Anne R. Cockrill

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Candace Corrigan
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Radio Portraits inspired from women's diaries written 1779-1959

MapAnne R. Cockrill 1757-1821
Journey from Watauga Settlement
to Nashville 1779-1780,

Honored as first Tennessee teacher

In 1779, a group of long-hunters journeyed over Tennessee mountains, crossing the Cumberland River on Christmas day. At the same time, the other half of their party, including wives and children, departed in a flotilla of rafts, bound for present day Nashville, TN. No one in the river expedition had ever traversed the one thousand miles of dangerous waterway before them. One third of their company perished in ambush or exposure before the survivors finally arrived in April 1780. Anne Robertson Johnson was a 22 year old widow on the flagship "Adventure" of the expedition. She survived to marry James Cockrill, one of Nashville first pioneers. The Tennessee Educators Association honors her as Tennessee first immigrant teacher.

Adventure on the Cumberland

In the coldest part of the winter 1779
We took our departure from the Fort at Christmas time
My brother and his party would meet us overland
to our final destination on the river Cumberland

Our journey was a voyage on the winding waterways
And asking God's permission we set out that bitter day
With sundry other vessel that answered to the call
We named our boat "Adventure" the flagship to us all

With a thousand miles between us we set sail upon that day
And a danger ever present at each bend along the way
Icy waters of the current and the damage of the shoals
Or the war cries of the Indians that could scar your very soul

Many days and a fair distance we passed in such distress
We were compelled to leave the lost out in the wilderness
When captured by the Indians, their tragic cries were clear
and plainly heard by those on boats bringing up the rear

One morning proving foggy we stopped to rest awhile
The wife of Ephriam Peyton was delivered of a child
Her husband, with my brother, had proceeded overland
was awaiting her arrival on the river Cumberland

The next day that same boat was caught up in a mire
And Indians on cliffs above shot down a galling fire
Being perfectly astonished, we feared the men were dead
As the bullets rained down on them and the boat was pushed ahead

The women that were left on board saw their only hope
Started throwing out provisions to lighten up the boat
In the hurry and confusion and disaster of the day
The infant was thrown overboard in the haste to get away

Right around the river bend we heard an awful roar
And the fury of the water we had never seen before
In the roiling of the whirl I feared we break in two
But Providence was on our side and we came safely through

The remainder of the trip we were hungry and fatigued
We landed at the settlement very much relieved
All the bravery a soul can know I came to understand
On our fateful trip we undertook to the river Cumberland

Special thanks to Willy Meyers and the boys from Ireland for their help on this recording.

Song Source:
"Journal of a Voyage"
, by Captain John Donelson, Three Pioneer Documents, Nashville, 1964

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