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This is somewhat fictionalized account of what the move which the Bushart family made in 1823 from Cabarrus County, North Carolina, to Henry County, Tennessee, must have been like. This account is based upon as many facts as possible.
It was mid-November, 1823. In the hills of northeast Cabarrus County, North Carolina, the Bushart family was ready to begin the long journey west to Henry County, Tennessee. The wagons were packed, the animals readied. Now it was time to say goodbye to friends and family they would never see again.
Elizabeth Sarah (Bushart) Ridenhour, age 25, was the only child of Jacob and Ann (Fulenwider) Bushart who was staying in North Carolina. She and her husband, Daniel Davidson Ridenhour, had decided to stay, and each would live their entire life in that part of North Carolina. Now they were at the home of their parents, ready to see them off. With them were their children, Edmund Nicholas, almost 7 years old; Elizabeth Lovina, 5 years old, Mary Ann Elizabeth, 3 years old, and Christina C., 20 months old. Elizabeth (Bushart) Ridenhour was pregnant with their fifth child who would be born a girl, Sarah Diana, the following March.
Also there was the Troutman family to say goodbye to their daughters, Elizabeth (Troutman) Bushart (age 22), wife of John, and Sarah (Troutman) Bushart (19), wife of Henry. Elizabeth had her first child, newborn Archibald Monroe Bushart, and Sarah was 7 months pregnant with her first child, Elizabeth L., who would be born 2 Jan 1824, right after their arrival in Henry County, Tennessee. Now their parents, Peter (age 43) and Catherine (Peck) Troutman (44), as well as their siblings, John (17), Mariah (15), Margaret (11), Lovina (10), Peter (8), Catherine (5), and newborn baby Eve, were there to say goodbye. Their 89 year old grandpa, Frederick Peck, was there too.
The land in Cabarrus County had simply been played out. Every year, the crop was getting smaller. With two grown sons and three more close to grown, Jacob Bushart knew he needed to move west to provide a better future for his family. The last of the land had been sold in January 1822 to Peter Culp, a neighbor and family friend. The Busharts had stayed on as tenant farmers, trying to save up enough money for the move. And now the day was here. The crops had been harvested and sold. The house had been stripped of doorknobs, hinges, and windowpanes, as well as everything else that might be hard to come by in the wild lands of western Tennessee. Then the wagons had been packed.
Perhaps the toughest part had been readying the animals. What a menagerie must have accompanied the Bushart family west. There were dogs, cats, horses, cows, mules, oxen, goats, sheep, hogs, and chickens.
Jacob Bushart, Sr., now 57 years old, would drive the lead wagon, accompanied by his wife, Ann (Fulenwider) Bushart, age 47, and youngest child, Daniel Ritinghour Bushart, age 4. In the second wagon were John Bushart (23) and his wife, Elizabeth (Troutman) Bushart (21), and their newborn baby, Archibald Monroe Bushart. The final wagon was driven by Henry Bushart (22) and his pregnant wife, Sarah (Troutman) Bushart (19). Jacob Bushart, Jr., age 20, and Caleb B. Bushart (10) would ride horseback, helping to herd the animals along. All the men carried rifles since it was not uncommon for bandits to prey upon settlers along the trail. The girls, Mary Magdalene (almost 16), Sarah (14), and Ann (11), would walk most of the way to Tennessee, occasionally taking turns in the wagons. The wagons were simply too full for everyone to ride. Also walking were the slaves. Between two and four slaves went west with the Busharts.
They knew they had to leave soon and make good time. They hoped to make the journey in 6 weeks, arriving in their new home before Christmas and especially before the first heavy snows. They had heard many terrible stories about people caught by early snowfalls in the high mountain trails of the Appalachians. If the weather were good when they arrived, they would cut down trees and take them to the saw mill on the Tennessee River to be cut into boards to build their new house. However, if the weather were bad, they might have to settle for a rough log cabin for the winter months.
Now the time had come and the last goodbyes were said. The wagons began to pull away. Elizabeth Sarah (Bushart) Ridenhour knew she would never again see her parents, brothers, and sisters. She had brought her trumpet and now began to play. The Busharts were several miles away before the sound finally faded away.
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