Benton County, Tennessee Genealogy
Way, TN was once a thriving little settlement on the south prong of Harmons Creek. There were several businesses located there, a church, Wesley Chapel Methodist, was here. It got its name from Wesley Melton who hewed the logs to build the church. He was Mrs. Lena Farrar's grandfather. The first preacher was Daniel Holland and the last preacher was John Dave Holland. The time it started was around 1900, the closing date is not known.
Mr. Frank Davidson owned and operated a general store here. He carried dry goods hardware and groceries and coal oil. He bought chickens and eggs, gensing, may apple roots from the farmers.
There was a saw mill operated by George Childress. Claude Melton ran an ax handle mill. Henley and Donley Melton made ax handles for 75 cents per day. Clyde Melton bought the Davidson Store and home and operated the store for many years. Frank Davidson had built a beautiful home here and some time after Claude Melton bought it a fire destroyed this home.
Mr. Tot Childress ran a blacksmith shop. People would bring their horses and mules here to be shod from miles around. There was a grist mill here operated by Bill Berry and later by his son Tom Berry. People would bring their white corn here to get it ground into meal. They charged a toll for grinding your corn if you did not have the money to pay for the grinding.
The post office was in the Davidson store and Frank Davidson was the postmaster. The post office was later moved to Walt Phifer's Store on the north prong of Harmons Creek.
Mrs. Merty Berry can remember meeting every Saturday and playing marbles and croquet at Way and throwing rag balls soaked in kerosene on fire in the air at night for fireworks.
The dry goods and groceries were delivered by steamboat. The boats docked at the Red Bank on the west side of the Tennessee River by Reynoldsburg Island. This boat ran once a month and Henley Melton helped his grandfather light the kerosene light on the west of the river bank to guide the boats through at night. The light was filled with oil and lit once a day. The steamboat would bring a 55 gallon drum of oil once a month.
Today James Jackson house is where the store was located. Some old concrete foundations remain where the mills once stood. The old home of George Childress is in the process of being torn down. Tot Childress' home was destroyed by fire.
Written by W.P. Davidson, Jr. (1921-1985) (Grandson of Frank and Caroline Davidson) Submitted by Dianne Davidson (1953- )
The old Frank and Caroline (Pafford) Davidson homeplace was settled in the northern part of Benton County, Tennessee, approximately seven miles from Camden. The community formed by the operation of this family was known only as WAY, Tennessee. I do not know the origin of the name. Frank's business accomplishments included the total business operation of a whole community of stores, including general merchandise, saw mills, Post Office, freight lines and extensive farming operations. His management of all these operations to success must indicate his over-all ability of supervision and delegation of responsibilities that can only come from a man of leadership.
In this little community of stores was a grist-mill owned and operated by George Childress, who was married to Allie Davidson (oldest daughter of Frank and Caroline). Also a black-smith shop was included which was owned and operated by S.C. (Tot) Childress, who was a brother to George and was married to Euel Davidson (youngest daughter of Frank and Caroline).
I vividly remember the beautiful, large, two-storied country home. It was very stylish and strongly built, and located in a serene valley, at the base of a high hill. In the back of the house was a small continuously running creek that separated the hill from the house. The creek also was running through a spring house which provided refrigeration for the greatest milk and dairy products I have ever tasted.
In the front of the house was the large yard and in front of that was the general store, located on a meandering road, coming down from a valley to the south through native timber and wilderness, and opening up to a Shangri La setting. Across the road from the store was the black-smith shop at the base of another hill, with a road dropping almost straight down the hill.
Beside the road, and almost at the crest of the hill, stood a church. It was a Northern Methodist Church [Wesley?]. This building was also used as a town hall at times. For some reason, unknown to me, there were several gun shot holes in the front door of the church. This was rugged country, but the valley gave one the feeling of tranquility: probably due to the influence of the strength and hospitality of this man and his wife and their family.
The medical doctors in the county would schedule their house calls in the area so as to be able to spend as many evenings as possible at the Davidson home as welcomed guests. This was also true for the pastors of the churches and also every salesman that called on the store found it necessary to spend the night at this home.
People from all the communities in that area including Harmon's Creek, Sulfur Creek and Eva used Way as the town to do their shopping, even though in some cases the county seat of Camden was just as near. Most of their needs could be met by the businesses of this man and his family.
Picture and Information submitted by Dianne Davidson
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