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Sketches of North Carolina
Chapter XXIII - Emigration to Tennessee


TENNESSEE is the daughter of North Carolina, having been in the chartered bounds of the colony, and also reckoned a part of the independent confederated State, until the year 1791, when she was reckoned one of the territories of the United States; and having received many of its earliest settlements and strongest reinforcements from the old North State, and from the original stock in Ireland and their descendants in the Middle States. The beautiful fields along the Holston and Clinch, and the charming valleys, allured the early emigrants by the same inducements as charmed and captivated the wanderers from Ireland and Pennsylvania, to fix their abodes between the Yadkin and the Catawba.

The phrases—"western counties"—"mountains"---"mountain men"—"Washington County," as used during the invasion of the Carolinas, by the kin's forces, had reference to sections of country now in, or bordering upon the State of Tennessee. Ferguson was in pursuit of the soldiers of these regions, when he visited Rutherford county, and sent his insulting message; and on the Wataga, the forces began to assemble that gave him the fatal answer at King's Mountain.

The troubles and trials of the first settlement we can scarcely glance at, nor in the present connection is it necessary, they being in kind and circumstances altogether similar to those of the pioneers of the western part of the mother State, with this only exception, they were farther removed from market, and from the influence of royal authority either in church or state. The wide ranges for cattle and for game, were the first inducements to settle on the Holston; and the time of the first cabin and the name of the pioneer will probably never be known. Next to this influence, was the policy of giving bounty for military service, in wild lands; and Carolina crave a value to the forests of her western wilds by rewarding the labors and exposure of her sons, with titles to lands, that might become a home to them or their descendants. So rapid was the influx of enterprising men, particularly about the close of the Revolutionary war, that an effort was made in the years 1784--5, to form a State by the name of Franklin. This movement was premature rather than uncalled for; and in 1791, a territory was set off and ultimately a state was organized by the name of Tennessee, the Indian appellation of the principal river. Meeklenburg, Rowan, Orange and GranN-ille Counties, North Carolina, sent forth crowds of emigrants, and numerous ministers in their train. The family of the Polks, so numerous and so noted in the time of the Revolution, all but one branch, emigrated, and cast their lot in with the bold spirits that sought a home in the great valley of the Mississippi. The old Carolina names are numerous in Tennessee.

To the great crowdsfrom Carolina were joined many families of the Scotch-Irish race from Virginia; and from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These collected families of the same race, but different parts of the United States, gave a tone to the rising population of the State, which all the influx of other races from other regions has only modified. The Scotch-Irish and their descendants may not now be a majority in the State; they may perhaps be a minority; but the character impressed by their predecessors will remain for ages, perhaps for ever—enterprise, independence, and a desire for improvement. The church, the school-house, and the college, new up with the log cabins; and the principles of religion were proclaimed, and the classics taught where glass windows Were unknown, and books were carried in bags upon pack-horses.

The first minister of religion, that is known to have preached in Tennessee, was a Presbyterian by the name of Cummins, from Virginia, who accompanied the expedition from Carolina against the Cherokees in 1776. As he passed through the Holston settlements, he preached in the forts and stations, those places of defence and of instruction, and, for a time, of public worship. Among the Scotch-Irish that settled West Pennsylvania, Carolina, Virginia, and entered the wilderness of Tennessee, and were gathered into forts and stations, so often made the opportunities of dissilpation, it was no uncommon thing for those gatherings to be improved for instructing children, and for seasons of religious worship. Mr. Cummins did not remain long in Tennessee, neither did he organize any churches at that time.

The first minister that took his abode in Tennessee, was the Rev. Samuel Doak; and as he is identified with the history and progress of sound learning and religion in North Carolina, west of the Blue Ridge, a few particulars concerning his early training and the labors of his maturer years cannot be improper. His parents. Samuel Doak and Jane Mitchell, emigrated very young from the North of Ireland, and took their abode in Chester county, Pennsylvania. At the time of their marriage, they were both members of the church; and soon after that event they emigrated to Virginia, and settled in Augusta county, in the bounds of New Providence congregation. They were both of that party called the Old Side in distinction from that called the New Side, which two then divided the Presbyterian church. Their son, Samuel, was born August, 1749. He remained with his patents, and worked on the farm till he was sixteen years old. At that time he was admitted member of the church in full communion; and soon after commenced a course of classical study with Mr. Robert Alexander, who resided about two miles from his father's house. This grammar-school was soon after removed two or three miles further, to about the place where the Seceder meeting-house, called Old Providence, now stands. The school was taught by a Mr. Edmondson, who afterwards studied medicine. About this time the school came more immediately under the charge of the pastor, the Rev. John Brown, who having served the church of New Providence some forty-four years, removed to Kentucky, and lies buried near Pisgah church. By Mr. Brown the school was removed to Pleasant Hill, within about a mile of his dwelling, and about the same distance north of the village of Fairfield. While here, Mr. Ebenezer Smith, the brother of John B. and Samuel Stanhope Smith, was employed as teacher. A Mr. Archibald succeeded Mr. Smith, and William Graham succeeded Mr. Archibald. At this time the Presbytery of Hanover adopted the school. From near Fairfield it was removed to Timber Ridge; and from thence to near Lexington; and is now Washington College, in Lexington, Virginia.

In Oct., 1773, Samuel Doak entered Princeton College and remained two years. Returning to Virginia he was married to Esther Montgomery, sister of the Rev. John Montgomery, whose family belonged to New Providence; and shortly after became tutor in Hampden Sydney College in Prince Edward county. Here, for about two years, he pursued the study of divinity under the direction of the Rev. John B. Smith, the President of the College. Being licensed by the Hanover Presbytery, after preaching in Virginia for a short time, he removed to the Holston settlement, in what is now Sullivan county, Tennessee. Not finding this a suitable field for the designs of education he had in view, he removed in the course of a year or two to the settlement on Little Limestone, in Washington county, purchased a farm, and on his own land built a small church, and log college, and founded Salem congregation. His institution was incorporated by the Legislature of North Carolina, in 1788, under the name of "Martin Academy;" and is the first literary institution that was established in the great valley of the Mississippi. In 1795 it was changed into a college, and received the name of "Washington." From the incorporation of Martin Academy till 1818, Mr. Doak continued the President of the Institution; and his elders of Salem congregation formed a part of the Board of Trustees. He procured for his institution a small library in Philadelphia, caused it to be transported in sacks on pack-horses, across the mountains, and thus formed the nucleus of time library at Washington College. The brick buildings overlook the site of the log college; but long must it be before the enlarged institution can equally overshadow the usefulness of the log academy and college that for a time supplied the opportunities for education for ministers, lawyers and doctors, in the early days of Tennessee, and still is sending out its stream.

Having organized a number of churches in the county in which he lived, also Bethel and Timber Ridge in Greene county, about the year 1818 he resigned the Presidency of Washington College in favor of his son, Rev. John M. Doak, M.D., and removed to Bethel. Here he opened an academy to prepare youth for college, and named it Tusculum; and passed the remainder of his days in usefulness and honor. Under his son, Samuel W. Doak, the academy has grown into a flourishing college. Says a gentleman who knew him well—"His praise is in all our churches. During the Revolutionary war he was a warm, decided and uniform friend to civil and religious liberty, took part in the defence of his country, was a member of the convention that in 1784-5 gave rise to the insurrectionary state of Franklin; was upon the committee that reported an article of its constitution, making provision for the support of learning; and to the close of life was still its devoted servant, advocate, and patron. A rigid opposer of innovation in religious tenets; very old school in all his notions and actions; uncompromising in his love of the truth, and his hostility to error or heresy; a John Knot in his character, fearless, firm, nearly dogmatical and intolerant; but no one has been more useful to church or state, except it be Hall or Caldwell in N. C., or Waddell in South Carolina and Georgia. A volume would not exhaust the incidents of his life."

About the same time that M. Doak settled in Tennessee, Rev. Samuel Houston, reared in the same congregation, and at the same school, took his residence in Washington county. After a few years he returned to Virginia, and lived to a good old age in Rock-bridge county. Having been a soldier in the battle at Guilford Court-house, and ranking among the bravest of the brave, there can be no doubt of his love of American liberty. While living in Tennessee he took an active part in public matters, and was a conspicuous member of the Franklin convention. A brother and other connexions settled near Houston's station in Blount county; and his co-emigrants formed Providence church at Maryville. The name of Houston is familiar in Texas.

The Rev. Hezekiah Balch and Rev. Samuel Carrick came to Tennessee about the same time; both were members of Hanover Presbytery. Mr. Balch from Pennsylvania, Donegal Presbytery, formed one of the original members of Orange, and Mr. Carrick had been ordained by Hanover Presbytery, in whose bounds he labored for a time. These gentlemen met undesignedly in 1789, in the settlement where Lebanon church now is. Mr. Carrick had sent an appointment to preach, and on a short notice a great crowd assembled to hear the strange minister. Mr. Balch came that (lay. The place chosen for preaching was a large Indian mound at the junction of Holston and French Broad. Mr. Carrick courteously yielded the precedency to Mr. Balch as being the older man. After listening to the sermon, he observed "that he had selected the same subject, and as it was not yet, and could not be exhausted, he would still preach upon it." After preaching, the ordinance of Baptism was administered. Mr. Balch assisted in the organization of churches; under his patronage Greenville College was founded and rose to usefulness. Mr. Carrick organized Lebanon church, and also the church in Knoxville. He was the first President of Blount College in that place, and finished a life of usefulness in 1808, very suddenly. For want of memoranda little can here be said of these men, whose lives afforded matter of great interest to the Christian public, and must hold a prominent place in a correct history of Tennessee. Says a gentleman who knew him—"Rev. Samuel Carrick, equally orthodox, and not less learned or devoted to the service of his master," —he is running a parallel with Mr. Doak,—"was yet more liberal, tolerant, and refined. He had a great deal of urbanity, much of the suaviter in modo, less of the fortiter in re, dressed neatly, behaved courteously, grave, polite, genteel, in short he was a model of an old-fashioned Southern gentleman, and had been evidently (as all Presbyterian clergymen of that day were, and ought still to be) well raised."

About the same time a son of the first minister of Sugar Creek, after preaching for a time in the church of his father, removed to West Tennessee, and settled near where Nashville now is, on the Cumberland river. A man of fine talents and capable of close thought, he did the cause of religion much service. In the latter part of his ,life he had some difficulties that hindered, for a time, his usefulness, but which served to draw forth the friendly influence and unqualified approbation of General Jackson, who was not unacquainted with Sugar Creek and its recollections. Mr. Craighead lies buried near the hermitage.

The above short notices are given merely to show the connection of the churches in Tennessee with those in Carolina and Virginia, to the first for the most emigrants, and to the second for most ministers; and also to say, that there are a variety of incidents connected with the first settlements, that must be, if preserved, of exceeding interest to succeeding generations.

Abingdon Presbytery was formed August, 1785, its first meeting being held at Salem. A well written history of that Presbytery, and those formed from it, would comprise a history of the struggles and tempests of the Presbyterian church, which were felt in all their force in Tennessee, before the surface of the ocean was agitates] around Philadelphia, as will be seen by a reference to the minutes of the Synod of North Carolina, in the preceding chapter.

We shall close this short chapter, by giving the names of the first trustees of three of the Colleges

1st. Washington College:—Rev. Messrs. Samuel Doak, Charles Cummins, Edward Crawford, Robert Henderson and Gideon Blackburn :—Messrs. Jonathan Cottom, Alexander Matthews, John Nelson, Henry Nelson (father of two preachers, Kelso Nelson and David Nelson), John McAllister and John Blois, who were elders of Salem church; and Messrs. Joseph Anderson, John Sevier, Landon Carter, Daniel Kennedy, Leroy Taylor, John Tipton, Win. Cooke, Archibald Roane, James Hamilton, John Rhea, Samuel Mitchell, Jesse Payne, James Aiken, Wm. Hott, Win. Chester, David Deaderick and John Waddell.

2nd. Of Blount College:—Rev. Samuel Carrick, President, Messrs. James White, Francis Alexander Ramsey, George McNutt and John Adair, elders in Mr. Carrick's churches; and Messrs. William Blount, Daniel Smith, David Campbell, Joseph Anderson, John Sevier, Alexander Kelly, Win. Cooke, Willie Blount, Joseph Hamilton, Archibald Doane, Charles McClung, George Ruolstone and Robert Houston.

3d. Greenville College:—Rev. Messrs. Hezekiah Balch, Samuel Doak, James Balch, Samuel Carrick, Robert Henderson and Gideon Blackburn; and Messrs. A. Roan, Joseph Hamilton, Wm. Cooke, Daniel Kennedy, Landon Carter, Joseph Harden, John Rhea and John Sevier.

The efforts for literature and morals in Tennessee, are not surpassed in any of the western or southwestern States, and they compare advantageously with any of her older sisters. There is much pure religion and vital goodness in Tennessee.


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