NOTICE: Copyrighted by P. M. Harbert and the West Tennessee Historical Society. Reproduced with permission.
West Tennessee Historical
EARLY HISTORY OF HARDIN COUNTY
P. M. HARBERT
In this paper it is intended to present some of the facts concerning Hardin County from the earliest time to the establishment and organization of a county government.
Originally this area was a vast wilderness not unlike Longfellow's description of the “forest primeval.” All over the valleys of the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers the Mound Builders were active; so we named them because all they left us were cities or mounds scattered throughout these valleys. No one seems to know whence they came or whither they went; they have left behind them mute evidences over which the ethnologist and the archeologist have labored in vain to explain. Though much has been said of them, it has fallen far short of satisfying, to any extent, the curiosity of the present races as to the origin, relations, peculiarities an characteristics of these elder brothers of the flesh. We are resigned to accept the Indian's statement that the Mound Builder was here when he came, and he may have become in flesh and blood a part of the red man or he may have become extinct.
My old teacher, Mr. B. G. Brazelton, author of the valuable History of Hardin County, says, and the author thinks correctly so, that this county has in it more signs of this ancient race of Mound Builders than any other county in the state, for all over it, the “little mounds meets the traveler's eye.”1 The inference is that the Tennessee River, in its northward swing across the state, divides Hardin Count into two nearly equal parts, and this prehistoric race, some what akin to us, evidently had come hankering to stalk and reside along flowing streams.
Possibly, the most outstanding archeological remains of these people are along the east bank of the Tennessee River in and near the present town of Savannah; here fourteen large mounds form a zig zag line, nearly a mile in length, paralleling the flow of the river.2 The tallest and largest of these mounds occupies the center of the line, and rises to a height of about thirty feet above the common level. A trench circling along the east side of this line, connects with the river, at the north end and at the south end, thus the river to the west and the trench to the east, entirely encircled this ancient village. These have never been extensively excavated, but are thought to contain, within the bowels of mother earth, some meager and mute history of this ancient race. Many years ago these were taken from these mounds a copper wedge and eight copper pulleys, indicating a higher degree of mechanics than the ancient American Indian was ever supposed to have attained.3
The next group of mounds in importance are those located on Middleton Creek, in the north‑western part of Hardin County, near, what sixty years ago, was known as Baker's Mill. On this stream there stands a wall of earth four‑hundred‑fifty yards in length, which connects the creek both below and above a large bend, thus enclosing between the stream and the wall about four acres of land. In the middle, and near the center of this tract, stands a mound covering about one half an acre, and rising about eighteen feet above the surrounding terrain. Between this wall and the creek, northwest of the mound, a few yards from and paralleling the stream, is a trench, or ditch, from which it is apparent the earth was taken for this building. A slight excavation of this mound has been made in which human bones were found. Obviously, one purpose was for burial of the dead.
About a mile or two further up the creek at or near the north‑west corner of the county, where, seventy years ago, stood Nester's Mill, there was taken from one of the several mounds a stone commonly called “lodestone.” This stone was about the size of a hen egg, well polished and, when suspended by a string, one end pointed to the north and the other end to the south.4
On the west bank of the Tennessee River, and in the southern part of the Shiloh National Military Park, along the river drive of that park, one can see a whole “colony,” so to speak, of these mounds. The Smithsonian Institute recently made extensive excavations here and among the interesting things taken there from was a small human‑shaped Stone.5
Hardin County was not the central location of any tribe of Indians, but this territory, with its dense forests and its cane brakes along the rich river valley, was within the red man's hunting grounds. In the neighboring section of what is now Wayne County, to the east, lived a tribe that often roved the forests as far west as the Tennessee river; its main habitation was in the vicinity of “Natural Bridge,” as it is known, on Forty-Eight Creek. Here the Indian is said to have cleared the land, tilled the soil and reached a higher state of civilization than common to his race at that time. Leaving his home, he hunted in the woods to the west, but upon reaching the Tennessee River he met with difficulty in crossing that stream, and, seemingly, seldom crossed over. Likewise, tribes having their homes to the west of Hardin County hunted in the forests westward to the river, and, not having the facilities for crossing, they did not habitually go over to meet their brothers from the east. Here, in the dense forests and cane brakes of the Tennessee River valley, the red man found more wild turkeys, beavers, deer, bears, panthers and other wild animals than elsewhere.
The foremost Indian settlement of the county was an extension of an habitation in Wayne County down that stream now called Indian Creek. This name was given it because of the many Indians found there by the first American pioneers. The Indians most densely populated section was around Piney Grove, as it is known today, and the Brooks' place. Others were found on the east side of the river, near the Southern boundary line of the county. Here they roved about a big spring which was later called Walnut Grove Spring. It was formed by Dry Creek coming to the surface after having followed an underground chasm for a mile or more.6 In the vicinity now called Pickwick, the white man found a rather prosperous tribe of Indians whose chief was called “Strawhorn Monk.” He is said to have had large possessions of horses and other property; this lot of Indians was unusually friendly to the invading white man.
Our first records in regard to paper titles to land, was a grant given by King Charles II of England to the Earl of Clarendon and seven other proprietors m 1663, for all that territory, then called the Carolinas, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. Included within this grant was all of the present state of Tennessee, and, necessarily so, Hardin County. The attempts at settlement and the final colonization of the Carolinas is another subject. But the westward march and migration of the colonists through North Carolina and South Carolina, over the Appalachian Mountains, into the western part of the Carolinas, and into the eastern part of the present state of Tennessee, is history leading up to the settlement of Hardin County. The history of these intermediate settlements is rich in legend and fact. Among the points of interest, leading westward in the march, could be mentioned the Watauga Settlement, the State Franklin and the adventures of John Sevier, James Robertson, John Donaldson, and many others. Suffice it to say, that, just prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the colonization of the east coast had pushed back to and over the Appalachian Mountains into what is now Tennessee, and settlements were made on the headwaters of the Tennessee River. Since these pioneers lived largely by hunting and trapping, they sought sales for their hides along the streams where trading posts were established by the more adventurous Spanish and English. At that time we had no roads, no railroads nor any modern conveniences of travel, so the people either went on foot, or floated by flat boats down the rivers. In this way many trading posts were established, and, those seeking to sell their hides and furs would receive merchandise in exchange. One of the early trading posts affecting Hardin County was established just south of its southern boundary line in the state of Alabama near the present town of Waterloo; another was established early on the west bank of the Tennessee River, just above the modern town of Saltillo. Many selling their pelts on the east side of the river, found a ready market in the early days, either at Columbia on the Duck River, or at Fort Nash or Nashville, as it is now known, on the Cumberland River. Since travel was easy going down stream, and difficult up stream, many early settlers searching for trading posts to the west, did not return east. Thus the population shifted toward the Mississippi River valley.
In many instances a strong friendship grew between the native red man and the white immigrant but, at times, feuds arose and disputes came about as to the priority of rights in certain territories. This latter course was followed so frequently that in 1806 a treaty was made with the Chickasaw and Cherokee Indians.7 These tribes had held priority of rights to these domains, but they now ceded to the white man the title to all the territory south of the Cumberland River as far east as Fayetteville, Tennessee, and south and west to the Tennessee River. After this treaty these American Indians gradually moved westward, across the Tennessee River, into the western slope toward the Mississippi River.
Mr. Brazelton, in his history of this county says: “Previous to the year 1815 the part of Tennessee known as Hardin County, had not been trod by white man's foot.”8 Evidently, the author was in error in this statement. Obviously, he did not have access to the colonial records of North Carolina which prove the contrary.9 He was a grandson of Solomon Brazelton who came among the first settlers to this county, and, evidently, had a rich store of information concerning the first trip down the river with the settlers who later built their homes in Hardin County.
John Donaldson and his adventurous party, when on their way from East Tennessee to the present site of Nashville, traveled down the Tennessee River by boat, and necessarily had to pass through Hardin County. They left Muscle Shoals on the morning of March 14, 1780, and, by nightfall, reached a point in this county by a large island, evidently Diamond Island, in the neighborhood of the present site of Pittsburg Landing, where they encamped for the night. Because of frightful noise, they hurriedly moved down the river where they spent the remainder of the night. The next morning on returning to gather up some of their possessions which were left in the hasty departure, they found one of the company, a Negro, still fast asleep. The group floated fifty miles or more along the lands of this county passing in one place low ground covered with dense forests and cane brakes, and at another place high rocky cliffs rivaling the Palisades of the Hudson. It must be apparent to the mind of any reasonable person familiar with travel by boat that this party of more than one hundred men, women, children and slaves did not pass these shores untouched and untrodden. Evidently, Judge A. A. Watson, in his Bits of Hardin County History is correct in saying that this is the first authentic account where white women and children put foot on Hardin County's soil.10
Three early surveys were made of vast tracts of land lying on the east bank of the Tennessee River, in and near the present site of Savannah, in what is now Hardin County. One of these was to Colonel Joseph Hardin for 3,000 acres.11 The Tennessee River bordered this tract on the west; the north east corner cut off a portion of land lying north and east of Swift (now Horse) Creek. The survey was made March 11, 1786 by Isaac Taylor, with Nathan Moore and John Bay as chain carriers. Later, this land was covered by grant No. 58, issued by the state of North Carolina to Mr. Hardin.12
Contemporaneously with the Joseph Hardin survey, Isaac Taylor surveyed for himself 4,000 acres of land in Greene County, Tennessee.13 This tract lay along the east bank of the river, and extended east so as to include the forks of what now are Horse and Turkey Creeks.14
Furthermore, on March 10, 1786, the same Taylor assisted in surveying for Andrew Kerr 4,000 acres of land which joined the Joseph Hardin survey on the south and east. This tract of land was located on the east bank of the river.15 A grant was issued to Mr. Kerr for this land, November 1, 1786, and signed by R. C. Caswell and J. Glasglow, Secretary.16 Not one of the above surveys and grants was recorded in the register's office of Hardin County. But, an early historian of the County concluded that: "In the year 1815 Colonel Joseph Hardin, with a surveyor and chain carriers came down from Roane County, Tennessee, selected and surveyed two thousand acres of land on the east side of‑ the Tennessee River, south of Cerro Gordo.”17 Goodspeed, in his History of Hardin County, arrived at a similar conclusion18 and Watson made substantially the same statement.19
It is true that the tract of land entered by Colonel Joseph Hardin was south of Cerro Gordo, but the entry did not lie at the mouth of Horse Creek, as it is now known. A plot was attached to each of the surveys above mentioned showing that the south‑east corner of the Taylor tract was located at or near the north east corner of the Hardin tract, that the southern boundary line of the former was the northern boundary line of the latter. The Kerr tract lay south of and joined the Hardin tract, but it extended further east than the latter and formed part of its eastern boundary. In other words, the three tracts were contiguous with the Hardin survey in the middle.20
But let us become more acquainted with some of the early settlers of this county. Colonel Joseph Hardin was born of English ancestry in Virginia on April 18, 1734 and died July 4, 1891 in Knox County, Tennessee where he was then living. He was buried in the Hickory Creek cemetery near Knoxville. Early in life he became known as a fearless soldier, a pioneer and a patriot. He was married to Jane Gibson in 1762. To this union were born thirteen children, nine sons and four daughters. Their names were Joseph Jr.; John; Jane, who married Alexander Gooden; James; Benjamin I; Robert I; Elender, who married Thacker; Mary E., who married Ninnean Steele; Benjamin II; Amos; Rebecca; Gibson and Robert II. Benjamin I, when a mere boy, was killed by Indians in Greene County but soon thereafter another son was born who was named Benjamin II. When in young manhood, Robert I was killed in Indian warfare in Kentucky. He had a premonition that he would be killed and requested his mother to name an unborn child, if a son, for him. The baby was a boy and was given the name of Robert II.21
Extensive preparations seem to have taken place in Roane County, Tennessee, for a colony of settlers to move upon the lands surveyed for Colonel Hardin on the Tennessee River. One group was to supply themselves and go through by land; another party was to travel by boat down the Tennessee River, taking with them household goods and provisions. Two weeks before the boat departed, on June 7, 1816, the overland party left Roane County. In the group were John Brazelton's family, except a son, Solomon, and a daughter, Sarah, who were to come by boat, James Hardin and family, Joseph Hardin, Jr. and family, Mrs. Elender Thacker and children, in all twenty‑two persons. They brought with them horses and cattle. The settlers agreed that the company which travelled by boat and the group which journeyed by land were to meet at the Colonel Hardin entry. The overland trip was delayed on the way for John Brazelton and James Hardin to attend an important conference with the Indians near Muscle Shoals. This party, after reaching the dense forests over which few white men had ever travelled, had to cut out roads and improvise means for crossing streams. For these reasons it took them longer to make the trip than the three weeks required by those who travelled by boat.
On the boat were Solomon and Sallie Brazelton, Joseph Gooden and wife and the household goods for the entire colony. They had no serious difficulty in making the trip, for at Muscle Shoals they procured the assistance of friendly Indians to help them through the rocky and dangerous channel. Meager instructions only had they as to the location of the Joseph Hardin tract of land. They only knew that it was on the east bank of the river at the mouth of a stream. It has been said, perhaps erroneously, that the tract lay at the mouth of Horse Creek or Swift Creek, as it was known then. Anyway, they failed to recognize the location and proceeded further down the river, passed the mouth of Indian Creek, and thence to the mouth of what is now Hardin's Creek. Here they disembarked on the 15th day of July, 1816.22
Apparently, the Hardin and Brazelton families were fast friends; the former were of Irish descent and the latter were from Wales from whence they had migrated to Maryland early in the history of that colony. Men from these two pioneering families served with Andrew Jackson in the south against the Creek Indians, they fought with him at Horse Shoe Bend and were at Talledega during the winter when the General's army had nothing to eat except parched corn and acorns.23
After staying only a few weeks at the mouth of Hardin's Creek, as it is now known, John Brazelton went further down the river to, or near, the present site of Clifton where he selected a location. He went back to the settlement preparatory to moving to a new home, away from the Hardin family. His plans came to naught when he became ill and died in September, 1816‑the first white man to die in Hardin County. He was buried near the Dr. Alton Spring.24
After the death of Mr. Brazelton the two families who were foremost in making the new settlement seem to have separated. Mrs. Brazelton moved her family to the McCasland Branch, as it is now known, some six miles to the east Later, they crossed to the west side of the river and located about six miles or more west of Saltillo where they afterwards became leaders in a new neighborhood.
In 1817 other children of Colonel Hardin left their old home in East Tennessee and joined the members of the family then in Hardin County. Those who came in 1817 were Benjamin II, Gibson and Robert II. Also coming along was Jonathan Courtney and family who were destined to become one of the influential families in that part of the county.25
Many others in East Tennessee decided they too would go west to find new homes. Let us mention a few of those who followed the first groups.26
Jonathan Courtney, mentioned above, built the first shop in the county. It was located on Indian Creek. Here he made shoes, plows, spinning wheels, looms and other sorely needed articles. He sold his spinning wheels at $3.00 each and shoes for 50¢ a pair.27
John Hanna, about 1820, came from Union County, Tennessee, bringing with him on a flat boat down the Tennessee River his wife and eleven children. He first landed at, or near, the present site of Cerro Gordo, but later moved further east some five or six miles. After staying here a short time, he went to the west side of the Tennessee River, west of the present town of Saltillo; many in number and good in quality are his descendants now inhabiting this land.
L. H. Broyles settled near Cerro Gordo about 1818. He brought with him a stock of merchandise and opened the first store in the county. Tradition has it that his first sale was two boy's hats sold to one Mrs. Thacker, wife of William Thacker. The Thackers had come, as first settlers, with the Hardin Brazelton Company.28
Andrew S. Kerr, whose entry of land is mentioned above, came to this county from North Carolina soon after the first white settlement was made. Following him, in a few weeks, were James Willoughby, John Falls, David Andrew, William Allison and Stephen Neil. They settled on the Kerr grant where these families have multiplied, worked and lived honorable lives for more than a century. Their very names in the neighborhood reflect honesty, thrift and justice.
Nathaniel Kemp and G. G. Adams settled that part of what is now Adamsville and its vicinity. This territory was at that time a part of Hardin County, but later it became a portion of McNairy County.
Hiram Boone (we do not know whether or not he was related to Daniel), with his wife, Lucy, moved from the Wataugua settlement to a high hill, along what is now known as the old Savannah and Waynesboro road, on Boone's Creek, named after him. He died in 1825 and was buried on the well known Hargrove hill about eight miles east of the present town of Savannah.
About 1817 Samuel Watson moved to this county, bringing with him his two sons and four daughters, and settled on Hardin's Creek. A son, named Samuel Jr., migrated to the west side of the river and became an ancestor of the well known Watson family of Hooker's Bend. Here also settled Simpson Lee, John Orr, Josiah Dodds, John White and others.
Nimrod Morris, George A. and Corda Parish, Josiah Jones and Amzi Meek were among the first settlers in and around Morris Chapel neighborhood. This community was named after the well known Morris family whose decendants live there at the present. Soon to follow them were William Hughes, Thomas Spencer, F. W. Harbert and the Norwoods.
The Franks and Stricklin families settled on the head waters of Horse Creek, and are now to be found there in great numbers. The Franks were originally from Germany, hence the name Germany Branch was given the stream which many of them settled.
Samuel Harbour and Henry Reynolds located near Turkey Creek where they acquired much land and reared large families. Many of their descendants still live in this county.
Jesse Lacefield settled on Smith's Ford of Indian Creek in the early days. His son, Robert, lived at and owned the well known Lacefield lands. When a boy, Robert fought with another lad named Flournoy Blount, and the former's father had them both indicted for which they were fined 6½ cents each, and the cost, amounting to $1.50 in all.29
Isom, James Neal and Daniel Cherry settled on Horse Creek about ten miles southeast of Savannah where their family name has been prominent in political and financial circles for years.
Joseph Kemp, Ed Martin and R. J. Williams built their homes in the Crump neighborhood. The last named was from Williamson County. Later Dr. Crump came and practiced medicine there. The community has since been named for him.
The Smith family settled on Smith's Fork. Daniel Smith was the first Sheriff of Hardin County. Now, there are so many Smith families in the county that it is practically impossible to say, with any degree of certainly, what relation they bear to each other. Furthermore, they are found in all parts of the county, some rich and some poor.
Others followed the earliest settlers and lived in and around Savannah. Among them were George Ross, James and David Robertson, Charles Neilson, Alexander Doran, John Bain.
Ninnean Steele was one of the early settlers on the small creek east of Savannah known as Steele Creek and named for him. He was one of the best educated men of his time, a progressive citizen and a son-in-law of Colonel Joseph Hardin. A part of the family later crossed the Tennessee River and the Steele family of Sardis are his direct descendants.
Dr. Lowery reached Horse Creek at a place now called Loweryville, named for him. He built one of the first brick houses in the county, it being for years the home of Mrs. Mollie Franks, daughter of the well known Eli Cherry. One other brick dwelling in the county, near the same time and place, was located at Scott's Store or Maddox, built by James Graham on land which is now owned by E. W. Ross.
Lige and John Welch settled on Rogers Creek about 1818. They are the ancestors from which have come for more than a century the outstanding Welch family.
To what was later known as Davy Spring, came William Gann accompanied by one Massengill; these men became neighbors to Thomas Shannon who moved from Davidson County to the Saltillo community. Thereafter there came to that community Frances Kincannon, James Montgomery, Bowen Davy and many others.
Pitts Thacker settled at Pittsburg Landing and there operated for some time a grog shop. The name “Pittsburg” was taken from his given name.
John Pyburn from Union County settled at Pyburn Bluff on the east side of the river about two miles north of, and down the river from, the present Pickwick Dam. Here he operated a ferry.
David Austin settled on the east side of the river, southeast of the present site of Savannah. He is said to have more descendants in the county today than any other person. And this, despite the fact, that many of the descendants went to Texas and other areas in the west.
Allen Nance located on the east side of the river in what is now known as Nance's Bend. He served as bailiff of the county. This name is one familiar to the present generation in that area. Two of his neighbors were Alex Russell and George Worley.
William White came to Flat Gap. Lands owned by this early settler are still in the possession of his descendants. Some, however, have moved to other sections of the county and even beyond its borders.
Isaac, John and Lige Northcut migrated to Hardin County from Maury County and settled on Indian Creek. These men have many descendants here and elsewhere.
Matthew Barnes settled in the S. P. Barlow neighborhood near the present sites of Crump and Shiloh. He secured title to 340 acres of land and was active in civic affairs. He was a grandfather of Mrs. Rush Freeman from whom has come the respected family of Freemans in the county. For years this part of the county was known as North Carolina, because it was thickly settled by the McDaniels, Strawns, Pickens and others from North Carolina.
James Robinson was an early settler on Turkey Creek. He was active in politics and served as sheriff of the county at different times. He had a brother, David, who also was active in politics and was one of the wealthy men of the county. In later life, he owned and lived in what is now the Cherry Mansion which is located on the east bank of the river at Savannah. Many offices of trust in the county were bestowed upon David Robinson. Before the national political parties permeated Hardin County, when the people could not hear and read so much, they depended largely on some influential person to lead them in political affairs. In this way David Robinson became the head of a political element in the county known as "The Robinson Party." Opposing him was James Hardin, a son of Colonel Joseph Hardin, and his party which was known as "The Hardin Party." Candidates made races for office on their allegiance to their respective political leaders. Our court records reveal many politicial activities and much litigation. For example, at one time the candidate elected was alleged to have defaulted and was ousted. His opponent from the other side took over and soon found himself faced with a similar charge.
Solomon Flatt built a home near the waters of Beason's Creek and entered land there which is still in the family's possession. Soon to move to this same community was William T. Blanton, who was born in 1805 and who died in 1875. Many of his descendants are still living here. Another early immigrant was Gilbert Combs, 1801-1879. Members of the Combs family lived in the eastern part of McNairy County. About the same time G. Winningham settled here. He was born in 1804 and died in 1855. Many of his descendants are still living near Beacon's Creek.
One the lower waters of Lick Creek the Fraleys settled and purchased much land. Quite a bit of it was good farming land in the Tennessee River bottom. Martin Fraley died soon after coming here. J. J. Fraley, however, lived between what is now Hamburg and Shiloh, and there raised a large family. He was one of the wealthiest men of the county, buying much land and paying for it in gold. His home was used as a kind of first aid station during the fierce battle of Shiloh. His house and yard were full of wounded men at the close of that battle. This family was active in politics, and civic affairs; then were regarded as aggressive, hospitable and amiable. Only a few of the family remain here; quite a number heretofore went west to the states of Texas and Oklahoma. From several records it is apparent that this family had both triumph and tragedy.30 Andrew Greer was a neighbor of the Fraley family and many of his descendants are still favorably known in the neighborhood.
Samuel Chambers settled in the southwestern part of the county, on the creek that now bears his name, and near the Mississippi state line. A part of the land which he acquired is now in McNairy County. This family has been there many years. Descendants of the family may be found in Hardin and McNairy Counties, Tennessee, and in Alcorn County, Mississippi.
Further to the north and down this Chambers Creek, Jonathan Morris constructed his home in the present neighborhood of Center Hill Church. He has many descendants, some of whom live here, some in McNairy County, some in Acorn County, Mississippi, but many have joined the innumerable throng going to the west. Another, and possibly the oldest citizen of this community, was a man named Bose Sheilds. He was the oldest man buried in the Center Hill cemetery. So far as the author knows, none of his descendants are living here; at least, no one bearing that name lives in Hardin County. Soon to follow were the families numerous in this same creek valley today: the Hoovers, the Counces, the Woods, the Longs, the Battles, the Poindexters, the Roberts, the Thomases, the Fields, the Byrds and many others.
In the hey-day of the Whig Party, North Carolina sent to Congress two members as adherents of that faith. Their names were William A. Graham and Wylie P. Mangum. Sometimes, their followers were referred to as the Graham-Mangum Party. In the westward push of colonization one of the descendants of Wylie P. Mangum, also called “Wylie,” migrated westward. He first settled in Wayne County then in Hardin County in the present Walnut Grove community. Here he reared a large family, many of whom still live in this county. In the same community was the Haynes family. One of the oldest was Darling Haynes who homesteaded much land and left many children and grandchildren throughout the county.
In the southeastern part of the county near the Mangum home and the Haynes home lived the large Cossey family. In the same community a man grew up later known as “Paling Daily” who once owned land on the south fork of White's Creek. One day, so the story goes, while still an infant, he had been found hanging on a paling fence and was cared for by the family at whose home he was left as an unwelcome visitor. He grew up among the neighbors without anyone knowing his real name. On hearing the matter discussed in his presence, he remarked that he would just give himself a name and he, thereafter, would be known as “Paling Daily.” After he had become prosperous, his pretended mother came to reclaim him and to persuade him to accept her as his mother to live with him, but he spurned her offer. He told her that she deserted him when he needed her and now he would disown her. There was never any reconciliation. In the latter part of his life, he went west taking with him his large family.
Two families, related by intermarriages and destined to mean much to the future of Hardin County, came to Turkey Creek and built their homes in the Alder Grove community. These families were the Paulks led by Jason from the Carolinas and the Coveys led by Noble W. Their offspring are numerous, scattered far and wide, and have filled places of trust and importance.
At least one pioneer, Ike Worley, knew the penalty of living in the malaria infested lowlands, so he pitched his tent in the hills among a cluster of greenbriers on Turkey Creek northeast of the old Jim Dickson place. Ever since this area has been known as the Greenbrier Hollow. Worley and his wife and their dozen children ate a venison a day. Since his household was pious, two deer were killed every Saturday to provide meat for that day and Sunday.
Another family of Hardins, not related to the Colonel Joseph Hardins, found its way into the county in the early days, in the person of Mart Hardin, a soldier of the battle of Kings Mountain.
The Kendalls became one of the most widely known families of the county. Alexander lived at Loweryville where he was active in farming and John operated the first hotel in Hardin County which was located in Savannah.
Andrew McCasland was the first settler bearing that name on a branch of Indian Creek. His grandson, Andy, for years a member of the county court, is well remembered for the marriage ceremonies which he performed and the public meetings attended by him in that community.
David Crotts came to Turkey Creek from North Carolina and was not far,distant from Eli Rose, both familiar names in the county today.
John and Robert Barham had the first general store at Coffee Landing at what was known as the old John J. Williams' stand, but later known as the Willian Dodds stand.
Among the first trappers and hunters to frequent the cane brakes of White Oak bottom in quest of beavers were two men named Stars and Jackson. After trapping here for a while they went back to Ohio where they sold their possessions and moved to this county.
Isaac Graham and Robert King were among the first to find homes on Chalk Creek.
Charlie Miles settled near Saltillo on the branch bearing his name. He owned the first cotton gin in the county west of the river.
Allen Anderson on White Oak near the Lick Ford, as it was called, came in 1819, but he sold to Jehu Davy in 1825.
The original of the Jones family was one named Jesse who lived a near neighbor to George Norwood on Mud Creek on the west side of the river.
Tanning was an essential industry in those early days. George Bain owned a tan yard near Savannah. John Montgomery and Matthew Barnes were in partnership as tanners at Shady Grove Spring near Saltillo. Jess W. Holland, ancestor of the large family bearing that name in Hardin and Decatur Counties, also operated a tannery at this spring in 1824.
Thomas Newman lived near Sardis in Hardin County. He was the forefather of a large family by that name in Hardin, Henderson and Madison Counties.
Thomas Polk, of the historic Polk family, after living at Cerro Gordo for many years, died in 1836, leaving many descendants.
John M. Dickson reared a large family west of Saltillo. One of the best known of this pioneer's descendants was the well loved Methodist Circuit rider, Bill Dickson.
George Laden, father of seven sons, was a prosperous farmer near Pony Creek. He died in 1838.
John T. Bayse coming from North Carolina with the Neilson family, had many descendants about Savannah at his death in 1840.
One of the prosperous farmers dying in 1839 was Richard (Dick) Davy near Saltillo.
Swain Ward, a slave owner, acquired land on the waters of Horse Creek.
Lewis Outlaw, owner of many slaves and extensive lands, died in 1843.
The Pitts family lived on both sides of Middleston Creek, possessing lands in that valley and White Oak Creek bottom. Alfred Pitts was public spirited, but economical. He voted against the $30,000.00 appropriation to build the present state capitol when he was a member of the General Assembly.
W. C. Sawyers, a Mexican War soldier, and Barney Burks, his neighbor, may have owed their long lives to the waters flowing from Red Sulphur Springs near which they lived.
In 1819 George Gann built his home at the large spring near Saltillo known for years as the Gann Spring.
On Horse Creek 10 miles southeast of Savannah there is today a large family of Porters known for their thrift and aggressiveness. They claim as their founder David Porter, who was an early comer to that section of the county.
Surveying was an essential art in the old days to designate the limits of each man's property The name of George Milligan is found on numberless land entries. George, William and Elias were the forebearers of the present Milligan family.
Among the most prominent men of the county in financial and political circles during the early days was Thomas Maxwell and John Maddox, both having many descendants here today.
David Crotts, an old settler on the waters of Turkey Creek, died leaving an estate in 1825. Noah Lilly was the Administrator. Lewis Crotts, David's son, was bound out to Isaac Hitchcock who entered into bond to dress the child well, feed him, take care of him, send him to school and teach him the trade of blacksmith. This practice was common in the early days. Boys so apprenticed were to be educated to the Rule of Three, or proportion. A girl, under similar agreement, would be given two nice dresses at the age of eighteen years.
Near Olive Hill lived Joseph Ashworth. Dying in 1834, he left a good sized estate. Not far away were Wylie Duckworth and Thomas H. Duckworth, the latter serving at one time as a justice of the Peace.
A neighbor of Dr. Crump in the town bearing the Doctor's name was John Steward who came from New Orleans. At one time he traded a pair of ancient brass andirons to Dr. Crump for a middling of meat. These andirons now belong to a grandson, C. C. Lewter, who now owns the land which has been occupied by the family for more than a century.
Two men of familiar names were among the early settlers, John G. Williams and James A. Williams. The former built the courthouse at Hardinsville, the first temple of justice in the county. For this contract he was paid $30.00 in 1820. He was elected county trustee in 1822, and again in 1824. He evidently knew how to handle money as well as to construct buildings. The latter had a large family, the children of which were mostly girls. After Williams' death in 1821, his widow Sallie, qualified as the Administratrix of the estate, was guardian of the children, and later had their valuable lands on Indian Creek sold for a division.31
Hardin County was established by the Act of the Tennessee Legislature September 13, 1819. The boundaries at that time were given as follows: “beginning at the southwest corner of Wayne County, running thence north with the west boundary line of Wayne County to the northeast corner of the same, thence due west to the Mississippi River, thence south down the river to the southern boundary of the state, and then east to the beginning.” Thus included in Hardin County was the present site of Memphis. On November 24th of the same year Shelby County was established and soon McNairy County and other counties were formed from lands originally included within the limits of Hardin County. The line between Hardin and McNairy Counties, as first fixed, was a north and south line extending from the present site of Acton north to the northern boundary of the county. These bounds included Clifton, Adamsville, Milledgeville and other areas not now within her borders. Later, the territory around Clifton was given to Wayne County and the northern part of the county west of the river to Decatur County. About 1849 a strip was cut off the western part of Hardin County and annexed to McNairy County. Finally, when Chester County was established, Hardin County gave land out of her northwest corner to the new county. Following the first formation of McNairy County, Hardin County had a area of about 720 square miles as against the present 580 square miles.
Some disputes have arisen as to the exact location of the line between Hardin and McNairy Counties, often causing lawsuits between the adjoining landowners. Likewise, the line between Hardin and Wayne Counties was not immediately fixed. These controversies have arisen largely in the southern parts of the counties involved.
The southern boundary of the county, west of the river, has been in dispute for many years. The difficulty arose out of the difference as to the whole boundary line between Tennessee and Mississippi. One line, known as the “Winchester Line,” was run by General Winchester of Memphis, and, for some time was taken as the boundary between the two states. This line was, and still is, known as the old state line and puts a small portion of the southern part of the present site of Memphis, then a small town, in the State of Mississippi. After both states were formed, this line between them was surveyed by Mr. Thompson and logically became known as the “Thompson Line.” It began on the west bank of the Tennessee River near the mouth of Yellow Creek, at a point about a quarter of a mile south of the Winchester Line. As it went west, it was surveyed on a greater degree south than that used by General Winchester and, thus, on reaching the Mississippi River, it was three or four miles south of the Winchester Line. The Thompson Line put all of present Memphis in the state of Tennessee. Apparently, the Thompson survey has been lost.32
In 1837 Governor Newton Cannon ordered another survey and appointed Austin Miller and John Graham commissioners for that purpose. It appears that a like commission was appointed by Mississippi to assist the survey, but the report as filed in Tennessee, is signed by the Tennessee members only. This report, dated October 9, 1837, follows, in the main, the Thompson Line, and is, in part, as follows
“ . . . In adjusting the boundary between these states we have had more difficulty than was anticipated when we first entered upon this duty. Already, there have been two lines run, which, at different times, have been recognized by the State of Tennessee as her southern boundary.
“The first and most northern was run by General Winchester as a commissioner of the United States of America, to fix the boundary between the Chickasaw Indians and the country ceded by them to the United States, under a treaty of 1812.
“This line, by any practical surveyor, might easily be found to be incorrect, when assumed to be a latitudinal line. Its direction from the Tennessee River is south 831/2 degrees west. The most superficial examination would prove it incorrect; all experiments to ascertain the true meridian on that line, show the variation greater, and as you proceed west it increases. For instance, the variation at the Tennessee River is about 71/2 degrees east; at Lagrange, midway 7 degrees 42 minutes; and at the Mississippi River 8 degrees 10 minutes, making an average increase of 5 minutes every eight miles. This line was run upon the same variation assumed in running the line between the states of Tennessee and Alabama, which we assume to be correct, where that line commenced, but the increase as the line proceeds west, as we presume, was not corrected. Hence, the northwest angle of the state of Alabama, as now established, is about 70 chains too far north. The line run by John Thompson, Esq., established by an Act of the General Assembly, Chapter 44, which was passed in the year 1832, appears to be more correct, and, except for the influence of local magnetic attraction [which] if very great, has every requisite of a degree line. It was believed that when the commissioners on the part of Mississippi first arrived, we would have no difficulty in establishing that line. We all agreed that 35 degrees of north latitude ought to be the dividing line. For an imperfect observation taken near Memphis, by the Commissioners on the part of the [State of] Mississippi, it was believed that that degree of latitude would be found south of the Thompson line. After making further and more accurate observations at LaGrange, it was settled‑by them to cut the basis meridian of the Chickasaw District (opposite Lagrange) 41 chains north of Thompson's line. Opposite of Mr. Chambers, in McNairy County, it was ascertained 60 chains north of said line. Whereupon the commissioners on the part of Mississippi came to the determination to run a new line according to what they had found to be the 35 degree of north latitude, as instructed by their state. We, on our part, contended for Thompson's line; but in doing this, we had an obvious difficulty to contend against. Assuming that line to be correct at the point opposite Memphis where we ascertained the 35 degree, yet, owing the great quantity of minerals in the region of the country between [the] Wolf and Tennessee Rivers it was easy to discover its influence in running that line, and that he had run too far south. Thompson only took the latitude at one place, (Memphis) and that two years before he ran the line. It was also discovered to be impossible to run a true line by compass alone, in a country like this, covered in a great many places with iron ore, and other assistance was resorted to by him. It thus being ascertained that there would be a difference, even if we established the observation made by Mr. Thompson to be correct, we thought it most advisable to bring the matter to a compromise. We were more strongly impelled to do so from the consideration, that if the commissioners on the part of Mississippi ran a line, our state would have to adopt it, or resort, in all probability, to the General Government or the Federal Court, to settle the matter.
“The most of the settlers south of the Winchester Line wished to belong to Mississippi. Some had refused to pay taxes to Tennessee, some to either state; while the most orderly and respectable are paying in both states. They voted in both states, and several were candidates for high and responsible offices in Mississippi. The country near the Tennessee River, where the greatest divergency between the two lines would be, is of little value, except the important landing below the mouth of Yellow Creek, at which point is laid off a town called Nashoba. From the line as fixed on by the Commissioners of Mississippi, this town would have been south of the line, as well as some valuable mineral and sulphur springs in that neighborhood. We, therefore, agreed to assume a point a quarter of a mile south of the place ascertained by them to be the 35 degrees of north latitude, opposite of Mr. Chambers, in McNairy County, as the basis by which we would run the boundary between the two states. We then ran a line from this point east to the Tennessee, and found that it would cross that river 24 poles above the mouth of Yellow Creek, and about 280 poles above the northwest corner of the state of Alabama. At this point we set up a post of hewed pine, marked with the letter “T” on the north side, and “M” on the south, the date of the year, and the word “LINE,” marked two bearing trees “H” and ran a line from thence to the Mississippi, plainly marking it by blazing the trees ─ numbering each mile tree. We also noticed every creek of importance, and public road that crossed the line. The notes were in possession of Colonel Ludlow, one of the Commissioners, a skilled draftsman, who making out a map of the country over which the line ran a copy of which he has promised to furnish us — which, when examined, we will transmit to the office of the Secretary of State, should this line be established by the Legislature.”33
A summation of this report shows that the southern boundary line of Tennessee is supposed to be at “35 degrees of north latitude,” and in order to follow that meridian a surveyor must vary to the south five minutes every eight miles in going west. Evidently this was not intended to in running the boundary between Tennessee and Alabama, and, as a consequence, the northwest corner of the latter state is 280 poles too far north, making the off-set.
From the date of the earliest settlement there was a continuous stream of new comers into the county, most of them were from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, but a few came from Kentucky and other places. Many, on their western swing, stopped for a season in counties of East or Middle Tennessee, and then came on here; quite a few stayed here for a short time and then moved on further west. Within four years from the time of the first settlement enough had selected this as a home to have, under the law, a county. After the establishment of a county, the next step was to form a local government. Up to this time most people took the law unto themselves, or, were dealt with in a kind of moot court. However, as a general thing, they were law abiding. Brazelton says that they argued that, “Good manners need no law.”34 But this belief could not last long with the variety of newcomers flooding the land, so the inhabitants were called to meet, on the first Monday in January, 1820, at the home of Colonel James Hardin, to formulate some kind of local government. They seem to have spent most of the first day in balloting for officers, or leaders in a Court of Pleas and Quarterly Session. Colonel James Hardin was chosen as clerk; Daniel Smith was made Sheriff; James Barnes, David Kincannon, Samuel Harbour, Isham Cherry and Joseph McMahan were elected members of the Quorum Court for one year. Six constables or peace officers were elected throughout the county. The next day the officers elected filed bond, each for $25.00 to perform faithfully his duties. Other officers then elected were Henry Mahar as Ranger, Stephen Roach as Coroner, Joseph McMahan as Trustee and Isham Cherry as Chairman of the Court. A venire of twenty-five men was selected for the next term of court on the first Monday in April, 1820. In this latter term of court a tax levy was made at 18 ¾ cents on each 100 acres of land, 37 ½ cents on each lot, 12 ½ cents poll tax on white men, and 25 cents on slaves. A levy of $5.00 was made on both store-keepers and tavern keepers.
In the July term of court, 1820, a committee composed of James Barnes, A. W. Sweeney, Hiram Boone and Noah Lilly made its report to the court for the selection of a site for the county government, reporting that it had purchased 50 acres of land at the town of Hardinsville. This report was accepted and the court at once moved to the new location. Hardinsville is the present site of Old Town, about seven miles east of the present location of Savannah, and was centrally located for all that territory east of the river, but too far out of the center to suit citizens on the west side of the river. So much dissatisfaction arose that those west of the river made attempts to form a new county west of the river, but, as no county could be established with a boundary nearer than eleven miles to another county site, this movement lost out. An attempt was then made to have themselves attached to McNairy County, and thereupon a compromise was effected whereby the county site of Hardin County was changed in 1830 to Rudd's Ferry, now Savannah, and several ferries on the river granted free crossing to officials. James Irwin, then owner of the Colonel Joseph Hardin entry, or a portion of it, gave a location for the courthouse and jail at the present site of Savannah.
It is apparent that Hardin County had its share of lawyers. However, many attorneys from other counties made the circuit and attended court at Hardinsville. Among the attorneys licensed from 1820 to 1824, to practice in Hardin County were J. S. Allen, who served as district attorney one term, Joel Casey, L. H. Gray, Tom Taylor and J. L. R. McMahan who resigned as district attorney and was paid an ex‑officio fee of $30.00. Another attorney of note often here in court was Felix Grundy who was employed in serious criminal cases. In 1825 he sued one William Kerr, recovering a judgment for $114.00 and cost.
This county is bordered by seven other counties — one in Alabama, one in Mississippi and five in Tennessee.35 It is rectangular in shape, the greater length being north and south, and would be nearly a perfect rectangle except for a portion cut off the north side and the northeast corner by Wayne County. The southern boundary line adjoining Alabama is about 12 ¼ miles; then west of the river, the boundary touching Mississippi, is about 10 ½ miles; the river is a quarter of a mile wide. This makes a distance, from east to west, at the southern end of the county, of approximately 23 miles. The western boundary is about 29 miles in length. The northern boundary line is straight from the northwest corner to the cast for a distance between this county and Henderson County of 7 miles. It then comes to Doe Creek which runs south of east forming the boundary line between this county and Decatur County, a distance of 7 miles, to the river. The boundary then follows the river for approximately 10 miles to where Wayne County adjoins the river; then southward 5 miles; thence southeast one mile in an irregular line; thence south with the western boundary of Wayne County about 20 miles.
The elevation of the bottom lands is around 370 feet above sea level; there are approximately 140 square miles in the Tennessee River bottom proper.
Geologically, the eastern part of the county is in the Highland Rim, sloping toward the Western Valley and the river, thence ascending, as one goes west, to the Western Slope.
The soil in the eastern part is underlaid with limestone, therefore rock is plentiful. Along Flat Gap this limestone is marble, white, black, pink and gray. The texture is good, the quantity abundant, but little has been quarried for lack of adequate transportation. The soil on the west side of the river is a sandy loam, and therefore susceptible to erosion.
This county is primarily an agricultural one. Its chief crops are corn, hay and cotton, the last named being grown on the uplands and in the creek valleys. The river bottom produces corn, hay and soy beans. Most vegetables adapted to the south temperate zone may be grown here in abundance.
About two thirds of the county's area is still in forests; most of the uplands on the east side of the river and that part west of the river along the Mississippi State line, produces large quantities of short leaf pine. This type of pine is of quick growth and of such fiber as is in great demand. Quite a number of people in this area make their living out of this timber. The principal drawback in its growth is the destructive forest fires that frequently sweep across the land killing many large trees and destroying young timber. In the valleys and other parts not well suited to growing pine, are different varieties of oak, poplar, hickory, maple, sweetgum, blackgum, elm, dogwood and many others. For years the Tennessee River valley in Hardin and adjoining counties has been regarded as the leading cross tie producing area of the world. This is because of the fine grain found in the timbers, especially the oaks. Now that cross ties are treated chemically they can be made of pine and softwoods as well as from oaks. One rather strange fact in regard to our timber is that, in White Oak Bottom, near what is known as “The Shirley Flat,” on a ridge surrounded by various species of timber, there is a thicket of about 10 or 15 acres covered with holly. In “Holly Thicket” the trees grow to a size sufficient for making cross ties. In other sections of the county holly trees are rarely seen.
The most important stream, and the one that either directly or indirectly drains the entire county, is the Tennessee River. Hardin County is the only county in West Tennessee that is divided by a navigable stream, and we have but few, if any, elsewhere in the state. This is one of the few southern rivers flowing north for a good portion of its way. It enters the county at the corners of the states of Alabama and Mississippi at a point near the middle of the county's southern border. Its course is then west of north until at Pittsburg Landing and Crump, where it is 3 ½ miles from McNairy County's eastern boundary line. Then it flows east of north to below Saltillo at the mouth of Doe Creek where it is midway from the east and west side of the county. Taking an easterly course, it then flows between Hardin and Decatur Counties for a distance of ten miles to Wayne County. Along this distance are several bluffs, some of which are the following: Pyburn's named for an early settler; Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh where the National Cemetery is located; Perkin's Bluff and Crump — these two names honoring early pioneers; Savannah, formerly Rudd's Ferry; Coffee Landing so named from the geological formation called Coffee Sand; Cerro Gordo, named by returning Mexican War veterans; Chalk Bluff from its chalk formation; Saltillo, also named as a result of the Mexican War; and Swallow Bluff named because of the great number of swallows frequenting the place.
There are in the county several creeks, all of which empty either directly, or indirectly, into the Tennessee River. Those on the eastern side of the county are clear and swift while those on the west are muddy and sluggish. The tributaries on the eastern side generally flow in a northwesterly direction while those to the west flow eastward. On the eastern side, going from north to south, are several creeks: Hardin's Creek coming out of Wayne County, which was named after James Hardin; Indian Creek, which flows from Wayne County and was so called because of Indians found there by the white man. Two of its tributaries are Flat Gap and Smith's Fork. On Horse Creek, formerly known as Swift Creek, many horses were found, and, some say, horse thieves lived there. Hence the name. The tributaries are Turkey and Little Turkey, so called because of the abundance of these birds in that vicinity. Two other tributaries of Horse Creek are Steele Creek and White's Creek, both named after early settlers. Mud Creek is wholly in the river bottom and is sluggish and dirty. Hatley's Creek flowed through the land of the first settler there by that name and commemorates his name. Dry Creek after flowing some distance in the open, sinks into a subterranean channel through which it flows for about a mile.
On the western side of Hardin County, going from south to north, there are other small streams. Yellow Creek, which has its mouth as the county line, drains no part of the county, since it is wholly in Mississippi. Sandy Creek, also empties at the mouth of Yellow Creek and flows through a great quantity of sand from which it gets its name. It follows the general course of the present state line, at times being in Tennessee and then at another point in Mississippi. Chambers Creek, which flows out of the latter state and across the southwestern corner of McNairy County, was named after the early settler, John Chambers. This stream turns before getting to the Tennessee River, flows south about one mile, practically parallel with the larger stream and empties into the latter where the river turns back north. The place where the Creek almost reaches the river before turning is called the "Narrows." The space here is just great enough for a roadway to pass between the two streams. Lick Creek rises in McNairy County, and passes on the south side of Shiloh Military Park. Snake Creek, also rises in McNairy County, passes to the north of the Park and has a tributary on the west side of the Park which is called Owl Creek. Beasons Creek also originated in McNairy County, and joins the river just south of the bluff at Coffee Landing. Chalk Creek empties near Chalk Bluff after which it is named. The largest stream is White Oak, so named from the abundance of white oak trees found along its banks. It rises near the line between McNairy and Chester Counties, and drains a good portion of both these counties ― more than any other creek. This creek empties into the river above the present town of Saltillo and is approximately fifteen miles long. It has a tributary on the southern side, Mud Creek, and on the northern side, Middleston, Hurricane, Little Hurricane and Miles Creeks. On the border between Hardin County and Decatur County is Doe Creek.
There are three islands in the Tennessee River within the boundaries of this county. These are Diamond Island, so named because of its shape, which contains 98 acres. The next is Wolf Island which includes about 78 acres. The last is DeLaney's Island or Dickey Island which contains about 132 acres. Formerly, another Island, called at first James Island and later Eagle Nest Island, was a part of this county, but it is now a part of Decatur County. Naturally these islands are of alluvial soil, which make good and fertile farming land but they are subject to overflows.
In the county are to be found many springs which furnish the people a variety of drinking water. Most of the original settlers built their houses by or near a spring. The following are among the most noted in Hardin County: Red Sulphur Springs are west of the river and located near the Mississippi State line. They were so named because from them flow red sulphur water. A hotel stood here for several years and advertised as a health resort. White Sulphur Springs are near the river and border on the Pickwick Community. They gave forth white sulphur water but are now covered by the Pickwick reservoir. The Sulphur Well is situated about three miles southwest of Saltillo, in White Oak Creek bottom. It is a strong stream, 800 feet deep, bubbling forth clear black sulphur water. Unlike the other springs, this is a well bored about 1836 by a company in search of salt. The Clack Spring is located in the eastern part of the county, on land now owned by Judge E. W. Ross. The Rhea Spring, which is located near the Shiloh schoolhouse in the Shiloh Military Park, is kept in good repair by the government and offers picnic grounds for those visiting that beautiful park. On Indian Creek at the B. E. Garrard place is located the Garrard Spring which is a splendid place for outing parties. The Baugus Spring, which is found on the headwaters of Little Turkey Creek, probably has the strongest flow of any natural spring in the County. Shady Grove Spring was the site for many an old‑fashioned camp meeting, and at one time was a tanning yard.
In the early times no roads were constructed, so men were selected to cut out and open roads from the different populated sections. In 1822 a committee was appointed by the Court of the county to make out a road from Hardinsville, at that time the county site, to James Ferry for the benefit of those living west of the river in the northern part of the county. In 1823 a road was cut out from Hardinsville to Rudd's Ferry, the present site of Savannah. Jordan Nanny was appointed overseer of this construction. In 1824 a road was made from Hardin's Ferry at the mouth of Horse Creek near Cerro Gordo westward to the McNairy county line. James Morrow and Simpson Lee were the overseers. About the same time Sam Broyles cleared a road leading from his ferry above the present site of Cerro Gordo, across Horse Creek to the Wayne County line. Noah Lilly opened up a road from Ervins' Ferry, by the Darling Haynes place, to the Natchez Trace.
The location of the Natchez Trace, the route used by Andrew Jackson when he lead his men from Nashville southward during the War of 1812, has been officially located through Wayne County to the east of Hardin County. Many of the old settlers here believe now, and have for years, that in reality this road passed through the southeastern part of this county. For a hundred years it has been handed down from mouth to ear that General Jackson's army encamped for a while at Wolf Pit Hill, about 12 miles east of Savannah. From there Jackson went south, crossing the river at the shoals near Eastport, Alabama. Judge A. A. Watson who had a splendid memory — who was in his lifetime probably better versed in Hardin County history than any other, took the writer to this supposed route in this county, and showed him signs made by the encamped army.
After roads were opened connecting both sides of the Tennessee River, many ferries were opened and operated under a privilege license. For about a hundred years, there were scarcely any bridges and ferrying was a rather lucrative business.
Some of the ferries in Hardin County were: Jacob Pyburns at Pyburns Bluff; J. H. McMahan about 1821 at the present site of Cerro Gordo; James Hardin near the mouth of Horse Creek; Thomas Shannon and Perry Hawkins at Saltillo; in 1823 James Patten was granted a ferriage privilege; in 1821 James Rudd built a house on the river bank at the present site of Savannah and operated the famous Rudd ferry over which many crossed the river on their way to the west.
When the first settlers came, they had to beat their grain into meal by hand or mortar, or they went about one hundred miles to a mill located earlier at Columbia, Tennessee. Several of the new comers began to erect mills along the streams and this difficulty was overcome. Among those operating mills in the early days were J. Williams, Jesse Lacefield, Henry Garner, Charles B. Neilson, James Montgomery, Samuel Johnson, John Ross and Jesse Kincannon. The power used was secured by damming up a stream, permitting the flood of water to pass through a gateway, thus turning one large rock on top of another while the grain fell between them.
To the casual observer, and particularly to the analyst, it is apparent that the early inhabitants, especially the youths, laid stress on the physical being to the exclusion of the mental and the spiritual. 'Likely, the circumstances that directed their lives tended towards perfect physical makeup. To have crossed the ocean and constructed new homes out of raw materials, to have fought the Indians at arm's length, to have exterminated the ferocious wild beasts at the hazard of life, required physical fortitude from the hardy pioneer. Thus the youths grew up with the desire to be as strong as the ox and as swift as the eagle. Their ideal was patterned after the crafty Indians whose practices, by association, they emulated. They found much delight in accompanying their parents to the villages and festivals to see the “fist and skull” fights between the two “bullies” of the county. They learned it was dishonorable to take advantage of an adversary, but honorable to put him to route through sheer brute strength. The highest ambition was to be known as the best fighter in the county. Such was the atmosphere through the period of which we speak. But when government was established, schools were opened and churches erected throughout the land, there was growth of mind and spirit.36
1 B. G. Brazelton, A History of Hardin County (Nashville, 1885), 18.
2 Ibid., 103.
3 Ibid., 104. There is some conjecture these mounds were habitations of that race some say they were occupied by the Indians who used them in war, and others insist that De Soto, on his way to the “Father of Waters;” at or near the present site of Memphis, visited these mounds, met a friendly tribe of Indians and left with them the trinkets found therein.
4 Ibid., 102.
5 Interview with Historians, Shiloh National Park. The stone is on exhibition in the Museum, Shiloh National Park.
6 Walnut Grave Spring today is covered by water from the Pickwick reservoir.
7 A. A. Watson, "Bits of Hardin County History;" in Savannah Courier, July 15, 1932.
8 Brazelton, op. cit., 1,
9 A. A. Watson, "Bits of Hardin County History, in Savannah Courier, July 22, 1932.
10 Ibid., July 15, 1932 to November 24, 1932.
11 See land warrant of North Carolina State, Entry No. 1619 of April 5, 1784.
12 See North Carolina Land Grant Book No. 67, P. 439 in the office of the Scattarv of State at Raleigh. Hereafter referred to as L.G.B.
13 Consult North Carolina Supernumerary Warrant No. 2223 of May 21, 1784.
14 See L. G. B. No. 58, P. 474 in the office of the Secretary of State at Raleigh.
15 [Material for this footnote is missing in the original publication.]
16 See North Carolina Supernumerary Warrant No. 2222 of May 21, 1784. The chain carriers who accompanied Isaac Taylor were “John Bay, William Wilhorn, Quintin Moor (and) William Buckingham.”
17 Brazelton, op. cit., 10.
18 Goodspeed's History of Tennessee (Nashville, 1887) , 830.
19 Watson, "Bits of Hardin County History;" in Savannah Courier, July 29, 1932.
20 All of the early records relating to these titles, and there are many as to the Taylor and Kerr tracts, place the Kerr grant just south of the present town of Savannah and the Taylor Tract north of the same town. Both tracts are about seven miles south of Horse Creek.
21 Tommie Cochran Patterson, "Joseph Hardin, A Biographical and Geneological Study," unpublished manuscript in possession of Mr. Drew Hitt, Savannah, Tennessee. Also see Watson, in Savannah Courier, July 29, 1932, and Goodspeed, op. cit., 830.
22 Watson in Savannah Courier, July 29, 1932. Goodspeed, op. cit., 830.
23 Brazelton, op. cit., 16.
24 Ibid., 18.
25 Ibid., 19. Also Goodspeed, op. cit., 831.
26 Jonathan Courtney is mentioned in Brazelton, op. cit., 20 and by Watson. ill Savannah Courier, August 5, 1932. John Hanna is mentioned in Brazelton, op. cit., 21. Watson, in Savannah Courier mentions L. H. Broyles, A. S. Ken, Nathaniel Kemp and G. G. Adams on August 5. 1932; Hiram Boone and Samuel Watson on August 11, 1932; Nimrod Morris and several other names on September 27, 1932. Isom James, Neal and Daniel Cherry are found in Entry Book No. 5. Register's office, Savannah. 'Tennessee. For the remainder of the names see Brazelton and Watson who mention them frequently. W. O. Mangum, a descendant of Wiley P. Mangum, told the author about Wiley P. Mangum. "Paling Daily"‑popular legend that is common knowledge in Hardin County. The same thing is true of Ike Worley.
27 Brazelton, op. cit., 20.
28 These hats were for Mrs. Thacker's two sons — William and Shepard.
29 See County Records, Vol. 1.
30 Consult various deeds and Chancery Court Records of Hardin County, Tennessee. People who know this family are familiar with their history.
31 The author has named but a few of the prominent participants in the early history of this county. Others who took an active part after the formation of the' county and the setting up of a local government are to be mentioned later.
32 Many have called for the Thompson survey but it is thought that some lawyer having an ejection suit over land adjacent thereto, procured it from the land office and never returned it. Possibly he filed it as an exhibit to some deposition in a now forgotten case.
33 Report of Tennessee‑Mississippi surveying commissioners, 1837.
34 Brazelton, op. cit., 37.
35 Ibid., 83-93.
36 Some readers may question some of the statements or criticize the omission of many prominent names and outstanding events. The only answer to this can he that all the facts are told to the best of the writer's knowledge.