August 8, 1754 : “The Kings Mountain Messenger” was Born

by / / History

On this day in Philadelphia, PA – Joseph Greer was born. One of eleven children, his family would move to the frontier of Staunton, Virginia and later the Watauga area. In 1769 Joseph, his father and brothers were among 40 men who would defend  Fort Watauga – he had just turned 15. Later he would serve under Col. John Sevier during the American Revolution.

After the victory at Kings Mountain which some consider the turning point of the Revolution,

“…he was dispatched by Col. John Sevier to carry the message of victory to George Washington and the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia.   It took him some thirty days on foot and horse while enduring the wilds of the country, the threat of hostile Indians, and the snow and rain of a severe winter to arrive with musket and compass on November 7, 1780 at the session of Congress, a 600 mile trip.  It is said that the Indians shot his horse from under him and on one occasion was hiding inside a hollow log while the Indians sat on it.  His entry to the Congress was restrained because he was unknown, however he pushed his 6 foot 7 inch frontiersman stature through the door and delivered his message to a stunned and disbelieving Congress.  Seeing his size and courage, they were heard to say “with men of his size and strength, no wonder the frontier patriots won.”

“Speeding the News to the Continental Congress.”
Image credit: Tennessee State Library and Archives
Tennessee National Guard poster
Mf.212 “Prominent Tennesseans Photographs”


After American Independence was secured, Joseph would reside in Tennessee for the rest of his life finding success as a farmer and land speculator.  In 1916 his last surviving son Thomas recounted how his father’s work would keep him away for a week or more and that on his return his first words were, “Howdy, Mary Ann,” and the next, “Where are the boys?” He would walk the farm built from his original War Veteran Land Grant and eventually set apart a plot of ground for a family burial place. Here the “messenger of Kings Mountain” found his last resting place. “He died of pneumonia while traveling through a blizzard to see his new born son.  He was seventy-seven.




“The quaint tomb, built entirely of stone, bears the following inscription:”



An informative book available for more area history is John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero . The above photos are directly from The Posterity Project an incredible site by Gordon T. Belt and his wife Traci which is worth a follow.