"REMINISCENCES OF PIONEER DAYS IN SCOTT COUNTY, TENNESSEE", PUBLISHED IN THE CUMBERLAND CHRONICLE, SPRING OF 1904 (Began in issue April 9, 1904)As told by Jehu Phillips
Believing that many of our readers would be interested in the manners and customs of our forefathers, who first settled in this part of East Tennessee we have interviewed Uncle Jehu Phillips who is now 86 years old and one of the oldest citizens in this county.
"Uncle Jehu" as he is now familiarly called, was when young and active, one of the lead and and most influential citizens in this county. Without attempting to use his exact language here is what he had to say
About the year 1803 Tommie Phillips, his brother Joseph Phillips and his son Johnathan Phillips and Joshus Goad all moved from what is now Scott County, Virginia and settled about two miles south of Huntsville on what is now known as the Vanderpool place. There was no town here then and but very few people in this country. Joseph and Johnathan were mere boys about 15 years of age. They all cleared some land and raised crops three years before they split a rail. There were no hogs here in those days. These early pioneers brought seed corn and meal with them from Virginia, and when the meal gave out they could not get any more until they raised the corn bed from which to make the meal. They had to live on venison and other wild meats and milk until,they raised some corn. They had brought two or three milk cows with them and the cattle would graze on the wild grass where the town of Huntsville now stands. In those days one could see deer by the gangs, and there were plenty of bears, wolves, wild cats foxes and turkeys and a few panther.
My father, Joseph Phillips, was born in what, is now Scott County, Virginia in the year 1788. When about 17 years old he married Millie Lawson who lived where John B. Jeffers now has his water grist mill near the mouth of Paint Rock.
I was the third child and was born where my brother Jerry Phillips now lives on Bull Creek near New River. My parents told me I was the first child born in that vicinity.
Huntsville was the first town built in what is now Scott County and it was established and made the county-seat of this county in 1850.
The people had spinning wheels and looms with which they made linsey and jeans out of which they made clothing. They did not wear shoes but had moccasins which were made of skin or other soft leather and the uppers and sole were made of the same piece. The men and boys as a rule, wore caps made of fox or coon skins and the tail was usually attache( so as to hang down behind. They also made their own soap, So you see the people in those days lived independent and didn't have much business in a town. lh'hen they did have any business in a town or wanted to go to a store they would have to go to Jacksboro or Kingston.
I can remember seeing indians in this county. There were two families living up New River near the mouth of Bull Creek and one family lived near where the town of New River stands. There was an old indian trail leading by where the town of New River now standf and on up the river. The Indians wore, both summer and winter, caps made of fox skins, with tail hanging down behind and they also wore moccasins. I have talked with Indians in this county who said that they had never eaten bread made from corn ground on a water mill. The Indians had what was called a sweep pole with which to beat the corn. They also had sifters made out of a hide and would split the crushed corn through these and then crush agains.
I suppose the first school house in what is now Scott County, was built about the year 1826 at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. It was a one room log house. The first teacher was a man named Brawhill who came here from Virginia. I never went to school a day in my life but yet was elected the first Trustee of Scott County after the Civil Whr of 1861-65. I this office six years.
Uncle Jehu Phillips, who is furnishing these reminissences, had the following to say: I saw the first train which ran into Knoxville. I was married about the year 1842 an I saw the train before I was married. A day was set on which the train was to run into Knoxville and on that day hundreds and perhaps thousands of people went there from the surrounding counties. I went with my father, brothers and several neighbors from this county and we all went horse back. We reached Knoxville and were standing near the railroad tract holding our horses. Finally we heard the train toot and soon she pulled up by us and I tell you every hair stood straight on my head. I will never forget that day. The train tooted again as she came rushing up and every horse jerked loose and ran away.
When I was a boy there were no doctors in this country, and I never saw a doctor until Iwas grown. There were no preachers living here then. Occasionally a few preachers would come over from Powell's Valley and stay three or four days. I remember going to meeting in a log house which did not have the cracks stopped and which had no floor or door. I have been to many a meeting where the seats were just split logs which did not even,have legs in them. ln those days the preachers were all Baptist. I suppose the first preacher raised in this county was a man named Cutbearth Webb who Lived on Brimstone Creek .
(Line missing) salt had to be brought from Goose Creek in Kentucky. It was carried about 120 miles and carried on horse back. Sale then was worth about $5 per bushel and was made in kettles. In those days the people here did not drink coffee except on Sunday morning was never heard of here. Coffee was scarce and such a thing as store ten was never heard of here.
Perhaps the first store in the county was put up by a man named Jim Williams. When I was a boy he had a store on Buffalo Creek near where Alec Chambers now lives. When I was about 10 years old I went with father to this store and Williams had a few men's shoes (but no boy's shoes) some calico and a few other dry goods. I believe John L. Smith was the first merchant in Huntsville. About the year 1852 or 1853 he put up a store where Dan Chambers now lives. He only had a few dry goods and shoes and bought them from a retail merchant at Jacksboro. He bought and sold home made jeans and linsey.
The people here did not have much tinware nor earthenware in those days. Plates were worth about $3 per set and tin cups were worth 15 cents each.
When I was a boy, lead was brought.from Virginia to Jacksboro and the people here had to go to Jacksboro to get lead. gunpowder was worth $2 per pound. At that time lead was worth about 25 cents per pound and The people used to make powder by hand. When I was a boy we never saw such a thing as a cap lock gun. Everybody had flint lock guns. There were no revolvers then.
There used to be just plenty of fish in the streams in this county. Father had a trap in New River just below the mouth of Bull Creek and we got all the fish we wanted. There were so many fish in those days that when people went to their fish traps they would throw small and medium sized fish back into the water and only keep the largest fish. People never thought of selling fish then, you could just go to a neighbor who had a trap and he would give you all the fish you wanted. We used to dry fish in those days-a thing you never see done now. When I was a boy there was in New River a fish which you never see here now. It was a red mouthed fish called a buffalo. The buffalo got as large as 22 pounds and the average weight was about 10 or 12 pounds. These fish did not have so many bones in them as the suckers and red horse
Before the civil war the people in this county had many interesting and exciting horse races. There used to be a race track near where Allen McDonald now lives about two miles south of Huntsville and another track where Rob Sexton now lives near Brimstone. The tracks were straight and about one-fourth of a mile long. Only two horses could run at the same time. The horses used in the races were a breed of small horses called Brenens. You never see that kind of horse here now. The women attended the races as well as the men. The men would often bet saddles, bridles, hats and clothing as well as money on their favorite horse and often the races were very exciting.
When I was a young man, it was the custom to have log rollings, house raisings corn shuckings. These would always be followed at night by a frolic and I tell you the people used to have some good old times in those days. At the frolics there was always one or more fiddles he fiddles were home made but I tell you they were good ones.
Let a fiddle start and I tell you somebody was out dancing. I never saw a banjo until I was grown. I never saw drunk rowdy man at a frolic or log rolling. People always had peach brandy which was home made and it was fine.
It is curious how times have changed since I was a young man. Why, the people don't even dress like they used to in this county. I remember that on several occasions I went courting and wore leather breeches, moccasins and a hunting shirt with cape. What would the girls think to have a young man now come sparking dressed as I was then?
I helped survey Scott County and also helped lay off Huntsville, the first town in the county said Uncle Jehu Phillips, who is furnishing these reminiscences. The act establishing Scott County was passed by the legislature on Dec. 17, 1849. This county was and Morgan. The act provided that no more than six citizens should be taken from Fentress county. The northern boundary line of this county originally extended 53 miles east and west along the Kentucky and Tennessee state line.
The act of legislature states that Scott County was named "in honor of General Winfield Scott."
Uncle Jehu says that about the time Scott County was organized those pioneers who had come in here had settled along New River and the different creeks. Those old Potter, Joe Lewallen, old man Peak who was a soldier in the Revolutionary war), Hinchie Redman, who lived below where the town of Glen Mary is located and Matthew Davis; those settlers living on Brimstone Creek were Johnnie Triplett, Felin Griffith, Hikey Robbins, Mose Sexton, Harry Bagley, Tim Sexton, Bill Sexton, Zeke Newport and Bailey Buttram; old folks living on Straight Fork beginning at head waters were Delap (who was hung for killing a woman on said creek), Jno L. Smith, Geo. and Drew Smith, Billie and Jessie Bird and Johnnie Shoopman; the pioneers to settle on Buffalo Creek beginning at the mouth were one Ledgerwood, Billie Jeffers, Joshua Duncan, Billie Hughett, Absolum Cross, one Robinson, two Marcums, Tommie Chambers and Ben Dagley; there were only a few on Paint Rock creek and they were Reynold Lawson. (who built the first water grist mill in the county) and Elswick Thompson, Johnnie Carson and Wayne Cotton. The Terry and Chitwood families settled in and around where the towns of Winfield and Oneida are now located.
Wayne Cotton and Sampson Stanfield were the surveyors who helped survey Scott County- I was a chain carrier and helped to survey a part of Scott County. We began at a point on the east bank of New River and about two miles from the mouth of Beech Fork then ran south west crossing Smokey Creek all about eight miles to the Morgan county line on the mountain between Smokey and Brimstone then north west about eight miles to Black Wolf Creek, then northwest about ten miles crossing Clear Fork just below the mouth of Skull Creek then on to New River at the mouth of Honey Creek, then down New River (or Big South Fork of Cumberland River) about six miles to mouth of Anderson's Branch thence north-west about nineteen miles to the Kentucky line.
That was as much as I helped to (missing)
The citizens of this new county voted to decide where the county seat should be located. There were three places voted. First, the Tommie Chambers farm on Buffalo where Alec Chambers now lives, second, the Levi Carter farm on the mountain just east of Paint Rock where John B. Jeffers lived and third the farms of Geo. McDonald and Manuel Phillips. The last named place was selected for the county site and the town of Huntsville was located. Huntville was laid off in a town sometime during the spring of 1850. Geo. McDonald lived near where Dan Jeffers now -lives and Manuel Phillips lived near where I Dempsie Massengale now lives. As originally laid off the town of Huntsville only included about twenty acres, now it includes about four hundred acres. Geo. McDonald and Manuel Phillips were the first citizens to reside in the town of Huntsville, Scott County, Tennessee.
I was at the first circuit court held in Huntsville, said Uncle Jehu Phillips, when being interviewed for part four of these reminiscences.
This court was held in a one room log house, near where Alvis Jeffers' residence now stands just east of the Town Spring. The house had no floor, nor windows and but one door. There were open cracks on all sides of the house. Benches were made of logs split flat sides up and pegs driven in the ends. The house had been used as a "meeting house" where preaching services were conducted. This court was held in the fall of 1850 or 1851, and was in session three days. Judge Alexander was judge, John Lewallen, sheriff and John L. Smith clerk. Of those who were on the first jury I now recall ----Creekmore, Johnnie Chambers, Absolum Cross, Jimnie Chitwood, Eliga Terry, Felin Griffith and Abe Cross. Among the lawyers present were Dave Young, Horace Maynard, W. Kain, David Cummings and ---McAdo. The lawyers and judge boarded with clerk John L. Smith who lived where Dan Chambers now lives.
In those days circuit court met only twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall of the year. This court was held in the log house only twice.
The brick court house was built about the year 1851. Three brothers named Newman from Knoxville were the contractors. The brick were burned on the public square near where the frame court house now stands.
When I was a young man growing up there were no such things as wagon roads in this county. There were no wagons and people had no use for a wagon road. The people did not travel about much and when they-did it was along bridle paths) horse back or on foot. The first road in this county extended from Jacksboro across Buffalo and Paint Rock, up Brimstone creek across the mountain to Montgomery which was the first county seat of Morgan county. At the time this county was organized there was no wagon roads in this county leading to Jamestown, Monticellor nor Williamsburg.
I saw my first wagon at Jacksboro. In pioneer days here, a covered wagon was a great curiosity and men, women and children would follow one for a long distance.
Before pioneers got to making wagons in this county the people would haul farm products from field to barn with a sled. Next they got to making two-wheel ox-carts before wagons were introduced. Ox carts cost about $20 and only the well to do farmers who had raised 500 or 600 bushels of corn, haul it all from the field with sleds. In those days corn was worth only 25 cents per bushel, irish potatoes one shilling per bushel and pork was worth only $1.25 per 100 lbs. gross. You could get farm hands to work for 25 cents per day and board. There were very few mules in this county before the Civil War. My father raised only two mule colts and sold them the following fall for $150. Jacks were worth from $600 to $700. Horses were worth about $40. A cow and calf was worth about $8 and a good yoke of oxen was worth about $30
Before the Civil War the Whig and Democratic parties were about equally divided in this county. My father and the Pembertons were Democrats. I was raised a Democrat, but after the the war nearly every citizen in this county voted the Republican ticket and have been doing so this county. since that time.
I remember that before the Civil War broke out there were three stores in Huntsville and they were owned by Carland, Cain and John L. Smith. There were also three saloons here and they were run by Abe Hatfield., Jim McDonald and Looper
The excellent spring in the ravine just south of the public square was one of the main reasons why the county seat was located here. This spring flows out from under a large cliff and while the stream is only about one-half inch in diameter yet it remains the same in both wet and dry weather. The water is free stone.
The first well bored in Huntsville was on the lot where Alec Hughett now lives. It was bored for a man named Curlock by a Hannah.
The first doctor to locate here was a man named Sproul and he lived near where Bailey Stanley now lives. He was here about two years.
When I was a young man the people were all very healthful and there was very little sickness. In those days wer,never heard of such diseases as pneumonia and grip and many other that people now have. The.people living on rivers and creeks were troubled with fever and plague in those days more than they are now.
Before the war there were planty of deer in this county. I killed four in one day. Jack Adkins killed nine in one day and he did it with a flint lock rifle too. He killed them on White Oak Creek near where Isaac Riseden now lives.
We used to have some big shooting matches in this county. It was a favorite sport. I remember that once Major Duncan and had a match for $50. The match was on Black Wolf Creek and there were about 100 people present. We shot 60 yards with a rest and the winner of 6 best shots out of 11 was to get the $50. that day. I remember that I was the lucky man that day.
Once I saw a shooting match for a horse. This match was on Brimstone Creek and was shot 100 yards off hand. Each shooter paid $1 for a shot. Cal Newport won the horse and came within two inches of hitting his center that distance.
You might inform your readers that elk once roamed wild over the mountains of Scott County, said Uncle Jehu Phillips, when furnishing part six of these reminiscences. Mikey Low and wife and son Phillip and Drew Carrol were the first whites to settle on Smokey creek. Mike Low went hunting and killed a bull elk on what is now called Bull Creek and I have been told that was what gave the creek its name. That was before I was born but my father got the elk's horns from Mike and kept them for many years. They were different from a deer's horn because they were flat and a deer's horns are round. Father finally took the horns to Knoxville and sold them.
My grandfather, Tobie Phillips, lived in Virgimia and owned about 60 negroes at one time. After he died and when I was about 18 years old I went with my father and Uncle John Phillips to Virginia to see my grandmother Phillips. She then had 42 slaves on her plantation. While I was in Virginia I visited a lead mine. We made the round trip on horses. At that time a man and his horse could stay all night at most any farm house for onl:y 25 cents. But you can get one dollar now easier than you could 25 cents then.
Scott county land'ist-now considered valuable for its coal. I can remember when coal was not used at all in this county--when people didn't even use it in blacksmith shops. In those days they called it stone coal but it had no commercial value whatever.
When I was a boy there was no coal oil and people did not have any lamps. The people burned pine knots and later on got to making tallow candles. For in those early days we used cane forks, home made knives and pewter plates. I was about grown before father had any earthen plates. Then there were no tea cups and saucers. People drank their coffee and milk out of tin cups.
Those few who could write made their own ink and wrote with goose quill pens. Horace Maynard was a lawyer and he wouldn't write with anything else but a goose quill pen. never saw a lead pencil until after the civil war.
During the spring of 1861 David Sharp, who lived two miles below Jacksboro and I, took two droves of hogs to Atlanta, Ga. and sold them. We found the people there in a great cavil over the question of secession or the right of a state to withdraw from the Union. We returned from Atlanta in March. In April a call was made by Jeff Davis for men to fight. He claimed to the Ohio river for the South. Abe Lincoln, President of the United States, also made a call for men to fight for the Union. When Abe Lincoln ran for President in 1860 the people called him a black republican, and he received only one vote in Scott County. That vote was cast by Shade Lewallen who live in Huntsville. In 1862 Shade died of small pox in Huntsville and was burried in what is now an orchard just south of the Baptist church building.
The men in Scott County in 1861 were opposed to the United States Government being divided or bursted up and that was why they nearly all went into the Union army to fight. They were for the Union to stand.
Everybody from Scott County had to go to Camp Dick Robinson in Kentucky to enlist. That camp was about 125 miles from Huntsville and about one mile from what is now High Bridge, Ky.
Out of the Scott County men who enlisted in the Federal Army for three years service the following were appointed captains: Abe Cross, Wayne Cotton, Will Robbins and John Newport. A company consisted of 102 men and these four each organized a company in Scott County and took the men to Camp Dick Robinson and enlisted. Abe Cross got up the first company and Wayne Cotton the nest. I believe three companies were organized in 1861 and the other one in 1862.
When Abe Lincoln ran for President the second time most of the voters in Scott County were fighting in the Unions Army, but there had been a wonderful change in sentiment and most of those in Scott County voted for Abe Lincoln for President.
I belonged to what was known as the National Guards in the year 1863 and helped to guard the roads from Williamsburg, Ky. to Clinton, Tenn. There were three companies each containing 106 men. Joseph Newport, Dennis Trammel and Wince Croley were captains of these three companies. Trammell was my captain.
THUS ENDS THE REMINISCENCES OF JEHU PHILLIPS
If there is more I have not been able to locate it. Jehu was listed as a Scout during the Civil War, his son Riley Phillips also served as Private. I have copies of both pension applications.
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