CHAPTER I. - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII - IX - X
Biographical Sketches of Trigg County
Cadiz Precinct - Canton Precinct - Ferguson Springs - Laura Furnace - Linton - Roaring Springs - Golden Pond - Rock Castle - Wallonia -Cerulean Springs - Montgomery - Bethesda - Caledonia

A few decades ago and this country was the home of the red man and his kindred, these great forests his hunting-grounds where he chased the buffalo and deer. From a wilderness infested with savages and wild beasts the country has been reclaimed and transformed into unsurpassed loveliness. The history which attaches to every section of it increases in yearly interest, and must continue to do so with the passing years. Every county has its traditions and memories; every spot, however small, is more or less historical. Trigg County, to which these chapters are devoted, bears no mean part in the history or the importance of the State, as she bears no inconsiderable part in the history of our common country.

Topography.-Trigg County lies on the Tennessee line in the southwestern part of' the State, and is bounded on the north by Lyon and Caldwell Counties; on the east by Christian County; on the south by the State of Tennessee; and on the west by Calloway and Marshall Counties, from which it is separated by the Tennessee River, the dividing line between "Jackson's Purchase" and the older settled portion of Kentucky. It is drained and watered by the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the latter of which flows north almost through the center of the county, and the tributaries of these streams. The surface is diversified between rough and broken hills and beautiful and undulating valleys of productive lands.

The original timber was several kinds of oak, hickory, walnut, maple, ash, elm, sycamore, poplar, etc., and hazel, willow, cedar and other shrubs. Quite a portion of the county was what was called "barrens." The geological structure of Trigg County is so similar to that of Christian County that it is needles8 to go into a detailed description of it, as it is fully described in the first part of this volume. A few words upon the subject in this chapter will suffice. The eastern part of the county averages from level to rolling or undulating, while that portion lying between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers is broken and hilly, and abounds in lime and conglomerate sandstone, the latter predominating. High, steep banks border the Tennessee River, with ledges of rocks in great plenty. The finest of limestone may be found in almost all parts of the county, but most prominent outcrops are in Wallonia and Cerulean Springs Precincts. The blue limestone makes a fine building stone, and is much used as such. There is also a very good sandstone in the neighborhood of Cerulean Springs which is utilized for foundations and for chimneys, also for grindstones. Between the rivers (the Tennesse and Cumberland) a fine quality of iron ore is found.

Iron Ore.-As early as 1841 iron ore was the source of an important industry, and several large iron furnaces were put in operation. In the year above mentioned T. T. Watson of Tennessee purchased a large tract of land in what is now Ferguson Springs Precinct, and erected the Empire Furnace. He operated it very successfully for about a year, when Daniel Hillman, also of Tennessee, bought a half interest in the business, and immediately the firm erected the Fulton Furnace just over the line in Lyon County. At Watson's death, which occurred some two years later, Hillman became sole owner. He soon after built the Center Furnace three miles west of the Cumberland River, which be operated on a more extensive scale than the others. This enterprise represented a capital of several thousand dollars, and gave employment to about one hundred men. The Empire Furnace was of a limited capacity, and was abandoned in 1861-62, and its business transferred to the Center, which is still in operation.

In the year 1845 Messrs. Stacker & Ewing of Tennessee built the Stacker Furnace on the east bank of the Cumberland River, where the village of Linton now stands. This proved a very successful venture, and a handsome fortune to the proprietors was the result. Thinking to further increase their business they sold the furnace in a few years, and commenced the erection of a very large one in Tennessee, but before its completion they became financially embarrassed and were compelled to give up the project. Stacker Furnace was operated by different parties until 1856, when it was abandoned, owing to the ore in its vicinity becoming exhausted. The last proprietors were Lewis Erum & Co., who abandoned it as above.

Laura Furnace was built in 1855 some two miles west of Cumberland River by Gentry, Gunn & Co., of Tennessee, who invested in it a capital of about $40,000. They gave employment to 120 or 180 men, and carried on a very successful business for three years. The furnace was then purchased by George P. Wilcox, who operated it until 1860-61. The civil war seriously interfered with the iron interests of this region, and for several years Laura Furnace remained idle, to the great loss of the proprietors, who were thus financially ruined. It has been operated only at intervals since 1865. Pringle & Co., of Pittsburgh, had charge of it in 1871, and Whitlock, McNichola & Co. leased it for a short time a year or two later, but did not make the business lucrative. The property is now owned by C. Beninger, of Pittsburgh, but is not in operation.

Trigg Furnace was erected by Daniel Hillman in 1871, and stands east of the Cumberland River in the Rock Castle District. This is the largest furnace ever built in the county, and at the time of its completion represented a capital of $60,000. It was constructed upon an improved plan, employed the hot blast, and required the labor of about 150 men to operate it properly. It produced a superior .quality of iron, and was in operation about seven years. At the end of that time it was discontinued on account of the enormous expense required to operate it and the scarcity of ore on the proprietor's lands.

The mineral deposits, principally iron ore with limited deposits of lead, are very rich in the county, and only require plenty of capital to properly develop them. Railroads are much needed in order to develop the country and render its hidden treasures more valuable. With plenty of railroad facilities, and competition in the transportation of fuel to the works and the products of the works to market, this would soon become the richest portion of Trigg County. The day is not far distant when these rich deposits will be brought to light.

Streams.-Thee most important stream aside from the Tennessee River, which forms the western boundary of the county, is the Cumberland River. It is a fine stream, and as an avenue of transportation and travej is of the greatest benefit to the country. In the early period of the country's history it was the sole mode of transportation almost for the early settlers, as there were no roads but trails through the forests and barrens. Boating was carried on extensively until the era of railroads rendered water transportation too slow a method. Those who have only known the country under the railroad systems can form but little idea of the river business of early times. Flat-boats and even steamboats were loaded with the produce of the country, and passed out into the Ohio River, thence into the Mississippi, and down to New Orleans-then the great market of the country. In this respect the Cumberland River was far more important to Trigg County than the Tennessee, in that it flowed almost through the center of the county.

Little River is the most important tributary of the Cumberland in this section. It flows in a general northwesterly direction, and empties into the Cumberland near Canton. It is the crookedest stream perhaps in the world, and flows to every point of the compass sometimes within the distance of a mile. At one time it was considered a navigable stream, and small boats came up as far as Cadiz. Efforts have been made to obtain an appropriation from the National Government for its improvement, but the fact of its location south of Mason and Dixon's line has so 4ar defeated the laudable undertaking. Its principal tributaries are Muddy Fork, Casey's Creek, Dyer's Creek and Sinking Fork. The latter receives its name from the fact that it sinks into the earth at a certain point, reappearing a mile or two distant. Along these streams as everywhere in the cavernous limestone region are numberless caves, some of which have been explored to a considerable distance. They are more fully described, however, in the precinct histories.

Soils and Production..-Adjacent to the streams the soil is alluvium of great depth and fertility. On the higher4 lands is a clay soil, in the limestone region a red clay, which is very productive. The higher ridge land rests on a light clay, and is much less productive than the red clay. Wheat and corn are grown extensively, and are well adapted to the soils of the county. Tobacco however is the principal crop, and has been produced to an extent to injure and wear out the lands prematurely. It will be a bright period in the history of the county when the farmers cease raising so much tobacco and give their time and attention to stock-raising and the production of grain. The latter industries are already beginning to receive more attention each year, which is to the prosperity of the county. But there is room for still greater change and improvement.

Tobacco is considered by many one of the most valuable crops produced in the United States, but in its cultivation comes the real "drudgery" of farm life. It is never off the farmer's hands, for before he can get his crop into market he is preparing for another crop, and thus it goes on from year to year. A great need of the times is to make rural life so attractive and at the same time to make pecuniary profit in it so possible as to hold the boys and young men on the farm. This can hardly be done by the universal growing of tobacco. It is a very mistaken idea of gentility, of ease of life, of opportunities for culture or for winning fame, which draws a large percentage of the brightest bays into the so-called learned professions, or into trade. With proper surroundings of the home, with a proper education at school, with a proper administration of the economies of the farm, with a sufficient understanding of the opportunities for a high order of intellectual and social accomplishment in the rural life of this country, this need not and would not be so. This is not intended as a wholesale condemnation of the growing of tobacco, which it is to be confessed is a necessary evil; but it is merely to show the advisability of more equally dividing the crops cultivated. Grow less tobacco, and more corn, wheat, clover and grass, and raise more Btock. A few years will disclose the value of the change in more ways than one.

Mounds.-That a strange and semi-civilized people resided throughout all the country in times which antedate the Indians' occupancy of the soil is established by conclusive evidence, aside from the most universal denial of the savage tribes of their having had any participation in the erection of the vast number of earthworks scattered throughout the continent. All that is known of this mysterious people has been discovered from the decaying remnants of their works; but their origin and final fate are enshrouded in hopeless obscurity. Although the pre-historic remains of Trigg County are few in number and comparatively uninteresting in detail, yet a few words here may not be out of place, descriptive of some of the more prominent ones.

The largest mound in the county perhaps is the one near Canton. It covers about one-eighth of an acre of ground, and when first known to white people was of considerable height. On opening this mound a number of axes (stone), pipes, and other relics of the Mound-Builder were found in profusion. An image was also found, which from its appearance might be a statue of the "lost link" between man and the "Darwinian theory." On the Grace farm, in Cadiz Precinct, is another large mound. This mound has likewise been opened, and in it were found a large number of relics. Smaller mounds than the two above described are found in other parts of the county, principally in the neighborhoods of Cerulean Springs, Roaring Springs, etc., etc. They are noticed further in the chapters devoted to those particular sections, and further mention here is superfluous.

Settlement White People.-It is difficult at this remote period to fix upon the exact year in which white men first came into what now constitutes Trigg County. But from the most authentic of the scant sources of information it appears to have been as early as 1778. "The first of these were hardy adventurers from the Carolinas, who floated down the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers on flatboats, and after erecting a few temporary huts contiguous to the banks of the streams, remained but a few years and then suddenly disappeared, leaving no traces behind them except the rude habitations that could not be dignified with the appellation of cabins. What their object was speculation can hardly furnish a conjecture. There are no evidences of their having been hunters or trappers, and the fact of their showing no disposition to plant even so much as a patch of corn, was a conclusive proof that if they had a motive at all, it was not an agricultural one." The next comers, according to Collins, were Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith, the Virginia Commissioners appointed to establish the boundary line between the western portions of Virginia and North Carolina (now Kentucky and Tennessee), and their surveying party. "On the 23d of March, 1780, having run the line entirely across the county westward, and across Tennessee River, they closed their survey according to directions from Richmond. They made a tolerably good map of Cumberland River, the first that was ever made. One of them went down the river with the baggage while the other proceeded through the woods with the survey. Their report speaks of the Cumberland as a 'fine stream, navigable at least 700 miles above its mouth.'" Following close after these came several families of permanent settlers, but few of whom have left any traces behind them. The site of one of the first oldest settlements in the county is in the neighborhood of Cerulean Springs, but the names of the majority of the first-corners have long since faded from the memory of the oldest inhabitants. As early as 1782 or 1783, Robert Goodwin, of North Carolina, and his sons Samuel and Jesse, were living near where Robert Goodwin, Jr., now resides, a short distance from the village of Cerulean Springs. They were, like the majority of the early pioneer8, fond of their gun, and were good hunters, but when the season was over for the pursuit of game, they displayed a laudable ambition for some more permanent industrial business enterprise. They cleared up fields, planted and cultivated them, and aside from looking after their farming interests, paid considerable attention to the raising of domestic animals. They had considerable herds of cattle in a very early day, and seemed much more fortunate with them in the neighborhood of the springs than in any other localities. After the Goodwins came the Spencers, James Daniel and sons Elijah and George, John Blakely, William Johnson, Joel Thompson, John Goode, Eli Hasber, Jacob Stinebaugh, John Guthrie, David Haggerd, Samuel Campbell, Wiley Wilson, Seth Pool, Joel Wilson, William Wilson and Adam Thompson, all of whom became citizens, and had homes in the northern part of the county as early as 1800. Between the Rivers.-About the same time of the second influx of permanent residents, quite a settlement had sprung up between the rivers.

"Allan Grace, the grandfather of W. D. Grace, lived in a block-house near the present location of Redd's tanyard as early as 1793, and there were older settlers than he." Moses McWaters and his sons John, Levi and Davis, Robert Forgeson, Abraham Lash, Robert Ferguson, James Benham and Eli Kilgore were all living between the rivers shortly after the beginning of the present century.

"The settlements on Dyer's Creek, Donaldson's, Casey's Creek and Sinking Fork were all made about the year 1798. It is possible, however, that the settlement on Dyer's Creek was made one or two years in advance of the rest. John Mayberry was living one-fourth of a mile from the mouth of the creek, and having a small field opened, the indications are that he had been there a year or so previous to that time." Near the head of the creek lived a man by name of Thedford, who built a rudely constructed horse-mill near the site of Trigg Furnace as early as 1798. His brother, James Thedford, "squatted" in the same locality, and opposite the old Empire Iron Works an old man by name of Gillahan had a cabin about the same time. A man by name of Curtis was one of the earliest pioneers of the county and made his first improvements on what is known as the Dyer farm. John Grasty came from South Carolina and settled not far from Trigg Furnace, near which place he taught the first school in Trigg County. The Standrods came to the county as early as 1807, and settled on the road between Princeton and Rock Castle. Other early settlers located in the same neighborhood, of whom amore extended notice will be given in the precinct history. The Dry Creek settlement dates from about the year 1798, at which time a large family of the Westers came from North Carolina, and located homes at various places along the streams. " They were a hardy. impulsive, energetic, upright family of people; loved the adventurous spirit that characterized the inhabitants of a new country, and as soon as the settlement on Dry Creek began to crowd them, they pulled up stakes and crossed the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers into Jackson's Purchase, where they said they wanted a wider range and more elbow room." Samuel Skinner and his brothers William, Joseph, Theophilus and Wiley, came from North Carolina, and settled not far from the village of Linton as early as 1802-08. Richard Ricks, Jesse Cox (a Baptist Preacher), William Scott, John Tinsley, William and Henry Bibb, David Rogers and Abel Olive all settled in what is now Canton Precinct at or near the date mentioned above.

Other Settlements. - As early as the year 1800 the most populous and thrifty settlements in the county were on Donaldson Creek. The most prominent families who resided there at that time were those of John Futrell, Shadrach Futrell, Drury Bridges, Josiah Outland, Enos Outland, Joel Cohoon, James Lawrence, Basil Holland, Nathan Futrell, James Dixon, Hiram Dixon, John Wilson, Sr., John Wilson, Jr., Ben Wilson, James Wilson, John Craig, James, Joshua, Caleb and Canton Lindsay, Larry" Killabrew, the majority of whom came from North Carolina. James Thomas came in the summer of 1806, and settled in the same neighborhood. A further notice of this prominent family will be found in the history of Canton Precinct.

Another old settled portion of the county is in the neighborhood of Roaring Springs, and the most prominent families living there prior to 1820 were those of Elijah Burbridge, James Daniel, John Ford, Cornelius Burnett, the father of Dr. Isaac Burnett, John Greenwade, Elder McCullom, William Cook, the Northingtons, Lindsays, Dawsons, Blantons, Ledfords, Millers, Torians, Colemans, Crenshaws, etc.

The settlement at Boyd's Landing, or Canton, as it is now known, was made about the year 1799, by Abraham Boyd, the most noted and prominent of all the early settlers of Trigg County. A more elaborate account of this distinguished family will be found elsewhere in this volume. Other early families that should be mentioned in this chapter are the Wadlingtons, Cunningbams, Osbornes, Carrs, Sheltons, Norvells, Mathisea, Dawsons, Sumners, Campbells, Binghams, Bakers, McCulloms, McCuflochs and Thompsons. The foregoing list comprises only a portion of the pioneers deserving mention, and in the history of the various precincts will be found additional names and facts concerning the early settlements.

Pioneer Hardships. --- The first thing for the family to do was to erect the little log-cabin, and while this was being done by the men, assisted by the neighbors who came for the purpose four or five miles, the families were obliged to live in the carts or in a tent of boughs, bark and blankets, or in the cabin of some neighbor. The cabin, such as it was, often without floor or permanent roof, and destitute of door or window, was very often ready for occupancy at night of the day it was begun. Blankets served for doors, greased paper for windows, while the floor was perhaps the bare earth. The furniture was such as the settler could manufacture with an ax and auger. Hand tools when possessed were always a part of the load, and nothing was more advantageous to the pioneer in setting up housekeeping in a new country. Bedsteads were often made by boring a hole in the wall, in which rested one end of a pole, the other end of which was supported by a forked stick in the ground. Upon this were placed impromptu seats, supported by one side of-the cabin and the foot rail, and upon this structure hay, dry leaves and skins were placed. Chairs were mere blocks of wood with holes bored in them, in which legs were put; and tables were a packing box fortunately brought with the family, or were constructed of puncheons split from the tree, provided with legs as were the chairs.

These characteristics were true in only the earliest habitations, and were seldom all combined in any one. A few nails and some glass and hardware were occasionally brought in by some rather well-to-do emigrant or thoughtful pioneer, but the other picture had its counterpart in every settlement in the county. But with such inconveniences the people, many of whom had known something of refinement in older communities, had no time for repining or melancholy. People were more sociable then, and all were neighbors for miles around. Although the pioneer possessed some characteristics repellent to refined ideas and modern culture, yet in their social intercourse with each other they displayed those exemplary traits of character which might well be esteemed a bright legacy to a more advanced age. If they deviated from the strict rules of morality and indulged themselves in habits and excesses which have been discarded by progressive civilization, they still retained those estimable virtues which are the tokens of a generous and sympathetic people. Unpretentious and unostentatious, they tendered whatever of hospitality their humble homes afforded, and were assiduous in their efforts' to provide for those whom chance brought within the circle of their charities. Affectation had no place in the cordial entertainment tendered visitor or stranger, and self-seeking was never the incentive which prompted their open doors and hospitality. It is worthy of remark that society had not yet matured enough at that time to produce the "tramp," and the foot-sore traveler was likely to be a worthy recipient of their kindness.

The pioneers brought but a meager outfit of this world's goods, but strong in faith and hope expected to increase their worldly store and provide a home in old age. Some came in frontier wagons drawn by horses and oxen, and some used the more primitive pack-horse as a means of migration. Some came in one-horse carts, while others came on fiat-boats down the river, and were many days and weeks in reaching their destination. While on their journey their encampment for the night was made wherever night overtook them. A fire was built by the wayside, over which an iron kettle was suspended, in which the frugal evening meal was cooked. The father's gun through the day provided abundance of fresh meat, for game was plenty and the deer could be had for the shooting.

Yet let the advantages of the journey be the best, it was one of toil and privation. There were no bridges over the streams, and each immi. grant followed the general trail, but sought a new track for his own team. If the season was one of much rain, the ground they were compelled to pass over would be almost impassable, and the roads heavy. If dry the roads were rough, so that at its best the journey could not be said to be pleasant. Under such circumstances nothing but the necessities, and those in small bulk, could be brought hither. It is difficult at this day to imagine a state of society where even the commonest means of social progress must be invented and set in motion, but the pioneer found this fact a very prominent and practical one in his early experience. The supplies brought into the country by the immigrants were occasionally by the closest economy made to last until the growing crop or garden could supply the necessities of the family. For years the people were thrown entirely upon their own resources. The nearest point where meal could be obtained was at Nashville and other points equally as far distant. A temporary supply of corn was occasionally secured from some older settler who had harvested a crop which sufficed until the growing corn became of sufficient size to eat. When the kernel was sufficiently firm the grater was brought into requisition and a sort of bread or porridge was made. This old grater was an eyesore to most of the children, as it occupied the greater portion of their time during certain seasons of the year. When the grain became hard and the grater no longer effective, recourse was had to the mortar and pestle. This consisted of a block or stump in which a kettle-shaped excavation was made by burning and scraping. A pestle was made of a heavy pole to the end of which a block of iron was fixed. Almost every cabin had its "hominy block," and among the earlier sounds about the house was the monotonous pounding of the frontier mill. This machine furnished several grades of meal, from fairly fine to simply cracked grains, and this was separated by sieves constructed of deer-skin tightly stretched over a frame and punctured with small sized holes. The finer part was transformed into the dodger, which was baked upon the hearth, while the coarser product was served up as hominy. Some of the better provided settlers possessed hand-mills, which were made of nigger-head buhrs. In the upper stone was made an eye and a handle inserted; the boys would grind hour after hour at this slow method. Although the streams afforded good sites for the construction of water-mills, the necessary machinery and the mechanical skill were for a long time wanting. Horse-mills came in to supply this need, and while they were called corn-crackers, did much more effective service than the name would imply. These consisted of a small set of nigger-head buhs, propelled by a large cog wheel set upon a perpendicular axis. In the lower part of this axis horizontal levers were attached so that two teams might be attached to give the machinery motion. Such mills were constructed in various parts of the country at different dates and greatly relieved the farmers in the task of making meal. They ground very slowly, and the patron was obliged not only to furnish his own motive power, but was often obliged to wait several days for an opportunity to use it.

Mills,.-Several water-mills were attempted in a a very early day, but the character of the streams made the experiments rather unsatisfactory. During the greater part of the year the mill could not run for lack of water, and at other times the sudden risings of the water would wash out the rudely constructed dams. Wild meat for many years furnished the pioneer farmer his chief means of subsistence, game of all kinds being plentiful and easily procured. Deer were found in great abundance, and the earliest settler found no difficulty even if not an adept in the use of the rifle to kill all he needed without leaving the precincts of his cabin. Large droves of these animals were seen in the woods, and the pioneer, who was in the habit of carrying his gun wherever he went, need not spend much time in the special duty of providing meat for his family. Buffaloes were killed by the first settlers in the neighborhood of Cerulean Springs, and bears were numerous for many years in the woods skirting the various water courses. Mr. Goodwin states that his father killed fifty bears during one season. Grouse were found in unlimited numbers, as were also wild turkeys, and no cabin was deprived of their delicacy. Wild hogs served also to vary the frontier fare. These were animals that had escaped from the older settlements, and subsisting upon the nuts and roots of the woodland had gone wild in the course of nature. They were of a long-legged, gaunt species and kept the timber pretty closely. They were no particular damage or annoyance to the settlers, but furnished capital hunting sport and gave a relief to the monotonous recurrence of venison upon the table of the settler. Wolves were of more annoyance to the settlements, attacking sheep, pigs, cattle, and when rendered desperate by hunger, even man himself. 

The streams of the county have always sustained the reputation of being the best stocked rivers with fish in the State, from the earliest knowledge of the whites to the present time. Before any settlements were made, rumors of the profusion of fine fish came to the frontiers through the Indians, to whom this was a favorite place of resort each fall and spring Here bass, mullet, salmon, suckers, and other varieties having been found weighing several pounds. With this abundance of what are now considered luxuries, it would seem at a casual glance that the pioneer's life was one of ease rather than of hardship, but when it is considered that these were the sum total of their early luxuries, and what we deem the common necessities and find so cheap as to pass almost unnoticed in our estimate of family supplies and expenses, were to early settlers almost inaccessible and the most expensive, a great change is wrought in our estimate.

Salt was more expensive than sugar, and even the variety of game provided soon failed to answer the purpose of beef and pork. The system was exposed to the ravages of disease, and, subject to the trying experiences of hard farm, labor, demanded something more substantial; nor could all give their attention to hunting. The prime reason for the presence of most of the pioneers was to build up homes, and to lay the foundations of future competence, and to accomplish this the larger part of the community centered here bad only their hands with which to accomplish their mission. It was no uncommon occurrence to find men surrounded by this profusion who never shot a deer, and occasionally one who never owned a gun.

We might go on and describe primitive farming, and enter into details concerning the hardships incident to the gradual development of the country, but it would be only the repetition of an oft-told tale. Suffice it to say, however, that the .pioneers did their work wisely and well. Their whole lives was the story of toilsome duty, well and nobly performed, and the examples of their virtues and self-denying devotion are among the richest legacies to a grateful posterity. 


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