Sgt. York in World War I
The Wolf River Valley is connected to the very origins of Tennessee history. Indians hunted this valley, fished in the river and blazed trails centuries before Europeans explored the region. Daniel Boone and his brother, Squire, spent the winter of 1769 in a cave in Pall Mall and named a number of places in the Upper Cumberland. Scores of longhunters followed the Boones, as did Coonrod Pile (buried here), a German ancestor of Alvin C. York and the first permanent settler of Pall Mall around the time Tennessee became a state.
One of Coonrod's neighbors and contemporaries was John Marshall Clemens, credited with naming the area "Pall Mall" after an elite London, England, neighborhood. Clemens held numerous positions in early Fentress County and was the father of Sam, better known as "Mark Twain", who wrote about the area calling it the "Knobs of Obedstown" in his book The Gilded Age.
The Civil War divided the region, and families literally did fight and kill each other. Tinker Dave Beaty and Confederate Guerilla Champ Ferguson used the war to settle personal scores. Governor Isham Harris established a training camp in Pall Mall near Rotten Fork. Camp McGinnis was home to more than 10,000 soldiers, the most people this valley has
ever seen at once.
On Sept. 29, 1961, the first military action of the war in Tennessee took place at Travisville, five miles north of here. 100 Soldiers from Camp McGinnis led a raid into Kentucky in one of the first invasions of the north by Confederate troops. They caught Federal troops unaware, stealing hundreds of pounds of gunpowder, and headed back to Tennessee. Thinking they had outrun the enemy, they made camp around the Travisville Methodist Church along Caney Creek. Soon Federal troops descended on them. Four Confederates were killed in the clash while the remaining retreated into the surrounding hills.
"Uncle Billy" Hull, father of Secretary of State and Father of the United Nations Cordell Hull, was left for dead after being shot in the face. He lived to track and kill the would-be assassins.
Coonrod Pile's grandson, Rod, was hauled out of his home, shot 13 times and left in the road to die by six of Champ Ferguson's men. His mother Rebecca, recognized his assailants and vowed revenge. ive of the six were pursued and killed by Rod's brothers long after the ware ended.