The Marion County Tribune

Follow Us On:

Jasper History Museum holds lecture series

Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 11:00 am

Beth Jordan


The Jasper History Museum hosted Linda Moss Mines recently as the guest speaker in our History Lecture Series.

Linda Moss Mines is the official Chattanooga-Hamilton County historian.  She also serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board and Vice-President for Education at the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center and was appointed by Governor Lee as a founding member of the Tennessee Cemetery Committee. She also serves as secretary of Chattanooga Area Veteran Council, former member of the Tennessee Historical Commission and member of the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation Board. She spent 45 years teaching US Government, US History and Constitutional Law and spent 27 years as the chairman of the History Department at Girls Preparatory School (GPS). Ms. Mines is a member of the National Park Service Artillery Brigade.  Linda married into the Mines family of Marion County and has a great love for our region.

The History of Marion County; Part 1 was focused on the early years before this area was actually Marion County.

The first time non-native people saw this area was in 1560 by Spanish explorers on their way to rendezvous with DeSoto near the Moccasin Bend area.  That was about 47 years before the Virginia Company of London, England sent 144 settlers and sailors to establish the first permanent English colony in North America at Jamestown.

After the French and Indian War as a way to tax the English colonists to pay for the war, the British signed the Proclamation of 1763 which stated you could not go west of the Appalachians or Allegheny mountains. However, the Scots/Irish have always been rebellious and so in defiance of the Proclamation of 1763, the Scots/Irish from North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania began settling this area.  Early Scottish settlers in our region included Alexander Ross, a forefather of Daniel Ross and John Ross. John Ross served as the Principal Chief of the Cherokee from 1829-1866. He was the longest serving Cherokee Chief.

Early history of this area is not complete without discussing Dragging Canoe.  No pictures or sketches of Dragging Canoe exist. He was known as the Tecumseh of the South. The Cherokee aligned with the British during the American Revolution. In the 1770’s, a meeting of the Cherokee chiefs signed away millions of acres of land. The younger Cherokees wanted to fight instead of agreeing to hand over their land. Dragging Canoe was one of those younger Cherokee’s.  His band broke away and moved to southeast TN and became known as the Chickamauga Cherokee in 1776. By 1779, all the Chickamauga Cherokees were in the area from the Chickamauga Creek in Hamilton County to the Nickajack Cave area in Marion County. The presence of the Chickamauga Cherokee in this area made settlement extremely dangerous.

In April 1779, The British knew the terror that Dragging Canoe was causing in this area and they launched a surprise attack and destroyed their village. Dragging Canoe was not there – he was leading a raid against settlers. Evan Shelby led the attack on the Cherokee village and reported to Thomas Jefferson that they captured “20,000 bushels of grain, 100 head of cattle, 100 horses”, this was reported to George Washington and the 2nd Continental Congress.

This did not defeat Dragging Canoe. He rebuilt and moved his headquarters to Nickajack Cave. The Chickamauga Cherokees were defeated again but they continued to rebuild and have a great presence in this area. When Marion County was charted in 1817, Dragging Canoe and the Chickamauga Cherokees were living at Nickajack. The initial census for Marion County included them and they were listed as non-white.

Early maps of TN show that the northern part of the state was settled first. The first permanent settlement in Tennessee was made in 1769 on Boones Creek by Captain William Bean and his wife Lydia. Their son, Russell Bean was the first European child born in Tennessee. The early settlers formed the Watauga Association – a semi-autonomous government created in 1772. Fort Watauga was built at the Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River in 1775-1776 to defend settlers against Cherokee attacks.

John Donaldson led a flat boat expedition from Wataugua down the French Broad, Holston, Tennessee, Mississippi, Ohio rivers. The expedition included 37 boats, women, children, elderly and animals. They launched in December. John Donaldson kept a diary the entire trip. He reported the hostile Indian encounters while traveling through the Chattanooga and Marion County areas. The flat boat expedition was attacked by the Indians several times. Around the area of the “Suck”, the Stewart family was battling smallpox so their flat boat was separated from the other boats. The Chickamaguas fell upon that flat boat and killed all of the Stewart family.  The rest of the expedition heard the screams and cries and saw the boat go up in flames.

Marion County was charted in 1817 out of Cherokee land from Bledsoe County (1807). The bottom half of Bledsoe County extended to the Tennessee River. According to Tennessee state records, the first settlers in this area were Amos Griffith and William and James Standefer. The county was named for Frances Marion, a Revolutionary War hero.

On June 21, 1775, Frances Marion “Swamp Fox” joins the continental army. He enters as a captain under William Moultrie. He was known to be at the battle of Ft. Sullivan and was promoted to Lt colonel after that battle. Marion was part of the siege of Savannah, GA. He was famous for guerilla warfare which was foreign to the British. Marion was also an expert at gathering intelligence. George Washington stated “he terrorizes the loyalists”. His men served for the entire war, never received pay, provided their own horses and supplies. They were part of 12 major battles in 2 years.  Over time the loyalists disappeared due to the ferocity of Marion and his soldiers. The British put a bounty on his head and send Tarleton after him. Tarleton reported “the devil himself could not catch him”.  The people of Marion County chose to name the county after Frances Marion because they identified with him and his life living on the frontier.

John Shropshire’s house – 1st court in Marion County 1817. Quickly moved to Liberty or Cheekeville near Whitwell.

Original County Commissioners: Bought the 40 acres of land from Betsy Pack to establish the county seat.

Part 2 of the History of Marion County will be held on Tuesday, September 26 at 5 p.m. at Jasper Elementary School, 495 Warrior Drive.  Please join them.