The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF JOHN COCKRILL
[Second Husband of 1227 Ann Robertson]

The following is copied from John Cockrill's Bible, being in his own handwriting.
Sent by Mrs. Ewing.

Nashville, Tenn., July 27, 1833.This is a sketch of part of my life from my 17th year, 1774, the day after a tremendously big frost, about the 3rd or 4th of May. As my father and step-father were both dead and left a very poor family, so of course there was nothing left for me, so my mother bound me to a blacksmith and I stayed with him well on five years, and learned that trade, and also to make buns, but I was drafted in the time, I believe twice. I went one time to Watauga as the Indians had attacked their fort. I helped to carry in one of the wounded on Holsten as we went along on the way to Wautauga. Then I went on another trip: I think they said we were to join Gen. McIntosh's army against the Indians. We traveled in snow knee deep and were out a good part of the winter and had run out of provisions. There were six days I had not as much nourishment as would make one good meal, and three days without one mouthful. The news came from the General, "Discharge the ______, and don't give them a mouthful to eat," but the officers said take as much flour as will do you. We did so but the weather was so bad we could not get along fast, bat I got home and served out my time, and one other year, and got fixed, and in the fall of 1779 I came to this country from Virginia, where I learned the trade. The first winter we had peace, but at cornplanting time the Indians began. They were bad, and every two or three weeks they would be doing some mischief , either killing or wounding or stealing horses. Then in the spring of '81 there came 333 against us. There were only 40 men in the fort at that time; 6 or 7 had gone to hunt their town to get some horses, for they had got most of ours. These 40 were all that lived on this side of the Cumberland. Of this 40, 20 of us went out to meet them, not knowing their number. They were lying behind the bank of the branch just from the stone bridge up to where it turns toward the tan-yard, then in a circle so as to surround, and did come very near it. They came in about three or four steps of me. I dodged to the river bank. Three pursued me and I had gained two or three steps and turned around where there was three in a row. I fired and killed the foremost one, if no more, and they were shooting and knocking about among our men and killed six before they went off. There was one of our men in their nation. He gave us the account. Then there were some contrary folks who would not join to make corn, and we were in a bad way, for we got out of bread again. At first it was nine or ten months we had none, and in the fall of '$I was hard times, for the Indians were still very bad and our bread ran out. There was for a time they were so bad we could scarcely go out but what they would shoot at us. As it happened that I married a woman in the year 1780, that had three children. It had been about three day, that we had very little to eat. I had gathered up my tools and I went in from my shop, such as it was. The children were following their mother about the cabin and saying, "Mammy, I'm hungry." I said, "I can't stand that; I must have meat or die," so I took my gun and started. My wife and several others said, "You had better come back; you will never see the fort again." I said, "The children are starving; I must go. I can see as good as the Indians, and I will not follow any path, so they cannot waylay me." So I went on and got something like three or four miles, shot one bear down, but it got up and got away, so I could not find it. Then I was hunting along and came across another and killed that and cut off his skin with most of the meat to it, wrapped it up in the skin and took it on my back and carried it home and cut it from the skin and weighed it. I had brought in one hundred pounds on my back, and they came around us as my wife was helping to cut. it. They said, "Do give me a little." Some would say, "I have had nothing for three or four days." Others would say, "My children are starving." My wife said, "What shall we do?" I said, "Divide it out; only save us some for tomorrow. I think the Indians are gone, for I saw no sign of them and I will go again tomorrow." So we went for a while and got provisions again. I have had several ups and downs with the Indians. They shot at me five different times. One time up the river on Goose creek there were seven of them and seven of us. None got hurt, only I fell down and sprained my ankle chasing them. We killed three of them and took twenty horses from them they had got from three companies of our hunters that they had defeated. The night and morning that we met them in the defeats they killed and wounded two or three of our men. Another time here at Nashville, where I think there were forty or fifty guns fired at me and never so much as touched my clothes, as I know of. Another time was here by the penitentiary they shot my mare through the neck. Then another time I was out in the day on a scout and some of our men slopped out to try to waylay the Indians as we had found signs of them, and they sent me home to let the folk know that they were trying to waylay them. But the Indians had got by the place and as I went home in the night four or five shot at me not ten or twelve steps. Never struck me nor my horse. Another time two men and I went out to see if we could see any sign of them, as they had been very much about for several weeks, and out by that lick where Chas. Bosley lives, about ten or twelve shot at me. As I was about seventy or eighty yards nearer to them than the other men, they shot me through the arm and side, but touched no bones, shot my mare through the brains as she was wheeling and threw her on my leg and held me till they got in about six steps of me. I got loose and rose up with my gun and killed the nearest one to me, and that surprised the others so I got off and got home, etc.

This manuscript is not signed, but is in John Cockrill's handwriting. On the back of the paper is this: "Received nine dollars of Alex Bausley for a Aided cow, Oct. 4, 1833. John Cockrill." John Cockrill evidently meant to add more to the above manuscript.

The sketch of John Cockrill's interesting life in the early days of Fort Nashborough was copied and sent, with the explanatory note, to relatives in Tennessee, by the owner of the manuscript, Mr. Mark Cockrill, of Great Falls, Montana.

COCKRILL BIBLE RECORDS

The following information came from Mr. Mark Cockrill, of Great Falls, Montana, who owns the Cockrill Bible at the present time.

John Cockrell, born Dec. 19, 1757.
Ann Cockrell, born Feb. 10, 1757.
John Cockrell, Jr., born July 8, 1781.
Nancy Cockrill, born Feb. 1, 1783, Pulliam.
Sterling R. Cockrill, born March 7, 1785.
James Cockrill, born Jan. 28, 1787.
Mark R. Cockrill, born Dec. 2, 1788.
Susannah Cockrill, born Sept. 2, 1790, Bunting.
Sarah Cockrill, born May 15, 1794, Beasley.
Patsey Cockrill, born Nov. 5, 1800; married three times.
Ann Cockrill, died Oct. 13, 1821.
John Cockrill, died April 11, 1837; recorded by Mark R. C.
Susan C. Cockrill, died Aug. 3, 1871; recorded by Mark S.
Mark R. Cockrill, died June 26, 1872; recorded by Mark S.

This is an old, much worn, leatherback Bible, about 10x10x3 inches. The fly leaves are gone and there is nothing to show when it was printed There is a little slip pasted inside of the cover which reads, "H. Elliot, bookbinder, Nashville, Term.," so I suppose that H. Elliot either re-bound it or sold it to John Cockrill. It contains no provision for recording births, deaths and marriages. This list that I am sending is written on the back of a picture or woodcut of which it contains several.

Source: Jeanette Tillotson Acklen, compiler, Tennessee Records: Bible Records and Marriage Bonds (Nashville, Tennessee: Cullom & Ghertner, 1933), 208-210.

Note: There are other related families, such as the Ewings and the Berrys, whose family Bible records also appear in the book.

Last updated: Sunday, September 7, 2003

All original material Copyright ©2003 Tom Robertson. All rights reserved including those of electronic transmission and reproduction of the material in any format.

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