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Source: The Watauga Spinnerette, Volume 27, October 1950

Transcribed by: Angella Perry Graybeal


Fish Springs Community


     Fish Springs is another one of Carter County's early communities. Its location was one of importance during the early days as travel to and from North Carolina and Virginia and the Watauga Settlement was through the area.

The boundaries of this community wre roughly as follows: beginning on the Watauga River below site of old Butler and Little Milligan and including the whole river valley down the river within sight of Carden's Bluff and embracing many acres of fine farming land and much mountainous land. The main body of this fine farm land now lies at the bottom of the Watauga Lake.

     There has been considerable speculation as to how Fish Springs got its name. Some accounts have it that it was named for a large spring near the river at the old Dugger Ferry; other accounts contend it was named for the ancestral Smith homestead in Virginia, which tradition says, was named Fish Spring.

Edward Smith, a pioneer settler here, and a Revolutionary soldier, owned a large portion of the valley in Revolutionary days. He is believed to have come from somewhere in the Valley of Virginia, tradition says Powell's Valley, Virginia. He was one of the first magistrates in Washington County, NC. He was twice married and reared a large family. His sons were, Jacob, Nicholas, William, Daniel and John Smith. These five sons were the progenitors of nearly all the Smiths in Carter County. Cornelius Bowman, John Peavyhouse, George Gabbart, Isaac Campbell, Lawrence Duncan and Vaught Heaton married daughters of Edward Smith.

     Zachariah Campbell, another pioneer and soldier of the Revolution, settled near Edward Smith above Cardin's Bluff. He was supposedly a native of Scotland and came here with several brothers. Isaac and Zachariah Campbell were sons of Zachariah, the pioneer. A daughter married Mark Lacy, a son of another old family living in the vicinity of Hampton. Zachariah Campbell was one of the first magistrates of Carter County when it was organized in 1796.

Julius Dugger, a son of the pioneer, settled at Dugger's Ferry about 1781 having come from Wilkes County, North Carolina. History records the name of Julius C. Dugger and Andrew Greer as being the first settlers in the Watauga Country as early as 1766. After living in the "settlement" for several years Julius C. Dugger returned to Virginia. Some accounts say he had lived in Wilkes County before coming to Tennessee.

His son, William Dugger, remained in the settlement with his father but settled in what is now Siam Valley where he died in 1839.

      Julius Dugger, Benjamin Dugger and thier two sisters Mary and Rebecca, returned to the Watauga about 1781 having come from Wilkes County, NC. Mary Dugger was thrice married, her third husband was Jacob Smith, son of Edward, the pioneer. Rebecca married a Mr. Gwinn and later returned to North Carolina. Julius Dugger had married before coming to the Watauga on his second journey in 1781 and settled near Edward Smith on the Watauga River. He operated a ferry on the Watauga and thus named Dugger's Ferry. He was a soldier of the Revolutin and one of the early magistrates of Carter County. He reared a family and left them a sizable estate at his death in 1838.

Benjamin Dugger, son of the pioneer, returned to North Carolina aobut 1790 and settled in what is now Watauga County at Brush Fork. His brothers David and Daniel seem to have remained in North Carolina after leaving the Watauga with their father, the pioneer. Daniel later settled in Kentucky. A brother, John Dugger, was a pioneer settler of Sumner County, Tennessee.

       Duggers came to America from Scotland about 1750 and settled near Petersburg, Virginia. Recent historians have speculated that the Greers and Duggers probably came over together from Scotland and that Andrew Greer and Julius C. Dugger married sisters named Kinkead. The Duggers were French Hugenots and fled France during the persecutions and went to Scotland where they remained for a time, maybe a generation, before coming to America. Authorities and informed sources believe that Julius C. Dugger was not the name of the pioneer who settled in the Watauga in 1766 but that he was probably one of the three brother, William, John or Benjamin Dugger, originally       from Virginia.

        The Duggers were a very industrious and independent family and the pioneer ancestor of the family, having settled here early, cleared much land which he was farming when the influx of settlers began. As the settlement grew a government was organized and the lands were purchased from the Indians. Later land speculators laid claim to part of Dugger's land and "legally" acquired title to the land over Dugger' protest as he had no "legal" title. Although his claims were valid, the speculators controlled the government and he lost his hard earned land. Being a very proud and uncompromising man, Dugger could not bear to live in the same community with people who had taken advantage of him and "legally" disposed of his property and promptly packed up and returned to North Carolina. He later returned to Virginia in his old age and died there while visiting relatives.

Andrew Greer, Dugger's companion, was also "sold out" but being a very shrewd man in business he remained in the Watauga and traded with the Indians. He amassed quite a bit of wealth and finally he bought a large portion of land from John Shelby, Jr. This land was said to have been part of Greer's old claim in 1766.

This photo was taken in Fish Springs about 1915

FRONT ROW- (l. to r.): Mrs. David Whithead, Mrs. Grant Ellis, Mrs. Lee Bailey, Mrs. Nancy Hazlewood, Mrs. Wilburn Reece, Mrs. Fronia Rainbolt, Mrs. Nancy Vines, and Grant Ellis.

BACK ROW - (l. to r.): John Smith, W. O. Phillips, B. Carroll Reece, Joe H. Gragg, Ensor McNeal, David Whitehead, John Cable, and W. Y. Simerly.

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