Dickens of Hurricane Creek
Including: Maggart, Sullivans Bend, Elmwood, Chestnut Mound, Smith County, TN

As our Dickens forefathers considered moving westward to the newly opened territories, the government of North Carolina was busily engaged in trying to make the long journey over the mountains to the new lands as safe as possible.

In the late 1790's some hostile Indians still roamed the wilderness, thieves intent on robbery preyed on travellers,
forts and stations were few and far between and protection by lawmen was not possible on the steep rocky road over the mountains and through the wilderness. It was a long, hard, dangerous trip for a family to reach the new settlements.
I have several pages which I copied from the TN State Archives that tell of the hostile conditions awaiting our pioneer families both on the journey and when reaching their destination. These pages are letters, discussions, and meetings of North Carolina legislators as they attempted to bring some order to the migration. I'm not going to include these pages in my Web site. The study is freely available in libraries and on the Internet for all to read.

Another few pages that I'm not including on the Web site is a paper written by a Jackson County high school student over a half-century ago. I found the story while searching the court records and library holdings in Jackson County in the 1980's. The title is Fort Blount by Jim Bryant. Young Mr. Bryant wrote of conditions in the area from about 1783, including old trails and Indian settlements and other interesting items and characters from the past.

He closed his composition with this comment: "Had the past not been as it was nor would the present be as it is."  So true.     

Section 3. Moving West From North Carolina

Unless someone finds an old journal that contains the facts, we can only imagine what that trip must have been like. It would be so interesting to know how long their journey took? What hardships did they suffer along the way? What personal effects and provisions were brought? How large was the group that traveled together? Did they reach Hurricane Creek in the summer or winter? Had one or more men come earlier to construct shelter? How did they build their houses? How many settlers were at Hurricane Creek when our Dickens' arrived? We'll never know those answers unless someone finds and old journal packed away in an attic or perhaps in some library.

Settlements along the Cumberland River were rapidly growing. In the mid to late 1700's opportunists had purchased as much raw land as they could get, legally or illegally. Some settlers who had received land grants or purchased them would find legal entanglements when they tried to occupy lands that others, especially speculators, had already claimed.

When did our family arrive in Tennessee? It's certain that some of our Hurricane Creek Dickens family arrived in Tennessee by 1798 (on the next Web page some early transactions are listed). We have Jeremiah's 1798 deed for 100 acres in Sumner County, John's purchase in 1803, and we know that Henry was late in paying his Smith County land tax in 1809. I have a copy of his deed for 100 acres in Smith County dated 1808. 

We've had a brief overview of the small early Dickens population and we have some insight about our forefathers settling in North Carolina, then making the dangerous passage across the mountains and through the wilderness to occupy lands in Middle Tennessee.

If you want to know more about the new lands our forefathers were moving to, I suggest that you read the following page. It won't take you but a few minutes to read and it will tell you far more than I can write..

Goodspeed's History of Tennessee
Smith County History
Nashville, TN. 1887

Page 43.
Page 44.

INSERT August 2007.
Recently (long after writing my Dickens story) I was sent a copy of a manuscript which is filed in the McGregor Public Library, of Clayton County, Iowa. It contains many memories dictated by Zilla Ellyson Rutherford Flagg, a granddaughter of Edward Glover (Ned) and Ann Drusilla Dickens (read their story, listed on my Site Map). 

Zilla stated in her memories, "The Dickens family from which Ned Dickens descended were Carolina tobacco farmers. ... Sometime after the Revolution, these Dickenses, having worn out their Carolina tobacco land, moved over the mountains into Tennessee in the low hills southeast* of Nashville, taking  ...  several households of the family. They cleared the land and built great tobacco barns, which Grandpa could remember from his childhood. But before 1830 they were all ruined, for the thin soil, when the forest was removed, washed off the rocky slopes and down into the rivers ... I saw it in 1931."

From another page: "When Wally came back from taking the boy to his Carolina-bound bus ... I asked him to inquire when he wrote the boy, if he had any kinfolks in Carolina named Dickens. The reply finally came back, 'Everybody here has kinfolks named Dickens.' These were Carolina 'mountain' folks. Their ancestors were some of those who didn't make it across the mountains to Tennessee or other points west."

(My Note: Actually the location is *northeast of Nashville. Remarkably she also mentions visiting my Grandfather, 
Will Dickens (William Jasper Dickens) in Springfield, TN in 1932. If that visit occurred after late summer of 1932 she also saw me as a newborn, ha. To me, that this document exists in an Iowa Library and has now been shared
 with the TN Dickens family, is amazing!)