Readers anxious for a taste of the history of the state of Tennessee and of Sevier County would do well to look inside this fascinating and well-researched book on the life of one of her most famous figures.
Author Francis Marion Turner, who has given us Life of General John Sevier, starts his story in the French Pyrenees in the town of Xavier. There, relatives of St. Francis would eventually flee the Huguenot persecution to England, change their name from Xavier to Sevier, and eventually find their way to the New World.
What follows is a scholarly and detailed account of John Sevier’s early life, and his military campaigns versus the British as well as his political and personal life.
Known widely as a pioneer, a soldier, and a statesman, Sevier was a founder of the original State of Franklin, which ceded from North Carolina to pay Revolutionary War debts, eventually became Tennessee following much tragedy.
Sevier was a war hero, who repelled the Brits at the critical battle of King’s Mountain, but was also involved in many skirmishes with Native Americans, with whom the settlers often clashed.
Sevier’s military campaigns are outlined with a great deal of scrutiny from a layperson’s point of view.
The book also details Sevier’s boyhood in Virginia, and how he helped on his father’s farm as well as in his store.
In 1761, while still a teenager, he married Sarah Hawkins, his first wife, and turned his eye to the west and exploration by 1770.
Sevier moved his family to what would later come to be known as East Tennessee on Christmas Day, 1773. He became a respected leader of men and a highly valued military officer. The first governor of Tennessee, and elected to Congress four times, Sevier was the prototypical pioneer.
Involved in thirty-five battles in his military career, he never knew defeat.
Turner gives the account of Sevier’s life with a scholar’s eye for detail, and not without a certain amount of wit. His old-world flair is charming, as the original version of this work was published in 1909.
In short, if you are looking for a taste of how life was lived in colonial Tennessee, by someone who was larger than life itself, pick up this engaging volume.

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