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How we came to Sevier County, Tn

From the lowlands of Scotland to Ireland!


Aboard the Great Ship of Destiny


Across the Great Atlantic Ocean!


From Pennsylvania, then the Virginias, to the Carolinas, on to Cocke County, Tn and resting in Sevier County, Tn!


To the Hills Of Tennessee!


How We Got To Cocke and Sevier County, Tennessee

During the 1700s many Scotch-Irish and German immigrants arrived in America. They and their children settled parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The word Scotch-Irish is confusing. It is an American word that probably would not be understood in Scotland or Ireland. It is both correct and misleading. It is correct when understood in the historical context of settlers first leaving Lowland Scotland for Ulster, in northern Ireland during the 1600s, and then younger generations emigrating to North America during the 1700s. The hyphenated name Scotch-Irish reads like a double adjective, but in the 1800s, it was meant to distinguish from Irish. The Scotch-Irish were mostly Presbyterian Protestants while the Irish were mostly Roman Catholic. The name Scotch-Irish is even more ironic if considered over the last 2000 years. That is because Scots first lived in Ireland and migrated to what is now called Scotland. They were pagans with no written language, painted their bodies, and were regarded as barbarians by Romans and other civilized societies. Ironically, after 1000 years, the Scots' name was applied to a Pict-Scot-Angle-Saxon-Norman-Viking-Irish ethnically mixed society with a political system modeled after England, yet fiercely independent.

Feudal governments throughout Europe made laws requiring individuals to take on surnames to better account for taxes and required military service. In 1053, Scotland's King Malcolm Canmore decreed that each landowner use his property name as a surname. Gradually, this practice applied to everyone. Some people chose a surname describing where he lived, like Brook. Others chose a surname that described his profession, like Taylor, Cooper, and Smith. Until about 1500, an individual could select any surname. Later, laws made a surname hereditary. The Surname Ramsey Evolved From The Name For Wild Garlic, Hramsa. People In Ireland Who Lived In The Lowland Areas Where Hramsa Grew Eventually Were Referred As Hramsa People, And Later, Ramsey Or Ramsay.

Beginning about 1720, most Scotch-Irish immigrants entered America through ports Philadelphia or New Castle, Delaware, and first settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Scotch-Irish from Ulster were often called "Irish" or "Irish Presbyterians." Before 1763, France claimed the entire Mississippi River watershed. Its Fort Duquesne blocked English settlement west of Pennsylvania. Because of that, Indian conflicts, and rising Pennsylvania land prices, younger Scotch-Irish and Germans moved south along what was called Great Wagon Road.


In mid 1700s, the Presbyterian New Side movement appealed to rural less-educated churchgoers. New hymns not based on psalms were accepted. Even today, Presbyterian hymnbooks reflect this history. A large section contains psalm-based hymns that predate 1800. Since 1663, colonial government practiced religious toleration to encourage immigration. The earliest Scotch-Irish settlements in the Piedmont were too isolated to be influenced by the coastal established church. Presbyterians built churches and actively sought trained preachers. As the Piedmont became better organized, the established church attempted to assert its authority. Marriages had to occur in an established church. In reaction, many Presbyterians signed anti-vestry petitions arguing that rules were too burdensome and illegitimatized existing churches.

In 1754, Arthur Dobbs, an Ulster politician, was appointed North Carolina colonial governor. He encouraged settlement by more Ulstermen. His residence and seat of government was Brunswick Town near the Cape Fear River mouth. Original Saint Philip's Anglican Church Governor Arthur Dobbs burial site. Brunswick Town, North Carolina Carolina Piedmont (17561770) Large concentrations of Scotch-Irish settled in part of Anson Country that became Mecklenburg County. One community positioned itself on a hilltop ridge between two parallel creeks, later named Irwin and Little Sugar Creeks. The latter is named for Sugaree Indians. After 11 December 1762, when Mecklenburg County was formed.

American Revolution
Years 17751778

Of all groups, Scotch-Irish were the strongest supporters of the American Revolution 17761781. In some respects, the American Revolution was a continuation of anti-government tension between Ulster and England. Even nicknames Whig and Tory transferred. Originally, Whig meant a Presbyterian guerrilla fighter, and Tory meant an Irish bandit, or worse, king supporter. Many Scotch-Irish were former soldiers or at most two generations removed from conflicts in Ireland or Scotland. All landholders wanted legal protection for their property and also lower taxes. On 1920 May 1775, a group of Mecklenburg's most prominent residents met in Charlotte and signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

In late spring of 1776, Cherokees raided throughout western Carolinas and Tennessee killing at least 44 settlers. In retaliation, colonists organized a small army under General Griffith Rutherford. It destroyed Cherokee crops and villages as far west as present-day Franklin, North Carolina. By May 1777, Cherokees were starving and their resistance collapsed.

On 12 April 1776, delegates to the Fourth Provincial Congress, meeting in Halifax, unanimously authorized North Carolina's three Continental Congress delegates to vote for independence. This was the Halifax Resolves. The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen United States was signed by state representatives on 4 July 1776. It contains a justification similar to the argument in Mecklenburg Resolves, "He has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us." Many signers were Scotch-Irish. They understood the enemy's language, culture, and military methods and started this awesome task with resolve and confidence. Most men followed the lead of their local militia leaders.

During the summer 1780, Scotsman Major Patrick Ferguson recruited loyalists militia in upstate South Carolina. In reaction, patriot militia harassed these loyalists. On 8 August, about 400 patriots defended their camp at Wofford's Iron Works, near Cedar Springs, near present-day Spartanburg, South Carolina. By late September, Ferguson had over 1100 loyalists. He sent a threatening verbal message to rebels in western North Carolina, which at that time included present-day Tennessee, saying he would "march over the mountains, hang leaders, and lay waste the country with fire and sword." This threat was certainly counterproductive since among the addressees it provoked venomous hatred. More than 400 Scotch-Irish rebels, some called over-mountain men, assembled and pursued Ferguson. On 30 September, they camped at Quaker Meadows, the wide bottomland just north of present-day Morganton, North Carolina. There an equal number of Scotch-Irish from Surrey County joined.

After the war, many Scotch-Irish moved west. What had been Cherokee land in upstate South Carolina was settled by Scotch-Irish from Rowan and Mecklenburg Counties, North Carolina. That area became Spartanburg County. Many veterans acquired bounty land warrants in Tennessee and Kentucky and moved there with their families during the 1780s and 1790s.

During the 1700s most emigrants from Ireland were from Ulster. They sometimes referred to themselves as Irish because, at that time, Ireland had a central government in Dublin that was Protestant. That condition changed in the early 1800s after union with Great Britain. This larger political unit made reform possible. Catholics gained the right to vote and hold public office. It was not until the late 1800s that Irish independence attracted much support. During the potato famine 18451849, many Irish Catholics emigrated. In North America, these immigrants suffered severe prejudice and were unfairly regarded as criminals. The modern word Scotch-Irish dates from this time to distinguish the two immigrant groups. So although the word was laced with prejudice, today that distinction is virtually forgotten.

Cocke County lies in the shape of a triangle with its base resting on the Great Smoky Mountain. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Hamblen and Greene Counties, and on the west and southwest by Sevier and Jefferson. It has an area of about 540 square miles. It is traversed by the French Broad and Big Pigeon Rivers which form a junction a short distance above the mouth of the Nolachucky. The territory now embraced in Cocke County began to be settled in 1783, along the "Chuckey." The next year several persons located in that fertile section since known as the "Irish Bottom." The first settlement on Cosby Creek was doubtless made by Samuel Odell. Daniel Adams lived at War Ford of Big Pigeon. His house stood on the lot now occupied by the residence of Maj. William McSween. The first church in Cocke County was organized by the Baptists at Upper War Ford some time prior to 1794, as it was represented in the Holston Association of that year by Joshua Kelly, Peter Fine and John Netherton.

Now, it is not clear to me where the Ramsey`s first came to in Tennessee. Whether it was Washington County, Greene County or Cocke County that they first settled is yet to be determined. By studying the following maps, Click Here will aid in finding out. William Ramsey gives Virginia as his place of birth. Where in Virginia remains undetermined as well. They lived on the Cocke and Sevier County Line. Both counties hold important early records of our Ramsey`s. The earliest records are in Cocke County. Cocke County was created by an Act of the General Assembly, passed in October, 1797. It was cut off from Jefferson County and was named in honor of Gen. William Cocke, one of the most distinguished of the pioneers of Tennessee. The old town of Newport was laid out in 1799, but it never attained much importance except as the seat of justice. In 1830 it was a village of only 150 inhabitants, and consisted of but two stores and five or six shops. Of the first inhabitants but little is known. One of the first stores was opened by Charles Lewin. The merchants of a later date were William C. Roadman, John and George Stuart, Smith & Siler, Rankin & Pulliam, James W. Rankin and William McSween.

For many years after the town was establisiled it was without a church building. The Methodists worshiped in a house about one mile below town, but subsequenty erected a new building in the town. The Presbyterians held services in the academy until about 1837, when they also built a church. In 1880 the inhabitants of the town numbered 347, but since that time the growth has been quite rapid, and the population is now about 1,000.

The business interests at the present time are represented by the following firms: Ragan & Kniseley, J. S. Susong, Barr & Burnett, Clark, Robinson & Co., D. A. Mimms, Jones Bros. & Co.. C. H. Allen and Robinson & Cody, general merchandise; J. J. O'Neil & Co. and Ramsey & Snoddy, drugs; Hill & Connelly, stoves and tinware; Denton & Willis, furniture and undertakers, and Miss Sallie Anderson, books and stationery.

As the Ramsey family grew, while living in Cocke, Sevier and even Jefferson County, families would eventually call all three home. You can even throw in Knoxville, as well as every other county near Cocke. Did the Ramsey`s come to Tennessee directly from Virginia, or did they go to North Carolina after Virginia, and then to Tennessee? I think evidence will support that they were in North Carolina, of course, we know that this same area (Cocke) was once land of North Carolina, but perhaps Mecklenburg, North Carolina was home before Cocke. I believe they lived in Washington and Greene Counties first, or at least, this same area (Cocke) was once known as Washington County. Confusing, yes! The Ramsey family in Knoxville, Francis Ramsey, and his son J.G.M. Ramsey, held deed to 5,000 acres where William Ramsey lived (Indian Creek). This 5,000 acres ends at the boundary line of North Carolina and Tennessee. I believe William and Francis were definitely related, but have yet to prove it. If the reader can help, please write me of your findings. This 5,000 acres is where you will find Ramsey Cascades. This is how it got its name. So, it would go to reason, that they were related, being that they all lived together. I believe J.G.M. Ramsey did not live here, as they were firmly planted in Knoxville. This is where I currently am in my research on the Ramsey`s. More information on all above is needed. -------------David

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