Biography of John White and Martha Pyeatt

Book, pp. 292-299

960 (See 2)

JOHN WHITE, MARTHA (PATSY) PYEATT his wife; JOHN CASWELL MATLOCK, MARY (POLLY) MERRICK, his wife, our great-grandparents.

A writer has said: "The privilege and duty of each generation is to imitate and perfect whatever is virtuous and commendable and avoid the wrong and hurtful."

If in the pursuit of this, we of this generation can gain an inspiration from the search of this line of our ancestors, we think it no more than filial duty to record and pass this information or, in some way tell it to posterity. While not able to go so far back in the annals of the past on our maternal as on our paternal side of our kindred, we find, to us, a no less interesting story.

Tradition is, that John White and Martha (Patsy) Pyeatt were married in South Carolina and their first born child, James White, was born at or near Nashville, July 27, 1789. They were perhaps born about 1768 and 1771, respectively, as it seems girls in those days married young and circumstances hereafter related would indicate she married young. John Caswell Matlock and Mary (Polly) Merrick were likely born in North Carolina, or South Carolina, Virginia or Maryland, or some eastern state, and yet it may be they were born at Nashville, Tenn. Their first-born came Sept. 21, 1804. We know not the name of the ancestors, although "Mother"' Merrick came West with her daughter and a son, who later went to Missouri.

We can then guess that John White arrived at Nashville in 1788, and perhaps John Caswell Matlock came later.

As our information about these ancestors is so meager and as history was being made so rapidly and the detailed history of that epoch in the sections where they lived is fraught with such great interest, we think it not amiss to combine with this sketch some historical matters, hoping that it may, in a way, call the attention of some youthful member of some of the descendants of these ancestors, and in this way, he too, may read with interest and amazement, as we have, the detail history of the early Cumberland settlements and Revolutionary days in South Carolina.

The childhood days of John White and Martha (Patsy) White were spent during the days of the Revolution in South Carolina. One early writer says: "It was the, misfortune of South Carolina, during the Revolutionary war, to possess a numerous party, less attached to the Union (Continental Congress) and more tainted with dissatisfaction than the inhabitants of any of the other States. Among her citizens the disinclination to separate from the mother country was stronger, the spread of republican principles more limited and the march of the Revolution slower, than any other colony save Georgia. There were heroes in South Carolina who entered with the best spirit of chivalry into the national quarrel. These men refused submission to their conquerors, endured exile, chains and prisons rather than the yoke. These partiots were often compelled to retreat to secret places, to live in the forest with trees for a cover. Their homes were burned, their property destroyed and punishment by death when captured was not uncommon. These patriots would from time to time gather in secret places and then make a dash against the soldiers who patrolled the country and professed to rule that section. History records that there was a kind of free-masonry extending from settlement to settlement among those and by which the Patriots could by friendly greeting and guarded conversations distinguish friend from foe. As strangers met, discretion warranted an expression of neutrality but the Patriots or Whigs as they were called, could soon determine whether he be friend or foe. Kindred were often arrayed against each other. Father and son often battled for supremacy,
one for the older order of things, one in support of the uncertain promises hoped for by the Continental Congress. Strangers were constantly passing through the country, stopping with strangers at night, and when they retired at night the landlord and lodger did not know whether or not one or the other might be murdered before morning. Families were, at times, compelled by roaming bandits of the King's troops, which infested that section, to leave home and dwell in thickets and in marshes. If it was suspicioned that comfort had been given to a Patriot, the home was burned. Here was spent the childhood days of John White and Martha Pyeatt White and an unhappy lot these childhood days must have been.

Tradition is, that the mother of Martha Pyatt had become deranged and died. Her husband had been a loyal Patriot and was killed in the Revolutionary war as a soldier and Patriot. (See N. C. Colonial Records). This misfortune weighed heavily on the mind of the mother and she died, This orphan girl went to live with brother Peter, The treatment of his wife was such that, as a youthful maiden, she started on foot to Georgia all alone, to live with a married sister, Jane Pyeatt Davis. She stopped with a Dutchman over night or to rest for a season, There was then a fable that if you should throw in the fire some shavings, unseen and in the presence of two old people, then the first name mentioned would be the name of the one she would marry. Martha tried this fortune. There had been another John White who had gone to the old country. One of these old people said to the other, "I wonder if John White is coming back to this country." She remained there and married John White but not the one talked of. Then tradition tells us they came to Nashville.

Nashville had been first settled the fall of 1779, and we think they perhaps arrived in the year of 1787 or 88. Nashville has a most interesting history. Tradition is that they came on horseback. History records that at that period on horseback or foot was the only way to reach Nashville. Just who came with them, we know not. Perhaps Richard White, a brother of John White was with them. Tradition is, that he settled finally and perhaps died on the Harpeth river west of Nashville, east of Waverly. Perhaps the two sisters, the wives of Jonathan Pryor and Duncan Pryor, mentioned in the Table were with them. Possibly Mary White who married John Craig McDaniels was with them. At that early date they, no doubt, came in numbers, for the dangers of the Indians were so great, people rarely traveled singly over the mountain trail. Tradition is that they first lived, or before going to Humphrey County, near the "Hermitage", known as the home of General Jackson, just south of Nashville. Reaching there, they began housekeeping in a tent. They had many companions in like condition.

On these journeys, in these early days the equiments were a heavy blanket or buffalo robe, a rifle, hatchet, knife, powder horn, powder and bullet, an extra gun flint, a sack well filled with corn. This was made into meal with the hand pestle. Game for meat could be killed on the way. That they were brave and daring, there can be no doubt. History tells us that there were few cowards recorded in this country's early history. History tells us that many in these early days subsisted on most meager food at times. That they could read and write we feel sure, as history tells us that these early settlers could read and write almost to a man. Poverty however in those days was no disgrace as it was most common. Of those who signed the Cumberland Compact May 13, 1780, when that colony arrived and formed a government, of the 256, only two had to make his mark and each was required to sign it in this own method of signature.
Early in the spring of 1779, the war of the Revolution was yet uncertain. At Wautega, in Washington County, was the only settlement in Tennessee. From there James Robertson, Zachariah White and six other white men and a negro slave set out westward in search of a new location far away from possible British domination. They traveled over three hundred miles by the shortest route then known and set out a corn crop at or where Nashville now stands. Zachariah White and two others remained to guard the crop from destruction from the buffalo while the other returned to bring out a colony.

James Robertson at the head of the first section left Wautega early in the fall. On his way he was joined by many others, some from North Carolina and some from South Carolina, seeking to explore and in search of a resting place in the forest of the boundless West. He reached Nashville in December, 1779 with more than 200, many of them single young men.
The second section, under the leadership of Colonel John Doneldson, was largely of women and children, families of those who had left before, but in this colony were quite a number of men. They were to come on the water route. They left Ft. Patrick on the Holston river on Dec. 22, 1779, passed where now stands Knoxville, down the Tennessee river as it winds through Alabama, on through western Tennessee to the Ohio where is now Paducah, Ky., then up the Ohio to where Smithland now is, then up the Cumberland river to Nashville, reaching Paducah on Feb. 20, Monday, and reaching Smithland on Friday, 24, and Nashville on April 24, 1780, having traveled the waters for one thousand miles. I It took them four months and two days to make the trip. There were 160 men, women and children in the party. Six small boats made from logs with the broad axe and small tools, and manned by wooden paddles had been the means of conveyance. History tells us that his journey has no parallel in American history. We are of the opinion that the unfettered heroism of these women and children will ever adorn the most lustrous page of Tennessee history. The diary kept by Colonel Doneldson has been republished in full on several occasions in prints of historical character and needs only be mentioned on this occasion. One John White and Solomon White were on this river expedition.

On May 30, 1780, all the male inhabitants over twenty-one years of age at Nashville, or Nashborough as it was then called, assembled in meeting and formed a government for their guidance. Twelve men were selected who were to pass all laws, make all regulations, Interpret these laws and enforce them. This was called the Cumberland Compact and was duly signed by each person.

Among the signers of this compact, we find the names of Burgess White, Zackariah White, and Samuel White. The names of Solomon White and John White do not appear. We think that because they were not yet of age, their names do not appear.

We do not know and have no reason to think any of these Whites were related to us. John White and Martha (Patsy) Pyeatt, his wife and our ancestors were married in South Carolina and did not come to Nashville until about 1787 or 1788, we are thinking.

The tradition from our father and from Green Bivens is that they were among the early arrivals of Nashville, Tenn. Our assumption of the date of the arrival is based wholly on the date of the birth of James White, the son. We are of the opinion that he was the oldest son. If mistaken in that assumption, then the arrival was earlier.

Zachariah White was, some two years later, killed by the Indians and for this blood so spilled in 1784, his heirs were given 640 acres of land by the State. This was only one of 69 cases, then awarded for like sacrifices. John White, the early arrival, seemed to have led a more charmed life as by the same act, he and 69 others were each given 640 acres of land for services rendered in protecting the settlement from Indian depredations. This colony of less than four hundred souls now found themselves on a new continent to so speak, over three hundred miles distant by the shortest road then known from the western line of the white settlement and over six hundred miles by the nearest route then traveled from Raleigh, N. C. the nearest seat of any Colonial government. Little have they now to worry about the King's officers.

True the Indians had for money received and by papers signed, prior to this relinquished and sold to private individuals all of the middle Tennessee terrritory, and these individuals and their representatives had now come to take possession of it, but the Indians were on the south, west and north, and continued to make frequent incursions on hunting expeditions on the east, in disregard to their agreements.

The boast of those who claim ancestry among the settlers of Plymouth Rock and tell us of the hardships of the Puritans and claim all the glory for those people, can only bring a smile to those who are familiar with and can trace their ancestry back to those who were of the early settlers in the Cumberland District. This is in no way intended as a flippant remark, as on those Plymouth settlers we would cast no aspersion. They had their mission in life and well did their duty. Their deeds are written on the granite leaves of history and will ever be of interest to American children.

The Cumberland settlers had dreams of a freer government, had well timed and fully determined their purpose, drew the plans, erected the foundation walls and builded a higher civilization. The intrepid deeds, the excruciating sorrows, the deprivations and unfailing courage of those honest-to-God people is worthy of being handed down to all coming generations. We think that one writer says that of the 256 who signed the Cumberland Compact, not over a dozen yet lived at the end of twelve years and only one had died a natural death. We have not carefully counted the number nor the names and while this may or may not be exaggerated it does not far miss the borderline of truth. As above stated, four years and seven months after the signing of this Compact, the government awarded lands to the heirs of 69 victims and these were largely of those who had signed the Compact.

April 2, 1781, 700 Indian warriors arrived at Nashville to engage the whites in battle. They came at night. The inhabitants were in the Forts and it was surrounded by a high fence made of logs for protection. The Indians undertook to burn the fence but the timbers were as yet so green they would not burn. Three Indians during the night were seen lurking on the outside and were promptly killed. Early in the morning three more approached the fort, fired their guns and ran for cover. Not supposing the force to be so large, the gates were now opened and twenty men dashed out on horses. The Indians now appeared on all sides. The men dismounted. The horses became frightened from the war cries and broke away, The fight was now on. Fifty trained dogs were now released from the forts and turned loose on the Indians. In their zeal to catch the horses, which they highly prized and from fear and fright from the dogs, the Indians were kept so busy that of the twenty Men, fifteen were able to get back within the wall of the fort, leaving five killed. The dogs were then called in and the gates closed. The noise of the dogs is said to have been greater than the war cry of the Indians and one lady in her old age is reputed to have said that the barking of the dogs on this occasion was the sweetest music she had ever heard. In those days practically every settler had a pack of dogs and in many instances they outnumbered the children. We must not be forgetful of the fact that in those days the families were usually large, often from seven to eleven children as can be seen by reference to the genealogical tables. A horse would tremble with fear when an Indian was scented and they could at times discern them at a considerable distance but the dogs would trail them as they would a wild animal. If an Indian should shoot or wound one, the others of the pack would fight him with more glory and greater madness. Never a good marksman at best and generally with inferior guns, these Indians would be so badly frightened that they could rarely shoot a dog and as it took time to reload the old single ball and powder rifle, an Indian would rarely stand battle against a pack of dogs. For the families, a pack of dogs was splendid protection.

After the above battle was over, the Indians remained under cover around the fortress all day. Night came on. Powder was scarce and balls none too plentiful. A small cannon was loaded with slugs of iron, broken horse shoes and things of that character. Opportunity was awaited when a large assembled bunch of Indians was discovered. The aim must have been accurate as at once the Indians disbanded and fled in terror. These incursions by the Indians continued with such regularity that some settlers returned to the east and there was earnest discussion by all about abandoning the settlement and going to Kentucky.

In December, 1782, the news of the surrender of Cornwallis reached the settlement and historians tell us that there was great rejoicing among the settlers that the Patriots had been successful and many audibly expressed their adorations to the Deity. Few Tories prior to this date or afterwards came to the Cumberland settlements and practically all those who came in a short time either returned to the east or went to other places. Historians tell us they were all known on their arrival and did not receive a friendly greeting. As over Wautega, so over Nashville the flag of Great Britain never floated and we submit that the Cumberland settlement was the first born of the American Revolution.

We pass the first few years, although they were the most fatal. In 1787, thirty-five deaths are charged against the Indians. In 1790, seven thousand whites and slaves were in the Cumberland settlements, scattered up and down the river for forty or fifty miles in each direction but there was less than one thousand men able to bear arms. Slaves were not permitted to engage in warfare but remained at home to protect the women and children.

At first ferocious, now the scalping of their victims by the Indians had grown worse. They now would generally skin the whole head and mutilate the body by cutting it and this was especially true of a woman victim. In 1792, sixty are recorded to have been killed by the Indians. Indian agents of the government now estimate that there were fifty thousand Indians in fighting distance of the Cumberland settlements.
In this year, the inhabitants of Tennessee County, then territory west and north west of Davidson County, in which Nashville is located, petitioned the government for help and informed it that unless something was done to stop the incursions and massacres by the Indians, that the settlement would have to be abandoned.

In 1793, fifty were killed and some say as high as seventy nine. Others were made prisoners. Prisoners among the Indians were made slaves and treated as such. In the first three months of 1794 twelve were killed. From Feb. 26, 1794 to Sept. 6, 1794, there were 67 killed, 10 wounded, 25 captured and 374 horses stolen. In the next sixty days, thirty more were killed. The whole Cumberland settlement, whites, blacks, men, women, and children was not over 9,000.

In September of this year, James Ore with 550 mounted men marched into the Indian country south of Nashville, killed many, made 19 women and children prisoners and scattered the Indians an all directions with the loss of only three men.

Up to now the emigrants had come on foot or horse back but in 1795 a wagon road was opened from Nashville to Knoxville which had by this time become settled. The emigrants now began to go westward in greater numbers and in 1796 we find 12,000 in the Cumberland settlements.

July 1805, a treaty was made by which the Indians ceded to the United States all the territory to the Tennessee river but by the terms of this no one was to be allowed to enter and settle upon it prior to July 3, 1808. When this day arrived there were hundreds on the line to go into that territory. The Creeks had been the Indians who had given the most of trouble, while there had been some trouble from the Cherokees but it was the Chichasaws with whom this treaty was made.' The Creeks and Cherokee Indians were sent southward, but the Chichasaws were sent. west across the Tennessee river.

Hichman County was organized in 1807 and included the lands of the Tennessee river and now in the southern part of Humphrey County, while the latter county was organized in 1809 with Reynoldsville, then on the river, as a county seat. At a later date, the county seat was moved to Waverly and all that remains of Reynoldsville are the land-marks of the former buildings. Tradition is, that James White and father, John White, were pioneers of Hichman County, we think that they must have located in this section after ter July 3, 1808 and prior to the time in 1809 when Humphrey County was organized.

It now looked as if many troubles were ended, but in 1812 we find a band of Muscogee Indians and other tribes of Indians roaming through this country between the two rivers, stealing horses, producing alarm, and "stirring up the demon of revenge". The ancient hostility of the Creeks was renewed and they wandered into the sparsely settled country near the Tennessee river and murdered several near the mouth of Duck river. Not once but on repeated times they came. The Indians to the north had encouraged it to such an extent that the government deemed it prudent and sent Captain David Mason across the Tennessee river to cut communication between the Creeks and the northern Indians.

August 30, 1814, the Creeks broke into Fort Minims and slew all of the men, women and children. A meeting at Nashville was called and people came from all this western country. The purpose was: "To devise means whereby speedy and effective aid should be offered to those distressed citizens and to punish and exterminate the Creek Nation and their abettors". Abettors was the British nation, as it was known that its emissaries were among the Indians trying to incite them against the government. All eyes turned to Andrew Jackson. A force of 2500 was raised and he was sent against the Indians. No quarter was now asked and none was given and in the battle there were killed 600 Indians. Coffee and Carroll were both with him. Jackson was now made a Major General of the United States army.

Now it was discovered that Great Britain with whom we were at war had designs on the southern country and General Jackson was sent there and up to Dec. 18, 1814, he only had 884 regulars, the 44th under Colonel Ross and the 7th under Major Piere. It would look as if the cup of sorrow of the Cumberland settlers was about all that could be endured but tradition is that William White who married Susan Carter and who was the son of our great-grandparents, John and Martha Pyeatt White was in this battle of New Orleans. Whether he was a volunteer and left Nashville on Nov. 19, 1814, on the barges and went with Colonel Carroll down the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers or whether he was with Colonel Coffee and had taken part in the Indian war against the Creeks, we know not. Coffee with 800 men from Tennessee had left Fort Jackson and traveled through the marshes for some eight hundred miles, when word came that he was very badly needed and the last two days these brave boys of Tennessee made a march of 150 miles to reach New Orleans.

On Dec. 23, 1814, as soon as Jackson learned the British had landed, he began preparation for an attack, and ordered that they give them battle that night. 1800 men went against a like number of the British trained soldiers. "The Regulars were under Lieutenant McClelland but they were led in this fight by that gallant staff officer Colonel Pyeatt". McClelland was killed and Colonel Pyeatt wounded. Colonel Carroll ordered his Tennessee men not to lose a shot and to fire only at a short distance. These Tennessee hunters had long rifles and could fire with great accuracy. The battle ended in a hand to hand fight with guns as clubs and the Tennessee hunters used their hunting knives as bayonets. Among those lost on that night was the gallant Lieutenant Colonel Lauderdale, a relative of Miss Jennie Lauderdale, our school teacher at Dyersburg, Tenn. 1882-87. We shall never forget Miss Jennie. We do not think there has ever been any one save a relative to whom our thoughts have so often wandered as to that gifted and talented lady and of whatever good there is in us there is, to her influence, due some credit. At school we were often called her pet, but this was unjust to her and of all she was our most beloved teacher in childhood.

In this night battle of perhaps less than 4000 in all, the British lost over 400 killed, wounded and missing, while the loss of the Americans was 24 killed, 118 wounded and 74 prisoners. A writer says: "It was a night of duels. Many men who had never been engaged in personal combats were that night transformed into heroes. Many whose whole career had been of greatest gentleness, on that night fought like tigers and were as brave as lions. On the next day the bodies of a British and American could be found with the knife of the one stuck in the body of the other one." A young officer the next day said that with 10,000 Tennesseeans he could march to London. In January, 1815, more troops had arrived, 2500 from Kentucky and with the citizens of New Orleans who had volunteered or been drafted, each side went into battle with about 10,000. After the battle was over 356 dead of the British were counted on the battle field, some were supposed to have been lying in the marshes. The British admitted that the wounded were 1255 and missing or prisoners 483. The Americans lost 8 killed and 13 wounded. The thanks for this victory is in most part due to the Kentucky and Tennessee hunters and their long rifles. They fought behind breast-works. We can be justly proud of the part our great-uncle William may have played in this battle.

For thirty-four years, now since 1780, those living of the early Cumberland settlers had lived through an almost continued guerilla war as waged by the Creeks and at times by the Cherokee Indians, never knowing what tomorrow might bring to light. The war against them was the most ferocious, the most stealthy, more cruel and more unjust than any Indian war waged in America.

Middle Tennessee had never been an Indian home nor more than a hunting ground. The Indians were too indolent to clear the land. With thick cane brakes abounding on every side, it afforded a most fruitful hunting place. Circular earthen mounds rising well above the surface and so arranged at the top as to afford a fortress against a most dreaded foe and fifty thousand graves in close array with bones lying six inches under the surface and in a circumference of forty miles of Nashville are the mute witnesses who tell a silent story of the heroic defense by a defeated, for so extinguished by these barbarians that this generation has not even a traditional story of how long ago the Mound Builders were completely destroyed, and their homes and their lands turned into a game preserve for the wild beast to roam in.

Whatever time our ancestors may have come to the Cumberland settlements, we are sure that the time was still in that period when it was still deemed necessary to maintain an armed guard. As to John White and Martha (Polly) Pyeatt, we are most positive that it was prior to the birth of James White in July, 1789. As to these ancestors, there is a traditional story that on their journey to Nashville, they had to travel so late one night to reach water, that after drinking it Martha Pyeatt was so weary and tired that she dropped off to sleep as soon as drinking the water. Another traditional story is that when living near the home of General Jackson, one morning they awoke upon hearing something on the house. They went out and found a large panther on the house trying to get to some meat that was fastened on top of the house. The barking of a small dog and the presence of these people was a surprise and the panther jumped and ran up a tree. The rifle had been broken and Martha (Pyeatt) White and the dog kept this panther up the tree until John White went one mile, got a gun and returned. At times the clog would cease to bark and then the panther would begin to act as if he was going to spring on Martha (Pyeatt) White. She would hiss on the dog and the panther would then look at the dog. Thus by the encouragement of the dog, the panther was bluffed until John White came with a rifle and killed it. He then pursued another to the river, found it in some brushes and killed it. The one on the house when skinned and stretched, measured ten feet from tip of the nose to the end of the tail. General Jackson came by and suggested to Martha (Pyeatt) White that she cook a piece and they would eat it. This was done but all three quickly agreed panther was not good eating and it was thrown away all except the hide.

After leaving the section, where is located the Hermitage, tradition is that John White settled on Waverly Blue Creek, south of Waverly and north of Duck river. This is the section where John Caswell Matlock and his wife lived for some time. Near there, where Duck river runs into the Tennessee, there was built a fortress where the settlers could go for protection in case of an Indian raid.

As General Jackson was born in South Carolina in 1767, about the time of the birth of John White and Martha (Pyeatt) White, and as he came to Nashville about the time of their arrival and as they lived neighbors for some years, we can somewhat judge of their childhood days by quoting from a friend of Jackson who wrote in 1845 as follows: "In old age when time and infirmity pressed heavily upon the sanguine and dauntless spirit, and the impressions of youth came heavily upon memory with more distinctness that tottering old man of the Hermitage, with his shriveled visage and snowy locks, but with eye still undimmed and as piercing as ever, would recall with frightful accuracy the horrible scenes of carnage, rapine and desolation which had made that boyhood, to which most men recur as the bright spot of their lives, the gloomiest and saddest epoch in his career.

As to the childhood days of John White and Martha (Pyeatt) White, we know and as to John Caswell Matlock and Mary Merrick we think they were whetted with many tempest, some of cyclonic portensions, while the dark clouds hung heavily around their shoulders, and would oft but drown their youthful aspirations. Too young to have taken part in the Revolutionary war, as to John White and Martha (Pyeatt) White we know where they stood, and as to John Caswell Matlock and Mary Merrick, we think we know where they stood from the location of where they lived, as those who had opposed the patriots never long lingered in these Cumberland settlements, so early writers tell us. The western breezes must have wafted hopes of better days, while stories from returning pilgrims must have made them think that in the setting sun they could see flashed the beacon light of a distant nation where ambitions for a better life could be best attained. They must have longed for a happy life to have undergone this perilous journey. We think great must have been their disappointment, but the historians all tell us the fortitude of all these early settlers was enduring. They fought on for a better tomorrow. Back eastward went stories. More came out. The families increased. Indian trouble decreased. The Seminole war of 1818 and it was all over. Tradition is that Jack White, son of John White, went to Florida in this war. History tells us that these early women did read the Bible and wished for a living ministry, while both men and women recognized a divine Providence and the religion of the Bible and the word of God as had been handed down to them and as was taught by the Protestant religion.

For years the rifle was a constant companion whether it be in the corn fields or traveling abroad, going to the dance at night or to church on Sunday. The Minister was not immune and as he traveled from settlement to settlement, from house to house and to the church of the Deity, the rifle was his companion. At church on Sunday these would all be stacked in the corner in case of an emergency, while in the corn field at times some youthful member of the family was perched high in a tree top to keep vigilance against the stealthy Indian. The dogs were of benefit on these occasions.

Their homes had been built of logs, hewn flat and well fastened. No window at times adorned the building while the door was so astened as to be barricaded from within. Portholes for the rifle were made in the walls. The buildings were frequently square and most generally had a second story. Here the walls extended further out two or three feet and portholes were in the floor of this extension. When the Indians should surround the house to burn it, through these portholes the rifle could be shot. This was the citadel that our ancestors had for a home, so tradition tells us.

In an early day they beat the corn and made hominy by the use of the hand pestle but in 1782 there was a corn mill and hominy pounder with a water wheel as motive power built at or near Nashville. For years after in remote sections the hand pestle was used.

With neat simplicity at times, these our female ancestors or their daughters may as did others wear the leather dress with noble bearing. It was not the usual conventional garb but was worn with such frequency as not to cause derision; while the leather apron more frequently made its appearance. Some in those days could tan the deer skin and give it the "softness of velvet and the beauty of Canton Crepe silk".
No man was ever ashamed to wear leather breeches or a leather hunting shirt and fur cap. Thus arrayed or with jean pants patched at the knee, with moccasins on their feet, they would dance the "Contra dance of the jig" at entertainments and on the split log floor. To the music of the fiddlers they would dance the Quadrille, Cotillon, or Virginia Reel.

These ancestors had good eating in later days. In the early days bear oil was a substitute for butter, lard and gravy. Hunters became very fond of it and counted it a delightful drink, especially on a cold hunting trip. "Well-stuffed, well-cooked wild turkey, buffalo, venison steak, boiled bear meat, fried chicken, ham and gravy, eggs, spice wood tea, hoe-cake, ash-cake, johny-cake, and after frost when pawpaws and 'simmons' were ripe, a fat opposum and sweet potatoes", these were the things our ancestors feasted on, and after they moved to Humphrey County, they were in the midst of the maple forest while maple sugar and honey furnished the sweetness for life.

Old age we think was spent in pleasure. Corn mills to properly grind the meal were now plentiful. All the sweets of former days remained with much of the bitter vanished. Farming had well gained the ascendancy. Cotton was being raised. The Matlocks were neither rich nor poor but had all that was wanted and there was always plenty.

John White at all times was fond of the hunter's life and engaged in farming and stock raising. When he left Tennessee he had not acquired much of the world's goods About 1836 he moved to the "Iron Banks' in the Mississippi River, near Columbus in Hickman County, Kentucky and both he and wife died there about 1850. Here game was plentiful and as some of his children lived there he probably never suffered for what was needed. The Indians were no longer of trouble. Greed for gain had not arrived. Their old age was perhaps one of pleasure.

To encounter the many dangers, hardships and tribulations these ancestors no doubt had decided was their destiny. They had no doubt hoped for less. Victory and the comforts of the simple life, the absence of the savage Indian no doubt filled their cup of joy to over-running. In Matlocks Graveyard near Sugar Tree lie the remains of the Matlocks, while at some place near the Mississippi river in Hickman County, Kentucky, lie the remains of John White and Martha Pyeatt White. When the morning of the resurrection comes, who better than this generation can say: "Master! I have done my duty well".

W. Thos. Smith

Main Page