(Editor's note: Second in a series)
After crossing the river, Richard Taylor's detachment traveled four miles and camped near the town of Dallas, which was located at the campgrounds of present day Chester Frost Park. There was a large spring there — Dallas Spring — now under water. Based on the location of the spring, the trail and mileage figures, it appears the campsite was in the area of the present day Chester Frost Park fishing pier.
Rev. Daniel Butrick wrote of some drunken white men coming into the camps from the neighborhood. The only nearby neighborhood was Dallas.
Taylor was in familiar territory in the Dallas area. Records show that he had once owned 640 acres (one square mile) where Chester Frost Park is located. Under the Calhoun Treaty of 1819, the Cherokee Nation ceded 6,000 square miles of its territory to the federal government. Under terms of the treaty, some Cherokee leaders were granted 640-acre reservations. Fox Taylor, Richard's brother, received a 640-acre reservation that included most, if not all, of what is present day Chester Frost Park. He transferred ownership to Richard, and Richard leased it to early white settler Asahel Rawlings until 1831, then sold it to him. While leased, a log courthouse was built, and Dallas served as the county seat until 1840, when it was moved to Harrison. At Dallas, the white man's seat of justice sat on property owned by a Cherokee.
After camping one night near Dallas, Butrick wrote on Nov. 2 the detachment traveled six miles to the foot of Walden's Ridge. They arrived at the little town of Poe's Crossroads, later to become Daisy. The road traveled evolved as Daisy-Dallas Road. Its present day location appears to be unchanged since 1838. TVA maps show that the western end of Albemarle Drive was part of the original Daisy-Dallas Road. Part of it is under water eastward from Albemarle toward Chester Frost Park.
The logical place for this campsite would have been around Poe's Tavern and Poe's Cemetery southward toward present day Harrison Lane. There were at least two springs in the area (one being Poe's Spring), a critical need for the detachments.
On Nov. 4, Butrick described Saturday night, "Last night was very rainy, so that we could scarcely keep dry in our little carryall, and many of the Cherokees, having no tents, were soaking wet, lying on the wet ground."
The Taylor detachment spent three nights — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — camped at Poe's Crossroads (Daisy).
On Nov. 5, Butrick wrote, "We started very early, with br. McPhaerson. His waggon leads the way for the whole detachment. We soon came to Walden's ridge, and ascended it, a steep mountain about one mile & half from the bottom to the top. Ascending this hill, Little Broom's wagon broke, & he was obliged to stop & repair it. Two or three other families also stopped, to return and bury an aged relative, who had been long sick. When passing that narrow & dangerous part of the road on the side hill, her waggon turned over & hurt her so that she died soon after, not being able to be moved but a few rods."
The site of this grave is unknown, as are most along the Trail of Tears. It is possible, even probable, that the burial took place at Poe's Cemetery, which existed in 1838.
The detachment traveled about eight miles and camped on the mountain, near a house, "from whence we drew provisions." Eight miles is about halfway across Walden's Ridge. (During the Civil War, there was an army camp near "Reynolds" homestead, which was about halfway across the mountain and had the only water source.) The road used was Poe's Turnpike, which was chartered in the early 1830s.
"About day we started to descend the mountain, and traveled ten miles to the foot of Cumberland mountain, and spent the night in the Vale of Sodom, commonly called Sequache Valley. Here the people were wicked exceedingly, and gathered in from every quarter."
The detachment followed Hill's Turnpike to the McMinnville area. From McMinnville, they followed the Northern Route taken by the other nine detachments. They were in their sixth day of travel. Their 1,000-mile journey and the brutal winter were just beginning.
In summary, two detachments totaling about 1,900 people, mostly Cherokees, passed through Hamilton County in late 1838 on the Trail of Tears. This Northern Route was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress in 1987.
The Richard Taylor Detachment Route through Hamilton County is now marked with 73 National Historic Trail signs.
Carlos Wilson, a retired Hamilton County engineer, has Cherokee ancestors and is a Trail of Tears researcher. For more, visit Chattahistorialaassoc.org.