Community of Pond Branch

I had thought about writing about this community long before they got the new telephone system and got in the news.

This large territory of several hundred acres of land derived its name from Pond Branch Creek, that runs along the north side. Blounts Creek is on the south, Benton Co. on the east and Sandy River on the west.

During the latter half of the eighteenth century more than twenty families of early settlers inhabited this fertile land. They were Austins, Ashby, Bowers, Butler, Brown, Boyd, Boswell, Clark, Cole, Crow, Elkins, Eubanks, Hargrove, Hay, Joyner, Kee, Noles, Nolen, Norwood, Pierce, Robinson, Smothers, and Williams and perhaps other families.

My grandparents Tom and Adeline Bowers came from North Carolina in the mid-eighteenth century settled in this community on a large farm. My uncle M. G. Bowers was appointed to the Tenn. State Legislature when he was a young man.

My other grandparents Billy and Jane Butler were also early settlers, he was married twice and was the father of fourteen children, most families were large. Most of the houses were built of logs and had very large rooms and usually upstairs rooms.

Beginning with the nineteenth century some houses were frame or weather board style. My parents lived in one of these houses on a farm which had herds of cattle and hogs, flocks of sheep, geese and chickens. We raised most of our food. They also ran a small grocery store and the post office as known as Muse, Tenn., was in the back of the building. The mail was carried to the nearest railroad station in Buena Vista.

Not much of the timber had been cut. The houses were long distances apart and the people had no way to communicate except to go to other houses, but the neighbors would get together clear land for crops, have log rollings, build rail fences and kill hogs. While the men worked outside. The women quilted, spun yarn from wool to make clothing, cut and dried fruit, made soap and cooked delicious meals for the workers.

It was during these years the Blue Ribbon Telephones were built and that was the first communication these people had from their homes.

The population had increased, there were thirty-five or more families of the second and third generations. Pond Branch was a one room school building and was overcrowded with grades one through eight. The pupils were taught the basic subjects. They were required to study and do their homework. When we graduated from the eighth grade I believe it was about equal to high school now. The few high schools and universities seemed far away. Due to the slow mode of travel it took several hours to go to our county seat at Huntingdon.

Several ministers, teachers, business and professional people came out of this community.

We were taught how to work early and before we were grown could do most any kind of work on the farm and around the home. And we enjoyed the times we didn't have to work. I remember walking in the deep wooded areas alone many times with no fear, feeling secure, observing the natural beauty, the many different kinds of trees and wild flowers, listening to the song birds and watching the small fur bearing animals run to their hideouts, walking across the meadows and through ravines gathering wild fruits. There were blackberries, huckleberries. crab-apples, grapes, masculines and plums, they were used for making pies, jellies, jam and preserves for winter.

We also gathered walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts in the fall. Some of the small animals were hunted for food, others were trapped for their furs. Sandy River had an abundance of fish some large ones.

This was truly the land of plenty for the people living then. They didn't have many debts to pay only taxes were on farm land. because of the freedom and security we had we enjoyed a good life in this land of tranquility.

On the first Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings in each month our family walked a distance of about three miles to services at Oak Grove Baptist Church in the summer months we attended revival services at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and New Friendship Methodist Churches and Pond Branch school house. I will always cherish memories of these Christian people.

I wrote the news to the county paper from Pond Branch in nineteen sixteen and seventeen. We did not have a regular correspondent.

I'm glad I grew up in this fine community. I've written this letter from memories of the early years of my life

Written by Berta (Butler) Abbott
The Tennessee Republican, Huntingdon, TN. 38344, Wednesday, April 16, 1980 (Letter to the editor)
This was copied for the Tennessee Trails. by Janet Ross

The area around Antioch, Pond Branch and Blount Creek was heavily populated very early, in the 1830's, because the land was free to occupants, in contrast to land in and around Buena Vista, which had been granted about 30 years earlier to military officers and had to be purchased.

John Wesley (Coocher) Brown owned property on Pond Branch in 1830. A Surveyer named Bobbitt received a grant from the U.S. Government and constructed a large pond between Pond Branch and the Sandy River called Bobbitt Pond, near the farm of Coocher Brown. Bobbitts property was south of the present Pond Branch bridge.

Ryley Robinson and later Cullie Nolen, his son in law, operated a water powered grist mill and Mr. Aulie operated a sorghum mill south of Blounts Creek bridge, was named after Issac Blount who owned the first grist mill in Carroll County. Mr. Nolen had a potato house and kept heat in the building to store the neighborhood potatoes during the winters. John Bowers farm was first occupied by Mr. Bobbitt. Martin Bowers, son of John Bowers had a saw mill, was a timber man, member of Tennessee Legislature 1900-1902, a school teacher. Jim Henry Jones operated a water powered grist mill. Lon Kee operated a grist mill across the road from Taylor Boyds Store also.

Buck Butler, son of William Butler, had a store with a post office and black smith shop called "Muse Store," in front of Monroe Butlers old home place. This was in the 1800's and early 1900's. Later about 1915 Taylor and Addie Boyd operated a store located on his farm, after Mr. Boyd's death Ed and Atha Kee operated a store near their home for many years.

The first election was held in the eastern part of Carroll County in the home of Solomon Bennett who owned land just south of the Public Road after one crosses McKees Levee. Some early settlers were: Clarks, Butlers, Garretts, Higdons, Rowes, Kirks, Robinsons, Elkins, Norwoods, Nolens, Hargroves, Hammetts, Browns, Noles, Eubanks, Kees, Mays, Austins, Haywoods, Rhodes, Bowers, Boswells, Abbotts, and Birdwells.

Children of the Pond Branch community attended school at Antioch Methodist Church (which had a cemetery still located on the farm of the Butler family.) This was a long walk and very inconvenient for may of the children, so about 1860 John F. Bowers gave a plot of land and built a large log house near the creek known as Pond Branch. Some of the teachers were: Elmer Robinson, Martin Bowers, Hilliard Crabb, and Lucy Moore. When the building began to decay, Johnson Butler gave a plot of land near his home 2 1/2 miles east of the old location. The new building was finished in 1906. The builders were John, Irving and Turner Birdwell. The first teacher was Ms. Erin O'Mally, others were, Ethel Butler Bell, Mary Pinkley, Lois Hopper Arnold, Howard Smith, Larue Lorance Robinson, and Luerin Laycook.

There was a huge chestnut tree out back and children carried water from Mrs. S. Johnsonson Butler's home. The school was known for its wonderful plays at the end of the school year and at christmas time. They also had a wonderfully tall christmas tree each year that touched the high ceiling. Sunday school, singings, and revival meetings were also held in the building. In 1913 there was an unusual revival and people were under conviction inside, outside and even down to the woods. Many were saved. This building endured as long as county schools and then was sold, torn down and moved.

Butler's cemetery began when E. T. (Tommy) Butler who lived in a log house at the west end of the location died in 1888. He had his son buried there in 1886. During Tommy's life he had been overheard to say he wanted to be buried in a spot and is considered to be the first person buried in this cemetery. In the mid 1930's a building was built in order to have funerals in this location, by volunteers. The cemetery has been enlarged and recently by an acre given by Earl Butler, The building is used for Butler home comings, singings, and revivals as well as the 18th district voting precinct.

There was a Bethel Baptist Church and cemetery in the early 1800's on the Hammett Place north of Blounts Creek, baptismal services were done in Blounts Creek and the Hammett ditch.

The Hammet place was located on the James Jerome and Archie Curnel Hargrove farm where Archie Curnel made a good living for his family. He was well know for his honesty, good farm, watermelons, strawberries, and garden. The Hammet house was said to be haunted.

Mr. Cullie Nolen (son in law of Ryle Robinson and Frances Butler Robinson) built a four room house on Pond Branch Road , Mr. Nolen moved his in laws log house to this location to be used as a barn.

Written by Waymon D. Ross (Son in law of Archie Curnel Hargrove)
Copied by Janet Ross for the trails website Carrol County, Tennessee.