Fahan Presbyterian Church

Jesus is Lord - Romans 10: 9

Preached at Taylor’s Meeting House


A LULL—1775

After the events at Sycamore Shoals in the spring of 1775 a sense of security was for the first time felt by the inhabitants of all the settlements, though rumors of the impending struggle with Great Britain seeped through to them towards the close of the year, if not earlier. Peace with the neighboring Cherokees seemed assured, until news came that two messengers from Virginia to that nation had been murdered near the Overhill towns.

In the early summer Andrew Greer, on a trading visit to those towns, suspected from the conduct of John Walker, another Virginia trader, that some mischief was brewing that would endanger him. Greer turned homeward with his peltry but did not follow the main path. Richard Doggett and a companion who had left the towns about the same time traveled the regular trail and were killed by Indians on a creek that flows into the Nolachucky. The murderers were probably followers of Chief Dragging Canoe.1

This deed of violence was, in a way, off-set by an­other: the coming into the region now Sullivan county of the first minister of the Gospel, who was not merely visiting or passing through the country but remained for above a year. Rev. Joseph Rhea, coming from Maryland through the Valley of Virginia appeared in the North-of-Holston Settlement in September, 1775, having in view locating there.

He preached at the "Meeting House" (later Taylor's Meeting House), and in the Forks where later New Bethel church was organized.

The preaching of this minister of the Presbyterian Church led to the formation of a small group of churches of his denomination; and he may well be called "Father of Presbyterianism in Tennessee," not to say of Protestantism.

Carter's Valley in this year had an accession of pio­neers after a lag of years following the Indian raid which resulted in the breaking up of Carter and Parker's trading post. Late in the fall a settlement composed of Samuel Love and his sons, Robert and


2 Traced through letters of introduction of July, 1775. Cal. Va. and Preston Papers, 106, 107. He, almost certainly, visited Major Arthur Campbell at "Royal Oaks," en route to the lower Holston. Rev. Joseph Rhea was progenitor of a distinguished family of Tennessee, John the congressman and Matthew the map-maker being his sons. Emigrating from Donegal, Ireland, he reached Philadelphia in 1769 and joined the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1771. In the spring of 1770 he removed with his family to Octorarah, Pa., the home of Joseph An­derson, Mrs. Rhea's brother; in 1772 he took up residence atTaneytown, Md., and was minister of Piney Creek church, whence he-came ta the "Tennessee country. He purchased lands on Beaver Creek of Holston. Rhea served along with Rev. Charles Cummings as a chaplain on Col. Wm. Christian's campaign of 1776 against the Overhill Cherokees. Shortly after the close of that campaign, he went back to Maryland to bring his family to the frontier, but died before being able to do so. His family, however, came a year or so later, to the lands he had ac­quired and many generations of the Rheas have since lived on them. Rev. John Rhea was a Master of Arts of Glasgow University; a mar-of very considerable learning. Had he lived he would have proven to be a great acquisition by the western country.

8 The country between the Holston and Watauga Rivers, just before their confluence, has been so called from early days to the present time.