Hamilton Yett Home, Cocke Co. Tenn

Dedicated to our women and mother's of Parrottsville, who's untold heroism seems to go unrecognized, whether Confederate or Union


By Frances Burnett Swann

Pg 47 in Garden Paths

To lift mine eyes unto the hills. So steadfast and serene; To feel new strength and hope flow in. From every peaceful scene. For this I pray, day after day, Away from Tennessee. 'This here at rest beneath the sod. My own beloved lie; And there at last I'll lay me down. Under the same blue sky. My heart at rest, within my breast, Beloved Tennessee

In an article published in 1910 "Escape From East Tennessee to the Federal Lines" by Captain R.A. Ragan, by his daughter, Mrs. Clinton L. Dooley, Sequoyah Hills, Knoxville, Tennessee and published by Lady Ruth O'Dell in "Over the Misty Blue Hills", I find this most interesting story.

Parrottsville, Cocke County, Tennessee is the stage, a small community lying East of Newport on the Greeneville Hwy about 7 miles. This small community was in the early settlement days, a very thriving little place. My Faubion family were some of the earlier settlers to this community, who established mills and built one of the first bridges across the French Broad River at Bridgeport. Their land was just East of Neddy's Mountain and laid between Bridgeport and Parrottsville on the road from "Old New Port" to the Warm Springs Road, the main thoroughfare for travelers from Kentucky to South Carolina. Also, this route was used by the stock traders to drive their stock to the markets in South Carolina. The home of Tilghman Faubion was an overnight stopping point on the route where the stock traders fed, watered, and bedded for the night. The farm on which Tilghman resided was the farm of William & Rosannah, where the cemetery they are buried is located. Tilghman's son James Henry, remembered well the days the travelers stayed.

The children of William Faubion b. 16 June 1783 Fauquier Co. Virginia, who's mother Diannah Rector was a descendant of the lst Virginia Germanna settlement of 1714, and Rosannah Parthena Ayers, (who married very young in about 1802) had matured in the 1830's & 40's and were establishing their own homes and families. By 1839, William had died and his large plantation had been divided amongst his 10 children: By the 1850's some children had already moved Westward, Moses had left for Jackson Co. Illinois; Spencer to Boone Co. Indiana; Jacob to Jackson Co. Illinois; Elizabeth to Boone Co. Indiana; John to Texas; Henry "Harry" to Warrensburg, Missouri; William to Texas. The remaining children Matthias & wife, Matilda C. Wells, my 3rd great grandparents; Sarah Ann & husband, Hamilton Yett; and Tilghman & wife Margaret McSween continued to reside in the Parrottsville vicinity.

They all had built nice homes and in abt 1847 Sarah Ann & her husband Hamilton Yett had constructed a beautiful brick home in Parrottsville on the banks of Clear Creek. This home stands today and it's current owner is my 4th cousin 1x removed, Thaddeus Balch. The home is registered on the National Historic Register. If these walls could talk, oh such a story they could tell. On my visit, Thad, graciously invited me into the home and allowed me to take some photographs, which was a meeting place during the Civil War.

During the Civil War this home became a center of chaos. The majority of the men in the Parrottsville vicinity were strong Southern sympathizers, however, there still remained a large number who supported the Union. As a result, hostilities grew, becoming very intense and heated. Among the prominent Union Leaders in this area were Capt. Robert Allen Ragan, who in 1860 had been elected Lieutenant Colonel of the Militia, Andrew Johnson, Thomas A.R. Nelson, W.B. Carter, C.F. Trigg, N.G. Taylor, Oliver P. Temple, R. R. Butler, William G. Brownlow, John Baxter, and Andrew J. Fletcher. After Tennessee had seceded from the Union, the Unionists were trying to escape Tennessee to Kentucky to join the Federal Troops. The entire border of Kentucky and this section of East Tennessee was constantly patrolled by Confederate soldiers. The Union men had what was called "pilots" who would help them slip through enemy lines to reach Kentucky. These trips were extremely dangerous and these men endured many hardships trying to get through these lines. "These men were half starved, many were half naked, having lost their apparel in the woods trying to make their escape to Union lines, some were hatless and shoeless." (Over the Misty Blue Hills, Pg 330)

After many attempts, it had taken some of them almost two years to reach Kentucky. If they were caught by the Confederate soldiers they were either shot or hanged, or taken to prison camps and never heard from again. Many of these Union men who had not joined the Confederate Army had to hide to avoid being conscripted.

"It is not generally known that about four hundred Union sympathizers in the Knob Section of our County refused to go into the Confederate Army.  They were made up of farmers, mechanics and blacksmiths.  On one of the high hills in the Knob country these men constructed breastworks. They sawed off gum tree logs about the length of a cannon, bored holes in the logs large enough to load with tin cans full of large bullets and pieces of iron. From wagon tires they made iron bands to fit around the log cannons to prevent them from exploding when fired.  It was said they could fire these wooden guns with accuracy.

The Confederates heard of these preparations and sent Leadbeater with his command to Parrottsville for the purpose of 'looking after these men.' With a large force he went into the Knob country and captured one hundred of these men and brought them to Parrottsville where the army was in camp. They placed the men in a large one-story frame school house and placed a heavy guard around the prison.  They kept them there for some time and treated them terribly. HAMILTON YETT, a strong Confederate came into the camp and said he wanted "To look at the Animals." Such an expression enraged the prisoners, Peter Reece picked up a piece of a brick from the fireplace and threw it at Yett fracturing his skull. The soldiers took Reece out and hung him to a tree close to the prison, where he hung for three days.  His wife and other women came and took the body down and hauled it away, no man being allowed to assist them." (from Over the Misty Blue Hills pg 335 & 336)

"R.A. (Robert Allen) Ragan was a school teacher at the time the Legislature had exempted from service all teachers, black-smiths and millers. However, the law was soon repealed and every man from 18 to 45 had to join the CONFEDERATE ARMY or be conscripted. Robert Ragan did not know of the repeal and had not joined the army.  He was arrested in the school house by Confederate soldiers but given the privilege of going by his home two miles away to see his wife as he had requested. He was not allowed to have a private conversation with her.  She was a Neas and as brave a Union Woman as her husband was a Union man.  She watched the soldiers drive her husband along across the fields, making him lay down and up the fences on the way until they came to the home of HENRY KILGORE, the conscript officer.  Kilgore registered Ragan's name on the Conscript Rolls which enraged him 'to the core' but he dared not express himself.  Next day he was taken to Knoxville by three men arriving there at two o'clock in the morning.  They placed him in a stockade with about 300 ragged men who had declared themselves for the Union.

Jacob Ragan, the father of Robert was a relative of John H. Ragan, Post Master General of the Southern Confederacy, telegraphed to Richmond that his son was under arrest that he had committed no crime and that he was a school-teacher. The authorities at Richmond immediately wired Leadbeater, the commanding officer to release Ragan. However he had scarcely been released until word came that he would again be arrested at which 'news' he disappeared for many months trying to get to the Federal lines. Finally he heard of a man in Greene County who would pilot men to the Federal lines. Joseph Smith of Parrottsville accompanied him to Greene County for a few days stay. They hid in a straw stack on the banks of the Nola Chucky.  They were fed by an old lady, Minerva Hale who was a strong Union sympathizer. Joseph Smith left Robert Ragan  in the straw stack and he never saw him again. Ragan was impressed that he should not try to get to Kentucky with the PILOT, he returned to his home in Cocke County in the night. All the men who went with the pilot, William Worthington, were captured except two, and the pilot they escaped by jumping into Lick Creek, a small but deep stream. The others were taken to Vicksburg and placed in the Confederate Army, Joseph Smith was shot in the foot and died of blood poison, the other men were never heard of again." (Over the Misty Blue Hills, pg 330 & 331)

Several months had gone by and Robert Ragan was bound and determined to reach Kentucky. By July, 1863 preparations were made and a group of about 100 men finally reached Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky. "Colonel Felix A. Reeve was organizing the Eighth Tennessee Regiment of Infantry. Ragan volunteered to return to Cocke County and recruit a Company. With his brother, Alexander Ragan, Iranious Isenhour, James Kinser and James Ward they started for East Tennessee. When they reached the home of Benjamin F. Nease, the father of Emeline Nease Ragan, wife of Robert Allen Ragan, they found that Confederate soldiers had visited him and informed him that if he did not reveal the hiding place of his money that they would hang him.  This he refused to do and was hanged in a nearby blacksmith shop but before he had became unconscious his daughter appeared and told them where the money was hidden whereupon they let him down but he was so weak he could not stand. Ragan remained at the home of his father-in-law and sent for his own father to come to see him there at a certain place in the woods.  He came and glady returned with the message that a 'PILOT' would be 'on hands' at a certain place on the farm of Benjamin F. Nease on a certain date and those who wished to join the Union forces should meet him there.  On the appointed day the men began to appear one, two and three at a time. The roads and bridges were all guarded by Confederate Soldiers which made the journey through the woods and streams most treacherous either way it was undertaken. No one had any idea the identity of the "PILOT' who did not make himself known until about one hundred men had assembled.  When a pilot was captured it meant certain death for him either by rope or gun.

The women had prepared warm clothes and food for the men. Many had cut up their last blanket to make warm underwear for their husbands." (Over the Misty Blue Hills, Pg 332)

Robert Ragan took these men to Camp Dick Robinson so they could join the Union Army, and by the first of August 1863 they were prepared to return to East Tennessee. "They reached East Tennessee below Knoxville the last of August. They camped at Bull's Gap a few days. While there Ragan asked Colonel Reeve for a detail of six men to go across the country about eighteen miles to visit his home and find out if any "REBELS' were lurking aroound in the neighborhood.  When they reached to within a mile of Parrottsville they sent a Union Woman to the town to find an old colored man by the name of DAVE ROADMAN and tell him to come to a woodland just above the village of Parrottsville. From him they learned that HENRY KILGORE, the gentleman who had conscripted Ragan, TILLMAN FAUBION and CASS TURNER were in the town, that Kilgore was at home and the other two men across the street at FAUBION'S HOUSE.  Into the town of Parrotsville the Union Soldiers went.  GEORGE FRESHOUR was a Sergeant in Ragan's Company, one other man and Ragan surrounded Kilgore's house, the other three men went to the Faubion House and captured Faubion and Cass Turner.  Sergeant Freshour went to the front door of Kilgore's home and knocked, while Ragan stood at the back door and the third man at another door.  Someone opened the door for Freshour but informed him that Kilgore was not there.  Freshour insisted that Kilgore must be in the house.  He went in and searched for him under beds and all about where he thought a man could hide, finally finding him in the kitchen crouched behind some barrels.  They brought him out and took him across to the place where the other two prisoners were and immediately started with them down Clear Creek."

"Henry Kilgore was a conscript officer during the beginning of the Civil War and furnished Leadbeater's Command, which was stationed at Parrottsville, with all the information he could obtain as to where the Union men kept their corn, wheat, bacon and bee gum."

"Tillman Faubion was a nice man, but a strong rebel sympathizer."

"Cass Turner lived between Sevierville and Newport, in Cocke County. He was a conscript officer. Both Kilgore and Turner were terros to the Country."

"Freshour walked behind Kilgore and insisted upon Ragan giving him permission to kill him. Turner was a short fat man and could not walk the 'foot-logs' along the way.  He would slide across on his stomach. He weighted about 200 pounds.

About ten miles from Parrottsville was the home of a Mrs. Bible whose husband had been captured by the Rebel soldiers and carried away to Tuscaloosa where he died.  Freshour asked her if she had any money. She replied there was a beehive in the barn that the soliders had not found.  Freshour took from this hive a pound of soft honey placed it in Kilgore's tall white 'plug' hat and made him wear it.  The honey ran down his face, eyes and ears. "The cause of the Seageant's little act of pleasantry was the fact that Kilgore had sent rebels to Freshour's father's house, and they took all of his bee-hives, wheat, corn and bacon-in fact, all he had. The rebel now had an opportunity to taste the 'sweets of adversity'." After Captain Ragan and Sergeant Freshour 'piloted' these three men to Knoxville and turned them over to the authorities they returned to their command at Bull's Gap."

Captain Ragan, pays a splendid tribute to "The noble patriotic women in East Tennessee, whose untold sufferings would fill a volume and who should have their names and deeds recorded so that generations yet to come might honor them and reverence their memory." What brave, loving mothers, wives and sisters of East Tennessee, who faced the tempests of hatred and persecution during the Civil War; whose willing hands were always ready to minister to the suffering and distressed who carried food to the hunted and perishing Union men who wore the homespun wrought by their own hands, who through waiting years never faltered in love and faith and duty to friend or to country." (Over the Misty Blue Hills, Pg 334 & 335)

As the war raged on they continued their 'tit for tat' punishments to each other. A son of Hamilton Yett and Sarah Ann Faubion, William Yett had married 4 Feb 1858 to Elizabeth Clementine Wells, the first cousin of my 3rd great grandmother, Matilda C. Wells Faubion, who were both born in Buncombe Co. North Carolina. By April, 1863 they had 3 young sons Tilghman, Henry, & Joseph.

William served in the Confederate Army as an associate of General Nathan Forrest, a friend of his father. His family stayed in his parent's home while he was 'off to war', and Yankee soldiers were often at Sallie's looking for William. Once they came and took over the upstairs for their housing. His infant son Joseph was ill, and the soldiers upstairs were being rowdy & noisy and were asked to be quiet so the infant could sleep. They didn't cooperate and the child died in the night on 14 Feb 1865. Can you imagine the sinking hearts of poor Clementine & Sallie to lose this poor little child and the bitterness they must have felt while these men remained in their home.

But yet Sallie's kind and loving memory has been recorded in our family history as she was the bravest of soul's during this time. Her daughter-in-law, Eliza Biddle Yett, writes a tribute after her death on 4 Dec 1877. "A life on the frontier had no terrors for her. Standing side by side with her husband she graced her humble home with good morals and gentle manners. She met life's hard work and great trials when very young, being only fifteen years old at the time of her marriage but through her courage she learned to conquer and was always cheerful over it. A loving hospitality was one of her principal traits of character. When she died at 54, she did not seem old - - -her influence will live through her coming generations." (Faubion and Allied Families). Sallie was a petite woman with auburn hair, a locket of which was snipped and remains in the hands of her descendants.

After the war, William was one of the many who did not return to make their home in East Tennessee. He died in Georgia and when his parents moved to Texas, they took his family with them. Clementine, with the loss of her husband, had to carry on raising her family.

In 1850 Tilghman Faubion was Parrottsville's postmaster. He was a successful business man, with a comfortable home, a number of slaves and other property, when the war between the states erupted.

Tilghman did not enter the regular Confederate Army according to family history (however, he did enter as a Private in the Batt'n Tennessee Cavalry, Company F, Mar 1, 1864 Greene County, Tn) although his eldest son, James Henry was quick to do so. However, he was a known Confederate sympathizer and aided and abetted the troops until he was captured and sent to Knoxville. He and a group of other men eventually escaped and made their way to North Carolina. When Tilghman learned that James Henry was alive and working in Greenville, South Carolina, he visited him there to discuss moving the family out of Tennessee into Texas where two of Tilghman's brothers already lived. When James Henry agreed to go with him to check out the prospects, he executed a document in Greenville giving his second son, William Jackson, Power of Attorney to collect all notes and monies due him and to sell all of his Cocke County property, (Cocke County, Tennessee Deed Book 017, pages 232-3, executed September 5, 1865 in the Greenville District of South Carolina.)

On September 14, 1865 Tilghman and James Henry started on their journey to Texas. His family left for Texas July 1, 1866 where they settled in Burnet County. Hamilton Yett and Sarah Ann Faubion remained in Parrottsville until October, 1867 when they also moved and settled near Sarah's brothers in Burnet Co. Texas. (Ref: Faubion & Allied Families - accounts of which were given by family members)

Many of the Confederate families left East Tennessee for Texas after the war, as it was still very dangerous for their families as the re-construction period began. It was many long years of continued struggles of fighting, killing, stealing and such before it started to settle down. However, each side still had their strong beliefs which divided their families, long time friends and business partners, and neighbors until their dying day.

My 3rd great grandfather, Matthias Wall Faubion, was the only remaining child of William and Rosannah Perthena Ayers Faubion to remain in Parrottsville. Grandfather was too old at the time of the war to serve, but I'm sure he was also a part of the aiding and abetting to the Confederate cause. His soon to be son in law, Henry Girdine Balch, also a Confederate soldier had been taken prisoner in July 1863 at Big Black River on his way to Vicksburg and remained in Federal prison until February, 1865. After he returned home, within a year he was married to Matthias' daughter, Margaret Jane Faubion. How grandfather managed to hold on to his property and wealth during this time is unknown, but in 1870 he still had substantial holdings of $3000 in real estate and $2000 in personal property. Among his real estate holdings he also had a set of mills, which had been left to him by his father. Grandfather was known for his gentle nature and kindness and never turned away a hungry mouth who appeared at his door. He was a successful business man and made a good living for his family. Along with his mills, he was a merchant, and stock trader. He died in Parrottsville Sept 1910, leaving a legacy and my heritage through his only surviving child, my 2nd great grandmother Margaret Jane Faubion Balch.

And while all of this was going on read about our other cousins in Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, Kansas.

Visit the FAUBION CEMETERY IN COCKE COUNTY, TENNESSEE and photographs of the area where this story took place. Also visit my homepage where photos of the Faubion brothers can be found listed under the "Whitaker" section of my main page.

Copyright 31 Dec 2001 Carolyn Whitaker, All rights reserved