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Flowering of the Cumberland

Flowering of the Cumberland

Harriette Simpson Arnow
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 450
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  • Book Info
    Flowering of the Cumberland
    Book Description:

    Harriette Arnow's search for truth as early American settlers knew it began as a child-the old songs, handed-down stories, and proverbs that colored her world compelled her on a journey that informs her depiction of the Cumberland River Valley in Kentucky and Tennessee. Arnow drew from court records, wills, inventories, early newspapers, and unpublished manuscripts to writeSeedtime on the Cumberland, which chronicles the movement of settlers away from the coast, as well as their continual refinement of the "art of pioneering." A companion piece, this evocative history covers the same era, 1780-1803, from the first settlement in what was known as "Middle Tennessee" to the Louisiana Purchase. When Middle Tennessee was the American frontier, the men and women who settled there struggled for survival, land, and human dignity. The society they built in their new home reflected these accomplishments, vulnerabilities, and ambitions, at a time when America was experiencing great political, industrial, and social upheaval.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-371-5
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    Writer Harriette Simpson Arnow knew from both her gardening and her research that volunteers, hybrids, grafts, and transplants can flower in unpredictable ways.Flowering of the Cumberlandis an exploration of pioneer transplanting, innovative transitions, and surprising stories that sprouted on the limestone bedrock of America’s Cumberland frontier. She saw that “shoots of culture, rooted in the Old World” rarely developed and grew “as had the parent plant, or one might better say ancestors, for by the time the Cumberland was settled, language, education, along with many other aspects of life, had been conditioned by plantings and transplantings …. Still,...

  2. Author’s Introduction and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xxiii)
    H. S. A.

    Flowering of the Cumberlandhas in it even less of great events and famous men than hadSeedtime on the Cumberland, published in 1960. The first was the story of how men, chiefly from the southern colonies, learned to live away from the sea and look to the woods if need be for most of their necessities from log house to lye. It told of how this long learning was then applied to exploring, hunting over, and at last settling the Valley of the Cumberland, or chiefly what is now Middle Tennessee. Attention was centered on the physical aspects of...

  3. CHAPTER 1 The Siege of Buchanan’s
    (pp. 1-24)

    Sunday, September 30, 1792, was a date so important in the history of what was to be Middle Tennessee that long ago the Tennessee Historical Commission set up a marker bearing the date and other information. The bronze plaque may be seen in Davidson County, Tennessee, near where the Elm Hill Road crosses Mill Creek, a tributary of Cumberland River, but now for much of its course running through suburban Nashville. Tennessee has many such markers, a large number commemorating, as does this one, the scene of a battle. Few, however, bear the name of a woman, and on this...

  4. CHAPTER 2 The Underpinning
    (pp. 25-46)

    Sally Buchanan’s first-born came eleven days after the Siege of Buchanan’s, and it was followed through the years by eight brothers and four sisters.¹ The Buchanan family was larger than most, but there was nothing unusual about the mother’s activities during an Indian battle. There are from all borders many stories of female courage. Reverend Joseph Doddridge, remembering the preparations for an Indian attack on the western Virginia fort where he had lived as a boy, declared, “I do not know that I ever saw a merrier set of women in my life.”² These women as they brought in a...

  5. CHAPTER 3 The Most Important Crop
    (pp. 47-66)

    The newly wed young couple usually moved at once into their own home, for the Southerner, like the Englishman behind him, insisted on one home for each family, no matter how poor. The new home might be one in a row of little cabins enclosed by fort pickets, and only a few steps from that of a parent as was the first home of Major Buchanan and Sally Ridley, but it gave what all wanted—at least some privacy. The custom of married children living with the parents, or several families of brothers and sisters sharing the same dwelling as...

  6. CHAPTER 4 The Makeup of Society
    (pp. 67-98)

    It was november, 1795. Sally Buchanan’s first-born was getting on toward three years old, and Felix Robertson, born shortly before instead of after an Indian attack, was close to fifteen. The special census of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio, taken as a first step toward statehood, had shown 2,832 white boys under sixteen in the three counties of what was soon to be Middle Tennessee, and about the same number of girls, the children under sixteen outnumbering everybody above by one-eighth or more.¹

    Most of these young ones had from the time of birth...

  7. CHAPTER 5 The Sounds of Humankind
    (pp. 99-128)

    The pioneer baby might from time to time be weighed on the family steelyards, and he might not be. He would by the time he could talk have heard all manner of human sounds from scalp cry to the calling of the hogs, but one thing he would never hear as they weighed him or on any other occasion of his life was the wordnormal. The normal human being had not yet evolved.

    No first settler, risking death and loss of all his goods when he could have lived comfortably in a safe place, would today be considered normal....

  8. CHAPTER 6 Intellectual Background and Education
    (pp. 129-158)

    Sometimes when studying early will books in the back of the long reading room of the Tennessee State Library at Nashville, the pioneers would vanish, and in their stead came half remembered things, rummagings as it were among the odds and ends my head has at random gathered. Who wrote Ossian’s poems? And I would sit fishing for the name Macpherson; often I forgot the will book for a memory—the joy of a first reading ofThe Vicar of Wakefield. More often still, I think, there would come the ghost of a big and ugly man, a Tory so...

  9. CHAPTER 7 The Horse
    (pp. 159-174)

    Horses were more universally owned than household goods or farming tools, for a man—or a woman—had to be neither farmer nor householder to need a horse; even the bound boy got one at the end of his servitude and sometimes the bound girl. Thus, the horse, more so than any other one thing—land, Indians, feather beds, or guns—entered into the lives of all the Cumberland settlers. Most incidents of history from Robertson’s exploratory journey from which he returned with his Spanish brood mares to Andrew Jackson’s killing of Dickinson because of a quarrel that began with...

  10. CHAPTER 8 Cows and Other Farm Animals
    (pp. 175-188)

    Any forted farm such as that of Edwin Hickman was a world of animal sounds—squealing, gobbling, nickering, bawling, bleating, grunting, howling, barking, neighing, meowing (cats were scarce but I found mention of a cat hole even in a temporary camp), whining, cackling, crowing, potracking, and baaing of their many horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and fowls, sometimes penned and often congregating near the fort walls.

    It is true that king of these animals was the horse; none other could compare with him for first place in value, glamour, beauty, and usefulness. The Cumberlander with no family—midwife, young single lawyer,...

  11. CHAPTER 9 The Farmer and His Crops
    (pp. 189-218)

    Literature is filled with such phrases as “the simple farmer” and “the rustic farm lad,” but any boy who would farm on the pioneer Cumberland somehow had to learn a vast amount of not mere skills—these he could often buy—but wisdom. He had to learn many of the unteachable things known to the Long-Hunter farmers of earlier generations—rich ground when he saw it in timber, a proper tree for barrel staves, a creek unsafe for fording, a poor piece of horseflesh, the poison in wilted cherry leaves, rock that when burned would fall readily into lime, rock...

  12. CHAPTER 10 Industry
    (pp. 219-248)

    There were ten of the young Masons when they settled down on Richland Creek in late 1790,¹ and we can be certain that at least eight of them helped in the building of the new home—even a toddler could carry the chunks of heartwood that went between the hewed logs of the walls before plastering was put on. Yet, if one had remarked to any of the children, even Philip the oldest, and of an age to help in the hewing, that he was engaged in the building industry, he might have stared in wonder, thinking possibly the speaker...

  13. CHAPTER 11 The Professions
    (pp. 249-268)

    The two great professions of the Old World and common in the United States today—the professional soldier and the professional religionist—had little appeal for the sons of first settlers on the Cumberland. The sword and the cross were in the early years not much in evidence. Swords in time became quite plentiful, but no first settler had one. Few of the Christian faiths on the Cumberland, in the first place, accepted the cross as a symbol; rather most looked upon it as a sign of “popery,” and early church buildings of the old West, like those of New...

  14. CHAPTER 12 The Business World
    (pp. 269-296)

    There was among the first and early settlers in the old West no man today remembered primarily because he amassed a large fortune or was a great businessman. Yet, most settlers on the Cumberland from Daniel Smith in the land business to Martha Turner advertising “18 or 20 barrels prime whiskey”¹ for sale were in some kind of business. In preparation for this work around two hundred lives were gone into quite deeply. There were a good many published autobiographies and biographies; others wrote short life histories for Mr. Draper, and many more were well enough represented in source materials...

  15. CHAPTER 13 River, Road, and Town
    (pp. 297-318)

    Winding through most life already discussed—agriculture, business, industry, exploration, settlement—was the Cumberland River. A soldier rushing in 1813 with Jackson and his troops by flatboat down the river could in spite of freezing rain and scanty food exclaim, “The Cumberland should be the pride of Tennessee—consider what would be the condition of the country if this river had not flowed through it.”¹ There were by that date along its banks many small towns plus busy, handsome Nashville, ferries, landings, boatyards, with most of the rich bottom lands, not too swampy for cultivation, cleared and in crops. Streams...

  16. CHAPTER 14 Social Life and Diversions
    (pp. 319-344)

    Most life in the Cumberland Country during pioneer days was somewhat like the river—unpredictable, often cruel, eternally changing, filled with upsets, surprises, disappointments, now and then an unexpected pleasure, yet loved as many loved the contrary river, and like the river always interesting and often diverting. The hardships and dangers of pioneer travel by boat can scarcely be over-exaggerated—fogs, hidden snags, rocks, sandbars, planters, sawyers, unexpected freshets, close and uncomfortable quarters for the lucky on a craft with some kind of shelter. All this for the boatmen overlaid with hard work or the uncertainty of traveling down when...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 345-350)

    Now, after the long searching, the miles traveled, the manuscripts read, the librarians bothered, the authentications of handed-down tales searched out, I should have a bundle of gleanings, some pattern of life for the old dead on the Cumberland; something I can wrap in adjectives and label truth. The trouble is that many facts do not make a truth. And what is truth? Finding it I might not know it. I cannot say of even one first settler he was exactly thus and so at all times in his life. The nameless boy riding home from mill would laugh at...

  18. Explanation of Bibliographical References
    (pp. 351-354)