The Beginnings Of Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, Part 4

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

Happy New Year to all of you Tribune readers. "On earth, Peace, good will toward man"---Luke 214

A number of General Forrest's admirers in Benton County originally conceived the idea for a Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial Park. In 1907 there had been a Grand Reunion of Confederate veterans sponsored by the citizens of Eva, and Captain John Morton had been on hand, with John Trotwood Moore the historian and State Librarian, to lead celebrants over the ground where Forrest's guns had moved in 1874.

No gathering of that nature was held again, but it planted an idea in the minds of several people, and in the 1920s a group of citizens from all parts of the county led a movement to establish a park. H.B. Pafford of Eva, Marshall Holland and William Caraway of Big Sandy, and Lindsey Melton of Camden were among the leaders in this effort, and the Pafford family offered to donate the land upon which Pilot Knob stood.

Although H.B. Pafford served two nonconsecutive terms in the state legislature, he was not in office in April 1929 when an item was finally passed in the General Appropriations Bill authorizing the expenditure of $10,000 to establish the park.

Governor Henry Horton signed the legislation, but later that year - with numerous problems facing the state government - he called an extraordinary session of the General Assembly on December 2. One of the many purposes of this session as set forth in his proclamation was the revision, repeal, and reduction of appropriations authorized just eight months previously. Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial Park underwent one of these reductions.

A specific act was offered and passed on December 13 setting up a Forrest Park Memorial Commission and providing only $5000 for its work. The members of the commission were named in the legislation - the Governor, the State Historian, and eight citizens of Benton County: Captain Leon Carroway, O.B. Lashlee, G.M. Leslie, Lindsey Melton, J.F. Odle, H.B. Pafford, Mrs. W.P. Reddick, and Mrs. W.B. Warrick. All of the local group took their assignment seriously and began work on the project in earnest.

In 1931 a tall granite obelisk was erected on top of Pilot Knob. Inscribed upon its base is the single name, "Forrest." On its side is a quotation, "Faith is the duty of the hour."

These words, written by Forrest on November 12, 1864, in a message to Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, may well have been taken as a rubric by the Forrest Park Memorial Commission - the willingness to fight on when reason said otherwise - but some hope remained.

The park's original capital funds and its annual budget of $3000 provided by later legislation were sufficient to construct a superintendent's residence, picnic pavilion, and a two story overlook, as well as meeting the superintendent's salary. After World War II, however, inflation soon reduced these funds to little more than "grass-mowing money."

Thought for the Week:

You can't truly celebrate Christ's birth until you've invited him into your heart.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

Return to Newspaper Column Index
Return to Benton County Genealogy page


Server space for the TNGenWeb Project is provided through the generosity of US Internet.

The TNGenWeb Project makes no claims or estimates of the validity of the information submitted and reminds you that each new piece of information must be researched and proved, or disproved by the weight of evidence.

You are welcome to copy information found on the Benton County TNGenWeb site for personal use, and share information with other researchers or genealogical organizations, but this information may not be sold or used in a commercial project without expressed permission. All material submitted by individuals for inclusion in this site remains their property.

Copyright 1998 - 2002