Echoes From The Past

By JUDY MAUPIN *- Echoes From the Past
(A Column of historical and genealogical anecdotes, stories and family notes.)
Calloway County, Ky.

Nathan and Charity Futrell

March 3, 1979
"The Futrell party did not like Nashboro. Although they were tired of traveling, they remained in Nashboro a very short time, being eager to resume their journey and reach Donaldson Creek Valley in time to build some type of homes or shelter before the onset of winter.

At Nashboro they traded for, bought, or built flatboats for the trip down the Cumberland River to the place where Donaldson Creek flowed into it, about 100 miles downstream. Then they bought food and other necessities and loaded these and their other possessions on the flatboats along with their families, and started downstream.

This lap of the journey was easier than the overland journey across North Carolina and Tennessee, but was very dangerous because hostile Indians roamed the area along the Cumberland, and a very close watch was maintained. But again no serious mishap occurred.

The party failed to locate the place where Donaldson Creek flowed into the Cumberland, but they landed about three miles further downstream where the town of Canton is today. There were no people living there at that time. The riverbank was a dense cane brake, and a road had to be cut before the flat boats could be unloaded and they could start on the last lap of their journey across hills and valleys to their destination.

These people traveled about ten miles south to a place near the headwaters of Donaldson Creek. There they found a lovely place that seemed to be the place of their dreams. A broad fertile valley, large springs that would supply plenty of water all summer, good stands of timber for building homes, and the surrounding hills covered with trees that would provide a shelter from winter winds, along with lots of wild game, made this spot an ideal place for the settlers to call home.

The people worked hard and prospered. By 1820, many other families had settled on Donaldson Creek and some of the Futrells decided they needed to increase their land holdings and needed more "elbow room;" they began to look westward for more land.

To the west, a few miles across the Cumberland River, Nathan Futrell found some land that he liked. He bought about 2,000 acres of land on Ford's Creek, later called the Laura Furnace Creek Valley. This land extended from the Brown Survey (a land grant to a Revolutionary soldier) about one mile west of the Cumberland, to the headwaters of Ford's Creek almost to the dividing ridge between the Cumberland the Tennessee Rivers. Some of this was hill land bordering the creek valley. four slaves, and with the help of some of his sons and the slaves, he built a large log house with a dogtrot between. This house was built in the lower part of the valley.

Nathan Futrell, his wife Charity, and their nine children moved to this home, and he had many plans to develop this property. He was an ambitious man who seemed to accomplish many things in a short while. He must have attended school In North Carolina, because he was quite literate. He took part in and was probably a leader In civic affairs, acting as magistrate, surveyor, election officer, as -well as helping survey and plow out the new roads in the untouched land. He was a mechanic as well as a farmer. He planted the first fruit orchard in the area; his land was ideal for growing apples, peaches, and grapes. The first grist mill in the area was built by Nathan Futrell, and it served the surrounding community and did a thriving business for many years.

Nathan Futrell did not live to carry out his plans and develop his property to its fullest. After a very short illness, he died in 1829. It seems that he had accomplished so much since coming to Kentucky (just 22 years) that if he could have lived a few more years, he would have done much for his community in building roads and establishing much-needed schools.

After his death, Nathan's wife Charity carried on bravely. Some of her children were still small, but she lived in this same house until her death in 1872, at the age of 95 years. Nathan and Charity Futrell were buried on the hill back of their home, and a marker has been placed beside the highway near his home in honor of his service in the REvolutionary War, as a drummer boy at the age of seven.

Three of Nathan and Charity Futrell's children left Kentucky and moved to other states. The others lived nearby and some of them spent their entire lives on this farm. Some of the land had never belonged to anyone except a Futrell until it was purchased by TVA for part of the Land Between the lakes recreation area."

Next week, we will continue Hazel Shaw's story of the Futrell family, with a history of the John and Winborn Futrell families.

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