Our family "story" is that Thomas Hunt family of Blount County, Tennessee with some families of adult children made this migration trip by river in 1851:
Built a houseboat (raft?) in neighboring county and carried family, possessions (including his still), and some livestock on trip down Tennessee River to Mississippi River to New Orleans where they sold the boat and traveled overland to Rusk County in East Texas. An earlier group of children's families (1847-48) reportedly came to Rusk County, TX overland by wagon, secured land, and sent word for the others to come on. My limited research inidicates that such a trip by those rivers would have been possible for a flat-bottom boat as a few steam boats had made it as far as Knoxville, TN by that time.