Early Settlement of Tennessee
Traveling overland and down the Cumberland River, traders, trappers, and hunters began to arrive in the area by the early 1700s, staying in temporary fortified camps for parts of the year.
Panel 1 shows "long hunter" Kasper Mansker and New Orleans fur trader Jean du Charleville and Illinois trader Timothé deMontbrun (Timothy Demonbreun) outfitted with long-barreled shotguns, powder horns and buckskin clothing at the salt lick in north Nashville that attracted animals to the area where the Bicentennial Mall stands today.
Panels 2 and 3 record the journey of the first permanent settlers led by James Robertson (in oval) on an arduous overland trek from the Watauga settlement in upper East Tennessee, through the Cumberland Gap, and down to the banks of the Cumberland River, which they found frozen solid on Christmas Day 1779.
Panel 4 depicts the rest of the East Tennessee settler party, organized by Colonel John Donelson, which traveled on flatboats down the Tennessee River to the Cumberland River, arriving in May of 1780.
In the final panel of this alcove, Fort Nashborough, which enclosed the Cumberland settlement, is attacked. Although Shawnee and Cherokee Indians had used the area as hunting grounds for hundreds of years, a council of East Tennessee Cherokees had sold the middle Tennessee lands to Richard Henderson, under whose auspices Robertson and Donelson had come to stake their claim. But the Chickasaw also considered it their territory. A group called the Chickamaugas, which included both Cherokee and Creek Indians who opposed the presence of permanent settlers in Tennessee, had encountered Donelson's party on the river the previous spring and had destroyed Mansker's Station in the fall of 1780. Left in charge of the women and children in April 1781, Charlotte Robertson (wife of the settlement's founder) unleashed dogs to prevent the Chickamaugas from securing the fort in the Battle of the Bluffs.
Alcove 3: Becoming a Town