Tuesday, April 14, 2009

John Sevier & the McDowells

From History of Western North Carolina; A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published by the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of Asheville, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1914:

    (...chapter 5-)

    In his Annals of Tennessee (p. 427) this writer copies Haywood's History of Tennessee :

    "The pursuers then went to the widow Brown's, where Sevier was. Tipton and the party with him rushed forward to the door of common entrance. It was about sunrise. Mrs. Brown had just risen. Seeing a party with arms at that early hour, well acquainted with Colonel Tipton, probably rightly apprehending the cause of this visit, she sat herself down in the front door to prevent their getting into the house, which caused a considerable bustle between her and Colonel Tipton. Sevier had slept near one end of the house and, on hearing a noise, sprung from his bed and, looking through a hole in the door-side, saw Colonel Love, upon which he opened the door and held out his hand, saying to Colonel Love, 'I surrender to you.' Colonel Love led him to the place where Tipton and Mrs. Brown were contending about a passage into the house. Tipton, upon seeing Sevier, was greatly enraged, and swore that he would hang him. Tipton held a pistol in his hand, sometimes swearing he would shoot him, and Sevier was really afraid that he would put his threat into execution. Tipton at length became calm and ordered Sevier to get his horse, for that he would carry him to Jonesboro. Sevier pressed Colonel Love to go with him to Jonesboro, which the latter consented to do. On the way he requested of Colonel Love to use his influence that he might not be sent over the mountains into North Carolina. Colonel Love remonstrated to him against an imprisonment in Jonesboro, for, said he, 'Tipton will place a strong guard around you there; your friends will attempt a rescue, and bloodshed will be the result'. ... As soon as they arrived at Jonesboro, Tipton ordered iron hand-cuffs to be put on him, which was accordingly done. He then carried the governor to the residence of Colonel Love and that of the widow Pugh, whence he went home, leaving Sevier in the custody of the deputy sheriff and two other men, with orders to carry him to Morganton, and lower down, if he thought it necessary. Colonel Love traveled with him till late in the evening.
    "Before Colonel Love had left the guard, they had, at his request, taken off the irons of their prisoner. ... A few days afterwards James and John Sevier, sons of the Governor, . . . and some few others were seen by Colonel Love following the way the guard had gone. . . . The guard proceeded with him to Morganton where they delivered him to William Morrison, the then high Sheriff of Burke county. . . . General McDowell and General Joseph McDowell . . . both followed him immediately to Morganton and there became his securities for a few days to visit friends. He returned promptly. The sheriff then, upon his own responsibility, let him have a few days more to visit friends and acquaintances. ... By this time his two sons . . . and others, came into Morganton without any knowledge of the people there, who they were, or what their business was. Court was . . . sitting in Morganton and they were with the people, generally, without suspicion. At night, when the court broke up and the people dispersed, they, with the Governor, pushed forward towards the mountains with the greatest rapidity, and before morning arrived at them." ...

    In a footnote on page 226, Vol. iv, Roosevelt says:
    "Ramsey first copies Haywood and gives the account correctly. He then adds a picturesque alternative account—followed by later writers—in which Sevier escapes in an open court on a celebrated race mare. The basis for this last account, so far as it has any basis at all, lies on statements made nearly half a century after the event, and entirely unknown to Haywood. There is no evidence of any kind as to its truthfulness. It must be set aside as mere fable."

    The late Judge A. C. Avery, in 1889, published in the Morganton Weekly Herald a third account, to the effect that after having been released on bond a few days Sevier surrendered himself to the sheriff of Burke and went to jail; that afterwards, when his case was called the sheriff started with him to the court, but Sevier's friends managed to get him separated from the sheriff and to open a way for him to his horse then being held nearby. But this, too, rests upon what old men of thirty years prior to 1889 said their fathers had told them.