Tate's Fort On Moccasin
[Scott County Herald Virginian,
December 15, 1966]
On Virginia's last
frontier there were forts and forthouses that existed that have become
lost to history. No state marker denotes their site and if traditional
stories were ever handed down concerning them, they too, have been forgotten
by the descendants of those who established and sheltered in them.
A patient researcher can, by painstaking efforts, recreate these lost historical
gems by random bits of information scattered hither and yon throughout
from many and scattered sources. One
of these was Tate's Fort built on upper Moccasin Creek and only two references
brought it to light. The first reference comes from Mrs. Samuel Scott
of Jessamine County, Kentucky, who spent eight years on the Clinch, 1772-1780,
and three years on the Holston prior to her removal to Kentucky in a great
immigration of people numbering some three hundred. In an interview
held many years afterward with Rev. John Shane, Mrs. Scott said:
"We moved out of
Tate's Fort close on Moccasin Creek over to Houston to get ready to come
to Kentucky." This was in the spring of 1780, and she joined the
party going to Kentucky in 1784, which had started from Augusta and had
been joined by settlers all the way down and by the time it reached Houston
was some one hundred strong or more. At Bean's Station this party
was joined by another two hundred people from North Carolina, and were
led over the Wilderness Road by none other than Col. James Knox from Bean's
Station. Colonel James Knox had long been living on the Southwest
frontier, was one of the noted Long-Hunters and later became famous in
The other statement
was made by John Carr, who was born on Carr's Creek in Russell County in
1773, and it was from this family that Carr's Creek takes its name.
John Carr's father died on Carr's Creek in 1782 and in 1784, his widowed
mother moved her family to the Cumberland settlement in Tennessee.
In speaking of the
year 1776, Carr says:
"My father settled
on Big Moccasin Creek with some 15 or 20 families from Houston's Fort.
The Indians became so troublesome that we built a "new fort". It
was called Tate's Fort, where we forted in summer and returned home in
needs some clarification and he does not mean that his father settled on
Moccasin Creek in 1776, but that it was this year they moved out of Houston's
Fort (Scott County" where they had previously been refuging and built their
own fort on upper Moccasin Creek for convenience. His father had
settled on Moccasin Creek much earlier, perhaps by at least 1772, for John
himself was born there in 1773. This then, places the date of the
construction of Tate's Fort in 1776.
That this was a
stockaded fort cannot be questioned for 15 to 20 families could not live
in a fort-house. It certainly must have been manned by the builders
alone, for nowhere do I find evidence that militia troops were ever stationed
there, and no account of it's ever having been attacked by Indians, although
it could have been and that fact lost to history as even the knowledge
of the fort has been all these many years.
There can be little
question upon whose land the fort stood and for whom it was named.
It certainly was located upon the lands of John Tate who had emigrated
from Orange County, North Carolina and settled on Moccasin Creek
in the year 1772. He owned a tract of 174 acres of land which was
entered in the old Fincastle County surveys on December 13, 1774.
A study of the land entrys for upper Moccasin Creek from 1774 to 1776,
should pretty well establish the identity of the 15 to 20 families who
built and sheltered in Tate's Fort.