The Goodspeed Publishing Co., History of Tennessee
The Goodspeed Publishing Company
Coming Soon: Gibson County Biographical Sketches
GIBSON COUNTY is one of the several counties formed in West Tennessee in
1823. It is bounded on the north by Obion and Weakley Counties, on the east by
Carroll, on the south by Madison and Crockett, and on the west by Dyer and
Crockett. It contains about 550 square miles, and is situated in that
portion of West Tennessee, known as The Plateau. The Eastern part
is quite hilly and broken, but toward the western line becomes very level. The soil
is a dark loam containing a large quantity of siliceous matter, resting upon a
clay subsoil varying in depth from two to twenty feet, and in color from a bright
yellowish to a dark brown. There are no strata of hard rock or limestone, but some
sandstone, ferruginous rock and lignite are found.
The principal water-courses of Gibson County are the Middle Fork and the
Little North Fork of the Forked Deer River; Rutherford Fork, and the South Fork of
Obion River. The first named stream enters the county about fourteen miles
south of Trenton, and running northwest, enters Dyer County nearly due west of
Trenton. It forms in part the southern boundary of the county, while the
South Fork of the Obion forms the dividing line between Weakley and Gibson. The
Little North Fork of the Forked Deer rises in the southeast part of the county,
passes nearly centrally through the county, and empties into the Middle Fork near
the Dyer County line. Rutherford Fork of Obion rises in Carroll County, enters
Gibson near its northeast corner, ranges north, and passing into Obion
County empties into the main stream about seventeen miles north of Trenton. All
these streams have many small tributaries, which supply abundant water for stock
raising purposes. Away from the creeks, springs are very rare, but a sufficient
supply of water is found at a depth of about twenty-five to thirty-five
Nearly two-thirds of the area of the county is still unimproved, and a large
portion of it is covered with the most valuable timber known to this
latitude. Among the most common varieties are the oak, gum, poplar, hickory, beech,
maple, elm, ash, mulberry and cypress. A large number of saw-mills have been put
into operation within the past few years, and the manufacture and shipment of
lumber and staves has become one of the most important industries of the county.
For agricultural purposes, Gibson County is excelled by no other county in
the State, since nearly every farm product, including the various grasses and
fruits, is produced with sufficient ease to yield a handsome income. The
following table of shipments from the different railway stations of the
county for 1884, indicate its productions and varied resources.
Total shipments by railroad: 11,363 bales cotton; 134,142 boxes fruit; 100
barrels apples; 176 crates strawberries; 46,068 bushels wheat; 129,078 head
poultry; 16,145 dozen eggs; 1,636 head cattle; 1,545 head hogs; 62,410
bushels cottonseed-, 1,809,000 feet lumber; 7,300 bushels corn; 37 cars of barrel
staves; 180 gallons syrup; 3,675 plows; 150 dozen chairs: 1,563 barrels
flour; 53 carloads cotton seed meal; 11 carloads cotton seed cake; 34 cars cotton
seed oil; 93 bales linters; 700 dozen brooms.
The first white settlement in the territory, comprised within the present
limits of Gibson County, was made in 1819 by Thomas Fite, and his brother-in-law,
John Spencer, and James F. Randolph, who, in that year, came from Warren County,
Middle Tenn., to the western district. They brought an ax, a hand-saw and an
auger, with which tools they constructed the first house in the county, on
the Little North Fork of the Forked Deer River, about eight miles east of
Trenton. Having done this, they retraced their steps to Warren County, and in the
spring of the following year returned with their families. During the same year
Luke Biggs located about four miles northwest of the present site of Trenton,
and -- Hughbanks settled at a point about six miles west of Dyer Station.
At about the same time, probably in the spring of that year, Col. David
Crockett came from Lawrence County, Tenn., and located a short distance northeast of
Rutherford. In the fall John Bergin, his brother-in-law, came, and with him
brought Crocketts family. L. K. Tinkle and H. McWhirter, also brothers-in-law
of Col. Crockett, came soon after, and settled in the same vicinity. Others
who settled in the neighborhood of where Rutherford now is, were Henry, Jacob,
Humphrey and Bryant Flowers, and the Edmundsons: Robert, Allen, Michael and
William. A settlement in the vicinity of Yorkville was begun very early by
William Holmes, who located two miles south of that place. He was followed
by the Reeds: Samuel, James, William, Robert and Hugh, Benjamin Tyson, Benjamin
S. White and John W. Needham. John B. Hogg and Col. Thomas Gibson located on
the present site of Trenton. David P. Hamilton, in 1822, began a settlement
about two miles east of Humboldt. His early neighbors were Davidson Waddell,
William P. Seat, George Gentry, W. G. B. Killingsworth and Alexander G. Hamilton,
all of whom lived between Little North Fork and Middle Fork of the Forked Deer. The
first settler in the vicinity of Bradford Station was Richard Smith, who,
with others, subsequently joined the Mormons at Nauvoo, Ill. The settlement in
the vicinity of Lynn Point was made by Robert Puckett, Hiram Partee; Samuel,
William, Robert and James Baker; Peter Meyers, Dr. Joseph Dean, Joseph
Dibrell, Rutherford David Crockett and Little
David Crockett. The early settlers of Skullbone were
William Goodman, William Stone, James Andrews, John Bryant
and several sons, Patterson Crockett and John R. Tedford. This district is said
to have obtained the name Skullbone, by which it is universally known,
from one Allen Maxey. His cranium was exceedingly hard, and his love for the flowing
bowl correspondingly strong. Therefore, for the amusement of bystanders, he would
allow himself to be struck on the top of the head for a drink of whisky.
Prior to 1824. no roads had been opened in the county. In that year one was
opened from the house of W. C. Love in an easterly direction to Huntingdon,
and another west to Nashs Bluff. The following year roads were opened from
Gibson Port to Jackson, Lexington, Dresden and Obion County.
The first water-mill in the county was built by Thomas Fite and Jeremiah
Randolph on the North Fork of Forked Deer River in 1825. The numerous
streams of the county furnished mill sites in abundance, and several mills were
erected (during the next few years. One was erected by a man by the name of Page
about four miles south of Yorkville, while several were built on Rutherford Fork.
Among them was Bryant Caraways, situated about three miles north of
Rutherford Station, Keeleys, Criders and Harrells
further up the stream. Moors mill and Jacksons mill were both
located on the Little North Fork of Forked Deer.
The first cotton-gin in the county was built by Isham F. Davis in 1826.
Another was soon after erected by William McDaniel about two miles south of
In comparison with Obion County, Gibson County developed very rapidly, and
even became quite densely populated. The forest growth of the latter was neither
so dense nor heavy as that of the former, and to prepare the land for cotton
and corn, then, as now, the leading crops, required much less labor.
Consequently the pioneer settler chose Gibson County as home in preference to the more
fertile but less healthful Obion. In 1824 the number of acres of taxable
land in the county was 273,143, while the total tax raised was $885.35. The tax upon
the land, as was provided by the old constitution, was assessed at a given rate
on each 100 acres, without regard to value. In 1840 the number of acres
assessed was 256,086, valued at $894,869. The aggregate value of the personal
property was $628,225, and the total tax $6,350.09. In 1860 the number of acres of
taxable land was 400,019, valued at $4,238,519. The total value of town lots
was $233,765, and the value of personal property, including slaves, $2,993,514,
a greater assessed value than it has since attained. At the close of the war,
on account of the abolition of slave property and the general demoralization of
all industries, the value of taxables was greatly reduced. In 1880, however, so
far as real estate was considered in the result, the values of 1860 had been
regained, but the aggregate value of taxable personal property has been
greatly diminished by the $1,000 exemption. The number of acres of taxable land in
18-- was 361,962, the value of which was reported at $3,693,263. The value of
town lots aggregated $884,848, and the taxable personal property $129,459. The
total tax collected was, $57,535.84.
The act providing for the establishment of Gibson County was passed on
October 21, 1823. The first section is as follows; Be it enacted, etc.,
That a new county, to be called and known by the name of Gibson County, in
honor of and to perpetuate the memory of Col. Thomas Gibson, shall be and is
hereby established west of Carroll County, beginning at the
northwest corner of Carroll County; running thence west in the fourth
sectional line to a point four miles west of the second range in the
Thirteenth District; thence north to the fifth section line; thence west
on said sectional line to the fifth range line; thence south with the said
range line to a point two and one-half miles south of the line separating the
Tenth and the Thirteenth Districts; thence east parallel with said line to a
point directly south of the southwest corner of Carroll County; thence north to
On January 5, 1824, the first county court met and organized at the house of
Luke Biggs, four miles northwest of the present site of Trenton. It was
composed of the following justices commissioned by Gov. Carroll: William P. Seat,
Robert Edmunson, 0. Blakemore, Benjamin White, Robert Reid, Yarnell Reese, Abner
Bergin, John D. Love. William W. Craig, W. G. B. Killingsworth and Isham P.
Davis, who were sworn in by Bartholemew G. Stewart, a justice from Madison
County. William P. Seat was chosen chairman and Thomas Fite, clerk. At the
same time Alexander G. Hamilton, James B. Blakemore, C. Dowell and Anslem Russell
were elected constables.
At a subsequent meeting the commissioners of the town of Trenton were authorized
to build a hewed-log court house, 20 x 35 feet, and one story high. Such a
building was completed and the first court held in it in April, 1825. It was
used until 1829, when it was sold and a two-story brick building, having one
court-room below and another above, was erected in its stead, at a cost of
$5,988. The first jail was, a log structure, which cost only $121. It was
located in the northwestern part, of town and was used until, about 1836,
when a brick building was erected on the present site of the colored school. This
was destroyed during the civil war, but after the close of hostilities a similar
building was erected upon the same site. It served as a jail until 1875, and
is now occupied by the colored school. In 1875 a large and more commodious jail
wascompleted on the northeast corner of the square, under the direction of J.
J.Wells, A. S. Currey, L. P. McMurray, W. A. Allison and J. T. Cowan. To meet
the expenditure for this building, bonds to the amount of $16,700 were issued by
In January, 1881, it was entirely destroyed by fire, and during the
followingsummer the present substantial building was erected upon the same site at a
cost of $15,000, for which interest-bearing county warrants were issued to the
amount of $14,000. The commissioners who superintended the erection of the jail
were S. H. Hale, chairman; T. J. Happel, secretary; H. J. Stroud, John Maclin and I.
The court house mentioned above had been occupied but a short time when it
was found to be unsafe, and in April, 1837, the county court appointed
commissioners to have it taken down and to have a temporary house erected from the
material. The same commissioners were also authorized to let the contract for the new
court house. This latter duty was not performed until May 1, 1839, when the
contract was awarded to Solomon Shaw and Robert Jetton, who were given until
December 25, of the following year, to complete it. This time was afterward
extended six months, and in 1841, the building was tendered to the
commissioners, consisting, of N. O. K. Cole, A. S. Wallis, N. I. Hess, John
H. Raines, L. J. Wilkins and Thomas Fite, who refused to receive it, on the
grounds that it was not completed according to contract. The matter was then
submitted to a board of arbitrators who allowed the contractors, $111.78 for extra
work, making the entire cost about $20,000. This building, which has been occupied
by the court for nearly half a century, is in a remarkably good state of
preservation, and stands as a monument to honest workmanship.
Since 1840 the county has maintained a poor farm. In December, of that year,
E. Sharp, James A. W. Hess and Samuel Booth, commissioners appointed by the
county court to purchase a poor farm, reported that they had bought 100 acres from
Augustin Woods, situated about five miles southeast of Trenton. This was
fitted up for the reception of paupers, and Allen Parr appointed the first
superintendent. The number of paupers was at first quite small, and even
now, only average about fifteen. The cost to the county at the present time is
about $70 for each inmate. No insane are confined there, these unfortunates being
sent to the State asylum, where they are maintained by an appropriation by the
county court when the number exceeds twelve.
In 1835 the county was divided into fifteen civil districts, and so remained
until 1847, when the Sixteenth District was formed from portions of the
Second, Third, Seventh and Twelfth. Three years later the Seventeenth was made by
adding a portion of the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth and dividing the combination.
In 1848 portions of the First, Second and Twelfth were constituted the
Eighteenth, and in 1850 the Nineteenth was formed from portions of the Tenth and
Fourteenth. In 1854 the Fourth District was divided, forming the Twentieth, and the
Twenty-first was made in a similar manner from the Ninth in 1858. Two years
later portions of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Seventeenth were combined to
form the Twenty-second. The Twenty-third was not established until 1868,
when a portion of the Fourteenth was added to the Nineteenth and the combination
divided. The Twenty-fourth District was divided in 1871. Upon the organization
of Crockett County the Twentieth, Fourth and nearly all of the Sixteenth
Districts were cut off, and in 1873 a new Fourth was formed from portions of
the Third, Fifth, and the remainder of the Sixteenth. In 1879 a new Sixteenth
was formed from parts of the Sixth and Seventh, and two years later a new
Twentieth was made out of portions of the Third, Fourth and Seventh.
The following is a list of the persons who have filled the most important
county offices, with their term of service:
Clerks of the County Court: Thomas Fite, 1824-36; Allen C. Nimmo, 1836-48;
James A. McDearmon, 1848-54; E. W. Raines, 1854-65; J. E. Wood, 1865-70; M. C.
Holmes, 1870-82; J. D. Carne, 1882.
Registers: W. W. Craig, 1824-36; W. G. B. Killingsworth, 1836-40; Lucian B.
Gilchrist, 1840-60; J. M. McLaurine, 1860-65; J. A. Morrison, 1865-70;
William R. Cox, 1870-78; J. F. Jones, 1878-82; W. D. Johnson, 1882-86; Samuel H.
Sheriffs: John W. Needham, 1824-32; M. McLaurine, 1832-49; Luke P. Seay,
1842-48; Johnson Williams, 1848-52; J. A. W. Hess, 1852-58; Johnson
Williams, 1858-65; Hugh A. Moore, 1865-70; Johnson Williams, 1870-74; J. B. Arnold,
1874-80; J. H. Hefley, 1880--82; T. J. Parr, 1884.
Trustees: Robert Reed, 1824-26; William Ferguson, 1826-32; Allen C. Nimmo,
1832-36; John H. Raines, 1836-44; William Atchison, Sr., 1844-50; Thomas
Cooper, 1850-54; Moses E. Senter, 1854-56; F. G. Goodman, 1856-60; N. J. Hockaday,
1860--; David Thomason, 1865-70; J. A. G. McEwen, 1870-74; J. C. Long,
1874-80; John W. Ramsey, 1880-86; William Gay, 1886.
Clerks of the Circuit Court: Joseph H. Talbot, 1824-25; James L. Totten,
1825-31; John W. Crockett, 1831-36; J. B. Blakemore, 1836-44; Smith Parks,
1844-56; William A. Varner, 1856-60; S. W. Hatchett, 1860-62; Benjamin
Landis, 1865-1870; William Moore, 1970-86; J; W. Vick, 1886.
Clerks and Master of the Chancery Court: John A. Taliaferro, 1836-40; John
C. Claiborne, 1840-46; Henry C. Levy, 1846-55, James A. McDearmon, 1855-61; J.
T. McDearmon, 1861-62; J. A. McDearmon, 1865-71; R. E. Raines, 1871.
The circuit court for Gibson County was held at the house of William C.
Love, on May 24, 1824, by Judge John C. Hamilton. Joseph H. Talbott was appointed
clerk, and James R. Chalmers appeared as solicitor-general. The following grand
jury was empaneled: W. G. B. Killingsworth, Robert Reed, Isham F. Davis, George
F. Crofton, William McKendrick, W. W. Craig, Robert Tinkle, Robert Edmundson,
John Spencer, Benjamin S. White, William Blakemore, Andrew Cole and John Parker,
who reported no indictments or presentments. The only other matter coming from
the court at this term was the admission of John D. Love as a practicing
attorney. During the first ten or fifteen years the court transacted but little
business. The first-case tried was that of James Harbor vs. Jesse Woods, for slander.
The defendant at first plead not guilty, but finally compromised by pleading
guilty and paying the costs. The first indictment for murder was found in
1832, against Shadrach Madison, a free man of color, who, upon trial, was found
not guilty. The first person sent to the penitentiary from Gibson County
was Thomas M. Watson, who was sentenced at the October term, 1835, to three
years imprisonment for horse-stealing. Only one person has paid the death penalty
for crime, under the process of law, In the history of the county. That person
was Henry, a negro, the property of Mrs. Ann Kelly. He was hanged at Trenton, on
April 4, 1843, by the sheriff, L. P. Seay, who received $12.50 for his services.
The negro was convicted at the preceding March term for the murder of William C.
Franklin, in May, 1842. The case was prosecuted by John W. Crockett, attorney-general.
Among the earliest attorneys of Trenton were Joseph H. Talbott, James L.
Totten, A. W. 0. Totten, James M. Moore and Felix Parker, all of whom were admitted
to practice previous to 1831. Talbott soon removed to Jackson, where he was
subsequently followed by the Tottens. Moore and Parker were members of the
Trenton bar for many years. The former was a quiet, sober and unassuming
man, of good intellect and considerable learning, and a fairly successful attorney.
Parker was not a profound lawyer, but possessed considerable ability as a
speaker, both in the hustings and on the stump, and was several times
elected, on the Whig ticket, to a seat in the lower house of the General Assembly.
John A. Taliaferro, John W. Crockett and Rolila P. Raines were admitted to
practice during the thirties. Taliaferro became cashier of the Branch Bank
of Tennessee, at Trenton, in 1838, and afterward did but little practice,
except in cases in which the bank was interested. Crockett, after having represented
his district in Congress for one term, was elected attorney-general. He
possessed but few of the characteristics of his father, Col. David Crockett, being a
quiet, scholarly gentleman, of refined tastes. He removed to New Orleans,
but afterward returned to Tennessee, and located at Memphis. Raines occupied a
leading position in the profession for several years, and was especially
distinguished as a criminal advocate. He was painstaking in the preparation
of his cases, and no weak point in the position of his opponent ever escaped
his notice. He was a good speaker, and possessed great power before a jury, and,
taken all together, was one of the most successful lawyers ever at the
In 1850 the attorneys of the county, besides Parker, Moore and Raines
already mentioned, were James A. McDearmon, M. B. King, H. C. Levy, M. R. Hill, S.
Williams, T. J. Freeman, M. J. Clay, R. P. Caldwell and Joshua Richardson.
King was an: able advocate and a thorough student. He possessed a rather delicate
constitution, however, and died from consumption a few years after locating
in Trenton. M. R. Hill had formerly practiced at Dyersburg. He was an eloquent
speaker, and ranked as one of the ablest lawyers in the State. He was twice
elected to the State Senate, and during one term was speaker of that body.
Williams had been located at Troy, Obion County, a short time previous to
his coming to Trenton. He was well versed in the law, and was eminently
successful as an advocate. In 1858 he succeeded William Fitzgerald upon the bench of
the circuit court, a position which he filled with universal satisfaction to the
bar. At the breaking out of the war be espoused the Union cause, and went to
Illinois, where he died. Richardson, while a man of good ability and
considerable personal popularity, on account of intemperate habits did not
attain much prominence at the bar. He served one term in the Lower House of
the General Assembly. R. P. Caldwell continued a member of the Trenton bar until
his death in 1886. He was an excellent jury lawyer, but attained greater
prominence as a politician than as a jurist. He served in both houses of the General
Assembly, and at one time represented his district in Congress. He was a
native of Obion County, and studied law with Judge S. W. Cochran, of Troy.
The firm of T. J. & J. T. Carthel was prominent during the decade preceding
the civil war. The former entered the Confederate Army, and was killed in the
battle before Atlanta. The latter, at the close of the war, resumed his practice,
and in 1878 was elected to a seat upon the bench of the circuit court. In that
position he displayed rare ability, and it was universally regretted that he
declined to become a candidate for re-election. Gideon B. Black, his
predecessor upon the bench, came to Gibson County a short time previous to the war, from
Marshall County, Tenn., where he had previously been engaged in the practice
of his profession. He was an able lawyer and an impartial judge. He is still
living near Trenton, but has retired from the practice of his profession. The
present bar, which is one of recognized ability, is composed of the following
attorneys: John S. Cooper and Thomas J. Hays, Thomas B. Howard and W. W. Wade, J. C.
McDearmon and L. H. Tyree, M. M. Neil and J. R. Deason, J. T. and J. E.
Carthel, Le Grand and Paul Jones, John R. Walker, 0. B. Freeman, S. B. Williamson, R.
L. Taylor, and A. Killough. J. T. Curtis resides at Rutherford. In 1869 law and
Chancery courts having jurisdiction over civil districts One, Two, Three,
Thirteen, Eighteen and fractions of Four and Twenty were established at
Humboldt. Of the former the clerks have been T. J. Williams, H. C. Burnett
and M. H Johnson, the present incumbent. T. J. Williams has been clerk and
master of the county court since its organization. The first attorney to locate in
Humboldt was H. T. Johnson, a man of fine intellect, and an excellent
advocate. He remained in Humboldt until his death in 1882. S. W. Sharp, for some time
a partner of Johnson, located in the town about 1869, and remained until his
death. He was also an able lawyer, and a highly respected citizen. The
present members of the Humboldt bar are J. F. Rawlins and Samuel C. Williams, W. H.
Babbitt and W. I. McFarland, and W. M. McCall. There are also four attorneys
who reside at Milan. They are V. L. and W. B. Ware and S. F. Rankin and J. P.
For mention of the judges of the circuit court of Gibson County previous to
1870, see the sketch of Obion County. Of the judges of the supreme court
Gibson County has furnished three -- A. W. 0. Totten, Thomas J. Freeman and W. C.
Caldwell -- sketches of whom, with the exception of the last named, appear in
another chapter of this work. Judge Caldwell is a native of Obion County,
where he began the practice of his profession. About ten years ago he located at
Trenton and became a partner of R. P. Caldwell. In 1883 he was appointed one
of the judges of the court of referees at Nashville, and so continued until
that court expired by limitation in April, 1886. He then became a candidate for a
seat on the supreme bench, and, having received the nomination of the
Democratic party, he was elected the following August.
Trenton is situated near the center of the county, on the North Fork of the
Forked Deer River. The site was selected by James Fentress, Benjamin
Reynolds, William Martin and Robert Jetton, commissioners appointed for that purpose
by an act of the Legislature, passed September 27, 1824. The land upon which it is
located was donated by James Whitaker and John B. Hogg who gave twenty
acres, and Jesse Blackburn, James Caruthers and Frank McGavock, who together gave
thirty-six and one-fourth acres. John W. Evans, John W. Buckner, William C.
Love, Robert Tinkle and John P. Thomas were appointed by the county court to
lay off the town site into a public square, streets, lots and a commons, the
latter to comprise six and one-fourth acres, and the town plat proper just fifty
acres. This was accordingly done, and a board of commissioners, of whom John H.
Raines was chairman, was appointed to sell the lots and convey titles. Previous to
the location of the town one house had been erected upon the site and was then
occupied by Col. Thomas Gibson, who had a small stock of goods which he was
selling to the settlers. From this circumstance the place was called
Gibsonport, a name which it continued to bear until it was changed, by an act of the
Legislature, the following year.
Very soon after the location of the town Robert Seat opened a store on the
east side of the square. He had a small stock of such articles as were most
needed by the pioneers, and these goods he exchanged for corn, furs and other produce,
which he shipped from Eaton by flat-boat down Forked Deer to the
Mississippi, and thence to New Orleans. He was afterward associated with Thomas Fite,
under the firm name of Fite & Seat. At a little later date Hugh D. Nelson carried
on quite an extensive business on the east side of the Public Square, as also
did Murphey & Cameron. The leading firm in town at that time, however, was
Armour, Lake & Caruthers, whose store stood on the lot where the opera-house now is.
Brown & Taliaferrohad a small store where Senter & Keenan now are, and the
site of the Hicks House was occupied by M. & J. Woodfin. During the decade of
the forties the leading mercantile firms were B. Elder & Bros., the senior
member of which began business in 1835; Claiborne, Davis & Co., Seat & Morton, A. A.
P. Grigsby, Abel Hicks & Co., 0. B. & L. Caldwell, William C. Crawford and L.
J. Wilkins, and with a few changes these firms continued through the next
decade. Others which may be mentioned are N. T. & J. A. Wilkins, McGee & Scrape, W.
H. Thompson & Co., J. J. Hammon, J. L. & R. L. Davis, John S. McCullough and L.
The first druggist was W. B. Billingsly, who opened a store in 1845, and the
following year was succeeded by Jesse I. Wells.
The first tavern was probably kept by John W. Evans, who was licensed to
keep an ordinary in 1829. Robert Seat was granted a license for the same purpose the
following year, and in 1831 a similar one was granted to Abraham S.
Davidson. At a little later date J. D. Hill opened a hotel on the lot now occupied by J.
W. Bigelow. He afterward opened a house on the present site of the Hicks
House, and was there succeeded by Goodoe & King. The Hicks House was built soon
after the war by G. B. & R. A. Hicks, the present proprietors.
The business interests of Trenton at the present time are as follows: J. W.
Hoy, E. Richardson, Davis & Johnson, Smith Bros., J. Freed and L. Oppenheimer,
dry goods; Senter & Keenan, J. A. Landis, R. C. Adams, C. C. Gentry & Son,
Nettles & Ramsey, Smith Bros., J. W. Hoy, McGee & Harrison, J. W. Bigelow, A. A.
Pybass, J. M. Skiles & Co., and Haste & Haste, groceries; Hutchison & Co., Leroy
Shackleford, N. L. McRee and A. B. Cooper, drugs; R. E. Grizzard, hardware
and notions, and Mrs. William McDearmon and Mrs. J. K. Pierce, millinery.
In 1838 the Bank of Tennessee was established, and one of its branches was
located at Trenton. Moses Woodfin was appointed president and John A
Taliaferro, cashier. The latter held his office until the beginning of the war, with
the exception of about a year, when it was filled by James B. Blakemore. The
presidents changed frequently. Among those who held that office were Thomas
B. Claiborne, Benjamin Elder, John W. Elder, Z. J. Freeman and John L. Davis.
During its existence it was considered one of the best paying branches in
the State, and was of great value to: the town and surrounding country. After
the war this county was without a bank until 1879, when the Gibson County Bank,
with a capital of $50,000, was chartered under the laws of the State. It has
since been under the able management of J. W. Elder, as president, and H. M.
Elder, as cashier, and has done an excellent business, commanding the confidence of
the entire community.
The first manufacturing establishment of importance was founded in 1855-56,
by William Jarrell, and consisted of a foundry and plow manufactory. After the
war it was reopened by William Jarrell and J. I. Wells, and is now conducted by
J. I. Wells & Son, who have added a well equipped machine shop. They also
operate on an adjoining lot a saw and planing-mill.
The Gibson County mills were erected in 1861, by William Lovin. In 1871 they
were purchased by H. H. Rogers, who operated them until December, 1876, when
they were entirely destroyed by fire. The next year they were rebuilt by Mr.
Rogers at a cost of $10,000., They were operated with the old process machinery
until 1886, when they were refitted with all the latest improvements. The
present owners are Taylor, Ramsey Co.
The Trenton flour-mills were erected in 1882, by Jetton and Davis, who still
operate them. The building is a three-story brick, and is supplied with the
old process machinery.
The Trenton cotton-seed oil-mill was erected and put in operation by an
incorporated company, of whom R. G. Taylor was president, in 1883. Four
presses are run consuming about twenty-five tons of cotton seed per day, of
twenty-four hours, making about 1,000 gallons of oil and nine tons of meal. The capital
stock of the company is $30,000.
The Trenton cotton-mills were incorporated in April, 1884, with an
authorized capital stock of $100,000, of which $80,000 has been paid in. The president
of the company was J. M. Senter, and the secretary, George Everett. The
machinery, consisting of 2,440 spindles and eighty-five looms, was put in operation in
June, 1885. The present president of the company is J. A. Landis.
A steam cotton-gin, established in 1880 by Ewell and Ellis, is now operated
by W. H. Ellis. A planing-mill, established in 1884, is operated by S. A.
Higgason. Birmingham Bros. carry on an extensive business in the manufacture of
buggies and wagons and general repairing.
The first physician in Trenton was John H. Chrisp, who located soon after
the town was established, and continued to practice his profession for many
years. He was a graduate of a Philadelphia medical college, and was a man of high
attainments. Nelson I. Hess, mentioned elsewhere as a minister of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was a contemporary of Chrisp, and continued to practice
until after the close of the war. William K. Love was a student under
Chrisp, and afterward became his partner. He removed from the town about 1845.
George B. Peters, who became a physician of high standing in West Tennessee, obtained
his professional education in the office of Chrisp & Love. Dr. Lewis Levy
located in Trenton about 1843-44, and continued as one of the leading physicians until
his death, a period of nearly forty years. W. W. Lea, for many years one of the
most eminent physicians of the State, was a resident of the town about the period
of the war. He began the practice of medicine at Nashville, but located at
Eaton about 1830. Many other physicians have located in the town from time to
time, among whom may be mentioned W. D. Scott, William Maclin, Jesse Lassiter, E.
T. Taliaferro. The physicians of the present are Robert A. Hicks, G. N. Glenn,
Charles Levy, J. T. Shackleford, T. J. Happel and J. D. Butler.
The first newspaper established in Trenton was the Western Union, the first
numbers of which appeared in 1836. It was edited successively by J. D. Hill,
Thomas Scott and W. E. Brown & Felix Parker. Brown & Parker changed the name
to the Polar Star, and soon after, in 1840, sold to J. D. Hill, who established
the Trenton Journal, a Whig paper, which, in 1844, was transferred to W. W. Lea,
John A. Taliaferro and Thomas Claiborne, who conducted it as a Democratic
sheet under the name of the Live American. In 1853 it became the Independent
Journal, with H. R. & N. F. Barksdale as proprietors. The next year, however, it was
transferred to A. S. Currey, who conducted it as editor and proprietor until
1861. In September, 1847, a Whig paper, the Star Spangled Banner, was
established by McGee & Brewer, who continued until February, 1849, when
Brewers interest was purchased by B. Landis. In 1852 the name was changed to the
Southern Whig Standard, and so continued until 1861, being successively
edited by S. W. Hatchett, J. W. Youngblood and Thomas Parker. In 1865 the Trenton
Gazette was established by F. M. Holbrook, who was succeeded by Wise A.
Cooper, R. E. Bumpass and Cooper & Glass. In 1871 Mr. Holbrook established the
Trenton News, which in 1874 was consolidated with the Gazette under the
name of the News-Gazette, and was so continued by Biggs, Holbrook & Co., J. R. Biggs
and Holbrook & Shearon until 1881, when it became the Gibson County Mirror. It
has since changed editors and publishers very frequently, and has been issued
under various names: the Globe, the Recorder, the News and the
Republican-Gazette. In February, 1885, E. E. Renton established the Gibson
County Herald, a seven-column folio, Democratic in politics, of which he has since been the
editor and sole proprietor.
Trenton Lodge, No. 86, A. F. & A. M., received its charter October 4, 1838,
at which time Nelson I. Hess, Alexander Baber, Jacob T. Smith and several
others were members. The lodge was very prosperous for many years, and a chapter,
council and commandery were successively organized, all of which have now
surrendered their charters. The following is a list of the members of this
lodge: Nelson I. Hess, John W. Crockett, John L. Davis, A. S. Currey, A. C.
Levy, P. D. McCulloch, S. W. Caldwell, C. N. Worthington, Z. Biggs, J. L.
Strickland, J. P. Grigsby, A. T. Gay, W. 0. Kelly, R. E. Grizzard, J. C.
Friendship Lodge, No. 22, I. 0. 0. F., was organized in 1847, but during the
war the hall with its contents was destroyed, and the lodge was afterward
reorganized. At one time it had a very large membership, but the interest in
it has somewhat declined. William R. Cox is the present Noble Grand.
Excelsior Commandery, No. 16, K. of P., received its charter February 10,
1875. Among the leading members at that time were W. C. Caldwell, P. B. Coppage,
L. M. Elder, T. J. Happel, A. J. McDearman, R. H. Nettles, L. Oppenheimer, H. C.
Pierce and R. F. Ross. M. M. Neil, of this lodge, is Grand Chancellor of
Peabody Lodge, No. 198, K. of H., was instituted in 1876, the leading
members being W. 0. Kelly, W. T. Grigsby, P. D. McCullough, R. A. Hicks, John H.
Glass, C. C. Gentry, H. L. Raines, J. J. Brooks, L. S. Wade, J. W. Cox, J. P.
McGee, M. M. Neil, J. Freed, W. M. Holt and George E. Glass. The lodge now numbers
about fifty-four members.
Trenton Lodge, No. 24, A. 0. U. W., was established in 1877 with about forty
members, of whom the following were the officers: W. M. Hall, P. M. W.; S.
W. Caldwell, M. W.; R. E. Grizzard, F.; L. H. Tyree, O.; W. C. Caldwell,
Recorder; J. D. Hill, Financier; and M. M. Neil, I. W. The present membership is only
Humboldt, one of the most flourishing towns of Gibson County, is located at
the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Louisville Railroads. It was
laid out in 1858, upon land owned by Sharp, Lannom and Thruston. Previous to
this time, however, a large steam flouring and saw-mill had been erected by
John A. Taliaferro and W. A. Allison, on the railroad south of the town, and near
where the first depot was located. The first business house was built by
John C. Gillespie, on the lot now occupied by J. J. Thweatt, and there he opened a
store in partnership with his son. At about the same time W. H. & John R. Simmons
began business on an adjacent lot. From this time until the beginning of the
war the town grew rapidly. Among the business men of that period were J. N. & J.
R. Lannom, T. B. Love & Co., McGee & McKnight, Ebert & Co., G. S. Rainey and
Clement & Thomas, while W. H. Stillwell and B. F. Landis -were the physicians.
During the war business was pretty generally suspended, but at its close it
began at once to revive. The first firms to re-enter business were Gillespie,
Warren & Co., J. N. & J. R. Lannom. S. D. Waddill and Seward, Ferrill,
Scales & Co. From that time the town again began to improve, and, although the growth
has been checked by several very destructive fires, its excellent location,
combined with an unusually enterprising population, has enabled it to overcome all
obstacles, and it is now entering upon an era of renewed prosperity. The
present business interests are represented by the following individuals and firms:
0. C. Sharp, J. J. Thweatt, T. J. Dow, A. B. Jones & Co. and T. A. Bond, dry
goods; V. Donavan, P. B. Roe, A. L. Fox, I. H. Dugan, W. H. Henry, J. J. R. Adams, S.
D. Waddill and E. B. Hart, groceries; W. 0. Penn, gents furnishing goods; E.
T. Transou and F. T. Hofford, furniture; M. T. Cox, saddlery; C. W. Albright,
hardware, and J. A. Hamilton, B. F. Watkins, Scales Bros. and W. H. Mason,
druggists. The town also has several important manufacturing enterprises.
The Humboldt Buggy & Wagon Company was established in 1880, by the consolidation
of the firms of Jarrell & Hamilton and Phillips & Scott, with a capital of
$11,000, which has since been doubled. They employ from thirty-five to forty hands,
and manufacture buggies, the Charter Oak wagon and implements. Jarrell &
Hamilton formerly operated a steam saw-mill, which was built in 1871. Phillips &
Scott established a buggy and wagon shop in 1875.
In 1869 William Jarrell established a foundry and plow factory. Two years
later he sold a one-half interest to W. H. Dodson, and the business was conducted
under the firm name of Dodson & Jarrell until 1878, since which time Mr.
Dodson has been the sole proprietor. From twelve to fifteen hands are employed in
manufacturing the Jarrell Plow, cotton scrapers, and other implements.
Until recently a grist-mill was operated in connection with the foundry.
E. W. Ing operates a large steam cotton-gin, which is run to its fullest
capacity during the season. In 1880 the Humboldt furniture factory was
established by a stock company, of which L.C. Tyler was president. After
running very successfully for one year, it, with a large part of the business
portion of the town, was destroyed by fire.
Humboldt is located in one of the most important fruit-growing sections of
Tennessee, and at present has three large nurseries in successful operation,
producing all the varieties of fruit trees, vines and ornamental shrubbery
grown in this latitude. The Humboldt nurseries were established in 1859 by B. P.
Transou, who continued as sole proprietor until 1866, when he was joined by
his brother, E. T. Transou. In 1878 the latter sold his interest to M. G.
Senter, who, since the death of B. F. Transou, has conducted the business.
In 1874 C. H. Ferrill & Co. established the Pomona Nursery about one-half
a mile north of the town. It now covers about 120 acres, and from fifty to
sixty agents are employed in selling its products in Tennessee and all the
surrounding States. Morgan & Murphy are the present proprietors of the
Eureka Nursery, which was established in 1881 by Porter & Brown.
The first newspaper in Humboldt was the Cosmos, a Whig paper, which was
established in 1860, and edited by W. H. Stillwell and S. W. Sharp. In 1867
the Headlight was established by Isaac McFarland, who continued its publication
but a short time. It was succeeded by the Argus, Journal, Herald and Enterprise,
all of which were short lived. In August, 1885, C. H. Ferrill & Co. began the
publication of the Messenger, a nine-column folio, which they have since
continued with good success.
All the leading secret orders are represented at Humboldt, with the
exception of the K. of P. and I. 0. 0. F. The lodge of the latter order, which was
instituted in 1868, recently surrendered its charter. Shiloh Lodge, No.202, A. F. & A.
M., was organized about three miles north of Humboldt in 1847. In 1859 it was
removed to the town, where a hall was erected at a cost of $3,500. This was
recently destroyed by fire, and has not yet been rebuilt. The lodge now
numbers about forty members. Cosmos Lodge, No. 53, A.O.U.W., was organized in 1878;
its present membership is eighteen. Gibson Lodge, No. 454, K. of H., was
established in 1878, and has since been highly prosperous, having a membership at
present of fifty. Bethsheres Lodge, No. 406, K. & L. of H., was established in 1881.
Humboldt was incorporated in 1868, with Moses E. Senter as mayor. The
present city officers are L. K. Gillespie, mayor and recorder; G. B. Hart, marshal;
and C. T. Love, S. K. Allen and C. D. Allen, aldermen.
Milan, a town of about 1,800 inhabitants, is situated at the junction of the
Memphis & Louisville and the Illinois Central Railroad. It was established
in 1858 upon lands owned by B. A. Williamson and John Sanford. In that year a
small house was erected and a grocery opened by John G. Shepherd. The first dry
goods store was established by George Peeples at about the same time. The
following year the post office, which had been located at Shady Grove, was transferred
to Milan, and Swinburne Craven continued as postmaster. In 1860 E. A.
Collinsbegan business as a merchant. Hansbro & Hillsman and Ferguson & Cooper also
located at about the same time. The first physician was W. R. Rooks, who was soon after
joined by J. B. Hinson. The town did not attain to much prominence prior to
the war, but after the close of hostilities it began to improve rapidly, and in
1873 the completion of the Illinois Central Railroad enhanced its importance as a
commercial point. The present business of the town is represented by John M.
Dickson, Owen & Co., Jordan & Adams, E. L. Chambers, T. J. Harrison & Co.,
and W. B. Williams & Bro., dry goods or general merchandise; D. A. Taylor, M. W.
Wheeler, Edwards & Shepherd, Lacy & Karnes, M. B. Harris, T. W. Adams and W.
G. Vanhook, groceries; G. W. Martin, M. D. L. Jordan and Stewart and Danner,
drugs; G. W. Wilson & Co., dry goods and drugs; S. M. Rhodes, tinware and stoves;
Joseph Williams, furniture; J. W. Younger and J. H. Holt, undertakers; Mrs.
0. H. Halstrom and Mrs. Clinton Mathis, millinery.
The physicians are L. G. Danner, J. J. Richardson, J. D. & W. H. H. Bledsoe,
R. A. Clopton, J. A. Henderson and M. D. L. Jordan. At present Dr. J. M. Glenn
is the only dentist.
Since 1874 E. A. Collins has conducted a private bank, which has proved of
great value to the business interests of the town and surrounding country. The
only manufacturing establishment in Milan is the flouring-mill of Turner &
Dodson, which was erected about 1869 by Nesbitt, Douglass & Co.
The first newspaper in the town was the Milan Times, which was established
in June, 1869, by Frank Monroe, who continued its publication but a few months.
In March, 1874, W. A. Wadeestablished the Milan Exchange, an eight-column
folio. In 1878 he changed it to a seven-column quarto, and later to a five-column
quarto. With the exception of about three years, when he was associated with L. J.
Brooks, Mr. Wade has conducted it as sole editor and proprietor, and it is
now one of the best country papers in West Tennessee.
The first hotel was erected by William F. Jackson in 1859. In 1878 the Grand
Pacific Hotel, one of the finest railroad hotels in the South, was erected
at the junction.
The town contains a large number of lodges, all the leading secret and
beneficiary orders being represented. Milan Lodge, No. 191, A. F. & A. M.,
was instituted at Shady Grove in 1850, where it remained until 1860, when it was
transferred to Milan. Milan Lodge, No. 155, I. 0. 0. P. was organized on
August 16, 1871, with J. G. Boyd, William Shepherd, John Sullivan, J. T. Anderson,
J. H. Holt and S. M. Pearce as charter members. Although at one time the
membership reached about forty, it is now quite small. Stonewall Lodge, No. 30, A. 0.
U. W., was instituted November 18, 1877, with nineteen members. It now numbers
only twelve members. Liberty Lodge, No. 453, K. of H., was organized in 1878, and
the following year Eagle Lodge, No. 96, K. & L. of H., was instituted. Prospero
Lodge, K. of P., was instituted in May, 1879.
Milan was incorporated by an act of the Legislature passed in 1867, John G.
Shepherd being the first mayor.
Rutherford, the fourth town in the county in importance, is situated on the
Mobile & Ohio Railroad, eleven miles north of Trenton. It was laid out in
1858 by Thomas Cooper and Joseph Knox, the former acting as agent for the
railroad company, which held a half interest in the land. The first building was a
saloon erected by Charles C. Thomas on the lot now occupied by Flowers & Hefley.
The first store was opened by Thomas D. Locke in the building now occupied by W.
P. Elrod. Very soon after, J. E. Kyzer began business where be now is. These
stores, with a family grocery by William Yates, constituted the business of
the town previous to the war. During the war, business was almost entirely
suspended. At its close J. E. Kyzer reopened his store, as also did T. D.
Locke & Co. The latter firm was succeeded by Hartsfield, Smith & Co., Blackburn &
Thomas and Elrod & Thomas. Miller & Co. and S. Wilson both began business
soon after the war. The former has been succeeded by J. C. Holmes & Co., while
the latter still continues. A. N. Grier & Bro., J. W. Elrod and W. B. Ward &
Bro. were also engaged in business for a time. The merchants of the present
beside those already mentioned are R. B. Tinkle. A. J. Fletcher, Flowers & Hefley,
Glisson & Canada and R. W. Mullens. Of the manufacturing interests of the
town the establishment of B. A. Smith, manufacturer of cotton-gins, is important.
It was established in 1870, and since that time about 2,000 gins have been made
and sold. Mr. Smith has recently begun the manufacture of coffins, and will soon
enlarge his factory for that purpose.
The Rutherford mills were erected in 1876, by Wren & Williamson, and consist
of both a saw and grist-mill. In 1884 the grist-mill was remodeled as a
roller-mill, with a capacity of fifty barrels per day. It is now operated by
T. J. Wren & Son. The first mill in the town was erected by McCain in 1866, but
after continuing for a few years it was burned. Two steam cotton-gins are
operated by S. Wilson and Kilough and Canada respectively.
A newspaper, known as the Rutherford Gazette, was established by a man by
the name of Henderson, in 1880. After publishing it a short time he sold it to
J. D. Maclin, who removed it to Trenton.
Bone Lodge, A. F. & A. M., was organized about two miles south of Rutherford
on January 10, 1856, and received its charter in October of that year. The
members at ------ne were A. S. Baldridge, Master; W. J. Davidson, Senior Warden; A.
Keathley, Junior Warden; J. T. Grier, B. F. Bobbitt, A. M. Grier, J.
Bobbitt, J. N. Grier, J. T, Armstrong D. Halliburton, M. Flowers and B. Arnold. The
lodge continued to meet at Pond Hill until 1860, when it was removed to
Rutherford. It now has a membership of forty-eight.
Dyer is a village on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, seven miles north of
Trenton. It was established in 1859, when B. F. Bobbitt built a house and opened a
grocery store. Soon after, J. T. Mathes & Co. and Etheridge and Grier began
business there. Since the war the following firms have been in existence,
some of them for only a short time however: Bobbitt & Berry, Berry & Phillips,
Davidson & Crank, Crank & Biggs, Biggs & Barnes, Elrod & Anderson, Owen
Toombs & Son, Grier & Wilson, and Thomas & Bro.; also J. P. Snoddy, F. M. Snoddy, R.
P. Kimbro, G. W. Wyatt and William Howard. The present business interests of
the town are B. F. Bobbitt, J. L. Berry, J. Y. Mitchell and Harper, general
merchandise; J. W. Wilson and William Maxwell, drugs and groceries; J. M.
Hutchison and N. P. Vincent & Co., cotton-gin; J. M. Coulter, saw and
planing-mill; W. A. Hearn, foundry; Hearn Bros., carriage and wagon shop;
and J. M. Hutchison, grist and saw-mill. The physicians are W. A. Stephenson, J. H.
Drane and Frank Overall.
Dyer Lodge, No. 351, A. P. & A. M., was organized in 1868. A hall was built
in cooperation with the trustees of Dyer Academy, but it was burned in 1878. A
building was then rented, but it, too, burned soon after, and since that
time the lodge has had no regular place of meeting.
Yorkville, an interior village, fifteen miles northwest of Trenton. was
founded in 1830, when John C. Kuydendall, a native of Yorkville, S. C., built a
dwelling there, and opened a store. The town grew quite rapidly, and in 1850 was
incorporated, with W. H. Miller as the first mayor. Its period of greatest
prosperity was from about 1853 to the beginning of the war. Among those who
did business there prior to 1860 were William Miller, John F. Cowan, T. L.
Hamilton & Co., D. E. Holmes & Co., Joseph Garwood, Locke & Wyatt, Patton & Bro. Dr.
James T. Bone, a prominent physician in the early history of the county, was
located here. In 1846 Yorkville Lodge, No. 115, A. F. & A. M., was
organized, and four years later a commandery, the second in the State, was instituted,
being one of the first in West Tennessee.
Eaton, formerly known as Buckners Bluff, was established in 1827, and named
in honor of John H. Eaton, Secretary of War under Jackson. It is located eleven
miles west of Trenton, on the right bank of the Middle Fork of Forked Deer
River. Before the days of railroads it was an important shipping point for
Dyer, Obion, Gibson and Carroll Counties, as keel and flat-boats, and occasionally
small steam-boats, were navigated on the Forked Deer. A post office was
established in 1830, with Dr. W. W. Lea, one of the first merchants, as
postmaster. Other merchants who were in business there for several years
were Jas. A. Harwood & Co., Shaw & Edwards and Shaw & Bradshaw. The village saw
its best days during the thirties.
Brazil, an interior post village, nine miles southwest of Trenton, was
established about 1869, at a time when great excitement existed. in the
neighborhood, concerning proposed emigration to Brazil, South America. It
was at first called Poplar Grove, but it was incorporated and its name changed by
an act of the Legislature of 1869-70. W. T. Banks was chosen the first mayor.
At that time there was a prospect of its obtaining a railroad, and the town
grew rapidly, but it has now considerably declined.
Gibson, a station on the Memphis & Louisville Railroad, about midway between
Humboldt and Milan, was established in 1870, and the first business house
built the following year.
South Gibson, for several years a village of some importance, was
established some time during the thirties. The first store was opened by W. P. Williams.
who was afterward succeeded by Weston & Green Williams. Since the completion of
the railroads the village has become extinct.
Medina, a station on the Illinois Central Railroad a short distance north of
the Madison County line, was established in 1873. The first business house was
erected by J. J. Birdsong, who opened a family grocery. The business of the
town at present consists of Laws & Bynum and Marks, dry goods; L. Olmstead,
William Rust and H. House, groceries; Hudson & Andrews, drugs, and William Watt,
steam-mill and cotton-gin. Dr. Dallas Richardson is the only resident
Bradford, a station on the Illinois Central Railroad in the northeast part
of the county, was built partly upon land belonging to Robert Bradford, and
partly upon land bequeathed to the Vanderbilt University by W. D. Scott. The first
business house was erected by A. J. Little, who opened a saloon and family
grocery in 1873. The first merchants were J. G. Phipps & J. E. White and J.
N. Alexander. The present business of the town is as follows: J. D. Williams &
Bro., J. N. Alexander, James W. Womack and Casey & Michael, general
merchandise; J. P. Martin, dry goods, and G. W. Nowlin & Co., drugs. J. N. Alexander
also operates a steam cotton-gin. A hotel, which Is now conducted by Stephen A.
Smith, was built in 1875 by Phipps and White. The first physician to locate
in the town was A. J. Baker. He has since been succeeded by J. D. and J. A.
McKenzie. Rolla Lodge, No. 465, A. F. & A. M., was instituted at Bradford in
1874, and during the following year a hall was built in co-operation with
the Baptist Church. This lodge has a membership at present of about forty.
Idlewild is a station on the Illinois Central Railroad south of Bradford. It
was established in 1873, but it has never attained much importance.
North Gibson and Lynn, the former about two and one-half miles east and the
latter three miles west of Bradford, were formerly places of some
prominence, each having a post office and two or three stores: but since the completion
of the railroad they have declined and Bradford has succeeded them as a
shipping and commercial point.
Gibson Wells, situated in the southwest portion of the county, constitutes a
summer resort of considerable note. They were discovered in 1843, by a Mr.
Blaine. Two or three years later they were sold to Norman and Calvin Cherry,
who in 1849 provided accommodation for 200 boarders. After changing hands
several times the buildings were burned, in 1875. They have since been rebuilt,
however, and are now annually visited by a large number of people.
The part taken by Gibson County in the late civil war was important. It is
doubtful if any other county of equal population furnished so large a number
of troops, or so great a number of commanding officers. The work of recruiting
and equipping companies was begun immediately after the call for troops by
president Lincoln in April, 1861. At the session of the county court, held the
following June, a tax of 5 cents was levied on each $100 worth of property, and 10
cents on each poll to defray the expenses of families of needy volunteers, and
commissioners were appointed for each civil district to superintend its
distribution. At the same time ten men were appointed in each district to
constitute a company of Minute Men or Home Guards, and E. W. Raines was
chosen to command it.
*The first company organized was Company F, of the Fourth Tennessee Infantry. R.
L. White was chosen captain; A. S. Currey, first lieutenant; Charles Elder,
second lieutenant; William R. Cox, third lieutenant; and Clarence Bright,
orderly sergeant. Upon reorganization an entire change of officers was made.
J. L. Lett became captain; Uscor Gilchrist, first lieutenant; B. H. Raines,
second lieutenant; Joseph Baker, third lieutenant, and J. B. Davis, orderly
sergeant. (*Of the movements of the various regiments are traced in another
chapter of this work.)
Of the Twelfth Regiment of Tennessee Infantry six companies were from Gibson
County. Company F was organized at Rutherford, with Joseph A. Knox as
captain; Robert McNeil, first lieutenant; M. Stephens, second lieutenant; Samuel K.
P. House, third lieutenant, and George E. Rust, orderly sergeant. It was
reorganized at Corinth, with Thomas Mathes, captain; S. K. P. House, first
lieutenant; Thomas Rison, second lieutenant; James Armstrong, third
lieutenant, and Abraham Hancock, orderly sergeant. Company C was organized at Dyer
Station, with J. N. Wyatt as captain: J. T. Mathis, first lieutenant: Robert
Atkinson, second lieutenant, and James Armstrong, third lieutenant.
Company G was recruited in the vicinity of Lynn Point, and organized with R.
P. Caldwell as captain; J. 0. Hartsfield, first lieutenant; William A. Allen,
second lieutenant. Charles N. Wade, third lieutenant, and J. C. Gibbs,
At the reorganization Charles N. Wade became captain; Rufus Mathis, first
lieutenant; James Ross, second lieutenant, and Richard Johnson, orderly
Soon after, at the consolidation with the Twenty-second Regiment, the
company was consolidated with Company D, and was known thereafter as Company E. The
officers elected were Charles N. Wade, captain; Richard Rogers, first
lieutenant; Morgan Lane, second lieutenant; James Fielder, third lieutenant,
and R. R. Wade, orderly sergeant.
Company H, the Gibson Stars, was organized at Trenton, with R. M. Russell as
captain. He was soon after elected colonel, however, and the officers of the
company, after the promotion, were Benjamin Sandiford, captain; W. W.
McDowell, first lieutenant; James Jackson, second lieutenant; James Houston, third
lieutenant, and Frank Sinclair, orderly sergeant. Capt. Sandiford was killed
at Shiloh, and was succeeded by Lieut. McDowell, who continued in command until
the reorganization, when James Clark was elected captain; Gus Williams, first
lieutenant; W. Wade, second lieutenant, and John Barksdale, third
lieutenant. At Tupelo, Miss., the company was consolidated with Company K, with James Clark
as captain; L. K. Gillespie, first lieutenant; Gus Williams, second lieutenant.
Company K was organized at Humboldt, with A. B. Cannon as captain; W. H.
George, first lieutenant; L. K. Gillespie, second lieutenant, and Capt. Roe, third
lieutenant. At the reorganization L. K. Gillespie was elected captain, and
so continued until the consolidation.
Company E was recruited in the vicinity of Eaton, where it was organized
with John H. Williams as captain; W. C. Oliphant, first lieutenant; B. T. Dodd,
second lieutenant; Peter Moore, third lieutenant, and M. Lane, orderly
sergeant. Upon reorganization Richard Rogersbecame captain; M. Lane, first lieutenant;
B. 0. Carlton, second lieutenant; James Fielder, third lieutenant, and Thomas
Carlton, orderly sergeant.
Company I was organized at Milan, with Edward Williams as captain; Thomas
Hutchinson, first lieutenant; Thomas Drake, second lieutenant; J. J.
Richardson, third lieutenant, and Stephen Hale, orderly sergeant. At the reorganization
Archibald Jordan was elected captain, but did not serve, and from that time
until the surrender at Greensboro, N. C., the company was led by Stephen
The regiment was organized at Jackson. R. M. Russell was elected colonel; T.
H. Bell, lieutenant-colonel, and R. P. Caldwell, major. After the consolidation
at Tupelo, the command passed to Col. Bell, and finally, after the second
consolidation, to W. M. Watkins.
A company was raised in the vicinity of Milan, and organized with J. B.
Robinson as captain; A. T. Gay, first lieutenant, and R. H. Goodman, second
lieutenant. It formed apart of Bradfords Thirty-first Tennessee Infantry.
Company D, of the Thirteenth Tennessee Infantry, was organized at Yorkville
in May, 1861. The commissioned officers were as follows: John A. Wilkins,
captain; John Cunningham, first lieutenant; William Cowan, second lieutenant; John A.
McCorkle, third lieutenant, and Samuel Brewer, orderly sergeant.
Company F, of the Twenty-second Tennessee Infantry, was organized at Trenton
in June, 1861, with L. P. McMurray as captain; B. T. Davis, first lieutenant;
T. W. Williams, second lieutenant; John P. Fewell, third lieutenant, and Ferd
Hall, orderly sergeant. The next year, the regiment having been consolidated with
the Twelfth, the company was reorganized as Company B. T. W. Williams became
captain; T. H. Marshall, first lieutenant; James Clark, second lieutenant,
and F. M. Donaldson, orderly sergeant. At the organization of the regiment T. J.
Freeman, of Trenton, was elected colonel; T. H. Bell, of Dyer County,
lieutenant-colonel, and - Stewart, major. When the regiment was consolidated
with the Twelfth, at Tupelo, Miss., T. H. Bell became colonel, and L. P.
McMurray, lieutenant-colonel. Bell was soon after transferred to the cavalry
service, and was succeeded by L. P. McMurray, who continued in command until
the consolidation with the Forty-seventh Regiment, at Shelbyville, when W. M.
Watkins was placed in command of the consolidated regiments.
Of the Forty-seventh Tennessee Infantry, four companies were raised in
Gibson County, as was a considerable part of the Fifth. Company G, of this
regiment, was organized at Trenton in November, 1861, with Joseph Carthell as captain;
G. M. Hopkirs, first lieutenant; John Hartsfield, second lieutenant; George
Elam, third lieutenant, and J. 0. January, orderly sergeant. The company was a
very large one, containing about 125 men. At the reorganization Carthell was
re-elected captain, while John Hartsfield was chosen first lieutenant, and
Syd. Thomas second lieutenant. Capt. Carthell was killed in the battle before
Atlanta, and George R. Booth assumed command.
Company K was organized at Yorkville, with Green Holmes as captain; Thomas
Cummings, first lieutenant; J. H. Lasley, second lieutenant; David Pierce,
third lieutenant, and J. C. Holmes, orderly sergeant. Capt. Holmes soon after
became disabled by sickness, and was succeeded by Thomas Cummings, who was
Company B was organized at Donaldsons, in the Fifth Civil District. The
officers chosen were William Gay, captain; J. H. Sinclair, first lieutenant;
R. B. Patterson, second lieutenant; J. B. Smith, third lieutenant, and L. J.
Nicholson, orderly sergeant. It was reorganized at Corinth with J. H.
Sinclair as captain; R. B. Patterson, first lieutenant, and H. J. Ballentine. second
Company F was organized at Humboldt, with J. L. Branch as captain; B. F.
Roe, first lieutenant; F. M. Newhouse, second lieutenant; W. J. Penn, third
lieutenant, and J. H. Rust, orderly sergeant.
The regiment was organized with M. R. Hill as colonel; B. E. Holmes,
lieutenant colonel, and T. R. Shearon, major.
On June 22, 1861, the First West Tennessee Battalion, consisting of seven
companies, was organized at Trenton. At Columbus, Ky., on February 22, 1862,
it was organized as the Fifty-fifth Tennessee Infantry, under the command of A.
J. Brown, with G. B. Block, of Trenton, as lieutenant-colonel. The latter had
been captain of Company D, which was organized at Trenton, with J. M. Hutchinson
as first lieutenant; S. B. Jones, second lieutenant, and H. J. Ferguson,
orderly sergeant. Upon the organization of the regiment S. B. Jones succeeded Black
as captain; H. J. Ferguson became lieutenant, and B. M. 0. Daniel succeeded him
as orderly sergeant. At Mobile, in 1863, Ferguson became captain, and at Port
Hudson, La., the company was consolidated with Bledsoes company.
In 1863, the Twelfth Infantry having been consolidated with the
Twenty-second, Col. R. M. Russell returned home for the purpose of recruiting and
organizing a regiment of cavalry. As the territory was held by the Federals, the recruits
were compelled to escape in squads, and organize after reaching Alabama or
Mississippi. In the fall of 1863 a sufficient number of companies having
been raised, they were organized at Oxford, Miss., as the Twentieth Tennessee
Cavalry, under the command of Col. R. M. Russell. Of this regiment three
companies were recruited in Gibson County. Company A was organized on August
24,1863, on Shoal Creek, Alabama, with William Gay as captain; J. H.
Blakemore, first lieutenant; James M. Gay, second lieutenant; R. H. Goodman, third
lieutenant, and William Hunt, orderly sergeant. On September 16 Capt. Gay
was promoted to major, and was succeeded in the command of the company by Lieut.
Blakemore. The company served without consolidation to the close of the war.
Company C was recruited in the vicinity of Dyer Station, and organized with
J. T. Mathis as captain; J. P. Armstrong, first lieutenant; J. C. A. Grier,
second lieutenant; Pink Bradbury, third lieutenant, and Robert A. Overall,
orderly sergeant. It was afterward consolidated with Shaws company from Dyer
The other company was recruited in the south and southeastern part of the
county, and was commanded by J. A. Shane, with J. R. Dance and Tobe Herron
Bennetts battalion of four companies of cavalry, three of which were from
Gibson County, was organized in the fall of 1863 at South Gibson, with G. W.
Bennett as major. Company H. was organized at Hope Hill, with J. J.
Richardson as captain; W. A. Elam, first lieutenant; Joseph Elam, second lieutenant; I.
C. Haynes, third lieutenant, and Robert James, orderly sergeant. Company A was
organized at Humboldt. Its officers were William Massey, captain; Peter
Wade, first lieutenant; A. House, second lieutenant, and L. Cherry, third
lieutenant. The other company was recruited in the vicinity of Brazil, and organized
with Wise A. Cooper as captain, and John Dance and Aaron Bowers, lieutenants. At
Como, Miss., in March, 1864, the battalion was consolidated with the Twelfth
Tennessee Cavalry, under the command of Col. Green. Company B, of the
Fourteenth Tennessee Cavalry, was organized at South Gibson College. The officers were
John Duberry, captain; N. A. Senter, first lieutenant; John L. Fly, second
lieutenant, and LaFayette Harder, orderly sergeant. It was afterward
consolidated with Harris company, with John Duberry, captain; N. A. Senter,
first lieutenant; Gideon Hicks, second lieutenant; John Holt, third
lieutenant, and George Rucker, orderly sergeant.
Company K, of the Ninth Tennessee Cavalry, was organized in June, 1863, with
Robert Sharp as captain; Robert Clark, first lieutenant; Edward Cannon,
second lieutenant, and John Rust, orderly sergeant. All of the above troops served
in the Confederate service.
One company was raised for service in the Federal Army, and many individuals
joined companies from other counties. Company E, of the Seventh Tennessee
Infantry (Federal), was recruited in the northeastern part of Gibson County,
and organized at North Gibson in August, 1862, with W. C. Holt as captain; T. C.
McMahan, first lieutenant; I. W. Johns, second lieutenant, and James H.
Sergeant, orderly sergeant. In the spring of 1863 it was transferred to the
cavalry service and became Company 31, of the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry.
The early schools of Gibson County were of the same character as those of
every new country, and furnished the pioneer youth with only the rudiments of an
education. As the early teachers usually lived a somewhat peripatetic life
it is difficult to name and locate them. One of the first schools in the vicinity
of Yorkville was taught by an old man by the name of Hubbard. He was followed
by a Mr. Blackwood, and later by Robert Thomas and Abner D. Thomas, a Cumberland
Presbyterian minister, who afterward taught in the neighborhood of Dyer
Station. Larkin Harvey, Cornelius Dickey and Henry Bradley also taught schools in or
near Yorkville. In 1852 the Yorkville Academy was established, with Alexander
Vick as the first teacher, and for several years it enjoyed a wide reputation. In
1835 Daniel W. James taught a school at Antioch Church. He was followed by Thomas
C. James and John I. King. One of the first schools in the Skullbone district
was taught by John Isbel, in a small house, with neither a floor nor a fire
place, located near where G. W. Robinson now lives. William Stone and Abner Martin
were also teachers in that neighborhood. Alexander Shane and Levi Wright were
teachers nearly half a century ago, in the southeastern portion of the
Soon after the organization of the county, under the law for the
establishment of county academies, the Trenton Male Academy was incorporated. By an act of
the Legislature, passed in 1842, it was required to pay over one-half of its
funds to the trustees of the Trenton Female Academy, which had been established.
These two institutions continued to furnish instruction to the youth of Trenton
until 1852. In that year Andrew College, under the auspices of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, succeeded the Trenton Male Academy, and to it the funds of the
latter institution were transferred. Rev, A. L. Hamilton was installed as the first
president. He was succeeded by Gilford Jones, who continued in that position
until the beginning of the war. In 1866 the institution was reopened under
the management of S. W. Moore, who conducted it for a short time, after which,
in 1875, the college property, which was encumbered with debt, was sold to the
directors of the public school. Contemporary with Andrew College was the Odd
Fellows Female Collegiate Institute, which was incorporated in 1852 with
the following trustees: Joseph D. Hill, John D. McDowell, Robert Seat, Luke P.
Seay, H. C. Levy, G. S. Rainey, R. B. McGee, R. P. Raines and M. B. King. The
institution was established and sustained by Friendship Lodge, No. 22, I. 0.
0. F., and, under the presidency of Dr. J. E. Bright, attained a high position
among the educational institutions of the State. During the war the
buildings were occupied by the Federal troops as a hospital, and while so used were
accidentally burned. At the close of the war W. K. Jones established the
Melrose Female Institute, which was afterward consolidated with Andrew College to
form the Peabody High School. This latter institution was organized and went into
operation in 1875, under the management of Gentry R. McGee and lady, who
have since continued at its head.
In 1860 the Humboldt Female College was incorporated, with J. P. Sharpe,
Thomas J. Williams, John A, Taliaferro, Joseph N. Lannon, John C. Gillespie, L. M.
Caldwell and W. H. Stillwell, as trustees. A large two-story brick house was
erected and the school opened. After the establishment of the public schools
it was conducted as a consolidated school until 1885, when the building was
sold to the city.
South Gibson Institute was incorporated by an act of the Legislature, passed
January 30, 1860, the trustees being Samuel P. Cole, John Green, Benjamin
Seward, J. H. Scales, Thomas Walker, A. J. Williams and Green Williams. A
good building was immediately erected, and the school opened under the management
of Allen Scott, who was afterward succeeded by Isham Burrow. The school
continued until 1866, when the building was burned.
Milan College was incorporated in 1868. The trustees were W. B. Dickinson,
B. A. Williamson, E. A. Collins, J. H. Yancey, W. L. Horner, Z. G. Jacbkson and M.
D. L. Jorbdan. A large brick building was erected, at a cost of $10,000. The
school was opened under the management of Daniel Lisle, who was soon succeeded by
J. D. Anderson. In 1880 the building was leased to the town for a long term of
years, and the school is now conducted under the supervision of the board of
In 1849 Shiloh Academy was established by the Presbyterian Church, and
continued as a successful parochial school for several years. An academy, which is
still in existence, was incorporated and established at Dyer Station, in 1868.
Under the school law of 1867 an attempt was made to establish public
schools, and W. H. Stillbell was installed as superintendent of public instruction.
Nothing of importance, however, was accomplished. In 1870, under a new law
which referred the regulation of the schools to the counties, A. S. Currey was
appointed superintendent, and to him is largely due the establishment of the
present excellent school system of Gibson County. He continued to hold the
office until March, 1875, when he was succeeded by W. C. Oliver. Others who
have held the office are James M. Coulter, Joseph R. Deason and A. Killough. The
following statistics indicate the improvement in the public schools of the
county since the adoption of the present system: In 1874 the scholastic
population was, white, 6,656; colored, 2,414; the total enrollment was
7,278, and the number of teachers employed, 144. In 1885 the scholastic population
was, white, 9,135; colored, 3,695; the total enrollment, 8,441, and the number of
teachers employed, 169.
The religious denominations of the county did not begin the organization of
societies until about 1825 or 1826, when each began the work of erecting
churches, and providing for regular service. The first Methodist Episcopal
organization was made near Olive Branch, and services were held for a time
at the house of James Latta, who was chosen the first class leader. The county
at that time belonged to what is known as the Forked Deer Circuit, and Pleasant
Robinson and Thomas Neely were the first circuit riders, while Thomas Smith
was the first presiding elder. The latter was a typical pioneer preacher, as
bold and fearless as he was earnest and conscientious, and many reminiscences of
his camp-meeting and revival experiences are still related. The first
camp-meeting was held at Richardsons camp ground, seven miles east of Trenton, in 1827,
at which time there were 107 conversions. During the same year a society was
organized at Trenton, and a board of trustees appointed, who proceeded to
raise means to build a church, which was completed in 1834 by Thomas Fite. At
about this time, Trenton Circuit was formed, including Olive Branch, Clements
(situated about three miles east of the present site of Humboldt) and
Richardsons Camp Ground. In 1839 Trenton became a station, with Benjamin H.
Hubbard as pastor. A church known as El Bethel was organized at the house of
William Goodman, four miles north of Milan, as early as 1826 or 1827.
Services were then held in a schoolhouse until about 1832, when a building was
erected. This church is now known as Walnut Grove. Other early churches were
Stanleys Camp Ground, Oak Grove, Zion, Wrights Chapel, Hope Hill,
Antioch, Eastwood, Corinth, Wyatts Chapel, China Grove, Round Pond and Salem,
all of which were organized in the thirties. Some time in the forties
Rigsbys Chapel was built on the present site of Bradford. It is now located
two miles southwest of that place, and is known as Chestnut Hill. A church was built at
Milan in 1867, and one at Humboldt was erected at a little later date, although services had
been held at both places prior to the war. The following are the remaining
churches of this denomination in Gibson County, with perhaps one or two omissions:
Rutherford, Dyer, Bowers Chapel, Harpers Chapel, Union, Gibson, Pleasant Hill,
Beech Grove, Good Hope, Nebo, Hopewell (formerly Crenshaws Chapel), Moores
Chapel, Poplar Grove. The aggregate membership of the Methodist Episcopal
Churches in the county, according to the latest report, falls little short of 2,500.
The first Protestant Methodist Church was organized by William Elliott about
1831. Among its principal members were Thomas D. Stanley, Luke Biggs, E.
Biggs, Zach Biggs, Norton Oakes and Willie Blount. Another society was organized in
the vicinity of Milan by Allen Blankenship, and about 1847 a third was
established at Poplar Grove. The only one in the county at present is Holly Springs,
situated about four miles west of Dyer Station.
No Christian Church was established in Gibson County until during the
forties, the first preacher being Elder Tolbott Fanning, of Nashville. Previous to
the war three societies had been organized. They were Concord, situated about
two miles west of Milan, Trenton and Liberty Grove. Since the war three others
have been established: Walnut Grove, Nebo and one near the Obion County line.
Hopewell Presbytery, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was organized at
Bethel Meeting-house, in Carroll County, in April, 1825, at which time
representatives of only two societies, Bethel and Bethlehem, were present,
although the entire territory of West Tennessee was included within the
bounds of the presbytery. The ministers present were William Barnett, Samuel
Harris, Richard Beard and John C. Smith. Harris was chosen moderator, and Smith,
clerk. The first church within the limits of Gibson County, which was represented
at a meeting of the presbytery, was known as Pleasant Green Camp Ground. The
representative, John Harrall, was admitted in 1827. The second was Concord,
which was organized at Yorkville in 1827, and its representative, Samuel
McCorkle, admitted at the spring session, in 1828. At the same time John A.
Miller appeared as the representative of Hopewell. The next year the church
at Trenton sent its first representative in the person of George F. Crofton,
and at the same session Elijah Gassett represented Antioch. At the fall session of
1829 the presbytery met at Trenton for the first time. Other churches were
organized and admitted to the presbytery as follows: Center, 1831; Union, 1840;
Pleasant Grove, 1842; Good Hope, 1853; Cool Spring, 1853; Emmaus. 1857; Rutherford,
1859; Davidsons Chapel, 1861; Humboldt, 1866; Eaton, 1868; Milan, 1874; Beech
Grove, 1874; Bells Chapel, 1875, and Mount Olive, 1878. Medina, Oakland and Union
Grove have all been recently organized. Sine--- 1881 that portion of the
county west of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad has formed a part of the Obion
Presbytery. The aggregate membership of the societies within the bounds of the county,
according to the latest reports, is 1,022.
Of the early ministers of this denomination in Gibson County, none was more
beloved and honored than the venerable Nelson I. Hess. He had served in the
Creek war as the surgeon of a regiment, and stood high in the medical
profession, but it was his dignified bearing and kindness of heart that
endeared him to the people to whom he ministered. Among the other pioneer members of
Hopewell Presbytery, well known to the early residents of the county, were
Robert Baker, Cullin G. Cribbs, Reuben Burrows, Israel Pickens, Samuel Y.
Thomas, John M. Grier, Abner C. Cooper and Daniel Lisle.
The first Presbyterian Church in the county was organized at New Shiloh in
April, 1826, and at the same place, on November 6, 1829, the presbytery of
the western district was organized. The ministers present were Samuel Hodge,
John Gillespie, David Weir and Thomas Lynch. Their churches, New Shiloh, Jackson
and New Providence, were represented by Joseph Allison, James Grier and James
Thompson, respectively. Samuel Hodge was chosen moderator and David Weir
stated clerk. There were twelve churches under the jurisdiction of the presbytery
at this time, only one of which, New Shiloh, was in Gibson County. The second
church organized was Zion, in the southwestern part of the county in 1833.
During the following year a church known as West Bethel was organized in the
northwestern portion of the county by the Rev. A. G. McNutt, and one, at
Trenton, was organized by Dr. Alexander A. Campbell. A few years later
Concord church was established, and in 1853 a church was organized at Eaton. The
next society formed was at Hebron, near Rutherford, in 1860. These were all of
the churches organized prior to the war. In 1866 Rev. E. S. Campbell organized a
very flourishing congregation at Humboldt. All of the above churches are
still in existence, with the exception of West Bethel.
Among the well known ministers, besides those already noticed, were A. T.
Graves, Thomas I. Newberry, J. E. Bright and David Cochrane.
The First Baptist Church was organized in that portion of the county which
now constitutes a part of Crockett County about 1826 by Z. N. Murrell, and among
its members were James Ferrill, James Fields, Solomon Shaw, Isham F. Davis and
William Moore. In 1828 Eldad Church was organized, six miles east of
Trenton, and in 1832 Spring Hill Church was established, one mile north of Eaton.
Enan, now Bethlehem, two miles southwest of Rutherford, and Bethel, about one mile
south-of Yorkville, were also organized about this time.
In 1825 the Forked Deer Association, which included Carroll and Gibson
Counties, and the counties south and west, was organized with fifteen churches and 200
members. Two years later the number of members had increased to over 1,000
and the number of churches to thirty, but at that time thirteen of these
churches were formed into a new association known as Hatchie, thus reducing the
Forked Deer Association to seventeen. This loss, however, was soon supplied, and in
1833 the organizations numbered thirty-three and the members 1,025. At the
next meeting in 1834 the schism growing out of the anti-mission and
two seed doctrines reached the Forked Deer Association and resulted in its
dissolution. Soon after, fourteen of these churches opposed to the two seed
doctrine met at Eldad Church, and reorganized under the name of the Forked
Deer Revival, but when the new body came to adopt a constitution, an article
declaring against fellowship with those who united with missionary and Bible societies was
inserted whereupon the Eldad, Spring Hill, New Hope, Clarks Creek and
Pleasant Grove societies declined to become members of the new body, and in 1836 they
met at Eldad Church and organized the Central Association. This body has since
experienced uniform prosperity, and from time to time has furnished churches
to form other associations. It now numbers thirty-eight churches, of which
eighteen are in Gibson County. The following are the names, together with their
membership: Beech Grove, 71; Bradford, 112; Center, 102; Chapel Hill, 136;
Clear Creek, 46; Dyer, 29; Eldad, 165; Gibson, 119; Hickory Grove, 59; Humboldt,
90; Milan, 173; Mount Pisgah, 112; Mount Pleasant, 34; New Bethlehem, 80; Oak
Grove, 132; Salem, 177; Spring Hill, 156; Trenton, 127. Poplar Grove, with 122
members, and Bethel, with 65 members, belong to Friendship Association, and the
following to Beulah Association: Bethlehem, 130; Rutherford, 51; China Grove, 54, and
Walnut Grove, 166, making a total of twenty-four societies and 2,508 members
in Gibson County.
Among the earliest ministers of the Central Association may be mentioned
David Halliburton, David Wagster, I D. Shipman, J. M. Hurt, M. Fly and M. Flowers.
Others who have distinguished themselves by efficient service during the
past half century are J. H. Borum, M. Hillsman, D. Haste, M. E. Senter, G. E.
Thomas, S. K. Tigrett, M. H. Neal, John Selvage, D. H. Selph, W. M. Lee, William
Hill, George Glover, S. E Gardner B. F. Bartles, S. P. Clark, J. W. Carter, R. A.
Coleman, H. Conlee, R. Day, E. Dodson, W. E. Fawcett, W. C. Gilbert, W. W.
Gardner, W. C. Grace, C. S. Gardner, C. R. Hendrickson, S. P. Jones, R. W.
Norton and J. P. Weaver.
As was stated above, the churches organizing the Central Association
withdrew from the Forked Deer revival. This left eight small churches in the latter
association. A part of these, however, adhering to the two seed doctrine,
organized a small association, calling it Predestinarian. These two
anti-missionary bodies, after lingering in a declining state for several
years, became extinct, although there are still two or three congregations
in the county.
Of the General Baptists, there is but one organization in the county. This
is located a short distance east of Bradford, and is a revival of the old
Shiloh Church, which was established by the Primitive Baptists, about 1835.
The church of the Holy Innocents is the only organization of Protestant
Episcopals in the county. It was established at Trenton, on February 12,
1878, with a membership of twenty-five, of whom J. H. Glass, J. W. Cox, J. S.
Dickason, J. W. Westerbrook and Lewis Glass were the vestrymen. Joseph R.
Gray was chosen rector, and so continued until 1879, when he resigned, and the
church was without a rector from that time until 1883. Since that date the position
has been filled by C. F. Collins. An elegant brick church has recently been
erected, at a cost of about $4,000.
The Roman Catholics also have but one congregation in the county. This is
located at Humboldt, where they have erected a neat frame house. They have
no resident priest, but are supplied from Jackson.
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