Thursday, June 12, 2014

The First Surgery In Frontier Nashville

James Robertson
  James Robertson is known as the founder of Nashville but he was also the founder of Nashville medicine because he performed the first surgery. Robertson it seems had settled at Freeland Station after leading his party of men here in December 1779. In an early trip to this area in March 1779 his party of ten men included George and James Freeland, who Freeland Station would be named after. John Donelson, who was bringing the women and children by a flotilla of boats would not arrive here until April 1780. Originally there were eight small stations or forts. Fort Nashboro or the Bluffs as it was called was on the banks of the Cumberland near where the replica of the fort stands today. Freeland station was near where the old Werthan Bag Company stood on 8th Avenue North in North Nashville. The old French Lick or sulpher springs was nearby. On January 11, 1781, John Tucker, Joseph Hendricks, and David Hood left Freeland's Station headed for the bluffs when they were attacked by Indians firing from the canebrakes near the sulphur springs. Tucker and Hendricks were injured but Hood was captured. He was then scalped and left for dead. A party set out from Ft. Nashboro and found Hood near death and they carried him back to the fort. James Robertson had gone to Kentucky looking for powder and lead to use for hunting and defense. He returned to Freeland's Station the day of the attack where he arrived at night. His wife Charlotte, who Charlotte Avenue and Charlotte Tennessee is named after, had given birth to their son Felix a few days earlier. He would grow up to become a famous Nashville doctor. That same night James would help fend off an attack of Chickasaw Indians and the next day would travel to Ft. Nashboro to see David Hood. The night of January 12, by the light of a grease lamp using a shoemaker's awl he operated on Hood using a technique that he learned from a French surgeon traveling on the frontier. Hood fully recovered and led a long life. The Robertsons would eventually have two sons killed by the Indians and Charlotte would watch another son being scalped on the hill, where the capital building of Tennessee is now, from the walls of Ft. Nashboro. Luckily he was not killed and she would nurse him back to health. She would live to the ripe old age of 92 and James would die at 72.
Adead man who has been scalped

A scalping victim

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