Historically speaking: Thomas Amis… .A man of substance | Rogersville
Among the first white settlers of Rogersville, Captain Thomas Amis was a patriot of Bladen County, North Carolina, who became a major player in the nation’s efforts to defeat the Redcoats and their civilian allies.
In December 1776, he was appointed commissioner of the 3rd regiment of continental troops under the orders of Jethro Sumner. As a supplier of supplies, it was Tom’s responsibility to equip the soldiers with shoes, clothing, food, ammunition and whatever else they needed, even going so far as to mortgage his own farm. that he has done.
After repeatedly hiding Francis Marion (the swamp fox) in his Drowning Creek mill, Friends’ bravery and willingness to help the cause of freedom established him as a marked man. His family would be driven from their home by the enemy, prompting Governor Richard Caswell to issue the following directive.
Quote: “Ordered, only protection for Mr. Amis’s wagons, while he was employed in withdrawing his family & co. out of the way of the enemy, be locked up. By the end of the war, North Carolina had little or no money in its treasury. Faced with the accumulation of debts to soldiers and military suppliers, the state began to transfer its western lands to individuals to pay for war service and supplies instead of money. Amis obtained a thousand acres in Sullivan County, North Carolina (later Hawkins County, Tenn.).
In 1780 he built a fort at Big Creek on the Great Indian Warpath Trail (Old Stage Road), about two miles south of present-day Rogersville. That same year, the captain commissioned Thomas Harlan, architect and stonemason from the Dutch country of Pennsylvania, to build him a house 46 feet long and 16 feet wide, one and a half stories high.
The 18-inch fieldstone walls had portholes instead of windows on the upper story. The construction of the house mirrored that found in homes in eastern Pennsylvania from the same period.
Surrounded by a log palisade for protection from intruders, Captain Amis’ gray stone house crowned the crest of the hill; the upper part of the house was barely visible above the sharp spiers of the fort.
Amis was a very enterprising man who bypassed building doors for the opportunity to knock. Drawing on his past experience as a commissioner during the War of Independence, he opened a trading post, tannery, forge and distillery, while operating a saw and grain mill.
A post office, school and church would be added later. The captain himself often greeted the dusty travelers at the gate. Once inside, visitors found themselves in a bustling community.
The jingling of iron on iron in the forge and the jingling of ax on grindstone greeted their ears. Here they could cool off with a glass of toddy and eat meals prepared in the outdoor kitchen.
They could rest overnight, buy bacon, cheese, and all kinds of clothes and shoes suitable for the road ahead. The small community of “Friends” became the primary settlement in this part of Sullivan County over the next several years. Old account books show that Thomas provided just about all the services a pioneer traveler could possibly need.
Its workers could build or repair a cart, shoe a horse, prepare a stage for a long journey, and provide food and board for the traveler as they anticipated a journey through a country populated largely by savages.
In the 1700s, the Amis Inn & Tavern became a public stopover for many notables of the time.
William Blount, John Rhea, Andrew Jackson, John Sevier, Joseph McMinn, Daniel Boone, Colonel Hardy Murfree, Colonel Anthony Bledsoe, General James Robertson, French botanist Andre Michaux, Martin Schneider, Moravian Minister of Cherokee, Dr Thomas Walker, land surveyor and the first non-Indian to cross the Blue Ridge in Kentucky, Daniel Smith, Governor of the Southwest Territory, John Lipscomb and a myriad of Revolutionary War veterans en route to “Kaintuck” and beyond to claim their land grants.
Bishop Francis Asbury, founder of the Methodist movement in America, has stayed at the Amis Inn several times.
The bishop noted in his diary that he spent the night at Amis, a place fully prepared for travelers. He criticized Amis for bragging about the money he made from his drink.
Obviously, the two engaged in heated debates, as Asbury said it was out of necessity and not choice that he was there. On April 11, 1790 Asbury wrote in his diary: “Coming down I complained that people would not be paid for their food or services… well, that complaint ceased.
Asbury, however, would return to the Amis Inn several times despite their differences, as its host was a man of great hospitality and warmth. After all, Amis, in French, means “friend”.
Hundreds of antique dealers, amateur and professional historians have been drawn to the Maison des Amis. Its durability and architectural beauty, after more than 241 years, give additional clues to the character of the builder.
Wendy Jacobs descends directly from Captain Thomas Amis and owns the Amis and Amis Mill Eatery historic site near Rogersville with her husband Jake. You can email him at [email protected]