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Catherine Sherrill Sevier ~ Tennessee


Among the pioneers from the banks of the Yadkin in North Carolina who crossed the mountains to seek new homes in the valley of the Holston, was Samuel Sherrill with his family consisting of several sons and two daughters. One of these daughters, Susan, married Colonel Taylor; the other, Catherine became the second wife of General Sevier. With the family of Sherrill came that of Jacob Brown, from North Carolina. These two families were intimately associated, and intermarried later.

Colonel Sherrill took an active part with the Bledsoes against the Cherokee Indians, in 1776. In the attack on the fort, one of the mien seeking shelter was killed. A story is told of Miss Sherrill, who was distinguished for her nerve and fleetness of foot. When scrambling over the stockade in her effort to gain an entrance to the fort, she found she was being assisted by someone on the other side. The savages were gaining so rapidly and were then so close upon her that she decided she must leap the wall or die. In leaping over, she fell into the hands of her rescuer, Captain John Sevier. This was their introduction. At this time Captain Sevier was a married man, his wife and younger children not having arrived from Virginia. In 1779, his wife died, leaving him ten children, and in 1780, he and Miss Sherrill were married.

Not long after their marriage, Colonel Sevier was called to the duty of raising troops to meet the invasion of the interior of North Carolina by the British, and Colonel Sevier took part in the battle of King's Mountain. His brother was killed in this engagement, and one son severely wounded.

The second Mrs. Sevier was the mother of eight children, three sons, and five daughters, making a family of eighteen children, to all of whom Mrs. Sevier was equally devoted. The life of her husband was one of incessant action, adventure, and contest, and the history of the Indian wars of east Tennessee and of the settlement of the country, and the organization of the state government, furnish a record of the deeds of his life. Mrs. Sevier's influence was widespread and evenly exerted, and was resultant of good even among the captive Indian prisoners.

The Tories gave Colonel Sevier more personal trouble than even the Indians, as they endeavored to confiscate his property, and Mrs. Sevier was frequently obliged to hide her stock of household articles to protect her family against suffering. She is pictured as tall in stature, stately, with piercing blue eyes, raven locks, and firm mouth, of most commanding presence, inspiring respect and admiration. She devoted her entire life to her husband's advancement and career, and the care of her children. Her trust in God and the power of her husband made her decline on all occasions the protection of the nearest fort, and once when urged "to fort," as it was then called, she said: "I would as soon die by the tomahawk and the scalping knife as by famine. I put my trust in that Power who rules the armies of heaven and among the men on the earth. I know my husband has an eye and an arm for the Indians and the Tories who would harm us and though he is gone often, and for a week at a time, he comes home when I least expect him and always covered with laurels. If God protects him whom duty calls into danger, so will He those who trust in Him and stand at their post. He would stay out if his family forted." This was the spirit of Catherine Sevier.

At one time when attacked by the Tories, who demanded her husband's whereabouts in order to hang him to the highest tree in front of his own house, she replied to the man who stood over her with a drawn pistol: "Shoot! shoot! I am not afraid to die, but remember that while there is a Sevier on the earth my blood will not be unavenged." He did not shoot, and the leader of the band said: "Such a woman is too brave to die." And again when they came to rob her smokehouse and carry off all the meat put aside for her family, she took down the gun which her husband always left her in good order, and said: "The one who takes down a piece of meat is a dead man." Her appearance and manner were so unmistakable that she was left unmolested. She was distinguished for her kindness and liberality to the poor; always gentle and loving, but firm and determined when occasion demanded. The mere motion of her hand was enough for her family and servants to understand that her decision was invincible. Her husband was called upon to serve as the Governor of Tennessee and to a seat in the Congress of the United States.

These honors were a great gratification and happiness to her, whose belief and trust in the ability and greatness of her husband never diminished one jot or tittle during his entire life. After his death, in 1815, Mrs. Sevier removed to middle Tennessee, and made her home in a most romantic spot on the side of one of the isolated mountains, and here she resided for years alone save for the attendance of two faithful darky servants. The last few years of her life were spent with her son in Alabama, and there she died on the 2nd of October, 1836, aged eighty-two years.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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