HARDIN COUNTY is divided into two nearly equal divisions by the Tennessee River, which enters about midway on the south aide and passes out near the northeast corner. The river forms an irregular bow, from where it enters the county to Point Pleasant whence it bends abruptly almost due east to the limit of the county. The basin of the Tennessee extends to the watershed between the Tennessee and the Hatchie and Forked Deer on the west and considerably beyond the limits of the county on the east. The principal points on the river are Pyburn's Bluff, so named from an early settler, Crump's Landing and Coffee Landing, both of which are explained elsewhere. Swallow Bluff, below Point Pleasant, is so named from the birds hovering there. The principal islands are Diamond Island, so named, from its shape; Wolf Island, so named from an early settler; Delaney, from Jacob Delaney, and Eagle Nest Island, formerly James Island, but took the former name on the sinking of the Eagle off that island. The principal streams on the east side of this river have a northwesterly course. Beginning at the north and on the east side the first stream, emptying is Short Creek. This is a small stream, as its name indicates. The next is Hardin Creek, which flows in almost a direct line. The next large stream is Indian Creek, so named from the natives. The principal tributaries of this are Flat Gap, Duncan and Smith Fork. The two latter were named from early settlers. Almost parallel with Indian Creek is Horse Creek, named, it is said, from the early resort of horse thieves. Its tributaries are Gooden, Steele, Turkey and Holland Creeks. These were named from pioneer settlers, except Turkey. and which took its name from the abundance of that game on its banks. A small stream called Mud Creek enters into the Tennessee near Savannah, and another one near Walnut Grove called Dry Creek. The name of each is its own explanation. On the west side is first seen Yellow Creek, then Chambers Creek, named from John Chambers. Next comes Lick Creek and Snake Creek, with its two tributaries, Owl and Clear. These streams are rendered historic from the battle of Shiloh fought near them. Entering the Tennessee near Coffee is Reason Creek. The principal stream, however, on the west side is White Oak River, which enters the Tennessee just above Saltillo. The tributaries of White Oak from the south are Chalk, Crooked and Mud Creeks. Those from the north are Middleton, Hurricane, Delaney, Alexander and Miles Creeks. A small stream also enters the Tennessee near Point Pleasant called Doe Creek. The most of these streams afford excellent mill sites. Nearly all of them have their source in some one of the numerous large springs In which the county abounds. These are more numerous on the east side of the river. The first known of these is Altum Spring, near Hardin Creek. Big Spring, near the Southern part of the county, is formed by the sinking and rising again of Dry Creek. On the west side of the river, not far from the Big Springs, are the White and the Red Sulphur Springs. Gann, or Davy Spring, near Saltillo, is one of the largest in the county. In 1835 a well was begun near Saltillo, prospecting for salt. A depth of 800 feet was obtained, when the work was abandoned. A flow of sulphur water (water impregnated with hydrogen?) was the result, and, it has since been known as the Sulphur Well. The Red Sulphur Springs are doubtless the result of iron oxides and a little hydrogen. The former of these elements is abundant in the soil of the eastern part, and the latter is also found in the west in the form of light carbonetted hydrogen, resulting from the decay of the vast amount of vegetable matter under water. The water obtained by boring or digging varies as the deposit in which it is found. About 140 square miles of the county lies in the Tennessee River bottom proper. This, of course, is mainly of alluvial formation, and the mutable habits of the river has left its marks in the old river beds that are now nearly filled up, but have left their distinct outline. Some of these are filled with water and thus become swamps, lakes or ponds. Logs, sticks and all forms of vegetable matter in various stages of decay are found in this deposit by digging. The geological formations are those mentioned and the Helderberg, and its various grades, the limestone shales, sandstone, orange or green sand, Coffee sand seen at Coffee Landing, Pittsburg Landing and elsewhere, loess or silt. Portions show lacustrine, flusatile, fluno-marine formation. It seems that an arm of the Mexican Gulf once extended over a large portion of this county. This is evident from the numerous oyster and other salt water shells found in the deposits. Little limestone is met with west of the river; the only place where it is found is in the southern part, while some gravel beds are found in the northern parts. The highlands west of the river are mainly composed of orange sand. The main portion east of the river contains limestone and some portions large gravel beds. This gravel predominates to such a degree in the northeastern corner of the county as to render portions of it destitute of vegetation. Various sea shells are found in this gravel. Hydraulic rock is found on the east side of the river. A mill was erected near the mouth of Indian Creek, before the war, for the manufacture of hydraulic cement. Good marble is found on the river below Savannah and on Hardin Creek, also plenty of good building stone in the eastern part, but neither of these have been extensively used. The valley of the large stream on the east side of the river is well suited for the cereals, while the uplands and poorer soil produce good crops of peanuts. The low lands on the east side grow fine corn and cotton. The whole of White Oak Valley is excellent farming land. Valuable timber grows in the greater portion of the county. Among the many kinds of timber may be mentioned pine, cedar, chestnut, maple, poplar, walnut, birch, beech, ash, cypress, hickory and the various varieties of oak. Lumber is shipped extensively to the Evansville, St. Louis and other markets. Large quantities of iron ore are found in various parts of the county, which it is hoped will at no distant day yield a valuable income.
One of the first white man to press the soil of Hardin County was Col. Joseph Hardin and his crew, who came to the county in 1815 from Roane County, Tenn., to locate a land warrant of Col. Hardin amounting to 2,000 acres. This was located a little above Cerro Gordo on the east side of the river. After the survey had been made Col. Hardin cut his name in the bark of a birch tree at the mouth of Swift Creek and returned home. In the spring of 1816 a colony of twenty-six persons consisting of men, women and children began making preparations for removal from the uninviting regions of East Tennessee to the more inviting fields of Hardin County. The company was divided into two parties, one of which was to pass down the river by boat and the other was to travel overland. There were twenty-six in all, twenty-two of whom came by land and four by boat. The party traveling by land consisted of John Brazelton and family, except two who came by boat; Joseph Hardin, Jr., and family; James Hardin and family and Mrs. Elender Thacker and family. These left Roane County sometime about the last of May, driving their stock along and carrying their light plunder with them. They camped out at night and journeyed by day over an almost roadless waste. On July 15 they reached what is now called Crowder's spring on Hardin Creek about seven miles from the river. This party had been delayed in Warren County and were later in their arrival than was anticipated. By previous arrangement the two parties were to meet at the place marked. Soon after their arrival they heard the signal bugle of the party who came by water. On the following day the two parties met near the Altum Springs on Hardin Creek, named in honor of the founder of the county. Here was built a log cabin, the first house in the county. The party in the boat started early in June -- it consisted of Solomon Brazelton, Miss Sally Brazelton, Joseph Gooden and wife. Thus for three weeks, this small party floated on the quiet but tractless waters around the tortuous course of the Tennessee. No sound of civilization reached their ears. They missed the mouth of Swift Creek their intended place of landing but passed on till they came to the mouth of Hardin Creek, up the course of which they pushed their boat to a place afterward known as Johnson's Mill where they landed. Miss Brazelton first stepped ashore and was the first white woman to press the soil of Hardin County. The parties in this colony consisted of John Brazelton and wife, Hannah, their sons, Solomon, Benjamin and William, their daughters, Elizabeth, Sarah, Nancy and Mrs. Elender Thacker, and her sons, William and Shepherd; Col. James Hardin and wife, Nelly, and sons Joseph, Benjamin and James, and daughters, Jane Kizzie, Margaret, Mary Elizabeth and Elender; Joseph Gooden and wife, Hannah, and sons, James and Thomas. The parties soon began to separate to find homes; John Brazelton selected the spot where Clifton now stands to move to but was taken sick on his return home and on September 20, 1816, died. He was buried near Altum Spring, the first in the county. James Hardin and Joseph Gooden settled near Hardin Creek when the first land was cleared by James Hardin. Mrs. Brazelton settled on McCaslan branch, a tributary of Indian Creek. Jonathan Courtney and family, consisting of wife and sons John, James, Benjamin and Stephen, and daughters Melvinie, Nelly and Ona came in from Roane County in 1817 and settled on Hardin Creek. In the same year the brothers of James Hardin, Gipson, Amos, Benjamin and Robert arrived and settled near Cerro Cordo. In 1820 John Hanna and wife Rebecca and sons, William, James, John, David Alexander, Huel and Thomas, arrived from Union County and settled near Cerro Cordo, between Indian Creek and Smith's Fork. James Barnes, who was the elected register in 1820, was a settler before the organization of the county; also Isham Cherry, the first chairman; Henry Mahan, the first ranger; James McMahon, the first trustee; Daniel Smith, the first sheriff; Hiram Boone, Stephen Roach; Ninean Steele, son-in-law of Col. Joseph Hardin, all members of the first county court. Alex. W. Sweeney obtained the first peddler license and succeeded James Hardin as county court clerk in 1822. Others at this time were David Robinson, John White, John Pickens, Henry Clifton, Henry Reynolds, David Kincannon, Jacob Blacksheer, Wm. Wisdom, Jacob Pyburn, Temple Johnson, Alex. Sloan, Robert Forbes, John and R. M. Dickson, James G. Doren, Jesse Cherry, W. J. Duckworth, Geo. Worley, Robt. Lacefield, Wm. Smith, James English, Richard Ford, Jesse Jones, Thomas Hannum, Robt. Steele, James Emerson, Asa Bryant and Isaac Emerson, all of whom were officially connected with the county as early as 1820. The most of the above settled on the east side of the river.
About 1819, Simpson Lee settled a short distance northeast of Craven's Landing, and George Orr about the same distance northwest of it. In 1819 William Gann and a man by the name of Massengill built a camp at what was called Gann Springs, since called Davy's Springs, near Saltillo. In the same year a Mr. Barnes settled near Shady Grove Church, about two and a half miles west of the river, and Allen Anderson at Lick Ford, on White Oak Creek; Jacob Delaney on the run near Delaney's Island, and John Chambers on Chambers' Creek, in the southwestern part of the county. The following also settled west of the river about 1820: Thomas Lovelady, George Norwood, Hugh McDonald, John McDonald, Hiram McDonald, Isaac Smith, John and Larkin Lacefield, Samuel and William Kerr, L. Jones, Eli Hudson, Wm. Bradley, Isaac Graham, Robt. King, Joseph Herrod, Stephen Anderson, James Collier and James and Daniel Lacefield. Of these, Norwood and Jones settled on Mud Creek, the Kerrs also on Mud Creek; Graham and King on Chalk Creek, and James English near the head of Chalk Creek. John Middleton on the creek that bears his name. A man by the name of Burnet settled at Crump's Landing, but the place was afterward purchased by Dr. Richard Crump, a distinguished physician of McNairy County, who gave name to the place. Jesse W. Holland settled near Shady Grove Church in 1824, and at the same time Chas. Miles settled on Miles Creek, a tributary of White Oak. In 1825, Jehu Davy bought land at Lick Ford, on White Oak. John Middleton settled about the same time on the creek which bears his name. John and Robert Barham were the first settlers at Coffee Landing, so named from an outcrop of the peculiar sand called coffee sand. Pittsburg Landing, rendered historical from the great battle fought there April 6 and 7, 1862, was named from Pitts Tucker, who once kept a grog-shop there. In 1822 Thomas Shannon moved with his family from Davidson County to near where Saltillo now stands. Himself and others with household effects came by river in a keelboat, the family and flocks came by land. In 1825 a house was erected by Mr. Shannon near the present landing at Saltillo. The first settler at Savannah was James Rudd, who established a ferry at that place in 1821. Pyburn Bluff took its name from its first settler, Jacob Pyburn, who established a ferry there.
The numerous streams in the county and the river required many ferries, and the dense forests required roads through them to allow communication between neighborhoods. In 1821 James F. McMahon was allowed to keep a ferry on his land at Cerro Gordo; James Hardin was allowed one at his place at the mouth of Swift Creek; Thomas James was allowed one at his place; in 1822 J. A. Rawlings was allowed a ferry at his lands on the Tennessee; in 1822 James Rudd, Jacob Pyburn, R. T. Patton and Thomas Shannon were granted ferry licenses at their respective places. The roads usually led from these ferries in the direction of the various county seats in the surrounding counties. In 1820 a road was cut out by Samuel Bruler and others from his ferry crossing Swift Creek to the Wayne County line; Noah Lilly et al. were ordered to cut out a road from Errin's ferry to the Natchez trace; Henry Middleton et al. were ordered to cut one from White ferry in the direction of Chickasaw Bluffs. All living on Indian Creek and Turkey Creek were ordered in 1822 to open a road from the "Tarkill" to the Wayne County line. In the same year a road was opened from Hardinsville to the Wayne County line, intersecting the Lacefield mill road. In 1823 the road from Rudd's ferry (Savannah) to Hardinsville was opened under direction of Jordan Manny, and James Morrow and Simpson Lee superintended the cutting out of the road from Hardin's ferry in the direction of the McNairy County courthouse in 1824.
Henry Garner built a mill on Indian Creek, a short distance above Clifton ford in 1820. A water mill had been built the year before on Smith Fork by Jesse Lacefield, and another near the same place by John Williams. Charles B. Nelson erected a horse mill on Horse Creek in 1819. A water mill was built near Shady Grove Church by Maj. James Montgomery in 1824, and Jesse W. Holland erected a tanyard near the same place also in 1824. Michael Berry built a mill on his place in 1820, and Samuel Johnson one on Turkey Creek in the same year. John G. Williams built a mill on Indian Creek in 1824, and John Ross one on his land on Beatty's ford on the same stream in 1823, and James Kincannon in 1834. Much meal was made by the hand mills, also by the mortar. Many went as far as Maury County to mill, crossing Duck River at the half-breed Indian, Billy McClish's ford. The abundance of game rendered it unnecessary to raise domestic meats. Deer and turkey were in great abundance, but bear were not so numerous. Smaller game was to be had for the killing. A premium was allowed for the scalps of wolves and wildcats, owing to their destructive natures. The most valuable fur-bearing animal was the beaver, which was found plentiful. The Indians had had possession of this county from time immemorial, till their title was extinguished on October 19, 1818, though they had not generally lived here as permanent dwellers. They frequently passed through the county and traded and hunted with the whites, and their intercourse was very agreeable. The only difficulty that ever occurred was the killing of a man named Blackwell, by an Indian. Blackwell, while hunting on While Oak had stolen the Indian's pony. The offense was repeated, and the Indian, failing to recover his property, deliberately shot his victim and took his pony. Blackwell was buried near Garner's mill in 1820. This was the first killing in the county.
The works of Mound Builders are seen on both sides of the river. The most prominent ones on the west side are on the east side of Middleton Creek, near Baker's mill. These consist of an embankment between 1,300 and 1,400 feet long and fifteen feet high at its maximum. This, with the bend in itself and the creek, incloses about four acres of ground. Inside the wall and parallel with the creek is a trench apparently from which the earth was taken. Near the center of the enclosure is a mound about eighteen feet high, and covering about half an acre of ground. These works were evidently built for fortification. Human remains are numerous in these mounds. Other works are found in the northwest corner of the county, and along the river below Savannah. A line of fourteen mounds is found on the east side of the river, the city of Savannah being near the center. Some of these are of immense size. The largest of these is from twenty to thirty feet above the common level and covers from a quarter to a half an acre of ground. One or two of these mounds are double. It is said a copper wedge and eight small pulleys were recently found in one of these mounds. These are not work of modern handicraft and evidently came from the Mexicans as they worked these metals. These mounds when examined have yielded the usual charred remains. They were evidently of a sepulchral, templar, sacred, memorial, or military nature, or sometimes a union of these. The fact that numerous Indian relics are found about these mounds is not evidence that there was any relation between the Indian and the Mound Builder. That instinct, if instinct it may be called, which led the Mound Builder to select these places for a habitation also led the Indian to do the same thing. Each depended upon nature mainly for his support; springs for drinking water, streams for fish, woods for game, and natural fortifications for defense were the things sought. The place that furnished these for the one was as provident to the other; hence the identity of these homes -- but not of the races. The group of mounds where Savannah stands, it should be stated is also surrounded by a moat, which, with the river, makes a complete enclosure. This ditch is yet distinctly visible and is easily traced.
The county was formed by an act of the Legislature in 1819 but the courts of the county were not organized till the beginning of the year 1820. The justices appointed met at the house of James Hardin. They proceeded to organized by the election of Isham Cherry chairman. The other officers chosen were James Hardin, county court clerk; Daniel Smith, sheriff; Henry Mahan, ranger; James McMahon, trustee; James Barnes, register; and Stephen Roach, coroner. Walter Wood, Lewis Fortner, Elisha Smith, James H. Steele and J. G. Williams were appointed constables. The next quorum court of pleas and quarter sessions was to be composed of Joe McMahan, Isham Cherry, James Barnes, Samuel Harbour and David Kincannon. It was ordered that "no officer shall be appointed without a majority of the court agrees." The first venire consisted of John White, Joe Pickens, S. Ward, Henry Clofton, Jeff. Farrar, Henry Reynolds, Geo. Worley, Robert Lacefield, Wm. Smith, John Martin, John Boyd, James Reynolds, Sr., James English, Richard Ford, Jesse Jones, James Williams, John Dollins, Henry Jones, Thomas White, Thomas Hannum, Robt. Steele, Noah Lilly, James Emerson, Asa Bryant and Isaac Emerson. The usual tax levy of 18 ¾ cents on each 100 acres of land, 37 ½ cents on each town lot, 12 ½ on each white poll, 25 cents on black poll, $5 on each retail storekeeper or peddler and $5 on each tavern-keeper was made. The tax listers, each for his respective neighborhood, appointed for 1820 were Samuel White, Isham Cherry, David Kincannon, E. W. Gee, James Huddleston, Joseph McMahon, J. W. Martin and Ninean Steele. Soon after the militia of the State was organized and listers were then chosen for captains of companies rather than for neighborhoods. The first militia captains were William Warnal, Mahan Jones, English and Paine. The will of Michael Berry was offered for probate April 3, 1820. The court allowed Francis Kincannon, J. W. Martin and Ninean Steele pay for two wolf scalps each. Chelton Smith was allowed $31.25 for carrying an Indian to the Columbia jail, and Ebel Smith was allowed $5.25 as guard for the same. This was the Indian mentioned in the killing of John Blackwell. Daniel Smith was fined $20 for failing to attend court "at the present times." Robt. Lacefield was fined 6 ¼ cents and Alex. M. Sweeney $1 for State offenses. J. R. McMeans resigned as attorney-general on July 4, 1820, and was allowed $30 for ex officio services. Ordinary licenses were granted to Harrison Simpson, October 21, 1820; to Isaac Jones, January, 1821; to James Garner, April, 1821; to Samuel Bruton and John Kindle, October, 1821; to Wiley J. Duckworth and T. M. Duckworth, in 1822; and to James Hardin, 1824. These licenses allowed liquors to be sold and drank on the premises, provided no more were sold on the Sabbath "than were necessary." On January 1, 1821, C. B. Nielson, James Boyd, James Boyd, Sr., John Boyd, John Shoat and James Ashrott gave notice that "Stock keepers that allow their stock to range on our possessions may expect to suffer the extreme rigor of the law." J. Watkins was allowed $3 for a county seal, and Daniel Smith was allowed $25 for ex officio services as sheriff of the county for the year 1820. The circuit court was organized soon after the county court by Judge Joshua Haskell, of Jackson, Tenn. He appointed J. W. Judkins as circuit clerk. Isaac S. W. Cook and J. W. Combs were sworn in as attorneys on January 2, 1821, and Joseph Casey on January 8, 1822.
In an election for sheriff on January 8, 1822, J. W. Judkins resigned his office that day and ran for sheriff, and was elected over John Huddleson. The court decided that Judkins was ineligible as he held the office of circuit clerk. The court then chose Huddleson. Judkins then offered to prove that his resignation was in the hands of Judge Haskell at the time of election. He was cited to appear at the April term and produce proof. In the meantime Huddleston was to be considered sheriff, but one Reed was to act till that time. To this Huddleston protested but had to yield. At the time of trial both agreed to resign their claims and go into a new election. This resulted in the election of Judkins. James Hardin was declared defaulter as to certain moneys belonging to the office of county court clerk and removed from office January 9, 1822, and Alex. W. Sweeney placed in office pro tem. Whereupon Hardin appealed to the circuit court in the nature of a writ of error and was restored to his office till the April term, when he was declared ousted and Sweeney was elected in his place. A similar fate overtook Sweeney in July, 1824. He was removed by the court for producing false certificates for moneys turned over to him. A mandamus failed to compel the court to restore him to office. In July J. R. McMeans resigned his office as solicitor and James Scott was elected in his place; at the same date James Taylor was sworn in as an attorney. James Scott was allowed $40 for ex officio services as solicitor for 1822. J. W. Judkins took the oath as an attorney July 1, 1822. The election precincts for 1823 were Thomas Robinson's, Noah Lilly's, John Gillespie's and Wm. Boyd's. A small poor-tax was first levied this year. Thomas F. Edwards was admitted as an attorney March 22, 1825. Joel Casey, James Barnes, David Robinson, John G. Williams and J. B. Gantt were appointed school commissioners June 23, 1825. On December 19 of this year, Ellison White was admitted to the bar as an attorney. Thos. Wells was put under bond of $500 for his appearance at court for stealing Chickasaw Indian horses. A loss of the minutes of the county court from 1826 to 1834, and all the minutes of the circuit court till 1840 makes it impossible to note many interesting cases. Lewis N. Falkner was sent to jail fourteen hours for contempt in 1834, and John Shannon two hours June 16, 1835, for a similar offense. Hugh Talbot was allowed $120 for transcribing the county records in 1837. In this year occurred the execution of Mrs. Hughes for the murder of her husband. Being the first criminal execution, and that a woman, it naturally attracted an immense crowd of people. The execution took place at the river bank near where the Kendall House now stands. The prisoner was seated in a cart and the rope adjusted by Jesse Jones, deputy sheriff. The cart was driven from under the prisoner and she was thus left hanging. Thomas Gray, who was sheriff, resigned his office June 5, 1837, for fear, it is said, he would have to officiate at another hanging. Some very notable cases occurred between 1835 and 1840. Among these were the cases of the State against Pickett, also the same against Mrs. Coats. Such counsel as James K. Polk, Terry H. Cahal and Felix Grundy were employed. These parties were indicted for murder in the first degree but finally escaped death punishment. A little later came the cases of the State against J. H. Calhoun, and on August 19, 1843, the State against Marion Brooks. Both these cases were for murder in the first degree, but neither was hung. Nelson, a slave of James Elliott, was indicted for the murder of David Sellars on November 11, 1845. The case resulted in the sentence of death on June 8, 1846. By an act of the Legislature of this year J. J. Williams, J. B. Gantt, Daniel Smith, B. Davy and J. W. Cantrell were ordered to survey and make a map of the county. The usual cases, interesting and uninteresting, occurred from time to time till after the close of the war, when some very bitter cases arose from difficulties growing out of that unhappy period. In 1867 "Tobe" Thornton was hung for the murder of Broyles, a well known and highly respected citizen of Savannah. This was the last execution that has occurred; however, several have been tried since for murder but none convicted. Savannah has had her share of distinguished judges and lawyers. Joshua Haskell, of Jackson, was circuit judge from the organization till possibly 1830 to 1832, when he was followed by Austin Miller, who served till about 1838 when B. C. Totten put on the judicial robes and served till 1856, when he was succeeded by James Scott, of Savannah, who served till his death in 1852. Elijah Walker, also of Savannah, came upon the bench and served till the courts were closed by the war. The courts were re-organized by Fielding Hurst, of Purdy, who remained on the bench till 1869, when Judge Walker again served till his death in 1873. T. P. Bateman was then chosen and held the position with credit and honor till 1886, then E. D. Patterson was chosen judge. Of the attorneys A. G. McDougal has been prominent before the bar since 1840. Others are D. W. Broyles, J. A. Cunningham, J. M. Watson, W. J. Watson and H. L. Hefner.
On the question of Union or Secession Hardin County was largely for the Union and on the vote of "separation" or "no separation" the latter was emphatically voted, 1,052 to 408 votes, but when the clash of arms came the county was in majority for the South. The militia was put into active training and all able-bodied men were enrolled. The place for general muster on the east side of the river was Old Town; on the west side it was at the Perkins' place on the road from Savannah to Purdy. The first company of troops raised was at Shady Grove Church, near Saltillo, where a great barbecue and war meeting was held. War speeches were made and volunteers were called for, yet not in vain. A full company of cavalry was soon raised of which C. S. Robinson was captain, J. W. Irvin first lieutenant; Arthus Hardin second lieutenant; and R. W. Reynolds third lieutenant. The operations of these men were mainly under Gen. Wheeler. The second body of men was recruited by L. B. Irvin; this consisted of fourteen men. They were taken to Nashville and became a part of the First Tennessee (Confederate). The regiment was organized in April 1861. George Maney (general) was elected colonel. (See State history, page 562.) The first full infantry company was raised in the vicinity of Hamburg. Of this company J. O. Tarkington was elected captain. This company was raised in the summer of 1861, and was attached to the Thirty-fourth Tennessee (Confederate) under Col. William Churchwell. This regiment did duty at Cumberland Gap, and other points in East Tennessee, till the invasion of Kentucky by Gen. Bragg in the summer of 1862. (See page 584 of the State history.) After the fall of Fort Donelson and the capture of Nashville, Gov. Harris ordered out all the available forces of the State. Those who did not volunteer were conscripted. Five companies of this character of men were raised in Hardin County under Capts. Flatt, Sawyer, Powers, Bradley and Sneed. They were posted at Savannah, where they were disciplined by Col. Crews of Memphis, till February 7, 1862, when the approach of the Federal gunboats "Tyler," "Lexington" and "Conestoga," caused them to leave rather hastily. They were started for Nashville, but on concentration of the Confederate Army at Corinth they were hastened thither. So many of these men were soldiers from force rather than choice that almost complete disorganization followed the battle of Shiloh; from 125 to 150 men only remained. These were consolidated into two companies and attached to the Ninth, improperly called the Fifth Kentucky. The officers of the larger of these were B. A. F. Fitzgerald, captain; W. T. Powers, W. C. Sawyer and Sol Flatt. Numerous changes occurred by death and resignation so that T. J. Powers became captain and so remained till the surrender. After one year's service these men were attached to the Forty-fifth Tennessee, with which they served till the close of the war. Numerous other bodies were sent to the service, among them Capt. J. A. Russell's company and a large number to Capt. J. W. Eldridge's battery.
Companies E, F and H (Federal troops), were recruited in Hardin, Wayne and Perry, for the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry. These were recruited by W. K. M. Breckenridge of Perry County. The officers of Company E were J. D. Poston, captain; F. A. Smith and William Cleary, lieutenants. The officers of F were D. J. Dickenson, captain; E. L. Hardin, R. O. F. Roswell and J. W. Youngblood, lieutenants. The officers of H were J. G. Berry and R. D. DeFord, captains; Colvin Hanna, Nicholas Pitts and W. A. Newsom, lieutenants. The other companies belonged to the regiment were K, L, and M. These were recruited mainly through the influence of Thomas H. Boswell. The officers of K were T. H. Boswell and Albert Cook, captains; J. W. Barham and James E. McNair, lieutenants; Company L, John W. Moore and John H. Edwards, captains; T. B. Waggoner, G. T. Wann and James N. Julin, lieutenants; Company M, Wm. C. Holt and T. C. McMahon, captains; H. L. Neely and James A. Mangum, lieutenants.
The Tenth Tennessee Infantry received Capt. C. W. Shipman's company from Hardin County. The history of both the Sixth and Tenth is given under the head of these regiments in the State history. Besides the trouble and devastation caused by the regular troops of the respective armies, the people were terribly scourged by the guerrilla bands of Burt Hays (Confederate) and Doc Mangum (Federal).
The first absolute proof of war to the county was the approach of the Federal gunboats on February 7, 1862. Before these had gone most of the transports in the Tennessee River. The gunboats reached Savannah on the 8th. Many arms belonging to the citizens which had been collected by order of the government were captured.
It was March before Grant's army began to move up the Tennessee and it was not till near the 1st of April before the main body arrived at Savannah and Crump's Landing. The objective point of the Federals was Corinth, Miss. The army moved to Pittsburg Landing and was there awaiting the arrival of Buel for concentration before advancing upon Corinth. Gen. A. S. Johnston, anticipating their movements, took the initiative by moving out and attacking the Federals before the arrival of Buell's forces. The battle was fought in the Fifteenth District at Shiloh near Pittsburg Landing on the 6th and 7th of April, 1862. The Federal generals were taken by surprise and were unprepared, their statement to the contrary notwithstanding. The attack was made by the Confederates with that impetuosity peculiar to the Southern soldier and was met by the peculiar stubbornness of the Northern soldier. What might have been the result had not the Confederate chieftain been killed is a matter of dispute, but this much is true, the battle raged with awful fury for two days and the arrival of Buell's forces at the end of the first day saved Grant's army from possible destruction and compelled the retreat of the Confederates. The tongue of man nor the angels in Heaven nor the demons down under the sea could ever portray the sacrifices made here to the great war god. The official reports show the loss of the Confederates of 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded and 959 missing. The loss of the Federals was 1,700 killed, 7,495 wounded and 3,022 missing.
The Government after the close of the war had all the bodies of those who fell at Shiloh and who died in hospitals in the surrounding country disinterred and reburied in the National Cemetery at the old battle ground. The grounds cover about fifteen acres, which are enclosed by a stone wall. The enclosure contains the graves of about 3,000 soldiers. These, as far as known, are marked in divisions according to State and by regiments, which is indicated by a small plain head stone. The others are marked "unknown." Just beyond the cemetery lie the remains of about 2,000 Confederate dead. The contrast between the two burial places is very striking. The former is well kept and furnished with everything attractive; the latter is marked by decay, and is a sad picture to the friends of the fallen.
Hardin County was named in honor of Col. James Hardin, who was a subaltern officer in the Revolutionary war, and laid his claim of 2,000 acres of land in this county. It was the first county carved out of the Western District. This was in 1819 and embraced the territory as far as the Mississippi River. It was placed under control of Stewart and Wayne Counties. Notwithstanding its ample bounds at first, the county has been reduced from time to time, till it now embraces but 610 square miles. Its length from north to south is thirty miles, and its width from east to west is twenty-one miles. It is bounded on the north by Henderson and Decatur Counties; on the east by Wayne; on the south by Lauderdale County, Ala., and Tishomingo County, Miss., and on the west by McNairy and Chester Counties. It is divided into sixteen civil districts, which are determined more by the topography than population of the county. Numbers 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 are west of the river, the remaining ones are east of it. The courts first met at the residence of Col. James Hardin in January, 1820, near the present town of Cerro Gordo, where they continued to meet till October of that year. On April 3, Hiram Boon , James Barnes, Stephen Roach, Ninean Steele and Hardin Williams were made a committee to contract for the erection of a temporary courthouse. This was early in October of 1820, and the committee were allowed $30 for building the same. In January, 1822, the court appointed Alexander W. Sweeney, Hiram Boon, John Kindle, J. S. Williams and James Barnes a committee to select a permanent seat of justice for the county. The committee failed in its work, and Noah Lilly, Daniel Smith and the ones already on the committee, were instructed to proceed with the location. On July 1, 1822, the committee reported they had purchased fifty acres of land on Turkey Creek for the town of Hardinsville. The court adjourned to meet the next day at 10 o'clock, July 2, to meet at the place selected. The committee on county seat became the first town board of Hardinsville -- now known as Old Town. Dissatisfaction arose as to the location of Hardinsville. On December 5, 1825, the Legislature appointed Col. William Bradley, Col. M. McClannahan and Col. A. B. Shelby to select another site of fifty acres for a new town to be called Hardinsville, on the Tennessee River. On the removal of the county seat the owners of lots were to be paid first cost on their lots. The permanent seat was, however, not selected till in December, 1826, and then by James -----, James Chissum and Alfred M. Harris. A fifty-acre tract was obtained from James Irvin at the present site of Savannah. The consideration for this tract was one choice lot.
The first courthouse was built by J. G. Williams. It was a small log building, 16x20 feet, with a dirt floor and clapboard roof. The new courthouse at Hardinsville on the selection of that place by James Barnes was a good brick building. On the removal of the seat of justice to Savannah in 1830, a temporary log house of round logs was built. This stood a little east of the present courthouse. This house was replaced by a good brick building in 1832, which stood till it was destroyed by fire during the late war. The present courthouse was begun in 1867. A tax of 20 cents on each $100, and 15 cents on each poll was levied in 1867 for the purpose of erecting the house. This is a good, substantial brick building, which was built at a cost of about $10,000.
It was said on good authority that the first place of confinement of prisoners was a large hollow tree near James Hardin's. A new brick jail was completed by the commissioners of Hardinville, and received by the county on March 20, 1825. The commissioners received $2,000 for the building. A new log jail was built at Savannah on the removal of the courts to that place but this was replaced by a brick jail about 1837. This house stood two blocks above the present jail on Water Street. This was burned and a new jail was completed in 1860 at a cost of about $2,000. This was destroyed with other public buildings within the period of the war. On the reorganization a new log jail was built, which stood for some time when the present jail was erected, which was built at a cost of about $3,000.
The first official recognition of the poor, "whom we always have with us," was the allowance of $100 to Christopher for keeping Mrs. Choat in 1823. That year a small poor tax was levied. From that time till after the constitution of 1834-35, the poor were farmed out to the lowest and best bidder. A poor-farm was purchased on Steele Creek, which was kept up for some time, but was abandoned for a time, but was re-established again in 1859. The commissioners at this time were Alex. Doran, J. Jones and R. I. Williams. Owing to lack of timber and other causes the poor-house and farm was sold in 1878; the purchasers were A. W. Blevins and B. R. Freeman. The sum realized was $800. M. M. Dickson, N. W. Covey and R. W. Reynolds were appointed a committee to select and purchase a new poor-farm, which was soon afterward done.
The grounds of the Agricultural & Mechanical Association of Hardin County were purchased of T. A. Kerr in March, 1872, but the first fair was not held till 1873. The grounds are about five acres in extent, and lie immediately south of Savannah, on an elevation overlooking the town. An amphitheater forms nearly three-fourths of a circle, and is capable of seating from 6,000 to 8,000 people. On the grounds is a large floral hall, capable of accommodating not only exhibitors but spectators as well. Departments are set apart for mechanical display, also the farm, garden, kitchen and works of art. The association has held fourteen annual fairs without a single failure. The officers of the association are John A. Dodds, president; T. M. Brown, vice-president, and L. F. DeFord, secretary. The directors are J. D. Martin, E. P. Blount, J. C. Walker, J. K. Barlow, R. W. Reynolds, William Barnhill and J. A. Harbert.
Sheriffs. Daniel Smith was sheriff to 1822; J. W. Judkins (John Huddleston from January to April) 1824; Louis Falkner, 1828; James Robinson, 1834; Thomas Gray, 1837; John O. Barnett from January 6, to September 4; Alexander Nevill, 1840; Daniel Smith, 1844; John Kirby, 1846; S. M. Hargrove, 1848; Robt. Forbes, 1852; J. G. Hamilton, 1856; R. L. Porter, 1860; J. G. Cunningham, 1862; E. D. M. Perkins, 1865-66; C. W. Shipman, 1870; W. J. Thomas, 1872; I. W. Ross, 1878; R. E. Bennett; W. C. Story, 1886; J. A. Counce, 1887. County court clerks: James Hardin to 1822; Alex. M. Sweeney, 1824; David Robinson pro tem.; John Houston, 1832; W. J. Duckworth, 1836; C. C. Gibbs, 1837; A. B. Campbell, 1840; Wesley Corey, 1848; W. H. Cherry; D. T. Street, 1866-68; N. T. McDaniel, 1872; W. R. Henkle, 1882; J. C. Mitchell, 1886; W. J. Watkins, 1887. Circuit clerks: J. W. Judkins, 1822; W. J. Duckworth, 1841; Hugh Tarbet, 1846; J. J. Irvin, 1854; G. A. Duckworth, 1865; J. S. Winborn, 1869; J. C. Street, 1877; T. M. Hurst, 1879; J. H. Skinner, 1882; G. W. Harbert, 1886; A. B. Mitchell, 1887. Chancellors: P. M. Miller from 1836 to 1837; Milton Brown, 1841; Andrew McCampbell, 1848; Calvin Jones, 1854; Stephen C. Pavatt, 1862; R. H. Rose, 1866-68; J. W. Doherty, 1870; G. H. Nixon, 1886; Abernathy, 1887. Clerks and masters: Hugh Tarbet, 1838; Geo. F. Benton, 1842; Hugh Tarbet, 1848; Geo. F. Benton, 1854; G. W. Hamilton, 1870; E. P. Patterson, 1886; McDougal, 1887. Representatives in the Legislature: Joel Walker, 1820-23; James Barnes, 1823-25; Benjamin Hardin, 1825-27; ----- -----, 1827-31; Bradley Halford, 1831-33; John Rayburn, 1833-35; John M. Johnson, 1835-37; C. C. Gibbs, 1837-39; C. H. McGinnis, 1839-47; Daniel Smith, 1847-51; G. M. Hamilton, 1851-53; C. Broyles, 1853-55; B. G. Brazelton, 1855-57; J. T. Carter, 1857-59; D. A. Roberts, 1859-61; Thomas Maxwell, 1865-67; Alfred Pitts, 1867-69; W. F. Hinkle, 1869-73; S. W. Riggs, 1873-75; D. W. Herring, 1875-77; G. W. Haynes, 1877-79; E. G. Yancy, 1879-81; H. B. Neel, 1881-82; J. D. Martin, 1882-85; J. A. Hanna, 1885-87. Senator from the district of which Hardin County is a part: Joel Walker, 1821-22; Thomas Williamson, 1823-24; Joel Walker, 1825-30; Wm. Davis, 1831-32; John Rayburn, 1833-34; H. H. Brown, 1835-40; Hezekial Bradley, 1841-42; B. Gordon, 1843-44; A. G. McDougal, 1845-50; E. Polk, 1853-55; A. G. McDougal, 1857-58; Geo. B. Peters, 1859-60; John Aldredge, 1867-70; A. D. Bryant, 1870-7-; S. L. Warren, 1873-74; S. L. Ross, 1875-76; W. P. Morris, 1879-80; P. M. Tilman, 1881-82; Warren Smith, 1885-86.
The first church built in the county was by the Primitive Baptists. This house was erected about the time of the organization of the county. The house stood near Indian Creek, nearly on a line east of Cerro Gordo. Here the Hardins, Brazeltons, Goodens and Smiths attended church. Rev. Charles Riddle was the first pastor of this church. This denomination was quite numerous in the early history of the county, but on the separation of the church into two branches, Primitive and Missionary Baptist, this church has been greatly weakened. However, good congregations are found at Cool Springs and elsewhere in the county.
The organization of the Missionary Baptist Church in the county first appeared about 1833. Its membership now is quite numerous. There are churches of this denomination at Bruton Branch with twenty-eight members; one at Enon with forty-eight members; one at Fairview with thirty members; one at Harmony with thirty-three members; one at Hopewell with seventy-seven members; one at Mr. Carmel with twenty-one members; one at Shady Grove with forty-three, and one at Turkey Creek with twenty-eight members; also an organization of ten members at Savannah, but no house.
The congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Savannah was organized December 9, 1860, by Rev. C. D. Hudson, with twenty members. A house was built in connection with the Masons. Meetings were not held from August 6, 1862, till August 29, 1868, owing to the war, at which time the congregation was re-organized by Rev. G. C. Stockard, with twenty members. Since that time the pastors have been W. C. Walker, W. M. Neeley, T. J. Nixon, G. C. Stockard and J. R. Alexander. The ruling elders are E. T. Basye, R. A. Shaw, W. U. Ross and A. F. Franks. The present membership is thirty-one. Ross Chapel, about four miles south of Savannah, is the oldest organization of the church in this county, and numbers seventy members. Mt. Tabor is another old organization, but its membership is small. Good congregations are found at Willoughby, Alder Grove, Union, Harmony, Bethlehem, Indian Creek and Liberty. There are also congregations at Loweryville and Oak Grove.
The first organization of the Methodist Church was at what is called Watson Church, in the northeastern part of the county. This was by the Rev. John Watson, in 1830, who was from South Carolina. The date of the organization at Savannah cannot be learned, as all of the early records have been lost or destroyed. Mrs. Francis Irvin's name is found as early as 1826. The following have been pastors within the date mentioned: Wilson McAllister, 1826(?); Charles Harris, 1842; J. M. McCracken, 1852; W. H. Browning, 1854; ----- Nance, 1865; W. G. Davis, 1867; A. S. McBride, W. W. Graves, 1870; G. W. Martin, 1871; A. G. Dinwiddie, 1873; P. A. Sowell, R. R. Jones, 1876; S. L. Lain, 1881; L. Powell, 1884; J. T. Curry, 1886. This class now has an excellent brick church edifice and a membership of about 200. There are also churches of this denomination in almost every neighborhood in the county, besides quite a number of Methodist Episcopal Churches.
A fine new church has just been completed by the Christian Church denomination at Savannah. It is a frame structure of commodious size and of modern architecture. Its construction was largely due to Reuben East, of Savannah. As yet no regular services are held.
The first schoolhouse built in the county was erected near the Clifton ford on Indian Creek. This was a small log house without seats, floor or chimney. This was in 1824 and Thomas Stockton was the first teacher. At this school attended the Hardins, Brazeltons, McMahons, McConnells, and others. Similar schools were to be found in the various neighborhoods of the county. The first official act of the county looking to the public schools was the appointment of Joel Casey, James Barnes, David Robinson, John G. Williams and Jesse B. Gantt as school commissioners in June, 1825. No system of schools was adopted by the county till after the adoption of the new constitution of 1834-35, and then under an act of the General Assembly of 1839-40. The new law provided that schools should be taught three months in the year in each district or forfeit their share of the public funds. The enumeration for the year above named showed a scholastic population of 2,874, twelve districts, and funds on hand to the amount of $1,453.89. Under the provisions of the session act of North Carolina, Hardin County established an academy. This was done in 1832. The first trustees were James Irwin, David Robinson, and three others. This building stood near where Dr. Barlow's residence now stands. In this old academy nearly all the children of Savannah were educated. This was the only school building in Savannah until 1853, when the fund had so accumulated and children increased that a division of the school was deemed best. A lot was purchased where the college building now stands and the female academy erected thereon. The first trustees of this were Jas. Irvin, G. D. Morrow, W. H. Cherry, A. S. McDougal and G. M. Hamilton. In 1859 the present college building was erected by a stock company, but this stock has since been sold out.
The college buildings are owned by the principals, Profs. H. P. Wood and H. J. Cox. Two years' management have placed the school in an enviable light. The attendance now is about one hundred. The managers promise to do and do do the work thoroughly between the common school and the university. The course is liberal and practical and sufficiently thorough for all the necessities and purposes in life. The healthful surroundings, the excellent society, and the exceptionable moral influence about Savannah, make it a good place for the success of such a school as Hardin College affords.
Ross Academy is a graded school of two departments. It stands about four miles southeast of Savannah. It is owned by stockholders. The principal of this school is J. M. Watson. The school has been in successful operation for six or seven years. The enrollment is about 100, and the school term lasts about ten months in the year.
Bell Academy was incorporated in 1879 by J. H. Hanna, S. J. Stockard, T. J. McGill, J. M. Alexander and W. P. Alexander. The people of Saltillo have been singularly unfortunate in regard to their school building, having had two burned within the last decade. The school has four teachers and a school term of ten months in the year. The principal is H. E. Watson.
The common school superintendent's last report shows eighty white and twenty-five colored licensed teachers in the county besides thirty-one in private schools, and a total of thirty-six schoolhouses. The length of school term is sixty days. The total receipts for the year were $11,200, and the amount expended was $5,920. The white scholastic population was 5,918, colored 978, or a total of 6,896. The white enrollment was 3,520; colored 901. The daily attendance was, white, 2,345; colored, 639. The average monthly for teachers was $28. The most of the schools are incorporated under the "four mile law," this being sufficient to drive the sale of whisky entirely from the county -- something few counties can boast of.
Savannah, the county seat of Hardin County, lies on the east side of the Tennessee River, near the center of the county, 480 feet above the sea level, and in latitude 35° 20' north, and 11° 11' west of Washington. It was selected as the county seat in 1826, and became the formal seat in 1830. The first settler in the vicinity of the place was James Rudd, who settled at what was called Rudd's Ferry. He settled at that place about 1818 and built a dwelling, and opened a ferry in 1821. The name Savannah is doubtless derived from the savannas which lie across the river from the place. The town site was given to the commissioner by James Irvin, who was long identified with the business interest of Savannah. The original plat of the town covered fifty acres. Among the first town commissioners were James Irvin, J. J. Williams and David Robinson. These men composed the first town commissioners. In 1837 the limits of the town were defined as "beginning at the branch below Joe N. Baker, thence east to include David Robinson's house; thence south on the Florence road by the mile post; thence west to the river; thence down the same with its meanders to the beginning." In 1850 the place was incorporated on petition of L. H. Broyles, W. L. Pool and twenty-seven others. The first hotel in the place was kept by John Kendall. This was a hewed log house. L. H. Broyles and James Irvin became a business firm in 1830. The first brick house was built by Col. Stephens north of the public square. David Robinson, who was identified with the early court and business of the town, built the Cherry mansion. The removal of the court to Savannah caused a rapid change, and the thick growth of timber soon gave way to a thriving village and one of the most healthful in the State. While the growth has not been marvelous, it has been regular and healthful. The place contains three churches, an excellent school, the Hardin College and no drinking places. The following were the leading business men before the war: L. H. Broyles, Broyles & Irvin, Beuler & Webb, Cherry & Benton and Porter & Shield.
The business men of Savannah of to-day are general stores -- J. J. Williams & Bro., Baker & Bro., Barlow & Hughes, Benton & Bro., D. A. & T. J. Welch, W. H. Carrington, W. H. Seaman, W. E. Hughes and DeFord & Morris. Groceries -- J. W. Carender, W. T. Story, Powers & Haynes and E. C. Kendall. Drugs -- J. K. Barlow and J. W. Akin. Millinery stores -- Mrs. H. E. Akin and Mrs. Fanny Morrison.
Savannah has had a newspaper most of the time since about 1843, but it has been rather changeable in its nature. The Savannah Courier is now in its third volume. This is a clean sheet, and is owned and edited by C. L. Hefner. The paper is strictly a non-political sheet, and has good advertising patronage and circulation.
The Savannah Times is a new newspaper venture. It is in its first volume. It is Democratic in politics, and is a sprightly paper owned by Barlow & Cooper.
Savannah Lodge, No. 102, F. & A. M., was chartered October 4, 1843, on petition of G. D. Morrow, G. F. Benton and L. H. Wells. These brethren were elected to office in the order named. The lodge was suspended a short period during the war. The present officers are W. B. Smith, W. M.; E. P. Blount, S. W.; J. R. Abernathy, J. W.; J. H. Benton, Treas.; J. W. Carender, Sec.; W. T. Powers, S. D.; D. M. Jones, J. D.; L. E. Owen, Chap.; and R. L. Clark, Tyler. The membership is forty-four.
Farragut Post, No. 6, G. A. R., was organized some years ago. The post numbers about sixty members.
The first settlement in what is now Saltillo was made by Thomas Shannon in the fall of 1822. The family consisted of himself, wife and eight children. A log house was built near the landing by William and Nathan Shannon, sons of Thomas Shannon, in 1825. A stock of goods was shipped to the place in 1825, and sold by Nathan Shannon in a log store-house. The place was then called Hawkins' Landing. A store-house was soon afterward built by the Hawkins brothers near Gann Spring, a short distance from Saltillo. It took its present name about 1849, from the Mexican city of that name. The place was incorporated in 1870. Its growth has not been rapid but healthful. The population now is about 300. It contains a Presbyterian Church, a Masonic hall, an academy and the following business houses: J. M. Alexander, Mitchell & Hinkle, Craven & Wilkinson, White & Craven, J. L. Broyles & Co., E. A. Barham and J. S. Holland. The trade of the place consists largely of cotton and lumber.
The vicinity of Cerro Gordo is the most historic ground in the county. James F. McMahon settled on the west side of the river opposite Cerro Gordo, and in 1821 took out license to keep a ferry at that point. In 1830 John White and Elisha Bryant settled at the present site of the place and started a ferry and business house there. From White it was called White's Landing till 1849, when it was changed to its present name from a city made historic by the Mexican war. The business men of the place now are E. B. Harbour and W. S. Hawkins. Other places of business in the county are Pickwick, where Sanders & Atkins, S. B. Burk, M. L. Crow and M. V. Thornton have stores; Hamburg, where M. F. Fraley, R. L. Milligan and M. H. Pratt sell goods. At Pittsburg Landing are J. P. Atkins & Bro. and W. C. Meek & Co.; J. S. Warrington and W. J. & J. S. Phillips, near Adamsville; W. E. Morris & Co., at Boyd's Landing; McKelvey & Paulk and J. H. Seaton, at Walnut Grove; S. J. Kendall, at Loweryville; G. W. Grisham and W. E. Hughes, at Nixon; T. J. Hurley, near Stantonville; A. L. McKinzie & Son and E. Dodd & Co., at Coffee Landing; J. T. Lewter, at Crump's Landing; E. Mulry & Co., Olive Hill; Bradley & Co., Sibley; S. J. Moffet, at Morris Chapel, and John Pitts, near Milledgeville.
Hardin County Biographies|
Home / E-mail