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Discovery recalls Indian Days
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Discovery of Old Grave in Polk Recalls Indian Days

By John Shamblin, as published in the Nashville Banner 28 Feb 1932.


Polk County’s only Negro settlement is now basking in the limelight of publicity, all because a son of Emanuel McKissack, while leveling off the barn lot to make a turning place for his father’s car, found what he took to be an old grave, in which were a few pieces of broken pottery, two old coins, one of them being a Mexican dollar dated 1838 and a Spanish coin claimed to be dated in 1509; a spoon handle, some odds and ends, a few pieces of bones and a few teeth resembling human teeth.

   A number of rocks covered the articles.  When the young Negro found the coins and other articles he ran to his father and informed him of the find.  The father remembered that when a child he had heard of this particular spot being haunted.  Of course the find suggested that a man had met a violent death there years ago.

   Kingsville, as stated, is the only colored settlement in the county and is about five miles southwest of Benton. It consists of a colored school, one store, and a number of residents, and through it runs the old ‘Stock Road’ and the new concrete highway from Benton to Tennga.  Before the removal of the Indians, a number of Cherokees lived in this same section, among them being an Indian Chief, Five Killer.  He was a son of the noted Nancy Ward and his ashes lie buried beside those of his mother and her brother, Chief Long Fellow, about a mile east of where McKissack lives.

   The three graves are the only known Indian graves in that section of the country, although it is certain that hundreds of Indians died and were buried somewhere in that section.  The finding of teeth, pottery, etc., in what is supposed to be a grave suggest to those who know the county’s past that the grave was an Indian’s burial place.

   McKissack, in whose yard the coins, etc., were found, lives on the side of the old Stock Road a highway built perhaps in 1825, and over which thousands of cattle, horses, mules, hogs and sheep were driven by traders form Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and upper east Tennessee to the Southern markets.  

   The only known tragedy so far as known was at what is known as the Pettit Stand, located near the present Old Fort Station of the L & N Railroad.  It was the second stand or stopping place for stockmen south of the Hiwassee River.  The Five Killer place being the first. The later was located near where McKissack now lives.

   Chief Five Killer was a son of Nancy Ward and got his title of Five Killer before coming to this section, and not on account of killing anyone at or near the present location of Kingsville.  According to his grand nephew, Jack Hildebrand, who lived here until his death several years ago, the Chief got the name Five Killer a result of a battle between the whites and Cherokees up about Long Island, in which Chief Five Killer, then known as Little Fellow, led in the battle, in which battle five whites were killed.  He is corroborated in his statement by a letter written by Co. William Lyman C. Draper, under date of November 25, 1842 as follows:

   “A little more about Nancy Ward, her influence, etc.  It may be remarked that although the Indian females are much degraded, yet circumstances would sometimes combine to elevate someone to great power. Such was the case with this distinguished woman.  In addition to other advantages, she had a son and brother who were distinguished warriors, the son called The Little Fellow, being small; the other Long Fellow, being tall.  I have seen them both often.  They were brother and uncle-in-law to my father.

   Now an anecdote about him and this Little Fellow.  During the time which elapsed between Christian’s campaign in 1776 and the treaty at the Island in June 1777, my father commanded a company on Clinch at a place called Rye Cove.  A party of men at a little distance from the fort were attacked by this Little Fellow and a party.  My father and others ran out.  They had a little fight; a few were killed.  After my father was appointed agent and had married into the family, they became acquainted and talked the matter over, and from their account of the affair they were individually opposed to each other, yet both escaped without injury. He was a great friend to my father, so was the Long Fellow and Watts.”

   It seems clear that Chief Five Killer got his title by reason of the battle referred to in the letter, and not by reason of anything done by him after coming to this section of the country.  However, he is credited with killing the last buffalo to be killed in the county.  And that credit is given him by the same great-nephew, Jack Hildebrand as follows:

   “My grand-uncle, Five Killer” Hildebrand once said, “killed the last buffalo ever killed in this county.  This was right below the Pippenger place where Dr Wright used to live, and is buried at the Hancock place, along with his mother.”

   The place where it is claimed the last buffalo was killed later became the site of the first Cherokee Indian Church in this country.    


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