Fugitive, Fighter, and Founder – Frederick Stump (Part 2)

Description Frederick Stump

Description in a local paper of Frederick Stump and John Ironcutter after their rescue by the “Paxton Boys” from the Carlisle, Pennsylvania jail where they were held after being arrested for the murder of several Indian natives in the area.

Frederick Stump was on the run.  Tagged as an “Indian killer” and a fugitive in Pennsylvania, he eventually made his way down through the colonies to Georgia.  There he settled with his family in the back-country on the Savannah River north of Augusta, once again building a home, a grist and saw mill and establishing a prosperous farm.

Not long after moving to the area, talk of revolution was in the air.  But Stump wanted no part of it.  He signed his name to a document that declared he and other colonists were not in alliance with the disgruntled citizens who met in Savannah in August of 1774.  Stump and other colonists felt the meeting was dishonoring to the British King, Lords and Commons and they wanted to make sure the British knew they had no part in it.  Stump didn’t want to jeopardize the protection the British provided him against the Creek and Cherokee tribes in the region.

But as the years of revolution wore on, Frederick Stump eventually found himself against the King and on the side of the patriots.  In the South Carolina and Georgia areas, the British began enlisting the support of Creek and Cherokee tribes against the colonists. Therefore Stump took up arms against the British and likely fought in the Battle of Kettle Creek in February of 1779 in which the Americans were victorious, and in the Battle of Brier Creek in March of 1779 in which the British routed the patriots and took many of them captive. Legend says that as the Americans were retreating from one of the battles Frederick Stump came upon a group of British officers playing cards.  In his audacious manner he killed five of the officers. Stump was captured.  He was then sent to the British fortress prison in St. Augustine, Florida where his life was taking yet another turn — again, not in a positive direction.Castillo de San Marcos 2

castillo de san marcosStump spent four months in the Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish-built coquina-stone fortress.  The British had gained control of it from the Spanish in 1763 and were using it as a prison for revolutionary fighters. Legend says that the reason Stump only spent four months in the impenetrable prison was that he bribed the jailer with ten guineas — gold British coins equivalent to about $2000 today.

After his escape, he made his way through hostile back-country to his home in Georgia.  Upon his arrival he found that the British had burned his grist and saw mills and had confiscated his property with his 20 slaves.  In addition to this horror, the British had a bounty on his head, dead or alive.  Once again, his life in shambles, Frederick Stump, 55, set out with his family for a better life…somewhere.

Heading north toward the Appalachians he joined with one of several groups heading to the frontier of Kentucky and middle Tennessee (then part of western North Carolina).  He came alongside Amos Eaton’s group who followed a week behind the famed founders of Nashville, James Robertson and John Donelson. These teams led settlers from the Watauga settlement in North Carolina to the French Lick area of middle Tennessee — Robertson over land and Donelson by way of a water route.

In November of 1779, the Robertson party consisting of men, boys and animals left the Watauga settlement and headed west. The Donelson Party would follow later by boat with the women, children, and other men. The Robertson Party reached French Lick on Christmas Day 1779.  The Eaton party along with several other groups from the south and east arrived around January 1, 1780. They all made their way to French Lick during one of the coldest winters on record.  It was so cold that they were able to cross the Cumberland River easily from bank to bank due to it being completely frozen.

Frederick Stump, Amos Eaton and the others in his party built a “station” or fort for protection. They would settle on the northeast side of the river and Robertson’s party settled where Nashville, TN now stands on the west side of the Cumberland. The Donelson party had much trouble on their journey.  They would eventually make it to French Lick by February of 1780.

Frederick Stump House

Frederick Stump’s log cabin home across Whites .  Creek and south of his tavern on Buena Vista Pike. This log home was built c. 1780.

After surviving the terrible winter and trying to build homes while under attack by native American tribes, that spring in May, the settlers officially founded Fort Nashborough and its government by signing of the Cumberland Compact. Frederick Stump was one of 100 signers of the document.

Frederick Stump Historical Marker Nashville, TN

Historical marker near Frederick Stump’s  tavern north of Nashville, Tennessee on Buena Vista Pike

He would rebuild his life once more and become financially successful one more time through farming, running a inn and tavern in his large log home, and by distilling and selling whiskey.  In fact he was the first to begin distilling whiskey in the region. In October of 1792, his distillery was burned by one of the area tribes, but by 1795 he was producing up to 600 gallons of whiskey a year.

His wife Ann who faithfully followed him through all of his ups and downs was herself an astute business woman.  I am sure that he gained much more in his life due to her strength and wisdom.

There are many more tales to tell of Frederick Stump — most I am sure are based in fact, but they have taken on a legendary feel. One story tells of his close call with a tomahawk; another of his son being killed by native Americans. It was also said that even though he would offer his tavern for use by local Christian congregations on Sundays and some week days, only to the Moravians did he serve free dinners.

He knew Andrew Jackson, but thought Jackson was an upstart. Still Stump served under his command as a captain in the Tennessee Volunteer Riflemen and Cavalry in the war of 1812 — when Stump was 90 years old.

One of the best stories of all is that at age 93, after his wife of many years had passed on, he married again…to Catherine Gingery — the 25 year-old bar maid who worked in his tavern.

Frederick Stump died at age 99 after living a full and adventurous life. The log home that he built on White’s Creek north of Nashville still stands.  Over 230 years-old it is a monument to his determination, bold and incorrigible nature, and enterprising spirit.

Frederick Stump and Ann Snavely Stump are my fifth great-grandparents.



13 thoughts on “Fugitive, Fighter, and Founder – Frederick Stump (Part 2)

  1. Frederick Stump was my 4th greatgrandfather. He never let life get him down, nor destroy his faith that things would get better.

  2. Frederick Stump was my fifth great grandfather through Anne Stump who married Jonathan Guice. There are many Guice descendants here in MS. Terry Blackmon. Terry.Blackmon@ymail.com. P/S–Jacob Guice is buried in our family’s cemetery in McNair, MS.

  3. Hi Terry,
    Nice to meet another cousin! I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the family cemetery in McNair. In fact my post on this site called “The Grave of the ‘General'” is about my visit and about Jacob Guice’s gravemarker.

    My mother, father and my family went to the Guice Reunion near McNair back in 2008. My mother “won” the Guice box for the next year, but she died in early 2010. They haven’t had another reunion since…at least not one of which I’m aware. So I still have the box. If you hear of them having another reunion, please let me know!

  4. Hello: Lovely site, just one correction. Frederick Stump was my 5th great grandfather, through his daughter Barbara Stump who married Phenias Cox. Frederick had two structures in Davidson County, Tennessee. His log cabin home was on the east side of White’s Creek and the Inn/Tavern was on the west side. Both were standing in 1993, when I visited and I have photos of both if you are interested. Thanks for posting. Sincerely, your cousin, Allice Burns Reynolds

    • Thank you for your comment. I will look for the other structure you mentioned the next time I go through Nashville. I had never heard of a second structure, and the historic information I have seen only mentioned his tavern/inn on Whites Creek, so I assumed it was also his home.

  5. Hello! I teach history in Pennsylvania, and I have a student group researching Stump’s story from this end of the tale (we’re at Susquehanna University, about one mile from the killings on Middle Creek). Could you tell me how you know that the Frederick Stump in PA is the same Frederick Stump who settled in TN? Any documents that show this trail? Thanks!

    • The information from books and historic markers are the first links I can share off the top of my head. I am on vacation at present so I am not near my sources, but the book that I remember that tells several stories about him in the Nashville area and connecting him back to Pennsylvania is “Seedtime on the Cumberland.” When I get back I will send you whatever else I have.

      • “Seedtime” and “Flowering on the Cumberland” are both written by Harriet Simpson Arnow. I believe both books mention him. There is also an historic market in front of his tavern on Buena Vista Road north of Nashville that states his trail from Pennsylvania to Georgia to Fort Nashborough.
        I would love to see your students’ project when they are done. Frederick Stump is quite an interesting character!

  6. My mother was a Guice, and Frederic Stumpf was my fifth great grandfather. A transplanted Mississippian (or perhaps a returning Tennessean), I have lived in Nashville since starting college here in 1966 and have a family tree compiled by my grandfather, Charles Edwin Guice, that shows “Jonathan Guice of Mississippi married Anna Stumpf of Tennessee” as the initial entry at the base of the tree. I understand that Jonathan Guice had lived in Nashville before relocating to Mississippi and probably knew Anna Stumpf, Frederick’s 14th child, from his time in Nashville. My grandfather, born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, was a Presbyterian minister, perhaps trying to atone by proxy for the misdeeds of his ancestor.

    There is quite a bit of information about Frederick Stumpf in the Nashville Public Library including confirmation of his days in Pennsylvania, his capture and escape during the Revolutionary War and his signing the Cumberland Compact (the early governing document for Nashborough). I have read that he amassed a banking and real estate fortune and then lost it during the depression around 1812, only to rebuild it later. Sadly, I am not aware that any of it has passed to this generation to make our lives easier. I understand that he is buried in the Old Nashville City Cemetery although I have not tried to confirm that fact.

    The two structures he built are still standing. The one pictured above is occupied and was purportedly used as a tavern and home. The other is on the nearby Baltz farm, standing near the home where the Baltz family now lives. They have maintained it and use it as an adjunct to their home with its fireplace being part of a cozy living area. Both structures are two story log structures in the style built by Pennsylvania Dutch. I have been in both and feel fortunate to have walked in the footsteps where our forebears lived, but wonder how 14 children were raised in those tight quarters.

    I had the pleasure of spending a day several years ago with a man (now deceased) who lived in the Whites Creek area and knew quite a bit about the Stumpf family. He showed me where one of the Stumpf descendants had lived, but she is no longer living. I have not located any other Stumpf descendants in Nashville, but with 14 Frederick Stumpf children, it is inconceivable that that I am the only one in the area.

    I would be pleased to learn from other cousins what you know about our Stumpf and Guice families.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I have researched Frederick Stumpf in the Nashville library when I used to live in Bowling Green, KY. I also recently visited and went into the Stump home on the Baltz farm. I’m so thankful that they have kept it up so well. I did not know that Frederick Stumpf had 14 children! I am descended through Jonathan and Anne. I would love to see the family tree you have. I will contact you privately to see if we can visit when I go through Nashville.Nice to meet you cousin!

    • For some reason I am not able to see your email. Can you please contact me today via my email (Ladyguice@bellsouth.net)? I will be passing through Nashville on Sunday morning (June 19).

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