Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


November 20, 2008

Bundle up for a cold one this winter, but very little snow

Whispering autumn winds speak quietly to us in hushed and reverent tones as they dance across auburn hillsides in fanciful rippling mirth. Burnished oaks, the lofty grandfathers of the forest, tower regally in russet splendor while vying with brilliant neighbors such as the golden hickory, flaming maple, scarlet sumac, and blazing dogwood for top honors in autumnal glory. Mountain peaks awash in their glistening, tapestried cloak encircle and embrace the shadowed basin below their sloping contours a comforting backdrop amidst dusk’s orange glow. Quiet country lanes loop and wind through enchanted tunnels of color, their soothing bower of entwined branches hovering protectively over the leaf-strewn roadbed below. Here and there, glimpses of a past only heretofore imagined still whisper quietly from every bend of the road where images evocative of a bygone era still beckon to us to slow down and take a look back at the frontier that used to be. Regal stone chimneys still stand as quiet sentinels in silent testimony to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of those hearty mountaineers who played such a courageous role in settling this Tennessee backcountry of ours.

Yes, in Tennessee’s frontier era it was known as “the backcountry,” or the Overmountain country, the land across the mountains that was originally part of the Lord Granville grant of North Carolina which placed it under British control. Yet, it was also the beloved hunting grounds of the Cherokee who were, needless to say, not anxious to have white settlers penetrating into their wilderness stronghold. Thus, if you think about what the settlers were up against from that angle, it makes their story all the more remarkable for ultimately they were facing a two-pronged foe with the British knockin’ at their front door and the Indians at their back. These Overmountain Men proved that they were more than up to it by establishing and administering their own independent form of government, “the first free government in America, independent of any other state or colony.” (Alderman, Pat (1970). The Overmountain Men: Battle of King’s Mountain * Cumberland Decade * State of Franklin * Southwest Territory. Johnson City, Tennessee. The Overmountain Press. p. 22) They also decisively bested their British and Indian foes to wrest a home from the savage wilderness for their families doing so at great personal sacrifice to themselves as most every family had lost loved ones in death due to Indian uprisings, British tyranny, or other infirmity. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you of one of those Overmountain Men who chose to settle here in what is now Cumberland County. His name was Adam Sherrill.

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