An American Family History


Long Hunters


Long Hunters trecked into the wilderness during the winter for hunting trips that could last six months. Many long hunts started in the Holston River Valley. They packed in flour and powder and lead and brought out fur pelts and hides.

From Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, "The Boren Family of Southwest Virginia" by Kerry Ross Boren

...The "great hunt" was organized in 1769, the parties meeting eight miles from Fort Chiswell on New River, consisting of more than twenty-five men, of whom the following are known: Gasper Mansker, Bazel Boren, Elisah Wallen (whose descendants married into the Boren family on the Watauga), Obediah Terrell, John Rains, Abraham and Isaac Bledsoe, Joseph and John Baker, Joseph Drake, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, New Cowan, Robert Crockett, William Carr, James Dysart, Thomas Kilgore, Jacob Harmon, William Crabtree, James Aldridge, Thomas Gordon, Humphrey Hogan and Castleton Brooks.


CONTRARY to the belief of some, the Tennessee long-hunters were not called long-hunters because they had long hair, nor were they called long hunters because the barrels of their remarkable home-made rifles were long, although those barrels certainly were long. They were called long-hunters because they would leave their homes and come into the Tennessee wilderness for hunts which would last months and even as long as a year.

There was poetry and adventure in the souls of these long-hunters. Daniel Boone, Isaac Bledsoe, Kasper Mansker, and all of the others. Not only was Cordell Hull descended from such stock but, during his boy hood and early manhood, he had constant reminders of them. The countryside where young Hull once had a law office is celebrated because in that region Uriah Stone and his party of long-hunters on a single hunt killed 105 bears, 75 buffalo and 80 deer.(from Chattanooga Daily Times, November 14, 1943)

The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser
Baker, John, Joseph, William & enslaved man    
Berry, Thomas    
Bledsoe, Abraham    
Bledsoe, Anthony    
Bledsoe, Isaac    
Blevins, John    
Blevins, William    
Boone, Daniel    
Boone, Squire    
Carr, William b. 1741 in Virginia, mixed race  
Cox, Charles    
Crockett, Robert    
Hughes, John    
Mansker, Kasper    
Nave, Teeter    
Oglesby, Elisha    
Stone, Uriah    
Terrell, Obediah    
Wallen, Elisha    

Teter Nave








The New River flows through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia .In 1755, Mary Draper Ingles (1732-1815) was captured by Shawnee warriors near Blacksburg and taken to Ohio. She escaped and made her way home by following the Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers.

from Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, March, 1970, "The Long Hunters," by Emory L. Hamilton

A very interesting letter is to be found in the Draper Collection written by General William Hall, of Locustland, Tennessee, to Dr. Draper, dated 21st of July 1845, wherein he says:

Sir, you wish to know something about Colonel Bledsoe's discovering Bledsoe's Lick, and the route of the long hunters, and Colonel Mansker's killing the buffaloes at Bledsoe's Lick for the tallow and tongues.

The long hunters principally resided in the upper country of Virginia, and North Carolina, on the New River and Holston River, and when the intended to make a long hunt, as they called it, they collected near the head of Holston, near where Abingdon now stands. Thence they proceeded a westerly direction passing through Powell's Valley crossing the Cumberland mountain where the road now crosses leading to the Crab Orchard in Kentucky. Then crossing the Cumberland River where the said road now crosses Rockcastle, and leaving the Crab Orchard to the right and continuing nearly the said course, crossing the head of Green River, going on through the Barrens, crossing Big Barren River at the mouth of Drake's Creek; thence up Drake's Creek to the head, crossing the ridge which divides the waters of the Ohio River from the waters of the Cumberland, and the hunters, after crossing the ridge, either went down Bledsoe's Creek, or Station Camp Creek to the river and then spread out in the Cumberland ready to make their hunt.




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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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