|Joshua Bartlett House|
|Joshua Bartlett Grave|
|Joshua's house where he died.|
|Joshua's first house in Buffalo Valley. Built in the 1830s.|
Joshua, known as “Josh”, was born on January 4, 1811 in Dry Valley, White County, (now Putnam County) Tennessee, the seventh of nine children born to Joseph and Millicent Rice Bartlett. When he was four his family moved to Spring Creek, Overton County, Tennessee. Joshua’s family was attending the Spring Creek Baptist Church and later in 1813 Anna’s family was also attending the same church. Perhaps this is where they met. About 1832, Joshua married Anna Anderson whose family lived at Blackburn’s Fork, Jackson County, Tennessee which was close to Spring Creek. Both families attended the Spring Creek Baptist Church. When each of his children married, Thomas Anderson (Anna’s father) gave them $10.00 to start housekeeping and a cow and calf valued at $10.00 Anna, known as ”Annie”, was born March 16, 1816, in the Blackburn’s Fork community of Jackson County, Tennessee, the sixth of ten children born to Thomas Shirley and Judith (Robinson) Anderson. Anna was about 5 feet 2 inches tall and very thin, weighing about 115 pounds. Anna had light hair, a fairly dark complexion with blue eyes. She was quite handsome but never had a picture taken as she didn't believe in it. About 1834, Joshua and Anna moved to Buffalo Valley, Jackson County, which became Putnam County in 1854. Buffalo Valley was a country of buffalo and cane thickets. The last buffalo to be killed in the surrounding country was killed in Buffalo Valley, and that is how Buffalo Valley got its name. The exact place where the buffalo was killed was at “Ned” Anderson’s (Anna’s brother) spring. Joshua likely went to Buffalo Valley because Anna had three brothers living there - Gallant, Ned and Tom Anderson and because they could buy land from the government at 35 cents an acre. Anna’s father divided out gold which he gave to them to pay for the land. They lived there until Joshua died in 1881. Joshua and Snowden Maddux owned a water mill. Joshua had a grist mill (corn) and later a wheat and corn mill with a saw mill attached and also a cotton mill (gin). William Hoggard ran the grist, corn and wheat mills for Joshua from about 1860 to1870. More than thirty years later, Joshua Bartlett’s grandson, Sylvanus Bartlett, married William Hoggard’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Hoggard. Anna’s father, Thomas Anderson, who was very wealthy, sent word for her to come to his place and he would give her a slave or two. She selected a wench, as the female slaves were called, named Aisley. When Aisley learned she was selected, she cried because she didn’t want to leave all of her children. Not wanting to cause Aisley grief, Anna then selected Rainey instead (who helped raise Anna’s children) and her son Jerry (valued at $1400). Everyone grew to love Rainey. Not much is known about Jerry except that after he was freed from slavery he attacked a white girl and was lynched. At the time of Thomas Anderson’s death all of his remaining slaves were sold at auction. One slave named Ike, had been a kind of body servant for his master. The family did not want him sold and subsequently sent him someplace else in the South. So the family told Joshua that if he would bid on Ike, they would help pay for him. Ike tried to make the debt lighter by pretending that his ankle was in a bad condition. Nevertheless, he brought $1,500 at auction. He was brought to Joshua’s house in Buffalo Valley. Joshua and Anna had thirteen children who were all born in Buffalo Valley: William Edward “Ned”, James Leonard, Gallant, Elizabeth “Betsy”), Henry, John Calvin, Milton “Mitt”, Rebecca, Permelia, Minnie Gore, Josiah “Joe”, Inga “Sis”, and Mary Frances. Wilford Woodruff (when serving as a missionary for the LDS Church) came to Joshua Bartlett’s home in Buffalo Valley in 1836. Annie didn’t invite him into their home because Joshua was not there at the time. However, she accepted tracts and talked to him outside until Joshua came home. When Joshua arrived he sent Wilford Woodruff along the road and never did look favorably on the church, having been a Campbellite his entire life. Joshua was heavy set standing about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 170 pounds when he died. He had dark hair and brownish dark skin, dark eyes and a large forehead and was very handsome. As a young man he was a hard working, honest farmer but didn’t do much as he got older. Being a very good manager he was not at all wasteful. He had some dry humor but was not much for foolishness. He was of the type that if he had a hired hand and he learned about his being lazy he would put the heaviest load on him. Joshua would read some in the Bible and in the Gospel Advocate, which he subscribed to, but, otherwise he didn't read a great deal. Whiskey was kept handy in his closet and he would drink about ¼ glass before breakfast; that is all he would have during the day except when a very good old friend would come around. During the latter part of his life he didn't drink any whiskey. Joshua never had a blessing asked on the food except once when Dr. Samuel Demtron came to visit. Joshua was a light eater enjoying ham, coffee, biscuits and corn bread; however, he usually ate what was given him and never complained. He was a healthy man but he had a chronic sore left leg and this caused him to scratch it very often. Being a friendly person Joshua had more company than most anyone else who lived in that end of the valley. He was known for being a straight forward good citizen. Joshua served as a Justice of the Peace in Buffalo Valley and was a juror on several occasions. Thinking the Civil War was uncalled for, Joshua advocated that his boys stay out of it; consequently, neither his sons nor he fought in the war but all hid out. They were summoned to go to McMinnville for duty, but instead Joshua’s five sons went north. They traveled at night and hid out during the day until they reached the Kentucky line where they found lots of other refugees doing the same thing. During the war the Rebels confiscated twelve of Joshua’s horses and only one was returned. At one time during the Civil War, two men were passing through Buffalo Valley on their way to get their families in order to move them to new homes in Kentucky. While in the valley they were shot and seriously wounded by two Rebel soldiers. The injured men were taken to the Garner home nearby. When Anna heard of this she sent her 15 year old daughter, Rebecca, to see if there were anything they could do to help the injured men. As Rebecca entered the door where the two injured men lay, one of them looked up and asked her for a drink of cold water. She started to the spring with a wooden bucket and a gourd dipper when she was told that the Rebels had ordered them not to wait on the injured men and that anyone who did would be killed. Rebecca hurried on and said, “Let ‘em kill.” She brought the water and gave one of the injured men a drink. He asked her to pour the water on his bowels as he was hot with fever. Rebecca stayed the whole night pouring water on him. He died the next night. Three weeks later the man’s wife came to meet the people who had befriended her husband in his hour of greatest need. She told the family that she would give them a half bushel of salt if they would let Rebecca go with her to bring it back. Rebecca started on the long journey, but five miles into the journey she lost her courage and could not bear to think of going so far from home. She turned her horse around and the much needed salt was forgotten. Rebecca’s courage in the face of armed Rebels, her tenderness in caring for the injured man, along with her desire not to be so far from home, was a reflection of how she had been raised and the atmosphere of the home in which she was growing up. Anna was very industrious. She inquired about the welfare of others and was known to have been one of the most generous people who ever lived. She would often go and work for the poor when they were unable to do their own work and would not let Joshua know about it. She had a peculiar method of talking. She would say something like, "That ar's a good principle.” Anna was very opposed to the fiddle thinking it came from the dead. She liked to sing and had a good singing voice. Anna was a very religious woman. When the Mormon missionaries were in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee they came to her home and left some Mormon literature with her. She enjoyed the literature and believed in it. She was anxious to become a member of the Church but her husband, Joshua, was not favorable towards it. Anna was a Campellite until she became a Mormon. One day when she wasn't around, he took the literature or some say it was an LDS song ballad, and hid it. She was anxious to know where it was but he would not tell her. Consequently, one night she prayed that the Lord would help her to know where it was. During the night she had a dream in which she was informed that the literature was in the smoke house between two logs. The following morning she found the literature or song ballad, in the precise spot she had seen in her dream. Anna wanted to keep peace in the family even though she had a deep conviction of the truthfulness of the LDS Church This caused Anna to wait until September 29,1883, after Joshua’s death, to be baptized. She made a trip to Utah in June 1884 with her son Henry, where she had the opportunity to go to the temple. In 1889 three of her daughters, Inga, Mary and Betsy joined the Church. Later her sons Henry (1892) and Gallant (1893) were baptized as well as her daughter Permelia in 1896. In May 1880, Joshua and Anna gave a portion of their of land (about one acre) for the purpose of building a school and church house in Putnam County beginning at the Buffalo Valley Road. During the last week of his life Joshua took a walk on his farm on a Wednesday evening, possibly to look over the farm. He got too hot during the walk, taking a chill that night, resulting in double pneumonia. He died on Friday morning, September 16, 1881, and was buried on Saturday evening of the same week. Joshua was buried in a family plot on his farm. A subsequent owner of the farm destroyed the cemetery and plowed over it. After Joshua died, Anna and Aunt Rainey stayed on at the home. Anna later broke up housekeeping and she and Aunt Rainey went to live with Anna’s daughter, Rebecca Bartlett Jones. Anna would visit her other children when she was needed. Joshua’s, son, Milton “Mitt”, bought his farm before he was married in 1865. He also had a store there. Joshua and Anna lived with him. “Mitt” sold the farm in 1886. The Mitt Bartlett Farm was on the river bottom. In the spring of 1892, Anna left her home in Buffalo Valley, on the eastern side of the Caney Fork River, crossed the river and went to the home of her grandchildren, Sylvanus and Arzona Vaughn Bartlett. Sylvanus and “Zonie” (Sylvanus’s first wife) were cousins who had married each other and lived in Lancaster, Smith County. Anna went there to be the midwife to Arzona who was expecting her first baby. Becky Garrison, who had worked for Anna for a long time, went to the home to help Sylvanus before Arzona was confined and she stayed there. She cooked some custard pies—cooked more than Sylvanus could eat—and they soured. Anna was the type who didn't like to throw anything away and ate some of the soured custard before breakfast even though Becky had cautioned her not to eat it as it might make her sick. It was only a short time until she began vomiting and purging at the same time. She stayed at Sylvanus’, which was on Mitt Bartlett’s farm, for some time. Mitt was Anna’s son. She was finally taken to Mitt’s home because Arzona was sick. Anna was there only about two weeks when she died. The cause of her death was cholera morbus. A late spring flood came, backed up the creeks rendering the river impassible except by boat. Because there was no way to transport her body across the river to her home in Buffalo Valley, she was buried in a small family cemetery close to her son’s home. It was called the Sadler Graveyard on the bend of the Caney Fork River near a bridge on Mitt Bartlett’s farm.Milton Bartlett at one time owned the land near Interstate 40 in Tennessee. When construction on Interstate 40 began it crossed the river only a few hundred yards from her grave. So her grave is at a rest stop on I-40 and is maintained by highway officials. Joshua’s tombstone stands beside Annie’s grave marker, but Joshua’s body lies across the river in an unmarked grave. Family members thought it appropriate to place Joshua’s tombstone in the tiny but well-kept cemetery.
Joshua and the Rebel Soldiers
During the Civil War supporters of the Union who lived in the South had to be silent about their sentiments, but some individuals such as Joshua Bartlett did not remain silent about their views. Joshua was the grandfather of Nora (Jones) Steele. Her other grandfather was Byrd Smith Jones, and both were Unionists opposed to the war. In a family letter Nora wrote ‘‘Although Byrd was opposed to the war he had little to say about it. On the other hand, Joshua Bartlett, my mother’s father was very outspoken. I don’t know what Grandpa Bartlett did on the day of the vote for secession but it was later said of him in comparing him to Byrd Jones, that he said enough for both of them. Of course this got him in trouble with the Rebels on several occasions. When it was known that Rebels were in the vicinity, he had to hide out, sometimes for a week or two. In December, 1861, war fever was at a peak. Efforts were made by the Rebels to force Union supporters to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. One day Grandma Bartlett (Anna) heard there were Rebels in the area which is now Silver Point, and that they were coming down the Valley. Grandpa was grinding corn at his water mill on Indian Creek about two miles from his home. Grandma sent my mother, then about fifteen years old , to tell him the Rebels are coming! Grandpa quickly left the mill and went down to the Caney Fork River, a mile away, and on up the river and up the first hollow [Happy Hollow]. Grandpa Bartlett had a maple grove near the house. These were the trees they tapped to make maple syrup and candy. One time Grandpa had been hiding in the maple grove for a week. The family took him food when they were sure it was safe. No Rebels had been in the Valley for several days so Grandpa decided to come home one morning. Grandma had fixed his breakfast and while he was eating they heard horses running up the lane toward the house but they thought it was their own horses coming up to the spring for water and paid no attention until it was too late. Someone in the family just happened to look out and saw the Rebel just about to enter the door. Grandpa started to crawl under the bed which was in front of the fireplace so he could climb up the chimney but he was too late. Just as he was half way under the bed the Rebels entered the room and with an oath said ‘We’ve got you now!’ At this point, Anna’s true grit surfaced. She stood up to her husband’s captors demanding, ‘Kill me instead. The children need their father more than they need me.’ Nevertheless, the Rebels left with Joshua, leaving the children crying and afraid they would never see their father again. They took him up the Valley to where my grandfather Byrd Jones lived. Grandpa was gone all day. Just before sundown they saw Grandpa coming down the road-bareheaded. He said he thought sure they were going to kill him, so he had given his pocketbook to Byrd Jones to take to his family. Grandpa didn’t know why they didn’t kill him. They took his good hat and gave him an old one of theirs, but when he started home and he was sure he was out of their sight he threw the Rebel hat away.” While Joshua was held captive, a Rebel officer came by Joshua's house and found Annie sobbing. He asked why she was crying, and she told him the Rebels had captured her husband and probably would kill him. Asked where the Rebels were, she made a wild but accurate guess. They believed the Confederate officer prevented the Rebels from killing Joshua.”