Christmasville TN


J.P. Utley
"My Grandfather Told Me"
Whence Christmasville?

Those in West Tennessee who think they're knowledgeable in local folklore may be in for a surprise.

A Jackson man has at last shared with The Jackson Sun a yet-unpublished story on the way the Christmasville community in Carroll County got its name.

J. P. Utley of 706 North Royal saw a Page One story in the Sun's Christmas Eve edition which bore the headline, "Yes, There Is A Christmasville," and which told the previously-accepted tale of how the town-turned-community had achieved its Yuletide name.

Well, says Mr. Utley, that story is about 70 years too late.

The popular legend goes that a youth, exhausted after a wild square dance in a little Carroll County settlement, took a shot of mountain dew which went to his head, and he shouted "It looks like Christmas all the time around here!" From that inebriated proclamation, it was said, the settlers adopted the name "Christmasville."

An amusing story, says, J. P. Utley, but not documented, according to his great-great granddaddy, Green Jacobs, former trainmaster of a yearly wagon train to the cotton mills in Paducah, Ky.

"My grandfather told me this story on his back porch when I was a small boy," Utley recalls, "and said he wanted me to always remember it."

Great - grandfather Jacobs lived some 15 miles out of what is now Jackson on what is now the Christmasville Road. Each year, he led a caravan of loaded cotton wagons to the Paducah mills (Memphis was out of the question because there were no places to ford the rivers).

Mr. Jacobs' wagon train started out with just three wagons, and in the nearly 30 years that the annual trips were made, the caravan grew in number to nearly 30 wagons.

In the winter of perhaps 1825, Utley retells the tale, the wagon train was stranded in a nowhere stretch of land by a blinding, deep blizzard. It was Christinas week, at and where they had been in in hopes of reaching Paducah in time for the holidays, it looked as though the cotton haulers were in for a bleak Yule.

As Utley's story goes, the wagoners unloaded their bales and with them built windbreakers to keep teams and selves warm. Drinking icy water from a river bottom instead of a cup of cheer in Paducah must have gone hard with them.

After that winter, the cotton train passed through their snowbound campsite year after year after year. And as they passed it, the wagoners would exchange memories of their "old Christmas place." Eventually, when a settlement grew up there, it was only natural to name it Christmasville. And the road which had led to it became the Christmasville Road.

"So that's how it was," J. P. Utley repeated, "the way my grandfather was told by my great-grandfather. Snow was directly responsible for Christmasville."

Utley says he has a cousin at Atwood who tells the other version of the source of Christmasville's name. But that cousin, apparently, wasn't on the back porch the day Grandfather told young J. P. "the real story."

"The Jackson Sun" by Delores Ballard - Article found in the Lexington Library -- "hanging folders" (undated)