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Mansker's Party

In the fall of 1771 Kasper Mansker led another party of adventurers into the wilds of Tennessee. Among them were Isaac Bledsoe, John Montgomery, Joseph Drake, James Knox, Henry Suggs, William Allen, Christopher Stoph, and William and David Lynch. There was with them also an old hunter named Russell whose eyesight was so poor that he was obliged to fasten a piece of white paper on the muzzle of his gun in order that he might thus direct his sight to the game. Despite this hindrance, however, he killed a large number of deer.

Arriving at what is now Sumner County, Mansker's party pitched its station or camp close to a creek near where Dr. Anderson formerly resided, on the turnpike leading from Gallatin to Nashville. It was in this way that Station Camp Creek got its name. This camp was made headquarters for the party, while they hunted over Sumner, Robertson, Davidson, Wilson, Smith and Trousdale Counties. The winter was exceedingly cold, and they built skin houses for protection from the ice and snow. Some one of the hunters was usually left behind to guard the stores. However, on one occasion when all were away on the chase, a party of twenty-five Cherokee Indians made a raid on the camp. They carried away all the pots, kettles and ammunition they could find, besides about five hundred deer skins, and a large amount of clothing. The trail by which they came into camp was plainly to be seen, but they were careful to leave none on their retreat. It is supposed that they left the camp singly in different directions, or waded up stream in Station Camp Creek.

During this memorable hunt many of the licks and streams of this locality took the name of their discoverers, which names they have since retained. Among these are Mansker's Lick and Mansker's Creek, Bledsoe's Lick and Bledsoe's Creek, Drake's Lick and Drake's Creek, so called in honor of Kasper Mansker the leader of the party, Isaac Bledsoe and Joseph Drake. At other periods in the history of early explorations Stoner's Lick and Stoner's Creek were named in honor of Michael Stoner, a Dutchman from Pittsburg, previously mentioned. Flinn's Lick and Flinn's Creek were discovered by George Flinn. Barton's Creek in Wilson County was so named in honor of Col. Samuel Barton.

Bledsoe's Lick

This year, as in that preceding, the country was full of all kinds of game, large and small. When Isaac Bledsoe discovered the lick which bears his name, the location of which was the present site of Castalian Springs, the herds of buffalo in the bottoms surrounding the sulphur spring were so numerous that he was afraid to alight from his horse lest he might be trampled beneath the hoofs of the restless beasts.

Mansker discovered two licks near Goodlettsville, they being distinguished as the Upper and Lower. They were about three hundred yards apart. On the day this discovery was made Mansker is said to have killed nineteen deer in passing along the path from one to the other. At length the ammunition of the party was exhausted, and having already enjoyed the fruits of a most successful hunt they took the long trail for their homes east of the mountains, arriving late in the spring.

In company with other hunters, two of whom were named Bryant, Mansker came a third time to the Cumberland country in November, 1775. Traveling the well-known route through Cumberland Gap and passing down through the river counties the party camped at Mansker's Lick, which had been discovered by the latter in 1771. Most of them soon returned to Virginia, but Mansker and three others whose names are unknown to history, remained at the camp and began hunting and trapping on Sulphur Fork and Red River in Robertson and Montgomery Counties. Finding that a party of Blackfish Indians were hunting in the same neighborhood the whites thought it the part of wisdom to discover their number and the location of their camp. Mansker was selected as the spy and proceeding forthwith on his mission, came upon the rendezvous of the Indians near the bank of Red River. Slipping nearer and nearer from tree to tree he soon came in full view and discovered there were only two of them in the camp. These were seated on the ground by the fire; the rest of the party he supposed were hunting in the distance. He decided to remain in hiding and await their return. A few moments later one of the Indians arose and taking his tomahawk crossed the river to the opposite shore. The other shouldered a gun and started directly toward the tree behind which Mansker was standing. That was an eventful moment in the life of this mighty hunter, but there was no alternative. Mansker leveled his rifle and shot the Indian through the body. The latter gave a yell, threw down his gun, turned, and rushing by the camp pitched headlong down the bluff, dead, into the river. Mansker and the Indian on the other bank of the stream then had a race for the camp, but Mansker outran his adversary, and seizing a gun which had been left on the ground tried to fire, but it flashed in the pan and the Indian made his escape. Mansker broke the gun and returned with all haste to his companions. Next morning they all went back to the camp, but found that during the night the surviving warrior had returned, recovered and buried the body of his dead comrade, and loading his horse with furs and the camp utensils had gone toward the west. They followed him for a long distance, but finally gave up the chase. Returning to the camp at Mansker's Lick the hunters soon there after began their journey to Virginia. The Indian killed in this affray was probably the first of his race to be killed by the whites in Middle Tennessee.

Early History of Middle Tennessee

Early History of Middle Tennessee, BY Edward Albright, Copyright, 1908, Brandon Printing Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1909


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