EXCERPTS FROM "THE
LAND OF THE LAKE " AS
WRITTEN BY DR. G.L. RIDENOUR (PART I)
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas
Many thanks to the personnel at the Campbell County Historical
Society for allowing me to use this material .
Dr. Ridenour's book, "The Land of the Lake " can
be purchased through the Campbell County Historical
Society at LaFollette , Tennessee
The late Dr. Ridenour is the foremost author and historian
of Campbell County. His writings encompassed the early history of this
beautiful County; I shall now draw from these writings.
CHANGES IN THE CIVIL DISTRICTS
Dr. Ridenour explains in detail the change from 22 to five Civil
Districts. It all happened when the 1903 General Assembly passed a
special law redistricting Campbell County and reducing the number of
justices of the peace to thirteen. The general public disagreed with
this decision. Friends of the unseated justices were thunderous in
their charges of the unfairness. However, under this special law the
districts were divided into five civil districts.
A widespread county registration vote was opposed by the voters and
was finally repealed. The five civil districts remained the county
units until 1937 when the Beech Fork section was designated as the
Sixth Civil District of Campbell County by a special act.
CHALLENGES DURING THE CIVIL WAR BY CAMPBELL COUNTIANS
The Confederates on Buffalo Creek in Scott County captured Lewis
Baird, along with Lark Cross and a Vanover during the Civil War. They
were quickly tried at a court martial for espionage. Cross and Vanover
were hanged from an apple tree. Baird, being nearly eighty, was spared
his life and was sent as a prisoner of war to Salisbury, North Carolina.
The Confederates pleaded with him to take an oath of allegiance in
exchange for his release from prison. Baird had two sons fighting for
the Union army and he loyally refused to take the oath. He believed
this action would give aid to the Confederate cause. He died in the
military prison and is buried at Salisbury, North Carolina.
During this period Clint Roe, Squire Perkins and Simon Snyder were
captured in Cherry Bottom by a small influence of Confederates; they
were tried for bushwhacking. Their sentence was to die before a firing
squad. The trial ended quickly and they were lined up for the execution
of the sentence and were forced to kneel. Roe, as the spokesperson,
refused and the trio met death. The remains of Perkins and Snyder were
reinterred in the Jellico Cemetery.
Federal Soldiers captured Henry Tiller in Whitman Hollow for aiding
the Confederates at Big Creek Gap (now LaFollette). Tiller's wife and
Mrs. Joseph A. Cooper were sisters. Tiller had cared for Mrs. Cooper
and her children. Tiller was removed to military prison and during
his absence, both his wife and Mrs. Cooper died of exposure. Henry
Tiller later returned to Campbell County after the war. He made a declaration
to kill the informer who turned against him on sight.
The men kept deliberately separated, however, at an all day Baptist
meeting at Indian Creek, Tiller was informed that his enemy was likewise
attending the meeting.
"Well, I ain't never seed him yet I amin to keep my word."
Those of interest persuaded Tiller's adversary to leave the grounds.
Although the two lived within a few miles of each other, the two never
met after the war.
VIRGIN TIMBER BURNS
The first settlers of Campbell County found the area heavily forested.
Early forges consumed the dense supply of hardwoods. During the period
of 1824-1834 forest fires destroyed hundreds of acres of virgin timber.
John Sweat, who lived on the left side of Highway 25W, and just within
the entrance of Cove Lake State Park between Jacksboro and Caryville,
perished in his cabin at the Sweaton Spring in Sweaton Hollow during
one of these holocausts of negligence.
SHANGHAI NOTED INDIAN RENDEVOUS
Henry Sharp, Jacob Sharp, and William Sharp operated a powder mill
at Grantsborough. The niter for powder was taken from their land described
as, "Beginning on a steep hillside west and near a large salt
petre cave [now known as the Merideth Cave] the said Sharps now work." After
giving various calls "thence west crossing the Spring Branch of
the Big Spring."
The Big Spring was later known as Shanghai and is now covered with
the waters of the lake below the Shanghai dock.
Before the settlement of the country the Big Spring and the cave
were noted Indian stopping places. At the mound on the hillside above
the river, and near the mouth of the Big Spring Branch on the south
side, were Indian graves and the graves of the early white hunters.
Conrad Sharp and his sons were among the pioneer hunters to visit
these well-known meeting places. In the large galleries of the huge
cavern numerous hoppers of white oak clapboards were built to hold
the niter-filled earth.
MAKING POWDER AT SHANGHAI
Water was run through the hoppers into large earthen jars. This water
holding saltpeter (niter) in solution was boiled in kettles at the
mouth of the cave. Clumps of red bud on the adjacent h8ills were cut
to furnish wood for the coal pits, as the pioneers believed that charcoal
burned from the wood of the Judas tree was of a finer texture than
that from any other wood.
At first the niter and the charcoal were carried on packhorses to
the small powder mill at Grantsborough. River men from 1800 would put
in their flatboats at Grantsborough for a supply of powder before the
long voyage on the rivers to the lower country