William Carr, the Long Hunter

     William Carr, the longhunter, must not be confused with another William Carr who died on Carr's Creek in Russell County in 1781-2 and for whom that stream was named, and whose widow with her small children moved to Sumner County, Tennessee in 1784.
     An interesting account of William Carr, the long hunter, has been left us by John Redd who came to Martin's Station in Lee County, in 1775. Redd knew many of the long hunters and of Carr he says:
     "He was raised in Albemarle County, Virginia, and at a very early date removed to the frontier. In 1775, I became acquainted with him in Powell's Valley. He lived on the frontier for some 20 years, or more, and had spent the whole time in hunting.
     Carr hunted over in Kentucky, beyond the Cumberland Mountains to the right of Cumberland Gap in a place called "the brush." Carr always returned with his horses loaded with furs and skins. He described the game as being very gentle, the animals would rarely run from the report of a gun.
     Carr was the most venturesome hunter I ever knew. He would frequently go on these hunting expeditions alone. After the breaking out of the Indian War of 1776, few men ventured on these long hunts. Carr determined to take one more hunt, and as no one would go with him he determined to go alone. Accordingly he supplied himself with a good supply of powder and lead, his steel traps, two good horses, and set out on a long hunt and was never heard of afterward. He was no doubt killed by the Indians.
     In a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Augusta County in 1809, over the Robert Trimble land on Copper Creek, Agness Fugate Mahan, widow of Frances Fugate and one of the defendants made statement that: "In 1771, Frances Fugate purchased the land from William Carr, a 'Negro man of color', who was closely related to General Joseph Martin of Martin's Station and that Carr was supposed to have bought the land from John Morgan." John Morgan was the man who led the first settlers to Castlewood.
     While eliminating the last name, John Redd, bears out Mrs. Mahan's statement that William Carr, the long hunter, was a Negro in this story:
     "William was born in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was the first son of his mother; notwithstanding his mother and her husband were both very respectable and had a fine estate, yet when William was born he turned out to be a dark mulatto. The old man being a good sort of a fellow and withal, very credulous, was inducted by his better-half to believe that the color of his son was a judgement on her for wickedness.
     William was sent to school and learned the rudiments of an English education and at the age of 18, he was furnished with a good horse, gun, and some money and directed by his reputed father to go to the frontier and seek his fortune and never to return.
     In the early part of the spring of 1775, I became personally acquainted with him at Martin's Station in Powell's Valley. He was then along forty years of age; he never married and had been living on the frontier for something like 20 years. He lived in the forts and stations and lived entirely by hunting.
     Notwithstanding his color he was treated with as much respect as any white man. Few men possessed a more high sense of honor, and true bravery than he did. He was possessed of a very strong natural mind and always cheerful and the very life of the company he was in. He had hunted in the brush for man years before I became acquainted with him. He was about the ordinary height, little inclined to be corpulent, slightly round shouldered and weighed 160-70 and a very strong one for his size."
     John Redd tells another very interesting story about Powells Valley that was related to him by the long hunter, William Carr:
     "Twelve miles south of Martin's Station (Rose Hill) on Powells River there was a very rich piece of bottom land called "Rob Bottom." In this there was the remains of an old hunting camp from which the land took its name. Some five years before Martin's Station was settled, (this places the date of Rob Bottom as 1770) three men, with two horses each, and with their traps, guns and other necessary equipment for a long hunt, settled down in the bottom above alluded to, built a camp and spent the fall, winter, and part of the spring there in hunting.
     At that time peace existed between the whites and Indians. These hunters were very successful in killing game and lived in perfect harmony with the Indians, who frequently visited the hunters and congratulated them upon their success in taking game. This intimacy continued until the spring, at which time, the hunters concluded they had as much fur and skins as they could conveniently carry home.
     Accordingly they commenced packing up and in the morning when they had completed their packing, loaded their horses and were in the act of setting off for home, with the earnings of their successful hunt, when twelve or fifteen Indians came up, took possession of their house, furs, guns, and in fact, all the hunters had, and in exchange gave them three old rifles, and told the hunters that the land they were hunting on belonged to the Indians, and also the game, that they would spare their lives that time, but cautioned them never to return."
     As an interesting sidelight to this story, there is today a church at or near this spot called the "Rob Bottom Church."


 
 
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