Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ambrose Blackburn?

I finally made a breakthrough last night on my family tree and found the parents of my great grandmother, Willa Marie Brown. This was no easy task and like most things on, sometimes the right link just pops up. This time it was on the OneWorld Tree section, which unfortunately doesn’t have an automatic import feature like all of the other sections of I wonder why that is? They should fix that. Anyhow, the hints led me back to this man, Captain Ambrose Blackburn, a Revolutionary War Veteran. I also think I found him on my grandfather’s side of the family… Anyhow, I Googled him and it turns out that you can actually visit the Blackburn Farmstead and Pioneer Museum in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

According to a book I found on Google Books called Scenic Driving Tennessee by Russ Manning, you get to Hohenwald by taking US 412 about 0.8 mile past Big Swan Creek. This puts you heading East towards Gordonsburg and 1.6 miles from the turn off is the Gordonsburg Farm Market and 0.6 miles past that is the Blackburn Farmstead and Pioneer Museum on your left. The farm was built by Capt. Ambrose Blackburn around 1806. The home was originally a log cabin, but it is now covered in weatherboard. There are several pictures of it someone took here. Ambrose is actually buried on the farm site. He died in 1820.

Captain Ambrose lived near Greenville, South Carolina when he was in the service. There is a story told that one night the Tories ransacked his house and destroyed the guns that were stored there, except one special gun that belonged to Blackburn. Blackburn was taken captive, but was spared when he gave the sign of the Masons. However, after the Tories fled, Blackburn followed them and apparently his men killed 27 Tories and not one Blackburn man was lost. The special gun that Blackburn owned was taken by a Tory, but he didn’t know how to shoot it. According to several sources, the following took place:

When the Tory saw Captain Blackburn approaching he called out, “Captain Blackburn, I know you”. He said this thinking that Captain Blackburn might show some mercy, but Captain Blackburn called out, “I know you too, and in a few minutes your soul will be in Hell”. With those words he shot the Tory. The bullet pierced his body and passed through his shot pouch.

Apparently Ambrose’s son, John Porter, was quite influential and served with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. When they formed Lewis County, they actually held county court in the Blackburn house and the jury met in the corn crib. The corn crib is actually still standing. The home also served as the first Lewis County Post Office. Later John Blackburn moved to Texas. Which is interesting, because there’s several Blackburns in Amarillo. Although records show he died in Killeen, Texas.

According to and the North Carolina Census of 1790-1890, Ambrose was born in 1750 in England Staffordshire, but there are also records show he was born in South Carolina as well as Winchester, Virginia.

The Blackburn Farmstead is actually for sale now according to their website at You can see a lot of photos on their site as well. I’ve tried finding photos of the Blackburns themselves, but to no avail.

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