TNGenWeb Project
The Goodspeed Publishing Co., History of Tennessee, 1886
History of Henderson County

Also See: Biographical Sketches

Transcribed by David Donahue

        THE surface of the county is somewhat diversified. The county occupies the highest lands between the Mississippi and the Tennessee Rivers. It attains an elevation of 720 feet above the sea level at Lexington. The highest lands are found in the highland Ridge, which extends nearly due north and south through the center of the county. From the peculiar surface the streams of the county flow in almost every direction. Beech Creek, a river, rises about ten miles west of Lexington, and flows almost in a direct line east through Decatur County, and empties into the Tennessee near Perryville. Beech is the largest stream in the county, and was so named from the growth of timber on its banks. Its principal tributaries from the north are Big Creek, Brown Creek, Lick Creek and Haley Creek. The first of these was named from its size, the second from a settler, the third from its deer licks, and the last also from a settler. The tributaries from the south are Wolf, Piney and Cane Creeks. The first of these was named from the animal, the second and last from the growth. In the south and west are Doe, Hurricane and Jacks Creeks, which flow into Forked Deer. The principal streams in the west and north are branches of the Forked Deer. From the central of the north part are Sandy and Beaver Creeks. The ridge above mentioned forms a water-shed between the Tennessee and the Mississippi systems. The soil in the valleys of the various streams is very fertile, while the higher lands have a much lighter soil which, owing to the amount of sand, washes easily, and where It has been in cultivation long is badly washed. Until worn and washed even the uplands are highly productive. From a want of proper care in the growth of grasses and fertilization these lands have greatly depreciated in value. Perhaps the most valuable lands are found along Beech River. Geologically the formation Is later than the subcarboniferous or even the carboniferous period but belongs to the cretaceous period. There is little, if any, of the coffee sand, but the rotten limestone, or green sand, and the Ripley group make the principal formation. This is followed by the Flatwood clays and the La Grange sands of the Lignitic period. Immense beds of the orange sand appear mixed sometimes with gravel but all unstratified. The whole surface shows evidence of drift formation containing lignitic beds, red and white sand Intermingled with various marine shells. The water is generally freestone and is obtained by digging or boring, or from natural springs. White Fern Spring, in the western part of the county, and Henson Springs, about three miles west of Lexington. are both reputed to possess highly medicinal qualities, and are favorite summer resorts. No minerals of any value are suffered to exist in the county, a soft sand rock being the only thing of any quantity found in the county. In the valleys of the streams, and even on many of the ridges, large quantities of valuable timber are yet to be found; the most valuable of this is the oak, consisting of the various species also hickory, beech, pine and many other. Formerly cotton was the staple production and is yet an important factor, but its exhaustive nature has led farmers to give more attention to stock, grain and fruits. The main hindrance to these things is the want of a railroad for transportation to the great commercial centers. As the county has no navigable streams, turnpikes nor railroads, it has always labored at a disadvantage in regard to markets. The building of Virginia Midland Railway, for which the county is asked $75, 000, will, if completed, open up a new field of enterprise. The county is surrounded almost entirely by counties having lines of railroads, and, in consequence, its resources are shown at a disadvantage, as the more favored places tend to sap the county and to rob it of its most enterprising and energetic business men.

        The settlement in Henderson began almost immediately after the Chickasaw treaty of October 19, 1818. The majority of the early settlers were from Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee and North Carolina. Not a few were from Alabama, some were from Virginia and a few from Kentucky. Some traveled by land, driving their stock and hauling their little household plunder in a wagon or carrying on jack horses. Those coming by water either came down the Tennessee to some favorite landing place, and then across the country or down the Cumberland, the Ohio, and then up the Tennessee. The peculiar characteristics of the natives of the respective States whence these settlers came were implanted in the settlers of Henderson County, and as the whole western district was settled mainly by the same class of people, we see a very great homogeneity in society. Immigration to Henderson County did not become general till 1821-22. A few came as early as 1818. Joseph Reel is. claimed to have been the first settler in the county. He came to the county in 1818. and settled on Beech River, about five miles east of the site of Lexington. Here he opened up a farm, where he and his family remained. Samuel Wilson settled on a 7211acre tract of land, where Lexington stands, in the spring of the year 1822. The site for the town was obtained from him as stated elsewhere. Dr. John A. Wilson was also a resident of the county near Lexington at the time of the organization of the courts. He was elected county court clerk in 1822, and held the office till 1835. Abner Taylor, who was one of the first town board, settled a short distance from Lexington as early as 1822. Maj. John T. Harmon settled at the headwaters of Big Sandy about 1821. He was appointed surveyor and surveyed the original plot of Lexington. He was, perhaps, the owner of the first cotton-gin in the county. Jacob Bartholomew and William Hays settled near the headwaters of Beech River. William Cain and George Powers settled near what was called Pleasant Exchange. Wm. Dismukes settled on the north fork of Forked Deer River, and Joseph Reed about eight miles from Lexington, on Beech River. John Purdy settled near Jacks Creek. He was deputy surveyor for a time, and he gave name to the town of Purdy. James Baker settled about eight miles from Lexington, and Jesse Taylor near the place. Other early settlers were the McClures, Brigances, Trices. Strongs, Shackelfords, MeGees and others. The census for 1830 shows a population of over 8,000. In consequence of the rapid immigration into the county it developed rapidly.

        The fresh lands of the county yielded rich harvests for the planter and the forest was cleared away rapidly. The primitive hand-mill and mortar were resorted to at times in the first settlement of the county for meal, as little flour was then used. A mill was built on Mud Creek in 1821 by John and William Brigham, and another was built on Forked Deer by Daniel Barcroft about the same time. A horse mill was built on the road between Lexington and Trenton about 1822. Maj. John I. Harmon built the first cotton-gin in the county on Beech Creek in 1823. Shackleford's mill, about five miles east of Lexington was built between 1823 and 1830. McGee's mill, near Lexington, and Trice's mill near the same place, also McClure's cotton-gin, were all built before 1830. At one time an extensive cotton factory was running with a large force of hands near Lexington. This was owned for a time by John and William Brooks.

        The first marriage license in the county was issued to H. H. Hopkins and Sophia Greer, and bears date January 8, 1822. Others were John A. Null and Hester Humphreys, December 22, 1822; Calvin Gillum and Susan Reeves, 1828; B. H. Tate and Polly Chambers, July 20, 1825; James Phillips and Martha Rutledge, 1826; Robert Carter and Lydia Mathews, 1826; Win. Potts and Elizabeth Rodgers, October 24, 1823; Robert Rhodes and Lucy Redges, January 24, 1823; Silas Mathews and Elizabeth~ Snell, January 24, 1824. The minister officiating most frequently was John Darnett, a Cumnberland Presbyterian.

        Henderson County was created by an act of the Legislature, on November 16, 1821. It was carved out of the Western District and placed under the control of Stewart County until the formal organization in 1822. The county is bounded on the north by Carroll County, on the east by Decatur, formerly Perry, on the south by Hardin and Chester, and on the west by Chester and Madison Counties. The county was reduced in 1845 by cutting off a strip about three miles wide and attaching the same to Decatur County, and a small fraction lying west of Forked Deer River was attached to Madison County in 1808, and a considerable portion of the southwestern corner was attached to Chester County In 1882. The County was named in honor of Col. James Henderson, of North Carolina, of Revolutionary fame. On the creation of the county Sterling Brewer, James Fentrss and Abram Maury were appointed by the Legislature to select a site for the county seat. The place selected was the present site of Lexington, on Wilson Spring branch. The land embraced sixty-three acres of a 720-acre tract deeded by the State of Tennessee to Samuel Wilson, April 12, 1822, and was by Wilson conveyed to the commissioners as above on August 14, of the same year. For the consideration of $100 and one cholce lot on the square -- Lot No. 20 -- on the above date Wilson did "give, grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfoeff, convey and confirm" the tract to said commissioners. On the same day Brewer, Fentress and Maury conveyed the same by deed to Job Philpot, J. J. Hill, Abner Tyler, James Baker and John Purdy, who were selected as the first commissioners of the town. The place was surveyed by John T. Harmon, who laid out the place, giving the streets a bearing north 47E east. A public square containing four acres was reserved In the center for a courthouse, stocks and jail. The town commissioners were authorized and empowered to sell town lots, and with the proceeds of the sale to erect a courthouse and other public buildings. The first courthouse was a small log house one story high, and stood on the square near where the present house stands. It was built in 1822, at a cost of $142, and did not last long. The second house, which was of brick, was built about 1827 by Samuel Wilson, at a cost of $4,595.97. This house was not a good one and in 1832, Robert Baker, E. U. Tarrant and G. Kerherdon were selected to let out the contract for remodeling the house. It was let to James Baker for about $1,000, and completed October 1, 1833. In 1844 the walls of the house were taken partly down and rebuilt. This work was done by James H. Watson. The courts in the meantime met at the Masonic Hall. This house stood till 1863, when it was accidentally fired by some of the Third Michigan Cavalry, who were quartered in the house. The most of the county records were consumed in this fire After the war the courts met at the store house of Wm. Brooks, the office of T. C. Muse and other places till 1866, when H. G. Threadgill, A. H. Rhodes, J. P. Fuller, J. R. Teague and Samuel Howard were appointed a committee for the erection of a new courthouse. The contract was let to Robert Dyer for $7,450, to be completed October 1, 1867, The building is a two-story brick with double gables having offices on the ground floor for the register clerk and a large court room above. The court yard is one of the finest in the State.

        The first jail was a temporary log jail, and was built by William Patton, at an expense to the county of $83. This served until about 1827, when a new brick jail was erected on Purdy Street near the Kizer Hotel. This was used as a jail till 1881, when it was mold to E. Flake for $480 and he sold this to Mr. Elkins who now occupies it as a private residence. In 1881 a new brick jail was built which stands in the eastern part of town. This was built at a total cost of $8,400.00. The contractors were L. A. Stanford and H. A. Hare.

        Previous to 1851 the poor and unfortunates of the county were taken care of by private parties, or were farmed out to the lowest and best bidders. But few were taken care of by the same individual. In the year above named a deed was made by Absalom McGee to J. S. Priddy, Stephen Massengill and A. S. Johnson as commissioners of the poor for 273-3/4 acres of land. This lies about three miles south of Lexington on Beech Creek, and is a part of a tract entered by Solomon West. The cost of this land was $900. The paupers are kept on this farm while the products of the farm with about $5 per capita pays the steward for his services and supports the paupers.

        The various assessments show quite a diversity in areas, wealth and other items. The assessor's reports for 1836 show 103,123 acres of land (in cultivation?) valued at $430,469; eighty-six town lots valued at $30,880; 858 slaves valued at $525,000, only nine carriages and 1,230 white polls. In 1839 the lands were 114,320 acres valued at $403,838; town lots were 131 and valued at $47,875; slaves were 880 and valued at $489,680; pleasure carriages seven, and the total taxables $1,202,230. In 1852 the land was given in at 389,777 acres and valued at $825,339; town lots at 152 and valued at $54,319. The slaves were 1,339 and assessed at $798,945 and the total taxables at $2,335,000. The assessment for 1854, when slave property reached its maximum, the lands were given in at 899,700 acres and valued at $1,134,021; town lots at 144 and valued at $69,820; slaves at 1,419 and $1,001,075 in value. In 1868 the land was given in at 273,100 acres, and valued at $1,432,528, and a total of taxables $1,983,419. In 1870 the land, according to assessment, was 379,708 acres, and valued at $1,642,144, and the total property at $l,859,687. In 1882 the land was 373,390 acres, valued at $1,584,820, while in 1886 the laud was given at 312,480 acres, and valued at $1,090,227; town lots were 81 and valued at $47,090. The total value of all property was,$1,198,998, The variation in area is accounted for in incorrect assessments and in the reduction of the area by new counties and additions to old ones.

        The first court in the county met on the fourth Monday in December, 1821, at the house of Samuel Wilson. What was done at this court, or of whom it was composed can not now be learned, as all records previous to 1840 have been destroyed. The appointment of county officers and the approval of their bonds doubtless receivrd their first attention. John A. Wilson was chosen the first county court clerk, and he held that position till 1835, when he was succeeded by Jesse Taylor, who held the position until 1859, when he gave place to A. H. Rhodes who held the office until 1878, when C. H. Scott was elected and held the office until 1880, at which time J. A. Teague was elected to that office. These men were all so long connected with the office that a mere mention of their names Is a sufficient history of them.

        The first county register was, perhaps, O. H. King, who served until 1832, when he was succeeded by S. A. Orton who in turn was succeeded by John H. White, but just what date is not clear. White served till 1844, when he gave place to John Smith who served till 1850, when J. A. Henry was elected and served till his death, in 1854, thus serving twenty-eight years. On his death Maj. T. A. Smith was appointed to fill the vacancy, and was elected to the place in 1880. E. H. Tarrant was, perhaps, the first circuit clerk and served till 1830, when ho was succeeded by Addison Pyle, who served till 1840, when H. B. Jones was elected and held the office till 1805. James Priddy was then elected and served till 1870, when E. J. Timberlake held the office till 1874, and was succeeded by I. T. Bell, who held the office until 1878. J. A. Teague held the office from 1878. till 1882, when ~V. H. Britt was chosen and held the office till 1880, and then gave place to J. H. Wilkcrson, who was elected at that tldie.

        .Johu T. Harmon was chosen sheriff at the organization and served till 1826, when he wag succeeded by Robert Marshall, who held the office probably till 1830 when S. M. Carson was elected and held the office till 1837, when H. B. Jones was elected sheriff and held the office till 1840, when John Howell was elected and served one term. O. H. Buck was sheriff from 1842 to 1844. John Howell was again elected and served until 1846, when W. B. Hall was elected and served one tern. W. H. Shelby became sheriff and served from 1848 to 1852. when A. H. Rhodes was elected and served two terms. J. H. Gilbraith was elected in 1850 and held the office till 1860, when Levi McEwen was elected and held it till the war. A. E. Aydelott was elected sheriff In 1864 and was succeeded by R. J. Dyer in 1866, who served till 1868, when G. W. Moss was elected, but resigned in April, 1869, when J. A. Teague was elected to fill the vacancy. A. E. Aydelott was again elected in 1871 and served till 1774 [sic.]. J. M. Wadly was then elected and served till 1878, when he was succeeded by A. G. Douglass, who gave place to G. W. Essary in 1882. The latter served till 1886 and was succeeded by H. C. Lindsey.

        Joshua Haskell was, perhaps, the first circuit judge. In 1838 John Read, of Jackson, became judge and served till 1861, when he resigned on account of failing health. Courts were held by special judges till they were closed by the war. On the reorganization Fielding Hurst was made judge and was succeeded by F. P. Bond, who in turn was succeeded by L. L. Hawkins in 1867. In 1873 T. P. Bateman became circuit judge and served in that position till 1885 when he was succeeded by Levi S. Woods, the present judge

        The Chancery District, composed of Henderson, Perry and MeNairy Counties, was established May 6, 1844. Judge Andrew McCampbell was made the chancellor and served till 1848, when he was succeeded by Calvin Jones who held the office till 1854. Stephen C. Pavatt then became chancellor and served till August, 1861. H. H. Rose held the office of chancellor from 1860 to 1868 when he was succeeded by J. W. Doherty. G. H. Nixon was elected in 1870 and held the office till 1886, when he was succeeded by A. G. Hawkins. On the organization of the chancery court J. W. G. Jones was appointed clerk and master and held that place till 1866, when Owen Haney was appointed to the place and held it till 1872, when Jones was again appointed to the place, which he held till 1878. In 1878 W. F. Brooks was appointed to the place, which he has since held.

        The first lawyers whose names appear were H. H. Hopkins, Wm. L. Petty, and James A. Heaslet. In 1826 or 1827 Micajah Bullock began practice at the Lexington bar, where he was prominent for nearly halt a century. The first criminal execution in the county was the execution of a slave woman for the drowning of a child of Dr. John A. Wilson. The woman was his own slave. A very exciting trial was the case of the State against Milton Reiley for the murder of William (Bud) Willis. The killing occurred at Independence. The trial was moved to Jackson, where he was convicted and executed on June 9, 1849. The lawyers prominent before the bar at this time were the Hawkins', Bullock, Allen, Brasher, Adam Huntsman, Samuel McClanahan, A. G. McDougal, James Scott, Elijah Walker, T. P. Scurlock, J. C. Totten, Milton Brown, W. F. Doherty, J. H. Swayne. W. Beloate, H. Foster, Williams, Gillespie, A. G. Shrewsbury and others. Hon. John M. Taylor began the practice of the law about the opening of the war, A case of some interest occurred in December, 1859, in which Ben F. Page, by his next friend Sam. N. Anderson, sued Sam. C. Wheatley for slander. The jury, N. T. Buckley, J. P. Cross, J. M. Stubblefield, T. Barr, A. B. Jones, W. H. Jordan, J. N. Small, N. C. Epay, T. N. Black, S. H. Holmes and Wm. Wood, gave judgment for $2,344.58. Aaron Curtis was convicted of manslaughter for killing Calvin Barnett, and given a sentence of seven years to the penitentiary. In 1860 Wilson Tidwell and John Barnett each received three year sentences for larceny, and Columbus Phillips the same time for mule stealing. A number of suits were brought against parties for killing during the period of the war. These parties were generally acquitted or driven from the country by the indictments standing against them. A very interesting suit in the chancery court was brought by Brown & Parrish enjoining the formation of the new county, Chester, which was attempted to be established in 1872. A case of much local interest began in 1883 on the repealing of the old charter and the attempt to establish a taxing district at Lexington. Without going into details, it need only be said no taxing district was formed, and that the city is without a charter. The fight grew out of the question of whisky or no whisky. The attorneys of Lexington now are Hon. John M. Taylor, Judge L. S. Woods, R. H. Thorn, W. T. Logan, W. B. Ware, T. Davis and Arthur Pearce.

        The military history of Henderson County properly begins with the late civil war although quite a number went from this county to the Mexican war.

        At the election held on June 8, 1861, Henderson, Carroll, Decatur and Weakley were the only counties in West Tennessee that voted against secession. The vote of Henderson County was 810 for "separation," and 1,013 for "no separation;" but when the final clash of arms came the county was largely in sympathy with the South. The first full companies for the Confederate service were four companies raised for the Twenty-seventh Tennessee (Confederate) Regiment. This regiment rendezvoused at Trenton in the summer of 1861. B. H. Brown, it is believed, raised the first of four companies from Henderson County for this regiment. His company was known as the sharpshooters. The captains of the four companies were C. H. Williams, whose company was called the "Felix Rebels," B. H. Brown, of the sharpshooters, Richard Barham and S. A. Sayle. On the organization of the regiment C. H. (Kit) Williams was elected colonel; B. H. Brown, lieutenant-colonel; Samuel Love, major; C Smith, adjutant; Robt. Wilkerson, sergeant-major; D. A. MeKamey, surgeon and J. R. Wingo, assistant surgeon. On the election of Williams to be colonel, W. P. Timberlake was elected captain of his company, and on the election of Capt. Brown to the lieutenant-colonelcy, John M. Taylor became captain of his company. The regiment numbered about 1,009 men and was put in camp of instruction at Trenton for a time for discipline, but soon moved to Henderson Station on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad for sanitary reasons. Here it remained till the battle of Belmont, when it was ordered to Columbus. Ky. The next troops were one company for the Thirty-first Tennessee (Confederate) Regiment. This regiment also organized at Trenton in the fall of 1861. A. H.. Bradford was elected colonel; C. M. Cason, lieutenant-colonel, and .John Smith, major. The remaining troops from the county were members of the Fifty second Tennessee (Confederate) Regiment. This regiment was organized at Henderson Station January 4, 1862. It was composed of the companies of Capts. Wesson, Russell, Wilson, Akin, Thomasson, McCullum, Thomas, McMillan, Estes, and Williams. The operations of these regiments are given under the histories of these regiments elsewhere.

        The Seventh Union Regiment of Tennessee Cavalry was raised mainly in Henderson and Carroll Counties. Three full companies were raised in Henderson County. The first of these was raised by T. A. Smith, whose lieutenants were A. T. Hart and Frank Reed, The second company was commanded by Capt. A. N. Hays, whose lieutenants are not remembered. The third company was that of Capt. J. W. Beatty. His lieutenants were J. J. Wallace and C Helme. A part of a company consisting of twenty-nine meni was raised by Capt. Derryberry. This regiment was mustered into the service November 14, 1862. The regiment organized by electing Isaac R. Hawkins lieutenant-colonel and T. A. Smith major. The regiment numbered 650 men. Their work was confined almost entirely to guard duty along the line of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. In addition to the guard duty they scoured the country, picking up deserters, stragglers, and preventing recruiting for the Confederate Army, and fighting guerrilla bands, A portion of the regiment was captured by Forrest at Trenton in 1862, and on March 24, 1864, nearly the entire regiment was captured by Forrest's men at Union City.

        The Methodist Episcopal Churches South are a part of the Jackson District of the Memphis Conference. They are mainly embraced in the Lexington Station, Lexington Circuit and Scott Hill Circuit. The three above mentioned embrace fifteen churches or classes, and a membership of 671. The first class was organized in Lexington about 1840 and a house soon after erected. The old register baring been lost, it is impossible to ascertain the names of the first class or the date of the organization. The oldest member now living is Mrs. Elizabeth Ewing who joined the church at Knoxville in 1824. The names of others who joined the church early, are R. B. Jones, in 1839, under the preaching of Rev. Renshaw; Mrs. A. A. Warren, in 1838, under Rev. J. Kelsey; Bettie Bell. in 1840, under R. S. Swift, and E. E. Smith at the saute time; J. W. G. Jones. in 1847, under A. D. Bryant. These are all the names of members that are preserved previous to the war. Among the ministers of the Lexington class since the war may be mentioned R. S. Swift, J. G. Harris, T. G. Whitten, J. J. Brooks, J. A. Moody and W. T. Lock. This class now numbers fifty members and has a new house of worship and maintains a good Sunday school. Perhaps the first Methodist Church built in the county was the one at Olive Branch in 1832. This was built on a two-acre lot deeded by Solomon Milam to Ransom Cunningham, John Cooper, Jas. Hart and Thomas Johnson on July 29, 1832. Shady Grove was another one of the early Methodist Churches of Henderson County. There was a well known camp-ground and church, which were established between 1830 and 1840. Among those connected with this church were the Renshaws, Andersons, Corbets, Hunts, Cogdills, Sherwoods, Hamlets, Youngs and others. The church at Holly Springs was built in 1843, New Hope in 1855, Barreu Springs in 1857, Hepzibah in 1853, New Prospect in 1850, Bethel about the same time, Mount Pleasant in 1872, Poplar Springs in 1873. and many others at different dates. The early revivals were largely due to the zeal of the members at the annual camp-meetings that were formerly held in every county and in almost every neighborhood.

        The Missionary Baptist Church was built in Lexington in 1847. This stood till the war when by neglect it was allowed to go to decay. In 1880 another lot was purchased of J. S. Fielder and the present brick house erected thereon. This church has a good membership and maintains a Sunday-school. Other Baptist Churches are Piney Creek, Union Church, Scarce Creek, Ridge Grove. Bible Union, Pilgrim's Rest in Zion, Hopewell and a few others. The membership of this church is quite large in the county.

        John Barrett, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister preached in Henderson County in 1824. He was, perhaps, the first to preach the doctrine of this church in the county. Some of the first churches in the county were built by the Cumberland Presbyterians. There is a small congregation of Presbyterians at Lexington, but they are without a house of worship at present, although they own the old Lexington Academy which was purchased recently for church purposes. Palestine is the place of an old church and camp ground. The membership at this place is twenty-one. Spring Hill is another Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Its membership is forty-eight. Mount Gilead Church was built in 1856. Its membership is now about twenty. Besides these churches there is one Methodist Protestant Church, a United Baptist Church, at Masyer's Chapel, a Freewill Baptist Church at Shady Grove, and one on Steele Creek, and a Christian Church in the Fifteenth District.

        The first school established in the county was the Lexington Academy, which was authorized October 18, 1823, at which time John T. Harmon, J. W. Philpot, John Purdy, Richard McCree and James A. Haslett were appointed trustees. In 1826 J. T. Harmon, C. H. Miller, J. J. Hill, Reuben Wilcox and James A. Haslett were authorized to form a lottery for the purpose of raising a sum, not to exceed $20,000, for the academy. The academy trustees were to have perpetual succession till 1865. In 1827 M. B. Cook. W. M. Haskins and Samuel Wilson were added to the trustees. Previous to this, schools of an isolated character had been taught in the various neighborhoods of the county. Sometime they were in schoolhouses built for the purpose, sometimes in churches, and not unfrequently under church patronage. What was the result of the lottery scheme is not now known. The trustees acquired considerable property in the name of the academy as will be seen from the following purchases and sales. In 1832 they sold a house and lot in Christmasville for $600, and in the same year they bought of R. C. Blair fifty acres on Brigance Creek for $1,500, and another body of fifty acres of S. B. Orton for $440, and another body in Carroll County for $1,000. They purchased fifty acres of S. M. Carson for $1,000, 220 acres of B. Gillespie for $550 and of R. A. McCree C acres for a small sum. The first house was built in the eastern part of town on a lot purchased of Samuel Wilson in July, 1832. A brick house was here erected which stood till 1852-53, when from decay and want of capacity It was sold and the proceeds invested in a lot and building in the north part of Lexington. The trustees making the last purchase were W. H. Warner, John Brooks, R. B. Jones and Wm. Brooks. On the lot purchased were erected good brick buildings with two rooms. In these academies and two or more church-schools and numerous private schools the majority of the boys and girls of Lexington were educated. At one time Lexington was quite an educational center having its church schools and the academy. The academy fund alone at one time amounted to over $1,000. The old academy was used for the public school till 1835, when it was sold to the trustees of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a new site purchased southeast of town for a new building. The trustees now own four acres of ground on which they have erected a new frame building two stories high, containing a study hall and several recitation rooms. The trustees realized $2.30 on the old buildings and had on hand about $300, and in addition to this a sufficient subscription was obtained to raise the amount to $1,500 with which the new site was purchased and the building erected. The present trustees are C. R. Scott, president; P. J. Dennison. treasurer, and J. N. Hall, W. F. Brooks and L. A. Stan ford. The present board of management was organized In January, 1885, and the present building erected in 1886. The school work is under S. A. Mynders. A. B., who is principal of the school. The school is recognized as the County High School and the trustees are elected by the county court. The course of study embraces English language and its literature, pure and applied mathemathics, natural sciences, ancient and modern languages and bookkeeping, with a special course for teachers. The course is intended to fit pupils for the university and for practical life. About forty public school-teachers have been in attendance the present year, and the whole number enrolled is about ninety-five. Diplomas are awarded those completing the course.

        The first of anything like a systematic course for the common schools grew out of the act of 1839. The first reports in this county were made in 1844. In that year the school directors or commissioners were elected in each civil district, and the school districts were made to correspond with the civil districts. The whole number of children of school age was 2,058. The length of school term varied from forty to sixty days. The school fund averaged about 50 cents to each pupil. This plan of management was continued with little variation till the whole was broken up by the war. The present system was adopted in 1872. The school districts still correspond with the civil districts. Owing to the fact that official reports of the schools have not been preserved it is impossible to trace their growth and development. A partial report of 1885 shows that the white scholastic population for that year was 4,514; colored 683; or a total of 5,197. The whole number of white teachers employed was 81; colored, 7. The number of consolidated schools was 3. The enrollment in the schools was 2,256 white, and 556 colored children, and a total average attendance of 1,350. The total amount paid in salaries was $7,329.60, and a total expenditure for schools of $9,381.25. The average length of school term was 57 days and the average salary per month was $28.

        The county seat, Lexington, is one of many towns in the United States named in honor of Lexington, Mass. It is near the center of the county. It is 720 feet above sea level, and is in latitude 83 [degrees] 4' north and 110 [degrees] 12' west of Washington. As elsewhere stated it was selected by the commissioners in 1822. The streets were made eighty feet wide with the alleys forty-two feet. The lots were laid off in rows around the square, beginning at the northeast corner, and numbered 1, 2, 3, and around the square to the place of beginning, and then another row stared and numbered in the same order, the whole amounting to 104. The first purchasers of lots were John A. Green, John Brook., Samuel C. Wilson, James Wright, J. A. Wilson, W. L. Petty, Samuel G. Tate, William Stoddert, Daniel Thomas, James Jordan and William Edwards. The lots were sold at auction, the auctioneer being the Marshall, for which he was allowed $50. John Purdy was also allowed $50 for assisting in the survey. By the report of John Stewart and Micajah Bullock the entire sale of lots amounted to $6,285.40, and the expenses of sale, survey, public buildings, amounted to $5,453, with some incidentals, which left a surplus of $529.03 on hand. Before the entering of the land of Samuel Wilson, in the spring of 1822, where Lexington now stands, the forest was unbounded by a single woodman's ax, it was its nature had planted it, the surface of the soil was unbroken by a single furrow of the plowman, the flowers were seen almost "to bloom and waste their fragrance on the desert air." James Strong, who settled about three miles north of Lexington, once killed a fine buck within the limits of the public square, while on his way to mill in the southern part of the county. Lexington was first incorporated by an act of the Legislature October 9, 1824. Its charter, which was to run fifty years, has been allowed to lapse, and has been renewed a number of times, but it is now without any charter. Under the present management no Intoxicating liquors are sold. Under an act of 1839, the county surveyor, J. M. Galloway, in March, 1841, laid off "prison bounds" for prisoners for debt. The limits were one mile square, of which the courthouse was the center. According to the chartered rights Lexington was allowed the same powers and privileges as the town of Winchester. Samuel Wilson was doubtless the first resident of Lexington. It was at his house that the first court of pleas and quarter sessions was ordered to meet for organization. Among the business men in building up the city may be mentioned Gladin Gorin, who did considerable business in Lexington for a time, and then went to New Orleans to engage in the wholesale trade. R. W. Hall, James E. Glass, William and John Brooks, Dr. John West, J. S. Fielder and William Collins were identified with the business interest of Lexington before the war. Before the breaking out of that unhappy event the business of Lexington was quite extensive.

        The present business men of Lexington are G. W. Florence, J. N. Hall, F. W. McHaney, John McHaney & Co, T. Edwards. Scott & Stanford, Dennison & Muse, W. R. Elkins, Boswell, Fielder & Co., and J. H. Lofton. The hotels are the Kizer House and the Scott House. Dr. Warren has been longer before the public professionally than any other man in the county. His professional work began about 1838-39. One of the most remarkable men physically that ever lived in Lexington, or any other place for that mater, was Miles Darden, commonly called Durden. He was a native of North Carolina, and moved to Lexington and kept hotel at the corner of the square, where T. Edwards' grocery store now is. Before his death he moved to the county in the vicinity of Jacks Creek. His death occurred in 1857. His measurement, which is attested by the best authority, was as follows: Height, seven feet six inches; circumference of the waist, six feet four inches: weight, over l,000.pounds. He was very sensitive about his weight, which was never known exactly, but estimates put it at all the way from 800 to 1,000 pounds: the latter weight was ascertained by measuring the spring of his wagon while he was in it, and then secretly weighing them down to the same tension, and then calculating the amount of weight thus required.

        Lexington has usually been favored by a newspaper but as the changes have been frequent and no files have been preserved it is impossible to follow the changes. The Lexington Dispatch, of which H. C. Henry was editor and proprietor, was established about 1857. This paper was continued till the war. The Advance was published by G. B. Davis and later the Advance-News by W. T. Hawkins. The Lexington Progress will have been established three years in April, 1887. W. V. Barry is its publisher. The Progress is strictly a home paper and is independent in politics.

        Constantine Lodge, No. 64, F. & A. M., was chartered October 11, 1828. The charter was granted to James Hart, W. M.; J. A. Henry, S. W.; J. E. Weathers, J. W. and other brethren. The Grand Master of the State at that time was C. H. Fuller. The membership at present is thirty-two. It numbered at one time sixty-nine but the formation of a lodge at Juno, Ebenezer and one or two other places cut off a portion of the membership. The present officer, are J. A. Teague, W. M.; T. A. Smith, S. W. and A. M. Stewart, J. W.

        The charter was granted to the present chapter on October 14, 1867. A. H. Rhodes was then H. P.; J. L. Reed, King and Adam Harmon, Scribe. The original charter to this chapter or to a chapter at this place was granted at an earlier date but surrendered. The present style of the chapter is Lexington, No. 87. The officers are A. Fesmire, H. P.; T. A. Smith, King; M. L. Galloway, Scribe. The membership is nineteen.

        Lexington Council, No. 66, was granted a dispensation November 7, 1871, and a charter November 4, 1872. J. L. Phelps, John M. Taylor and J. A. Teague rank in the order named. The membership is sixteen.

        Sardis has a population of 180. It is located in the southeast corner of the county in the Thirteenth District, eighteen miles from Lexington. It was named from an old Methodist camp-ground which was one-half mile east of the village. The place was named Sardis in 1875; Isaac W. Hassell was the first postmaster and merchant. There was, however, a stock store started at the place about 1870. The present business men are Fields, Moore & Co., N. T. Stone, J. G. Ricketts and J. C. Lewis; mill, Fields, Powell & Co.; cotton gin, Grier & Colter. W. G. Moore is postmaster. J. H. England is physician. There are two churches, the Methodist Episcopal Church South and Methodist Episcopal Church.

        Scott's Hill is situated about fourteen miles southeast of Lexington near the Decatur County line. The village contains about 200 inhabitants and was named from Micajah Scott, the first settler near the place. Dr. Wm. Brigance was the business man of the place, he was also the first postmaster. The present business men are Holmes & Son, Woodward Austin & Co., Brown & Co. and F. M. Volner; J. H. McKenzie, druggist; H W. Austin is postmaster. The physicians are P. M. Austin and Bevel & S. P. Winston. The hotel is kept by R. G. KeIley. The only church in the place is the Methodist Episcopal South.

        Juno is eight miles west of Lexington In the Seventh District. The population of the place is about thirty. The village had its origin about 1848 or 1847 and was named by Dr. J. C. Hollam, who was the first postmaster of the place. The first merchants were J. W. Anderson and G. W. Stewart. The business men of the place areWm. Antry & Bro., who have also the postoffice, and J. B. Williams. The professional men are Dr. Joseph True and Dr. Benj. Howard.

        Independence, a once flourishing village, stood twelve miles northwest of Lexington. It was named in 1832 by Isaac Hall. A postoffice was established about that time with Wm. Hewitt as postmaster. The first business men were Joseph Hall and Wm. Hewitt. The place went down about the time of the war and is now known in name.

        Barren Springs was formerly called Barren Springs, but is now known as Reagan. It is in the Twelfth District and lies eleven miles south of the county seat. The village was named in 1881 and on the establishment of a postofflce in 1884 it was changed to Reagan. The population of the place is about fifty. The business men are J. D. Scott & Co. and H. H. Taylor. The steam-mill, gin and saw-mill is owned by G. W. Hodgin & Co. There are two churches, the Primitive Baptist and the United Baptist.

        Long had its origin in 1878. It was then called Middelburg being about half way between Lexington and Decaturville. In 1880 the name was changed to Long in honor of W. B. Long who was made postmaster. The place contains sixty-five inhabitants. W. B. Long is the principal business man of the place.

        Crucifer is located in the Second District, nine miles west of Lexington. It was bormerly called Cross Plains. It was named by Anderson Mitchem about 1830 or 1840. When a postofilce was established at the place It was changed to Crucifer. Joseph Smith was the first postmaster. The first merchants were Barnett & Bro. Win. H. Threadgill is now merchant and postmaster. Dr. M. B. Outlaw is physician.

        Lone Elm took its name in 1869. It was so named by P. J. Howard, Jr., for an elm tree which stood near. The place is eight miles east of Lexington and contains sixty-five inhabitants. The first merchant was P. J. Howard, the postmaster was F. H. Bray. The present merchants are F. H. Bray & Co., and Duke & Sullivan. J. P. Duke is the present postmaster. The professional men are Drs. W. T. Watson and P. Mackey. There are also business houses at Shady Grove, Poplar Springs, White Fern, Pearcy's Mills, Wildersville and at other points in the county.

Table of Contents Page

Henderson County TNGenWeb Home Page

This page last updated on  Friday, October 10, 2003