Sunday, 5 April 2015

Explaining Dugout, Tennessee

The first original road or recognized trail out of civilization.....into the depths of the New Orleans.....was the Natchez Trace.  The first guy who wandered through this "trail" came to report that it was "miserable" but passable.  This 1742.  When you take into account various hills that had to be climbed, the streams and swampy areas to be crossed, and the 440 miles was a pretty tough trip.

A guy could generally make around twenty-five miles a day on horseback in these type of conditions, so you can figure the Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi trip took about eighteen days.  Even when you got to really weren't in New Orleans still had another four days minimum to make it into the 'big easy'.

It wasn't until 1801....roughly sixty years later....that the US Army was brought in to "fix" the Trace.  The Army stuck around for several years and accomplished a fair amount of the renovation.  Then contractors were hired to work the final effort.  Somewhere around 1809/1810....the Trace was upgraded to the level that wagons could make the trip with some ease.  That opened up a big deal for trade and commerce.

That was the sole road in the entire region until 1817.

Through various political was put aside in 1816 for General Jackson....then the military commander in the new build a second road that would go from Nashville (his headquarters) to Madisonville, Louisiana (a couple miles outside of Jackson, Mississippi). It's length was 436 miles.  Even when you finished the trip to were still four days of travel away from New Orleans.

The survey of the route took place in 1817 and work started immediately.  What can be said was that thirty-five bridges had to be built as part of the overall plan.  There's not a precise history to this piece of American history.  One newspaper account talks of 300 men who were involved in one phrase, and another separate account talks of fifty men.

The road was completely open from beginning to end....around May of 1820.  There's a number of seventy-five-thousand man-days of labor attached to the road.  Whether it's accurate or questionable.

If you draw a straight line from Nashville to Madisonville, Mississippi.....that's pretty much accurate.  The road has to intersect and go through Florence, Alabama....because this was one of the rare points on the Tennessee River where you might cross on horseback or wagon....without the aid of a bridge or ferry.

For's an interesting route because it will come down through Lawrence County, Tennessee.  It will take a straight route similar to Highway 43 which exists today, from Summertown to Lawrenceburg.  Somewhere about four miles north of Ethridge, the east of Jackson Military Road....was Anderson Creek (not related to Anderson Creek of Alabama).

At some point around 1820 (the year that his second wife gave birth to daughter Nancy) ancestors gave up on Indiana as a possible settlement point, and headed south.  Some words indicate the initial plan was for Wetumpkia, the far south of the state.  One might speculate that the period of an extended stay around Dugout was chiefly because of the birth of Nancy.

Various events occurred and the small group of travelers instead stepped off the Jackson Military Road and traveled about two miles eastward, to Anderson Creek, Tennessee.  Here in some clearing, they set up a camp to stay for a couple of weeks.  This location would be called "Dugout".  There might have been people who used Dugout before this period, but it was a name that would stick around for decades.

Dugout, Tennessee today?  Non-existent.  There's Dugout Road....that's the only reminder of the small community that existed there along the creek.  A community existence of Dugout?  It probably hasn't been uttered since the early 1900s.

Somewhere in the history passed down by various folks, there's a false attribution of Dugout being on Second Creek, which runs near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.  Second Creek officially starts along Rabbit Trail Road....about three miles south of Leoma, Tennessee (a good fifteen miles south of Dugout).  The origin of the Creek starts around where Glendale Road intersects with Rabbit Trail Road.

What I would speculate is that the family members on this little trip spent some recovery time at Dugout, and drove on for a day along Jackson Military Road, and came to Leoma.  The Road would normally head southwestward toward Florence.  For some reason, they departed Jackson Military Road and headed along Rabbit Trail....then using the flat land around Second Creek as their path. They would cross the Tennessee line and make it along to the Whitehead community.

One might imagine a trading post in the local area of Whitehead, and the family members discussed things with the locals, and made a decision to stay there in the region.  No one says much over the population in the local area.  Within five miles of Whitehead.....I doubt if there were more than two-hundred people.  The trip had ended.

No one says much over the journey....likely taking six weeks of active travel, with stopping points probably in the Nashville area and Dugout.  It would have been a miserable experience because of the physical efforts involved and the emotional strain.

The ancestors to this little group have been almost two hundred years in the same area.

It's an interesting little story, with a slice or two of history added.