The Long Hunter

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He knew the medicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailments therefrom. He knew his rifle, how to use it, repair it, and even in some instances how to make one. He knew the use of the hunting and skinning knife, the tomahawk, and other tools and weapons of the hunt and the kill, which was oft times the kill of an Indian whose skill and cunning he was forced to match and outwit in order to survive.

He was aware of, and knew the habits of animals and birds and was able to distinguish the true call of such from the imitation by an Indian. He received his training from masters, for all who lived on the frontiers had to be masters of natural history to survive. The very toys of his childhood were imitations of his future life.

The long hunters usually went out in October and returned the latter part of March, or early in April. Their winter's take consisted of both fur pelts and hides, especially the hides of buffalo which were wantonly slaughtered for the hides only, the carcass left to be devoured by animals and vultures. There are recorded events where hundreds and, a few times, where thousands were slain, and certainly the Indian was justified in his feelings that his hunting grounds were being robbed. The best descriptions of the long hunter have been left to us by John Redd, who knew many of them intimately, both in his native Pittsylvania County, and also in Powell Valley when he came out to Martin's Station in Their reasons for this were two-fold; first, larger parties were more apt to scare game away, and secondly, the Indians were less likely to become suspicious of a small group robbing their hunting grounds, not to mention that smaller parties were less likely to be discovered by the Indians.

Redd tells a very interesting story about Powell Valley that was related to him by the long hunter, William Carr.

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He knew the medicinal properties of plants and how to treat his wounds and ailments there from. Walden himself moved out to the new country and made his home for a while on the Holston River, 18 miles above Knoxville, Tennessee. Theresa John about her life living in the villages and growing up. Add another email. The furs and hides were of the finest quality during this extended season, and brought the highest prices.

In this there was the remains of an old hunting camp from which the land took its name. Some five years before Martin's Station was settled, Martin first came to Lee County in , explored the valley, but stayed only a few days. He returned in and established his Station, hence the above referred to event must have taken place about These hunters were very successful in killing game and lived in perfect harmony with the Indians, who frequently visited the hunters and congratulated them upon their success in taking game.

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This intimacy continued until the spring, at which time, the hunters concluded that they had as much fur and skins as they could conveniently carry home. Accordingly, they commenced packing, loaded their horses and were in the act of setting off for home, with the earnings of their successful hunt, when twelve or fifteen Indians came up, took possession of their horses, furs, guns, and in fact all the hunters had, and in exchange gave them three of their old guns, and told the hunters that they land they were hunting on belonged to the Indians, and also the game, that they would spare their lives that time, but cautioned them never to return.

They were said to be the bones of two men who went out hunting in the fall of and never returned. Their names I have forgotten. Lyman C.

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The camp was built beside a large limestone rock which served for the back of the camp. The names of the persons whose bones I saw there I should be unable to accurately distinguish were I to hear them. This may be possibly the camp pitched by Boone's war party. The bones I saw were not known certainly to be those of the two long hunters having gone on a long hunt in Powell Valley in , who had not returned. The camp was eight or ten miles from Martin's Station. The location described by Redd also fits the general location of Elisha Wallen's long hunting camp of Redd says the long hunters set out with two pack horses each, a large supply of powder and lead, a small hand vise and bellows, a screwplate and files for repairing their rifles, and while he makes no mention of it, they also carried a supply of flour for bread.

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Reconstructed "lean-to" at the long hunter camp As colonial settlement approached the base of the. The Long Hunter. by Emory L. Hamilton, p. 29, The Mountain Empire Genealogical Quarterly, Spring l The Long Hunter was peculiar to.

In fact, on the way out they could carry quite a lot of supplies as each hunter had two pack horses. The long hunters went out together in large parties, built a station camp, then fanned out in twos and threes to range and hunt over large areas. The first known station camp established in Powell's Valley was that of Elisha Wallen in It is thought his party consisted of eighteen or nineteen men, but since no list has been preserved, only the names of a very few are known certainly to have been in the party.

Wallen's Station camp, set up at the mouth of Wallen's Creek, was probably like other station camps, built of poles, sometimes only eight by ten feet, covered with puncheons or bark, walls on three sides, the front open, along which a fire was built for warmth. Upright poles were set up - often a forked pole was driven into the ground, with a cross pole on which the bark or puncheons were laid, sloping toward the back in order to drain melting snow or rain away from the fire. This type of shelter was known as "half-faced" camps.

Other times an extra large, already-fallen tree or large rock was used for the backwall of such a camp shelter. Some of Wallen's party are said to have seen the eleven-year-old carving of the name of Powell and so named the Valley, river and mountain. Ambrose Powell had been a member of Dr. Thomas Walker's exploring party of That he usually hunted on a range of mountains lying on the east of Powell's Valley and from Wallen the mountain took its name.

Wallen described the ridge and surrounding country on which he hunted as abounding in almost every known specie of game. The animals and birds had been intruded on so seldom that they did not fear his presence, but rather regarded him as a benefactor, but soon learned to flee from his presence.

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They owned no land, but were squatters. During the Revolutionary War, the Virginia legislature passed a law that British subjects who owned land must come in and take the oath of allegiance or their lands would be confiscated. Redd says that some in Pittsylvania County did this, and Wallen, the Blevinses and Coxes, packed up "enmass" and moved to the frontier for fear they would have to pay many years back rent as squatters.

He states that the Blevins and Cox families settled on Holston River, above Long Island, now Kingsport and that Wallen settled on the Holston about eighteen miles above Knoxville, and that in he stopped by to see him, and was informed by Wallen's wife that he had then been on a hunt for two months. Redd further states that Wallen later moved to Powell Valley, lived there a short time and then moved to Missouri.

Draper by F. In the letter William Martin tells of going on hunting trips with Wallen who lived near his father's station in Powell Valley. Colonel Martin says that he was intimately acquainted with Wallen in his latter days. The time Colonel Martin knew Wallen was in or thereafter, as he did not come out to his father's station in Powell Valley until At this time, William Pittman was in his early twenties, six feet tall and of fine appearance.

There were several Pittmans and more than one named William. They were returning from a long hunt they had taken in the "Brush" on the northwest side of Cumberland Mountain. They returned earlier than usual and their reason for doing so was that they had seen a great smoke some distance off which they knew was Indians "ring-hunting", and besides, they had seen Indian tracks through the wood where they were hunting; whereupon they set out for home. They spent some eight or ten days at the Station. While they were with us, they showed some silver ore they had found on top of a little hill in their hunting ground.

They said that while they were hunting, a snow fell some twelve to eighteen inches deep. Scaggs and Pittman went out through the snow to kill some game. After going a short distance from their camp, they discovered that on top of a certain hill, there was no snow, while all the surrounding hills were covered with it.

This led them to go upon the hill and see the cause of its not being covered with snow like the rest. On arriving at the summit of the hill, they discovered that it was covered with a very heavy kind of ore. Each of them put some of the ore in their shot bag and returned to camp. They brought it back with them to Martin's Station- the silver they had extracted and some of the ore. The silver was pronounced by all who saw it to be very pure.

By the next fall the war with the Indians broke out and they went no more on their long hunts. Paul, Virginia. This is the land upon which John English settled in , where his wife and children were killed by Indians in , and which he sold to the French Baron Pierre De Tubeuf in , and the site where the Baron was murdered in The land had changed hands many times by assignment of warrant before the Baron bought it.

English obtained it from Henry Hamlin, who had obtained it from Joseph Drake, another long hunter, and Drake had gotten it from William Pittman, who in turn had received it from Thomas Pittman and he Thomas had it assigned to him from Chippy Ally Pucket. Thomas Pittman was supposedly a son of Uriah Pittman. Just what relation Thomas was to the long hunter, William Pittman, is unknown. Henry Scaggs left the area and moved on into Kentucky, dying on Pittman's Creek in Taylor Country, Kentucky about or , upwards of 80 years old.

He and his brother perhaps Charles were noted hunters, and nothing but hunters. He had been hunting for twenty years on the other side of the mountain, and this fall in addition to a party of upwards of twenty men, with extra pack horses, he took his young son. In Powell Valley, his party had the not-very-unusual luck of being attacked by Indians, who, though they killed no man, took all but eleven of their horses. All the hunters turned back except Scaggs, his son, and a man remembered only by the name of Sinclair. Scaggs' young son sickened and died on this trip and because the severe winter of , the ground was so frozen he had to bury him in a hollow tree.

William Pittman also reflects in the tithable lists on the Clinch. Whether these entries are for the long hunter Pittman or another, there is no way to ascertain.


In I became acquainted with him in Powell's Valley. He lived on the frontier for twenty years or more and had spent the whole time hunting. He described the game as being so gentle the animals would rarely run from the report of his gun.

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He would frequently go on these hunting expeditions alone. After the breaking out of the Indian war of , few men ventured on these long hunts. Carr determined to take one more long hunt, and as no one would go with him, he determined to go alone. Accordingly, he supplied himself with a good supply of powder and lead, his steel traps, two good horses, and set out on a long hunt and was never heard of afterward.

He was no doubt killed by the Indians. It is hard to trace the name since the records show both a William Carr and William Kerr, and whether they are one and the same I do not know. He was the first son of his mother; notwithstanding his mother and her husband were both very respectable and had a fine estate, yet when William was born he turned out to be a dark mulatto.

The old man being a good sort of a fellow and withal, very credulous, was induced by his better half to believe the color of his son was a judgement sent on her for her wickedness. William was sent to school and learned the rudiments of an English education and, at the age of eighteen, he was furnished with a good horse, gun and some money and directed by his reputed father to go to the frontier and seek his fortune and never return.

He was then about forty years of age; he never married, and had been living on the frontier something like twenty years. He lived in the forts and stations and lived entirely by hunting.

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Notwithstanding his color he was treated with as much respect as any white man. Few men possessed a more high sense of honor and true bravery than he did. He was possessed of a very strong natural mind and always cheerful and the very life of any company he was in. He had hunted in the "brush" for many years before I became acquainted with him. He was about the ordinary height, little inclined to be corpulent, slightly round shouldered and weighed about or pounds and very strong for one of his age.

Another long hunter, who was in the Clinch are for sometime, was Uriah Stone, and it seems he made land improvements in many places where he hunted, probably with the hope of selling them as he did one in the present Tazewell County, as shown by a land suit in Augusta County Superior Court, Maxwell vs Pickens, filed I was in company with Samuel Walker. Found a tract with some improvements, viz: the foundations of a cabin, some rails split and some trees deadened. That night we fell in with a party of hunters, among them Uriah Stone, who claimed to have made the improvement, and I purchased it.

Shortly thereafter two men came out, viz: Uriah Stone and John Stutler. James Smith, a Pennsylvanian, left his home in the fall of , and the following spring of found him in the Holston country of Virginia where settlement was thickening in the general vicinity of Samuel Stalnaker's place. Then again in the Fincastle Court of November 3, , there was a motion of Uriah Stone to stay the proceedings of a judgement obtained against him by Obediah Terrell.

While trying to find someone to send to Kentucky to warn the surveying parties, on June 22, , Colonel William Christian wrote to Colonel William Preston that he was thinking of sending out a certain Crabtree to search for the surveyors, having him do this as a sort of atonement for his late achievement in murdering some friendly Cherokees. Having some doubt about the ethics of this, however, he next thought of sending out Joseph Drake, who, as one of the long hunters, was tolerably well acquainted with Kentucky.

Stoner, born about , was also a member Boone's road-cutting party through Cumberland Gap and was still alive in , when he made a deposition in Wayne County, Kentucky. He was wounded at the siege of Boonesboro, fainted from loss of blood after he had refused to let anyone come to him, for he was outside the fort walls.

The Long Hunter

His wounds were only flesh wounds, one in the hip and another in the arm. After losing his land grants he settled with his father-in-law near Price's Station. More of an Indian scout and hunter than a farmer, William Crabtree was a real backwoodsman, tall, slender and with slightly red hair.

If so, he was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, circa His first wife was Hannah Lyon, sister to the long hunter Humberson Lyon. After her death he was married in to Katherine Starnes and she died in Tazewell County in The father of William Crabtree, whose name was also William, lived near the Salt Works now Saltville where he died in Redd says: "I know not where Crabtree was from originally.

In he was living on Watauga, not far above its junction with the Holston.

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I know not what finally became of him. He was about thirty years of age. In , Elisha Wallen spelled variously "Walden", "Wallin", and "Walling" led the first major recorded long hunt into what is now Tennessee. The expedition, which was launched in retaliation for the Cherokee sacking of Fort Loudoun in , forced the Cherokee to sign a peace treaty. With the Cherokee threat minimized, long hunters some of whom may have been veterans of Stephen's expedition began crossing into Tennessee and Kentucky in greater numbers.

In , Daniel Boone , Richard Callaway and Benjamin Cutbirth explored the upper Holston Valley as agents for Richard Henderson , a land speculator who later played an important role in the early settlement of Tennessee. He built a cabin at the site around In , James Smith led an ambitious long hunt into Middle and West Tennessee, following the Cumberland River all the way to its mouth.

One member of the Smith expedition, Uriah Stone, was hunting along a tributary of the Cumberland when a French hunting companion stole all of his furs. The tributary was subsequently named Stones River. Although Crockett was killed, the various trails, salt licks and camping areas identified by the and expeditions would later help guide the first English settlers to the Middle Tennessee area. A royal proclamation issued by King George III in made it illegal to procure pelts from Cherokee lands without a trading license, which essentially barred hunting west of the Appalachian range. Both the Cherokee and the British, however, had considerable difficulty enforcing this ban.

In , Cherokee Chief Oconastota complained to the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs that the entire Cherokee Nation was "filling with Hunters, and the guns rattling every way on the path. Various geographical entities in Tennessee are named for long hunters. Walden Ridge , the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, is named for Elisha Wallen, one of the first English Americans to observe it. In , Kasper Mansker built a frontier station in what is now Goodlettsville , just north of Nashville.

In , the city of Goodlettsville built a replica of Mansker's Station it is based on historic examples, as the fort's original layout is unknown , which is now open to the public. Percy Priest Lake impoundment of Stones River, in the area where Uriah Stone had his furs stolen more than years earlier.

The end of King George's War in left control of the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River in dispute. The French wanted the region to connect their holdings in Canada with New Orleans, and the British sought to establish a foothold in the Ohio Valley. The maneuvers of French commander Pierre-Joseph Celoron de Blainville in discouraged English trade west of the Appalachians, although English speculators remained interested in the region. Walker's expedition briefly explored what is now southeastern Kentucky, and explorer Christopher Gist managed to reach the mouth of the Kentucky River in With the fall of Fort Duquesne and the construction of Fort Pitt in , however, the French were forced to evacuate the region.

The French departure and a relative state of peace with the Cherokee during the same period opened up the region to English explorers and hunters. John and Samuel Pringle, two deserters from Fort Pitt, spent much of the early s hunting in the Tygart Valley and likely ranged into what is now Kentucky. Part of Elisha Walden's party hunted along the Rockcastle River from their station camp in southwestern Virginia. In , an expedition led by James Harrod and Michael Holsteiner Michael Stoner crossed Kentucky from north-to-south, reaching the Nashville area several weeks after departing from the Illinois Country.

Around the same time, an expedition led by Benjamin Cutbirth crossed Cumberland Gap and pushed all the way to the Mississippi River, where they shipped the pelts they had collected down to New Orleans. Finley told Boone of the natural splendor of Kentucky's Bluegrass region , which he had visited as a merchant before the French and Indian War. The following year, the two led an expedition into Kentucky, traveling up the Rockcastle River and establishing a station camp at Red Lick Fork.