John Hughes (1781-1871) was the son of Francis Hughes, a comrade of frontiersman John Sevier, first Governor of Tennessee.
John Hughes acquired a 640-acre tract at “Opossum” Creek and moved into the old home of Robert Patterson, said to be the first residence built by a white settler in Hamilton County. According to the 1840 Census, Hughes owned 14 slaves. John Hughes’ son Hezekiah (1797-1874) lived nearby.
During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers tried to kill Hezekiah, known to be a Yankee sympathizer. The soldiers tied a rope around his neck and strung him up, then left to pillage his barns and fields. Hezekiah was later found by family members and cut down, still alive, though he suffered permanent rope burns.
After the war, Hezekiah Hughes farmed several hundred acres between Rock and Possum Creeks; his principle product was whiskey.
Hezekiah and his siblings had many descendants, so it isn’t surprising that this part of the Cumberland Trail encounters features named after them: Hughes Ridge, Hughes Branch, and Retro-Hughes Road.
(Source: John Wilson, Hamilton County Pioneers, Book Crafters, Chelsea, Michigan 1998.)