A brave pioneer, a fox den, a crippled mule and a $49 house on the prairie

Spencer S. HarrisFarragut, Our Town Stories

Ann Elizabeth Smith (1833-1914) was the daughter of David Russell Smith (1805-1847) and Mary Ann Galbreath 1 (1810-1895). She was the sister of my great-grandfather Alexander Mathias Smith (1841-1907) and the aunt of my grandfather Spencer Rodgers Smith (1886-1969). Ann Elizabeth married Edmund Walter Haun in January 1852, and together they had 11 children.


Two years after her husband’s death in 1876, Ann Elizabeth emigrated from Tennessee to Kansas with nine of her 11 children. Cordelia Virginia, who was 25 years old and married to Dr. Spencer C. Rodgers, stayed in Concord. James Omer, 17, had travelled to Kansas with his uncle John Galbreath Smith in the spring of 1878.

Sam was 23; Mary Jane, 21; John Melvine, 19; Margaret Elizabeth, 15; Frances Olive, 12; Edward Cecil, 9; William Rodgers, 7; Anne Gertrude, 4; and Elizabeth Bell was 2-years-old at the time. The following is excerpted from the narration as told by William Rodgers Haun on the topic of his mother, Ann Elizabeth Smith Haun, and their family 2.

– Spencer S. Harris, September 1, 2021.

William Rodgers Haun’s story

My father (Edmund Walter Haun, 1823-1876) was by trade a carpenter or contractor, owned and operated a mill near Concord, Tennessee, during the Civil War, and for that reason was exempt from military duty. As they lived between Knoxville and Chattanooga, they were in the midst of the battles between the Northern and the Southern armies. Mother said she cooked breakfast for the officers of one army one morning, and before they could eat it, they were driven out by the other army, and the other officers got the breakfast.

Built about 1866 by Edmund Walter Haun for his wife, Ann Elizabeth Smith, and 11 children. Situated high on Concord Hill at Olive Road and Third Drive, the home has a clear view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Gene McNutt Abel is the present owner. (Images of America Concord-Farragut, Doris Woods Owens and Kate Clabough, 2009.)

When the battle began (The Battle of Campbell’s Station, November 1863) Mother was at home, alone with her children, Father having gone to the mill to try to protect things there. She said she became so alarmed she asked an officer what to do. He told her to lie down on the floor. She said she tried that, but the fighting became so fierce she took the children and went to the mill where Father was. While on the way to the mill she was stopped or halted several times. After obeying orders to halt, she would proceed. When they returned to the house after the battle, they found three dead soldiers in the yard. Father’s loss in lumber was heavy, also all livestock except one crippled mule had been taken away.

At the time of Father’s death in 1876, he was building a mill at Leepers Ferry, on the Tennessee River below Concord, and it seems Mother lost heavily in that deal because of the unfinished condition of the mill. This was in December 1876. It was while moving from Concord to Leepers Ferry by boat that Father took a severe cold, which resulted in his death.

Journey to Kansas

Sometime in 1878, Mother decided to go to Kansas. One of her brothers and his family (John Galbreath Smith, 1837-1906) had gone there in the spring of 1878. My brother Omer (James Omer Haun, 1861-1899) had gone along with the Smiths. Reports were so favorable from Kansas that Mother was ready and started for Kansas September 19, 1878. We came to Kansas in wagons – Mother and nine children. Besides our wagon and three span (teams) of mules, there were three other wagons and three or four span of mules. One of the extra wagons and teams was for Joe Christian; the other was for our uncle, John Smith.

Harvest Scene Pawnee Co. Kansas (circa 1900-1905). Inscription on back reads “Cousin Will (William Rodgers) Haun standing on wagon on left.” The “Smith, Larned, Kansas” logo identifies the “cabinet card” photographer as Richard R. Smith of Larned (no relation).

(Compared to modern means of transportation) you cannot realize the hardships we met, with no laid out and graded roads, no roadside resting places, towns and villages few and far between, water for man or beast could not be found in some places, and what few roads had been carved out over the mountains and through the forest were toll roads, none too good, yet you had to use them for there was no other way through.

We came to one place called Turn-Back Hill. It was said when some people came to that hill they turned around and went back. By doubling teams and resting often, we made it over the hill. Everybody walked and pushed when they could. It fell to my lot to help my brother Cecil (Edward Cecil 1869-1880) drive the cows quite a bit of the time. We rode the extra mules on this job. A cousin (John Haun) came as far as Wellington, Kansas. A man by the name of Longbottom came as far as Kansas City. There his cow had to rest, so he was left behind. Our cow made the trip okay, and was the source of our milk and butter in the early years of our Kansas life.

Inscribed on back “Spencer Smith in Kansas” (circa 1906). Either my grandfather went to Kansas at the request of his Aunt Ann Elizabeth to help his cousins with their farming operation, or possibly he was sent by his father, Alex, to observe the farming techniques used in Kansas.

Just two months from the day we started, we arrived at Finis Galbreath’s (Finis Ewing Galbreath 3, 1854-1924: Ann Elizabeth’s first cousin) about seven miles northwest of Pawnee Rock. It was about noon when we arrived. Our last camp was about a half mile west of what is now known as the Pawnee Rock Park – the place where it is said Kit Carson killed his mule thinking it was an Indian. We found our brother at the Galbreath home, and were glad the trek was over. (It is unclear whether Finis Galbreath had travelled to Kansas with John Galbreath Smith and Omer Haun in spring of 1878, or if members of the Galbreath family had emigrated previously.)

Little ($49) house on the prairie

In the spring of 1879, Mother contracted for 80 acres in the SW ¼ of 33-19-16. I have a letter that my mother wrote to her brother that spring saying that Brother Sam had bought enough lumber that day to build a house, 14 ft. by 18 ft. for $49. He bought that lumber from John Lindas at Pawnee Rock.

The mother contracted to buy 80 acres of railroad land. It was bare prairie, and in the absence of a habitation, she and her children spent the first winter in a one-room house and basement not far away.

In the spring they built a one-room house and basement, 14 by 18 feet. Later an addition was made of sod. There, with the help of her sturdy sons, this courageous pioneer woman began the task of farming. Sod was broken, corn was planted and some additional land was rented for a wheat crop. This wheat failed to grow, and there were other years in which hardly the seed repaid the efforts bestowed in planting it.4

Not being able to carry out the contract on the 80 acres because of crop failure, Mother was able to buy out a timber claim right and homesteaded the NW ¼ of 4-20-16 in Pawnee County, where we lived for almost 40 years. It was there that all the sisters were married except Delia and Gertrude.

It was there I took my bride when we were married, and there our five children were born. It was Mother’s home as long as she lived. When Mother died February 22, 1914, Brother Sam took her body back to her old home, and placed it beside Father’s grave at (The Concord Masonic Cemetery) Concord, Tennessee.

The crippled mule was left behind with Ann Elizabeth’s brother Alex when she and her nine children departed Tennessee for Kansas. Alexander Mathias Smith had served honorably in the Union Army during the Civil War. Smith Family legend is “Young Alex mustered a group of local boys and marched them up to Kentucky to join the Union Army.” When he returned from the War, Smith was compensated with a land grant of approximately 160 acres bordered by what are now Smith, Boring and Grigsby Chapel roads. Some years later the crippled mule died of old age and was buried unceremoniously on the Alex Smith farm next to the field where he had grazed.

A century after the Civil War had ended (circa 1967) Knoxville businessman Chester Massey entered into negotiations to purchase the Smith farm from Alex Smith’s son Spencer Rodgers Smith and Temperance Annie Boring Smith (my grandparents) as well as the adjacent Oliver Kermit “O. K.” Everett farm.

Mr. Massey was both intrigued with and respectful of the history of the land (and the legacy of its people) that he would develop into the Fox Den Country Club and Village. Children from area farms had traveled to the Farragut High School in horse-drawn buggies, and stabled their horses beneath the gymnasium during school hours; workers from several states had camped in trailers on the Smith property during the construction of Oak Ridge for the Manhattan Project in 1942; the O. K. Everett farmhouse was remodeled and used as the first clubhouse and pro shop in March of 1969; and there was the decades-old fox den situated below Russell and Barbara Smith’s property on Boring Road. Over the years, the fox den had been problematic for the Smiths, their two-story chicken house and dozens of laying hens, but Massey had found the name for his development. Fittingly, the developer coined the name Crippled Mule Point for a street in the new Fox Den community. At long last, the old, four-legged Civil War survivor would be justly remembered.

Notes

1 Mary Ann Galbreath is a descendant of the Galbraith Clan who emigrated from Scotland in the eighteenth century. Various spellings of Galbraith are found on marriage licenses, land deeds, census reports and death certificates. Mary Ann’s gravestone in Pleasant Forest Cemetery reads Galbreath, so I have retained the spelling of the surname as used by W. R. Haun in his manuscript.

2 The History of the Haun Family, as told by William Rodgers Haun, December 1, 1953, Larned, Kansas.

3 Finis Ewing Galbreath was named for Finis Ewing, a co-founder and minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church from 1810 to 1841. I have amended W. R. Haun’s spelling to Finis with one-N.

4 A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, William E. Connelley, Vol. 5, 1918

Mr. Chester Massey, developer of Fox Den golf course and village, was the father of Morton Massey, the husband of state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey.

Spencer Stockell Harris

The author of this piece, Spencer Stockell Harris, is the son of Nannie Ruth Smith (middle child of Spencer and Annie Boring Smith) and Orville Stockell Harris of Nashville. He is a native of Chattanooga, a graduate of UT and a lifelong Tennessee Volunteer.

Spencer and his family lived in the U. S. and Canadian Rocky Mountains, Southeast Asia, French Equatorial Africa and the Gulf of Mexico before settling on their almond ranch in the Central Valley of California. His grandmother, Annie Boring Smith delighted in telling people how pleased she was that so many folks could enjoy the land that she and his grandfather loved.

Harris wrote via email: “I was inspired to renew my Smith/Boring ancestry research after reading Mona Smith’s January 2021 piece on my great-grandmother, Ellen (Flemming Grigsby) Boring, and have recently found adoption documents listing her birth-parents’ names.

“Mona sent me a copy of Images of America, Concord Farragut, where I stumbled on the name of Dr. Spencer C. Rodgers, my grandfather’s namesake and the derivation of my given name. The doctor’s wife, Cordelia Virginia Haun, led me to the Haun research where I found W. R.’s 1953 booklet. I think it is a fascinating, first-hand narration and wish to share it with your readers.”

Mr. Harris can be reached at 2320 E. Burbank St., Shafter, California 93263; spencer_harris@hughes.net

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