The following has been posted in Traces a few times, the last times in Volume 26, Issue No. 4. The letter from Noah Barton to writer Wm Daniel Tolle was part of the collection of the late Jimmy Simmons. Two previous articles I have posted, on Lilenthal’s Curse, and Barren River Treasure, go into the same storyline basis, but this is a firsthand account of the history as Barton knew it. It follows thus:
A letter from Noah Barton to Wm Daniel Tolle
Metcalfe County, Ky. May the 8th 1871
Mr. William Daniel Tolle, Glasgow, Ky.
To my dear friend Daniel. I so much enjoyed your letter of the 23d Ultima. Especially interesting to me was your speaking about your Anderson family neighbors. As you know, my sister Sarah married David Anderson and he died some 25 years or so ago, leaving her to raise several minor children. My mother Winneford lived some of her later years at Sarahs. Since you are neighbors of them, it would be tiresome for me to keep on. You asked about my ancestors and location of their birth and what if any kin we were to the Big Barren river Bartons.
Well, Joshua Barton, my grandfather is as far back as I know for certain. He was born the 23d of Jan 1718, I think in the South of Scotland of English parents. If my father ever spoke of his grandparents, I do not remember. Joshua was transported or brought into the Western edge of Penna. along with two brothers and I believe as many cousins for the purpose of clearing the land of Indians for the Quakers to settle on. Where he came from before that, my father did not ever know. My grandfather first married Jane Dubart in Penna, had several children by her, she died on the trail that he made coming out of Penna down through Virginia, into North Carolina where he again met up with an old friend from his early days in Penna namely Daniel Boone. Joshua’s Indentureship was for I believe seven years starting when he was 20 years old, say 1738 and should have ran out about 1745, but I believe he stayed on up there until say 1758 or so. As the first son by my grandmother, Isaac was born in Virginia October 6th, 1760, so I would assume the first wife had died previous say 1758 or 1759 maybe. I believe that they had a son, Benjamin born about 1758 or so. My father knew very little about his older half brothers. My grandmother was Susan Dodd, of the Dodd family that was among the Long hunters early into the depths of this part of Kentucky. James Dodd as you are aware, settled on the Vowles Military Grant somewhat down Beaver Creek.
Uncle Isaac, the first born stopped and set up living in what is now East Tennessee. He was a Baptist Preacher of some note in his area. Of his family, I do not know much of them. They never visited up this way, except once on their way to Winchester where the older Barton brothers lived. We never corresponded betwixt ourselves. Uncle James the next born in Virginia June 20th 1762 settled your Big Barren river country. He married in South Carolina and had a son, James Jr. there, then he and wife came to Kentucky where his mother was living on the Barton homestead with the first set. He and his wife Mary had a total of ten children, six boys and four girls. The eldest son James married here and moved to the west Tennessee area and raised a rather large family. A son Samuel, 3d born of Uncle James was a black smith and went to Missouri early, and raised a family out there I believe near Uncle Jacob. Prior to the death of Uncle James, he had already lost four, Caleb, Clarissa, Elvira and Matilda. Caleb lived in Allen county. Matilda lived in Barren county. Elvira lived in Barren county and Clarrissa lived in Warren county. She had two girls by Maury, but they both married in Warren and lived there. The second son of James was Tillmon. He married Rachel Grooms and lived near his father’s homestead all his life. He never wanted to own much, being satisfied with little. Samuel and I were of the same age. Of the younger one’s I have nothing on them. They all married in Barren county though. Tillmon’s son Caldwell and I keep in touch quite often. He stayed in his area where he was raised, living on the Warehouse road near Concord Church.
The third born was Uncle Jacob August 3d 1766. He was captured by an Indian tribe foraging down through Virginia and pillaging and robbing the settlers of anything. Young children like Jacob would be incorporated in the tribe and adopted by one family for the training of them. Jacob learned the traits well and married a young Indian of prominence in the tribe. Jacob was adopted by an Indian couple by name I believe Wah-E-Tah and his wife who also had been a captured Indian from up on the Wabash, according to uncle Jacob, called Wah-chee-Ta I believe her name was. Uncle Jacob learned well and made many friends while captured, expecting to call on them when the right time approached. Jacob and his adoptive parents grew tired of the ways and planned to escape when the weather was right. Old Wah-E-Tah had been around the McFaddens of the Barren river ferry family while they were working with the Tories during the War but now were changed people. He knew that the McFaddens would help find a place to live if they could only get to them. Their escape I believe was sometime during the change over from Logan county to Warren county and the same year I was born at Uncle Isaac’s in Tennessee.
The McFaddens found them a fertile piece of bottom land on the river that was owned by a Virginia family that was not coming to Kentucky. Uncle Jacob came on up stream and for awhile he lived on the upper reaches of Skaggs creek somewhat half way between his brother James on Trace creek and Abner, my father on Little Barren river. There was much resentment of his wife and children since the area families had suffered greatly at the hands of Indians. Before I forget, the fourth son, Abner my father was born August 28th 1769. He left North Carolina but had to stop off at Uncle Isaacs for my entry into this great world of ours November 14th 1797. We stayed there until father found this place that I live on today. In 1803 I believe we arrived here. Years before Jacob was captured, the capturing tribe had been down through Kentucky, hunting and while there, captured some Indians of the Catawba’s of North Carolina up on a fur trapping trip with Frenchmen from now East Tennessee. One of the men was made their gardner so he took the name of Jacob Gardner. The story goes that he while there married a young tribal girl of the Miami’s either of the capturing tribe or a captive herself, I don’t know which, but they had effected their escape about the time my Uncle Jacob was first taken. The Gardner, with a family already well on the way, returned to his tribal area of North Carolina where he was raised and also where his kin lived but he and family were not accepted too well by his old tribe. They did not like the wife from a tribe that had caused them so much grief. This caused the Gardner to Live as an American and I believe that Uncle Jacob told me once that he served in the Revolution as an American soldier. I tell you this because this man plays an important part in the later life of my Uncle Jacob.
My Grandfather Joshua had made either one or two trips into the depths of Kentucky with Boone earlier and I believe the Gardner was among them once. The purpose of grandfather making the trip was to carve himself out a new homestead up on the river Kentucky for settling later when the Indians became more peaceful. Later on, Boone sent word to Grandfather that he had located Uncle Jacob and passed on his well being to Grandfather, and at the same time got word to Gardner in North Carolina also. I think he was to be a guide or scout since the capturing tribe of Uncle Jacob was the same or nearby the same that had taken Gardner their work Slave. Grandfather immediately made plans to leave for the River Kentucky with a party of several good men, including at least two of his sons, maybe three. I think Uncle James may have been along. Uncle Isaac was busy with his church and my father, I think stayed with Grandmother for her protection. The year was 1790, early on the capturing tribe also made plans for an ambush as it turned out. Boone, Gardner, My grandfather with his sons and maybe two or three more made their way into Kentucky and upon the river they were ambushed, with grandfather and Thomas, a son from the first set were killed. Later on after Uncle Jacob had escaped and was among us he told me that it was his own capturing tribe that had ambushed the party.
This was after I was a somewhat grown boy and could understand their hardships. He was not allowed to go on that ambush but was told of it later. It may have been the McFaddens that carried the news to the tribe for after Uncle Jacob and his adopted family made their escape into the bottoms above McFadden’s their relations were somewhat strained. Uncle Jacob said that there was fear in their hearts over something. The McFaddens as a group soon left everything, their ferry and trading post behind and went up the Wabash for a new start. Uncle Jacob was not allowed to make the raid that killed his father and brother. After Uncle Jacob and family escaped, he and Gardner visited quite often. By this time, Gardner was becoming quite elderly and enjoyed the company of Uncle Jacob as he had learned the Indian traits and habits well. Gardner and Uncle Jacob went into Tennessee once, scouting for some horses that had been stolen. They wanted me to go, but father said that I was too young. The Gardner family consisted of two boys and two girls, the eldest son was indeed a very large man but of an easy quite gait. They had stayed for awhile up on the river Kentucky after my grandfather’s death, but they then moved down into what was then Logan county in the Sinking Creek country. They were, like my uncle Jacob never quite accepted among the later settlers moving in. Jake Gardner and his wife were never satisfied on the creeks. They made many visits down river to see their Indian friends. I think that they maybe visited Uncle Jacob up the far end of Skaggs creek several times. With the daughters both married and in family by then, as was the two boys, the eldest one later moved up in the Knobs of Green river where the neighbors were more sociable, the elder Gardners moved down on the river to be with their friends. They wanted uncle Jacob to also come down there but he did not. Although he knew only they understood their lifestyle. On one of Uncle Jacob’s family visits down river to see his friends, he told me that they were his only true friends and family since the neighbors resented his wife and some of them even resented him for his Indian habits.
On this particular visit he took me along. The old Indian’s wife had just died, along with some others, I think maybe Claypools as they were resented just as Uncle Jacob and the Gardners were, somewhat. As I remember the mound graves were at the river bottom’s edge near the bluff and just below the Claypoole homestead. I’m told that the elder Gardner’s died soon afterward and they too were buried in the mound fashion, close to their friends. A few years previous to this the Claypooles had lived on the Sinking creeks and like some others were resented so much that they too removed down on Big Barren and gathered in a clan there. On this visit I met some of the Gardner grandchildren who were, as Uncle Jacob’s children were, about my own age. They in time all married and had families of their own and then they or their children all moved over into Missouri, along about the time the two sisters and families moved up into the Sangimon river country seeking more friendly neighbors. But Uncle Jacob told me once that the “big Gardner had not much trouble with neighbors due to his size.” He said that “few people would ever pick on him.” Uncle Jacob was by then a somewhat of a family man, having at that time three boys and four girls if my memory serves me right. Uncle Jacob became a very lonely man after losing his two families that truly accepted him for how he lived. For only they could ever really know what he had to endure and to learn to stay alive. It was sometime after my reaching maturity that he and family left for Missouri and a new life. They lived a very long life and raised a large family, I’m told. He and wife never came back at any time and I never did see them again.
Sometime just before the last War some of his grandsons, I was told did come back to the Barren river bottom area of old Wah-E-Tah and prospect for some kind of cave full of treasure that the old Indians spoke of. Nobody ever saw them after that. I would suppose that they returned to Missouri. At about the same year some Indians were reported to have returned to the Sinking Creek area for some kind of reunion. This party apparently upset some neighbors because they were scattered by irate citizenry and left so hurriedly that a couple of babies, I’m told still on cradle boards in hammocks were forgotten and left there. A man by name of Kemble found one and raised the girl as their own. No one ever returned, looking for them.
In the early part of 1814 my father Abner, along with myself and his three brothers paid a visit up to Winchester, Ky to the older set. I would think that it was to determine if any inheritance was forthcoming. I believe grandmother had died previous to then. We never visited them and they not us again. Now the last War and taking sides has, I’m afraid severed our family ties pretty much.
My father Abner Barton raised nine children as you are aware, but since you have already copied them from the family bible it would be tiresome to you. I raised an even dozen children between my two wives, although some of the children did die young. My daughter Martha by the first wife married Joseph Winchester Nunn and he and my son Willis also by the first wife learned the mining, smelting and smithy trade up the upper reaches of a fork of Little Barren river. I think that the ore was lost or played out by the time of the last war.
Well my friend, I’m afraid that you are probably tiring of my rambling on so I must let this be enough said on my family and the friends that they have had. If on one of your Pension trips down in the Big Barren river country you should come upon or come near ray cousin Caldwell Barton, stop in as his door is always open to friends and his kettle stays full for the weary traveller. When you do by chance see him please remember me to him. We do write each other some, And he stays in touch with our Missouri connections through cousin Samuel and I believe maybe some of Uncle Jacob’s kin. I’m told that the smith trade made Samuel very comfortable in living out there. Well friend Daniel, do come up and visit again. I so love to talk to you about the history of our people and the country that our fore father’s settled and left for us to enjoy. And I wish you much and I hope you can put together the history of our country that you are gathering these bits for.
To yours this May 8th 1871. from Noah Barton, Metcalfe county, Ky.
Note: Extracted from the Pioneer Baptists of Kentucky/Tennessee by Cawthorn and Warnell: ISAAC BARTON was the first preacher of the Baptist faith to move into what is now Tennessee and pastor a church. He left North Carolina early after the War and came over the mountains into what is now East Tennessee, but was still North Carolina then. On the 6th of December 1787 in what is now Cocke county, Tenn the Big Pigeon Baptist Church was organized and constituted by Isaac Barton and William Reno. The Indians became troublesome and the people had to move into forts for protection which rendered them incapable of keeping church business regularly.
From the Glasgow Times, died on the 9th day of October in the year 1883, Mrs. Nancy C Barton, wife of Mr. John Barton. She was born in Green county as Nancy C Blakeman on August the 11th, 1827. Interment in the Barton family graveyard near Randolph, Metcalfe COunty. BARTON. A life well spent. Edmonton, Ky. Sept 2, 1884. Editor of the Glasgow Times: •’^A few days ago I was passing the premise of Mr. Noah Barton. The old gentleman was at home and upon my entering the gallery of his… ” (the rest is missing)