Patriots on the Frontier
John Smith, Rifleman, had a home in the new State of Franklin, which is located today in Sinclair County Tennessee. You might say that this was one of the worst places in America to reside prior to the Revolutionary War. During the 1730s, however, settlement was encouraged in the Alleghany mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, and land grants issued for that purpose. Settlers of Scotch-Irish and German origin poured into the regions of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the North Carolinas. From there, they traveled the Wilderness Road through the Alleghany Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The opposition which they met, especially from Shawnee Indian tribes was in the form of thieving, scalping and taking white women as slaves. The determination of Chief Cornstalk to eliminate the Europeans from settling this region of the country pushed the Governor of Virginia into a war, wherein ordered all the Virginia Militia to meet Cornstalk at the Falls of the Ohio River where the rapids dropped the river level about 25 feet in length for 2–1/2 miles. However, only two Militia Companies arrived in time, viz: both from Botetourt County, Virginia. As soon as the Europeans crossed the river, Cornstalk charged. Both sides had many casualties, however, eventually Cornstalk signed a Treaty which he did not keep. Thus, before the Revolutionary War, John Smith and others removed their families to Georgia. Several years later when the war came, he enlisted into service as a rifleman, and after the war received land grants in Wilkes County. Smith had about fifteen children. One son, Alexander, served as a Minute Man during the War. He was married to Sarah Franklin whose family had also left the Alleghanies. Their son, Davis Smith,born 1791 in Washington County, Georgia was married first to Hannah Tuttle who gave him two sons who died as infants, both of whom were named after the patriot and Revolutionary War Soldier, William Franklin, his grandfather. Hannah soon died. Then, Davis Smith married again and purchased farm land in Monroe County. In 1850, when Barnum and Bailey brought the Swedish Soprano Jenny Lynn to America, the couple traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to hear her. After the concert, Davis purchased a piano for Elizabeth, which was known as the “first piano in Monroe County.” By the time of the War Between the States, the plantation was of considerable size and produced cotton crops and agricultural products for the community. His sons went to war, never to return. Meanwhile, Smith and his daughters resided in the big house. When General Sherman torched Atlanta and moved south owards Savannah, the army was within several miles of the plantation. A long line of slaves (which grew longer each day) followed the army. There were difficulties feeding so many people, and it was known by residents of small towns that slaves were deliberately drowned in local streams and rivers. Patrols scouted the area surrounding Forsyth and Macon, finally coming upon the Smith plantation. Smith, an old man, hide in a tree while they stole everything, cattle and foodstuffs. But there was a small crisis. When the patrol entered the yard, the horses were paused under a tree where Smith had climbed the branches to hide. He was afraid of being discovered, especially from the loud ticking of the gold watch in his pocket. As it was, the yankees were en route to the sea, and would have killed him. (Smith died three years later) Doomsday came after Sherman reached Savannah and local farms could no longer be tended. Everyone was in a bad way. The daughters residing in the big house waited for their husbands to come home. Jane had married Wesley Clements, a handsome Surgeon who was killed while serving with the Alabama Troops and by him had two children, Lizzie and Tom Clements. After the war, Jane married Thomas Young Brent, a Kentuckian who moved into the big house and managed a plantation store (now Brent, Georgia), but they were on poor times. Jane and T. Y. had two boys. When Jane died in 1905, her daughter (Lizzie Clements Chambliss) removed to Atlanta and located on Sydney Street in Grant Park. They had only been in the house for two years, when Lizzie, a practising Christian Scientist, and her children fell ill with typhoid fever. The children were given medical treatment, but Lizzie died. She was taken to the family cemetery at Brent.