George William Florence, a prominent merchant of Lexington, was born in Caswell County, N.C., in 1840, a son of J. T. and Alvis (Simmons) Florence, both of whom were of Turkish-French descent, natives of North Carolina. The father was born in 1812 and while a resident of his native State married. In 1842 he immigrated to Benton County, W. Tenn., where for many years he taught school, being one of the pioneer professors of that section. The latter portion of his life he devoted to agricultural pursuits; he departed this life in 1883. The mother was born in 1814, and is still living, beloved by all. Of a family of nine children born to them, eight are still living. The subject of this sketch being the eldest: he was but two years of age when the family came to Tennessee. His education, which is thorough and liberal, was received In Benton County. At the age of eighteen he became salesman in the store of C. K. Wyly at Camden, Tenn., remaining there three years. When the late civil war broke out he donned the gray, and in 1861 enlisted in Company G, Fifty-fifth Regiment, Tennessee Infantry. He took active part in the battles of Island No. 10, Chickamauga, Knoxville and numerous other minor engagements. He was twice captured, the first time was exchanged immediately, but the next time was taken to Fort Donelson and retained about eleven months. He returned home in May, 1885, after the restoration of peace. He resumed work in Mr. Wyly's store; two years later came to Lexington, accepted position as clerk in the house of A. H. Hall; in 1879 they became partners; in 1883 Mr. Florence bought the entire stock, and from that time has conducted the business. He now carries an extensive general stock, including dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, furniture, wooden-ware, and various other commodities. He is an industrious, energetic and intelligent man; by his integrity and ability has met with unusual success in life. Mr. Florence is a Democrat, casting his first vote for H. Greeley, in 1872; he is a Mason, belonging to Lodge No. 87, of Camden.
Goodspeeds History of Tennessee