Doublehead had a love for fine horses and owned some fifty head of horses at his death. His prized possession was Postman, a beautiful stud horse. Doublehead bought Postman from Old Peelin who he paid 1,000 dollars for the racing horse. Postman was the horse he had planned to use to improve the quality of his herd. He had another horse that he rode on a daily basis that he bought for 700 dollars.
As bad as it sounds, in the early 1800’s, Doublehead paid more for Postman than the value of most of his slaves; therefore to Doublehead, his horse Postman was more valuable than a human life. Postman was kept on his farm at South West Point. Doublehead had two places where he had his horses and cattle. One was at South West Point near the mouth of the Clinch River where it runs into the Tennessee. Two of Doublehead’s daughters who had married Samuel Riley and Doublehead's 16 Riley grandchildren lived on the place at South West Point. Doublehead’s other farm was at the Muscle Shoals where he had some 40 horses. At the shoals, Doublehead raised his horses and cattle at Brown’s Ferry until 1802, and then he moved near the mouth of Blue Water Creek where he lived until his death on August 9, 1807.
Bird Tail Doublehead was the son of Doublehead and Nancy Drumgoole. Bird Tail lived at South West Point with Thomas Norris Clark who provided boarding and schooling. He gave a sworn statement about his father’s estate on June 21, 1838, which included Postman and Doublehead’s other horses as follows: “Affiant recollects well to have seen a considerable quantity of property belonging to his father. Consisting of a large stock of horses, he thinks 30 or 40 head, old and young. Among them one brown stud horse (Postman) purchased by affiant's father from Old Peelin for the sum of $1000, one thousand dollars. This horse [mah] a stand at South West Point. Affiant's father was a stock raiser and had some fine breed mares and was trying to improve his stock of horses.
The next fall after Doublehead was killed Clark went to the Muscle Shoals and to the late residence of affiant's father he did not inform affiant when he started what was his beliefs or where he was going. After an absence of some weeks Clark returned home to Kingston and brought with him 21, twenty one, Negroes and some horses. Phillips the store keeper also came back with Clark. Phillips informed affiant that Clark had got the Negroes and horses at the residence of affiant's father...
When affiant started Clark let him have one [Roane] pony five or six years old to ride away with his mother and an old saddle and bridle worth in all not exceeding $32 or 40. Clark never let affiant have any of the property or money of said estate except the pony, bridle, saddle, noit even money to bear affiant's expenses home. Nor did affiant believe Clark ever accounted to affiant's said sisters for one cent of the proceeds of the property of said estate. Nor has he to the knowledge of affiant ever accounted in any way for said property” (Bird Tail Doublehead, June 21, 1838). Based on Bird Tail Doublehead’s testimony, it appears that Thomas Norris Clark, the white founder of Kingston, Tennessee, got Postman and some of Doublehead’s horses at Muscle Shoals.
In addition, there was an affidavit given by Doublehead’s niece, Catherine Pumpkin Boy Spencer, who lived for some 12 years at the Muscle Shoals home of Doublehead. On June 8, 1838, she gave a sworn testimony on Doublehead’s estate. A portion of the affidavit given below is another description of Doublehead’s herd of horses: “There were 30 head of cows and calves worth $12.00 each--$360.00 and about 100 head of fine stock cattle, big and sturdy heifers all worth 5 to 8 dollars each $650.00 one fine stud horse at home worth as the people said $700.00 and one other stud horse (Postman) at South West Point said by the people to be worth $1,000.00 and there were 8 other fine mares and geldings bought of Rik=e=ti=yah = John Christy’s mother worth $100 each -- $800.00 and nine other head of common draw horses and colts worth about 50 or 60 dollars each, say 55 on an average $495.00 and five good horses called first rate and worth $500.00 Doublehead paid a fine negro named Mary for the 8 bought of John Christy’s mother with a view to increase his stock of horses, and that negro was not any of those housed here==this John Christy has gone to Sekausas”(Catherine Pumpkin Boy Spencer, June 8, 1838).
During the Chickamauga War, Doublehead stole a lot of horses on his raids into the Cumberland settlements. During the war, over 2,000 horses were reported stolen by Doublehead’s Chickamauga warriors. The following is a funny account of one battle where the Chickamauga lost the battle because of horses and dogs:
April 1, 1781—About 400 Chickamauga, most of the Lower Cherokee faction, set an ambush around the fort. The next morning, three Indians were sent out as decoys to lure the armed men out of the fort. The plan worked to perfection when about 20 of the settlers rode their horses out of the fort and chased the Indians into the ambush they had set. As the settlers dismounted, they were surrounded by hundreds of Indians. Captain James Leiper, Peter Gill, Alex Buchanan, John Kesenger, Zachariah White, George Kennedy, and John Kennedy were killed. Kasper Mansker, James Manifee, Joseph Moonshaw, Isaac Lucas, and Edward Swanson were wounded.
Fort Nashborough Historic Marker
Two things allowed most of the men to make it back to the fort. First, the settler horses spooked and many Indians tried to catch the animals. Second, Mrs. Robertson turned loose some 50 vicious dogs which attacked the Indians with such force they became overwhelmed. Mrs. Robertson later said, “Thank God that he had given Indians a love of horses and a fear of dogs”.
Read more about Doublehead in my new book-Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief! The book should be available around the first of February 2012.