams and
was also acquainted with her mother before her death who lived with me
up to the time of her death
that she was a free woman and that said Mary is a free girl and so
considered by all the neighbours.
Given under my hand this 10th day of May AD 1847.
Willie B. Mitchell

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gravestone Symbolism

Sometimes I come across good material embedded in web sites which I consider to be either too unreliable in general or simply inappropriate for this blog. In such cases I have heretofore not presented such material, sometimes being inspired to find it elsewhere. In this case, however, I am making an exception in that the page is so unique, and I think potentially valuable to someone.

The page presents pictures and explanations of a great number of the various carved symbols and figures which once so commonly adorned American gravestones and which may seem rather mysterious to modern eyes looking over an old cemetery. The presentation is not exhaustive, I am sure, but it is the most extensive I have yet found on the web.

To view the gravestone symbolism page: Click Here.

Another page illustrating tomb and mausoleum types may also be of interest. To view it: Click Here.

The remainder of this web site,, is entered at your own risk!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cherokee Mission Schools

There is little evidence of any Cherokee interest in Christianity at the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, some of the Cherokee chiefs, mostly the more prosperous mixed bloods, realizing that a white education would be invaluable in dealing with the American government, wanted their children to learn to read and write English. In 1800 the Moravians approached the Cherokees about establishing a mission school in their country and three years later the Presbyterians did likewise.

To continue reading: Click Here.

This blog entry is something of a supplement to Friday's entry on Moravian missionary records documenting Cherokee tribal life. See below.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bristol's E.W. King House

Music and Storytelling at the E.W. King House

The Bristol Historical Association will hold its third annual E. W. King Open House on Saturday, September 19, 2009, from 10am-2pm during the Bristol, Tennessee "Rhythm and Roots Reunion" music festival.

Bands, including Hart Creek and Andrea and Allen Clarke along with fiddler Rachel Renee Johnson of the Dixie Bee-Liners, will be performing throughout the day. This event will also feature Storytelling by David Claunch, “Jonesborough’s very own storytelling, motorcycle-riding clown”. David is a member of both the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild and the Beaver Creek Storytellers and performs as a storyteller as well as his alter ego, “Dilly-Dally” the Clown. In addition, both noted Bristol historian and author V.N. "Bud" Phillips and award-winning journalist and author Joe Tennis will be present for book signing, sales, and questions.

Admission is free.

For more information: Click Here.

For "Rhythm and Roots" information: Click Here.

To visit the Bristol Historical Society's web site: Click Here.

Note: Bud Phillips is the author of Coming Down Cumberland, the definitive Maggard family history.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

33rd Annual Hancock County Fall Festival

It's that time of year again! The 33rd annual Hancock County Fall Festival will be Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 to 6 and Sunday, Oct. 4 from 10 to 4 in Sneedville.

Good food, good crafts, good singing, good fun, a pumpkin carving contest and a tractor parade!

Who could ask for more!?

To read more: Click Here.

The MHS will be there. Stop by and visit our booth if you're there too!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Missionary Records Describe Cherokee Tribal Life

Cherokee Revealed
Translated Moravian Records
Disclose a Forgotten History

By Mary Giunca
Winston-Salem Journal Reporter

Published: September 8, 2009

In front of the house stands a long, open shed covered with clapboards adequately provided with benches and other seats, as well as a raised plank for writing on. The Talk was held under this shed. At a short distance from this stands a tall pole. A designated Indian took his position at this pole with a drum, and beat the drum as a sign of the beginning of the meeting. He kept drumming until Indians were seen coming in lines. In the heat, the Indians used turkey wings in stead of fans to make a breeze for themselves. -- Report from Abraham Steiner, a Moravian missionary to the Cherokee at Springplace, Ga., May 22, 1801, translated from the German.

This glimpse into the shared history of Moravians and Cherokees was shrouded in archaic German script for over 200 years at the Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem.

The words were found among hundreds of diaries, letters and other papers that recorded about 100 years of history between the Moravian missionaries and their Cherokee brethren. The records constitute the only known account of daily life in the Cherokee nation.

To read more: Click Here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tennessee's Land Disputes with North Carolina

By Gale Williams Bamman, CG, CGL.

From Genealogical Journal, Vol. 24, Number 3, 1996

Tennessee’s complex history of its public lands dates from the early 1780s, when North Carolina passed several acts concerning the disbursement of its western reserve (now Tennessee). This paper is an overview of those laws and the effects they had on the records and the record-keeping system. It is not a comprehensive study, but treats only this one aspect of a complicated subject -- the relationship between North Carolina and Tennessee up to about 1806. Along with the historical setting and the explanations of the various ensuing laws, examples are given of various types of grants and their supporting papers (warrants, entries, surveys), as well as details on the procedures involved in the maturing, or perfecting, of grants.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

North Carolina Military Bounty Land Warrants

And The Glasgow Land Fraud

By A. B. Pruitt

In 1783, the North Carolina Legislature decided to reward men who had served in the North Carolina regiments in the Continental Line (national army) during the Revolution. The reward was land in Tennessee. The amount of land a man received depended on how long the man had served (3 to 7 years) and his highest rank. The heirs of men who had died in service received land as if the man had served for seven year no matter how long he actually served before his death. In 1784, the law was expanded to include men who had served for only 2 years. Amounts of land ranged from 228 acres (for privates who served 2 years) to 12,000 acres (for men who had served 7 years and attained the rank of brigadier general). There were two methods of obtaining a warrant: (1) the former soldier or his heir could request a warrant in person at the Secretary of State’s office or (2) a former officer could request warrants for soldiers they knew had served. The second method was an admission by the State that some officers kept better muster records than the State did.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: Much more on this and related topics tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Origins of Colonial Chesapeake Indentured Servants

American and English Sources

By Nathan W. Murphy, AG®

[This article was originally published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 93, No. 1 (Mar 2005): 5-24)

Indentured servants were not glamorous or famous figures in colonial America. Nevertheless, family historians are interested in knowing that an ancestor—male or female—may have been indentured. More important, the designation “indentured servant” signifies that the individual immigrated—a fact that surviving colonial sources often do not clarify and one that can open doors to finding the ancestor in European records.

Indentured servants can be found among the forebears of most people with southern colonial ancestry. Identifying an ancestor as indentured, however, is a challenge. These men and women created few records while bound and, once they became free, records might not mention their previous status. More daunting is tracing known indentured servants back to their arrival in America and from there to a European port of departure and place of birth. Some original records generated specifically about these servants have been lost, but many sources survive in the United States and Europe that can help researchers identify these ancestors and understand their lives.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Southern Appalachian English

A Website by Michael Montgomery
Author of Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English
University of Tennessee Press, 2004

Welcome to this website on the speech of one of America's most often misunderstood regions - southern and central Appalachia, which stretches from north Georgia to West Virginia. It's been romanticized as the language of Shakespeare, and it's been caricatured, ridiculed, and dismissed as uneducated, bad grammar, or worse. But too rarely has it been appreciated for what it is: the native speech of millions of Americans that has a distinctive history and that makes Appalachia what it is just as sure as the region's music does.

This website has a wealth of information on the English language spoken in Appalachia. There's fun to be had in exploring it too, but if you're looking for a site that's just for entertainment or one with funny spellings, you've come to the wrong place. Too many of those sites are around already. As a native of East Tennessee and as someone who has heard mountain speech all my life and written about it for more than thirty years, I have designed this site to present not only how Appalachian people talk, but also some of the history and the flavor of that talk.

To visit this very interesting site: Click Here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pickett State Park Old Timers’ Day - Monday, September 7

The sound of fiddling and bluegrass music will fill the air at Pickett State Park in Jamestown, Tennesse during the annual Old Timers’ Day music festival. This free, day-long “jamming” festival begun in the mid-1970s features buck dancing, ballad singing, old-time fiddling, folk songs, bluegrass and much more. Bring the whole family for a day of music and fun activities! For additional information about Old Timers’ Day, please call (931) 689-3129.

Situated in a remote section of the Upper Cumberland plateau, Pickett State Park is known for its geological, botanical and scenic wonders. The park lies within the 19,200-acre Pickett State Forest and adjacent to the massive 120,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, both areas containing prime wilderness country. Visitors to the park can explore large rock houses, natural sandstone bridges, scenic bluffs and wild mountain streams. The park memorializes and preserves the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps which first developed the park.

For additional information about the park: Click Here.

Or call (931) 879-5821.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway

The Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway showcases the natural beauty of southwest Virginia and the history of the area. The byway passes through 16.2 miles of national forest and private land in Bland and Wythe Counties. Travelers will find it easily accessible from Interstates 77 and 81, at Wytheville, VA. It can be a refreshing alternative to interstate driving for those who might like to leisurely enjoy some scenery.

This byway takes travelers over some of the area's most scenic land, which is beautiful year round. In the winter, the sun hitting the frozen tree tops on Big Walker Mountain creates a spectacular winter wonderland. The colors of springtime are a welcome change after winter's whites and browns. There are many places along the byway to stop and enjoy the flowers. Summer and fall are excellent times to enjoy camping, hiking, hunting and picnicking in the Jefferson National Forest along the byway.

The area surrounding the byway is rich with history, some of which can be read on roadside markers. There are stories of Civil War battles and legendary people, such as preacher Bob Sheffey and Mary "Molly" Tynes.

For more on the BWM Scenic Byway: Click Here.

For the story of Preacher Bob: Click Here.

For the story of Molly Tynes: Click Here.

For the easy way to see the scenery: Click Here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cumberland County History and Genealogy

Cumberland County is located in south-central Kentucky along the Tennessee state line. It has an area of 307 square miles. Cumberland County was formed on December 14, 1798, from a portion of Green County and named for the Cumberland River, which flows through the county. The county seat is Burkesville. The County is bordered by Adair County (north), Russell County (northeast), Clinton County (east), Clay County, TN (south), Monroe County (west), Metcalfe County (northwest). There are many small communties, such as Marrowbone, Grider, Kettle, Waterview, Bow, Hegria, Renox, Bakerton and the county seat of Burkesville.

The topography of Cumberland County varies from level river bottom to hilly terrain. Much of the land is covered with timber. Water sources in the county are the Cumberland River, Marrowbone Creek, and many smaller creeks and streams, plus the northern portion of the 27,000-acre Dale Hollow Lake.

The first settlers came into the region in the 1780s and early 1790s from Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. In 1769, Daniel Boone explored the area that later became Cumberland County. According to local legend, the first settlers fought an intense battle with the Indians in 1790 about ten miles north of what is now Burksville. A daring rescue of a young girl from the Indians took place at Little Renox Falls. A group of settlers attacked the Indian captors of the girl, killed them, and saved the girl, suffering no casualties.

To visit the Cumberland County USGenWeb site: Click Here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Metes and Bounds

The Metes and Bounds system of Survey, as used in Tennessee and other eastern states, Hawaii, and Texas, is an earlier system than the Rectangular System of Surveys, (a.k.a. Public Land Survey System) which is used in many states. Simply put, the Metes and Bounds system of survey is an archaic survey system where surveyed tracts are not linked to base line surveys, but rather to neighboring tracts, roads, trees, rocks, meanders of waterways, etc. But it was the best that could be had at the time it was used.

To find out more about the metes and bounds survey system used in Tennessee and throughout Appalachia: Click Here.

For a helpful glossary of terms commonly fond in old Tennessee land documents: Click Here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tennessee's First Major Land Law -- 1806

Chapter 1

An Act directing the division of the State into convenient Districts, for the appointment of principal Surveyors thereof, and for ascertaining the bona fide claims against the same, agreeable to an Act of Congress passed the eighteenth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and six, entitled, “An act to authorize the State of Tennessee to issue grants and perfect titles to certain lands thereto described, and to settle the claims to the vacant and unappropriated lands within the same.”

To read Chapter 1: Click Here.

Chapter 2

An Act for the appointment of a Register of the Land Office, and providing for the sale of the lands south of Holston and French Broad, agreeably to the Constitution of this State, and the provisions of the Act of Congress therein referred to.

To read Chapter 2: Click Here.

Note: For more on the early surveyors' districts, including a map of them: Click Here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Flower Swift Mullins

Below are excerpts from letters written by Grady Loy to Pat Spurlock in answer to comments about the various Mullins families mentioned in Melungeons: Examining An Appalachian Legend. We felt his information would be of great interest to Mullins and Melungeon researchers. With Mr. Loy's gracious permission, we reproduce his comments below. He asked that we explicitly say that some of what he discusses is conjecture or at least unproven though he does have a certain amount of confidence in the conjecture.

From Grady Loy, May 22, 2000.

Hello. I just ordered a copy of your book. My connection to the people in it is through the Swift family of Randolph County, North Carolina, and Grayson (Wythe) County Virginia. On page 124 you said, "Even more enticing are the many Swift Flower Mullinses and Flower Swift Mullinses running around in early East Tennessee. Is it coincidence the Flower family and one branch of Mullinses have French ancestry? Moreover, where did the Swift name come from? I wish I knew the answers."

I can be of a little help here I think.

To continue reading: Click Here.