The First Settlers
Samuel Howard built a cabin in the neighborhood of Laurel Hill in the year 1834. This was as early as I can ascertain the beginning of the history of the settlement. He emigrated from Rhea County. He was a man of medium height and weighed over two hundred pounds. He was very firm and quiet and was a man of great soundness of judgement. He was one of the first justices of the peace ever elected in Bradley County. At that time a justice was considered the most learned man to be found and it was true to a considerable extent. There were but a few preachers or doctors and if a schoolteacher could work to the double rule of three he was very learned indeed. He reared five children, one son, Logan, and four daughters, Zina, Sarah, Catherine, and Margaret. Mr. Howard was a very worthy character and many of his descendants are proud of their ancestry.
The next settler in this community was William Howard, a brother of the venerable squire. He lived about two miles from his brother and was also a worthy character. He reared a large family, mostly boys, who are scattered in many parts of the country and who still maintain the manliness common to the Howard stock.
Henry Airheart was the next squatter in this section. He also emigrated from Rhea. He was a Dutchman and was the father of a large family of girls and boys, who are the grandmothers and grandfathers of quite a generation scattered abroad over this country. Mr. Airheart’s wife was so large and such a curiosity that the ferryman at Blythe’s Ferry, as they moved to this county, said she was show enough to pay the ferriage.
James Lauderdale emigrated soon after the Howards from the same county. Mr. Lauderdale was the first sheriff of Bradley County. His folks are all gone from here.
Elias Hutchinson emigrated from some of the upper counties and was the first blacksmith in the settlement. He, of course, being the first manufacturer, was a very important character. His family is gone from here and I know little of him.
John Johnson was among the first squatters of 1836. He emigrated from Monroe County. He was a genial man, full of fun, but was a devout Christian of the Methodist order, and was a great Sunday school man. He would read the scriptures and comment on them at Sunday school, and never saw a word he could not pronounce, though a goodly number he pronounced wrong. Mr. Johnson had a good wife. They reared a large family and both died since the war at a ripe old age.
Among the immigrants, while the Indians were still here, was Samuel Maroon. Mr. Maroon was a very firm, industrious man and became one of the best farmers in the section. He lived to a ripe old age and left a family of both boys and girls, some of whom still live at the old Maroon settlement. After Mr. Maroon’s boys were grown and had learned to drive horses to the wagon, he said he could yoke his oxen and drive two miles before every boy on the place could put the cheek lines on their horses.
About the same year, 1836, Henderson Thatch emigrated from Monroe County and settled neighbor to Mr. Maroon. Mr. Thatch was a man of medium height, of red complexion and weighed about one hundred and seventy-five pounds. He was raised as a bound boy in North Carolina, emigrated to Monroe County, and there by industry and economy, accumulated enough to enter his farm in the new territory and to loan money to many of his neighbors who emigrated later. Mr. Thatch was a strict Methodist. If his boys transgressed his rules on Sunday, he did not correct them that day, but brought them to taw on Monday Morning. He was married twice and was the father of four girls by his first wife and seven boys by his second. He built the first threshing machine ever pulled by horse power in this neighborhood. It was a permanent wood structure in a large two-story barn and the people had to haul their grain to it. He threshed for the straw. Before this they whipped out their grain with a hickory club called a flail. Mr. Thatch lived to be old and died beloved and respected by all who knew him.
Thomas Gardner, a son-in-law of H. Thatch, was among the first settlers of this section. He also was an emigrant from Monroe. His first cabin was built on what proved to be the school land, but this did not dishearten him. He entered another piece, built another cabin and reared a highly respected family of boys and girls. His wife was one of the jolliest women in the section. It was a treat to all the young people to get to go to Aunt Katie’s as everybody called her. They both lived to be old. The old lady died while at her son’s, Monroe Gardner, in Missouri.
Another of the first settlers was John Igou. Mr. Igou was from Rhea County. He was one of the first merchants of this section was also one of the first justices of the peace. He was a highly respected and worthy citizen. He reared a large family of girls and boys, one of which, J.W. Igou, still lives at the old homestead.
Samuel McSpadden was an immigrant from Monroe County and was one of the best farmers in the neighborhood. He was a very pious, gentlemanly fellow and his house was the home of Methodist preachers, although he did not become a Christian himself until he was well stricken in years. Mr. McSpadden was blessed with nine children who lived to be the fathers and mothers of many bright and useful men and women of this country.
Arthur Orr was among the emigrants from Monroe. He entered a farm near S. McSpadden’s and reared a large family of children by his first wife, then married a Mrs. Johnson who was the mother of a large family. She then died and he married a Mrs. Hall.
Jacob Brown is another of Monroe’s emigrants. Mr. Brown was a very outspoken, harem-skarem fellow and was a Methodist exhorter. He talked long and loud in his exhortations, used some very large words, the meaning of which his hearers were ignorant; in fact, it is questionable whether or not they had any meaning. Once in an exhortation on the rebellion, Mr. Brown said, “The Southern Confederacy is as dead as the very d----l, dat are plank.” Nevertheless, Uncle Jacob was an excellent citizen and one of the most useful men in the settlement. He reared a family of four children, two boys, both of whom are dead, and two girls who still survive.
Stewart McSpadden was an early settler and a brother of Samuel McSpadden. He lived in the northeast corner of the settlement and was a highly respected, worthy character. He raised a large family of children, some of whom still live in the settlement.
Thomas Early settled here in 1843. He was an economical bachelor and a successful farmer. He and Ephraim Huffins lived together many years. Mr. Early lived to be old, and always rode a fine horse. His death was a little mysterious. He was one day leaving the house of S.M. Thatch, with a newspaper in his hand, which he is supposed to have been reading as he rode along, and was found dead in the road a short distance from the house he had just left. He still had the newspaper and his riding whip in his hand.
John Roberts was among the first settlers and built the first mill in this section, It was called a tub mill. The water wheel at the mill rock were on the same shaft and at one end, the other at the other. He also built the first sawmill. The saw was in the shape of a cross cut, standing on the end, and ran up and down. It was run by waterpower and would saw two or three hundred feet per day. Mr. Roberts’ folks are all gone from here and I know but little of his history.
B.F. Jones, another old citizen, was born in the state of Maryland and came here when young. He was a very successful farmer and reared a large family, some of whom still live in this section. M.V. Jones, who is a successful businessman of Cleveland, is a son of his. Esquire James Jones, of Flint Springs, is another son who has been quite successful as a farmer. Thomas Jones, another son, lived most of his life in this settlement and was a successful farmer and died about ten years ago respected by all who knew him. B.F. Jones lived to be seventy-three years of age.
Joel Kelly was an old settler, a successful farmer and a good citizen. He raised a family of five children, who have all been good people and are scattered abroad over this country, as good citizens as ever were found.
Claiborne Wilhoit emigrated to this section in 1839 from Campbell County. Mr. Wilhoit was a good farmer and a useful citizen. He raised a family of eight children, all of whom married in this section and some of whom still live here. Mr. Wilhoit died just at the beginning of the war.