Cemetery dedication speech given by Robert K. Cannon:
I first came to this cemetery with my father in the 1970ís before the Great Flood. It was easy to find the cemetery then and you could enjoy the ride and talk about family and stories handed down from years gone by. After that time, locating the cemetery became a challenge. We searched up and down Hwy 72 for days trying to locate a path to the cemetery. Each time we came, the landscape was different and finding the cemetery nearly impossible. Once found, you risked life and limb entering the cemetery.
Even more difficult was seeing the condition of the cemetery and the graves. On one trip, we found bones which and it couldnít be determined if they were human or animal. Some of the graves had large holes in them and trees were growing everywhere. Many trees had fallen which impeded your progress and any attempt at removing the underbrush. The cemetery was being quickly swallowed by the surrounding landscape.
Despite the hardships encountered in getting here, the cemetery was worth the trip. Seeing the location of the Morganton Ferry and the site of the Tipton home made me feel part of the past.
This cemetery is a tribute to the lives of the persons who lived here. Two patriotic, pioneer families united to tame this land when it was a wilderness. Both of these families, the Tiptons and the Wears, had contributed to their countries and their communities for many generations. In addition to sharing information with you on the history of the cemetery, I want to tell you something about the families of John Butler Tipton and Louisianna Wear and how they got to Monroe Co., Tn.
I will start with the Tipton family. Iím sure all of us are aware of Col. John Tiptonís contributions. I wonít spend time here discussing his accomplishments in Virginia and Tennessee. Iíll only say that Iím proud to be descended from Col. John and hope that one day heíll be recognized as the loyal patriot that he was. I consider Col. John to be the Abraham Lincoln of North Carolina. He swore to uphold the laws of North Carolina west of the mountains and he did this with all of his might. To do otherwise would have been treason. I find no evidence that Col. John ever killed an Indian to gain the allegiance of the settlers. When I write the next book on Tennessee history, Col. John will be the hero.
How did the Tipton family get from Johnson City to Monroe Co.? Jonathan Tipton, Col. Johnís eighth son by Mary Butler Tipton, was born in Shenandoah Co., Va. On June 8, 1776. His mother died within days of his birth. Jonathan moved with his father to East Tennessee and grew to maturity in that location. On March 3, 1795, he married Lavina Williams, daughter of Edmund and Lucretia Adams Williams. Jonathan and Lavina had 13 children before she died in 1836.
Jonathan served in his brother Jacobís company of militia in 1791 and was made a colonel of the Light Horse regiment in the Carter Co. Militia in 1822. He was elected as a member of the legislature from Carter and Washington Counties in 1807 and 1809. In 1810, he moved to Blount Co. and settled at Clover Hill. He represented Blount Co. in the state legislature from 1811 to 1821 and represented both Blount and Monroe Counties in 1825 and 1826. Jonathan moved to Monroe Co. around 1827 and settled at Eveís Mill. He represented Monroe Co. in the legislature during the years 1827 and 1829.
Jonathan Tipton died in 1858 and is buried at Steekee Cemetery in Loudon. His tombstone reads:
"Born and reared in the times that try menís souls
Proved a worthy son of a noble sire, so wise and just was he;
So true to every trust reposed in him, both public and private that
When at a ripe old age he was gathered to this fathers he left to his
Children and his childrenís children a name worthy to be honored and
Revered to their latest generations."
After reading this inscription and knowing the accomplishments and service of Jonathan Tipton, I named by son Jonathan in his memory.
Jonathanís 2nd born child was John Butler Tipton. He was born in Washington Co., Tennessee. In 1797 and died in Monroe Co. in 1873. John Butler married Louisiana Wear, daughter of Capt. Robert Wear and Lucretia Thomas Wear.
John Butler settled in Monroe Co. after it was formed in 1819. He was the first Circuit Court Clerk to serve Monroe Co. and he was appointed by the Court in 1820. He served Monroe Co. in that capacity for 16 years. In addition to his political career, John Butler was a farmer and a surveyor.
John Butler was Surveyor General of the Ocoee District. At one time, John Butler owned over 18,000 acres of land in Monroe Co.
John Butler also was the Monroe Co. representative on the 3 man commission name to form Loudon Co. in the early 1870ís. The other representatives were from Blount and Roane counties.
John Butlerís wife, Louisiana Wear was from an equally accomplished family. Robert Wear married Rebecca Carrell in Bucks Co., Pa. Just outside Philadelphia. Around 1752, Robert and Rebecca moved to Augusta Co., Va. They later moved to East Tennessee with their son Samuel and died in Sevier Co.
Col. Sam Wear, the grandfather of Louisiana Wear began his military life in 1777. He lived near John Sevier in Augusta Col., Va. Col. Sam and John Sevier were friends from boyhood and some believe his friendship with Sevier influenced the family moving to East Tennessee.
Col. Sam married Polly Thompson and together they had 10 children. Col. Sam served in public life for half a century. Col. Samís record and service to Tennessee is well known. He, like Col. John Tipton, signed the original Tennessee constitution in 1796. He was an ardent Indian campaigner and Ramseyís history of Tennessee is full of his achievements.
Col. Sam was a clerk of the State of Franklin and Col. of itís militia. He was a member of the first legislative body assembled in Tennessee. He also served for many years as clerk of Sevier Co., Tn. Col. Sam participated at the battle of Kingís Mtn. and was at the surrender at Yorktown.
Wearís Valley in Sevier Co. is named after Col. .Sam Wear.
Robert Wear, son of Col. Sam Wear, was born in 1781. He married Lucretia Thomas who was a descendent of Isaac Thomas, famed Indian trader and the man who saved the Watagua settlement. Lucretia was also descended from Henry Massengill who was a member of the Watagua settlement.
Robert Wear, like John Butler Tipton, was a surveyor. He was elected surveyor General of the District of French Broad and Holston. The first grants in East were surveyed in 1807 under his supervision. These first survey plots bear his signature as does the survey of his fatherís property at Wearís Fort in Sevier Co.
Louisiana Wear was born to Robert Wear in 1803 and died here in 1890. She bore John Butler Tipton 17 children.
Robert Wearís plantation is on the other side of the Little Tennessee River from this cemetery. The ferry was obviously an adequate method of traversing the river. I will tell you from raising 5 children that they wonít let politics wonít stop them if they find somebody they care for. This must have been true in the 19th century as well.
John Butler and Louisiana Tipton must have endured many challenges during their years of marriage. None could have been more challenging than the Civil War years.
During the early 90ís, I began writing a book on the Civil War. The book was about the 5th Tennessee Infantry to which John Butler gave 3 sons, Gilbert Harrison, Malcolm and Caswell. During research of this book, I uncovered a war claim filed by John Butler describing the familyís experiences during the war.
Every county in East Tennessee was predominantly union. The exception to this was Monroe Co. The majority of people in Monroe Co. sided with the confederacy. Despite the feelings of his neighbors, John Butler Tipton was a staunch union supporter. During the early days of the war, Union men recruited loyal unionists in Tennessee counties. These men would risk their lives and walk to Kentucky to join the Union army. John Butler not outfitted his own sons in this effort, he did the same for others as well. He concealed men who had been conscripted into the confederate army and hid them until they could leave for Kentucky. He fed several families while the husbands and fathers were in the Union army.
East Tennessee was important strategically to the confederacy. The railroad which connected the manufacturing centered of Atlanta was connected to Leeís army in Virginia through East Tennessee. It was of utmost importance to the confederacy to keep control of the area and to keep the railroad running. Consequently, they occupied East Tennessee very early in the war.
The confederate army camped on this land owned by the Tiptons. This land was high ground and important in helping control traffic on the Little Tennessee River. In addition, it gave them the ability to cross the river at will on the ferry to Morganton.
John Butler stated in his claim, ďthe Rebels took much property from me- 950 dozen oats, 1100 bushels of corn, 1 bay mare, 1 sorrel horse, 5000 fence rails, 1500 lbs of beef cattle 250 lbs. of mutton, 3000 lbs of pork. I was often threatened to be hanged was often molested in every conceivable way that a man and his family could be. My family as well as myself was often and much abused. My female family was abused and had to do much cooking for the Rebels. They were molested day and night all on account of my Union sentiments.
After the battle of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, Grant sent Gen. Wm. T. Sherman and Phillip Sheridan to Knoxville. This was just after the siege of Knoxville and Grant thought the Union army had been beaten by Longstreetís army. Shermanís army marched onto the Tipton property on December 3, 1863. Despite his Union sentiments, the Tiptonís werenít treated much better by Sherman. They began to tear down his fences and buildings to build a pontoon bridge across the river. Shermanís army tore down 24,300 fence rails for fuel, one large warehouse and 2 other warehouses to build the bridge as well as 400 cords of timber, 100 bushels of wheat, 150 bushels of corn, 2000 lbs of hay and 11 barrels of flour.
John Butler died in 1873.