Stories1

                                                                                                                                        FANCHER FAMILY ASSOCIATION
                                                                                                   
STORIES, TALES & TRADITIONS

Memories of Canastota (NY), Fanchers, and the Three Pine Trees

Canastota is a small village in central New York, located midway between the larger cities of Utica and Syracuse. Kniste Stota was the first name of the village, a term used by the local Indian population meaning "cluster of pines" and "still".   The story goes that there was a spot between Center and James Streets (near the library) where three pines grew. The top of the center tree had fallen and lodged itself between the branches of the other two, thereby creating a shady resting place from the summer sun. Thus, the pine tree has been adopted as a common emblem by many local businesses and organizations.   The village was first settled in 1810 by Reuben Perkins, who purchased 329 and 1/2 acres of former Indian territory from New York State. The village was incorporated in 1835, when it was a booming Erie Canal Town.  The  Fanchers who lived at this place of the Three Pines are unknown. If anyone has information on this family, we would appreciate hearing from you!

Russell Rielle  (1999 interview)

My name is Russell A. Rielle.   I came to Canastota the first day of 1950.  I bought the property called the “Hermitage”.  At that time, it had a white fence around the entire property, a very old house with 5, 6 or 7 barns on the property.  The entire area was fenced in both Nelson Road and Route 5.  In the back of the house we had grape arbors that covered an area possibly sixty by sixty feet.  I still today have the old sun dial which was made around 1890.  In the past I have shown this to the Syracuse papers, the antique section. They put a value of $500 to $1,000.  I removed all the old barns, except one.  I removed various items, also the grape arbors.  At that time it was very interesting to me because I was collecting postal history, going back and reading over the deed which was  probably a quarter of an inch thick.  Since then I have not been able to find it. 

The property, 350 acres, had been given to a Revolutionary soldier who served in the Revolutionary War.  It was Lot 8 - east going toward Syracuse, south of the Seneca Turnpike or Route 5.  Captain Bruce was the next lot at that time, which started from Seneca Turnpike south as far as Cottons Road.  The reason I say this, is that in 1834, Sarah Goff, who apparently was living at the “Hermitage”, sold six or seven acres, almost to Cottons Road on the west side of Nelson Road. 

Also in 1834, a pair of hitching posts were brought down to the “Hermitage” from the Brinkerhoff estate, going out of Chittenango, west up the hill (now Route 173).   These hitching posts were quite famous.  They are written up in a book of ancient hitching posts.  The person who carved them lived on the Seneca Turnpike between Chittenango and Manlius.  He made seven of them. One is at the Gates Homestead on Route 173.  There are two of them with the stepping stone to get into a buggy up on the north side of Salt Springs Road out of Fayetteville. Two of them are at the “Hermitage”.  At the top of these hitching posts are four angled roofs, like “A” frames, and they are quite unusual, from carved stone. One of them was on the side of the yard; one was in the back where the old cheese factory was. 

There happened to be a cheese factory back of the “Hermitage”approximately three hundred feet back from Route 5.  Up on the hill there was a knitting mill which was probably there until the early 1930’s.

The people that sold the property to me were the Chapmans, and Chapman belonged to the KKK.  He was burning crosses on the hill as late as 1935.  Mrs. Chapman made the statement that Washington and Lafayette both had tied their horses to the hitching posts. While at the Brinkerhoff estate, their adopted son (who became a minister) stated that he doubted if it had been possible for Washington to be there but quite probable that Lafayette may have indeed hitched his horse there. 

In 1937, the summer kitchen burned off in the back of the building of the present house. This building was built by Selah Hills in 1798 and is probably the oldest home on the highway. The boards on the floor are thick pine and run as wide as eighteen to twenty-four inches,  and then some. They are probably an inch and a half thick. The house is a slab house or a  
plank house. The planks are stood up on edge and across the planks are nailed furring  strips or slats, and plaster put on them. There was no insulation.  There were five fireplaces, or seven, in the house. We rebuilt the one in the kitchen and added on a kitchen in 1954.  The fireplaces upstairs were no longer used. The one in what I used as a study has the original stones, the original flooring in it, and everything as we had it rebuilt.  The name “Hermitage” was named “Hermitage” from 1798 when Selah Hills built it.  This is before the time of the “Hermitage” of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee, which was built in 1812 or 1816. This is the oldest home on Route 5, or the old Seneca Turnpike. 

All the people had to move out from this area in 1798.  The settlers supposedly went back to Herkimer, and General Herkimer was fighting the Indians at that time. Anyone interested could go to see General Herkimer’s museum which is just east of Herkimer about four or five miles on Route 5S.  He was wounded on the Herkimer Hills, went back home and that is where he died.   The Indian purchase of 1798 this was called--should have covered today.   Problem all it calls in the deed is the purchase of 1798 called "the Oneida Purchase”.  The people who were in Chittenango had to move out and then came back after 1798, then the land was supposed to belong to the settlers. Apparently today we are having trouble with it, but not having lived at that time, we have no memory or records of this that we can talk about.

Now, going back to what we were talking about, Quality Hill was well populated and we had a company of soldiers in the War of 1812 that formed on the Green at Quality Hill.  The first woman was hung in Madison County on the hill in either 1812 or 1813.  The Lenox Rural Cemetery on Nelson Road was taken off this property in 1798, which was given to Selah Hills of 350 acres, and is called the Lenox Rural Cemetery Association. Today, it is the Lenox Rural Cemetery.  It came from the original tract of land and was given to them from the original deed from the Revolutionary soldier. 

There were six Indian tepees across Nelson Road on the west side and on the corner of Nelson and Seneca Turnpike. There were two Indian tepees west of the “Hermitage” (of the house), which was original property of 600 feet wide, going back to probably Cottons Road.   There were two Indian tepees there and there was a big spring by the cheese factory about three hundred feet back from the road and that would put it about five hundred feet from Nelson Road, the place where it was. There was a pipe from there which supplied the house where Mr. Richardson lived when we bought the property. Mr. Richardson, at that time, was in his mid-nineties. He lived for a few more years. That property today is called Scenic Heights which is just east of the property of the Hermitage Gardens or the “Hermitage” property. 

The hitching post, one was buried- I buried the darn thing when we built the pond, the other one we still have.   I mentioned it to some antique dealers over along Route 20 and they told me it was worth, or they would pay $350. for it today. Those are about the only things of value of the old “Hermitage”. The “Hermitage” has been sold to Joel Arsenault about twenty 
years ago, fifteen to twenty years ago. 

There was a well there near the spring that is still there and has been used by the home I built for my Mother and Father back of the road, about 350 feet back. You could hear the water going through it. The Indians had to have dug it, it was down twenty six foot to the water. I dropped a fish-line in with a bolt on the end and it was carrying the current under water, so there is a tremendous amount of water going through this area. I believe the well for the house which was roughly east/southeast from the house, just off the east line (about 20 foot) was a big well too. I believe since then Joel Arsenault may have put in city water since that time. The water was very cold and came out of the ground about 35 to 45 degrees, very clear and good.  We used it to drink all during the time that we lived there. 

We moved out of the “Hermitage” in 1969 and built up on Nelson Road. We rented the house out, then sold it to Joel Arsenault.  I believe he has it listed today in the National History of Homes. He does, I am pretty sure.  The gentleman who owned the house, owned a good share of the trading posts on the Erie Canal from Canastota to Buffalo. They owned something like twenty-six or twenty-nine trading posts. That’s about as far as we can go on that.

One other thing I forgot to mention. We had an old smoke house made of reddish brick, the same as the fireplace in the house. When we repaired the kitchen fireplace we had to go to Horseheads to match the brick so that it was comparable to the original brick that was used in the building. The smoke house is listed in a book of famous smoke houses of central New York. It mentions the “Hermitage” and mentions the smokehouse. We did not tear it down, but Joel Arsenault has taken it down since he purchased it. The hitching posts I mentioned are also in a book of that time.

Also, for anyone interested in Peterboro, there is a very small article under “Old Glass Factories”. It’s about one paragraph. I have a copy someplace! It’s about fourteen lines high and just the one regular paragraph. It mentions the glass factory at Peterboro. The Peterboro Glass Factory - Peter Smith had it in 1811, was when this was written up.  He had 125 Indians, approximately, who worked and were making glass. I had several pieces of it. I gave one to a group and they had an auction on it. All of their glass was a pale greenish glass. It was not very smooth. The Indians made it, and they rubbed it by hand, so it was as if you rubbed your hand up and down in clay. When they ate their lunch, they ate bread; you will find a lot of the collection of the Peterboro Glass Works had crumbs in the glass from when the Indians were eating- you will see it.  One fellow used to have a beautiful collection but he is dead now. He used to be in our Rotary Club and he lived up in Oneida Castle. They are very rare. 

The other glass factory - there was a glass factory in Canastota that made umbrellas. They were clear, and  an umbrella today would be worth probably quite a few hundred dollars, made by the Glass Works in Canastota. This can be found in many books. Also the Spencer Telescope Works of   which the Spencer Telescope at Hamilton College at Clinton is world famous in the tower there. That was made in Canastota at the time.

Oneida Lake covered most of the area of Canastota. Now the formation of Canastota, it shows in some books, that Reuben Perkins purchased whatever the acreage is, but according to the history that I have been able to find or read, that of all these lots that were given to Revolutionary soldiers for 350 acres, ten acres were put aside called the school and bible tract. Now of all these units along Route 5, or Seneca Turnpike, put together made up what is now Canastota. Ten acres from each lot was called the school and bible tract. Where we have Canal Street today, the original buildings were built on stilts because Oneida Lake came up to Canastota.

And the road just up from Quality Hill used to be called Indian Opening Road. When you went over the hill, which is less than a quarter of a mile fom the Seneca Turnpike, where the railroad is, the Oneida Lake and high water used to come that far and the Indians would take their canoes there. That’s why it was called Indian Opening Road. The land or soil over the marl  where they are growing onions today is a mixtureof vegetation dying over years, rotting, new vegetation coming up, rotting and in another couple of million years it will become peat moss. I had a peat bog up in Parish. We had no problem except we got it out when dry and we found out we still needed another couple of million years. (I don’t expect to be around). So we lost the peat up there. 

Now the only other remembrance of Canastota is in 1960, which was the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Canastota by Reuben Perkins and the first people here. We buried a time capsule. Andy Adams, myself, and a group. And in this time capsule-- it is an aluminum cylinder six inches in diameter, four foot high, capped at both ends and sealed-- We put in magazines, newspapers, different letters from different people of the history we had of Canastota.  It is buried up in the Clark Park on Peterboro Street.  It would be just off the road, probably twenty feet in, twenty-five feet in. I can’t tell the exact spot, there is a concrete pad there. It is probably somewhere near the northwest corner of the concrete pad.  That is supposed to be dug up in the year of 2010, fifty years later. So, I won’t be here at the time, but whoever is, if they dig that up you will find a lot of the early history of Canastota.

Now, Canastota is an Indian name meaning Kniste and Stota, which is Still Water under Three Pines.  The three pines, there has been some argument about where they were located.  I will tell you what we found out in 1960. It was originally believed that they were over by the railroad station (where the railroad is today between Peterboro and Main Street), but we found out from other people talking that their memory placed it down on North Main Street opposite Deppoliti’s (where Deppoliti’s is located today). There was a family there called Fancher. The Fanchers moved out of Canastota sometime in the mid-1800’s or later 1800’s. We cannot find any history of where they moved to or any remembrance.   This is where the three pines (from the memory that we could find from people) were placed. 

The emblem that is used for Canastota today actually shows three spruce trees, not three pine trees. Pine trees are more open and flatter branched than spruce trees.  They are not built up like tiered spruce.
 
Now, for what it is worth, that is the story that I remember.

Thank you.

Recorded and filed by Dorothy Pringle/Schneider on April 12, 1999

Source: http://www.canastotalibrary.org/


The Isabella County (MI) Indian Reservation & Isaac Alger Fancher

(Note: Isaac Alger7 Fancher (Jacob S.6, Richard5, Richard4, Richard Fancher3, William Jr.2, William1 Fanshaw). Isaac A. Fancher's book Past and Present of Isabella County Michigan (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1911) is available on www.ancestry.com paid subscription Family & Local Histories database.

Creating the Reservation
Through a series of treaties signed in the nineteenth century Michigan's Indian population surrendered their land to the United States Government. However in almost every treaty in which land was transferred the Indians signing the treaty arranged that some land would be held back, or "reserved" where their people could live. Although very small in comparison to the amount of land surrendered, nevertheless these reservations could encompass large tracts of land.

In some cases these reserved lands where those of particular importance to the Indian signatories to a treaty. In other cases, however, the federal government looked for an out-of-the-way place to put Indians, usually a distant and not particularly valuable locale that had not yet been settled by whites. The Indian reservation established in 1855 by treaty in Isabella County was such a distant place.

In 1855 Isabella county was largely uninhabited. The first road into the county had been cut only a year earlier. A handful of white settlers had arrived when, as a result of the treaty of 1855, slightly more than 98,000 acres within the county were set aside for Indian selection. Not included in this 98,000 acre reservation was the land claimed by white settlers prior to the signing of the treaty, "school sections" previously deeded by the federal government to the state of Michigan, the money raised by the sale of which was to be used to support public education, and "swamp land" which had been transferred to the state through the federal Swamp Land Act of 1850.

In accordance with the treaty signed in 1855, as well as a second treaty signed in 1864 Indians were allowed to select particular parcels of land for personal ownership and register their selection with a resident Indian agent. The 1855 treaty specified that each head of a family was entitled to eighty acres of land, each single person over twenty-one years of age was to receive forty acres. An orphan family of two or more where no one was yet twenty-one was also entitled to eighty acres while individual orphans under the age of twenty-one were to receive forty acres. In cases where two or more Indians sought the same land, the Indian agent was to resolve the dispute.

The treaty of 1855 created a five year period for Indians to select land, after which any remaining land was to revert back to the federal government. However the treaty of 1864 modified this provision, creating a second window of opportunity for individuals to select land and specifying that any unselected land was reserved for the communal use of those Indians who lived on the reservation. Ultimately, of the 98,000 acres reserved for Indians, about 33,000 acres was allocated to approximately 2,000 Indian residents and the remaining 65,000 acres was held in common until the 1890's when it was disposed of by the federal government.

The Loss of Reservation Land
In the years following the creation of the Isabella reservation, most of the reservation land, as well as the valuable timber originally growing on it, was lost by the Indians, who received little in return. In the words of a 1953 finding by the United States Indian Claims Commission, "The evidence shows that whites, in devious ways, obtained timber from Indian lands in the Isabella Reservation."

Local historian Ella Powers, in an unpublished manuscript completed in 1945, describes in some detail how land transactions involving Indians occurred. Powers names several men she describes as "cut-throat lawyers" who came to Isabella County in the late 1860's and early 1870's. These men became rich, she asserts, largely by the use of the "devious ways" alluded to by the Claims Commission. Chief among these ways was the liberal use of alcohol. "...Whiskey was their strongest ally. It was always easy to get an Indian's mark on a deed when he was drunk and the speculators had tools among the chiefs and head men of the tribe so it was simple to get five signers on a "not so competent" Indian's deed.

These "tools," were critical. The treaty of 1864 had restricted land sales by "not so competent" Indians, generally any Indian who could neither read nor write English. The land owned by such Indians could be sold only upon the recommendation of several Indian leaders and with the approval of the county's probate judge. Powers contends that because of the political power of the "cut-throat lawyers" the elected probate judge could generally be counted upon to approve any land transaction placed before him, but to be sure that all the legal niceties had been attended to, several Indian leaders, also under the influence of the lawyers, were needed to endorse each transaction.

By way of example, Powers cites the Mount Pleasant firm of Brown and Leaton, which "founded on little more than a few bottles of poor whiskey," in 1873, by 1881 owned over 33,000 acres of reservation land. Powers notes that the men who cheated Indians of their land were often as unscrupulous in dealing with whites. After having stripped the land of its valuable timber, the speculators usually sold it to white settlers. Powers claims that these men were not above showing trusting settlers prime agricultural land but, the settlers money in hand, actually deeding to the settler worthless swamp land.

Although Powers history relies heavily on the perhaps biased accounts of her grandfather, an early settler of Isabella county who was frequently at odds with the men she criticizes, Powers story gains credence both from the conclusions of the U.S. Indian Claims Commission and from an account published in the 1918 History of Saginaw County, reprinted below.

"When the cutting of timber on the [Isabella county] reservation lands actually began, it was observed that one company, headed by a leading citizen of Saginaw City, had title to the very choicest timber in the reservation, and in such an aggregate amount as to cause much comment and concern by their rivals in the business. Section after section of the best timber had been deeded by the Indians to the head of the company' and no hint or trace could be found as to when or how the deals with the red-skins had been made. The old lumbermen spent many sleepless nights figuring out how the trick had been turned, and they had been check-mated in the game.

One thing they learned too, that increased their amazement and chagrin. It was the fact that insignificant consideration had been given for most of the choicest timber. In talking with the former owners of a valuable tract, the land lookers or agents would invariably ask, "What did you get for this fine clump of trees?"

'Huh! Me get pint fire-water, gun, powder, blanket, all good.' the Indian grunted.

Another said, 'Me get big pipe, much heap smoke, fire-water, red sash.'

'Us get pale face canoe (batteaux), hook 'em fish, axe, knife,' others said.

It was apparent that little or no coin had been given, and the value of the stuff which attracted the Indians was very small and insufficient. With all their searching and questioning nothing which threw any light on the subject was ever discovered.

Years afterward, when lumbering operations in this section had been brought to a close, the secret was told.

There was an old lawyer and politician, named John Eaton, who lived in the forest settlements, and later settled at Clare. He had somehow 'got wind' of the time and place of holding of the council, when the reservation lands were to be given over to the red-skins individually. Here was an opportunity, he believed, for some shrewd lumberman with means to get a decided advantage over his competitors.

So he wrote to Arthur Hill, whom he knew quite well as one of the rising lumbermen of Saginaw Valley, to come up and meet him in the village at the appointed time. Without knowing what had been 'cooked up' by the crafty lawyer, Mr. Hill went to the place of meeting in the woods, and put up at the little tavern which was the only lodging place in the wilderness for miles around.

The following day the Indian Commissioners with their luggage arrived at the tavern, ready for the final council with the Chippewas. One piece of baggage in particular attracted the attention of the lumberman, and the lawyer guessed that it contained the official papers in the big deal. So they kept an eye on this valise and took note where it was stowed away behind the bar, which also served as the office counter of the border tavern.

Late at night, when all was quiet in the place, the schemers lighted a candle, crept out softly in their bare feet, and slipping below lifted the valise from behind the counter and took it to their room. It was the work of only a moment to find the official list of Indian reserves, with the description of the land each was to receive. A longer time, however, was required to make a hurried copy of the list, when the original paper was replaced in the valise and it was put carefully back in its place. So stealthily had this been done that on one dreamed of the trick that had been put over the commissioners.

To send competent and trustworthy land lookers through the reservation and pick out the choicest timber was the next move. Then the shrewd lawyer, with this information and the official list of reserves, checked up with it, [ie a list noting which Indians owned the choicest timber land] did the rest. He knew many of the Indians personally, and it was not a difficult matter to get them 'feeling good,' and then by offering them the necessities of savage life they craved, to induce them to sign away their timber rights.

When the truth was known and the story told, the whole affair was regarded as a huge joke on the other lumbermen, who were thus compelled to take the 'leavings.'"

Although Indians lost the most in the many quasi-legal land transactions that surrounded the Isabella Reservation, the tactics employed by the lumbermen often created difficulties for themselves when they sought to obtain clear title to the land they desired. Agents of various timber speculators actively vied with one another to obtain title from Indians. The Indians, whether without a full understanding of what was transpiring or knowingly in an effort to maximize their own very modest gain, frequently signed numerous deeds for the same tract of land with different agents. A Detroit reporter who visited Mount Pleasant cited the case of one piece of land that had been sold to a dozen different people, all of whom claimed to own it and none of whom really knew who held the good title.

Isaac Fancher
Isaac Alger Fancher

In a similar vein, Isaac Fancher, one of the "cut-throats" criticized by Powers, recorded in his published history of Isabella County an early fraud that had upset the plans of he and others. After the signing of the 1855 treaty, two of the Indians involved in the negotiations, Andrew J. Compau and Charles H. Rodd laid claim to over twelve thousand acres on the reservation; all of it prime timber land. Compau and Rodd, in turn, quickly transferred title to this land to Frederick Hall of Ionia.

Fancher expresses some frustration that, ten years later when this massive land transaction was discovered, the Indians themselves seemed unwilling to attempt to change matters. Eventually Mount Pleasant's leading citizens prevailed upon the Rev. George Bradley, missionary to the Indians, who along with four Indians, traveled to Washington and requested the Secretary of the Interior to annul Hall's holdings due to various irregularities. Money was raised to pay Bradley and his colleagues transportation and other expenses and their mission was ultimately successful. Clearly, however, this was a case of one group of timber speculators seeking gain at the expense of another group.

Whether from Mount Pleasant, Ionia, or Saginaw, unscrupulous whites unfairly obtained title to much of the land reserved for Indians in Isabella County. Although their practices were unprincipled by today's standards, among the most interesting questions to be asked is not whether whites swindled Indians but whether the business ethics applied to transactions with Indians were significantly different than the business practices these same men perpetrated on white settlers or upon each other. Regardless of whether whites singled out Indians for particularly unethical dealings or if their dealings with Indians simply represented one example of an unregulated nineteenth century business environment in which every individual, white or Indian, needed to be constantly vigilant over the possibility of sharp practices, the impact on Indians was devastating. Powers records that in 1945 only about 450 Indians continued to reside in the county, most living in poverty.

Bibliographic Note

There is no single, authoritative source that discusses the ways through which Indian reservation land passed from the control of tribes and tribal members to whites. However, various documents describe parts of this unhappy story. See, for example, Isaac A. Fancher, Past and Present of Isabella County Michigan (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1911), John Cumming, This Place Mount Pleasant (Mount Pleasant, MI: np, 1989), and the United States Indian Claims Commission, Commission Findings on the Chippewa Indians (New York; Garland Publishing Inc., 1974). The quotations cited comes from Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan... v. United States of America, Docket no. 13-H, decided May 14, 1953. It should be noted that while the Commission found that "devious ways" were used to swindle Indians out of their timber rights, nevertheless the commission went on to find that "the record is devoid of any facts sufficient to determine whether the plaintiff [the Saginaw Chippewa tribe] has a right to recover therefor" and thus did not make any award to rectify this past wrong. See also the Ella V. Powers Collection, Box 2, "The Saginaw Chippewa Indians," housed in the Clarke Historical Library. The long quotation regarding the role of Saginaw lumbermen in the exploitation of the Isabella Reservation's timber resources comes from James Cooke Mills, History of Saginaw County... (Saginaw: Seemans & Peters, 1918), pp. 423-424.

Source: Clarke Historical Library, Mt. Pleasant, MI http://clarke.cmich.edu/nativeamericans/treatyrights/treatyland.htm
 


Note: Johnson Fancher was born September 4, 1806 in Tennessee, probably in Wears Valley, Sevier County. He married Frances Louisa Adams, daughter of Johnson Adams, born January 1, 1810 and died after March 7, 1873. Two of their sons, Levi Louis and James Preston, slipped out of Tennessee to join the Union Army.)

                                                      WEARS COVE, SEVIER COUNTY, TENNESSEE

Many residents of Wears Cove were loyal to the Union and would not support the Confederacy.  Early in the war, Levi and James Fancher went north to Kentucky and Ohio to join the Federal Army because the family's sympathies were with the Union cause.  Their mother prepared food and other items to support them on the way to Kentucky.  Mrs. Fancher also assisted others in their journey to the North by furnishing provisions. 

Many diaries and stories are left to us telling of the young men slipping away to join the Union Army.  James and Levi probably experienced the adventures in which small groups would plan their escape from the area. 

Confederate conscriptors constantly patrolled the area looking for young men to conscript into the hard-fought Southern Army.  Small groups of men would rendezvous at secret places with their food and necessities, and slip away at night on their long arduous journey. 

Certain routes and valleys were heavily watched by Confederate patrols which would appear as often as every 30 minutes.  The adventurous young men would move stealthily to avoid capture.  Some would lie in the edge of the woods watching the patrols pass and as soon as they were out of sight, the band would hustle across the open ground of the valley into the welcome of woods and mountains on the other side. 

Not much is known of the Fanchers' adventures on their trip to the North, but James left a letter in which he described his walk to Kentucky and thence by train to Ohio to join the army. 

By 1864, only Mrs. Fancher and the two youngest children remained at home, i.e., Martha, 17 years old and Richard, 14 years of age.  Mr. Fancher was dead and two sons were in the army.  At this time, General Sturgis' Command passed through the Cove after a skirmish with the Confederates at Fair Garden.  The force encamped on the Fancher farm about one-quarter mile from the house. 

In the evening two soldiers appeared at the house and asked about buying a sorrel mare, heavy with foal, owned by Mrs. Fancher.  They were told the mare was not for sale and she would not let them have it.  The soldiers warned that she better let them have the horse because there were many Yankees in the valley who might take the horse.  Even though she was to be given a voucher for the horse, she still refused to part with the animal. 

The next morning, Union soldiers appeared at the house to procure grain and hay.  Mrs. Fancher went to the crib to persuade the men to leave some corn for the family to subsist on.  One of the men said that her time was wasted because "the Captain was one of the meanest men the Lord put breath in."  It was difficult to approach the officer because there were so many men present around the crib and barn.  The captain cursed her and told her to return to the house and tend things there. 

It was estimated that 60 bushels of corn was taken from the cribs. About 40 bushels were loaded into two wagons and the rest was put in sacks and placed on the backs of horses.  About 1700 pounds of hay was taken by tying it in bundles and carrying it on horseback.  Also, 24 dozen oats were taken.  All this activity lasted about two hours before the unit moved out about noon.  The foragers left 8 bushels of corn for the family. 

While the corn and hay was being taken, Mrs. Fancher became fearful that the mare would be taken without payment.  Richard was sent to the camp with the mare to find the proper person to hand over the mare and get a voucher.  However, he was unable to find anyone who could give a voucher for the horse, and returned home with the animal. 

One of the soldiers at the house, an officer by his dress, said he was going to take the mare.  He made Richard get off the horse and mounted and rode away on the horse.  He was asked for a proper voucher but would only give a receipt.  Another soldier told Richard to ride with them until a voucher could be obtained from one in authority. Richard rode as far as Tuckaleechee Cove with the force but could never catch up with the officer who could give a voucher.  He then returned home

A few days later, pursuing Confederate forces entered the cove and encamped there.  During foraging on the Fancher farm, all their bees were destroyed and most of their bacon was taken.  Chickens, chicken feed, corn, hay and fodder was taken by the Confederates to feed their soldiers and horses.  The Fanchers were never reimbursed for any supplies taken by the Confederates. 

Shortly after these forces passed through, a Confederate soldier was killed in the cove.  Under the cover of darkness, a rebel soldier came to the house to inquire about the death, but received no information because they knew nothing about it.  The soldier threatened that all houses would be burned if they received no satisfaction about the killing.  However, this did not occur. 

After the war ended, Mrs. Fancher filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission for reimbursement for the supplies taken by General Sturgis' Command.  She was old but able to remember the incident vividly.  She testified that receipts had been obtained and sent to Knoxville to be turned in for money.  However, she never received any payment. 

In the 1870's, the claim was renewed and payment made to her estate.

Neighbors who were also loyal to the Union, testified in her behalf as to her support of the Union and her sentiments.  She stated that none of her immediate family had served the Confederacy.  She noted that she never went more than one-half mile from her farm during the war and that no member of her family had been molested by either side.  She also testified that she had cooked for the Union forces and tried to help as much as possible.

Paul Buford Fancher 

Re-printed with permission of the author.

 

                                                                         ©Fancher Family Association