SHELBYVILLE, BEDFORD COUNTY, TENN.
Hon. H. L. DAVIDSON,
Under Joint Resolution of Congress, passed March 18, 1876.
Resolution for Publication of Proceedings.
W I. CRANDALL, PRINTER; TIMES JOB OFFICE.
JUDGE H. L. DAVIDSON
DELIVERED IN SHELBYVILLE ON THE 4TH OF JULY, 1876.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN : At a meeting of a portion of the citizens of Bedford county, recently held, I was, very unexpectedly to myself, selected to deliver a historical sketch of Bedford county, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States passed in the month of March last, and thus to appropriately celebrate the first Centennial of American Independence.
If there are those present who expect a spread eagle oration, they will be disappointed, as such is not my forte, nor would it fulfil the objects and purpose sought to be accomplished, by the resolution of Congress.
The joint resolution of the House of Representatives, concurred in by the Senate, "recommends on behalf of the Senate and House of Representatives that the people of the several States assemble in their several counties or towns, on the approaching Centennial Anniversary of our National Independence, and that they cause to have delivered on said day a historical sketch of such county or town from its formation, and that a copy of the sketch may be filed in print or manuscript in the Clerk's office of the county and an additional copy in print or manuscript in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete .record may thus be obtained of the progress of our institutions during the first centennial of their existence."
It is no easy task to meet all of the ends sought to be accomplished by this joint resolution, but with all of the aids within my reach, I proceed to discharge the duty of the undertaking as best I can. The history of the county of Bedford for the first decade, at least after its organization, rests somewhat upon tradition - there being but a remnant of the citizens contemporaneous with these events now living. It is also not a matter of easy and ready discrimination to select what should, and reject what should not, go into a historical sketch of the county according to the true intent and spirit of said resolution. Such sketches of counties being designed to furnish data as to their progress from the date of organization, illustrating, in the language of the resolution, the progress of our institutions during the past centennial of their existence, and also as data for historical investigators in future times, it seems appropriate to bring down the sketch to the end of the first century of our national existence. I hope in doing this to avoid unnecessary minuteness and prolixity. In November, 1777, the county of Washington was laid off by the State of North
Carolina from her Western Territory with the following boundaries: "Beginning at the north-westwardly point of the county of Wilkes, in the Virginia line ; thence, with the line of Wilkes county, to a point twenty-six miles south of the Virginia line ; thence due west to the ridge of the great iron mountain, which, heretofore, divided the hunting grounds of the Overhill Cherokees, from those of the middle settlements and valleys thence, running a southwardly course along the said ridge to the Unica Mountain, where the trading path crosses the same, from the valley to the Overhills ; thence south with the line of the State adjoining the State of South Carolina ; thence due west to the great Mississippi river; thence up the same river to a point due west from the beginning." (Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee.) This magnificent domain comprises the present State of Tennessee.
As not germane to the subject, I pass over the struggle between those resident within the county of Washington to erect the State of Franklin or Flankland out of its boundaries. In 1789 the State of North Carolina, by what is known as the Cession Act of that date, ceded the territory now constituting the State of Tennessee to the United States, and in June, 1796, the territory embraced in the county of Washington was by act of Congress erected into the present State of Tennessee. Before the session referred to there had been other counties carved out of the original Washington, and likewise after the organization of Tennessee, still other counties; amongst others in 1803, the Legislature authorized the laying out and establishment of Rutherford county, whose boundary on the south, when established, extended to the southern boundary of the State. Coming now to Bedford county, I find the Legislature of the State, on the 3d of December, 1807, passed the following act:
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That a new county be, and the same is, hereby established south and southwest of and adjoining the county of Rutherford, by the name of Bedford, in memory of Thomas Bedford, deceased ; which said county shall begin at the southwest corner of Rutherford, and southeast corner of Williamson county on the Duck river ridge, and run thence with said Williamson county line to the line of the county of Maury; thence along the same southwardly to the south boundary of the State ; thence eastwardly to the east boundary of Rutherford county; thence along the same to the ridge that divides the waters of Duck river from those of Cumberland ; thence along the same westwardly, to the east corner of Williamson county, leaving Rutherford county its constitutional limits ; and all that tract of country included in the above de-scribed lines shall be included within the said county of Bedford. (Scott's Revisal, Laws of Tennessee, page 1031.)
Thus we have the original limits of Bedford. By the second section of the same act, it is provided that, until the next General Assembly, the courts shall be held at the house of Mrs. Payne, near the head of Mulberry.
The Legislature on the 14th of November, 1809, passed the following act, reducing the limits of Bedford county :
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That the lines and boundaries of Bedford county shall be as follows, to-wit : Beginning on the northeast corner of Maury county and running south with the eastern boundary line thereof to the extreme height of the ridge, dividing the waters of Duck river from the waters of Elk river ; thence eastwardly on the extreme height of said ridge, to the present eastern boundary line of the said county of Bedford ; thence north to the south boundary line of Rutherford county ; thence westwardly with the said line to the southern boundary line of Williamson county, and thence with the said line of Williamson to the beginning." (Scott's Revisal.)
The legislature at the same session, created the county of Lincoln, which includes all of the original Bedford between the ridge dividing the waters of Duck and Elk rivers, extending to the Alabama line.
By the second section of the same act, John Atkinson, William Woods, Bartlett Martin, Howell Dawdy and Daniel McKissack were appointed commissioners to fix the county site of Bedford on Duck river, and within two miles of the centre of the county. At the same session of the Legislature, November 23, 1809, Benjamin Bradford and John Lane were appointed additional Commissioners to act with those first named.
The county of Bedford as reduced by the first section of the act copied, was still one of the largest in territory in the State. After its formation population flowed in apace, the chief current being from the old mother State, North Carolina, with a small percentage from Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. The number of population when the county was originally formed with its southern boundary the State line in December, 1807, as well as when its dimensions were reduced in 1809, cannot now be known, as the census of 1810 is the first in which Bedford county was included ; but doubtless between 1807 and 1810 it rapidly increased. The census of 1810 shows its then population to be 8,242. The census of 183o, 30,396, an increase in twenty years of 22,154. At that date, 183o, it was the most populous county in the State, Davidson county the next in population, having only 28,122, difference in favor of Bedford 2,274. Table 11, census 1870.
The county as surveyed in 1809 after its reduction, by Malcom Gilchrist, according to information, was 36 miles and some poles from east to west, with a mean width from north to south of not less than 23 or 24 miles. A magnificent territory !
By the Constitution of 1834 of the State, regulating the formation of new counties, it is provided that an old county in the formation of a new one, shall not be reduced below 625 square miles; "Provided, however, that the county of Bedford may be reduced to four hundred and seventy-five square miles ; and there shall not be laid off more than one new county on the west and one on the east, adjoining the county of Bedford, and no new county line shall run nearer than eleven and a half miles of the seat of justice of said county.
And thus was Bedford county reduced by the formation in 1836 of Coffee county on the east, and 1837, Marshall on the west, whereby at least one-third of her then territory was lost to her. Yet, after this heavy pruning, she had, by the census of 1870, a population of 24,333, only 6,063 less than in 1830.
From the best information in reach, (and no doubt correct) founded on the recollection of the venerable Mrs. Rachael Tillman, eighty-seven years old, mother of Col. Lewis Tillman, Thomas Bedford, in memory of whom, as we have seen, the county was named, was a native of Charlotte county, Virginia, that he came to Rutherford county from Kentucky, previous to 1803, and died in that county near old Jefferson previous to December, 1807, when the act of the Legislature authorizing the formation of Bedford county was passed. He was known as Col. Bedford-was contemporaneous with the American Revolution, and doubtless derived his title from services in the war of the Revolution. There were four brothers of them - the other three being connected by marriage with the Mosely family, with which Mrs. Tillman is also connected by marriage - hence her sources of information.
We have seen that in the same act of the Legislature reducing the limits of Bedford, passed in November, 1809, that by the commissioners, and additional commissioners by a subsequent act, the county seat of Bedford was to be located by them on Duck river, and within two miles of the center of the county, In the latter part of that year as informed by Col. John L. Neil, who assisted Malcolm Gilchrist to survey the county, when the distance from east to west was ascertained to be more than 36 miles, and thus showing the locus in quo of Shelbyville was within the requirements of the law. Two places were in competition. The one known then as Amos Balch's land, being the same 21/3 miles West on the Lewisburg pike, where the late Col. Wm. Little resided at his death. Balch and Wm. Galbreath, the father of our venerable friend, Wm. Galbreath, Esq., who owned the now Thompson land, adjoining the Balch tract, each offered to donate for the county seat fifty acres of adjoining lands.
About the same time Clement Cannon, then a citizen of Williamson county, but for a half century or more a worthy and valuable citizen here, went to the State of North Carolina, county of Cabarrus, and purchased from Robert W. Smith, the grantee of the State on the 23d day of March, 1810, a large track of land, at the price of $1,000, packing in his saddle-bags the silver with which he paid the price. The tract thus purchased covers the town of Shelbyville and much more. Of this tract on the 2d of May, 1810, he donated one hundred acres to said Commissioners for the county seat, and upon which the town of Shelbyville was located. The deed of Cannon to the Commissioners is witnessed by James McKissick, Thos. Moore and Amos Balch, was proven "by the oaths of James McKissick and Thomas Moore, 28th of March, 1811, and registered 22nd of June, 1811. The Thomas Moore mentioned was the first clerk of the county court, and it was before him the deed was proven on the oaths of himself and McKissick, thus presenting the singular fact of Thos. Moore, the clerk, swearing himself as Thos. Moore, the witness, all of which I take it, was lawful.
The county seat was named "Shelbyville," for Col. Isaac Shelby, who commanded a regiment of two hundred and forty men raised in the then Sullivan county, North Carolina, now Sullivan county, Tennessee, in the storming of King's Mountain, and capture of Colonel Furguson and the British army under him on the 7th of October, 1780, the most brilliant achievement of the Revolutionary war, and the pivotal point of the long and arduous struggle. Colonel Shelby, after the independence of his country was assured, removed to Kentucky, and was elected Governor of that Commonwealth.
After Shelbyville was thus laid off, the Commissioners sold lots to various persons, and amongst others, several lots to Clement Cannon, the donor.
The town of Shelbyville was not incorporated until the 7th of October, 1819, by act of the Legislature. At an election for aldermen, held on the first Monday in November, 1819, Thomas Davis, David McKissick, James A. McClure, Giles Burdett, William O. Whitney, John H. Anderson and Jacob Morton, were elected aldermen, and the body thereupon elected Thomas Davis, Mayor, and James Brittain, Recorder. It would not be fitting to this occasion to trace, if it could be done, the government of the town ever since; suffice it to say, that citizen, Brom. R. Whitthorne, having attained to proper Aldermanic proportions, is now its dignified and popular Mayor, and citizen, B. P. Steele, its obliging and capable Recorder.
The population of Shelbyville, including the suburbs, will not fall far short of 3,000 souls, from information.
TOPOGRAPHY, &c., OF THE COUNTY.
The surface of the county, especially on the east and south-east, is undulating, being interspersed with hills and vallies-the other portion of its territory more level, with a very general limestone formation, cropping out too frequently above the surface in places, and in the sections first named, springs of excellent water are quite numerous, but not so frequent in the more level portions. The growth, poplar, beech, oak, ash, hickory, walnut, elm, cedar in the north and west, with several other varieties.
Duck river is the main stream running near centrally through the county from east to west, with its tributaries from the south, Norman's, Shipman's, Thompson's, Little Flat, Big Flat, Sugar, Powell's and Sinking Creeks; on the north, Noah's Fork, Garrison Fork, Wartrace Fork, Butler's Creek, Fall Creek, North Fork and Clem's Creek.
From an early day there were, and are now, grist mills on Duck river, at what is known as Three Forks, seven miles east of Shelbyville, Sims, Horseley's, Cannon's, Wilhoites and Crowells ; and more recently Troxler's, Clary & Frierson's and Mullin's; and on the Garrison, Davis' and Mullin's old mill, with others of less note on some of the creeks, which may be styled wet weather mills.
When we consider that, the county when formed in 1807, was a dense cane brake, almost entirely uninhabited, we can readily comprehend the dangers, hardships and privations of- the pioneer settlers. Roads through the cane had to be opened, and when a settlement was made, space cleared sufficiently large to build the humble cabin, and to protect it from the surrounding timber in case of storms. These early settlers were often several miles apart. Within a year previous to his death, the late Thomas Holland related that, when a mere boy he came with his father and family, and when clearing up a little plat of ground and putting up a small cabin on the tract of land now owned by Hon. W. H. Wisener, two miles east of town, the sound of an axe was heard in a westward direction, and on approaching to find if they had a new neighbor, a new comer was found building a cabin about where the Evan's Hotel is located.
When a youth at school, boarding at the house of Captain Mat. Martin, the only immediate members of his family being the venerable pair who had lived with each other, as husband and wife, a half century, each occupying the appropriate corner by a window, indulging in smoking the pipe - a luxury common to both - I remember vividly, how the old gentleman of winter evenings, when I had time from my studies, would entertain me with the life and trials of a Revolutionary soldier - he having fought under General Green until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown ; how, after the war was over, he married for love ; how he cut away the cane on the very large and valuable estate, now the property of Hon. Edmund Cooper, and built a log cabin, a stick chimney daubed with clay, how he improvised a door, a bed-stead, a table and two chairs, but having no plank or puncheons to lay a floor, they had, for a time, only a dirt floor ; then the old lady, a patient listener to these interesting reminiscences, spoke up, "Yes, and if it was a dirt floor I kept it clean." A moral for house-keepers.
These examples were doubtless the general experience of the early pioneers. They suffered many privations, and yet they did not have all of the wants and desires that accompany a more refined state of civilization. The boys and girls lent a willing and helping hand to father and mother, in the sphere of their appropriate duties. Food and raiment were two of the chief wants. The father and sons providing for the household, the former, the mother and sisters the latter. Plain brown jeans for the former, and cotton and linsey-woolsey dresses for the latter, with something a little more attractive for Sunday-go-to-meeting adornments. If the beaux and belles of that day could have cast the social, or, more properly, the fashionable horoscope, fifty or sixty years forward, and could have seen the young man of today, with a barber cultivated moustache and imperial, with oroide jewelry and paste diamonds, and the 'girl of the period’ with a love of a little hat nestled beneath flowers and like fancies, with the incomparable pin-back, so essential to free locomotion, would they not have been miserable?
Log rollings and house-raisings are a necessity in a new and heavily timbered country. In fact the labor required to clear and prepare the land for cultivation, was very great. The neighbors though they might be miles apart, found it necessary to help each other roll up the logs into heaps for burning, and to raise their houses and barns. On such occasions, it was not uncommon to have a quilting also, with the neighbor women invited in. The hospitable board was spread with plain and substantial food for all in such abundance, that none went away hungry. As they progressed in opening up the land, small grain crops began to increase also, and there would be reapings, first with the old-fashioned sickle, next with the scythe and cradle-the latter continued to some extent until now - but to a great degree superseded by what are termed labor saving machines, a great exhaustive of the pockets of our farmers sent abroad to build up the fortunes of other communities. And so of farm wagons. But it is to be hoped that these useful aids to agricultural industry will soon be manufactured in our own midst - a movement to that end now being set on foot.
But to return to the subject of the habits of the early settlers, no record of them would be correct that did not speak in terms of high praise of their uniform hospitality - neighbor with neighbor-and especially to the stranger, who, after his warm and generous treatment, might well say, in the language of Scripture : "I was a stranger and ye took me in."
As in the middle walks of society may be found the most virtue, honesty and integrity, so is there practiced the highest type of a heart-felt and unostentatious hospitality.
In the early days we had militia laws, and Spring and Fall musters. Great was the sight to the youthful imagination to see the militia colonel all buttoned up, epauletted, with his half-moon hat jauntily set on one side of his Napoleonic head, and the captains with their red feathers as straight as an Indian arrow, all accompanied with "the soul stirring drum and air piercing fife," as they set the rank and file, armed with old shot-guns and cornstalks, as trained squadrons, in the field. Thanks, this system has grown into desuetude. When the mustering would be over, frequently the fighting would begin, as our ancestors were somewhat addicted to that pastime. A sudden dispute springs up culminating in angry passions, coats and jackets fly, shirt collars opened, sleeves rolled up, a ring is formed, the belligerents "go in," and he who first cries " enough,” is "let up" - it being dishonorable to strike after such a surrender.
Sometimes, these preparations for combat being made, the belligerents would survey each other's brawny arms and muscular proportions, neither after such survey, "hoaning" much for the fight, one would say to the other, "clear me of the law," but the other would not "clear him of the law"--hence no fight.
If there could be any comparison between personal combats whether one mode is more honorable and fair than another, we should give it in favor of the old mode, "fist and skull," against the refined style of the present day, the pistol and the knife.
In all new countries the roads are simply execrable. Under the laws of the land, public roads of every class would be much neglected. Seldom would a road overseer do his duty. Hence, much inconvenience to the people. There were no wheeled vehicles, except road wagons and ox carts. Transportation was slow and difficult. Dry goods and groceries were hauled in wagons from Baltimore, Maryland. The live stock for market were hogs and horses. These were driven on foot to Southern markets. The first McAdamised turnpike road built in the county was the Nashville, Murfreesboro and Shelbyville pike-finished about 1833-4. Since then, we have not less than seven or eight other McAdamised roads entering the town, and others in contemplation.
The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad was built through the eastern portion, (one of the best portions of the country) with a branch eight miles long to Shelbyville, about 1852. So that now we have very good means of transportation, and so many vehicles of pleasure that it is no longer a mark of aristocracy, as it used to be charged, to own one.
With these improved means of transportation, flourishing villages have sprung up, whilst some of the old ones near the railroad have decayed. Of the old country stores or villages, we may refer to Fairfield, known from a very early day as Davis' Mills, but being a very fair and lovely section, it was named Fairfield, in 1836, by Captain W. B. M. Brame.
Rowesville was so called for Dr. J. C. Rowe, resident there about 1830, when it took its name. These two places have been much injured by the withdrawal of their trade to the railroad.
Richmond -- in the southwest ten miles, was so named in 1832, by one McLain, a merchant, and a native of Richmond, Virginia.
Unionville - in the northwest ten miles, was, we presume, so named because of the regard of its people for the Union of the States.
Flat Creek was early known as Newsom's Store, afterwards as Coldwell's Store, but since it has grown to larger proportions, called Flat Creek, for the creek on which it is situated.
Bell-Buckle - the first railroad station after leaving Rutherford county, is on Bell-Buckle Creek, which, as tradition says, was so named from the finding on the banks of this creek, by an early surveyor, a bell-buckle -once, no doubt, fastening a bell upon the neck of some one of the bovine species.
Wartrace-the junction of the Shelbyville branch, is on Wartrace Creek-hence its name. This creek is so named because on the Indian wartrace from the waters of the Cumberland to Nick-a-Jack Cave on the Tennessee.
Haley's Station, for Samuel R. Haley ; and Normandy, at the mouth of Norman's Creek, which probably suggested the name.
In the early times, perhaps for the first decade in Bedford county's existence, the principal currency was silver, but, little, if any, gold. A silver anecdote was recently related to me by our venerable friend and war veteran of 1812, Colonel John L. Neil, to this effect He assisted as has been stated in 1809, in surveying the county, and spent a night at the house of James McCuistian, some three miles northwest of Shelbyville-the same place where the late Robert Jennings resided, and was charged fifty cents for the night's entertainment. Having nothing less than a silver dollar, it was placed on a stump and cut into two equal parts with an axe, his entertainer taking one-half, and himself the other, and thus was the bill paid.
I well remember a cut money incident connected with myself. When a little boy I made one of my first little trades and received as the price of the article sold, a cut quarter of a dollar, was quite elated, but was soon rendered very sorrowful when the older members of the family told me I had the fifth quarter in that dollar. It was one of the tricks of the times to cut a silver dollar into five equal parts, and to pass each piece as a quarter or one-fourth of a dollar. This was not exactly counterfeiting the currency, as the coin was genuine, but modern financiers would call it "INFLATION."
The county of Bedford is as healthful as any of the fertile Middle Tennessee counties with limestone formations. There are few local causes for sickness - many of such causes which exist in a primeval forest having passed away in the clearing up of the country, and in thus removing miasmatic influences. As a faithful chronicler, I must state that within forty years we have had three visitations of Asiatic Cholera; the first in June and July, 1833, the second in September, 1866, and the third in July, 1873. The malady was mostly confined to Shelbyville, but it spread to some extent in the country. There has, however, been as frequent visitations of cholera in other Middle Tennessee counties. Another calamity may be appropriately mentioned. On the last night of May, 1830, a violent tornado swept over the town of Shelbyville, prostrating many houses, killing outright five young men, James Newton, David Whitson, --- Arnold, --- Rideout and --- Caldwell, besides injuring a number of others. It was a night of the greatest terror and a scene of the saddest mourning.
As a general thing there was, in the olden time, but few facilities for education, Subscription schools for a few of the summer and winter months, was the rule, when the children could best be spared from home duties. There was no such distinction in those days as male and female schools, but the young of both sexes were received in the schools and put in the same classes, according to merit. These subscription schools were not very well sustained; at all events, their pupils were not often advanced beyond spelling, reading, writing, and cyphering to the single rule of three, constituting a pretty good education for the times. After the adoption of the constitution of 1834, a public school system was inaugurated by the Legislature, but the funds were so limited, and the execution of the law so inefficient and defective that but little benefit was derived. It became a necessity with those parents who desired to give their children more than the simplest rudiments of an education, to resort to a higher grade of subscription schools, or to patronize Academies, which had began to flourish. However, at an early day, say as early as 1816, Rev. George Newton, a native of Buncombe county, North Carolina, came to Bedford county and established an Academy of high order, known as Bethsalem Academy, and at the same place known now as Bethsalem or Wartrace Presbyterian Church. He was a classical scholar himself and taught with great success the English as well as the higher branches of a liberal education to many young men, among whom may be named: Rev. Baxter H. Ragsdale, Barclay and Abram Martin, sons of Captain Matt Martin, their cousin, Abram Martin, familiarly known as Judge Abram Martin, of Montgomery, Alabama, Rev. Amzi Bradshaw, Dr. James G. Barksdale and others. His character as an educator of youth left a decided impression upon the community, which has never been effaced. Further mention will be made of him in another connection.
Returning to our common schools. Under a general law of the Legislature passed March 6th, 1873, the present public school system was inaugurated. In this county, schools were organized by our efficient County Superintendent, John R. Dean, Esq., in July and August, 1873.
The fund to sustain the system is raised by a public tax, and its benefits are free for all classes and conditions, without distinction as to race or color, but very wisely the color line is so far recognized as to require schools for white and colored children to be separate. In 1873 the County Court, for school purposes, in addition to the amount levied by the State, levied a tax of ten cents on the $100 worth of tax-able property, and $1.00 on polls. In 1875–6 the tax laid was fifteen cents on the $100, and $1.00 on polls. One hundred and one public schools and five consolidated were organized the first year, one hundred and four the last year, and three consolidated. Number of pupils enrolled the first year was 5,432; 3.143 9-10 average daily attendance first year. The last scholastic year there were enrolled 6,062 pupils, Average daily attendance, 3,485. Scholastic population of each year separately 7,138 the first, and 7,523 the second. The success of the system in this county is highly encouraging. In addition to these results, the High School here has uniformly enjoyed a large patronage. There is also a High School on the same plan liberally sustained at Unionville, and as a consequence of their success, these schools are liberally aided by the Peabody Fund.
I am indebted to Superintendent Dean for these details.
It is proper in speaking of schools to notice the Collegiate Institute, Shelbyville, for the education of females The Institute has Rev. T. D. Wardlaw, D. D., for its Principal, an educator of high scholarly attainments, with a corps of excellent teachers, at the close of the academic year, June past, viz : Mrs. Jennie Nixon, Miss Laura H. Dayton, both of Shelbyville, and Mrs. Loving, of Richmond, Virginia.
PRODUCTIONS, TRADE; ETC.
In the early settlement of the county the crops were almost entirely such as were necessary for home consumption. Nothing in kind was shipped any great distance to market, but as markets opened for horses and hogs they were driven on foot to the place of sale. Hence, farming was chiefly confined to growing Indian corn, some wheat, oats and rye, and to the raising of hogs and horses.
After a while cotton was grown to a considerable extent - also, tobacco, say from 1825 on, but their production has gradually diminished, until now there is but little of either grown in the county, except in the north and north-west.
The soil of the county as a whole, being better adapted to grass and the cereals, these crops, with the standard - corn, now mostly engage the attention of the farmers, who have since the war studied the business of their occupation more than before, and with the aid of Agricultural Newspapers, Agricultural Societies and Fairs, which have been in operation from 1858 to the present time, less the years of the war, and the Grange inaugurated in 1873, great advances have been made in everything connected with their interests and prosperity. I may add that Agricultural Fairs and the Grange, whilst of much general benefit, are eminently socializing in their influences. The county is on the road to prosperity, and when its wasted fields are reclaimed by good husbandry, its large quota of virgin soil brought into cultivation, whereby our, population and wealth may be doubled, we may still retain our proud position as one of the first counties of the State. There is only one drawback, National, State, County, and Municipal taxation, but these are common to all of the counties.
I am indebted to Mr. D. R. Evans, the obliging Secretary of the Board of Trade of Shelbyville, for the following tabular statement of the shipment of the five leading articles from railroad stations in Bedford county for the current year ending July 1st, 1876, with remarks by him as quoted:
Number of bushels of Wheat
Number of bushels of Corn
Number of pounds of Bacon
Number of car loads of Live-stock....
Number of barrels of Eggs
"The actual amount shipped will exceed the above, as it was found too difficult to enumerate the small shipments. In the article of wheat is included 22,000 barrels of flour. A large amount of the live stock is driven from our county on foot. At least one-third of our productions are kept for home use."
Add say 20 per cent for live stock driven on foot
And one-third production kept for home use
This is a splendid showing for the county of Bedford for one year. I challenge any county in the State to beat it.
I have not sufficiently reliable data to approximate the amount which should be deducted for expenditures for dry goods, groceries, hardware, wagons, reapers, threshers, mowers, seeds, sewing machines, fire and life insurance policies, and a thousand other things, but after the most liberal estimates, the balance of trade must be largely in our favor - the only true test of prosperity recognized by Political Economy. Speed the day when a very large proportion of the articles on the debit side of the account shall be manufactured in our midst.
The first Agricultural Society was organized in 1857, and the Fair Grounds located near Shelbyville. I extracted from the record preserved, its first officers:
I have not at hand the names of the various officers and directors since, but suffice it to say, since the war, this association reorganized as a joint stock company, has flourished and has had for its efficient Presidents successively, William Little, Thomas H. Coldwell, W. W. Gill, Dr. Thomas Lipscomb and Robert P. Frierson.
Its present officers and directors, as copied from the catalogue are as follows:
"President - R. P. Frierson.
Vice-Presidents - B. G. Fields, T. W. Buchanan, Isaiah Parker.
Secretary - F. Shapard.
Directors-R. P. Frierson, B. G. Fields, T. W. Buchanan, Isaiah Parker, W. H. Christopher, Wm. A. Allen, Martin Eulis, T. H. Coldwell, Wm. C. Little, J. K. Hope, P. C. Steele, Jr., A. L. Landis, George Smith.
We have every reason to believe, yes, to know, that our fathers brought with them to their new homes the Holy Bible, and that numbers of them erected the family altar in their humble cabins, even before they had a shepherd to lead the little flock. At an early day Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Cumberland Presbyterians, were astir, carrying their respective banners in a common warfare against a common enemy.
One of the means early adopted by Methodists and Presbyterians to reach the unconverted and spread the Gospel, was camp-meetings. The Methodists held camp meetings once a year at Salem, Steele's, Horse Mountain, Knight's and Holt's; the Presbyterians at Bethsalem, and the Cumberland Presbyterians at Three Forks, Beech Grove and Hastings'. These meetings were held in the months of July, August and September. The members of these respective churches, and some-times friends not members of any church, having erected their cabins or camps, would move in and occupy for days, sometimes weeks, well prepared, as was their custom, to entertain largely and generously. During all this time religious services were kept up. Time will not allow fuller details; suffice it that much good was done. There is nothing good that is not abused. Camp-meetings were no exception, and yet the good greatly overbalanced the evil. Doubtless many Christians in heaven, and many on earth, date their convictions and conversion at camp meetings They are now mostly given up, Holt's being the only one I believe still sustained by our Methodist friends.
Amongst the early preachers of the Methodist denomination I may mention Learner Blackman and Joseph Smith, who removed to Franklin, and Joshua Butcher. Those who knew them bear testimony to their zeal and ability as preachers.
John Brooks - "Johnny" Brooks as he was often called--was grave, calm, solemn, and faithful to the end of a long and useful life - he has received the reward of the just. The itinerancy system of the Methodists has, during all past time, brought within our midst, temporarily, many faithful, devoted and able ministers. I trust it will not be invidious to mention two young brothers in this church who entered the ministry within a few years of each other, only less devoted to each other than to their common Master, indeed so much so, that they expressed a desire, as we are informed, to be buried side by side. Men of a high order of talent - both becoming Presiding Elders of the Murfreesboro District, both true and faithful to the end. The elder of the two died on the 7th of May, 1863, having just entered his 54th year, the latter October 29th, 1870, in his 55th year, both interred in the old cemetery of Shelbyville; and thus, side by side, rest all that is mortal of Samuel S. Moody and Adam S. Riggs. Par nobile fratrum !
Amongst the early Baptist preachers of Bedford county, as informed by two venerable sisters in said church, Mrs.Rachael Tillman, 88, and Mrs. Harriet Ferguson, 74, mother and mother-in-law of Col. Tillman, I mention Ruben Kelly, first Pastor of New Hope Church, organized in 1809, that contemporary with him came William and John Keele, Jeremiah Burns, James Walker, John Landrum, George Tillman and Melchisedek Brame.
A little later came Willis Hopwood, Levi C. and Issichar Roberts, Richard Cunningham and Joshua Yates.
Levi C. Roberts finally was sent a Missionary to the Republic of Liberia, and subsequently became President of that Republic; whilst Issicha Roberts went as Missionary to China. They were very earnest preachers, most fully convinced that theirs was the true Gospel, now constitute a large and respectable portion of our Christian population.
In 1859-60, mainly through the persevering efforts of Mrs. Edmund Cooper, deceased, the daughter of an Episcopal Minister, a very neat and comfortable Episcopal church edifice was erected here, and of which quite a number of our most respectable citizens are members. One of the first, if not the first, sermon preached in it was by the late Bishop Polk, and in it was General Braxton Bragg confirmed in 1863.
The present pastors and preachers in charge of the several churches in Shelbyville, are: Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Rev. H. S. McBride ; Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. A. Wells ; Presbyterian Church, Rev. J. F. Hill ; Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Rev. Dr. Atkinson ; Baptist Church, Rev. J. H. Thompson ; Episcopal Church, Rev. Mr. Holmes. The Christian denomination having no church building in town have preaching in the County Court room by Dr. D. C. Vaughn.
DUCK RIVER BIBLE SOCIETY.
The Duck River Bible Society, auxiliary to the American Bible Society, was organized on the 16th of May, 1818. I extract from its minutes :
"State of Tennessee, Bedford County, Shelbyville, May 16, 1818.- Agreeable to previous notice the members of the Duck River Auxiliary Bible Society met at the court house for the purpose of forming a constitution, appointing officers for the regulation of the same.
"Before entering on the business of the day, a sermon was de-livered by Rev. George Newton, and an address by Rev. Samuel King, both suitable to the occasion. After which the following officers were elected : Rev. George Newton, President ; Rev. Samuel King, Vice-President ; Mr, Levi C. Roberts, Secretary, who together with the following gentlemen shall form the Board of Directors, viz : Messrs. Samuel Turrentine, John G. Sims, Vincent Smith, Samuel Tilford, James Patton, William Knott, Joseph Steele, Witherd Latimer and John Burns."
The present officers of the Society are: Rev. J. F. Hill, President ; Rev. H. S. McBride, Rev. Dr. Atkinson and Rev. J. H. Thompson, Vice-Presidents ; Oliver Cowan, Treasurer, and E. Shapard, Secretary.
The American Bible Society was organized in 1816. The Duck River Auxiliary Society in 1818, being one of the very first auxiliaries formed, and it has, I believe, held its anniversary meetings regularly ever since, in some one of the fraternizing churches in Shelbyville, the last one having been held in the Methodist Church, South, in June last.
Its leading object is to distribute the Holy Bible to the needy and destitute in Bedford county, and to contribute as far as its means may justify to the funds of the Parent Society, to which it has contributed in gifts more than three thousand dollars in excess of donations from the Parent Society.
I have no statistics showing the number of Bibles and Testaments distributed, but suffice it to say that, during its existence of 58 years, it has done a noble work in its holy mission.
were organized in this county as early, I think, as 1827 or 1828. I believe the first here, the next not long after, at Bethsalem church. Now they are to be found in all the churches, (with some exceptions) in town and country. They have, and are accomplishing much in teaching youth to keep the Sabbath holy, to study the Bible, to understand and obey its teachings, and to bring them to Christ.
in some form and under some peculiar modus operandi, have been at work nearly as long as our Sunday Schools. Their success has been varied. The contest with a giant evil, whose trophies are widowhood, orphanage, wailings, woe and the drunkard's grave, has been fearful.
One word more as germain to the moral and religious aspect of the county. The Christian people of Shelbyville, very recently, in a public meeting, all denominations uniting, adopted resolutions warmly approving the action of the Philadelphia Centennial Commissioners in refusing to open the gates of the Exhibition to the public on the Sabbath, and as strongly condemning an opposite movement by a portion of said Commissioners. We cannot too warmly endorse the bold stand of Hon. Thomas H. Coldwell, Commissioner for Tennessee, in opposing in the Board of Commissioners the movement to desecrate the Christian Sabbath by public Exhibitions on the Lord's day.
will be touched lightly. During the administration of Madison and Monroe from March, 1809, to March, 1825, there was but little division of parties here. In the struggle between John Q. Adams and General Jackson, party spirit ran high - the followers of the latter being largely predominant. Indeed, it has been said there were only about seventy-five Adams men in the country. During all this time, up to about 1832, or perhaps later, the party nomenclature was Republican and Federalist.
The names, Democrat and Whig, were not assumed before 1832. Not until 1836 was there anything like formidable opposition to the Jackson or Democratic party here. It culminated in the contest between Martin Van Buren and Hugh L. White - the State going for White in opposition to the efforts of General Jackson. Bedford took an active, part in that contest. The county voted for the Democratic candidate. The Democrats and Whigs were much divided from thence - sometimes the one party and then the other carrying the county in elections, but most frequently the Whigs.
When the war came there was still much division. Many citizens, especially young men, attesting the sincerity of their convictions by taking up arms. and numbers of them sealing their devotion to the cause of their espousal with their life's blood. Though Bedford was the theatre of no pitched battles, yet it was of several sharp cavalry skirmishes. Shelbyville being on the line of the march of armies, often witnessed the movements and counter movements of large bodies, like the ebb and flow of the tidal waves, and whilst there was considerable loss of property, and instances of personal injury and oppression from both sides, yet through the influence of prominent citizens on both sides, these consequences were no more serious than could have been expected in a state of war.
The remains of the slain in battle, as well as of those dying of disease, as far as could be done, were gathered and buried in public cemeteries, but some of both sides sleep in unknown graves.
Nothing more creditable to our weak human nature, than to witness "the Blue and the Gray," shed the tear of sympathy, and scatter the flowers of affection over the graves of all, alike. Requiescant in pace!
COURT HOUSES, JUDICIAL AND MINISTERIAL OFFICERS.
We are celebrating this day in the fourth Court house built in Shelbyville, the first shortly after the organization of the county built on the north-west corner of the Square; the other three where we now are. The first was a small wooden tenement. In a few years a brick building better adapted to the growing needs of the county, which was blown down by the tornado of 1830. In its stead was early erected a more capacious brick which answered our purposes very well until destroyed by fire in 1863. Upon the re-opening of the courts after the war, they were held in such places of convenience as could be obtained, until the present building, commenced in 1869, was completed in 1873.
It is the most elegant, attractive and costly Court house in the State, costing the county of Bedford $80,000 or $90,000. The first court ever held for the original Bedford county was at the house of Mrs. Payne, near the head of Mulberry creek in now Lincoln county, and there were the county offices, for there was issued by Thomas Moore, the first County Court Clerk, the marriage license between John Tillman and Rachael Martin.
After Bedford was reduced in 1809, the courts were held at Amos Balch's, the Little place as heretofore stated, until the county seat was fixed here. We had what was then known as the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held by three Justices of the Peace, exercising a limited jurisdiction with Jury trials. Also, Circuit Courts, with common law and equity jurisdiction. The records of the courts were nearly all destroyed in the burning of the court house in 1863, whereby the proceedings of the courts cannot be certainly known. This loss came down to about 1850.
There was however one entry on the county court minutes as early as 1810 or 1812 so unique, and so well remembered as to be correctly quoted. It ran thus : " This day Thomas H. Benton, Felix Grunday and Oliver B. Hays appeared and took the oath of practicing attorneys of this court, and thereupon Howell Dawdy took the chair accordingly." Now, the first chairman of the county court was John Atkinson, but Howell Dawdy being a Justice of the Peace, was probably one of the associate Justices. I think the proper interpretation of the entry is, that the Chairman and another Justice were on the Bench when the oath was administered to the attorneys, and just then Esquire Dawdy appeared and took the “chair accordingly,” vacant for him. To the young lawyer, ambitious of success and eminence in his noble profession, let me say, do not hesitate to make yourself heard in the Inferior courts, for you have had practicing in the county court of Bedford, Thomas H. Benton, the great Thunderer in the American Senate for thirty years ; Felix Grundy who ranked every other lawyer in the defense of criminals in the courts of Tennessee, and who was a distinguished Senator in Congress for two terms, and Oliver B. Hays the ornate and accomplished lawyer.
[The following letter from Hon. G. W. Jones-long the honored and able member of Congress from the Fifth District-was received after this address was delivered, as the date shows ; but is, at once, so thoughtful on the part of the man minus the ear, and so characteristic of the times, as to deserve insertion.]
FAYETTEVILLE, TENNESSEE, JULY 17, 1876.
Hon. H. L. Davidson :-DEAR SIR - I was at the house of Colonel Thomas H. Benton, in Washington City, one evening after supper, when he related the following occurrence. He said he was in attendance at a court being held at Mulberry old court house on the head of Mulberry creek, then Bedford county, late one evening during the term of the court, a fight, between two men occurred in the court yard, fist and skull, of course, (no revolvers in those days) - one of the combatants bit off a portion of his antagonist's ear. On the meeting of the court next morning, the man minus an ear appeared in court, and moved the court to have entered of record the fact that his ear was bitten off in a fight, as it was common in those early days to crop or cut off the ear or ears as the penalty for stealing. The court ordered the entry to be made of record as moved by the man. Thus far all was right. The man for whose benefit the entry was made, asked the clerk the amount of his fee. The clerk after looking all through his Statutes and fee bills, said he could find no fee prescribed for that specific service, but, that there was a fee of twelve and one-half cents allowed the clerk for recording the ear mark of a person's stock and he supposed that that' would be about right, which was assented to by the man, who paid the fee cheerfully and departed in peace, confident that he was fully protected in the future against the charge that he had been cropped for stealing.
Yours truly, G. W. JONES.
The first judge of the Circuit court was Hon. Thomas Stewart, of Williamson county, Bedford being in the same circuit with Williamson and other counties. He held the first Circuit court before Bedford was reduced by the formation of Lincoln at the house of Mrs. Payne, on the head of Mulberry ; after this, and before the seat of justice was located at Amos Balch's, afterwards in Shelbyville until his retirement from the Bench at which precise date I am not well informed. He was succeeded by Hon. James C. Mitchell, of Rutherford, who held the position until about 1835, and who was succeeded by Hon. Samuel Anderson, who held the office until March,1852. Upon his voluntary retirement, I was elected to fill the office by the Legislature, (as my predecessors had been) and held under the Governor's commission until the Constitution was changed, making the judiciary elective by the people, and was elected in May, 1854, for the constitutional term of eight years. Pardon me for stating that I was the first citizen of Bedford county from its formation so honored; and this, not because of any superior claim or merit - for my superiors in legal qualifications were then members of the Shelbyville bar-but because at the close of the long incumbency of the office by Judge Anderson, none of my Shelbyville brothers opposed me. In March, 1862, I resigned, and was succeeded by Hon. Henry Cooper, under appointment of Andrew Johnson, military Governor of Tennessee. Judge Cooper held the office until the summer of 1868, and resigned, after which an election by the people was ordered by proclamation of Governor Brownlow in August, 1868, when Hon. J. W. Phillips, of Wilson (that county having long before constituted a part of this, the Seventh judicial circuit) was elected. He held the office until Judicial and Ministerial offices became vacant by the adoption of the Constitution of 1870, and at a general election held under it in August, 1870, the present incumbent, Hon. W. H. Williamson, of Wilson, was elected.
After the adoption of our present Chancery court system, Hon. B. L. Ridley, then of Warren county, was elected Chancellor of this, the Fourth Chancery Division twice by the Legislature, and twice by the people. The office being regarded as vacant in 1865, at that date Governor Brownlow commissioned Hon. Thomas H. Coldwell, who shortly afterwards declining to serve, the Governor appointed Hon. Jno. P. Steele, of Bedford, Chancellor, who filled the office until the August election, 1870, when Hon. A. S. Marks, of Franklin, the present incumbent, was elected.
The first Attorney General was Alfred Balch, of Bedford, elected probably soon after the organization of the county. He was succeeded by William B. Martin, of Bedford, he by Thomas H. Fletcher, then of Franklin, he by James Fulton, of Lincoln, he by Abram Martin, of Bedford, he by E. J. Frierson, of Bedford, who held the office until the Constitution of 1834 was adopted. I remark that before this latter date the judicial Circuits and solicitorial Districts were not necessarily the same, as since that date. The first Attorney General after the adoption of the Constitution of 1834, was Thomas C. Whiteside, of Bedford-the Nestor of the Shelbyville bar, who held the constitution-al term of six years, and was succeeded by myself - same term. Then William L. Martin, of Wilson, who at the end of four years resigned, when James L. Scudder was appointed by the Governor, until the first election under the amended constitution of 1853-4 making these as well as Judges, elective by the people, all of such officers before the latter date having been elected by the Legislature in joint convention. In May, 1854, Colonel Scudder was elected by the people, and was succeeded in 1860 by B. M. Tillman, since Chancellor in the Thirteenth Chancery Division. He held the office until appointed Chancellor by Governor Brownlow, and was succeeded by James M. Brien under executive appointment, whose death soon occurring, he was succeeded in like manner by William H. Wisener, Jr., who held the office until the election ordered by the Governor in 1868, when James F. Stokes, of Wilson, was elected, who held until the August election, 1870, when M. W. McKnight, of Cannon, the present incumbent, was elected.
CHAIRMEN OF THE COUNTY COURT.
Under the old system of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, we are informed there was no great regularity as to who should preside as Chairman, although, in fact, John Atkinson was first chairman. Frequently, it is said, Joseph Hastings, Esquire, presided. Under the act of 1835, there has been annually, a Chairman elected at the January term unless in case of vacancy when it was done at another Quarterly term. Under this system J. W. Hamlin, Esq., was presiding Chairman some portion of the time - so likewise were H. F. Holt, and P. C. Steele, Esquire, elected chairmen for some portion of the time, but because of the burning of the court house with the loss of the records these facts cannot be fully shown, but enough is known to show that William Galbraith, Esquire, was successively elected Chairman from 1856 to 1870. About 1852, John T. Neil was elected County Judge under an act of the Legislature, but the law being repealed at the next session, Judge Neil went out of office.
R. L. Landers, Esquire, succeeded William Galbraith in September, 1870, and held until October, 1870, when he resigned. He was succeeded by John P. Hutton, Esquire, October 14th, 1870, who continued until January 1st, 1872, when Thomas J. Ogilvie, Esquire, was elected, and held the office until January 1st, 1873, when Richard Henry Stem, Esquire, was elected, and is the present incumbent under annual elections ever since, and with enlarged jurisdiction and powers under late laws, making the office of Chairman still more important.
The first Circuit Court Clerk was Daniel McKissick, who held the office until the adoption of the new Constitution of 1834, when John T. Neil was elected, and successively elected by the people until 1852, when he was succeeded by Colonel Lewis Tillman, who held it two terms, and was succeeded by James H. Neil, in 1860, who held it until 1868, and was succeeded by Captain J. M. Phillips, who held until the August election, 1870, when the present incumbent, Captain W. B. M. Brame, was elected.
The first Chancery Court Clerk and Master was Robert P. Harrison, appointed by Chancellor Ridley - the right to appoint their own Clerks and Masters being conferred on the Chancellors by the Constitution. Upon the death of Captain Harrison in 1843, Robert B. Davidson was specially commissioned and held the office until Major W. J. Whitthorne was appointed, who, shortly after Judge Steele be-came Chancellor resigned, when Colonel Lewis Tillman was appointed and held the office until 1868, when he resigned, and his son, Lewis Tillman, Jr., was appointed, and held the office until after the election of Chancellor Marks, who appointed T. S. Steele, the present incumbent.
The first County Court Clerk was Thomas Moore, he was succeeded by James McKissick, he by William D. Orr, he by Robert Hurst, he by A. Vannoy, he by J. H. Oneal, he by Joseph H. Thompson, he by R. C. Couch and he by Robert L. Singleton, the present incumbent.
The first Sheriff was Benjamin Bradford ; 2d - John Warner ; 3d - John Wortham ; 4th - John Warner, again ; 5th - William Norville ; 6th - I believe, K. L. Anderson ; 7th - D. D. Arnold ; 8th - James Mullins ; 9th - J. M. Johnson ; 10th - James Wortham ; 11th - Garrett. Phillips ; 12th - R. B. Blackwell; 13th - Joseph Thompson ; 14th - J. N. Dunaway ; 15th -F. F. Fonville, and 16th J. J. Phillips, the present incumbent.
The first Register was John Ake, appointed as early as 1809, and the first deed for land registered by him was from Andrew Jackson to Michael Gleaves ; 2d - Thos. Davis ; 3d - A. Vannoy ; 4th - D. B. Shriver ; 5th - M. E. W. Dunaway; 6th - John W. Thompson, and 7th, H. H. Holt, the present incumbent.
The first newspaper published in Shelbyville, according to information was The Herald, Theo. F. Bradford, editor and proprietor, This paper was probably sold out in 1821 to one Iredell. How long he published it we cannot learn, but in 1830, at the time of the storm, he and J. Newton were publishing a paper here. The next in order was the Western Freeman, established in 1832, edited by H. M. Waterson, and published by John H. Laird. This was an anti-masonic paper.
The next, The People's Advocate, in 1836, William H. Wisener, editor and proprietor. This was the first Whig paper in the county and advocated Hugh L. White for President. About the same time Granville Cook published the Western Star; he was editor and proprietor, a Democratic paper in the support of Martin Van Buren. In 1838, L. W. Marbury published the People's Advocate. About 1840, the People's Advocate was succeeded by the Western Advocate, John W. White, editor and proprietor, a Whig paper The Free Press, by I. C. Brassfield, a Democratic paper, in 1844. The Wing Advocate, published by John H. Laird, editor and proprietor, in 1844. In 1848, The Star, a Democratic paper, by R. C. Russ, editor and proprietor.
From 1848 to 1862, The Expositor, by James Russ, Jr., and Rolph Saunders; the latter editor, but whose connection soon terminated, and the former, publisher. This was a Whig paper. >From 1850 to 1855, Bedford Yeoman, Democratic, by R. C. Russ. In 1855, The Democrat, published and edited by J. G. Carrigan, J. Mc-Danniel and N. O. Blake. In 1857-8, The Constitutionalist, a Democratic paper, edited by J. H. Baskett. The Herald of Truth, a Baptist religious paper, edited and published by Dr. R. W. Fain. >From 1862 to 1863, The Tri-Weekly News, a Union paper, J. H. Thompson, editor; B. Laird, publisher.
Then The American Union, in 1863, until 1866 or 1867, T. B. Laird, publisher ; J. H. Thompson, editor. In 1865, the Republican, James Russ, jr., publisher ; Lewis Tillman, editor. The Bulletin, in 1871, a Conservative paper, by J. L. and J. B. Russ, publishers and proprietors. The Commercial, in 1869, J. L. and L, H. Russ, publishers ; a Conservative paper. This paper was purchased by T. S. Steele and S. A. Cunningham in November, 1870. In January, 1871, Mr. Cunningham became sole editor and proprietor. Two years afterward the Rescue was merged into it, and in July following R. C. Russ became the publisher. This paper is now, and has been for several years, edited and published by R. C. Russ, and is entitled, The Shelbyville Commercial, - Democratic. The Gazette, started in 1874, published by J. L. Russ, Captain B. P. Steele, political editor, C. J. Moody, Esquire, local editor - Democratic.
I think it not inappropriate to give the names of old settlers between the date of the organization of the county, and the end of the first decade, thereafter according to my best information, and whose posterity now constitute a large portion of our present population, to wit : Cannon, Davis, Deery, Eakin, Armstrong, Stone, Coldwell, Burdett, Galbreath, Wade, Whitney, McKissack, Ruth, Holland, Marshall, Nelson, Moore, Arnold, Shriver, Bomar, Mullins, Norville, Shofner, King, Young, Kimbro, Hoozier, Ewell, Hall, Hord, Erwin, Davidson, Smith, Vance, Stokes, Osborne, Finch, Scruggs, Scott, Couch, Martin, Moseley, Neil, Tillman, Thomas, Peacock, Wood, Muse, Fugett, Hoover, Sutton, Murfrey, Steele, Harris, Wilson, Cooper, Tune, Morton, McCuistian, Clardy, Green, Brown, Fisher, Thompson, Parsons, Turrentine, Tilford, Allison, Lents, Blanton, Wortham, Warner, Atkin-son, Anderson, Sharon, Stallings, Sims, Brame, O'Neal, Coffey, Gaunt, Stephenson, Dryden, Harrison, Greer, Barrett, White, Gambill, Holt, Dean, Campbell, Williams, Floyd, Pearson, Bobo, Burrow, Reid, Reeves, Morgan, Parker, McGill, Ray, Hastings, Dunaway, Dickson, Landers, Landis, Anthony, Ewliss, Maupin, etc. Of these the Steeles are lineal descendants of Zacheus Wilson, and the Harrises, of James Harris, both signers of the Mecklenburgh Declaration of Independence, at Charlotte, North Carolina, May 20, 1775. And my own family are blood relations of General William Davidson, another of the Mecklenburgh signers, and for whom Davidson, the metropolitan county of Tennessee was named. Also, the family of Major C. P. Houston, are lineal descendants of John Phifer, another one of the signers of the Mecklenburgh Declaration of Independence.
This address, it is hoped in fitness to the occasion, has been chiefly confined to Bedford county, with incidents, and anecdotes, illustrative of its history; yet, I trust it will not be deemed inappropriate to conclude it with a few brief reflections and sentiments in regard to our whole country, Today she is one hundred years old ; just entering, with all her hopes, expectations, duties and responsibilities upon the second Centennial of her national life. From her original thirteen colonies she has expanded into thirty-eight co-equal States, with other vast Territory, not, as yet, of sufficient population to be admitted as States. A country of great extent, of wonderful progress, under a government of the people, whose voice, legally and constitutionally expressed, is the Supreme law, Whilst there are those in this country who deny that all power rightfully emanates from the people, and hold that Republican Government is a failure, yet I believe the time has not come, and pray that it never will come, when our institutions shall be overthrown, and, in their stead, shall be erected a government monarchical in principle.
We have a great and glorious heritage, extending from ocean to ocean, and from perpetual snow and ice in the North, to ever-blooming flowers in the South; with every variety of soil and climate, capable of sustaining upon its fruitful bosom the teeming millions of mankind. If, within one century, commencing with a bankrupt treasury, at the close of a long and exhaustive war for Independence, we have opened up the forests, given the virgin soil to cultivation, built cities, expanded commerce, by rail and by water navigation, built and manned navies, marshaled armies, conducted successful wars, erected Schools, Colleges, Churches, and spread the Gospel of the living God, what may not a people so energetic, so inventive and so enterprising, achieve in the next century? What has American genius, talent and energy already accomplished? Look at the array of Statesmen, of Divines, of Jurists, of Journalists, of Artists, of Scientists. To institute comparisons might be invidious. In one of the fine arts, who surpasses in Sculpture, Powers, whose eye discovered, and whose hand uncovered the perfection, as it were, of living, breathing Statuary? Whitney, the inventor of the cotton-gin, wherewith he crowned cotton King for half a century? Fulton, whose mechanical genius first applied steam to navigation, on the waters of the Hudson, in 1807, with the first steamboat built in America? Morse, whose scientific grasp chained the lightning, rendering the electric fluid subservient to the interests, business, commerce and pleasures of mankind; and our own adopted Lieutenant M. F. Maury, whose scientific research discovered the current of the winds of the seas and mapped them out so that the perils of the high seas have greatly diminished. With such results, what may not be accomplished in the second century?
Although we cannot boast, as the mother country, England, does, that the sun never sets upon her possessions, yet we can rejoice that our vast domain is adjacent and contiguous, separated by no seas, no oceans, bound together by natural bands. Let us, from all the glories of the past, as well as the hopes of the future, leading, as we trust, to the welfare and happiness of all, catch the inspiration, and cultivate the sentiment throughout our broad land of fraternity and concord, each giving such a hearty support to just constitutions, wholesome laws, wise and God fearing administrators thereof, that all the people in all our borders, with one acclaim, may pronounce the benediction on our common country, Be thou Perpetual.