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History of Cross Plains - Thomas Kilgore PDF Print E-mail

The following is excerpted from Goodspeed's History of Robertson County, TN, originally published in 1886. You can find the entire text online here.

The first settlement in Robertson County {The facts in regard to Kilgore's settlement were condensed from the articles written by Dr. J. S. Mulloy, for the Springfield Record.} was made by Thomas Kilgore on the waters of the Middle Fork of Red River, three-fourths of a mile west of Cross Plains. The Legislature of North Carolina passed a pre-emption law securing to settlers of Tennessee 640 acres of land provided the settlement was made prior to 1780. In the spring of 1778 Kilgore left North Carolina with some ammunition, some salt, and a few grains of corn. Traveling on foot he passed through East Tennessee, and plunged into the wilderness beyond. Guided alone by the sun and the north star, he pushed on, seeing no white people until he reached Bledsoe's Lick, where he found a colony of six or eight familes. After resting a few days, he went on some twenty-five miles west where he located. As a safe hiding place from the Indians, he selected a cave a mile west of where Cross Plains now is. It had a bold stream of water running from it into the Middle Fork of Red River, and by wading the stream he could enter the cave without leaving a trail.

After finding a location to suit him he kicked up some of the rich alluvial soil of the cane brake, and planted a few hills of corn. It is said that in order to secure his land it was necessary for him to remain until the corn matured, that he might carry a few ears back to North Carolina. He spent the summer in watching his little crop, meeting with several narrow escapes from the hostile savages. During this period he had no other food than the game which he killed. In the fall he gathered two or three ears of corn, returned to North Carolina, and had the title to his land confirmed. In the spring of 1779, with a few families besides his own, he returned to the spot, where he had passed the previous summer. A stockaded fort, "Kilgore's Station" was at once erected to protect them from the Indians. This fort was situated on a commanding eminence about three-fourths of a mile from Cross Plains. Kilgore's Station, from that time for years, was a land-mark in the overland emigration to Tennessee.

In 1780 or 1781 Maulding's Station was built. It was located one mile west of the present Louisville and Nashville pike, and four miles east of Kilgore's. That was the next settlement in Robertson County, but the Indians were so hostile that they abandoned it for a time and united with the people at Kilgore's. Among the occupants of the latter station at this time were the Kilgores, Mauldings, Masons, Hoskinses, Jesse Simmons, Isaac Johnson, Samuel Martin, Yates, and several others. The first Indian massacres in the county occurred in 1781. A small colony had located in Montgomery County, near where Port Royal now is.

In 1782 the Indians became very hostile. Samuel Martin and Isaac Johnson were attacked, surrounded and captured; Johnson afterward escaped and returned to the station. In the same year the young Masons, while watching for deer at Clay Lick, saw a party of eight or ten Indians [p.830] approaching. The young men fired and killed two of the number, and then fled to the fort. That night John and Ephraim Peyton, on their way to Kentucky on a surveying expedition, came to the station, having left Bledsoe's Lick in the morning. During the night the Indians stole all the horses at the fort. Pursuit was immediately made, the trail led across Sulphur Fork, and up one of its tributaries toward the ridge. About noon the pursuers overtook the thieves on the bank of the stream, fired on them, stampeded and recovered their horses. While returning to the fort the pioneers stopped at Colgin's Spring for water. Here they were attacked by the Indians, who anticipating this, had managed to get in front of them and were lying there in ambush. One of the Masons was killed and Joseph Hoskins, fatally wounded. The condition of the occupants of Kilgore's Station having by this time become so perilous, they abandoned it, and joined those at the Bluff, where they remained during 1783. The next year the colony, augmented by new accessions, returned. There they remained until Indian hostilities ceased, when they separated, and began forming independent settlements. Thomas Kilgore, after living half a century on the land which he had acquired by his heroic daring, died at the advanced age of one hundred and eight years.