From the earliest time to the present; Together with an Historical and Biographical Sketch of from Twenty-five to Thirty Counties of East Tennessee, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Original Observations, Reminiscences, Etc., Etc.
BRADLEY COUNTY lies south of the Hiwassee River, and is bounded on the north by Meigs and McMinn counties, on the east by Polk County, on the south by the State of George, and on the west by James County. Its greatest length is about twenty five miles, and the greatest width twenty-two miles. It embraces an area of 340 square miles. Its surface consists of a series of parallel ridges and valleys extending in a southwesterly course from the Hiwassee River to the George line. The rides are neither high nor abrupt, and the soil upon them, which not as fertile as that of the valleys, is well adapted to agricultural purposes. the valleys are each drained by a creek and its tributaries. Those emptying into Hiwassee River are Canda, Chestua and Mouse, which together drain about two-thirds of the county. The remaining one-third slopes to the southward, and is drained by Coahulla, Sugar and Mill Creeks.
The territory now embraced in Bradley county lies in the central part of what was once known as the Ocoee District, which embraced that portion of the State south of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers. In 1819, the Cherokee Indians having ceded to the United States the lands north of the Hiwassee, an agency was established upon the site of the present town of Charleston, which became known as the "Cherokee Agency". Col. Return J. Meigs, of Revolutionary War fame, was the agent of the Government until 1823, when he died, and was succeeded by Gov. McMinn. At the latter's death, Hugh Montgomery was appointed agent. Some years before the establishment of the agency John Walker erected a log house on the hill where the academy now stands, and had sold goods there, but lived on the other side of the river. Soon after the arrival of Col. Meigs, Lewis Ross, a brother of John Ross, the Cherokee Chief, opened a store in what has since been known as the Barrett house and continued in business there until the removal of the Indians. He married Miss Holt, a member of an old Virginia family. Another prominent merchant was John L. McCarty. A tavern was kept by John Cowan. About 1832 several white persons entered the Nation, as it was then called, and attempted to make settlement, but the most of them were compelled to withdraw. A few who had married Cherokees or half-breeds were already scattered throughout the territory. These encroachments made it evident to some of the more intelligent of the Cherokees that they would be compelled to vacate their lands, and for a consideration they proposed to cede them to the United States, and to remove to a reservation west of the Mississippi, but a large part of the tribe, the leader of whom, John Ross, the principal chief of the Nation, strenuously opposed the measure. The leaders of the party in favor of the cession were Maj. Ridge, and his son, John Ridge, Elias Boudinotte, James Starr, William and Johnson Rogers and John Walker, Jr. all of whom were of mixed blood. They held a council at Red Clay in August, 1834, and without the sanction of Ross made a treaty ceding the lands to the United States. This was considered an act of treason by the other faction, and they resolved to put the leaders to death, a resolution which they finally succeeded in carrying into effect. The first victim was John Walker, Jr. He was a well educated gentleman, who in 1824, had married Miss Emily S. Meigs, a granddaughter of Col. R. J. Meigs, who resided upon a farm about two and one-half miles north of the present site of Cleveland. As he was returning from the council in company with Maj. R. C. Jackson, now of Knoxville, he was fired upon by two Indians in ambush, and fatally wounded. He succeeded in reaching his home, however, where he died nineteen days later. His murderers were tracked to their homes, arrested and lodged in jail at Athens. They were half-brothers, James Forman and Addison Sprinston. After lying in jail for some time they were released by Judge Keith, who decided that the court had no jurisdiction in the case.
The treaty signed by the Ridge party was deemed valid by the United States Government and settlers began to enter the Nation in large numbers, but John Ross still refused for some time to sanction it, and it was not until May 23, 1836, that the final ratification took place. As soon as this was accomplished troops were sent into the nation to gather up the Indians preparatory to their removal. Gens. Scott and Wool were in command with headquarters in Charleston. Barracks and other buildings were erected there, covering an area of nearly ten acres, around which was a stockade. As the Indians were brought in they were camped around the place, where they died in large numbers. Their removal was begun in 1837, but not completed until the following year.
The survey of the lands in the Ocoee District was begun under the act of the Legislature in the spring of 1837 by John B. Tipton, surveyor-general. His deputies were John Kennedy, J. C. Tipton, Thomas H. Calloway, J. F. Cleveland and John Hannah. The base line for the survey began at a large mass of limestone on the Hiwassee River opposite Charleston, and ran 20° west of south, to the Georgia line, passing through Cleveland.
In November, 1838, an entry-taker's office was opened at Cleveland with Luke Lea as entry-taker, and P. J. R. Edwards as land register.
The lands were placed upon sale at prices ranging with the time in which it was entered. For the first four months the price was $7.50 per acre: the next four months $5, after which it was reduced to $2 and $1, and finally the last was sold in 1841 at one cent an acre. The settlers from the older counties came in rapidly, and Bradley County soon became quite thickly populated. In 1837, the Hiwassee Railroad was begun, but was not completed to Cleveland until the summer of 1851. In the fall of that year it reached Charleston, and in 1856 was opened to Knoxville, the name meantime having been changed to the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad.
The organization of churches was begun several years before the removal of the Cherokees. In this work the Methodists claim priority. They began some time in the twenties, and succeeded in making many converts. Rude [sic] houses of worship were erected, regular circuits established, and camp-meetings frequently held. One of the first preachers was Dr. J. B. McFerrin, now of Nashville, Henry Price, a local preacher, was permitted to live in the Nation after 1832 or 1833, and being somewhat familiar with the Cherokee language, he sometimes preached to the Indians, and was active in two or three of their camp-meetings. The first circuit rider for the white congregation was M. J. Hawk, who began his labor in 1836. About 1830 the Presbyterians established a mission school four miles northwest of the present site of Cleveland, with William Holland as teacher, and services were held there regularly by a Mr. Worcester and Mr. Butler, ministers from the mission at Brainard's near Chattanooga. The first Baptist Church was organized about a mile from this mission school by Daniel Buckner. The first white Baptist Churches were Corinth and Blue Springs, organized in 1838 or 1839. At about that time Hiram Douglass, William Bell and the Templetons, Cumberland Presbyterian preachers, began their labors in the county.
Bradley County was organized on the first Monday in May, 1836, just previous to the cession of the Ocoee District by the Indians. It then embraced all of Polk County and a portion of James. At the first term of the county court an election was ordered for the selection of a seat of justice, and two places, Andrew Taylor's and "Deer-in-the-Water", were put in nomination. The former place was chosen and named Cleveland, in honor of a Revolutionary hero. Soon after the town was laid off and a log courthouse erected upon the southwest corner of the public square. This served the county until 1839, when the present brick building was erected. It was then one of the best structures of the kind in East Tennessee, and is still in a good state of preservation. A jail was erected in the same year, the criminals previous to that time having been sent to McMinn County. This jail was used until about 1850, when the present one was built.
The first officers chosen were Rev. Henry Price, clerk of the circuit court; William Carter, sheriff; John H. Robertson, clerk of the county court; James Lauderdale, trustee, and Frank Kincannon, register. The succeeding officers have been as follows:
Sheriffs - Alexander A. Clingan, 1837-38; James Lauderdale, 1838-40; A. A. Clingan, 1840-46; Charles I. Price, 1846-48; Thomas L. Bates, 1848-54; John H. Kuhn, 1854-60; Isaac Low, 1860-66; C. D. Champion, 1866-68; P. M. Norwood, 1868-72; Isaac Low, 1872-76; George B. Hays, 1876-80; A. J. Carson, 1880-1882; W. G. Stockburger, 1882-84; H. J. Parks, 1884.
Clerks of the county court - Joseph H. Davis, 1856-66; Samuel Hunt, 1866-70; J. H. Rucker, 1870-84; F. A. Frazier, 1884.
Clerks of the circuit court - John H. Payne, 1848-64; J. C. Tipton, 1864-74; W. H. Curry, 1874-78; R. W. Seludge, 1878-86; A. J. Fletcher, 1886.
Registers - William H. White, 1843; A. J. White, 1866-70; Stephen Hemstead, 1848-52; J. W. Hicks, 1852-66; A. B. Norton, 1866-70; J. W. Hicks, 1870-86; A. A. Ragsdale, 1886.
Trustees - Eli King, 1838-40; John Woods, 1840-42; John H. Payne, 1842; * * * *; A. R. Potts, 1856-58; Perry Roberts, 1858-60; James H. Newman, 1860-64; John F. Hayes, 1864-71; A. J. White, 1871-74; J. W. Gass, 1874-76; A. J. White, 1876-82; J. A. Denton, 1882-84; M. L. Julian, 1884.
Clerks and masters - James Berry, 1840-56; William Hunt, 1856-62, D. C. McMillan, 1862-64; A. J. White, 1864- 70; W. H. McKamy, 1870.
The circuit court of Bradley County was organized May 30, 1836, by Judge Charles F. Keith, who continued upon the bench until 1848. But little business was transacted at the first term of the court, except to qualify the officers and to admit George W. Rowles and Monroe Campbell as attorneys. At the next term which was held in September, a large number of cases came before the court, but they were of small importances. The jurors were Francis Storr, Richard Dean, William Grant, Wilson Keeling, Samuel Lain, William Rice, George Cox, B. F. Taylor, Jo. Billingsley, John Roberts, John Dunn, Noah Fisher, A. H. Napin, Ab. Lillard, William Henry, William Higgins, William Hammond, John Towns, Jesse Poe, John A. De Armond, William Tripplett, James Dobb, James Burk, James Wilson and Sherwood Osborne. The first indictment was found against Jere and Elias Towers for malicious mischief. They were charged with throwing down the fence of Robert Watkins and found guilty, but were granted a new trial, and the case was finally dismissed. Green W. Whitt was the first person convicted and fined; he was a grocery keeper and had engaged in a fight. The first delegate to the penitentiary from Bradley County was William Bailey, who was arrested for horse stealing; he plead guilty and was sentenced for a term of three years. The first person indicted for a capital offence was Abraham Scott, against whom a true bill for murder in the first degree was found at the September term, 1837. The case was continued until the next term, when he was found guilty of manslaughter, and his term in the penitentiary was fixed at three years. He was granted a new trial, but before the case came up for hearing he died. He was charged with the murder of Fanny Barnes.
Of the attorneys resident in Cleveland prior to the civil war, George W. Rowles was one of the most prominent. He was a man of fine ability, and great force of character, and was a very excellent equity lawyer. He represented the county in the Legislature in 1841-42. At the beginning of the war he removed to Georgia. Levi Trewhitt came to Cleveland from Morgan County about 1836, and for several years practiced his profession in partnership with John C. Gaut. He read law after he was married, but although he thus began practice somewhat late in life, he became eminent as a criminal lawyer. Judge Gaut is a native of McMinn County. His early education was somewhat limited, but his strong native ability soon placed him in the front rank of his profession. He was elected judge of the Third Judicial Circuit in 1854, and continued upon the bench until about 1863. He is now a resident of Nashville. After the dissolution of the partnership between Gaut and Trewhitt, the former associated with himself a younger brother, Jesse H. Gaut, who is still one of the prominent members of the Cleveland bar, and who ws the first representative to the Legislature after the organization of the State Government, at the close of the war. Mr. Trewhitt took into partnership his son, D. C. Trewhitt, the present able judge of this judicial court. In 1847, Samuel A. Smith was elected attorney-general, and located at Cleveland. He was an excellent advocate and a man of fine ability. In 1853 he was elected to Congress, and two years later was re-elected; he died in 1864. R. M. Edwards was a student in his office. Col. Edwards was admitted to practice in 1850, and has since been one of the leading lawyers on this portion of the State. He is a fine speaker, a good judge of human nature, and consequently a most excellent advocate. He is especially strong in criminal practice, and in cases against railroads. He has also been very successful in equity practice. In one case, in Polk County, involving the title to a copper mine, he received a fee of $15,000.00. It was begun in 1858, was carried to the supreme court of the State, and to the United States Supreme Court, in both of which the decision was rendered in favor of his clients. He represented the county in the Legislature in 1861-62.
Of the other attorneys resident in Cleveland previous to the war, may be mentioned John T. Coffee and Charles F. Gillespie, who came to the county soon after its organization. T. J. Campbell, J. B. collins, John B. Hoyl and B. Jarnigin. Campbell removed to Cleveland about 1856, and remained until after the war, when he became a commissioner of the Confederate State Government. In that office he made himself so obnoxious to the Union element, that he did not deem it prudent to return to the county, and removed to Texas. Collins began practice in 1848, but after a few years abandoned the profession and removed to a farm. He is still living in the county. Judge John O. Cannon was also a resident of the county a short time previous to his death. Judge Hoyl removed to Cleveland from Benton in 1855, and from that time until his elevation to the bench in 1870 was one of the leading members of the bar. Since the expiration of his term of office he has been living in retirement. At the close of the war John W. Ramsey, a former resident of the county, returned from Alabama, and continued practice of law until his death in February, 1887. He was a man of fine attainments, and a lawyer of good abilility.
The lawyers of Cleveland at the present time are R. M. Edwards, J. H. Gaut, J. G. Stuart, P. B. Mayfield, James Mayfield, S. P. Gaut, Arthur Traynor, John C. Ramsey and J. N. Aiken.
The chancery court was organized in 1840 by Judge Thomas L. Williams, who remained upon the bench until 1854. His successors have been as follows: T. N. Vandyke, 1854-62; N. G. Welker, 1862-63; D. C. Trewhill, 1864-70; D. M. Key, 1870-76; W. M. Bradford, 1876-86, S. A. Key, 1886.
Cleveland was laid off and the streets surveyed by John C. Kennedy in 1836 upon land occupied by Andrew Taylor, who had come into the Nation sometime before, and married a Cherokee woman. His house stood about where Hartsell's store now is, on the west side of the public square. In 1837 the General Assembly passed an act establishing the town of Cleveland as the county seat and appointing the following commissioners: Levi Trewhitt, Nicholas Spring, P. J. G. Lea, James Berry, John C. Kennedy, Robert Swan, John Hardwick, Robert Bashears and Burrows Buckner, provided they agreed to the provisions of the act appointing them. Should they dissent, William Champion, Ezekiel Springgs, George Reed, Isaac Brazelton and John Hammon were to act as commissioners. The provisions of the act referred to were that the two quarter sections upon which the town was located, except the part laid off into lots, should be sold to pay the State price for the land, and to raise a fund of $8,000 for the erection of a courthouse and jail; also, should there be a deficit, after selling the lands, an amount sufficient to supply it was to be levied upon the occupants of the lots in the town, each individual paying in proportion to the value of his property. These conditions were complied with, and, as has been stated, the county buildings were erected in 1839. The town was settled quite rapidly, and by 1840 the inhabitants numbered bout 500. Among the first merchants were Dr. Nicholas Spring, P. J. G. Lea, John D. Traynor, Baldwin Harle, Robert Humphreys, L. B. Miller, Lowry & Wasson, Robert Bashears, Robert and Isaac Swan, Andrew Russell, A. B. Foster, W. K. Pickens, D. C. Kenner, Washington Parks and W. H. Tibbs. At first goods were hauled in wagons from Nashville, Augusta and other distant points/ After the construction of the Western & Atlantic Railroad was begun the terminus of that line beame the shipping point for Cleveland. The first blacksmith in the town was John McJunkin, who had previously worked for the Indians. Hiram Pendergrass also located at about the same time. Paschal Carter and John Wamble came soon after. Among the early carpenters and cabinet-makers were George Rider, Joseph Shields, William Samples, John Woods and Henry Brown. Several small tanyards were sunk on the creek west of town. They were owned by John Hardwick, John Shugart, James Ruble, Isaac Low and John Goodner. The early saddlers were John Thornberry, James Riddle and George T. Parker. John Osment and W. L. Brown were tailors.
The first churches organized in Cleveland were the Methodist and Presbyterian, both in 1837. The forner was organized by Charles K. Lewis and the latter by James Tedford. Services were held in the courthouse until about 1840, when each built a frame house. In 1849 the Methodists erected a brick structure, and about 1857 the Presbyterians also built a brick house. About 1840 the Baptists and Cumberland Presbyterians began organizing congretations in the county, and in 1859 the latter erected a brick church in Cleveland.
In 1860 the Baptists began a similar work, which was not completed until 1867. About 1868 the Methodist Episcopal Church erected their present house, and three years later the building of the Methodist Episcopal Church began. In 1878 J. H. Craigmiles built St. Luke's Episcopal church, the handsomest structure of the kind in the city, in memory of his daughter. The first school in Cleveland was taught by James Tedford in a house just west of the spring. In 1840 Oak Grove Academy was completed, and Mr. Tedford was installed as teacher. He continued for two or three years, when he was succeeded by H. W. Von Aldehoff, a German of superior attainments and an excellent teacher. Up to 1853, the girls were taught in a small house in the southwest part of town. In that year the trustees of Oak Grove Academy began the erection of a building for a female department, but being unable to complete it, in 1855 it was transferred to Cleveland Lodge, No. 134, F. & A. M. who finished the work. It was known as the Masonic Female Institute, and was conducted under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity until the war. Mr. Von Aldehoff was the first teacher, and under his management the school was placed in a very flourishing condition. In 1865 it was opened by Capt. Blount, and from that time until 1884 the building was occupied by public or private schools of varying degrees of excellence. In 1884 the property was sold to J. H. Craigmiles and a female institute under the are of the diocese of Tennessee has since been conducted, with Mrs. Victoria D. Bowers as principal.
Oak Grove Academy was continued until about 1875, when the building was condemned as unsafe. Afterward the property was sold and the proceeds applied to the purchase of a lot for the public school building, which was erected in 1885. The present excellent school system of Cleveland had its origin in the appointment of a board of education in June 1882. This board consisted of J. B. Ford, P. B. Mayfield and A. D. Scruggs. A tax levy for building purposes was at once made, and as soon as a sufficient fund had been obtained the present handsome building was erected. The school went into operation in September 1885, with ______ Arnold as principal. The average enrollment is now about 375, and no city in the State has a better conducted system of public education.
In 1883 the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South decided to erect a female college as a memorial of the one hundredth anniversary of the organized life of Methodism in America. Cleveland was chosen as the site, and funds for the erection of the building were obtained from voluntary offerings in sums ranging from 50 cents to $3,000. The largest contributors in Cleveland being C. L. Hardwick, J. H. Parker, J. B. Hoyl, Mrs. S. A. Johnston and Mrs. Mary Tucker. The college was opened on September 16, 1885, under the presidency of Rev. D. Sullins.
The first bank established in Cleveland was the Ocoee Bank, chartered about 1855 by Thomas H. Calloway and Euclid Waterhouse. In 1858 the charter was sold to Knoxville capitalists, and the bank was removed to that place. In 1866 the Cleveland National Bank was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. J. C. Raht became president and William Reynolds, cashier. In 1871 the capital stock was increased to $150,000. The bank is under excellent management, and enjoys the entire confidence of the business community. The present officers are J. H. Craigmiles, president; J. H. Parker, cashier.
In May 1885 the Cleveland Life Mutual Insurance Company was organized with the following officers: J. H. Craigmiles, president; C. S. Hardwick, vice president; John T. Rogers, secretary; and J. H. Parker, treasurer. The operations of the company extend over Tennessee and several of the surrounding States.
The first newspaper of much importance was the Banner, a Democratic paper established in 1854 by Robert McNelly, who continued as editor and publisher until 1863, when it was forced to to suspend. In 1865 the publication was resumed by Robert McNelly & Son, and was continued under the same firm name until 1885 although Robert McNelly died in 1883. In january 1885, the Polk and Bradley News, which had been established at Benton two years before by V. A. Clemmer, was removed to Cleveland, and in the following November it was consolidated with the Banner under the name of the Banner-News. Since that time it has been published by a stock company with Mr. Clemmer as editor.
In 1872 N. A. Patterson established the Commercial Republican, and continued it until 1874, when the office was leased by W. S. Tipton, who changed the name to the Herald. Soon after Mr. Tipton became the owner, and has since conducted it. It was the first Republican paper established in the Third Congressional District.
During the civil war Cleveland suffered severely. The country for miles' around was laid waste, troops were quartered in churches and public buildings; property was destroyed and business paralyzed. As soon as peace returned, however, the work of restoration was begun, and the town has since continued to prosper. It is now one of the handsomest towns in the State, and has a population of about 3,000. The principal manufacturing establishments are the Cleveland Woolen-Mill, established in 1882, and employing about seventy-five persons. The Cleveland Stone Works, put in operation in 1883 by J. H. Hardwick & Bro.; two sash and blind factories, owned by De Armond & Montgomery and Mrs. J. D. Hancock, respectively; The Cleveland Chair Factory, established in 1884, and now owned by B. F. Miller and S. H. Neer; extensive marble works, established in 1875 by Lewis Williams; two tanneries, operate by J. B. Fillauer and Batt & Co., respectively, and a grist mill, with a capacity of 150 barrels of flour per day, owned by W. C. Mansfield. The mercantile interests are represented by J. F. Harle & Bro., Surguine & Co., Taylor & Paul, C. T. Campbell, R. L. Cleveland, L. D. Campbell and Schultz & Co., dry goods and groceries; John T. Rogers, Stud Bros. And Scruggs, Cooper and Bostick, drugs; Beckner Bros., J. M. Crow, C. D. McTeer, Rogers & Sons, Hall & Johnson, James Kelly, Samuel Marshall, Berry Hill, John Gray and Mrs. Haynes, groceries; N. Hardegan and H. Joseph, clothing; F. F. Neil, hardware.
The town also has two excellent hotels, the Hatcher House, G. R. Hatcher, proprietor, and the Ocoee House, P. Layne, proprietor. In December 1886, a short railway, three-fourths of a mile in length, was put into operation. The officers of the company owning it are J. H. Craigmiles, president; and J. H. Harle, secretary and treasurer.
The second largest town in the county is Charleston, which has a population of about 500. It contains four stores and a bank with a capital stock of $60,000. The merchants are Dorsey, Campbell & Co., Edwards & Bryant, William McKarny and William Knox. Chatata and McDonald's Station are small villages on the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad.