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Chester County, Tennessee
Genealogy and History


Town Histories



Chester County Courthouse

Henderson, the county seat of Chester County is situated on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad near the center of the county. The town was not laid out until after the building of the railroad. The first lots were sold in 1857-58. The land was owned by J. D. Smith. At this time the only cleared lands were the places of B. A. Hicks one and a half miles west; Jack Garland's place known as the Murchiser property a little southwest; and that owned by the: Jordan H. Garland's heirs, and the Simmons heirs east and north of Henderson. The place was originally called Dayton but the name was soon changed to Henderson. Gholston built the first house in the place which stood just opposite the postofffice. Dr. T. A. Smith, Polk Bray, H. D. Franklin, A. S. Sayles and John West were among the first business men of the place.
Like most other towns, Henderson received a check by the war but soon recovered its normal state. Henderson has had a steady and healthful growth but not rapid. It does not operate under a charter and thus avoids the sale of intoxicating beverages. From a moral standpoint few places reach the standard of Henderson. The business is largely of the cotton trade, this amounting to the sum of 5,000 bales some years. Cotton is by far the largest item of produce handled, yet there is a general line of produce handled every year which amounts to thousands of dollars. Henderson contains 227 lots which are assessed at $87,435. The business of the place is done by the following business houses: General stores: J. F. O'Neal & Co.; I. O. Galbraith & Co.; Cason, Estes & Co.; L. C. Rhodes & Co.; Ashcratt & Co.; W. C. McCullum & Co.; W. M.. Bray & Co.; and Rowsey, Robins & Co. Grocery stores: J. M. McCulley & Co.; G. L. Priddy & Co.; Estes & Ozier; W. H Thomas; P. J. Howard & Co.; and W. C. Crittenden. Drug stores: W. B. Shannon & Co.; Baird & Bro. Jeweler: A. H. McKinnon. Hardware: Carroll & McLeod. Henderson also contains several good. livery stables, hotels, boarding-houses, shops and is well supplied with professional men. [Source: "A History of Tenneessee from the Earliest Time to the Present..." 1886. Goodspeed Publishing Co.]

Center Point / Roby, Chester County TN
Located in the extreme eastern section of Chester County in the 13th Civil District. This community was originally in Henderson County until 1882 when Chester County was formed. Early pioneer families of this area were McCollum, Carroll, Van Dyke, Bunch, Smith, Puryear, Criner, Owens, Brooks & Hardeman Center Point had established a Post Office, then one was created at Lula about 1/2 mile away, but was later moved back to Center Point, then to Carroll's Store and finally abolished. Other families to settle in this area were Tucker, Fields, Wallace, Holley, Newsom, Thompson & Ross. An early school in Center Point was Hughes Academy with Mr. R.G. Hughes as teacher. Dr. J.F. McKenzie was a doctor living in the community.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995]

Deanburg (Pultite)
In the extreme western corner of present Chester County is located the village of Deanburg, or Pultite as it was originally known. This village was formerly in Hardeman County and settled sometime in the 1830's or 1840's by a grant to a Mr. Dean. The Dean home was a large log house which served as a way-lay station on the Old Stage Road from Denmark to Purdy. This home was destroyed March 11,1923 by a cyclone that totally destroyed the community leaving only two homes. No one in the village proper was killed but about one mile north, Brody Cain, son of Claud and Nancy Cain, was killed. The Dean property was bought and some inherited by a Mr. Butler, later sold to Willoughby Stewart on December 29, 1919, then bought by W.L. (Bob) Stewart on December 29, 1936, and still owned by Mrs. Bob Stewart and daughter, Juanita Lawson. Just to the east, a man by the name of Adkin Henery, a Baptist preacher, secured a grant to a large area for three deer skins. On the opposite side of the village on land now owned by Joe Frank Cain, lived a family by the name of Hunter and on this property is one grave with the marker reading "Mary Jane Hunter" died in 1848. The Hunter family moved on the present Wilson School House community and the property was purchased by a Mr. Johnson, and it is on this property that the "Johnson Cemetery" is located. Chickasaw State Park, located about two miles east of Deanburg, figures in its history. This park, or Lake Placid and park headquarters, is located on the former site of a water mill used to grind corn, and at one time, gin cotton. The mill was owned by a man named Pair, perhaps a descendant of the Dean family, as the last known relative of the Deans was Mr. Aussie Dean Pair, who lived just out of Henderson until his death a few years ago. The mill was operated by Mr. Washington Bell. Later the mill was purchased by Flavaa Owens, whose son, Nubern, according to the legend, invented and built the only mill whistle ever known to utilize water power to create sound. Mr. Owens and son, Nubern, both died of typhoid fever about 1915. Sometime around 1935 the land was purchased by the government, opened to the public as a recreational area in 1937 and still plays an important part in the recreational facilities of Chester County. A brief history of Deanburg would not be complete without mentioning the two churches that have played such an important part in the spiritual life of the community, those being Bethel Church organized in the late 1840's and Pleasant Springs organized in 1879. The first store located in Deanburg was owned by a Mr. Jordan, later one owned and operated by Mr. Sipes. Mr. Lige Owens operated a grist mill, sawmill and cotton gin in the early 1900's. W.L. Stewart bought the Owens mill June 10, 1925 and operated the gristmill, sawmill, and general merchandise store for a number of years. The first school building was a two story frame building with the Woodmen of The World occupying the second story. This building was destroyed by the cyclone of 1923. This building was located on one-half acre of land. In order for the county to receive state aid in rebuilding the school, the county had to have at least two acres of land, so additional land was given the county by J.W. Stewart who was superintendent of schools at that time, and the new building was constructed and served until consolidation of schools by the county. The G.M. & N. Railroad Company built a railroad through Deanburg that began operations in 1918 or 1919. A depot was built the following year. The railroad played an important part of the life of these people. Land was cleared and cross ties and stave bolts were shipped by trains. Of the men from the immediate area prominent in Chester County, Willoughby Stewart would be among the most prominent. He served Chester County as Chester County Court Clerk, County Superintendent of Schools, and as Director of Merchants & Farmers Bank, the forerunner of the present First State Bank. W. T. Stewart served in every law enforcement capacity from constable to sheriff. William Keer (Uncle Bill) a veteran of the Civil War on the Northern side was a member of the County Court for several years.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995]

Jacks Creek
Jacks Creek was named from the creek on which it stands. The first business house was opened there about 1830 by Col. Samuel Wilson and B. Gillespie. W. B. Terry followed later. He became wealthy from trade in Henderson and McNairy Counties. About 1840 Crook & Keeland opened a store at Jacks Creek. The latter was afterward a magistrate and died at Denmark. R. Anderson did business there about 1850. Gov. Stone, of Mississippi, taught school at Jacks Creek; he also clerked for Crook & Thomas before removing to Mississippi. The principal business of the place between 1850 and 1860 was done by A. C. McCorkle, and Hollis, Skinner & Co.; from 1870 to 1880 by H. J. Howard & Co., McCorkle & Thompson, W. S. Rhodes and J. M. McCullum. The present business is done by C. M. Kee & Co., J. M. McCorkle & Co. Jacks Creek, like Mifflin, is an old place and has but little growth. The Masonic Hall was erected in 1854-33. The lower part of the hall is used as a church. Friendship Lodge, No. 229, was organized in l840-50. A. N. Tabler, Richard Barham and H. D. Crook were among the first members.
[Source: "A History of Tenneessee from the Earliest Time to the Present..." 1886. Goodspeed Publishing Co.]

Masseyville is located in the 12th Civil Distric and was named for Bill Massey, an early settler. Masseyvill was originally in McNairy County and first settled in 1879. They had an early postoffice which was in the J.H. Mitchell home. Mitchell and Sons also ran the first general store and was known as the "Wheeler Store". J.H. Mitchel practiced medicine, owned a sawmill, a grist mill and a gin.
The founder of West Tennessee Business College was Romas Massey. Ernest Fortune owned a drug store for many years. Earliest known settlers were Elijah Hurst, Andrew Maness, the Massey family, Ed Siler, J.F. Fortune, John Ingle, A.F. Smith, J.L. Robinson.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995]

Mifflin is the oldest town in the county. It was laid out about 1828 by Col. Priddy who, with James Bank, opened a business house there about that time. James Smithers sold goods there possibly a little before the others. Spencer and Glass built a cotton-gin and a store about a mile and a half east of Mifflin, in 1832. From 1830 to 1840 Wm. Priddy, Ezekiel Halton, William and Henry Collins, and Wm. Watkins did business in Mifflin. Among the later ones were John West, Beaver, Carver & Co., John Smith and J. M. Priddy. Following the war were Beaver & Carver, Ashcraft & Co. The late business men are Wheeler & Edwards, Beaver & Son, Bell & Bros. and R. C. Cooper. Mifflin is surrounded by a good farming community and contains about 100 inhabitants, also a Methodist church and a schoolhouse.
[Source: "A History of Tenneessee from the Earliest Time to the Present..." 1886. Goodspeed Publishing Co.]

It is generally accepted that the first settlement in what is now Chester County was made in the vicinity of Mifflin about 1821 by Cot. John Purdy. Mifflin, at the time, was located in Henderson County. Col. Purdy was a prominent businessman, surveyor, and a member of the TN Constitutional Convention in 1834. This was the same John Purdy that laid out the town of Old Purdy in McNairy County. Col. Purdy and wife are buried in the Mifflin Cemetery. One source of the name of the town says John Purdy named the town in honor of a town in his old home state of PA. Another source says that it was probably named in honor of Thomas Mifflin, who was governor of PA from 1790-1800.
Col. Purdy was a near neighbor of James Thomas, who settled in 1824. Other early settlers were James Clifford, Jere Hendrick, Micajah Joyner, William Billingsley, James and Richard Shackleford, William Arnold, Charles Riddle, John and J.D. Stutts, A.J.C. Mcllwain, J.M. Cooper, Robert McRea, Stephen Beaver, W.L. Stegall, Dr. B.H. Brown, and James Smith.
Charles Riddle was a "Hard Shell" Baptist preacher and a celebrated hunter. As game became scarce, he moved to Mississippi where it was more plentiful. George Still, a pioneer, was a surveyor. He moved to Texas in 1838. James Glass taught the first school in the new settlement in 1828. He later moved to Lexington, then to Jackson, and to Louisville. Thomas Garland, the first circuit rider of West Tennessee, formerly preached at Holly Springs. Job Dean; a soldier of the Creek War, was a settler at Mifflin.
Col. Purdy and James opened the first business house in Mifflin. James Smithers was also an early merchant. Spencer and Glass built the first cotton gin and store east of Mifflin between 1830 and 1840. William Priddy, Ezekiel Haltom, William and Henry Collins and William Watkins also had businesses in Mifflin. Later businesses included John West Carver and Co., John Smith and J.M. Priddy. Following the Civil War stores were built by Beaver and Carver, Ashcraft and Co., Wheeler and H. Edwards, Beaver and Son, and R.C. Cooper. Calvin Scarborough constructed a combination dwelling and store building. Scarborough's store ran the length of the residence with a porch around the building. There was a well in the rear and a basement under the store. The basement walls were insulated with sawdust and were used as magistrate and postmaster.
Calvin Scarborough (March 11, 1825-July 18, 1909) built a large store building with a dwelling attached. The basement of the store was insulated with sawdust; and during the winter, ice was hauled from a nearby pond and stored for the summer use. The store had a barber shop and a post office. W.T. Carroll carried the mail from Luray three days a week for $6.00 a month. Dick Taylor transported mail to Jackson and many of those trips were made on foot in the winter. In addition to the post office, Mifflin later served by rural routes from Henderson, Pinson, Beech Bluff, and Luray. The post office was closed many years ago.
Lorenz Whitfield Lafayette Scarborough, a son of Calvin Scarborough, was a master carpenter and built several two-story residences, including one for himself, one for Dr. W.C. Brown, and one for Mr. Tom Butler. Other merchants were John Edwards, Miles A. Jones, was Homer Jones, Wilkes Taylor, W.A. Reid, David Vestal, Henry Linton, Rome Russell, J.P. Inman, T.L. West, John Stutts, Henry Johnson, Lee Johnson, Milt Attaway, H.E. Jones, Will Mullins, Henry Beecham, Fred Linton, Edward Tignor, Jimmy Wells. and Mrs. Izz Rogers operated a hotel and Kit Stanfill operated a blacksmith shop and grist mill for many years. There were three saloons in the Mifflin before, during, and after the Civil War.
The first school house was a frame house 12' x 16' on J.W. Butler's lot. It was destroyed by a storm and the church was used until a two room school building was built in South Mifflin about 1910. The latter building was used until about 1962 when county-wide consolidation was begun. The first doctor in the Mifflin Community was perhaps Dr. Thcker who built a large two story house just outside Mifflin. It was begun in 1840 and completed in 1847. The fifth generation of the same family occupies it today. Other doctors have been T.J. Kilpatrick, Dr. B.H. Brown (1828-1887), D.W.C. Brown (1858-1923), Dr. Homer B. Brown (1881-1919), Dr. J.G. Anderson, Dr. Outlaw, Dr. Cobb and Dr. Wallace.
The road to Henderson was graded in 1917, graveled in 1927, and blacktopped in 1956. TVA brought electricity to Mifflin in 1950 and Bell Telephone came in 1951. Mifflin is 16 miles east of Jackson and 10 miles northeast of Henderson. Until after the Civil War, Mifflin was the largest town in present day Chester County. During the Civil War most Mifflin residents favored the southern cause, however, a few supported the Union. A few small skirmishes were in the area.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995]

Montezuma is supposed to have been named from the ancient Aztec capital. It lies about four miles west of Henderson. J. B. Wambler is believed to have been the first merchant in the place. He began about 1830, and continued for many years. Halton & Cason began business there about 1848 and continued till the war. Estes & Randolph also sold goods a number of years before the war, and E. Estes & Co. were there a short time. The business of the place is now done by George Brown.
[Source: "A History of Tenneessee from the Earliest Time to the Present..." 1886. Goodspeed Publishing Co.]

The first settlers came to the area in the early 1820's, Joseph Johnson being the first settler. He was from N.C. Wesley & Nehemiah Burkhead and C.H. O'Neal were also early settlers along with William Cason from Middle TN around 1826. Others included Wm. McKnight, the Steeds and Barrets.
The name is that of an ancient Aztec Indian chieftain. The indian name might have been given because their were several Indians in this area in the early days. The early account is that it was a great hunting ground, where buffalo and other wild game abounded.
The first store was owned by J.R. Wambler/Wamble around 1830. Haltom & Cason was a business which begain in 1848 as was Estes adn Company. Montezuma was a large thriving town before Henderson was begun around 1850, the location of the railroad. Surprising enough it is said that the citizens of the area did not want the railroad through their community which is why the town never grew very large. Montezuma was in the northwest part of McNairy county prior to the formation of Chester County in 1882 when it became a part of this county. The population of Montezuma in 1880 was 148 people.
Montezuma has a good educational history. The Montezuma Male & Female Academy was built in the early days. About 1874, the Memphis Conference located the Jackson District High School there. This school was maintained until 1885. It was then moved to Henderson and became known as the Henderson Male & Female College, located on North Street. The Methodist Church at Montezuma was organized about 1830. Some of the early familiesy were Burkhead, Cason, Wamble, Steel. The first church building was made of logs. Later the old Jackson District High School building was used as a church and it remained until a few years ago. Some of the best farm land in Chester County is in the Montezuma area - some were Clayton, Cobb, Floyd, Hurst, Merchuson, Rowsey & Shoffield. One of the prosperous farmers of the area was William Cason who came in 1826. John G. Randolph arrived about 1838, the early physician was Dr. McKissick.
[ [excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995, Contributed by Tela Holbrook ]

Sweet Lips
There are several theories for the origin of the name of the town of "Sweet Lips" but the one most people tell is that a stranger passed through the area once. He was thirsty, tired and stopped at a spring for a drink and uttered the words "So Sweet To My Lips." Apparantly the name stuck. The community was once a busy place with stores and business' as are most small settlements. Sweet Lips can also boast of being a great place to make or find Moonshine. The oldest known church in the area is the Baptist Church. Many of the early pioneers with the names of Davis, Hutcherson, Massengill, Pusser, Rhodes, Smith and many others rest easy in the nearby cemetery.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995]

Woodville is in the western part of Chester County, but was originally in McNairy County. The elementery school building was built just after the Civil War. Colonel Fielding Hurst of this area formed a cavalry regiment for the Union army, created with the men of this area. Mr. Jim Grantham was an early settler of the communtiy, remembered as a skille dmarksman and runner. He was the father of Kirk Grantham who later became a coach at Hall-Moody College at Martin TN. Early famimlies were Armour, Grantham, Isbell, Holifield, Cox, Tull, Woods, Robinson, Rowland, Mitchell, Riley, Ingle, Arnold, Wyatt, Huddleston and many others.
[excerpt from "Chester County, 1882-1995; History and Families", Chester County Historical Society, Turner Publishing Company; 1995; Contributed by Tela Holbrook]


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