History of Gainesboro

 The following record, which is a history of Gainesboro and Jackson County, was copied from old manuscript and gathered from friends. Copied by Mrs. Maude McGlasson, Gainesboro, Tennessee - -1936. 

We have thought a brief history of our County and Town would not be uninteresting to our readers, hence we propose to give it from the best data at our command. Jackson County was established by an Act of the Legislature passed November 6th, 1801, in which it was provided that the first court should be held at the house of John Bowen, on Roaring River. This may be said to have been the first County Site of Jackson County, the same being situated on the land afterwards owned by Mounce Gore, near Crawford's Mill. A town to be named Smithfield was to have been laid off, but was never done. Williamsburg, where Leslie Butler now resides, the land now owned by O.G. Fox, was established the County Site by an Act of Assembly passed September llth, 1806. On the 14th day of November 1815 an Act was passed to run out Jackson County, ascertain the center and remove the seat there. The Act provided that after the center of the County had been ascertained by a survey, an election should be held between the nearest eligible site to the center and the then County Site. Those voting for the "Old" should vote Williamsburg and the ones voting for a change should vote "New Court House." The election was fixed for the first Thursday and Friday in August 1816. The new town, is established, was to be called "Gainesboro", (then spelled Gainesborough) in honor of Gen. Edmond Pendleton Gaines of Fort Erie memory. From some cause the provisions of this Act were not complied with, so, on the 6th day of October 1817 another Act was passed for the same purpose, under which an election was held on the First Thursday and Friday in August 1818, which settled the question and removed the Seat of Justice from Williamsburg to Gainesborough. This Act of Legislature appointed as commissioners to lay off the town, Philip Mulkey, Thomas Butler, William Scanland, James Terry, Joseph Hawkins, James Vance, Alexander Keith, Esq., James W. Smith, and William Rash. Under the authority given by law, said Commissioners advertised the sale of lots in the Knoxville Register and Carthage Gazette, and sold the same to the highest bidder, and from the proceeds of the sale built a Court House and Jail.  

On October 1, 1819 an Act was passed, formally removing the County Site from Williamsburg to Gainesborough and directing the Justices of the County at the November session following to adjourn all the Courts to said New Town, thus the Courts were opened in Gainesborough in a private house provided by the Commissioners in January 1820. A little more than 106 years ago, when established the name was spelled "Gainesborough", now the "ugh" is left off, though the Post Office department kept it up for many years, when it too, left the "ugh" off.

The Town was laid off on forty acres of land, given to the County by David Cox, great grandfather of Alex. M. Cox, who resides in this County. Picturesquely situated among the hills, washed by Doe Run (Doe Creek) and its tributaries, with a fine "Spring", on what is now Tan Yard Branch. Gainesboro was considered fortunately located, being before the age of steam and telephone, the advantage of being nearer to the river than a mile and a quarter, was not realized.  

The streets were made to vary twelve degrees from the cardinal points of' the compass, the better to suit the location of the town. The Court House was a square brick structure with a diagonal roof and with a weather vane, a fish on top, for same. It was situated where the present Court House now stands and served the purpose for which it was erected until the night of August 14th 1872, when it was burned by an incendiary, as was always supposed. It fell a prey to the ravages of war about 64 years ago.  

Gainesboro was incorporated by an Act of the Legislature July 7, 1820, and so continued until the passage of the four mile law, though the corporate government was not kept up as we are informed, more than a fourth of the time. Francis McConnell, Robert Jennings, Swancy Burris, John Matthews, George Cox, Alfred Murray, Andrew Whitley, Alexander Montgomery and Samuel G. Smith were named the first board of Aldermen and we are traditionally informed they chose Samuel G. Smith as the first Mayor.  

The first man hung in Jackson County was a Negro servant of said Smith's, who made on attempt upon his (Smith's) life, for which he was condemned and executed. He was hung about 96 years ago (up to this date, 1936 something like 125 years ago). His name was Dave _______. The next and last man) hung in this County up to this writing (1936) was a Negro men by the name of Lafayette Richey, who was hung on the 9th day of May 1894, for the murder of William Stephens, a white man whose body was found on Sheely's Knob, about two miles from Gainesboro on the morning of December 3, 1892.  

Hon. Nathaniel T. Williams was the first Judge to hold Court in Gainesboro. He filled the position for years, and was succeeded by Hon. Abram Caruthers, who graced the bench for a long period. 

We have been provided with a partial list of early settlers or our county and town. Joseph and Elizabeth Eaton, widely and favorably known to the traveling public, settled where Gillem Maxwell now lives (E. 0. Smith's residence now) and kept a public house. They subsequently owned and kept for many years the "Eaton Tavern", which was afterwards owned by their daughter, Mrs. America Harris, and stood on the lot where Dixon & Stafford's law office now stands and is owned by John H. Dennis, now owned by B. L. Quarles, Sr. (and occupied by Mrs. Hampton.) Col. J. W. Smith built the first house that was erected where the "Gipson Old Hotel" now stands, and where Henry R. Anderson now lives (this lot is owned and occupied by the Gainesboro Telephone Co.). He occupied it as an office, being Clerk of the Court, and it was said that Courts were held there until the Court House was finished. Col. William Lock built the house now occupied by Thomas J. Williams and family. His wife, Mrs. M. A. C. Williams, being, a granddaughter of Col. Lock. (This is the lot an which Dudney & Sutton Co.________to date this is owned and occupied by Ben Baugh Co.) John McCarver, grandfather of John L. McCarver, Esq. who resides in the County, built a house on the lot where Bowen A. Butler now resides (now owned and occupied by T. C. Strode). It was kept by him and afterwards by Mrs. Galbraith, mother of the late Hon. Thomas J. Gailbreath, as a hotel. Said house was subsequently the residence of Col. Thomas L. Bransford and his son-in-law, Russel M. Kinnard.  

Major Alexander Montgomery built a house and resided on the lot where W. W. Draper's law office now stands (this lot now owned and occupied by G. B. Settle's widow). Robert Jennings, one of the incorporators of the town, and a leading citizen, settled and built on the lot where James T. Anderson now resides (R.A. Montgomery now owns and occupies this property.  

The firm of Settle, Whitley & Smith, composed of Leroy Settle, Andrew Whitley, and James W. Smith, was the first firm of merchants doing business in Gainesboro. They erected a building on the corner where the hotel now stands. The house was built by them about 107 years ago, but was destroyed by fire on the night of January 27th, 1887. James G. Smith, father of the late Hugh M. Smith, of the fifth district of this County, who dies on the 24th day of June 1897 was clerk of this firm.  

An illusion to a literary celebrity, whose father and mother lived at Gainesboro for a short time, Mr. John M. Clemens, father of Samuel L. Clemens, the famous comic writer, better known in the literary world as "Mark Twain", once resided in a house that stood on the vacant lot on the southwest corner of the public square. A tradition had it that Mark was born in said house, where Hon. George H. Morgan, who once lived in Gainesboro, (afterwards moving to Cookeville, where he died several years ago), addressed a note of inquiry to Mr. Clemons, and received the following facetious reply: "according to the best information I can get, I suppose I first saw the light of day at Fayetteville, Mo. It was before my recollections. I might as well have been born in Fentress County, or Gainesboro, Tennessee, my parents having resided there a short time before I became an American Citizen. I had no choice in the matter, however, and know nothing about it, except from family traditions." So Mark was not born here, but his parents once lived here.  

John Clemens, (father of Samuel L. Clemens, alias Mark Twain, with a notice, of whom we began this sketch) kept the first open Hotel in Gainesboro. It stood near the Jail, on the north side of lots that Dixon & Stafford's law office stands on, and where Eaton's feed stable once stood, (this is where the blacksmith shop that is operated by Stonewall Robbins stands, to date this is owned by James W. Draper. The building is used by R. W. Hawkins for storing away lumber.) The Tavern, as public houses were then called, was built of logs, as were most of the houses erected in Gainesboro on its first settlement. The situation of the town when located was in an unbroken forest.  

Joseph Eaton, alluded to in a former sketch, was the first man to be married in Gainesboro. His bride was Elizabeth Dudney, daughter of Abraham Dudney, a soldier of the Indian Wars and of 1812. She was an aunt of John B. Dudney, who resides in Free State. This marriage took place early in 1820. Their first child was born October 16, 1821, in a cabin situated on the lot now occupied by Mrs. L. Washburn's residence, and this was the first child born in Gainesboro, in the person of Mrs. America Harris. She was the mother of the late Esq. N. B. Young, who died very suddenly on the morning of December 12, 1915 while on his way to Granville with the Band from this place. They walked up the Bell hill and he died just as they reached and reentered the conveyance. Judge M. B. Young who died very suddenly January 8, 1898, was taken while attending to a lawsuit in the Court House, and died five and one half hours later at the home of his son, Horace G. Young in Gainesboro. She, Mrs. Harris, lived to a good old age and died at the home of her son, N.B. Young in Gainesboro, on the 19th day of January 1895 at one o'clock-ten minutes-A.M. at the age of seventy three years, two months and twenty-eight days. Her first husband, Merlin Young, was a very popular man, being several times elected sheriff and Circuit Court Clerk of Jackson County. He died November --, 1871 very suddenly, in this county, on Salt Lick Creek. He was teaching school at the time of his death.

William Gipson, father of the late John M. Gipson, resided at an early day on the lot where G. B. Murray's law office now stands (this is the lot now owned and occupied by Joel Poston, a World War soldier). Our old friend, the late Edward M. Cason, father of Lewis Cason of Route # 2, married there, his first wife having been Louisa Gipson. This occurred in 1882. He died at his home on the Cumberland River in this County, January the 1st, 1895 at 6 o'clock A. M. He was 90 years old, lacking two days at the date of his death.  

Robert White lived, and kept a Tavern on a portion of the lot now owned and occupied by W. W. Draper, father of Garland G. Draper of Memphis. This lot is now owned and occupied by G. B. Settle's widow and family.  

Martin B. Ray was the first shoemaker of the town. His residence and shop were on the lot now owned and occupied by Byrd L. Quarles, Sr. (This lot to date is owned and occupied by Misses Carrie and Nell Gore).  

Samuel Gillem, father of the late General A. C. Gillem and Luke P. Gillem, settled where Frank Sadler now resides. This lot now owned and occupied by Mrs. America Gailbreath (to date Mrs. Addie Gore Settle owned and occupied this lot). Afterwards on the lot now occupied by James A. Williams, Sr. This lot is still owned and occupied by his widow, Mrs. Kibby Kirkpatrick Williams, and since the death of Mrs. Williams her daughter now owns and resides there, at which place Gen. Gillem was born. He will be remembered as having commanded the forces (Union) that killed General John H. Morgan near the close of the war between the States, at Greenville, East Tennessee.  

William A. Gailbreath, grandfather of the late W. M. and Thomas Gailbreath, held the office of Circuit Court Clerk acceptably for many years. He was a Christian Preacher.  

John S. Turner was County Court Clerk for a number of years, residing in a house near Esquire N. B. Young's present residence (this is where his widow, Mrs. Sadie Welch Young, lives).

Afterwards, where Dr. Z. M. Young now resides. This is the lot now owned and occupied by B. C. Butler. (To date it is owned and occupied by Mrs. Zula Chapman, nee Zula Harris, Whitaker).  

Joel Settle, grandfather of M. Y., T. G., and G. B. Settle, resides in what was known as the "High House", a good hewed log building which stood near where the free schoolhouse stood. This is the lot on which is located the residence of Burris Smith, occupied by Walter Brooks, a son-in-law, (since then the residence was destroyed by fire and the lot was sold to the Baptist Church, and they have erected a building, and have organized a Baptist Church).  

Sampson W. Cassetty moved to Gainesboro in 1831, resided in the last mentioned house for a time, then moving to a house near Montpelier Academy, that stood on the lot where Bailey C. Butler is having a new residence erected. S. L. Pate now owns and occupies this house, his son, I.B. Pate, bought the lot and erected a residence where Montpelier Academy stood. This is occupied by T. L. Gist (to date is occupied by B. L. Pruett, Sr.) Mr. Cassetty was Clerk of the County Court continuously for 12 years. He has been dead many years. His wife, Nancy Cassetty, lived many years after the death of her husband, and at the home of her son-in-law, Captain M. L.Gore, where Gillem Maxwell now lives. (this lot on which is located the residence of E. O. Smith). At the present time, 1936, this lot and house is owned and occupied by Luke K. Dennis.

Nancy Cassetty was born May 21, 1804 at Burksville, KY and was married to Sampson W. Cassetty in 1831, and moved to Gainesboro immediately thereafter, at which place she made her home until her death March 7, 1895 at the age of ninety years, nine months and fourteen days. She joined the Church under the teaching of Father Pendergrass.  

Amos Chapman lived here for a long time, also Nat and Jesse Jackson, each of the former kept hotel, while Jesse sold goods. Nat married two of the Chapman daughters successively. Chapman was a great fiddler, and taught dancing. He afterwards moved to the farm now owned by James A. Williams's daughter, Mrs. Fillmore Roddy.  

The streets of Gainesboro were macadamized in 1849 by Jackson Porry Bocock, who afterwards procured___________the Legislature to change his name, and was thereafter known as Jackson Porry. _________ Where the large drain, which runs from near the Jail through the central part of the town, is located was once a deep gully, and this gully was filled in 1849, and the drain built by Andy and Jim Poston, same year.  

Cholera appeared in Gainesboro in July 1850, and soon became an epidemic. It is uncertain what caused the cholera to break out here. Some thought it was caused by the manner in which the drain filled in, and others thought it was brought here by a prisoner, name unknown, who was brought here from Nashville and placed in Jail; then kept by William Gipson, who has been mentioned in a former chapter. The prisoner mentioned was attacked by the Cholera and was released from the Jail while sick. He recovered. While in Jail he was waited on by Dave Gipson, a Negro slave of William Gipson's. Dave was found sick in a cornfield on the above ______, where Mrs. Sadie Young now lives, and was brought to town, where he died. 

The next victim of the Cholera Disease was William Hare, a brother of Mrs. David A. Rawley. He died soon after being attacked. This man was an uncle of Mrs. H. G. Young.  

Mrs. Nep Montgomery, wife of Dr. Nathan Montgomery _______, soon afterwards other victims of the Cholera were; Salee and his wife, Mary Ann Salee (nee Cowan), Sallie Cowan, Hense Cowan, Robert Cowan , most of whom died at this place where Frank Kelly now resides, (this was the house located on the lot now occupied by Quarles and Reeves Co.)-(to date Roger Quarles Co.) and the Bank of Gainesboro, (to date Jackson County Bank). J. Kenner, a Negro slave of Dr. W. R. Kenner and Harriet Kinnard, a Negro slave of Russell M. Kinnard - the last victim was Josie Young, a daughter of the late Merlin Young by his first wife, who was a daughter of Bob White. Josie Young was a sister of the late Esq. N. B. Young. When the Cholera broke out she left town and went to the home of her grandfather, Robert White, who lived on the north side of Cumberland River, where Dr. Ragland now resides. (this farm is now owned by D. B. Johnson) - (to date J. M. "Mack" Draper is the owner of said farm). She died at the home of her grandfather. Besides these above named, several. others were attacked by the cholera, but recovered. Soon after the cholera appeared the town was almost deserted by its inhabitants, only a very few remaining to take care of the town. Among those who remained were Mrs. Elizabeth Eaton and the late T. G. Settle. So far as known, all who remained in the town to face death in one of its most fearful forms are now dead.  

The keys to all the stores in the town were turned over to Mr. Settle and Mrs. Eaton. The people remained away from town until after frost and when they returned found the streets grown up in weeds.  

The story connected with the naming of Doe Run, or Doe Creek, is as follows: Three white men, pioneers, were said to be making their way through this country when it was inhabited by Indians.

They are supposed to have crossed Roaring River at what is now the Burris Ford, traveled up the hollow from what is now the Williams place, crossed the low gap to what in known as the "Beck Branch", where Dr. S. B. Fowler now lives (to date Dr. H. L. Baugh owns and where he lives with his son, B. F. Baugh). Thence down the forks of the creek near where Dr. S.H. Minor now lives, (this is the property and residence of G. Lee McGlasson). At this point one or the party killed a large doe", and from that the creek was named. It is said that the Indians killed one of the three pioneers at this point.


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Charles Reeves, Jr.,

Jackson County Coordinators
This page last updated: 9 July 2000