From The American Historical Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 4 (October 1902), pp. 328-348.
BY J. G. CISCO
Eighty-three years have come and gone, years fraught with changes of vast importance in the history and progress of the world, since the first white family settled in what is now Madison County, Tennessee. The territory was then an unbroken, untrodden wilderness, the only inhabitants of which were the wild beasts that had held undisputed possession of the dark, shady woods from time beyond reckoning.
The bold and hardy pioneers found a country as fair as any upon which the sun had ever shone, fresh from the hand of nature, untouched, untarnished and uncontaminated by the hand of man. For centuries unnumbered it had been the abode of red men. Its forests had afforded them shelter from the suns of summer and the blasts of winter. Its hills and glens and its clear running streams had given them an abundance of nature's food, while the skins of animals taken in the chase had supplied them with clothing.
Ages had circled away and left the Indians in undisputed possession of this fair land; here their children had been born and had grown to stalwart manhood, and womanhood, here their dusky fathers had died and been laid away to rest until called by the Great Spirit to a happier hunting ground. Here the simple natives worshiped their gods and practiced their rites, little dreaming of the time when the destroyer would come with gunpowder and plow, with Bible and rum, to drive them from their ancient homes to wander in a strange land, to die and be forgotten - even the names of their tribes, the names they gave the rivers and the streams, the hills and the valleys, to be remembered no more forever.
That a prehistoric people had at one time populous villages and communities in what is now Madison County is evidenced by numerous remains that still exist. But the names of these settlements have been long forgotten, even if they were ever known to the whites. Who these people were, of their tribal relations, of their social institutions, of their manners and customs, of their language, whence they came, and when, we know absolutely nothing. All their history and traditions perished with them.
At the south end of Market street in the city of Jackson, to the west of the Illinois Central Railroad, there was once an Indian mound in which I found a stone pipe of curious workmanship, and a number of arrowheads. On what is known as the John V. Campbell farm, one and one-half miles west from Jackson, there are several small mounds, one of which I excavated about the year 188o. About five feet from the top, and near the original surface, there was found a pit filled with ashes, charred human bones and partly burned wood; these, with a few flint chips, were all the mound contained.
These mounds are silent monuments of a forgotten people. They bear no inscriptions of deeds of valor in war or in the chase; nor of love and devotion of family or of tribe. They are dead monuments of a dead people. They bear no inscriptions as to their builders, who they were, whence they came, whither they went; and speculation is useless.
Southeast of Jackson ten miles, and north of Pinson three miles, is one of the most interesting groups of aboriginal monuments in the Southern States. There are probably one hundred and fifty mounds in this group within an area of six square miles. The largest of them is mentioned by Judge Haywood in his Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, published in 1826. He gives its height at ninety-six feet. But this is an error. I measured it in 1880 and found it to be seventy-two feet high and about one thousand feet in circumference at the base. About one-half a mile northwest of this mound is another of peculiar form, being pentagon in shape. It is twenty feet high, with five faces sloping to the top at an angle of about forty-five degrees. The five sides are each about one hundred feet. This mound is flat on the top and has an approach at one corner. There are several large beech and oak trees growing on this mound, and on one of its sides not far from its base is a poplar tree nearly four feet in diameter, and so old that it has long since begun to decay at the top. To the south from this mound fifty chains are what are called the "twin mound." They are about twelve feet high and are what the name implies. There are many other mounds in this group, some quite large, and others so small as to be scarcely noticeable. They have all been more or less reduced by the white man's plow that has gone over them year after year for almost three-quarters of a century.
These mounds are on the north side, in a sweeping bend of the south branch of the Forked Deer River, in a fertile region in which there are numerous springs of pure, sparkling, freestone water. Colonel Jones, one of the early settlers of this county, told me that when he was a boy he rode a horse for the distance of six miles on a line of earthworks that connected, and partially surrounded these mounds. Traces of these works are still to be seen outside the plowed fields.
The builders of these stupendous works are gone; their bones have crumbled into dust, and save these mounds of earth, a few stone implements and fragments of pottery, there is nothing left to tell that they ever existed. They left no history, no records, not even a tradition.
When the white men first began their settlements in this section it was not inhabited by Indians, though it was claimed by the Chickasaws, a war-like and valiant race. The warriors of this tribe were a large, well-formed, fine-looking body of men, and their women are reputed to have been handsome, modest, chaste and not as dark in color as most of the Indians were. They were cleanly in their habits and in their persons. The Chickasaws were also patriotic, and ever ready to lay down their lives in defense of their homes and of their country. Moreover, the fact is generally accepted, that in intelligence, in manhood, and in womanhood they excelled all other Indians, except, perhaps, the Cherokees. By treaty, dated October 19, 1818, the Chickasaws ceded all their rights to this territory to the United States for a specified sum to be paid annually. This was twenty-two years after Tennessee was organized as a State.
There are no authentic records, nor any information of any expedition of white men, nor any individual white man having set his foot on Madison County soil previous to about 1817 or 1818. Until a short time before this date there was not a single white settlement, nor a white man's cabin in the newly acquired territory, save the trading post where the city of Memphis now is. But soon surveying parties, speculators and squatters began to explore it in search of locations for homes. Soon the smoke from mud chimneys began to curl over log cabins, and from innumerable camp fires, and within a few months, the whole of the "Purchase," or "Western District" was known to the enterprising pioneers. Its boundless resources, its grand possibilities and its glorious future were foreseen.
Imagine, if you can, the delight of the first settlers in this fair land. Its soil was untouched by the plow; its primeval forests had never known the woodman's axe, and were alive with song birds; deer roamed in large numbers through the shady woods and grassy vales with nothing save the savage wolf, the panther and the catamount to dispute their rights of possession. There were bears in abundance; the beaver had never been disturbed in his rights to the waterways; the raccoon then, as now, sought its nocturnal meals in the streams and lakes. Wild fowls skimmed the bosom of its waters, with none to molest or make them afraid. Annual fires had kept the forests free from fallen timber and undergrowth. In season the luscious wild strawberry and the blackberry grew on every hillside, and the wild plum abounded. Autumn brought its harvest of nuts and persimmons, while the wild grapes hung in purple festoons from vines that embraced thousands of trees. Its rivers and creeks and lakes teemed with the finest fish. It was truly a fair land. Its landscape was undulating and rose and fell like waves of the ocean. Wild flowers shed their rich fragrance everywhere. The forests were clothed in regal splendor in summer, and when winter spread her snowy mantle over the earth no fairer scene upon which to look was ever presented to human eye. Its climate was genial and mild, and its gentle winds carried the bloom of health upon their wings. Its winters were short and mild; its summers were long, but were tempered by the luxurious growth of vegetation that covered the landscape.
There was no ruggedness in its landscape; it had no towering mountains, no deep valleys, but it possessed a sylvan beauty, a calm and quiet peace that gladdened the hearts of its beholders. There were no Indian foes lurking in fen and jungle, behind tree or stone, ready to spring upon the unwary traveler or his little home. The emigrant could travel all day and camp at night without fear of attack from a savage foe. The only enemies to be dreaded were the bear, the catamount and the panther that sometimes attacked the domestic animals of the settlers when they strayed away from the vicinity of the camp or cabin.
The early settlers in Madison County came principally from Middle Tennessee and North Carolina, with a few from Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina, following old Indian and buffalo trails. For a long time after the settlement of East and Middle Tennessee the "Western District" remained a terra incognito. Because the country was comparatively level and the waters coursed slowly between their banks in their march to the sea, it was considered by the people from the mountain region as being unhealthy. It was said that to go beyond the Tennessee River toward the setting sun was to go to an early grave. But after the settlement of the dispute as to the rights of the territory, adventurous spirits were not wanting who would brave the terrors of the swamp and dare to settle in "Death's Valley."
The march of civilization thus began. Most of the early pioneers were poor, of limited means and education ; but their arms were strong and their hearts were as brave as the eagle of the forest, and as true as the needle to the pole, and as generous as the bounteous nature that surrounded them. They were prompt to resent an insult or an injury and generous to forgive. Their hospitality was limited only by their capacity. Their doors were always open to travelers and their hearts to appeals for help. Their wives and daughters were worthy of their husbands and fathers; they were not endowed with the conventional graces and accomplishments of their descendants of to-day, but they possessed strong minds, strong bodies and pure habits. They could milk a dozen cows morning and evening, harness or saddle a mule, or they could ride it without a saddle; they could yoke a pair of steers or call the hogs; they knew how to load a rifle and how to use one. They could plow, chop wood, burn brush and logs in the clearing, card, spin and weave the cloth that made theirs and their fathers' and brothers' garments. They wore homespun frocks and big sunbonnets that protected their rosy faces from the rays of the sun as well as from the impudent stare of those who had no right to gaze upon their beauty. Their cheeks were painted with the rosy glow of health; they were strong of limb, strong in will and pure in mind. They were modest, timid and reserved, and endowed with all the graces which constitute the charm of true womanhood. They were the queens of the household and the domestic circle. The sons of the pioneers were worthy of their sires, and were worthy progenitors of the race that was to follow them. Cigarettes and high collars were strangers to them; their garments were made by their mothers and sisters; their caps were of coon skins and their shoes were made at home. They were fearless and courageous, enterprising and industrious. The sons and daughters of the household received their instructions at their parents' knee, and the Bible was their library. Amid such surroundings the people were happy and contented and their few wants were easily gratified. Exercise in their various occupations gave them health and voracious appetites. The forests and the streams supplied their table with meat corn for bread was had for little effort. They lived near to nature's heart and worshipped nature's God.
Madison County occupies almost the exact geographical center of West Tennessee. It was organized in 1820, and its name was given to it in honor of President Madison. It has an area of about five hundred and thirty square miles; an elevation above the sea level of four hundred feet. and its soil is a mixture of clay and sand, with an underlying bed of orange sand. Like most of West Tennessee, this county is of recent geological formation. Its soil is chiefly alluvial, generally very productive, and will stand droughts to a remarkable degree. Originally it contained large quantities of the finest timber, such as elm, gum, the oaks, hickory, cypress, beech, poplar, ash, walnut, maple, mulberry, and cherry. However, much of its timber has been destroyed or consumed, though enough yet remains to supply the needs of the people for many years. For waterways it has the Hatchie and the Forked Deer with their numerous tributary streams, all of which are small, sluggish and overflow their banks during periods of heavy rainfall. When the county was first settled the channels of its creeks and of its rivers were deep enough to carry off their surplus waters, but in clearing the lands timber was carelessly allowed by the farmers to fall into the streams, which, together with the soil that was loosened by the plow and washed down from the higher lands, filled up their beds, and thus much land is subject to overflow, which renders it comparatively worthless.
The first settlement made in Madison County was in the year 1819, near Cotton Gin Grove, in what is now the Fourteenth Civil District, about eight miles from Jackson, by John Hargrove, Roderick and Duncan McIver and their families.
A few months later, in the same year, John Bradbury settled near Spring Creek, and was soon followed by Seth O. Waddell, who settled in what is now the Sixteenth District.
Its next settlement was about two miles west of Jackson, now known as the McClannahan farm, and not far from an old ford on the Forked Deer river. That ford was at the bend of the river and about two hundred yards below the present bridge on Campbell's levee road. There are some old log cabins now standing near the place where the settlement was made, and near them, at the base of a hill, is a fine spring. The settlers at that day sought locations where there was plenty of good water and an abundance of timber. It appears that they had an idea that unless the timber was heavy the land was necessarily poor. The settlement in question was made by Adam R. Alexander, James Porter and James Brown. Mr. Alexander was at that time District Surveyor. A Mr. Doak also settled near Alexander, but later moved to the Spring Creek neighborhood, where some of his descendants now reside. Sim Jones came to the Alexander neighborhood about the same time. This was in the year 1820. The place where Mr. Alexander settled was called Alexandria. It was the seat of government for the county until 1822, when the present site was selected.
All these settlements, and some others, were made before the organization of the county.
A short time after the Alexander settlement Thomas Shannon built a cabin within the present limits of the city of Jackson.
In 1820 the Tennessee legislature passed an act for the organization of Madison County. In pursuance of that act Governor Carroll commissioned Bartholomew G. Stewart, Robert H. Dyer, John Thomas, William Brodin, Adam R. Alexander, Duncan McIver, Joseph Lynn, James Trousdale, Samuel Taylor, Herndon Harleson, and William W. Woolfolk, "Gentlemen, Justices of the Peace" for the county.
On the 17th day of December, 1821, they met at the office of Mr. Alexander for the purpose of organizing a Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. Robert Hughes was made temporary chairman, and the first official act of that court was to hold an election for country officers. Roderick McIver was elected its clerk; Harleson its chairman; Thomas Shannon its sheriff; John T. Porter, register; James Brown, ranger; William Atchison, trustee; William Griffin, coroner; George White, John Fore, Elijah Jones and William H. Doak, constables. Henry L. Gray, Alexander B. Bradford and Robert Hughes were sworn in as attorneys. Mr. Bradford, who afterwards became distinguished in the annals of this State, and the State of Mississippi as a soldier, was qualified as Solicitor-General of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit.
It appears from an initiatory proceeding of that court that at that day the civil was not so independent of the military authority as it is now. That proceeding is in this wise: "Ordered that it be certified to the Brigadier General of the 11th Brigade, that this court was organized on Monday, the 17th day of December, 1821."
The next term of the court was held on Monday, March 18, 1822, at Alexandria. Adam R. Alexander was appointed chairman. D. W. Murray, Joseph H. Talbot and David Thomas were sworn in as attorneys. Thomas Lacy was allowed a bounty on three, and Enoch Douthet on two, wolf scalps, killed in the county. Calvin Jones was granted permission to erect a mill on Butler's, now Jones' Creek. Herndon Harelson, ____ Ragland and Parks Chandler were licensed to build a saw and grist mill on the same stream. Adam R. Alexander was granted license to build a saw and grist mill on Meridian Creek at the place now known as McKnight's mill; Duncan to build one on Jones' Creek; Ezekiel McCoy to build one on Trace Creek.
On the i9th day of March, 1822, Joseph Lynn, Bartholomew G. Stewart and James Trousdale were appointed a commission to fix upon a site for the permanent seat of justice for the county.
The County Court on June 17 granted license to Thomas Shannon, Robert H. Dyer and John Redens, respectively, to keep an "ordinary," or what is now called a hotel and saloon. The commission that had been appointed to select a site for the courthouse, made its report, which was ratified by the court. The points presented to the commission were, the "Land office field," or Alexandria, Golden Station, about one and one-half miles west from Alexandria and the place where the city of Jackson now stands. This last included nineteen acres and twenty-two poles of land donated by Thomas Shannon, and thirty acres and eighteen poles by John McNairy, Joseph Phillips and Dr. William E. Butler, the dividing line between the two tracts, being the center of what is now Market street, the Shannon land lying on its west side and the Butler land on its east side. The commission had laid this land off into streets, lots and a public square. The lots were sold at public auction from time to time, and brought about $10,000. The new town was given the name "Jackson" in honor of General Andrew Jackson, who had, a few years before won his famous victory over the British at New Orleans, and was the idol of the people of Tennessee.
At this date Murfreesboro avas the seat of government for the State, and William Carroll was governor. The legislature passed an act on the 12th day of November, 1821, to establish a Circuit Court of Law and Equity in the Western District, to be called the Eighth Circuit, and Joshua Haskell was appointed by the governor to be its justice during good behavior. The first court under this act met at Alexandria on the 15th of April. 1822. Beverly Randolph was appointed clerk. Robert H. Dyer. Samuel Taylor and Dr. William E. Butler were his sureties in a bond of $10,000. He was also required to give bond of $1,000 for the faithful collection and payment of monies, of fines and forfeitures; also a bond of $500 for the faithful payment of monies collected by him as taxes on privileges in law and equity.
Joseph H. Talbot, William Stoddert, Andrew L. Martin, Adam Huntsman, Stockely Donaldson Hayes, Alexander B. Bradford, John W. Cook, James Jones, Robert Hughes and Archibald C. Hull were sworn in as attorneys. Nearly every one of these men became distinguished as lawyers, as statesmen, and as soldiers, though none of them, except Mr. Stoddert, a Virginian, was what we, at this day, would call learned men. But they were all men of sound judgment and practical sense.
Andrew L. Martin was one of the most brilliant orators that Tennessee has produced. He was retained on all the important cases in this and adjoining counties, and never lost a case before a jury in which he had the concluding argument.
Adam Huntsman was as much, or more devoted to politics, after he came to West Tennessee, than he was to the legal profession. He brought with him a high reputation, particularly as a criminal lawyer, and as such while he resided in Middle Tennessee was second only to the distinguished Felix Grundy. He found Davy Crockett to be one of the political leaders in the Western District, and while in the memorable campaign of 1834 he was the warm personal friend and supporter of General Andrew Jackson, Crockett was non-committal, but was understood as favoring the election of Henry Clay. This fact caused an antagonism between him and Mr. Huntsman which determined the latter in the first opportunity which presented itself to oppose Crockett for Congress. The canvass between them which occurred in 1835, and which was warmly contested, resulted in the defeat of Crockett, who soon thereafter left Tennessee and migrated to Texas, where he fell a martyr to liberty in the memorable massacre of the Alamo.
Besides his ability as a lawyer, Mr. Huntsman was a distinguished wit and humorist. Perhaps no man ever lived in this county about whom so many anecdotes have been told. One he was accustomed to tell on himself was in this wise: Having occasion to visit the State of Virginia while this country was in a state of excitement over the treason of. Aaron Burr, and while for a short while he tarried in a tavern of a small village in the southwestern part of that State, not only heard its landlord and a number of men therein assembled discussing Burr and the reward which had been offered for his arrest but while they were thus engaged, he called the landlord aside and told that person that he was in a painfully embarrassing situation and very much in need of a friend, from whom he could attain sympathy and advice, and if need be, protection; that he had been falsely accused of a great crime of which he was innocent as an unborn child; that the sleuth-hounds of the law had been tracking and following him from beyond the Mississippi river; that he had only been able to reach the place in which he then was by concealing himself in the deep recesses of the wilderness, in the caves and in the fastnesses of the mountains, and that if arrested he would be certain to forfeit his life, for, although guiltless, he had no means of establishing his innocence; that for weeks and months his only companion had been the wild beasts and the solitude of the forest, and that his only hope of escape was to reach the seashore and take a ship for a foreign land; that being thus circumstanced and a stranger in a strange land, to accomplish his purpose he was compelled to seek counsel and advice from a stranger; that he had only a small amount of money and that he would be compelled to communicate with his friends to obtain means to carry him to Europe. The landlord, whose svmpathies were aroused to the highest extent, in the most solemn manner promised not to disclose Huntsman's secret and also to faithfully aid him in having a successful correspondence with his friends. Moreover, just as they were about to separate, the landlord said to him, "If you have no objection to telling me, I would like to know your name." "None at all," replied Mr. Huntsman, "for I feel that I can confide both in your promise and your honor. You see before you that unfortunate man, Aaron Burr."
If the stars had then fallen, or the sun had been blotted out of the sky the landlord would not have been more startled than he was at that disclosure. But again giving assurances of his fidelity he separated from Mr. Huntsman. At an early hour Mr. Huntsman retired to bed, much amused at the deception he had practiced upon his host, and the evident excitement he was laboring under by reason of having been made the repository of so important a secret. His mirthful reflections were soon disturbed by the abrupt entrance of an official and his posse into his room, who arrested him on a charge of treason against the United States. The landlord, either seduced by his cupidity, or by his inability to carry so important a secret all alone without the assistance of his friends and neighbors, gave the information which led to his arrest.
On the next day they carried him to Abingdon where the Circuit Court was in session. Arriving at the court house after the court had adjourned for dinner, they placed him in a Chair about the middle of the room where he sat with his head hung down, his face resting in his hands, the picture of despair. A large crowd soon gathered around him, and when the judge came in he could not recognize him until he ascended the bench and ordered the sheriff to open the court. As soon as he did so the prisoner raised his face to look at the judge who instantly recognized him as an old friend and playmate of his boyhood. "Why Adam Huntsman, what on earth are you doing here, and under arrest?" asked the judge. "If your honor pleases," Huntsman replied, rising to his feet, "I am here to move the court to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of these scoundrels for false arrest and imprisonment, and particularly that treacherous villain there," pointing to the landlord, "under whose roof this outrage upon the rights of a free citizen was committed."
Explanations followed, and the joke was enjoyed by all concerned. The judge ordered the court to adjourn until the next morning at nine o'clock, "that everybody may have an opportunity to laugh as much as they please."
Huntsman settled at an early day at Cotton Grove, where he died and was buried. His wife was a daughter of a Mr. Todd, one of the first settlers of the county.
Joseph H. Talbot, who was a member of the first Jackson bar, and the possessor of much learning in the law, and who succeeded Alexander Bradford as attorney-general, came to Jackson from a point near Nashville, about the year 1827, and then bought and improved real estate now known as "McNairy Hill." When the State Supreme Court was directed to sit in Jackson for West Tennessee, Colonel Talbot was appointed its clerk. The appointment was tendered to Mr. James L. Talbot, a nephew of Joseph H, but being under age he could not accept it. Thereupon the latter was appointed and made his nephew his deputy. When the young man reached his majority Colonel Talbot resigned and his nephew was appointed in his place. Later he moved to Memphis where he spent the remainder of his life, loved, honored and respected by all who knew him. His remains were buried at the old Talbot homestead near Nashville.
James L. Talbot came to Madison County about the year 1828, and when he was a young man. Soon after he was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court a Federal Court for West Tennessee was established at Jackson and he was appointed its clerk. James L. Talbot was, therefore, the first clerk of the United States court in West Tennessee, and the first deputy clerk, of the Western Division of the Supreme Court of this State, also its second chief clerk. When he assumed that of the Federal Court he was succeeded by William H. Stephens. Mr. Talbot continued to fill the position of clerk of the Federal Court until this State seceded from the Federal Union, and attached itself to the Southern Confederacy. Then Judge W. H. Humphreys appointed him clerk, as well of the district as of the Circuit Court of the Confederate states for West Tennessee. Mr. Talbot married a daughter of Mr. William Dickens, who was one of the county's pioneers, and then settled on what has since been known as "Talbot's Hill" in the northern part of this city, and on which he erected a large and imposing residence that is still standing. Mr. Talbot was a man of education, of culture, and as editor of the Truth Teller, one of Jackson's first newspapers, he became distinguished as a ready, clear and forceful writer. He lived in good style and was an abundant dispenser of hospitality.
William Dickens, with his family, came to Madison County from Greenville County, North Carolina in 1826, and settled a few miles north of Jackson in what is now the Tenth Civil District of this county. He was the first settler in his neighborhood, then a wild and unbroken wilderness. Mr. L. E. Talbot stated to the writer, that he had heard Mrs. Dickens, his grandmother, and her old family servants say that at the time Mr. Dickens settled in this county, deer were so abundant that they would come within a few yards of her house, and at night their eyes could be seen shining by the light from the house. Mr. Dickens built the first "Methodist meeting house" in his section of this county. Davy Crockett, during his political campaigns, was a frequent guest at Mr. Dickens' home.
William Dickens was captain of a company under General Jackson in the war of 1812, besides being engaged in the Indian wars. His father, Robert Dickens, was colonel of a regiment of Virginia dragoons in the Revolutionary War, and in that capacity served to its close. His sword was used by his son, William, in the war of 1812, and in time by his grandson, Colonel John R. Dickens, who commanded a regiment of Mississippians in the war between the States, until disabled, by wounds. The, old sword that has been used by three generations of the same family; in as many wars, is preserved in the family as a sacred relic, and one to be used by some future son of the house.
Samuel Dickens, a younger brother of William, came to Madison County about 1819; and after the expiration of a term in Congress to which he had been elected from his native State, North Carolina. He came to the "Western District" soon after the extinction of the Chickasaw claims, and surveyed lands for persons who therefor had received grants in consideration of service in the early wars, and because of his political life and his service in Congress, was extensively known. He settled near Spring Creek, where he died in 1840. One of his daughters became the wife of Colonel Andrew L. Martin; another, the, youngest, married his brother, James D. Martin, also a distinguished lawyer.
Alexander B. Bradford, the first solicitor general of the fourteenth circuit, was a brilliant man, being the possessor of great natural ability, and was one of the best and the most successful prosecutors in the State. He left Tennessee some time after he went out of office, for the State of Mississippi, and was one of the distinguished men thereof who won fame in the war between the United States and Mexico. In 1836 he organized in this county a company of cavalry which formed a part of the first Tennessee regiment "Mounted Infantry" of which he was elected colonel, and which he commanded in the Florida war.. His regiment was engaged in all the important. battles of that war, conspicuously so in the battle with Osceola on the Withlacoochia river. In the war with Mexico he was lieutenant colonel of the famous First Mississippi regiment which won imperishable honors in the battle of Monterey and that of Buena Vista.
Jesse Russell came to Jackson from Greensboro, North Carolina, January 1, 1822, and, in the year 1823, married a daughter of Major Charles Sevier, his being the first marriage that occurred in Jackson. Their son, Robert S., whose birth was in the same year, is said to have been the first male child who was born of permanent settlers of Jackson.
The attorneys to whom I have alluded were men of sound judgment and of practical sense. Indeed, few counties in this State could boast of a more brilliant bar than the one which they constituted. At that day questions of law were of the simplest kind and, therefore, in their investigation did not require the expenditure of a great amount of legal learning. Cases were tried and settled on their merits and on their equity. In fact courts were held that men might have justice, not that they might find a way to escape it.
The first judgment rendered by a court in this county was in Alexander's office. The plaintiff was John Grace, and the defendants Drury and Betts. By consent of the plaintiff judgment was held up until the next term of court. Those defendants are the men who originated the old byword "Drury and I." As the story goes, Drury and John Betts were partners in a grocery business, or that which is now popularly denominated a saloon. According to the terms of their partnership when one of the firm took a drink he was charged with it, and if they drank together, such action was charged to their firm. Betts could write, Drury could not, so Betts was the bookkeeper. In due time Betts died and his surviving partner got a bookkeeper to take the books of the firm and to make out a statement of its business. All its stock had been disposed of and its only assets left were its accounts. Upon examination of its books the principal account which they showed was the one that consisted of charges against "Drury and I."
The first court house built in Jackson was erected in 1822 by John Houston, for which he was paid by the county $135. That building stood a few feet back from the north gate of the square and in front of the present court house. It was built of logs with a dirt floor, the judge's bench and door were made of hewn puncheons, and the chimney was of sticks and mud or "daubed." There was not a piece of sawed lumber used in its construction.
The first County Court held in the new court house, and in -the town of Jackson, was on Monday, September 16, 1822.
The first case recorded was one of William Newsom against John B. Hogg and Robert H. Dyer for a debt of $270. Judgment was given. The first criminal case was the State against Squire Dawson, who was found guilty of petty larceny. He was sentenced to receive twenty lashes on his bare back and to pay one cent costs.
The sale of lots in the town of Jackson began July 4, 1822, and lasted about one week. Joseph Lynn was allowed $20 for whiskey furnished at the sale to encourage bidding. The first purchasers of lots were George Todd, Herndon Harelson, Mark Fisher, Duncan Mclver, Wm. Broden, Wilson McClellan, James McKnight, Vincent Harelson, David Horton, J. H. Ball, Isaac Curry, Wm. Espy, Alex B. Bradford, W. L. Flener, James Burress, James K. Polk, Ivy and Breckley, S. F. Gray, S. C. Crofton, Roderick Mclver and M. Leggett. These were the only lots sold in 1822. James K. Polk bought three lots, the aggregate cost of which was $582. The sale was continued from time to time. There is not one of these lots sold at that date which now belongs to the family, or heirs, of the original purchasers.
From the best information which I have been enabled to obtain, I am authorized to say that the first house built in Jackson was the Shannon Tavern. It was on the northwest corner of what are now Shannon and College streets. It was constructed of logs and had a brick chimney. Thomas Shannon was its proprietor. A little later a Mr. Theobald built another tavern on College street near the end of what is now Liberty street. College street was then called "Knotchy Trace," and was the main road of the new county.
Soon after the erection of Shannon tavern, Anthony Grey, who was the first merchant in Jackson, built a small log house near the crossing of the Illinois Central Railroad and College street. His stock of goods was so small that a strong man could have carried it on his shoulders. Shortly after Mr. Grey opened his little store he took for a partner a man by the name of John Hyde, his nephew, and the stock and business were considerably increased. Soon after this Mr. Hyde opened a store east of where the Arlington Hotel now stands1 on Main street. Henry Lake began business about the same time on Baltimore street on the west end of what is now the post office lot.
About the year 1823 Alexander Patton, an Irishman, opened a store with a large stock of goods for that day, on the southwest corner of Main and Market streets. Mr. Patton was a liberal, generous, and large hearted man, and became very wealthy. He owned ninety-six acres of land in the western part of the town. About 1831 he built a two-story brick residence, which was at that time the finest residence in the town, on the lot now occupied by what is known as the old McCorry homestead at the west end of Main street. The rooms were 24x28 feet, with folding doors between. That house was destroyed by fire on the 10th day of September, 1847, after it had passed into the possession of Mr. H. W. McCorry. Mr. Patton had a boat yard near the mouth of Sandy Branch, one mile west of Jackson, and did an extensive business in buying and exporting cotton.
About the time Alexander Patton began business there came another merchant whose name was for almost a score of years prominent among the business men of the State. This man was William Armour. He built a large business house on the lot now occupied by the post office building, and fronting on Market street. He took as partner a man by the name of Cromwell, and another by the name of Henry Lake, who were his brothers-in-law, and the firm was known as Armour, Lake & Cromwell. This firm had a boat yard at what is now the McClanahan levee bridge; they had several branch stores in North Mississippi and at points in West Tennessee. They did an extensive business, in fact no merchant or firm has since their day done as large a business. Armour, Lake & Cromwell failed in 1836, a year that was so disastrous to the business interests of the country.
Robert Lake built the first brick residence, worthy of that name, in Madison County. That building is still standing on South Market street, and is known as the "Miller Place." It was erected about 1828.
William Armour, "Lord Armour," as he was called, built an elegant brick residence in 1830, on the corner of Market and Baltimore streets. That house has been added to and is now known as the Armour Hotel. The original building was modeled after the home of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, Md., who was a friend of Mrs. Armour.
Rawlings and Butler built a brick store on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets, where the People's Savings Bank now is.
Antry and Duncan were also early merchants. Mr. Antry went to Texas with Davy Crockett and was killed at the Alamo. [Note: This "Antry" is Micajah Autry]
Martin Cartmell came to Madison County in 1821 and temporarily located at what is now Homer, where he remained until the location of the county site. He bought the lot on Main street where he built a store, and in it made saddles and harness. He was a careful, painstaking business man, possessing a character honorable and upright, and was honored for his sterling worth by all who knew him. Mr. Cartmell was born in 1797 in Frederick County, Virginia, and came to Nashville, this State, at an early date, and then to this county as before stated. He accumulated a large fortune, and was a director and stockholder in the old Union Bank.
Barney Mitchell had a store on Lafayette, between Central alley and Market street. He was an Irishman; in character somewhat erratic and very industrious. It is said of him that rather than be idle he would one day carry a pile of bricks which he kept in his lot to a certain walk and the next would carry them back.
These were the pioneer merchants of Jackson, and to them this county owes much for the creation of the foundation of its commerce and of its present wealth. They came here when the country was new, grew up with its development and extended their business throughout West Tennessee and North Mississippi. The merchants of this county at that day purchased their goods in Cincinnati, in Philadelphia, in Baltimore and in New Orleans. The goods from the three last named cities were brought to Jackson in keel boats via the Ohio, Mississippi and the Forked Deer rivers. Those from Philadelphia were hauled in wagons to Pittsburg, and from there came by boat.
The first boat that ever came up the Forked Deer river was commanded by Barney Mitchell, and was of the class called keel boats. That boat was loaded with groceries and merchandise of all kinds. The cargo was landed at the mouth of Sandy Branch, one mile west of Jackson. I do not know the year, but think it was about 1822. Mr. Mitchell, on his first trip, encountered many obstructions in the Forked Deer river which had to be removed, and which delayed him so that he was several months in making the trip.
Next after Mitchell, a man by the name of Murchison, whose descendants still live in the county, made the voyage of the Forked Deer river in about two weeks.
In 1828 a number of flatboats were built for the purpose of carrying cotton, corn and other produce to New Orleans. Those boats were built by Patton & Co. and Armour, Lake & Cromwell, and they gave a wonderful impetus to cotton growing. The first flatboat was built by a man by the name of S. Burres. Among his crew was Captain William Hopper, who made fifteen consecutive trips to New Orleans. E. F. Gray, "Old French," as he was called, who had a partner, a man by the name of Jack Copeland, continued to make trips annually to New Orleans for twenty-eight years, and until the era of railroads was inaugurated. With the advent of railroads, disappeared a class of men who deserve more than a passing mention. They were hardy, brave and honest fellows who encountered great hardships in pursuit of their avocation. This country owes much to those men. When their avocation was gone, they went to Mississippi and the Ohio river, and to the West, where they died in due time.
The first brick house built was a small office near the northeast corner of Market and College streets, where Eppinger's bakery now stands. That building was erected for and occupied as a law office by Judge John Read, about 1823 or 1824. The next brick house was a small residence, still standing, on Baltimore street, east of C. G. Bond's residence. It was built for a man by the name of Johnson, who sold it to DeGrove, Jackson's first tinner. Mr. DeGrove sold it to several charitable ladies of the town who gave it to a widow, Mrs. Swan, who supported herself and five little children by sewing.
The first brick store house was possibly one built by Butler and Rawlings about 1825; that building, with a third story added, is still standing, and is now occupied by the People's Savings Bank.
Soon after this a number of brick buildings, both business houses and residences were erected. Many of these are still standing and occupied. Among these I mention the Robert Lake residence, now known as the Miller Place on South Market street; the Towler Place on Baltimore street, built by James Caruthers in 1830; the Armour Hotel, built the same year by William Armour; the John S. Miller homestead, built by Colonel R. I. Chester in 1831; the Bigelow Place on North Royal street, built about 1830; the Fenner Place on Baltimore street, built by David Armour in 1831.
Vivian Brooks, grandfather of Dr. Herman Hawkins, now a resident of Jackson, built a frame residence on the corner of Church and Lafayette streets in 1824. Part of that building is still standing; it has been added to and is now known as the Woollard Place. Mr. Brooks sold that house to Dr. A. A. Campbell, who, besides being a physician, was the first pastor of the Presbyterian Church.
Judge Joshua Haskell settled two miles north of Jackson, in 1822, where he built a comfortable house in which he resided until 1835, when he moved into town and built a house on what is still called "Haskell's Hill," East Main street.
Besides the taverns, as they were then called, which in Jackson's earlier days were kept by Thomas Shannon, and James Theobald, Major Charles Sevier conducted one which was situated on the lot on Main street west of Shannon street. Moreover, that tavern had the distinction of being the birthplace of a Mr. Robinson, Jackson's first male child, who boasted that he was so honored long after he had become a popular citizen and a leading lawyer of Hernando, Miss.
A little later, about 1826, a man who bore the name of "Hyde," built a tavern on the lot on which the New Arlington is now situated. Not only did that tavern, because of the "good cheer" which to its guests it abundantly administered, acquire much fame, but while it was conducted by Allen I. Patterson, and finally by Samuel Luckey, was the headquarters of the leading Whig politicians of West Tennessee. Contemporary with the Whig headquarters or the "Jackson Inn," as it was popularly designated, was another, which had "Lafayette" for its name, and before it ceased to care for the comforts of "man and of beast," was conducted by three proprietors, Rudisil, Coorpender and Johnson, each of whom was popular and commanded public confidence. The site of that inn is on the north side of Lafayette street, between Central alley and Market street, and is now occupied by splendid business houses, and which in attractiveness are close competitors with the Murray block that now graces the lot on which flourished for a while Jack Kincaid's famous inn, "The Rising Sun."
The first marriage which occurred in this county was that of R. S. Jones and Canada H. Curtis. That ceremony was performed by Adam R. Alexander, January 1, 1822, in Alexandria. Samuel Jones, son of Elijah Jones, was the first child born in the county. That event occurred in 1820. The first female child to be born in Jackson was Archelico Ann, daughter of Samuel Swan and wife, but the date of her birth I cannot give. In fact I find it impossible to give exact dates and locations of many early occurrences in the history of this county. There is no record of such events and the witnesses to them have long ago crumbled into dust, leaving only their traditions. The old people now living in the county who descended from its pioneers do not agree in many important particulars as to dates and in places; for that reason I am left in a measure to conjecture.
The first death of which I can find any record that occurred in this county was that of a man named Lanty, in 1822.
(To be continued.)
From The American Historical Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 1 (January 1903), pp. 26-48.
By J. G. Cisco.
[Continued from Vol. 7, p. 348]
The county's first court house was built in 1822, of hewed logs. In 1824-5 increasing population demanding a more commodious building, the old log house was removed and in its place a brick, 30 x 40, two stories high, was erected. Benjamin Gholson was its builder. There was also built at the same time, in the northwest corner of the public square, a small brick office containing two rooms, for the Circuit Court Clerk, and another in the northeast corner, of the same dimensions, for the County Court Clerk. In 1839 that court house was torn down and a new one, larger and more substantial, was erected by John Brown, Sr., who afterwards became a citizen of Memphis, and there died. Its brick work was done by John and Thomas Norvell, and the iron work by Granberry Adamson. The cost of that building was $25,000, and it was not completed until 1845. In 1890 it was remodeled and added to at a cost of $40,000, and is now one of the largest and finest court houses in the State.
In 1839, while the court house was being built, court met in the old Lafayette Inn. The Federal Court met in the Presbyterian Church.
The first jail in the county was built of logs in 1822, and stood in the public square back of the court house. Its cost was $95. Samuel Shannon was its builder. In 1825, when the first brick court house was built, the jail was sold and in its stead a new one of wood was erected; in 1835 one of brick, and in 1861 the present one.
Previous to 1834 the only church in Jackson was a negro church, near the southwest corner of what is now Riverside Cemetery. This was a log building; when it was built, or by whom, I am unable to say. There were Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian congregations in Jackson at that time, but they met for worship in the court house until the Presbyterian Church was built in 1834. Sometimes services were held in the old market house on the corner of Market and College streets. Mrs. Sallie Taylor, a venerable lady still living, and who came here at an early day, remembers the first sermon she ever heard in Jackson was at this latter place. It was delivered by a traveling Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, and was heard by a goodly number of Indians, who, while thus engaged, used for seats stumps and logs.
The first cemetery in Jackson was in a chestnut grove on Johnson street, northwest from the stone bridge on Poplar street. Colonel Taylor and a number of the other pioneers were buried there. This cemetery was abandoned when Riverside Cemetery was given to the city by James Caruthers. The old cemetery seems to have been forgotten after its abandonment, and the land was laid off into lots and sold. About 1873 or 1874 there was a brick yard established on the ground and a large quantity of bones of the dead were exhumed in the excavations made.
Among them were the bones of Colonel Taylor, who was recognized by his spurs that were buried with him. The remains of a Mrs. Shannon were also recognized by a peculiar comb in her hair.
Samuel Taylor, who was one of the first Justices of the Peace of the County of Madison, was the first postmaster of Jackson. His office was on the east side of Liberty street, between Main and Lafayette. Am not able to give the year in which he was appointed but it must have been either 1823 or 1824.
Colonel Charles D. McLean, who was in his day a notable character, and a Virginian, came to Jackson in 1823, and, with Elijah Bigelow, begun the publication of the Jackson Gazette, the first issue of which was of date May 29, 1824. They continued the publication of that paper until 1830, when it passed into the possession and thc management of Colonel J. H. McMahon, who changed its name to Truth Teller. The Gazette, in its time, was the only paper published in West Tennessee, and consequently had a wide circulation and great influence in forming public opinion. It was published in the interest of General Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett.
Colonel McLean represented Madison County in this State's Legislature. Later he moved to Memphis, where he died.
The first case of horse stealing tried by a Madison County court was in November, 1824. The person thus circumstanced was Adam Lowry. He was convicted and sentenced to receive on his back thirty-nine lashes, and one may be sure they were laid on with a vigor-be branded H. T. on the thumb, and serve thirty days in the county jail, to stand in the pillory two hours three days out of every week, to be rendered infamous, and to pay the costs of the court.
That the court of Madison County was careful of its dignity in those days may be inferred from the fact that John Fussell was fined ten dollars for fighting on its ground and in contempt of it, with John Montgomery.
:The first trial for murder in Madison County was commenced in the month of October, 1826, and lasted until the end of the following January. Thomas Jameson, who was the subject, was not only found guilty, but was sentenced to hang, as was also a negro who was his accomplice. That sentence was fully executed May 24, 1827. The cause of that murder was a love affair, and Francis Saunders was the person murdered. Jameson sought the hand of his daughter in marriage, was repelled, and in revenge killed Saunders.
James Wright, who was tried about the same time for killing West Ratliff, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to pay a fine of $25 and the costs, and to be branded "M" on his thumb.
At the time about which I am writing, and until about 1835, Indians from the northern part of Mississippi came to Jackson to trade. It was then a common thing to see stoic red men in large numbers, walking on the streets, mingling with its white citizens, with farmers, with horse traders, with slave drivers, and with hunters. This last class of men then formed a considerable part of the population of Jackson. These men were strong, physically and intellectually, but were not communicative. They wore fur caps and leather leggins that reached to the middle of their things, also moccasins and fanciful linsey hunting shirts, and always carried rifles, a plentiful supply of ball and powder, and large hunting knives. They were familiar with the woods and knew the haunts of the game they sought. Most of their time was spent in the woods with no companion save their dogs. When night overtook them they kindled a fire by means of a flint and steel and made their beds on a pile of leaves.
The first religious society in Jackson was the Methodist Church, which was organized in the fall of 1826, with eight members. Among them were Joseph S. Douglas and his wife, Wyatt Epps and his wife, Robert Burns and Rev. Thomas Neely. They worshiped in private residences and in the court house until 1831, when their organization had become strong enough to build a house of worship, which they undertook and successfully accomplished on the lot that fronts their present beautiful and imposing edifice.
Among the men who helped to build up Jackson and were closely identified with the development of Madison County, was Dr. William E. Butler, who was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1790. He first came to Madison County in 1819, where he located a large tract of land, the western boundary of which is the center of Market street. After a short stay he returned to Middle Tennessee, where he had fixed his residence when he first came South. In 1822 he moved his family, household goods and slaves to this county, and did so in a novel and circuitous manner, in a keel boat, which he procured at or near Nashville and then caused it to be steered down the Cumberland into the Ohio; thence into the Mississippi, and thence up the Forked Deer river to Jackson, where it arrived April 22, 1822. He built a large double log house at the base of a. hill, near a free and limpid spring, a short distance northeast of the present water works.
Dr. Butler was in the earliest days of this county its wealthiest man, and was closely identified with all of the public and private enterprises of Jackson. He had a race track on the grounds now occupied by the Memphis Conference Female Institute, and owned many fine horses. Perhaps no man in this county dispensed more liberal hospitality than did Dr. Butler and his excellent wife. At the first election held for representative from this county after its organization, he was a candidate to represent it and the county of Gibson in the General Assembly of this State, and was opposed by Davy Crockett, of Gibson County. Butler was defeated, because, it was said, he was an "aristocrat" and had a carpet on his floor. The frontier people of that day were opposed to anything savoring of aristocracy, and for a man who was so high-toned as to use carpets, they had little use. During his canvass Davy Crockett visited Jackson, in search of votes, just as candidates of this day do, and while so engaged received from Dr. Butler an invitation to visit the latter's house, to partake of a dinner. Crockett, because he knew he would get a good dinner, and the best glass of whisky then to be had, accepted the invitation. Not only so, but seeing as he was about to enter the Doctor's parlor that with the exception of a small space, on which was a chair, it was carpeted, by the aid of an agile leap he took possession of that chair, and with his feet supported by its rounds, so remained until dinner was announced. Nor with his feet did he then touch his opponent's splendid carpet, but bringing into requisition again his ready and wonderful agility, he cleared the carpet and thus accomplished his exit from Dr. Butler's parlor, as he had entered it. During his canvass and with quaint and popular emphasis, Crockett commented upon his opponent's luxurious habits. On divers stumps he would exclaim: "Fellow citizens, my aristocratic competitor has a fine carpet, and every day walks on truck finer than any gowns your wife or daughters ever wore."
Dr. Butler died in 1882 at the age of ninety-three years. He had one son, Colonel W. O. Butler, now dead, who was the father of William E. and Thomas Butler, now living in Jackson. Dr. Butler came to Tennessee while quite a young man. He studied medicine and practiced his profession in Murfreesboro before he came to Jackson. He was surgeon in Jackson's army during the Florida war and the war with England in 1812-15. After he left the army he married Miss Martha Hays, who was the oldest daughter of Captain Hays and a sister of General S. J. and Colonel S. D. Hays.
Another of the pioneers of Jackson, and one of the first lawyers to settle in the new county, was Colonel Stokely Donelson Hays. Colonel Hays was born in Virginia in 1790, came to Middle Tennessee about 1800. In 1819 he accompanied Dr. Butler, who was his brother-in-law, to West Tennessee prospecting, and in 1822 with his family, returned to Jackson in company with Dr. Butler. Colonel Hays' mother, Mrs. Jane Hays, was also of the party. She settled on what was long known as "Hays Hill," late "the Convent grounds" in the northeast part of the city not far from the Union depot. Mrs. Hays had a double log house built, land cleared, and made the place her home until her death in 1833. She was a good and noble woman of the old school, and was loved and honored by all who knew her. The place after death, passed into the hands of her son, General Hays, a wealthy planter, who built a handsome brick residence.
Colonel Stokely D. Hays was a lawyer of- ability and a genial gentleman. He was said to have been the finest looking man in Jackson, being over six feet tall and weighed two hundred pounds. He was aide-de-camp to General Jackson in the war of 1812-15, and married Miss Lydia Butler, only sister of Dr. W. E. Butler. Mr. S. D. Hays, a prominent lawyer of Jackson, is a grandson of Colonel Hays.
After the location of its shire town, and about the year 1823, settlers in great numbers came into this county, and from that time its population and its wealth rapidly increased. Indeed, in 1823, and in succeeding years, settlements were made in every part of it, but they were so detached as to engender a clannishness among the persons who constituted them. That spirit impressed itself upon the descendants - of these persons, which existed for many years, or until the entire county was settled. Its different neighborhoods organized themselves into clans something like that which formerly existed among the Scotch Highlanders, and when rival clans met they seldom separated without some of them carrying home bruised heads and bloody noses. Among its noted clans were the Steward's, Sevier's, Cox's and others, with their adherents and henchmen. While they did their duty as good and loyal citizens, they considered horse racing and cock fighting as innocent sport. In fact, with them, fighting was a pleasant pastime. They did not fight with knives and pistols, as in these days, but with their hard, brawny fists, made harder by honest toil. They fought, made up, then fought again and were friends, because they had fought. Among the famous fighters of that day were Major Charles Sevier, nephew of the first Governor of Tennessee, and Colonel John Houston. The former ivas a genial, kind-hearted man and possessed miraculous physical strength and courage. His home was in what is now the Eighth Civil District.
Soon after the organization of this county his house was made a voting place, and he always managed to carry his box according to his own ideas of what was right and proper, either by moral suasion, or by the force of hard knock-out blows. He was a great admirer of General Jackson and always carried his box for the old hero and his friends. He would not tolerate a single vote against him. He had a way which he called "purging the polls" that consisted of whipping any man who proposed to vote against Jackson and the Democratic party.
It was said that persons who were ambitious of distinguishing themselves as fighting men would come some distance to test their powers with the old champion. To such he was always accommodating; nor did he fail to give them a goodly number of scars as a reminder that he was "cock of the walk." There was only one thing of which the old major was afraid, and that was red pepper. As has been said of him, on one occasion when he was about to engage in a friendly "bout," he, to the surprise of every spectator, showed evidence of weakening, because he supposed the hand of his antagonist contained a pinch of red pepper, but as soon as he saw therein an "Arkansaw toothpick" a smile spread over his face, and when a bystander proposed to interfere he said, "Never mind, boys; let him come on, knife and all. I thought he had pepper in his hand." Of course he whipped his antagonist, and did it well.
Next to Major Sevier, as a fighter, was Colonel John Houston, who for many years was the champion of his neighborhood. At length a much younger man than himself, moved therein, named Giles. Giles was also a fighting man, and as Houston was getting old, and had for some time been "out of the fray." Giles was looked upon by many of his neighbors as being the "boss fighter." That fact the old colonel did not like, nor did he like Giles, and therefore determined to take him down "a peg." One day he and Giles met in front of Dr. Robert Fenner's store in "Old Cotton Grove," and not long thereafter a fight was made up between them. Houston wore a pair of spurs which he neglected to remove before the fight began, and which interfered with his movements. Giles tripped, threw him down and then got on him and punished him terribly on his body as well as on his eyes, which were thereby closed, but the fight continued. The crowd of men which had collected, though in sympathy with Colonel Houston, did not interfere. The etiquette which governed such an affair forbade anyone from so acting until one or the other said be "had enough." At length Dr. Fenner stooped down by the combatants and asked the colonel if he could do anything for him. His reply was: "Nothing, I thank you, Doctor. I am doing very well." About that time, Houston put his hands around the back of Giles, then interlaced them, and while thus pressing it, used his spurred feet, which at first had given Giles the advantage, with such impressive and painful effect upon the latter's flank and rear as to extort from him the confession that Houston had sufficiently punished him, and in the same connections to beg the "lookers on" to come to his relief.
That was the last battle Colonel Houston ever fought. He lived to be an old man and when he died was buried near the Mounds, a few miles from Pinson. Some of his descendants are still living in this county.
The first society organization in the county was called the "Sacrificial Club." It had thirteen members, among whom were William Armour, Charles Sevier, W. R. Harris, Stokeley D. Hays, John B. Cross, B. G. Stewart, W. R. Hess, Colonel Theobold and Adam Huntsman. The names of the others are lost. The origin and the object of that organization are unknown at this day, but it is reported to have originated on an occasion when those old pioneers had been for several days worshiping at the shrine of Bacchus. After they had reached a point where they began to wish that they had been engaged in some other occupation, one of them proposed that a human sacrifice should be offered as a propitiation for their sins. The proposition was favored and they agreed to east lots to determine who should be the victim, each having previously bound himself, in the most solemn manner, to abide the result. Major John B. Cross, who was at that time, one of the members of the court of pleas and quarter session of this county, and had been an Indian fighter under Jackson, was the member on whom the lot fell. A pen of logs was then built on the corner of Lafayette and Liberty streets, the present situation of the Murray Block, which was filled with the most combustible material that could be found, and thus an altar having been prepared, the master of ceremony deprived Major Cross of his apparel, put on him a white robe, and having delivered him to two high priests of the Sacrificial Club, they led him to the altar, put him on it in an erect position and then deliberately proceeded to apply to it the torch which was to set it aflame; but before that act could be successfully accomplished the Major was saved from death by fire through the timely appearance of a man, who was neither a member of the club nor knew that for its manifold sins one of its members had been selected as the propitiation. Major Cross lived for many years after he was thus saved from death and was one of the most honored citizens of this county which he represented in the Legislature of this State whenever he sought that honor.
James S. Lyon came to this county from Jackson County, March 24, 1825, and soon thereafter bought a large tract of land about three miles northwest of Jackson on which he settled.
Mr. Lyon was a man of wealth. Besides the place in question he owned large bodies of land in various parts of the State.
He was sheriff of Madison County in 1842-4, but before that period was a deputy sheriff, and as such, had charge of the infamous John A. Murrell, the land pirate, whom he carried to the penitentiary of this State in Nashville after the latter had been convicted in the Circuit Court of this county. He was selected for that important mission because it was thought that the friends of Murrell might attempt his rescue, and Mr. Lyon being a brave and fearless man, the belief was he would allow no interference with his duty. Besides holding the positions mentioned, -Mr. Lyon was a member of the State Legislature from this county.
Before coming to West Tennessee Mr. Lyon married a Miss Woodfolk, of Nashville, a sister of the late General Woodfolk. She survived her husband twenty-two years, and died in 1886, at the ripe age of eighty-one years, beloved and honored by a large circle of friends. She was an educated, cultured and refined woman, a strict member of the M. E. Church, South, and belonged to that class of noble matrons for which the South was in antebellum times so justly celebrated.
Samuel McClanahan was the oldest of ten children, five brothers and five sisters, who had been left orphans in South Carolina, while some of them were quite young. He lived with his parents on their farm, until he was eighteen years of age,.when his father apprenticed him to a tailor who worked on the bench by the side of Andrew Johnson. After Samuel had learned the trade of tailor, he returned home, and because of his studious habits and fondness for books his father sent him to a law school from which he graduated in due time, and then in 1827 came to Jackson where he taught school a few months and then returned to South Carolina, from which State he brought his sisters and brothers to his home in the West. He then taught school in Jackson until 1832 when he formed a partnership with Andrew L. Martin in the practice of law, which occupation he followed until his death, which occurred in 1874.
Of Samuel McClanahan's brothers: James was a skilled and popular teacher, David was a farmer, John was a journalist and editor, was an efficient captain of a company of volunteer soldiers in the war between this country and Mexico and afterwards owned, edited and published with distinguished success, the Memphis Appeal, with which he was connected in 1866, the date of his death. Nelson, another brother and the youngest, had about reached his majority when he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the regular army of the United States, and in that capacity gallantly served in the Mexican war and was raised to the rank of captain, and after the cessation of that war returned to Jackson, where he resided for awhile and until he went to Memphis, and with his brother John, was connected with the Appeal. Neither Nelson nor John ever married.
The era of education in this county begins with its organization. The records of its earliest schools are meager. In fact, I might say, that of them there is no record at all, except the recollection of its old citizens, and the traditions which they received from their ancestors. I can find no record, nor even a tradition, of any school in Alexandria, hence I conclude that the time in which that settlement existed, was too short for the organization of a school. The first schoolhouse in Jackson was erected in 1824 by John Harton, who taught a school in that house for, perhaps, two or three years, but about it no facts can be gathered further than that it existed. However my inference is, that Mr. Harton only taught the primary branches, and that the attendance in that school was small.
About the same time, and on or near the lot on which W. P. Robertson's present residence is situated, a log schoolhouse was erected, and in it more than one prominent citizen now of this county, studied the fundamental principles of grammar, made tortoise shell rings for their sweethearts, and occasionally witnessed, if they did not assist in "turning out" the school master. That was indeed a quaint schoolhouse, and in it boys were thoroughly taught, and when such act was necessary, were scientifically flogged. In short, in it, Mr. Sloan, a Presbyterian clergyman, taught boys how to think, and used the switch "decently and in order." He was followed by a Mr. Gist, who had been trained in the school of Samuel McClanahan, was truly a scholar and at the same time, as zealous a devotee of Maury's grammar and of the dictionary, as he was skilled in the use of the rod.
Sloan and Gist were splendid teachers. But they did not alone render Jackson in its earliest days notable as an educational center. Nor was the log schoolhouse the first "academy" it had. Years before Sloan and Gist taught and flourished, McNutt, also Presbyterian preacher, Samuel McClanahan, and a Mr. Stockwell, an eminent scholar from the State of Maine, had preceded them. McNutt's school was in the western portion of Jackson, and consisted of boys and girls. Stockwell taught in a frame house which had been previously erected, on a hill in the center of certain real estate which Dr. William E. Butler had donated to Jackson, and in a short distance from a spring which then afforded an abundance of clear, cool and wholesome water. I have been informed that Mr. Stockwell was not only learned, and physically a splendid specimen of manhood, but that his school in all of its departments was of the highest order. Among his pupils were Judges R. J. Hays and William T. Haskell, who afterwards achieved as an orator and as a politician, national distinction. Nor in this connection will it be amiss to state that Judge John L. Brown has informed me, that Mr. Stockwell was the first teacher from whom he received instruction, and that on its thoroughness and its solidity, is based his present education.
While Mr. Stockwell was principal of the Jackson Academy, Samuel McClanahan taught a private school, and had for his pupils the sons of this county and Jackson's then leading citizens, such as Colonel Atlas Jones, Allen Deberry, Samuel Dickens, Henry Connally.
I now direct my readers' attention to a later period, when Jackson had thrown aside its village garb, had assumed the proportions of a growing town, and so was induced to erect an edifice in which its boys might be educated, not only larger and more commodious than thee one in which Mr. Stockwell taught, but of brick. That edifice came into existence about the year 1835 on the lot on which is situated the palatial residence of Mr. W. P. Robertson, and in it were educated not only hundreds of young men, some of whom are now alive and the occupants of distinguished positions in this and in other States; but it continued in its career of usefulness under the conduct of such accomplished teachers as Abraham Lytton, William H. Stephens, Samuel Stephens, Thomas Ewell and Messrs. Wright and Russell, until it was absorbed by the West Tennessee College, now the Southwestern Baptist University.
There were no "professors" in those days, at least that title was not applied to the country nor to the village school teacher. The man who taught a school was the "schoolmaster," and the female teacher was the "schoolmistress." The schoolmaster usually wore spectacles and dressed in black clothes that were threadbare and "slick," and his trousers from force of habit, bagged at the knees. School "took up" at 8 o'clock in the morning, "let out" from 12 to 1 o'clock. Then "books were called" until 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the school was dismissed. The studies in the primary schools were, reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar and sometimes geography. The pupils were not required to have a uniform system of books. Any book would answer the purpose, though it was "dog-eared" and had done duty in the family for a generation or two. A big hickory withe was a necessary adjunct to every schoolroom, and it not unfrequently happened, that it was brought into use. A teacher who would "spare the rod" was not considered "much shakes."
A favorite mode of punishment was to require a boy to stand upon the end of a bench with a large paper cap called a "dunce cap," on his head. Another punishment that was common in those days was to make an offending boy sit between two girls. At this day the boys would rather enjoy that kind of punishment.
Sometimes the "big boys" of the school would band together to enforce their demand on the "master" for a holiday. Their plan was to assemble at the schoolhouse early in the morning and then bar its doors and close its windows, thus keeping the teacher out, until he acceded to their demands to dismiss school, or to "treat." "Treating" the school by the teacher was not an uncommon occurrence. A few pounds of stick candy, or a few ginger cakes and a bucket of cider, served for that purpose.
The daily exercises of the early school were usually begun by the master reading a chapter in the Bible which was followed by a fervent prayer. The children were given as well religious and moral, as mental instruction; were taught good manners, also to respect their elders, and to honor and obey their parents.
The schoolhouse was built of logs with puncheon floors and seats. Its desks were made by boring holes in its wall into which long wooden pegs that supported the boards were driven; its fireplaces occupied about half of one of its sides and on another was a window about two feet high and eight or ten feet long.
In such schoolhouses some of the greatest and most learned men, and some of the noblest women this country has ever produced were educated.
Somewhat later than the period of which I have been writing, Jackson had other schools, in no degree of an inferior order, and which added much to the moral and to the intellectual culture of its boys and of its girls. Rev. John Finley, who was a Baptist clergyman, and the possessor of much learning and a teacher of unquestioned skill rind ability, conducted a private school. He was succeeded by John H. Day, who was as eccentric and as positive in his character as he was popular and successful as a teacher. Besides being a thorough teacher of mathematics, he impressed his pupils with the importance of a thorough knowledge of grammar, and in so instructing them, steadily and with much force maintained, that as gender denoted a distinction of sex, there could be only two genders, masculine and feminine, and that as neuter, signified neither, such a gender was not authorized by true grammatical law.
Mr. Day was a native of Virginia. After he ceased being a teacher he became a justice of the peace, and in that capacity pronounced judgments, which, because of their justness, rendered him truly popular. In 1840 he owned and conducted the Jackson hotel, which was situated on the lot which the First National Bank now occupies. But preferring farming to hotel life, he abandoned the latter and until his death successfully cultivated the farm on the eastern limit of this city, now known as the James McRee place.
Henry Vannerson about the same period also taught a private school in Jackson, which was largely patronized. Not only was he a thorough teacher but when he deemed such discipline necessary for the improvement as well of the mind as of the body of any of his pupils, he, without stint and with consummate skill, used the switch.
Thorough and well disciplined in their earliest period, as were the male schools of Jackson, its citizens did not then forget its girls, but kept constantly employed thoroughly educated and skilled teachers, of whom George Bigelow and his cultured wife, were notably distinguished. They came from the State of Massachusetts into this county, when its inhabitants were sparse, and long before McNutt, John H. Day and Rev. John Finley essayed to teach the girls of Jackson, had established in it a female school that not only became eminent as the center of female education in West Tennessee, but for a long series of years continued its successful career. Moreover, it was conducted by Mr. Bigelow and his wife, until about the year 1832, when he departed this life, and after that occurrence, by his wife, who did not discontinue it until 1857, the year of the marriage of the late Rev. A. W. Jones and her daughter, Amanda C. Then Mrs. Bigelow relinquished the school from which she reaped abundant honor and profits, and in which girls were thoroughly taught, as well to write as to correctly speak the English language. Indeed, so proficient as a teacher was she, and so devoted to that profession, that she could not resist the persuasion of her son-in-law, Dr. Jones, to aid him in the Memphis Conference Female Institute of Jackson. But she did not continue long thus acting. The infirmity of old age compelled her to desist, and not long thereafter, ripe in honor and in usefulness, she went to her eternal rest.
The house in which she and her husband organized their school, and in which that school was conducted, until its discontinuance, is of brick and still occupies a prominent site on the east side of North Royal street.
But I must proceed to give a sketch, as the same has been detailed to me, of a man who was one of the earliest settlers in this county, and in Jackson, and whose death was universally lamented. I allude to Judge John Read, than whom there never lived, nor died, in this county a man more notable, more popular and more generally respected.
Judge Read was a successful practicing lawyer in Jackson for about seventeen years, before he assumed the judicial ermine, and, during that period had for his professional compeers Pleasant M. Miller, Adam Huntsman, Milton Brown, Andrew L. Martin, Samuel McClanahan, Alexander B. Bradford and William Stoddert, whose legal achievements then added luster to this county, and with them before juries and judges often engaged in the argument of cases in which as well the property as the liberty of men, was involved; and whether thus defeated or the victor, he never "lost his head," nor forgot his manhood. Moreover, he was first elected Circuit Court Judge by the General Assembly of this State, while Andrew L. Martin was a member of that body from this county, who zealously supported him. He held that office and was performing its functions when judges' election in this State was given to the people, with whom no man had greater strength. His big heart, his genial manner, and his winning oddity, so rendered him. Thus equipped and being also a safe, a just and an incorruptible judge, he easily won the support of the people, and though opposed by Samuel McClanahan, a Christian gentleman and a deservedly distinguished lawyer, they kept him in his office by a large majority, until the war between the States. Not only was Judge Read a fine mixer with the people - always heartily grasped their hands and told amusing events of which he was the chief hero - but during his canvass with Mr. McClanahan, those events were by himself and by his friends, very effectively used. For instance, during the course of a day not long after the Legislature of this State had elected him judge, his wife, whom he always addressed as "Polly," advised him to abandon his slovenly habit, that he should put on a clean shirt every day, and in other particulars of dress and of customs emphatically charged him to imitate Wm. Armour and Alexander Patton, then the two leading and stylish men of Jackson. The judge readily promised to comply with his wife's advice and emphatic charge and so for the time being they separated. Nor is there proof that after she had thus charged him, she saw him further that day until he had retired to his bed for sleep. Soon after that act Mrs. Read followed the judge, and finding him nude, she administered to him not only a wifely rebuke, but to her question as to the whereabouts of his shirt, he meekly responded, "Polly I nicely folded it and then put it under the pillow of my bed. I obeyed your command. That is, acted as you told me was the custom of Messrs. Armour and Patton." Nor is this the only "shirt scrape" which befell the fun loving judge in his attempts to obey the commands of his wife as to how he should use that necessary and very becoming garment.
It so happened that on a certain occasion he interchanged duty with Judge Valentine D. Barry; that is, held court for that eminent man in Raleigh, then the shire town of the County of Shelby. Before he departed from home for that place, his careful wife put into his valise divers shirts, and in the same connection directed him while he was absent to don one of them every day, thus to keep himself neat and in an attire commensurate with the dignity of his office. Kissing his wife and promising obedience, he hastened to Raleigh, remained therein about a week holding Judge Barry's court, and then returned to his home and his good wife, who gladly welcomed him and at the same time carefully inspected his valise, and finding it bare of shirts, she questioned him as to how he had disposed of those she had put into it before he went to Raleigh. Being equal to the emergency, and with fun in his eyes, he quickly responded: "Polly, I did as you commanded. Donned one every day, appeared neat, and so maintained my judicial dignity, and now on my body are the whole of them."
Judge Read was a native of Kentucky, an ardent Whig and an admirer of Henry, Clay. In short, he was a just judge, an honest man and so he died.
Colonel Robert I. Chester was born in Carlisle, Pa., July 21, 1793, and while he was quite a youth his parents moved to Jonesboro, Tenn., where he grew to manhood, having meantime obtained a fair education in an "old field schoolhouse." He served through the war between the United States and England, known as "The War of 1812," as quartermaster of the third Tennessee regiment, and after, the close of that war, in 1816, began merchandising. In 1819 he lost a fortune in tobacco speculation. In. 1824 he moved to Jackson and engaged in merchandising, in which occupation he continued until 1830. From 1825 to 1833 he was postmaster of Jackson. In 1835 he went to Texas and there received, an appointment as colonel under General Sam Houston in the war for Texas independence, and after the battle of San Jacinto, which virtually ended that war, he returned to Jackson and was again appointed post master. Shortly thereafter he received the appointment of land register for West Tennessee. In 1837 President Van Buren appointed him United States marshal for the western part of this State, in which capacity he efficiently served the public with one intermission, or more, for sixteen years. Being a shrewd business man and intensely energetic he accumulated a considerable fortune, was perhaps the largest land owner in the Western District. The Civil War brought loss to him in slaves and in other property. In 1870 he represented Gibson, Carroll, Henry and this county in the Legislature of this State and was re-elected in 1872. Colonel Chester's first wife was the youngest daughter of Robert Hays and a niece of General Andrew Jackson. Moreover, to that distinguished man, he sustained a close and an uninterrupted personal relation and during the whole of his manhood career was an unswerving Democrat. In 1884 he was chosen by the college of electors of this State, to carry the result of its vote in that year for President and Vice President of the United States to the city of Washington, and before he performed that duty, he visited President-elect Cleveland, by whom he was most cordially received and then entertained with distinguished consideration.
In 1855 Colonel Chester married his second wife, Mrs. Jane P. Donaldson, whom he survived.
He died in 1891 in his home on South Royal street at the advanced age of ninety-eight years. The possessor of a mind which was always bright and clear, and of a wonderful recollection especially of past events, he was not in any particular an ordinary man. The weight of years did not heavily oppress him, nor abate his interest in public affairs, nor in the welfare of this State, of this county and of this city. Few men have lived so long, and have had an experience of this life so busy and so varied as was his, either in the excitement of speculation or in the arena of politics or in being near Andrew Jackson, while the latter was in the halo of a splendid military career.
Though, as has been already stated, a positive, and before the Civil War in this country, a leading and influential Democrat, because of his pleasant manner, of his exact view of justices and of hearty friendship, many of Colonel Chester's truest admirers were leaders of the Whig party. While he and they in heated political contests were manly opponents, the behests of true friendship were scrupulously observed. All in all, Colonel Chester was an extraordinary man.
One of the counties of this State bears Colonel Chester's name, and before he died, as the leading Mason who witnessed that event, he placed in its proper position the corner stone of the court house of that prosperous county.
Prominent as Colonel Chester certainly was in this country, and in this State, James Caruthers, about whom it is my province now to write, was not less so. A native of the county of Rockbridge, in the State of Virginia, proud of his ancestry, replete with adventures and animated by the push and the pluck which accompanied him, when he entered the threshold of manhood; he not only then sought, but then became a hopeful and an enterprising citizen of this State, not, however, to practice law, for which sphere he had been licensed, but to locate for the University of the State of North Carolina land warrants in the western part of this State, a business for which, because of his legal learning, of his practical education, and of his superior judgment, he was eminently fitted. His entrance into this State, was in, or near Nashville. Thence in the year 1819, when spring had given impetus to vegetation, when wild flowers, in all the glory of their luxuriant beauty, look in whatever direction he listed, greeted his vision; when deer in abundance and in uninterrupted freedom browsed and gamboled on the site now occupied by this city, and when Indians roamed in and claimed it as their rightful heritage, he came into this county on a prospecting tour; however, not on the back of a horse, or in a stage, or in one of the vehicles, which men who were then seeking new homes, were accustomed to employ; but with divers men, who like himself, were enterprising, fearless, and daringly adventurous, took a berth in a keelboat at Nashville, and thence was carried down the Cumberland into the Ohio river. Thence down that stream into the Mississippi. Thence down it to the mouth of the Forked Deer. Thence up that river to Jackson, which he adopted as the point, whence he visited various parts of West Tennessee, examined and surveyed some of its best land, and then by the authority of warrants that he had in his possession, located it for the benefit and in the name of the University to which only a while ago I referred. While he thus kept himself employed, and becoming the better qualified for his business; he did not forget to essay the securing for himself an eligible and permanent location, and in so acting he not only selected Jackson, but in 1821 moved into it and soon occupied the position of one of its leading citizens, and so he continued, until the date of his death. Of him moreover I might write much, but not of wonderful deeds that he performed, either in peace or in war. True, he was a soldier in the conflict of 1812 between this country and Great Britain, and in that capacity performed his duty efficiently; but he did so quietly, firmly, and in the spirit of patriotism. After that event, he was a civilian, quiet, good and earnest. He, however, preferred that sort of life to one which had about it more excitement, and which impelled men who moved in it, to be constantly on their feet. Well educated and the reader of books which were abundant in useful information, he was the campanion [companion?/champion?] of, and influenced good men. Practically benevolent, his benefactions were many and extensive. To the poor, who lived in his sphere, he was a compassionate friend, and in ministering to their wants, spared not his purse. As a Christian, he was unswervingly true, and of the church of his choice, a pillar well planted, and that would not yield to worldly pressure. While in the long accepted sense of that term not a politician, nevertheless he was a positive Democrat, and as such, wielded much and wholesome influence over his party, and so materially aided it, and kept it from excess, but never sought from it, any of its honors, nor its emoluments. As already stated, the chief business which first engaged his attention, when he became a resident of this county, was the locating of land warrants, and having so acquired an accurate knowledge of the position of the most eligible and fertile portions of West Tennessee, he opened in Jackson a real estate agency, which he soon rendered popular and lucrative, and thus he acquired property of no mean value. When he had scarcely reached his majority, he married Francis E. McCorry, then a girl, pretty, vivacious and brilliant, and a daughter of Thomas E. McCorry, who, with his wife and family, settled in this country, about two miles north of Jackson, in the year 1824. Mr. and Mrs. Caruthers resided for a long number of years, indeed until each died, in the brick house which be caused to be erected on Baltimore street of this city, near its west end, and therein reared four sons and three daughters, all of whom are dead except Stoddert Caruthers, who is now a prominent member of the Jackson bar, and a worthy and an enterprising resident of this city.
Dr. George S. Snider was born in the year 1800, in Harrisburg, Pa., of Dutch parentage. He graduated in the study of medicine in 1822 and being imbued with the spirit of adventure so common in that day, determined to seek a home and fortune in the far Southwest. He traveled the entire distance from his native State to the then young town of Jackson, a distance of more than one thousand miles, on horseback. The journey occupied several months' time, and was not unattended with great danger. Dr. Snider arrived in Jackson the same year, 1822, and began the practice of his profession, in which occupation he continued for many years. Moreover, he was the proprietor of a drug store which was located in the rear part of the large general store of Armour, Lake & Cromwell. He had for a partner Dr. Young, and together they caused to be built a substantial brick building on the east end of the lot now occupied by the Hurt Block, and which building was known for many years, and until it was torn down a few years ago, as "the Totten House." The building was intended by Drs. Snider and Young for a bachelors' hall, to be occupied by themselves, but before its completion they both married and then sold the house to Mr. Lake.
Dr. Snider married in 1832 a Miss Owen, who accompanied the family of William Armour from Baltimore. Ten children were born to them, most of whom are still living. There were three sons and. seven daughters. The eldest died while in the Confederate army, near Vicksburg.
In 1859 Dr. Snider moved from Jackson to Magnolia, Miss., where he continued to reside until the close of the Civil War, when he moved to Memphis. He died in Jackson while on a visit in 1873.
Colonel Thomas Henderson came to this county from Raleigh, N.C., at which place he was the editor of a newspaper, in the year'1823, and settled near the Indian Mounds three miles from Pinson. With him came Dr. Richard Fenner and Mr. Johnson, who were his brothers-in-law. After the death of his wife in 1829 Colonel Henderson moved to Sumpter County, Alabama. He was a man of learning, a fine writer, a good speaker and of great influence. He was possessed of considerable wealth when he came to Madison County, but lost a great deal of it - by being security for others.
Colonel Henderson was the father of seven sons. Calvin, a lawyer, who died in Louisiana, married a Miss Eliza Patton, of this county. Richard, a graduate of West Point Military College, was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States army, was killed in the Dade massacre in Florida in 1835 when Major Dade was surprised marching from Fort Brooks, now Tampa, to a fort that stood near where Gainsville now stands, by an attack from Osceola, and every man save two were killed. Lieutenant Henderson was the last officer of that gallant, but unfortunate band, to fall before the fury of the red men. William also married a Miss Patton. He was a lawyer by profession and was the father of Miss Corrinne Henderson, who now resides in Jackson. He died in Texas since the war. Thomas married, first a Miss Lancaster, and after her death he married Miss Mary Ormond Butler, daughter of Dr. Wm. E. Butler. William E. and Dr. Thomas Henderson, of Memphis, are the sons of this last union. Colonel Thomas Henderson was a gallant officer in the Confederate army and commanded the famous Henderson scouts. He died about 1876. Samuel, the fifth son, died in New Orleans, where he was a leading commission merchant. Alex was a lawyer and died in Texas. His wife was a daughter of Judge Turley. Nathaniel is still living on his large sugar plantation in Louisiana, about twenty miles from New Orleans. He married a Miss Patterson.
Colonel Henderson had but one daughter, Corrinne, who became the wife of Henry W. McCorry, the father of Judge H. W. McCorry, Miss Pet McCorry and Mrs. John H. Freeman, all of Jackson.
William Stoddert was born in 1796 in Bladenburg, Md., of English ancestry. He received his education in Georgetown, District of Columbia. In 1822 he came to Tennessee, and to Jackson where he decided to locate. He was a lawyer, a man of scholarship and greater learning in his profession than any other member of the Jackson bar during his lifetime. Some of his briefs, which are found in the State reports, attest his ability as a lawyer. He was a man of great purity of character, and, though comparatively a young man when he died, he left a reputation for high character as a citizen and as a lawyer second to none.
Mr. Stoddert married Miss Mary J. Mason, daughter of Daniel Mason, of Paris, this State. She was a noble Christian woman, a worthy wife of a true and noble man. She survived him for more than half a century, honored, respected and loved by all who knew her.
Mr. Stoddert died in 1839. The following notice appeared in the Polar Star, a newspaper published in Trenton at that time:
"The District Telegraph of the i8th inst. announces the death of William Stoddert, Esq., of Jackson, who departed this life on the 14th after an illness of twenty-one days, in the forty-third year of his age. William Stoddert emigrated and commenced the practice of the law in the Western District at an early day. He possessed a fine native intellect with a well balanced mind, and by industry and close application he soon elevated himself to the head of the bar, of which he was a member, and by his correct, honest and unpretending deportment gained the good opinion and esteem of not only those with whom and for whom he transacted business, but of the community at large; in a word, his honesty was proverbial and in William Stoddert were united all the virtues that adorn and ennoble the human character, and in his death the society of Jackson has sustained a loss which cannot easily be repaired."
Mr. Stoddert's residence was on College street at a place known at a later date as the Scurlock place, east of the Mobile & Qhio railway. His law office was op a lot east of where the Presbyterian Church now stands. He owned considerable property consisting of lands and slaves, and was considered quite a wealthy man. He was liberal and charitable, public spirited and enterprising. He was a member of the Episcopal Church, and, indeed was one of the founders of the present flourishing church (St. Luke's) in Jackson.
Mr. Stoddert left three daughters, Mrs. Caruthers, Misses Harriet C. and Willie, now residing in Jackson. He left no male descendants to perpetuate his honorable name.