The Fascinating Facts, Fiction, and Frustrations of Family History and My Obsessive Desire to Possess Them All.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

John Price and Old Hickory

On this Veteran’s Day we pause to thank and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those that heeded the call of duty to our country, those still living and those who have gone before us.  It is estimated our country has been at war 93% of its existence1, this is just one story of one soldier.

John Price is my 3x Great Grandfather.  He was born in 1789 in North Carolina2 (probably Johnston County) and died 1856 in Dunklin County, Missouri3.  He married Sophia Medlock about 18514.  She died in 18605.  John applied for and received bounty land for his service in the War of 1812 in Tennessee6.  He enlisted November 21, 1812 and mustered out August 22, 1813, serving under Captain Moore and Colonel Thomas Hart Benton.  His regiment was ordered to New Orleans under the command of General Andrew Jackson.7

Land Bounty Certificate
John Price of Dunklin Co MO

This was not for the famous ‘Battle of New Orleans’ that made Andrew Jackson a national hero.  It was, however, the period that earned Jackson his nickname of “Old Hickory”.  

After years of diplomatic dispute with Britain, (they hadn’t really gotten over the whole Independence thing), war was formally declared June 1 of 1812.   Jackson was already a colonel of the Tennessee Militia being appointed in 1801 but at the time was enjoying the life of a wealthy plantation owner.  The War Department ordered Jackson to gather 1500 militia volunteers and go to New Orleans in anticipation of a British invasion there.  This earned Tennessee its nickname “The Volunteer State”.8

The British, however, were a no-show to New Orleans.  Jackson and his troops had already traveled over 1000 miles by flatboat and were to Natchez, Mississippi before word reached them.  General Wilkinson, a political rival of Jackson, ordered the militia disbanded – rather than sent home or on another military mission.  Jackson basically had over 1000 men on the frontier with no means or supplies to return to their homes in Tennessee.9

The overland route from Natchez to Nashville, The Natchez Trace, was not the beautiful National Parkway it is today.  Originally a path utilized by Native Americans, the Trace became a trade route for white settlers who, in the days before steamboats, floated downriver to sell goods but had to walk back north to their homes in Ohio and East.10  Jackson was probably familiar with this route as a business man and  set out, with his men, to return to Tennessee.

Nashville (TN) Whig
April 28, 1813

As the War Department did not supply any means to return, Jackson spent his own money to feed and house his men on the long march.  He had no guarantee of reimbursement given his somewhat contentious relationship with Wilkinson and the rest of Washington.  He marched alongside his men, his officers at time surrendering their mounts to the sick and exhausted volunteers.  His men called him “tough as old hickory” and the nickname stuck.11  They arrived at Nashville in April of 1813 averaging about 20 miles a day.12

Jackson was eventually able to secure wages for the militia, John Price among them, for their time during the journey home13 and Jackson was reimbursed for his expenses.

Andrew Jackson went on to become our 7th President.  John Price went on to become a Justice of the Peace in Dunklin County, Missouri.14

Thank you, gentlemen, for your service.


21850 Census of Dunklin County, MO for John Price
Year: 1850; Census Place: Independence, Dunklin, Missouri; Roll: M432_399; Page: 17A; Image: 37.

 3 Douglas, Robert Sidney. History of Southeast Missouri. Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912. Page 975

4 Dunklin County Mo Courthouse burned in 1872 with loss of all records.  Exact marriage date unknown.
"Historical Facts of Missouri Counties." Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Accessed November 10, 2015.


6John Price (Pvt., Col. Benton’s Tenn. Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant file 41615 (Act of 1855, 80 acres); Military Bounty Land Warrants and Related Papers; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Can 253, Bundle 169; National Archives, Washington, D. C.

7 "Tennessee Department of State: Tennessee State Library and Archives." Tennessee Department of State: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Accessed November 10, 2015.

8 "The Volunteer State Goes to War: A Salute to Tennessee Veterans." The Volunteer State Goes to War: A Salute to Tennessee Veterans. Accessed November 10, 2015.

9 Dyer, Oliver. General Andrew Jackson, Hero of New Orleans and Seventh President of the United States. New York: R. Bonner, 1891.

10 "Natchez Trace Parkway Association." Natchez Trace Parkway Association. Accessed November 10, 2015. 

11 Dyer

12 "Jackson's Army." Nashville Whig, April 28, 1813.

13 "General Order." Nashville Whig, April 28, 1813.

14 Douglas

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