Timothy Reagan b. 1750 d. before1830 Timothy Ragan must have been a strong, vibrant man. His adventures, travels, and life style indicate that he was a rugged individual c1776 when Timothy was about twenty-six years old, he married Elizabeth Trigg, daughter of Clement Trigg, Jr., and Mary Ann Fouracres. Elizabeth was only sixteen at the time of their marriage. She was born in 1760 in King George’s County MD. Her grandfather John Fouracres was a planter who served in the colonial militia during the years before the Revolution. Elizabeth’s parents owned a large plantation, which Clement Trigg and his brother Jeremiah had bought from their father’s creditors when their father, Clement Trigg (here we go again with the names) absconded rather than face charges. Within a year after their marriage, the Ragans had the first of their thirteen children—a boy that they named Richard—and Timothy enlisted in the army. He served as a private in Captain John Eccleston’s Company, Second Regiment of the Maryland Continental troops, commanded by Colonel Thomas Price under General George Washington. Battle of Brandywine Timothy’s first action was in the Battle of Brandywine. Young Major General Marquis de Lafayette also saw his first action in the American Revolution during this same battle. Both Timothy and Lafayette were wounded in what turned out to be “the largest military engagement in the American Revolution.” Brandywine was an important battle that the colonists and Washington thought would be won by the Americans. Philadelphia had been made capital of the new nation, and the British were on the way there. They landed at Chesapeake Bay and started their march to Philadelphia. Unfortunately Washington was not familiar with the terrain. Since the British would have to travel along the road running alongside the Brandywine River, he decided that the river fords would be a good way to stop the enemy. On 9 Sep 1777 he sent detachments of men to guard the fords across the Brandywine south of where the river forked–with the exception of Chadd’s Ford where he placed the major portion of his men. The land around this ford was on high ground and would be strategically advantageous. To the best of his knowledge, the nearest unguarded ford was twelve miles north of the Brandywine fork. His plan was to force the British to fight at Chadd’s Ford. Unfortunately, since he was not familiar with the area, Washington overlooked a ford only a few miles to the north of the fork in the Brandywine. The British officers found out about Washington’s plan and outwitted him. They sent a detachment of their troops marching north as if they were going to fall into the trap at Chadd’s Ford. At the same time, General Howe took the majority of his men to the ford overlooked by Washington, crossed the Brandywine, marched south and hit Washington’s flank. Outcome of Battle On the morning of the battle, 11 Sep 1777, Washington had received reports that the British had split their forces, but he refused to believe the information. In addition a heavy fog aided the British in their plans. Too late Washington realized that the British were at his right flank and ordered his troops to move to other high ground around the Birmingham Friends Meeting House. Washington’s soldiers fought bravely, but were overwhelmed by the British. Casualties were high and when darkness fell, the patriots retreated to Chester, PA. The majority of the Americans arrived in Chester by midnight, but small groups continued to trail in until dawn. The Americans had lost a thousand men during the battle; the British lost about five hundred. Worst of all, the British had gained an open road to Philadelphia As a proof that the Americans had given the British a hard battle, one British officer wrote in his journal, “Night and the fatigue the soldiers had undergone prevented any pursuit.” Luckily the only hospital commissioned and built by the Continental Congress was at Chester, PA. Our Timothy, who had been badly wounded during the battle, was taken to the hospital in Chester and remained there for six months. He recovered and served out the remainder of his three-year enlistment. According to John H. Reagan, Timothy’s grandson, his grandfather was also wounded during another battle during the Revolution and “carried a ball and three buckshots received at Brandywine in his body to his grave.” General Lafayette was wounded in the leg during the battle of Brandywine and was probably also treated at the hospital in Chester. Move to NC It is generally thought that Timothy and Elizabeth took their son Richard and moved from their home in Prince George’s County, MD to Caswell Co, NC in about 1778. This poses problems. Problem 1. Timothy was in the army at this time. It is possible that Elizabeth and baby Richard moved with her parents and siblings, for the Trigg family moved from Prince George County MD to Caswell Co., NC sometime between 1776 and 1 Feb 1779. During this time Timothy may have been fulfilling the remainder of his enlistment. On the other hand, he did not receive a pension or land grant. The rule was that a soldier had to serve for a year to receive a pension. If Timothy left the army after his hospitalization, he might have indeed gone on to NC. This idea disputes John H. Reagan’s comments, however. It’s possible that Timothy simply did not apply for a pension. Problem 2. Timothy and Elizabeth apparently lived in Pittsylvania Co., VA for about five years (1779-1783). They appeared on the tax lists of Pittsylvania Co., VA in 1782 and three of their children were born in Virginia: Robert Nelson (c1799-?), Rachal (c1781-1826), and Reason (1783-1814). Since Clement Trigg, Jr., died in 1779, the Ragan family may have gone to NC to help Elizabeth’s mother during the period after Trigg’s death. Timothy was definitely in NC in 1779 for he was one of the chain carriers for the court ordered survey of 1640 acres of land that his recently deceased father-in-law had purchased before his death. Whatever the case, by 1785 the Ragans had moved to Caswell Co. They obtained land there, and five daughters were added to the family: Elizabeth (4 Nov 1785-1838.39), Sarah (16 Oct 1787-6 Jun 1855), Nancy Jane (1789-1844), Celia Druscilla (15 Feb 1792-29 Aug 1869), and Catherine (1794-1844). Move to Territory of the United States of America South of the River Ohio The Ragans lived in NC until c1795 when they moved to what is now Sevier County, TN. At that time TN was part of the Territory of the United States of American South of the River Ohio. It is believed that the Ragan family settled in what is now the Middle Creek area of Sevier County. At that time, Middle Creek was Indian Territory. The lands Timothy obtained in Sevier Co between 1795 -1806 were acquired by right of occupancy. The deeds are interesting in their descriptions of boundary markers such as black oaks, dogwoods, sourwoods, and so forth which would have long since disappeared. The Ragans contributed a great deal to their new home county. Timothy was of importance in the construction of Lawson’s Fort in Middle Creek. He and Rachel established a farm in Middle Creek, and Timothy also had a blacksmith’s shop there. It is assumed that they lived on their Middle Creek farm for the rest of their days—unless one or both of them moved to White Oak Flats to live with their son Richard during their old age. The Ragans Become Thirteen In Sevier County Timothy and Elizabeth added even more children to their growing family: Rhoda (1796-1855), Jeremiah (1798-after 1880), Timothy, Jr., (4) (1Jul 1800-21 Aug 1883), and Joshua (c1804-13 Oct 1874). These five children brought the Ragan family total to thirteen. As they grew up, married, and moved away, the children took the Ragan name and traditions with them to Alabama, Illinois, Georgia, and Missouri. Some, like Richard, their first born, stayed in the area and proved to be assets to the communities developing there. Reason Ragan The fate of one of Elizabeth and Timothy’s children is particularly tragic. Reason Ragan, the couple’s third son, probably brought the greatest sadness to his parents’ life. Born in 1783, the boy ran away from home about five years after the family moved to Sevier Co. He was seventeen years old at the time. His family believed that he left with a neighbor widow, Jennette Shields Tipton, whose property abutted the Ragans. Mrs. Tipton moved her family to Kentucky in 1807 after the death of her husband, Joshua. In Kentucky Reason met and married Rachel Thomas (1786-1814), the daughter of Evan and Elizabeth Hubbard Thomas. The young couple soon had a child and decided to move to Madison, Illinois, where they would clear land and built a home in forks of the Wood River area. (Family tradition says that Robert Nelson Ragan also moved to an area north of the Ohio River before 1810. He may or may not have gone with his brother Reason. Further information on Robert Nelson Ragan’s fate could not be found.) Wood River Settlement Reason and Rachel chose Wood River because a number of their neighbors had moved there and others were planning to move. The group included the Moore brothers: John, William, George, and Abel and their families; Rachel Thomas’ parents and her brother Samuel; the Bates family, and a few other families and relatives. Several marriages had taken place uniting these families. For example, Rachel Thomas was the sister of William Moore’s wife, and Hannah Bates was the sister of Abel Moore’s wife, Polly, Once in Illinois the group set up farms and established the Wood River Settlement. Safety in numbers was probably one of their original ideas. Reason and Rachel were not among the first to go. In fact, Reason traveled from Kentucky to Sevier Co in 1809 and persuaded his sister Catherine (Caty) to return north with him and accompany their family to Illinois. This she did. (This might also have been the time Robert Nelson Ragan chose to move north if he did not go with Reason the first time.) The area in the forks of the Wood River was known for Indian raids, but the Moores, Ragans, Bates, Thomases and others in the area had built a blockhouse where they could go for shelter during an attack. In addition, rangers patrolled the area, and the inhabitants were beginning to think that the dreaded Indian attacks were over. A Family Outing turns Ominous On 10 Jul 1814, Reason Ragan and Rachel’s brother Samuel went to attend church services at a place of worship about three miles from their home. Reason dropped off Rachel, who was well along in pregnancy, his son Timothy (#5), 3, and his daughter Elizabeth, 7, at the home of Abel Moore, which was on his way to church. That afternoon about four o’clock, Rachel decided to return home to pick some beans from the garden. (There are other versions of why she returned home, such as “to procure some little article of convenience,” but of all the reasons, picking beans sounded most reasonable to me. The plan was for all the families to meet at Abel Moore’s house that night for dinner.) Rachel took six children with her (again, this could tie in to picking beans): her own Timothy and Elizabeth, Abel Moore’s William and Joel, ages 8 and 11, and William Moore’s John and George, ages 10 and 3. Originally Hannah Bates accompanied them, but when the little group was almost at the Ragan home, Hannah suddenly felt a “presentiment” that she should not continue and thus returned to Abel Moore’s house. Two male travelers who passed Mrs. Ragan and the children said they twice heard a low call from the bushes near the roadside that might have been made by a boy. Missing Loved Ones By dusk the families began to worry because Rachel and the children had not returned. William Moore, who was Rachel’s brother-in-law, went to Abel Moore’s house, and learning that the group had not returned to that house, set out to search for them. His wife went on horseback along a different route toward the Ragan home. Here stories vary. The most believable ones indicate that independently both William and Polly Moore saw a body on the road but could not tell whether it was male or female. Knowing that Indians could still be around, each turned back to warn the other families. William hurried back to Abel Moore’s house, got the people there, and they all walked through the dark woods to William Moore’s house to get his family so they could all go to the blockhouse for safety. When they reached William Moore’s, he joyfully exclaimed, “Polly’s not dead!” for beside the house he saw the horse his wife had ridden to search for her sister. He had been afraid that the body he had seen on the road might have been his wife. Polly came out of the house and said, “They are all killed by Indians, I expect.” She had rushed back home from her search and had hastily put a large pot of water on to boil so that it could be used as a possible weapon against the Indians if they attacked again. The group soon left for the blockhouse near George Moore’s home. They also alerted their neighbors by signal, and most of the area’s women and children and a few men huddled in the blockhouse all night. Reason and Samuel returned home late and found no one at home. Assuming that Rachel, Catherine, and the children had simply spent the night at Abel Moore’s, the two men went to bed. The Massacre Before daybreak the next morning search parties set out to find the missing loved ones. They found Mrs. Ragan and all six children lying scattered along the road. They had been tomahawked, scalped, and stripped of all their clothing. All were dead except three-year-old Timothy who had large gashes on each side of his face. Timothy had crawled to his mother’s body and had lain there all night, waiting for help. He reportedly said, the “man raise hiss [sic] ax and cut them away.” Shortly thereafter, Reason and Samuel were awakened at daybreak by a neighbor who told them what had occurred. When Reason reached the spot of the massacre, his son Timothy was still alive, though he did not regain consciousness. The group sent for the nearest doctor who attended to Timothy’s wounds, but the child died that day. Rachel and Reason’s unborn child was stillborn. (Some accounts say that Polly Moore picked up Timothy the night she found his mother’s body and took him home where he died the next day. That would mean the neighbors would have had to stay with him or take him to the blockhouse. the night of the attack. Other accounts say that she saw the child that night but left him with his dead mother.) Reinforcements John Harris, who lived at Capt. Abel Moore’s house, was sent to Ft. Russell and Ft. Butler to tell the soldiers of the massacre and to ask for help in protecting the area and finding the culprits. About seventy men left the forts at about one o’clock that morning to ride to Wood River to help. Reason Ragan and the Moores joined with their neighbors and the men from the forts to search for the Indians. They eventually overtook the renegades. The first Indian they found was alone. He had either been hiding in a tree or standing as a lookout there. They killed him and found Rachel’s scalp in his shot bag. The search party eventually found and killed all ten Indians who had been involved in the slaughter. Unfortunately, during the chase Reason Ragan was either thrown from or knocked off his horse. His neck was broken, and he was killed. His entire family was wiped out in a twenty-four hour period. Burial Since most of the men were chasing the Indians, the women and young people had to prepare the bodies and bury them. They placed the bodies on a one-horse sled and pulled them to the burial place. Three graves were prepared with coffin-shaped vaults at the bottom of each. The vaults were lined with flat wooden slabs cut from trees, (There were no sawmills anywhere nearby.) The bodies were placed on top of the slabs, and additional flat wooden slabs were placed on top and along the sides of the bodies. Mrs. Ragan and her children were in one grave, William Moore’s sons were in a second, and Capt. Abel Moore’s were in the third. Reason Ragan’s body was probably buried where he died on the chase—near a small river later named Indian Creek about thirty miles from his home. Tension was high for some time and bounties were placed on the heads of renegade Indians or Indians who came into a settlement to do harm. Letters and petitions about protection for the settlers made the rounds. Within a year after the massacre a treaty was signed with the Indians, and many years later a monument honoring those who died was erected by Abel Moore’s descendents Timothy and Elizabeth Ragan probably never saw any of Reason’s children and maybe never even knew his wife. A newspaper account of the time said that Mr. Ragan (Reason) had asked that his relatives in Tennessee and Kentucky be notified. His sister Catherine was appointed as one of the administrators of his estate. About a year later on May 26, 1815 she married a man named Davis Carter and remained in the Madison County, Illinois area. Timothy the Man Timothy’s life was not always filled with sadness, however. His great grandson, John Henninger Reagan wrote in his Memoirs of jokes and pranks his great grandfather had pulled during his lifetime. Henninger was old enough and his great grandfather had lived long enough for the boy to remember the man. He described his great grandfather as “venerable looking” and “of fine appearance.” He also said that Timothy was known for his wit and humor and for his benevolence. Death Timothy and Elizabeth probably both died before 1830 because neither is listed in the 1830 census. Their place of burial is unknown. The DAR erected a monument for Timothy in the White Oak Flats cemetery in Gatlinburg, but it is not known that he was buried there. Ragan/Reagan historian Donald Reagan surmises that the couple was probably buried either in the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery in Pigeon Forge or in the Middle Creek Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery on Middle Creek Road in Sevier Co. Timothy Ragan was a man of whom we can be proud. He fought and was wounded in the Revolution. He was a pioneer who moved to the wilderness of Tennessee and North Carolina and helped open up the areas for settlement. He reared and provided for a large family that went on to be substantial citizens in the places they lived. His descendents spread to Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. He accumulated large land holdings. He suffered several personal and family tragedies and survived. We can be thankful that he was the strong man that he was. He was a survivor and he was also a prankster .
His great grandson, John H. Reagan, described Timothy as a tall, fine looking man, strong and having great vitality even in his older years. He was loved and respected by people and was fun-loving and witty. Being an Irishman, he enjoyed a practical joke now and then. A story handed down through the years tells that although he had built the stocks for the jail in Sevierville, he pretended that he did not know how they operated and persuaded the sheriff to sit in them to demonstrate for him. When the sheriff did he promptly locked them and enjoyed the fun at the sheriff’s expense. (Wonder what happened when the sheriff did get out!)
Most of his children moved from Sevier County farther to the West and South. The oldest son, Richard, remained and was one of the first settlers of White Oak Flats, now Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“Smoky Mountain Clans”, Donald B. Reagan, 1978, p 1-3.
“The Book of Ragan/Reagan”, Donald B. Reagan, 1993, p 396.
“In the Shadow of the Smokies”, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, 1993, p 578.
My Patriot 5th Great Grandfather Timothy Reagan