August 18, 1904
The idea that there is a better place "farther on" led many to this County when it was new. Others thought an unsettled section held advantages for them they did not have in the older settlements of the United States. Some, in adventuresome spirit, were ready to ally themselves with any dare devil project. Whichever motive, it was that moved the primitive denizens to make this virgin country their abode, proved in time that they had chosen wisely; or destiny, providentially, led them to this land of corn and swine, where liquor and honey flow - a goodly heritage for their children.
This place was chosen as a "resting place" early in the nineteenth century. By 1806 to 1813 the afflux of emigration had established a permanent habitation. Work was begun to clear "the forest primeval" and trees were felled to build dwellings. Difficulties were plentiful. Facilities were few for the severe tasks.
But the frontier people were brave and persistent. They joined forces and helped each other. It was the custom to have log-rollings, house raisings, husking bees, workings, quilting parties, and many other gatherings where a community would unite and speedily perform arduous labor. Many hands and willing hearts soon transformed the howling wilderness into a prosperous neighborhood. In the good old days we hear the older people talk of good fellowship predominated. It was a mutual practice long continued to be friends and neighbors in deed and in truth; and the fashion to assist one another lasted for years. These features were times "long to be remembered". While the men did the work the women prepared the dinner - a feast fitten for a king. Mirth and careless joy ladened the air. Often, when the shades of night appeared, buxom damsels, with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks, and gallant beaux, drew together. "Uncle Pomp" took his seat near the open fireplace and began melody upon the violin which had been brought from "Ole Furginey". As the strains grew louder and faster the dancers took the floor. The older heads eagerly gazed upon the scene or sat together smoking and conversing about old times and places, and faces they had left behind. An outlook perhaps, was kept for the wiley indian. Cider and ginger-cake, pure hand-stilled "spirit-frumenti", and delicacies unknown to this day and time were abundant and free for all on these occasions. When the hour grew wee they dispersed and wended their way to their humble home to meet again at the next time. The maidens were attired in those days with homespun garments, dyed to suit their fancy: with log-dye and indigo or sometimes with native herbs, or ochre. Now and then a fortunate lady owned a peafowl silk gown which some ancestor had brought or imported from England, and her rustling skirts were the envy of all feminine eyes. The men wore copperas dyed breeches made of the same material the women adorned themselves with. Coon Skin caps were worn. Later on, now and then, a man seen with a broadcloth suit of clothes, which made him a cynosure with the less wealthy, for none but those in affluent circumstances could afford such, as it cost $25.00 par yard. Shoes were made at home on wooden lasts. The shoemaker went. to the woods and made his own pegs. Thread was made from flax, and pointed with bristles taken from a hog' s back. No lefts or rights were made but the shoes were straight and had to be changed from one foot to the other every morning.
The diet consisted of pumpkin-bread, pork, corn bread, sweet potatoes and opossums venison, turkey and other game, sassafras tea and milk, with coffee and biscuit on Sunday mornings. Wild honey, berries and fruits were often utilized in the dietary. The residences generally, were one room log cabins with stick and clay chimneys. There were no sawmills and all the lumber was sawed with a whipsaw. The cabins mostly were floored with puncheon (i.e. with logs split in halves and hewn smooth) and chinked and smoothed. Many candle sticks are found in homes of today, kept as heirlooms, which were used in those days. The fireplaces were very wide, back logs six feet long could be burned in some of them. The cooking was done on the fire as there were no cooking stoves. Ovens, gridirons, spiders and pot-racks were the utensils most commonly in use. J. H. Oliver has in his possession a pot-rack 200 years old, which was brought from Ireland by his wife's ancestors. Above the door rested the trusty rifle, hunting horn, powder horn, bullet moulds, and hunting knife. The rifles were of flint-lock pattern. There were but few books, no mails, and now and then a stray newspaper.
Letters were hand carried, being sent in care of any chance traveler. There were no wagons, most of the traveling was done on horseback. Ox carts were used for hauling purposes. "Buck and Ball" made a faithful team and were instrumental in setting this country more than the noble horse.
John Birdwell who came from North Carolina in 1809 and Kinchen Bass were three weeks in making the trip from Bunker Hill to Pulaski and back, owing to the density of the grapevines and canebrakes. There was but one pole cabin in Pulaski then, so say the older men, although Giles County was organized that year.
There was but little money in circulation and it consisted chiefly of "shinplasters" -- paper bills of small denomination.
Land was granted by the government in 5000 acre tracts. Several early settlers became extensive planters and owned large numbers of slaves. Slaves were salable property, being very valuable. The price ranged from $500 to $1500 according to size, age and quality. A robust child at weaning was worth several hundred dollars. Cotton, corn, tobacco, hemp and flax were staple crops. Some wheat was raised and was harvested with reap hook. The first scything blade or cradle was introduced in this section in 1840. Many were suspicious of it, saying it would knock down all the wheat. The wheat was trampled out with oxen or flailed.
The place known as Lower Elkton on Elk River was the shipping point for all of this County. Supplies and merchandise were brought up Tennessee River and transferred to rafts and flatboats and carried up Elk River. Each community selected patrolmen to keep slaves from escaping and to hold them in subjection. The colored people devised many schemes to evade the patrolmen. Bloodhounds were kept and a fleeing slave had small show to make a successful dash for liberty. The citizens were honest and trusting. Houses, cribs and smokehouses were never locked.
The indians evidently were in large bands in and around this place. There are traces of fierce battles with them. On Emmet Suton's farm and between John S. Harwell's farm, on Bradshaw Creek, there is a trench yet distinct which encloses about 30 acres, with embankment for fortification. In the trench now grows a large Poplar tree. Above this place, near Jake Morton's home, is a large indian graveyard. A few years since Dr. Grant in exploring this burying ground found a skeleton in perfect state of preservation. One remarkable thing is that the teeth are perfectly sound when found. The corpses were encased in hard clay and the vaults were lined with rock. The graves had head and foot stones. There was a huge pile of rock on Bradshaw the Indians threw up.
Spear heads, arrow points, skinning knives, pipes, and other relics have been found in many places. The spear and arrow points were made of chert which was mined in several places in Ohio. There is no such stone in this State. These weapons were not made of flint as commonly supposed. The pipes were made of red stone from Lake Michigan. This fact shows that the Indians were migratory.