The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Legends & Stories of White County, TN
By Coral Williams
Abstract, Contents, & Introduction














JUNE, 1930



MAJOR PROFESSOR:       /s/ Frieda Johnson

MINOR PROFESSOR:         /s/ Fremont P. Wirth



/s/ Fremont P. Wirth______________________



            The purpose of this study is to bring together the legends and stories of White County, Tennessee, and thus to collect and preserve the adventures and experiences of those hardy pioneers who established the country and of those brave characters who endured the fortunes of the Civil War.

            The legends were gathered from two sources. The first is found in two scrapbooks, copies of early newspapers, and a few early histories and biographies. The second, a more profitable source of information, was gleaned through personal conversation with old Civil War veterans or their descendants, relatives, and friends, and through material collected by the White County High school pupils.

            The results of the study show that seventeen legends treat of place-names; that the Indian contribution was four main trails, and four minor trails for the settlers who first came into White County; that there were twelve noted schools in the county before 1887, three denominations, four courts, and nine newspapers; that there were fourteen characters around whom legends center; that there were five main battles fought on White County soil; and that the exact number of skirmishes I the country can never be known.


Introduction   1
Chapter I. Names of Places 5
Chapter II. Indians and Early Settlers 21
Chapter III. Schools, Churches, Courts, Newspapers 36
Chapter IV. Legends of People 62
Chapter V. Civil War 107
Conclusion   148


            The purpose of this study is to bring together for preservation the legends and stories of White County, Tennessee, which are fast disappearing. No history of the county has ever been written, nor has a collection of the legends been attempted. With the death of Civil War veterans and those faithful women, who so ably carried on the work at home during the conflict, White County has lost valuable material. When the author asked the Tennessee Historical Society of the legends regarding this county, Dr. W. A. Provine, editor of the Tennessee Historical Magazine, said that all material found on the county would be legendary, for no history or authoritative work had been produced.

            Two sources have been used for collection of material for this study. First, written works, which the author has found difficult to bring together, since so little has been written. Two scrapbooks have been available to the author. One is the property of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers Cope of Sparta, Tennessee, and contains very interesting and valuable articles by Joe V. Williams, on the Sparta bar. The second is now in the hands of the author. This scrapbook was sent to the writer by W. W. Young just one week before his death and contains many article written by him under the title, "Little Bits of History of Sparta, Tennessee." He wrote under the pen name of Uncle Billie and An Old Timer. In his scrapbook is a series of articles written in 1882 by an author who called himself, "Mr. Dick, author of frequent attempts on the History of Charles I." His list of articles he calls, "A History of White County," but the first chapter of the series is missing and the last or fifth chapter is to be concluded. Uncle Billie also sent to the author a Sparta Expositor, printed in 1902, as a souvenir to its subscribers. Many quotations have been taken from these scrapbooks and the newspapers with no attempt to correct grammar or punctuation.

            Two newspapers, printed when the county was in her infancy, have furnished profitable material. The Sparta Review, used in this study, is an exact reproduction made from a Sparta Review published in 1823; the reprint was made in 1923. In the vault of the Tennessee Historical Society was discovered a volume of the Sparta Recorder and Law Journal covering a period of one year from May, 1830 to May, 1831. Since it is a valuable source, and since it is not available to the public, quotations from it have been used freely.

            About fifty old histories have been scanned from material that would bear on White County or her inhabitants. Many of these books have neither contents nor index, which makes it difficult to locate material in then.

            The second source, and perhaps the most satisfactory and most interesting, has been the unwritten material gleaned by the author through personal conversations with old Civil War veterans or others who have heard these stories and legends. The author attended the reunion of the Confederate soldiers of the county October 25, 1930, at which only five were in attendance. The writer is indebted to the White County High School pupils who have furnished a number of legends, and who have aided in locating source material. Thank are due to Mr. C. O. Jett, professor of English in the White County High School, who so willingly gave his services to make this work a thorough study of the legends of the county. The writer is also indebted to Reverend Paul E. Doran for many interesting legends of the early life in the county. Reverend Doran has worked with the people of the maintain section for a number of years and knows their customs and manners from personal contact. In fact, he spent ten years in this study and had collected valuable manuscripts, documents, and books which were destroyed when his home burned. His loss was great as the manuscripts, documents, and many of the books can never be replaced.

            Many of the legends have been changed in their handing down and whenever possible all versions of the same tradition have been given. It is acknowledged that there is a possible coloring or change in some of the legends, but little trouble has been discovered from this as the main facts remain the same.

            The early settlers were not interested in the literary value of legends or history; therefore, little was written by them and that little has not been handed down to their descendants. Their lives in the new country were hard and the early schools did not encourage such foolishness, even though White County furnished many of the leaders of the state before and during the Civil War. Just at the time when White County was at her prime, she, as well as much of the Cumberland Mountain section, was left destitute as the result of the Civil War. White County was the center of the bloody warfare between the bushwhackers. Champ Ferguson, the leader of the Southern followers, and Tinker Dave Beatty, the champion of the Northern cause, came early into White County with their border warfare.

Thanks to Dona Terry for her work as the word processor on this project.  (November 2002)