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A large bituminous spring called the "Fountain Head" by early pioneer settlers. The spring is located on private land off Fowler Ford Road near the intersection with Butler Bridge Road. SUBMITTED

The Fountain Head Community stands out as one of the most interesting historical landmarks of Sumner County and Middle Tennessee. 

 

It had its beginnings before the Revolutionary War. Captain Jonathan Drake and a group of soldiers pursued Indians up a stream now known as Drake's Creek. They came upon a large bituminous spring, being fed by many large springs, and decided it would be a good place for a fort. 

 

They called it the “Fountain Head.” Possibly Captain Drake should have the credit for the real beginning of the village that we now call Fountain Head.

 

Perhaps a man by the name of Benjamin Meness was one of the soldiers with Captain Drake. He was a Sergeant from Virginia in the 1st Regiment in June of 1777. From the work of Doug Drake, Jack Masters, and Bill Puryear and their “Founding of the Cumberland Settlements, The First Atlas” we learn in 1784, there was a warrant in Benjamin Meness' name to receive 640 acres of land for his military service. 

 

This 640 acres encompassed the area surrounding the Fountain Head Spring. His service record tells us Benjamin Meness was appointed a Justice of the Peace for TN County of the Territory South of the Ohio River in December of 1790 and later served as a 2nd Major of the TN Militia in the War of 1812. Presently we don't have any further information on him but since that is not a familiar name around here now, he may have later moved on.

 

The James Gwinn family is most often given the credit for being the first family to settle in the area to become present-day Fountain Head. James Gwinn came to America from Wales and settled near Charleston, South Carolina. He later moved with a wagon train in 1791 to Tennessee country. He stopped and also took a large holding of land near Fountain Head (Spring) for his for his military service.

 

Information taken from books by former State Historian, Walter Durham, tell us that in the fall of 1799 two or three hundred pioneers started overland to make settlements in Middle Tennessee. They wanted to avoid the real mountainous route through Tennessee. 

 

They entered Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap and traveled along the Ky Trace to Whitley's Station. They went to Drake's Creek past a large Maple Swamp to a big Bituminous Spring (Old Fountain Head); then to Red River to Kilgore's Station just west of Cross Plains; and on to Mansker's Creek and finally to French Lick (Nashboro) arriving there Dec. 25, 1799, some four months before the group that came by boat. 

 

This shows us the Fountain Head Community was on an early pioneer trail. Let us just imagine what that trip and that Christmas of 1799 was like for those early pioneers.

 

Johnnie Freedle is a member of the Highland Rim Historical Society.

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