Sunday, November 2, 2014

Turkey and Hog Drives

The French Broad River: Photo credit: zen Southerland Some rights reserved Photo Link

At the end of suumer, farmers would round up their turkeys or hogs to get them ready for market. Usually hogs and turkeys were allowed to run run loose and forage for themselves in the warm summer months.

When the animals were sufficiently fattened for the long journey to market, the drovers would begin their long trip to the markets in the East. Some of the drovers came from as far away as Kentucky. In East Tennessee, these drives started from Greeneville, Rogersville, Dandridge and Knoxville. At these starting points, farmers with just a few animals would take them to town to sell to the drovers. The caravans of turkies and hogs shared the road with other travelers. Turkeys from Rogerville had to be ferried across the river and at other places as well.

These caravans of turkeys and hogs were an inconvience for other traveler, but they were like a circus coming to town for the little boys who watched the turkeys and hogs being marched down the main street of town with the men, with their whips cracking and their distinctive call urging them all. Many a young boy had daydreams about joining this circus-like caravan one day.

Photo credit: George Thomas Some rights reserved

Neither turkeys or hogs could travel very far in a day, so there was a need for places to stay and to buy food along the way. Little hog stands sprung up along the way that provided pens for the hogs and sold local corn for the hogs to eat. As traffic increased, some of these hogstands became taverns and inns, providing a stopping place for bothe drivers and other travelers. The drivers could also get a hot meal and a place to stay. Turkey driver had to find a suitable place for the turkeys to roost at night and be there to round them up again in the morning.

The paths generally followed old Indian trains along the French Broad River from Warm Springs to Marshall, Woodfin and on to Asheville. In Ashville the road crosses Pack Square in downtown Asheville, where drover had the opportunity to sell the turkeys or hogs, or continue along the the road that eventually led to the markets in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston Market Photo credit, adapted from the work of (L) Harvey Craft Some rights reserved and (R) J. P. Shannon Some rights reserved

More details and history:

The turkey and hog drives from East Tennessee to the markets in North carolina started before Tennessee became a state. On July 8, 1795 Governor Blount, of the Territory south of the River Ohio now called Tennessee, submitted to the Council of that territory several papers respecting the opening of a wagon road from Buncombe Courthouse in North Carolina to this Territory. (Source: Asheville and Buncombe County, Forster Alexander Sondley, Theodore Fulton Davidson, p. 104 ) The govenor of South Carolina proposed improvements to the Buncob Rd as early as 1796. The route followed old Indian Pathes along the French Broad River. As the popluation grew, there was a need for better roads.

"However, the best way to market their corn was by feeding it to hogs, cattle, and turkeys. ... forming an almost continuous string of hogs from Tennessee to Asheville."  Source: The Buncombe Turnpike - North Carolina Digital History

"The hogs were started to market only after they had consumed the growers supply of corn and had been fattened sufficiently to be butchered. (Burnett, p. 88) The fattening began as soon as the corn was sufficiently mature to feed, which was about the middle of August and reached the finishing stage in late October. Driving was concentrated in November. Between 1832-33, it is estimated that 5,oo head of hogs were driven each year (Cocke County) Tennessee Gazateer 1834

"From an early period, cattle and hogs driven to the markets of the Carolinas and Georgia were a principal form of export. Moreover, East Tennessee was a half-way point for Kentucky drivers passing through Cumberland Gap on their way to southern markets, ... Chattanooga, Knoxville, Greeneville, and Morristown were some of the concentration points for shipping of the different classes of livestock." Source: Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Tennessee, State Agricultural and Mechanical College 1959

Hog stands ferry at Del Rio (see the railroad comes to Big Creek Del Rio the ferry was next to the schoolhouse. old Huff fort

Want to be a driver?
Requirements; be in good shape, have sturdy shoes and two pair of socks (Burnett, p. 91)

As traffic along these paths incresed, there as a need to improve these roads, in 1807, there was a petition to the state government to improve the the Saluda Gap Road. These roads were used by early travelers, as well as drovers.

North Carolina

* 1838 US Mail contract: Leave Knoxville every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 6 am arrive at Warm Springs next days by 6 pm. Leave Warm Springs every Monday Wednesday and Saturday at 4 am arrive at Knoxville next days by 6 pm. (Source: index to documents printed by order of the senate of the United States, 1939, p. 243)
Warm Springs (Hot Springs now), was the gateway into North Carolina on the old drover's path and part of the old Buncomb Turnpike that ran along the French Broad River connecting Greeneville, Tennessee with Greenville, South Carolina.

In 1828, completion of the Buncombe Turnpike through Warm Springs connecting Tennessee and Kentucky to the East Coarst, with the best roads in the South, definitely put Warm Springs on the map. Farmer drove their stock through Warm Springs on their way to market and returned with goods and cash.

 In 1824, the North Carolina legislature to improve Buncomb Turnpike to Saluda Gap.  David L. Swain, Buncombe County legislator, in 1824 sponsored a bill “for the purpose of laying out and making a turnpike road from the Saluda Gap . . . by the way of . . . Warm Springs to the Tennessee line.” (Source: North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program, Link). 

Along the Saluda River  Photo credit: Brenda Wiley Some rights reserved

It is estimated that as many as 160,000 hogs came through this path. Progress was tediously slow along this route and drivers would only be able to go six or eight miles a day before having to camp for the night. They depended on camps or inns along the way for a place to feed and pen their livestock and hopefully a hot meal and a warm place place for them to sleep as well. One of the most famous of these was the Alexander Inn in Alexandria, North Carolina.
Another popular place to stay was Sherrill's Inn

An outline geological map of Tennessee, including portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia


South Carolina

Poinsett Bridge Photo Credit: (L) Stephen Duckworth, (M) cmh12315fl, (R) markemark4,

"Greenville was then not only a place of resort during the summer months but a thoroughfare of travel from the west during the winter Droves of horses mules and hogs from Tennessee and Kentucky poured through the Saluda gap down the Buncombe road to Greenville and from this point were distributed through the State Every five or six miles along the Buncombe road and also below Greenville were taverns or houses of entertainment where many fortunes have been made from this year round travel The old houses are still standing many of them but their customers and their prestige have departed. (Source: The Greenville Century Book: S. S. Crittenden, p. 45 Link)
"Then too even as early as 1800 stock raisers of Kentucky and Tennessee had begun to drive their hogs and horses and cattle in large droves through Buncombe County to the markets of South Carolina and Georgia This species of travel greatly increased when the Buncombe Turnpike was opened To such an extent was this increase that at the proper season of the year one passing along that road in daytime was scarcely ever out of sight and hearing of one or more of these droves Even turkeys were driven to market in the same way the drivers using whips with pieces of red flannel tied to the end of the lash At one period there passed through Asheville in these droves every year from 140,000 to 160,000 hogs in the months of November and December For the entertainment of these drivers and their droves taverns sprung up along the road at about every five miles and their capacities were often taxed to the utmost The country raised the corn which in enormous quantities was required to meet the demands of this extensive business This brought considerable profits to the farmers the merchants and the innkeepers and prosperity to the entire community The business of driving stock continued though in decreasing quantities until about 1870 when it ceased Railroads had increased everywhere and furnished the stock raisers of Kentucky and Tennessee cheaper and quicker methods of reaching the markets with their products." (Source: The Greenville Century Book: S. S. Crittenden Link p. 168)

A rememberance of hog drovers:
All of us had ambitions in those
days and life has not turned cut precisely as we expected.
My earliest and fondest ambition was to be a hog
driver. Henry Young will remember
with what excitement the whole com-
munity was thrilled when the news
came that a drove of Tennessee or
Kentucky hogs were on the way from
Donaldsville, and with what enthu-
siasm the grand men were hailed as
with their "ho-ho-ho" they cracked
their lougo whips in the air and drove
their squealing, grunting victims down
to Hawthorne's lot for sale and sacri-
fice. But the hog drover has passed
out, and the cookings of the melts on
red hot stones, and the blowing up of
the bladders, and the souse and the
sausage, and the cracklings are only
a memory in those advanced times
of the stockyard and the combination
(Source: The Anderson intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, S.C.), 11 Jan. 1905. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

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