The Goodspeed Publishing Co., History of Tennessee
The Goodspeed Publishing Company
Coming Soon: Lake County Biographical Sketches
LAKE COUNTY occupies the extreme northwestern corner of the State. It
includes all the territory lying between the Mississippi River and Reelfoot
Lake, and extending from the Kentucky line to the northern boundary of Dyer
County. It contains an area of 210 square miles, and in fertility of soil
probably surpasses every other county in the State. The soil is a black
loam, in many places reaching a depth of ten feet and resting upon a subsoil
of sand. It is especially adapted to the growing of cotton and corn, which
are the most important farm products. In that portion of the county north of
Tiptonville the farms are nearly all improved, and in a high state of
cultivation. In the southern part of the county there is much unimproved
land, some of which is marshy, and of little value, until it is drained.
Originally the county was covered with a heavy growth of poplar, oak,
cypress, walnut, beech and other trees, but the greater part of the most
valuable timber has now been removed. Among the first settlers in what is
now Lake County were Richard Meriwether, who located about one mile north of
Tiptonville; Frank Longley, who made a settlement near where Stones
Ferry now is, and Robert Nolen, who opened a farm near the Kentucky line.
All of these men came into the county previous to 1825. Of those who settled
at a little later date may be mentioned Stephen Mitchell, William Harris,
Thomas Rivers, Joseph Fowlkes and Reuben Anderson.
The first horse-mill was built by Robert Nolen. Owing to the absence of
streams no water-mills could be operated, and nearly every well-to-do farmer
owned a horse-mill, at which was ground the grain of his less fortunate
owner. The first steam saw-mill was erected by Isaac Larmon, near the
present site of Tiptonville, early in the forties. Previous to the war,
comparatively little cotton was raised, and no gin was established until
1865, when one was built at Tiptonville, by W. B. Batsell. Within the past
ten years several steam saw-mills have been established in the county, one
of the largest of which was conducted by the Keystone Lumber Company. It did
an extensive business for four or five years, and suspended operations about
two years ago. Soon after the war a small distillery was built by H. K.
Alexander, about three-fourths of a mile from Tiptonville. It was run but a
short time when it was burned. At a little later date J. C. Harris created a
distillery near Reelfoot Lake, where he did quite an extensive business
until about 1874, when it too was destroyed by fire.
Prior to the war the material development of the county was quite slow, but
since that time it has been more rapid. In some portions, however, the
frequent overflows of the Mississippi River within the past four years have
somewhat retarded the clearing of land and reduced the value of property. In
1886 the number of acres of taxable land was 95,123, valued at $648,690. The
value of personal property was $19,800, and of all property $692,300, upon
which a total tax of $7,054.40 was raised. in 1880 the number of acres taxed
was 77,770 valued at $580,695, while the aggregate value of the taxable
property was $623,395, and the total tax raised $5,402.35.
Lake County was organized under an act of the General Assembly passed June
9, 1870. The commissioners appointed for that purpose were Robert C. Wall,
L. Donaldson, Wyatt Mooring, W. J. Wynn and E. E. Westbrook, who divided the
county into civil districts and held an election for county officers. The
first county court was held in Atheneum Hall at Tiptonville, on September 5,
1870, at which time the following magistrates were present and took the oath
of office: Louis Lechenet, W. A. Downing, J. R. Oldhauser, J. P. Mcelyea, D.
L. Tipton, Wyatt Mooring, R. S. Bradford, C. M. Peacock, F. H. Griffin,
Joseph Witt, William Mccurdy, M. T. Smith and Henry La Duke. C. M. Peacock
was elected chairman, and R. S. Bradford and W. A. Downing, associate
justices. Tiptonville was chosen as the permanent seat of justice of the
county, and J. M. Alexander, J. H. Tipton, R. Dalton, C. M. Peacock and A.
J. Newgent were appointed to secure lots for a court house and jail. This
they accordingly did and reported at the next term of the court. For the
court house two acres were procured, one acre to be donated by Samuel FREY
and the other by Mrs. Howdy Shelt. One acre was also purchased from the
latter as a site for a jail. It was afterward decided, however, not to build
a court house, and after renting the Atheneum Hall for a year, it was
purchased by the county for the sum of $1,300. The jail was erected in 1871
under the supervision of C. M. Peacock, C. H. Riley, R. C. Nall, J. R.
Tipton and L. Donaldson, commissioners appointed for that purpose. The
building, which is still used, is a frame building two stories high,
provided with iron cages. It was built by R. S. Chapman to whom the contract
was awarded, for the sum of $1,200.
The circuit court of Lake County was organized by James D. Porter on
December 5, 1870, with P. Davis as clerk. This was, however, but a
continuation of a special court, which was established for that
portion of Obion County west of Reelfoot Lake in 1858. The first term
of this court was begun on June 14, of that year, at the Masonic Hall about
three miles northwest of Tiptonville. Samuel Williams was the presiding
judge, Robert C. Nall, clerk, and R. P. Caldwell attorney-general. The first
grand jury was empaneled at the October term following and consisted of John
B. Hogue, Anderson Cates, D. D. Pollock, Jacob Shipman, W. Donaldson, A. B.
Cunningham, E. W. Neville, Thomas Sinclair, J. M. Peacock, A. 0. Sibert, H.
M. Darnall, James Bradford and J. M. Crockett.
At the October term, 1859, P. J. Anderson qualified as clerk of this court
and so continued until its suspension, in 1862. The first term of this court
after the war was held by Isaac Sampson in October, 1865, with R. S.
Bradford as clerk. The latter was succeeded the following year by R. C.
Nall, and the former in 1868 by John A. Rogers. The first term of the court
held in Tiptonville was in September, 1868. After the adoption of the new
constitution in 1870 the county formed a part of the Twelfth Judicial
Circuit until September, 1886, when it was transferred to the circuit. A
chancery court was organized in 1870 by John Somers, with Rivers Donaldson
as clerk and master. It contained a portion of the Eleventh Chancery
Division until September 1886, since which time, by act of the Legislature,
the judge of the circuit court has presided. Since 1873 P. Davis has filled
the office of clerk and master. The first resident attorney in the county
was G. W. Butt, who opened an office at Tiptonville, in 1866, and remained
about two years, when he removed to Memphis. The following year W. H. Adams
and L. Donaldson located in the town. The former remained until about 1877,
when he removed to Texas. The latter, with E. M. Lowe and R. M. Darnall,
constitute the present bar of Lake County.
The first houses erected in Tiptonville were a store-house and dwelling
built by William Tipton in 1857. The land next to the river, embracing a
portion of the present site of the town, was then owned by James Reeves, of
Troy. At about the same time that Tipton opened his store, William Mobley &
Co. also began a general mercantile business, and J. T. Davis established a
saloon and family grocery. This constituted the business of
Tiptonville at the beginning of the war, and during that struggle the town
was entirely destroyed by the Federal gun-boats. In the fall of 1865 the
rebuilding was begun by J. C. Harris and W. H. Shelton, who erected a
store-house, and engaged extensively in buying produce and selling general
merchandise. During the following year James Cronan engaged in a similar
business, and Samuel Frey and J. C. Harris, under the firm name of Samuel
Frey & Co., established a general grocery store. Willis Jones also did quite
an extensive business at about the same time. In 1868 Harris withdrew from
the firm of Harris & Shelton, which then became Neville & Shelton, and
established the firm of J. C. Harris & Co., his partner being P. G. Hines.
They continued until 1874, when Harris withdrew. Hines then continued for
about two years, when he was succeeded by Harris, who has since been one of
the leading merchants and shippers of the county. The firm of Harper &
Amberg and later, Amberg, did an extensive business for five or six years
previous to 1884, when the latter became insolvent. In 1879 J. D. Arnett
engaged in selling general merchandise, and buying and shipping cotton and
other produce. Both he and J. C. Harris operate a cotton-gin. Several other
persons have been engaged in business in the town, but for only a short
time. In addition to those already mentioned, the following are the business
men of the present: C. M. Peacock & Son, J. G. Tipton and James E. Ward,
general merchandise; J. B. Snow and Dr. M. Donaldson, drugs; Walter Chambers
and Smith Newton, family groceries.
The first hotel was opened by Washington Howdy Shelt about 1860. After his
death it was conducted by his widow, until the house was burned. In 1871 W.
H. Anderson built what is now known as the Laurel House, which was conducted
for a time by his mother, Mrs. M. S. Anderson. The present proprietor is
Charles Barker. Among the first prominent physicians of the county were Drs.
Isler, Byrd, Burnett, Harvey and Mccarthy. The first to locate in
Tiptonville was Dr. Walker, who began the practice of medicine there just
previous to the war. Those of the present are M. Donaldson and W. A. Sims.
In 1879 a newspaper, the Lake County Star, was established by C. D.
Tresenriter who continued as editor and publisher for two or three years,
when he sold the office to A. F. Eastwood. The latter, after continuing
about two years, was succeeded by M. Tipton, who conducted it until 1885,
when it was suspended. In the summer of 1886 it was revived, and was
published for a short time by J. G. Brummel, under the name of the Valley
Since 1868 the town has contained a Masonic lodge. In that year Harmony
Lodge, No. 184, was removed to Tiptonville from Cronansville, near which
place it was organized. Its charter, which was granted October 11, 1851,
bears the following names: J. B. Burnett, Worshipful Master; T. J. Nolen,
Senior Warden, and William D. Bloys, Junior Warden. For the first few years
meetings were held in a log building, erected for that purpose by the lodge.
Later, in co-operation with various church members and other citizens, a
two-story building was erected, the upper story of which constituted the
Masonic Hall until the lodge wag removed. It has since occupied a room in
what is now the court house. The present officers are M. J. Holifield, W.
M.; J. W. Tipton, S. W.; T. E. Davis, J. W.; B. F. Beckham, Treasurer;
Richard Owens, Secretary; J. C. Harris, S. D., and J. S. Newton, J. D. The
membership at present reaches about fifty.
A lodge of the I. 0. 0. F. was organized in 1872, but it was maintained but
a short time.
Outside of Tiptonville there is no town or village of any importance in the
county. Cronansville, situated about three and one-half miles northwest of
Tiptonville, is the nearest approach to a village. It consists of a store,
cotton-gin and grist-mill, owned by James Cronan, who located there, at the
close of the war, a blacksmith shop and a saloon. Darnalls Landing
has a post office and a store, conducted by R. T. Parks. Ross Landing has a
post office; and Reelfoot, a post office and a store, owned by J. C. Harris.
W. A. J. Davis has a store at Horn Ridge.
The following is a complete list of the county officers:
Clerks of the County Court - P. G. Hines, 1870-74; Melvin Glasscock, 1874.*
Clerks of the Circuit Court - P. Davis, 1870-74; J. D. Arnett, 1874.*
Sheriffs - J. R. Tipton, 1870-72; J. M. Alexander, 1872-74; J. H. Tipton,
1874-78; W. D. Meriwether, 1878-80; C. P. Cates, April to September,
1880; J. H. Pittman, 1880-82; A. J. Newgent, 1882-84; A. F. Eastwood, 1884,*
Trustees - William Snow, 1870-74; W. H. Anderson; 1874-76; L. Donaldson,
1876-78; M. J. Holifield, 1878-82; J. G. Tipton, 1882-86; R. T. Webb, 1886.*
Registers - Thomas Keefe, 1870-78; W. W. Meriwether, 1878-82; John Snow,
Surveyors - J. M. Bradford, 1870-72; R. C. Nall, 1872-80; T. R. Murfrer,
Superintendents of Public Instruction - H. R. Raymon, ----; L. Donaldson,
187- -82; M. A. Lowe, 1882-84; L. Donaldson, 1884.*
Died in office.
The first company organized for service in the Confederate Army, in what is
now Lake County, was Company E of the Fifteenth Tennessee Infantry, which
was formed at Tiptonville in May, 1861, with the following officers: W, B.
Isler, captain; R. A. Lewis, first lieutenant; R. B. Donaldson, second
lieutenant; R. M. Meriwether, third lieutenant, and C. C. Harris, orderly
sergeant. At the reorganization at Corinth, it was consolidated with Company
A, and R. B. Donaldson elected captain; R. B. Lane, first lieutenant; J. J.
Thornton, second lieutenant, and W. W. Whitson, orderly sergeant. Capt.
Donaldson was killed at Marietta, Ga., in May, 1864, and Lieut. Lane
succeeded to the command. The company suffered much loss during the four
years arduous service, and of the ninety-six men mustered in at the
beginning, only ten or twelve remained to surrender at the close of the war.
Company K, of the Twelfth Kentucky Partisans (cavalry), was formed
principally from Lake County men that had escaped through the lines of the
Federals, who then held possession of West Tennessee. It was organized in
the fall of 1863, after reaching Mississippi. The officers chosen were W. D.
Meriwether, captain; L. Donaldson, first lieutenant; W. H. Anderson, second
lieutenant; James Stone, third lieutenant, and M. Ezell, orderly sergeant.
The regiment, under Col. Faulkner, was placed in Forrests command,
and from that time until the close of the war participated in all the
campaigns and raids conducted by that brilliant leader. At Okolona, Miss.,
Capt. Meriwether was wounded, and Lieut. Donaldson succeeded to the command
of the company. He continued in that capacity until wounded and captured,
after which Lieut. Anderson led the company until the regiment surrendered
at Selma, Ala.
During the civil war Lake County furnished to the Confederate Army two
companies of infantry, one company of cavalry, and a battery of heavy
artillery, besides many individuals who served in various companies not
organized in the county. The battery was organized as a part of the First
Tennessee Heavy Artillery, and was commanded by Capt. John D. Upton. Company
K, of the Thirty-third Infantry, was organized with Walter P. Jones as
captain, and Dr. E. R. Morrod and Jacob Carpenter, first and second
Company D, First Tennessee Heavy Artillery, consisting of about eighty-five
men, was organized and mustered into service on November 28, 1861, with J.
D. UPTON as captain and A. C. Robertson, W. Meriwether, and John Crudup,
lieutenants. It was first stationed at Fort Thompson, near New Madrid, where
Lieut. Robertson, during an attack on the fort on March 13, 1862, was
killed. On the night of that day the company was removed to Tiptonville, and
thence to Island No. 10, where the whole command was captured on April 7. A
part of the company later made their escape, and, with those who were absent
at the surrender, were reorganized at Fort Pillow in May, with the following
officers: J. D. Upton, captain; D. M. Upton and John Crudup, first
lieutenants, and G. M. Corbitt, second lieutenant. The company remained at
Fort Pillow during the siege, and on June 4 removed to Vicksburg. During the
same month the company, with nine other companies, was consolidated into
four companies, to be known as the First Battery, Tennessee Heavy Artillery,
commanded by A. Jackson, Jr., with Robert Sterling as lieutenant-colonel,
and J. W. Hoadley, major. The last named died and was succeeded by J. D.
Upton, who, during Forrests raid to Paducah, Ky., served as chief of
From June 4, 1862, until July 4, 1863, the battery was stationed at
Vicksburg. After the surrender of that place the remnant of Company D was in
parole camp in Georgia and Alabama until declared exchanged in December. It
was then sent to Mobile Bay. In the spring it was transferred to Fort
Morgan, where it remained until the fall of that place in August, 1864. From
that time until the close of the war its members were confined as prisoners
at New Orleans, New York and Boston, successively.
One of the first schoolhouses in the county was built near Island No. 10
about 1845, and there a school was taught by a Northern man by the name of
McCampbell, who was considered a very good teacher. A little later a school
was opened at Nolens warehouse, near the Kentucky line, by William
Beloat. Another teacher, who had a school near Island No. 10, was
Temperance Brown, a reformed drunkard. He was one of the best
of the early teachers. R. B. Lane taught near Cronansville. Immediately
after the war Charles Wright conducted a very excellent school near
Darnalls Landing. Of course there were many other early teachers who
taught short terms. only those best known having been mentioned.
Upon the adoption of the present public school system in 1873, H. R. Raymon
was elected superintendent of public instruction, and so continued
until ----. Since that time, with the exception of two years, the schools
have been under the supervision of L. Donaldson.
Tiptonville Academy was established in July, 1876, with M. J. Holifield, J.
C. Harris and W. H. Anderson as trustees, and J. C. Limbaugh as teacher. Two
years later it was incorporated, with J. H. Tipton and L. Donaldson as
trustees, in addition to those named above. It has since been conducted as a
consolidated school, and is continued ten months, each year with an average
attendance of about fifty pupils.
The oldest church organization in the county was formed by the Methodists at
what is known as Salem, in District No. 1, some time in the thirties. A log
house was erected, which was used until the present frame house was built.
For many years camp-meetings. were held in the vicinity of this church.
About 1852 or 1853 a church, known as Davis Chapel, was built by a
congregation, then recently organized, in that vicinity. It was maintained
until about 1871, when two other churches, Crocketts chapel and
Tiptonville, having been organized, the remaining members united with the
new congregation. Crocketts Chapel was organized soon after the war,
and has since been very prosperous, the present membership being about
seventy. The church at Tiptonville was organized with seventeen members in
1871, by M. J. Holifield. It now numbers about sixty-five members. During
the same year a church was organized at Horn Ridge, in District No. 5, which
now has a membership of about fifty. An organization was formed in District
No. 3, known as Oregon, a short time previous to the war. It now has about
forty-five members. All of the above churches belong to the Union City
District, and are at present under the ministration of W. O. Lanier.
Of the Missionary Baptists there are now three organizations in the county.
The oldest is Blue Bank in District No. 4, which was founded in 1874, and
now has a membership of about thirty-eight. The most of the original members
of this church previously belonged to what was known as Shady Grove Church,
which was established previous to the war. For some cause the membership of
the latter organization became greatly diminished, and in 1870 only three
members remained. They were William Snow, James Box, and Nelly Thompson, an
old colored woman. In that year R. A. Coleman, of Gibson County, held a
revival, and added twenty-four members to the church. Owing, however, to
neglect in securing a deed for the lot upon which the church building stood,
it was lost by a transfer of the property and the organization was soon
after dissolved, to be revived at Blue Bank as before stated. A second
church, known as Pleasant Ridge, was organized in 1884, and now has a
membership of forty-one. In December, 1885, an organization was elected at
Tiptonville with eight members, and they have recently begun preparations
for the erection of a house of worship. All the churches mentioned belong to
the Beulah Association. There is no organization of the Church of Christ in
the county, although there are several families of that faith, and services
are frequently held by Elders R. A. Cooke and J. A. Carter.
In October, 1880, a Presbyterian Church was organized at Tiptonville by Rev.
J. B. Carne, consisting of the following members: R. S. Bradford and two
daughters; J. D. Arnett and wife; Richard Owens and wife; A. B. Cooke and
wife; and Mrs. Alexander. Since its organization the membership has slightly
increased. An organization of Cumberland Presbyterians was in existence for
a time at Cronansville but is not now maintained.
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