The Huntingdon Story
By Ben Humble Hall Unknown date
-- Newspaper was called Carroll & Humphreys County Area
Found in the hanging files Lexington TN Library


Carroll County TN

Few small communities in all of America are so rich in tradition, local color, and history as this, our town, Huntingdon, Tennessee, established in 1822.

It was-bitterly cold on the early morning of Monday, December 9,1822, in this area. Truly, it was a miserable day for man, bird or beast. The warm weather birds had migrated to points further south. Those persons who did not have to go outside remained indoors, keeping warm as best they could in their homes, which consisted mainly of log cabins inadequately heated by open fireplaces or woodburning cook stoves.

Even animals living in the surrounding area took refuge from the cold by remaining in holes beneath the ground, in caves or in heavy growths of underbrush. Only now and then could one spot an audacious rabbit or some other heavily-furred four-legged creature, and then only briefly.

Despite the chill in the air, however, there was work to be done, so Nathan Nesbitt, with true pioneer spirit, heavily bundled up on homespun clothing and wearing boots, left his home near Buena Vista early that morning and started through the woods toward Huntingdon, about five miles away. Nesbitt was accompanied by his son, William, who was also warmly-attired.

With hatchet and cross-cut saw, along with whatever help young William could provide, Nesbitt blazed a trail through the dense forest to the hamlet of Huntingdon. Arriving, Nesbitt took his saw from his shoulder and cut a doorway into a small, dirt-floored, one-room log cabin. The modest edifice had been constructed a few days earlier on what still is known as Courthouse Square. This cabin was to serve as the Temple of Justice for the newly-created seat of Carroll County.

The doorway accomplished, Nesbitt, as Chairman of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, entered the log structure and officially opened the first session of court ever to be held in Huntingdon. A sizeable crowd of early settlers which had come on horseback from McLemoresville and Buena Vista (circa 1820), as well as from elsewhere in the new county, watched with lively interest as Nathan Nesbitt proceeded with his various duties on this historic occasion.

More spectators joined the group as the day wore on. Like the court officials, some of them had brought bedding and provisions, prepared to camp out, if necessary. The sturdy pioneers, it seemed, were bent upon seeing the unique performance through, even if it took all winter.

As many as possible crowded into the small courthouse to see and hear what went on, but the room was so tiny that practically all space was taken by people who had business inside. Those remaining outside got their news by word of mouth, as did other town folks.

Unfortunately, there were no records to show exactly what day of what month and in what year the very first settlers appeared in what became the Huntingdon area. It is known, however, that the early group included Samuel J. Ingram, John Crockett, James H. Gee, William H. Thompson, Thomas Ross, John Swinn, and Robert Murray. It is also known that Samuel Ingram and John Swinn each built dwelling houses on the side of Huntingdon before it became the seat of Justice, and that Crockett, the first local merchant, built his storehouse; on what is now the public square before the town was surveyed.

Carroll County itself was organized by an act of the State General Assembly, meeting in Murfreesboro. That measure was passed on November 7, 1821. The Act called for setting up of a new county, to be named Carroll in honor of the incumbent Governor William Carroll. The Act also specified that the new county should be within the following boundaries:

"Beginning on the west boundary of Humphreys County (now the west line of Benton County) at the southeast corner of Henry, running thence west with the south boundary of said county to, the southwest corner of Henry County; thence south parallel with the range line to a point two and a half miles south of the line dividing the Ninth and Twelfth Districts; thence east parallel with the sectional line in the Ninth District; thence north to the northeast corner of range two, section eleven in said Ninth District, thence east with the district ....... west boundary of Perry and Humphrey County to the beginning..

By a subsequent Act, passed on November 21, 1821, Sterling Brewer of Dickson County, James Fentress of Montgomery County, and Abram Maury of Williamson County, were appointed Commissioners to fix on a place as near the center as an eligible site could be procured within three miles of the center thereof, for the seat McLemoresville, with the court sessions being held in the home of R.E.C. Dougherty.

At the June term of court in McLemoresville, in 1822, Banks W. Burrow, Thomas A. Thompson, John Stockard, Samuel Ingram and Mark R. Roberts were appointed Commissioners to lay out the county seat of the n ewly-formed Carroll County and to superintend the sale of lots and the erection of public buildings. Nathan Nesbitt subsequently was added to this group.

Following the appointment of the group, Sterling Brewer and James Fentres went before the court to report they had chosen for the site of the county seat the tract of land belonging to the heirs of the lae Mimican Hunt (sometimes spelled Mimucan). This land, they said lay on the north bank of Beaver Creek.

The title for the tract for the new Town of Huntingdon consisting of the fifty acres was not obtained until July 21, 1823, but it was decided to proceed with the planning in advance. The town was laid out by James H. Gee under the supervision of the Commissioners appointed by the court in McLemoresville in June 1822.


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