Tennessee Records Repository, Giles County, TNGenNet Inc.
A Brief Sketch of the
Early History of
Giles County Tennessee
by James McCallum, 1876
Published by the Pulaski Citizen, 1928
Chapter Three--Organization of Giles County
Prior to 1806, many persons from the Eastern States, who had entered land in Middle Tennessee, south of
Williamson county, moved to Davidson and Williamson, and resided there temporarily, waiting for the Indian title
to be extinguished, that they might settle on their purchased land.
Williamson County was established in October, 1799, and its boundaries extended south to the Indian boundary,
and all south of that was in Indian territory until after the treaty of January 1806, except the portion which
lies north of Duck river as to which, the Indian title was extinguished in October 1805. Until after the organization
of Maury county, what is now Giles County was regarded as a part of Williamson. Some of the old deeds and grants
for lands in Giles county on the south side of Elk River, described the land as being in Williamson County, and were
required to be registered there.
Maury County was established in November, 1807.
The territory south of Maury remained for two years under the jurisdiction of Maury. The first settlers paid
taxes in Maury, prosecuted criminals, and instituted legal proceedings in the courts of Maury.
On the 14th of November, 1809, Giles County was established by act of the Legislature. The Bill was introduced by
William FRIERSON, grandfather of Judge W. F. COOPER, and uncle of Chancellor FLEMMING, the Representative of Williamson
and Maury, to establish a new County south of Maury, and north of the state Line, by the name of
Richland County. The tradition is, that at the suggestion of General JACKSON, Giles was
substituted as the name of the County in honor of Governor William b. GILES of Virginia. When
the [Page 14] Bill was on its third
reading in the Senate, on motion of Mr. Benton, it was amended by striking out Giles, and inserting Shelby, as the
name of the County. The House refused to concur in the amendment, and after some delay the Bill was finally passed,
retaining the name Giles.
The boundaries of the County as defined by the Leislature, commenced at the South-east corner of Maury, thence
South to the Southern boundary of the State, thence West far enough to include a constitutional County, thence North
to the Maury line, thence with the Maury line to the beginning. As this indicated, nearly half of the County lay West
of the Congressional Reservation line. The vacant land West of said line belonged to the United States Government, over
which the State of Tennessee had no control, and about one-fourth of the County; the Western and South-western part,
was Indian territory, and remained such until September 1816.
The Act establishing the County appointed James ROSS, Nathaniel MOODY, Tyree RODES, Gabriel BUMPASS and
Thomas WHITSON, Commissioners, to select a place on Richland Creek, as near the center of the County as practicable,
and cause a town to be laid off; and to sell lots, reserving a public square of two acres, on which should be
erected a court house and stocks; that the town should be called Pulaski, in honor of Count PULASKI,
who fell in the attack upon Savannah in 1779.
The Commissioners were judiciously selected as to their location. ROSS lived at the Andrew YOKLEY place; MOODY
near Lynnville Station; RODES where his son, Robert RODES lived afterwards; BUMPASS at Cross Water; and WHITSON on
Elk River, about a mile above Prospect on what was then Indian territory.
The Commissioners selected the present site of Pulaski, then known as the Shoals on Richland Creek,
although at that time it was vacant land, lying South and West of the reservation line, but assurance of title had been
given, which authorized the Commissioners to make the selection. The cane and undergrowth were removed from a small
portion of the town in 1810. Among those who removed the first cane were: General R. H. ALLEN, then a lad fifteen years
of age, and Spencer CLACK, then a young man living with his [Page 15] father, on mile west of the court house.
In August, 1811, the first lots were sold, and in due time a court house and stocks were erected.
On the 22nd of November, 1809, the Legislature, by joint resolution, selected the following magistrates for
Giles County, viz: John DICKEY, Jacob BAYLOR, Somerset MOORE, Charles NEELY, Robert STEELE, Nathaniel MOODY,
William PHILLIPS, Benjamin LONG, Thos. WESTMORELAND, David PORTER and Maximillian H. BUCHANAN. At the same time
the Legislature elected Thos. STEWART, Judge of the 4th District, embracing Giles and Alfred BALCH, Attorney
DICKEY lived at Campbellsville, BAYLOR one mile west of it, MOORE on Moores Creek, two miles southwest
of Pulaski, NEELY on Pigeon Roost Creek, near the TILLERY place, STEELE on the turnpike, opposite Buford Station,
MOODY half a mile south of Lynnville Station, PHILLIPS two miles north of Elkton, LONG in the suburbs of Elkton,
WESTMORELAND near Aspen Hill, PORTER near Mount Moriah church, and BUCHANAN at Crosswater.
The Act which established the County also established a Circuit Court, to be held the second Monday in June and
December; and a Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, to be held third Monday in February, May, August and November,
and provided that the first courts should be held at the house of Lewis Kirk, who lived in a log cabin on the bank of
Richland Creek, about two hundred yards above the Nashville and Decatur Depot.
The first County Court was held 3rd Monday in February, 1810, when the Magistrates were sworn in, and County
officers elected or appointed. German LESTER was made Clerk, Charles NEELY, Sheriff, and Jesse WESTMORELAND,
Register. Charles NEELY, the first sheriff, was one of the Magistrates, and the tradition is that the magistrates,
at the first election for sheriff, were in favor of keeping the office among themselves, as was the custom in the
State of Virginia at that time; but, owing to some dissatisfaction about the mode of electing, NEELY resigned, and
James BUFORD, who was his deputy, was elected.
The third Circuit Court was held in June, 1810. Thomas STEWART was Judge, and James BERRY was appointed Clerk.
[Page 16] The first courts were
attended by a large number of attorneys from other counties, among them were: Thomas H. BENTON, Felix GRUNDY,
O. B. HAYS, Alfred BALCH, Marmaduke WILLIAMS, Peter R. BOOKER, John KELLY, John WHITE, Robert MACK, Wm. WHITE,
Easthouse LEWIS, _________HASKELL, COULTER, and others; besides Alfred M. HARRIS, George CUNNINGHAM, and Lunsford
M. BRAMLETTE, resident attorneys. A few years later Aaron V. BROWN, Wm. H. FIELD and Tryon M. YANCEY were numbered
with the resident lawyers. At a later date, John H. RIVERS, Wm. C. FLOURNOY, Collin S. TARPLEY, E. J. SHIELDS,
James W. COOMBS, and a few years later, Archibald WRIGHT, Neill S. BROWN, Calvin JONES, John W. GOODE, Thomas M.
JONES, A. F. GOFF, and Dixon TOPP, were added to the number of resident attorneys. Thos. H. BENTON was attorney for
the Plaintiffs in the first two cases on the Civil Docket in the Circuit Court. Henry CLAYs name appears on the
docket as an attorney at three or four courts a few years after the courts were organized. It is said he was looking
after an important land suit.
On the 23rd of November, 1809, the Legislature chartered an Academy for Giles County, called Pulaski Academy,
and appointed John SAPPINGTON, Nelson PATTERSON, Tyree RODES, Samuel JONES, Somerset MOORE, Charles BUFORD, and
Charles NEELY, Trustees; and in the month of September, 1812, the name of the Academy was changed to Wurtemburg
Academy; and Doctor William PURNELL, David WOODS, and Alfred M. HARRIS appointed additional Trustees.
In 1809, the Legislature declared Richland Creek navigable to the mouth of Big Creek. A few years later the Act was
so amended as to declare it navigable only to Pulaski; after which a mill was built on the creek at Pulaski, and another
below Mt. Moriah Church.
In the Legislature of 1809, Thos. H. BENTON represented the Counties of Williamson, Rutherford, Bedford, and Maury
in the House of Representatives. In the Legislature of 1811, Amos JOHNSON represented Williamson, Rutherford, Maury,
Bedford, Lincoln and Giles in the Senate.
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