History

of

Henderson County TN


By Auburn Powers 1930


Chapter 1 - Early Settlements

Joseph Reed made the first permanent settlement in Henderson County in 1818. He and his two sons, Jack and William, are said to have crossed the mountains from North Carolina into East Tennessee in the summer of 1817, and to have floated down the Tennessee River stopping occasionally to hunt and to stretch their stiff limbs. They, unlike the early settlers of East and Middle Tennessee, were not attacked by the Indians, for terms of peace were being negotiated with them at that time. The father and two sons pulled ashore, built fires, and cooked and ate whenever they chose and in peace. When night came, if they were on land they laid themselves down upon the moss-covered ground under some huge oak or pine and slept in peace. The only thing that there was to disturb their slumber was an occasional hoot of an owl or the call of some wandering animal or the low rumble of the wind--either of which makes sleep the more profound. They were unlike many of the people of today. Their minds were not crowded with the worries of a fast age, but were free and open to thoughts more calm. They dreamed of the fat game, of the rich land, and of the homes that they were soon to have.

The father and two sons traveled thus until they reached a favorable looking place near the mouth of Beech River in the fall of 1817. There they embarked and assembled their few belongings. No one knows just what these belongings were, but probably they consisted of a muzzle-loading rifle, a powder gourd, a "bowie knife", and a few minor things. It was not necessary in those days to carry a large amount of luggage; for such was unnecessary, the men being able to make a living with their rifles.

For the benefit of those who have never seen a muzzle loading rifle, it will be well to mention a few things about one…. The rifle is long and of a clumsy appearance. To load it, a measured amount of powder is poured into the muzzle of the barrel; next some wadding, usually of paper or rags is packed on it; then the round bullet, made by pouring melted lead into bullet molds, is wrapped in a rag and jammed down upon the wadding and powder, by the ram rod. When this part of the operation has been accomplished, the primer is filled with powder and the flint, from which the spark is to come to set off the primer, which in turn sets off the powder, is arranged. Now the gun is ready to shoot. It was very accurate and trusty in the hands of the pioneers.

The Reed party wandered through the forests of what is now Decatur County and into the heart of Henderson County. Here they fell in with a party of the Chickasaw Indians and made friends with them. They hunted and fished with them and lived much as the Indians lived. They soon became such staunch friends that Joseph Reed left Jack and William to live with them until he could go back to North Carolina and bring the remainder of his family.

Late in the fall of 1817 he set out on foot to cross some six hundred miles of new country much of which was a trackless forest never trodden by white man. He carried with him only the things necessary for the trip. Such a trip under such conditions would seem a great one to us nowadays. Not only would it seem a great one but it would be a great one, for we are not accustomed to such hardships. But to the pioneers of our county it was only a common occurrence. They were good woodsmen and hardened to the roughs and toughs of pioneer life.

Jack and William were then only lads of boys and hated very much to see their father go away on such a long journey and leave them with the Indians, for they feared they would never see him again; but the boys knew the need of staying and kept a brave heart. Conditions were not then as they are now. If their father had happened to misfortune and been killed or had frozen to death, the boys would have been years learning it. Or they might never have known what became of him. Thus it was that Joseph need and his two sons parted--the three looking forward to the making of a new home in the wilderness of what is now Henderson County. The winter of 1817 and 1818 was one that Jack and William never forgot. Many stories have I heard of the hardships they underwent. They were alone so far as white friends were concerned--nothing to do except to tramp through the woods and live as the Indians lived. They slept in the cold, ate tough food, and endured the hardships just as did the grown men of the Chickasaw tribe, with whom they lived. They waded snows with only skins wrapped around their feet, and it was not uncommon for them to wade into springs knee deep to melt the snow and ice from around their feet and legs. Spring water seems cold to us, but to Jack and William it was a source of comfort. It soothed their frost bitten feet and stimulated circulation. To discuss fully what these two boys experienced that winter would take too much space. But the spring of 1818 brought comfort and happiness to them. Their father and the rest of the family, whom they had looked for so long, arrived. They came in a one-horse cart, but Jack and William were as glad to see them as if they had arrived in a Cadillac car. Soon they set about to build a home and chose for it a site and on the Lexington-Scotts Hill Road. The site was just above a fine spring, which still bears the name of "Reed Spring" and which, for many years, has served as a favorite watering place for both man and beast.

The father and boys then went to what is now known as the "Pine Knob" and began to fell trees with which to build their new home. They cut and hewed the logs out of huge pine. The manner in which Mr. Reed hauled them to the desired place is unknown, but he forded Beech River with them, there being no bridges or ferries at that time. They built the house out of these logs and covered it with boards held in place by poles, for there were no nails to be had; but, all-in-all, it was a good house, the logs still being sound and in use in Miss Elvar Reed's home only a few yards from the site of the old house. Mr. Reed finished his house, moved into it, deadened timber and planted a crop, and became the first white settler in Henderson County. The land that he occupied still remains in possession of his posterity.

The following year, 1819, Henderson County was opened up for legal settlement. Since the Indians had withdrawn peaceably from the whole region, white people were eager to possess the fresh lands, and, as a result, many settlers came to Henderson County in the next few years.

Samuel Wilson came in 1821 and settled on a 726 acre track of land at present site of Lexington. He built his home where Will Parker's store now stands. It faced in the same direction as does Mr. Parker's store, and the town of Lexington was built.

Abner Taylor and Dr. John A. Wilson settled near him the following year. There was a very sad tragedy in Dr. Wilson's home. A little daughter of his was willfully drowned by a slave woman. This was the first murder that we have record of in Henderson County. And the negro woman was the first person to be executed in the County. She was hanged.

Major John T. Harmon settled at the headwaters of Big Sandy in 1821. Jacob Bartholomew and William Hays settled at the headwaters of Beech River a few miles west of Lexington. Jackie Powers came from South Carolina to Henderson County about 1823 and settled where W. O. Millner now lives nine miles east of Lexington on the Lexington-Decaturville Road. Some six years later, his brother Bennett, came. No one knew of his coming until his nephew, Henry Powers, accidentally met him at Lexington, Henry being on the way to see his sweetheart. The meeting of his kinsmen was a great delight to Henry, but whether that delight counterbalanced the disappointment in failing to see his sweetheart no one knows, for back in the "good old days" it was not uncommon for a boy to walk ten or fifteen miles to see his girl. But anyway, Henry directed his uncle to Jackie's home where all spent the night and had a brotherly reunion. It was from these two brothers, Jackie and Bennett, that all the Powers of Henderson County have descended.

Jonathan and Jerry Crook, the ancestors of perhaps all the Crooks in Henderson County, came to this county about 1819 or 1820. Their ancestors came from Wales in Great Britain to Spartenburg District South Carolina and from Spartenburg District to Henderson County. One of Jonathan's grandsons, Wiley Crook, now in Star City Arkansas, was a citizen of Henderson County. His great-great-grand mother came from Wales when ship loads of women were brought to the Colonies to become the wives of pioneers. Her husband paid for her passage to America in tobacco. However, they knew each other before leaving the old country.

Billy Howard, father of Sam and Ben and grandfather of Dick, Charlie and Jim, came to this county in 1822 and bought a 600 acre track of land for 14 cents an acre on the credit, and settled upon it. He planted a corn crop in June, laid it by in the same month, and made fifty bushels of corn to the acre. It was not necessary to clear the land, for there was no undergrowth. It had only to be deadened.

An early settler in the southwestern part of the County was Ferry Odle, who settled on what is now known as the Phelps Land, eleven miles southwest of Lexington. He came in the spring of the year and brought with him a set of cards, a spinning wheel, a rifle, some salt, and a few other necessities.

Other early settlers were Wm. Cain, Wm. Desmukes, who settled on the north branch of Forked Deer River; John Purdy, after whom the town of Purdy was named: James Taylor: and Jesse Baker. Still others were the McClurs, Brigances, Trices, Strongs, Shackelfords, McGees, Hopkins, Greers, Gillums, Reeves, Tates, Phillips, Rhodes, Rodgers, Garners, and others.

Settlers came in all manners of ways. Some floated down the Tennessee River and walked the remainder of the way. Some drove through in two wheeled carts drawn either by oxen or horses. Some brought their scanty supplies on pack horses and themselves walked. And some even walked without cart or horse. They poured into Henderson County until by 1830 there were 7294 white people and 1447 negroes, five of whom were free, thus making a total population of 8741, all coming since the first settlement in 1818. (This was taken from the census of 1830.) In consequence of the rapid immigration into the County, it developed very rapidly. The census of 1840 shows a total population of 11875; that of 1850 a population of 13164; that of 1860 a population of 14491; that of 1870 a population of 14217; and that of 1880 a population of 17430. Notice that the population in 1870 was less than that in 1860. Can you account for this?

Chapter 2 - Early Pioneers

A little more than a hundred years ago Henderson County was occupied by pioneers in the truest sense of the word. They were the ones who came to this new and uncivilized region to lay the foundation for a great county. As has been stated before, they came to this county bringing very little with them except brave hearts and strong determinations. They did not come to get rich quick, for there were no valuable minerals here. They came for liberty and freedom and to make for you and me a decent place in which to live. We owe them a debt that we never can repay, but we can preserve for future generations what they made possible for us to enjoy.

Their worldly property was scant, consisting of only the barest necessities. A family that brought with it its wearing clothes and a few bed clothes; an oven, a pot, an ax, a broadax, a free, a saw, and an auger; a pig and a cow; and a few seeds for his fields and gardens was a well furnished family indeed. Many did not have nearly so much. They had no carpets, mirrors, rocking chairs, or cooking stoves. All the cooking was done on the fireplace. Much of the food was cooked in the pot, oven, and frying pan just mentioned; but soft ears of corn were roasted with the shuck on, in hot ashes, thus giving to it the name "roastingear". Thin cakes of cornbread were baked on eye-hoes placed before the hot embers, thus giving to it the name "hoecake." Ashcakes were cooked upon the hot rocks of the fireplace where the fire had been removed. The earliest pioneers never saw a steamboat, a railroad, a moving machine or hay rake, a telephone, a street car, an automobile, an airplane, or a radio. It will doubtless seem strange to you that such conditions existed in your own county so few years ago, but it does not seem so to the author. He has seen such conditions himself within the past two years. There are many people in the world today as ignorant of modernism as were these pioneers. After the pioneers had harvested their first crop they lived more comfortably, for the fresh land yielded heavy crops for the planters. Too, the woods were filled with wild game that furnished the pioneers with abundance of fresh meats.

It was not uncommon at all for a man to go out into the woods and bring home a nice fat buck. Deer abounded in this region. The woodland was open, and the ground covered with wild peas and grasses which made an excellent place for deer to live. Too there were plenty of canebrakes for them to live in during winter. Cane Creek received its name from the masses of canebrakes upon its banks. Wild Turkeys were almost as common as quails are now. And the large pigeons that once were hunted throughout North America for their beautiful plumage and delicious meat were so numerous in Henderson County that they often broke down trees roosting in them, so many lighting in the same tree; but there is not a living specimen of these precious birds today. There were so many squirrels that the pioneers were forced to kill them off in order to save their crops. An occasional bear and not a few raccoons were here also. The large timber wolf and prowling panther roamed at will. Just what would many of us lovers of out-doors give for hunting conditions as they were then? After all, the pioneer life had its good points even though conditions were different from what they are today.

People dress considerably different now to what they did a century ago. A man then wore homemade breeches, a hunting shirt, moccasins made from skins of animals, and a raccoon cap. In summer neither men nor women wore foot wear except on special occasions, and then it was very rude and ugly. The women wore long dresses, split-bonnets, and shawls, all of which were plainly made. The mother and daughters of a family were too busy doing the essential things to spend much time on tucks and ruffles. Some may ask why conditions were so backward here only a hundred years ago. A hundred and twelve years ago this whole region was Indian property and unsettled by a civilized man. Now, can you conceive how it is possible for a country to make so much progress in so few years?

When a family of pioneers came, the father and boys sat about to build a home and to equip it. The house was made of logs and seldom had any floor other than of dirt. The cracks were filled with sticks and mud. A large chimney was made of sticks covered heavily on the inside with mud to prevent them from catching fire. An open fire place occupied half of one end of the house…. The pioneer made his own furniture or called in his neighbors to help him. The bedsteads were usually made by driving down a forked stake in one corner of the house about four feet from one wall and about seven feet from the other. A small pole, which was usually a split from a big log, there being very little small timber or undergrowth, was placed with one end in the fork of the stake and the other in a crack in the wall. Another such piece was so placed with one end upon the first piece and the other in a crack in the other wall. More such pieces were laid alongside, it until the structure was almost solid across the top. It was in an oblong shape and about four by seven feet in size. It made a fairly comfortable bed for a good size family of children when it had the proper bedding upon it. Later, corded beds came into use. They were a great improvement over the former.

The new comer had also to make a table to eat upon and stools to sit upon. The table was made of hewed plank with four hewed legs. There were no sawmills here to furnish lumber when the early pioneers came. The stools he made by boring three holes in a hewed piece of timber about fourteen inches square and by sticking a peg in each of the three holes. These pegs served as legs for the stool. It had no back. The spinning wheel and loom were more complicated and harder to make. It generally took the best carpenter in the community to make a loom. After he finished equipping the house, the pioneer and his sons then deadened timber for a field and planted a crop.

What stock the pioneers had ran out side, and they, assisted by deer, made it necessary for the planter to fence his fields. In those days wire fences were unknown. The way the pioneers built fences was to cut down big timber, cut it into logs about twelve feet long, split them with mauls and wedges into rails, and finally to place the rails, one upon the other, until the proper height of the fence was obtained. This made a fairly good fence, but it required much work to build it….

The mother and daughters were, by no means, idle. They made cloth by hand for the whole family's clothes, and kept the spinning wheel humming and the shackles of the loom darting back and forth from morning until night. They carded the wool from the sheep's back and the cotton, which they had separated from the seed by hand, into rolls and spun them into thread. This thread they wove into cloth and made into clothing for the family. All the sewing and other similar work was done by hand, there being no sewing machines to be had.

During the long wintery-nights after the evening meal the whole family would assemble in the living room and discuss things in general. The father was usually considered the head of the family and would sit before the big, roaring fire and smoke his pipe and tell stories to the children. He and the larger boys did not do so many things in the house as did the mother and daughters, who kept the music of the cards, spinning wheel, and loom going until far into the night. However, all had time for a family conversation. Family life then must have been even dearer and more sacred than it is today. Try to imagine Mary, the oldest daughter, sitting in the corner by the grease lamp carding rolls or reading a love story, John and Henry tinkering with their flint rock rifles, the father with the favorite son upon his knee telling him of heroic deeds he had performed, and the mother with Little Susie held close to her bosom listening with love and pride to the exciting though true stories of her husband.

The manner of living made friendship very strong between the pioneers. They worked in harmony with each other. A pioneer's house was open to both friend and stranger at all times. If his fellow man needed food, clothing, or money, he would cheerfully lend it to him and think he had done only a common favor. If a neighbor was sick, the pioneers would gather at an appointed day and work his crop. (The same is still true today.) If he had work too heavy for one man to do, he would invite his neighbors to help him. No one who was invited failed to come. To fail to come when invited or to fail to invite a friend was considered equally discourteous. No one expected pay; and to have offered pay would have been a grand insult. The men assembled early and worked until noon; when a fine dinner was usually prepared. They did the same justice to the dinner that they did to the work. The afternoon found them ready to continue the task if it was not finished. The men took great pride in their strength, and challenged each other to contest to see who was the strongest. The "best man" at a log rolling was a hero.

After the "workings" they generally had parties. The fiddlers would assemble in one corner of the house. A man who had a good voice and knew his "steps" would begin to call the set while the young men and their partners would promenade. The most common game was the square dance. The young men with their hunting shirts and leans breeches on and maidens with their long skirts on that swept the floor enjoyed life to the fullest. When the party was over, the young men saw their sweethearts home but usually parted with them at the door. There was very little "courting" done at night. And when there was, the boy and girl sat in the house with the family and talked in general. Would the boys and girls of today appreciate such social privileges?

Do not get the impression that these rough and sturdy pioneers were dull minded and ignorant. It is true that they aid not have the opportunity to receive an education that the boys and girls of today have, but they were awake and alert to the things around them. Whenever a stranger from some other parts came in, the people soon learned what he knew and passed it on to others. Everybody welcomed him and shared with him the very best. In this manner the people kept themselves fairly well posted.

Schools were very scarce, and what they did have were subscription schools. Do you know what a subscription school is? It is one that is supported by the parents who have children attending it. The house was usually a large one-room log house with a large chimney and open fireplace occupying one whole end. The floor was of dirt, and the benches were split logs with the flat side turned up. They had legs but no back. For light a log was cut out of the side of the house thus furnishing a long opening which served as a window. It did not have a glass in it for there was no glass to be had. The school had no blackboard, globes, or charts and but few books. They were usually a speller, reader, and arithmetic. Writing was taught also. Schools then were not graded as they are today. The teacher, who was seldom competent to teach, heard each pupil's lesson separately from the others. But classes were soon created in spelling. The pupils would stand in a long row and spell orally, much as they do today. Even the studying was done aloud. (The author has seen such schools but not in Henderson County). It is indeed an amusement just to stand by and listen to the different sounds in such a school. But the pupils in our pioneer schools seemed not to notice the noise and learned readily for the few months they were in school.

The terms were about two months in mid summer and about the same in mid winter. The boys would bring their axes and cut wood and keep fires, while the girls would keep the house clean. The boys and girls were not allowed to associate with each other, the boys being seated in one side of the house and the girls in the other. If a boy more than spoke to a girl, a rumor was spread that there was "courting" in the school. Such a report was a bad reflection, indeed, upon the school and the teacher.

Churches were built much on the same order as were the schools, but it was not necessary to pay the preacher, as it was to pay the teachers of the schools. The preachers never thought of receiving pay. His service was always free and to the upbuilding of God's Kingdom. He would ride or walk almost any distance to fill an appointment and was seldom, if ever, late.

The pioneers did not have cars to ride to church in. They did not even have buggies, and very seldom wagons. Those who lived near the church or meeting place walked. Those who lived farther away went in carts drawn by horses or oxen. It was a common thing for a family to go fifteen or twenty miles in an ox cart to meeting. Some would even walk great distances. Those who went horseback fared best and were looked upon with dignity. Often the boys would ride horseback and carry their sweethearts behind them.

There was almost always a large congregation. If the house would not hold all the people, the men would give back and allow the women and children to be seated. They would. stand on the outside as close to the preacher as possible and hear the sermon. All were quiet and attentive. They came for only one purpose and that was to learn more about Jesus Christ and to worship Him. They would sit for hours on the rough split benches and listen to the sermon, which was usually not polished and elegant, though earnest and forceful.

The preacher often became very emotional and would arouse the wooing spirits of his congregation. The men and women and even the boys and girls would stand and tell of their Christian experiences. They were not afraid or ashamed to stand before the public and speak for Him, who had saved their lost souls. Often the preacher was forced to close his sermon and to give way to the heart felt words from the congregation. It was not uncommon for a service to break up in the tumult and shouting of Christian souls who sang praises unto their Savior. Nothing brought more happiness to a congregation than for a wayward soul to be brought unto Christ. Many times now we hear old men and women speak of the religion and meetings the people had in the early days.

Palestine, about five miles south of Lexington, was once the center for a big camp meeting, or revival. Near the camping grounds was a very large spring known as the Boiling Springs, which furnished abundance of water. It is said that this spring was so enormous that fence rails could be buried in it and that it changed its position annually. It has, however, ceased to function of late. People for miles around came and brought corn and other provisions with them and built places to keep them in. All placed their supplies in a common storehouse and used them whenever they chose. If a man was unable to bring his lot, he was made welcome to share from the common supply. The men fenced enclosures in which to keep their stock. What they brought consisted of provisions to live upon and cooking utensils to prepare it in, clothes and tubs and soap to keep them clean, bedding, and other necessities for camp life. They often spent weeks and sometimes months in one of these meetings. All had a good time and received inspirations from Above. At the close of the meetings the pioneers went home with happier souls, a greater love for their Lord and Savior, and a stronger determination to live more nearly like Him.

Chapter 3 - Making The County

Henderson County was created by an act of the Legislature on November 16, 1821, and was named in boner of Colonel James Henderson of North Carolina of Revolutionary fame. It was carved out of the Western District and placed under the control of Stewart County until its formal organization in 1822. The County is bounded on the north by Carroll County on the east by Decatur County, formerly by Perry, on the south by Hardin and Chester Counties, and on the West by Chester and Madison Counties. The County was reduced in 1845 by cutting off a strip about three miles wide and attaching the same to Decatur County. In 1868 a small area lying west of Forked Deer River was attached to Madison County, and in 1882 a considerable portion of the southwest corner was attached to Chester County. It now has an area of 536 square miles.

On the creation of the County, Sterling Brewer, James Fentress, and Abram Maury were appointed by the Legislature to select a site for the county seat. The place selected was the present site of Lexington, on the Wilson Spring Branch, and was named in honor of Lexington, Massachusetts, where the untrained American pioneers completely rioted the British Regulars in the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The site was near the center of the County and contained sixty-three acres of the 726 acre track of land deeded by the State to Samuel Wilson, April 12, 1822; who in turn conveyed the sixty-three acre plot for the county seat to the commissioners on August 14, of the same year. For the consideration of $100.00 and one choice lot on the square--lot no. 20--on the above date Samuel Wilson did "give, grant, bargain, sell, alien, convey, and confirm" the track to said commissioners.

The place was surveyed by John T. Harmon, who laid it out giving the streets a bearing north 47 east. The public square containing four acres was reserved in the center for a court house, stocks and jail. The streets were made eighty feet wide with the alleys forty-two feet wide. The lots were laid off in rows around the square, beginning at the northeast corner and numbering 1, 2, 3, and so on around the square to the place of beginning. Then another row started and numbered in the same order, the total number of lots amounting to 104. The town commissioners were authorized and empowered to sell town lots and with the proceeds of the sales to erect a courthouse and other public buildings. The first purchasers of these lots were John A. Green, John Brooks, Samuel C. Wilson, James Wright, J. A. Wilson, W. I,. Petty, Samuel G. Tate, William Stoddert, Daniel Thomas, James Jordan, and William Edwards. The lots were sold at auction, the auctioneer being R. Marshall, for which service he was allowed $50.00 by a report of John Stewart and Micajah Bullock. The entire sale of lots amounted to $6,285.40. The expenses of the sale; surety, and public buildings amounted to $5,483 with some incidentals. There was a surplus of $529.03-1/2 left.

The first courthouse was a small log house one story high and stood on the square near where the present house stands. It was built in 1822 at a cost of $142.00 and served its purpose about five years. The second was a brick house and was built about 1827 by Samuel Wilson at a cost of $4,595.97. This house was not a very good one, and in 1832 Robert Baker, E. H. Tarrant, and G. Kerherdon were selected to let the contract for remodeling the house. It was let to James Baker for about $1000.00 and was completed October 1, 1833. In 1844 the house was again remodeled, the walls being taken partly down and rebuilt. The work was done by James H. Watson, during which time the court met in the Masonic Hall. This courthouse stood until 1863, when it was accidentally fired by some of the third Michigan Calvary, who were quartered in the house. Most of the County records were consumed in the fire. After the war the courts met at the store house of William Brooks, the office of T. C. Muse, and other places until 1866, when H. G. Threadgill, A. H. Rhodes, J. P. Fuller, J. R. Teague, and Samuel Howard were appointed as a committee for the erection of a new courthouse. The contract was let to Robert Dyer for $7,450.00 to be completed October 1, 1867. The house was a two-story brick building with double gables. It had offices on the ground floor and a large court room above. This was a good building and lasted until 1896, when it was mysteriously burned. J. R. (Bud) Wilkerson was accused of burning it. People thought that because there were charges against him, he burned it in order to destroy all evidence and proof. Mr. Wilkerson died, however, before he had trial, and the public never knew whether he was guilty or whether an innocent man was accused. The following year the present courthouse was erected. It was overhauled about four years ago and again last year; and is now a fine building. The court square, with the new building upon it and the well kept shrubbery and lawn, is one of the most beautiful in the State or elsewhere. Many people of the County fail to appreciate its beauty as they should.

The first court held in the County met on the fourth Monday in December 1822 at the house of Samuel Wilson. What was done at this court or of whom it was composed cannot now be learned, as most of the records previous to 1840 have been destroyed. The appointment of County officers and the approval of their bonds doubtless received their first attention. John A. Wilson was chosen the first County Court Clerk and held the position until 1835. Others holding that position since are Jesse Taylor, A. H. Rhodes, C. R. Scott 18761884, J. A. Teague 1854-1890, D. A. Griggs 1890-1898, Asa Davis 1898-1906, J. W. Page 1906-1922, and Paul Parker from 1922 to August 19, 1930, when he suddenly died of hemorrhage of the brain. "Sid" Rhodes took the office September 1, 1930.

The first jail was a temporary log jail and was built by William Patton at a cost of $83.00. This served until 1827 when a brick jail was erected on Purdy Street near the Kizer Hotel. It was used as a jail until 1887, when it was sold to E. Flake for $480.00. He in turn, sold it to a Mr. Elkins who occupied it for some time as a private residence. It is yet occupied as a residence by Mrs. W. M. Sweatt. In 1881 a new brick jail was built in the eastern part of town. This was built by L. A. Stanford and M. A. Hare at a cost of $8,400.00. It was remodeled some fifteen years ago and is now a good and substantial jail.

John T. Harmon was chosen sheriff at the organization of the County and served until 1826, when he was succeeded by Robert Marshall. Others serving in this capacity are given below in order of their service; S. M. Carson, R. B. Jones, John Howell, G. H. Buck, John Howell again, W. B. Hall, W. H. Shelby, A. H. Rhodes, J. H. Gilbraith, Levi McEwen, A. E. Aydelott, R. J. Dyer, G. W. Moss, J. A. Teague, E. A. Aydelott again, J. M. Wadly, A. G. Douglass, G. W. Essary, H. C. Lindsey, Bill Azbill, Bud Carlton, G. W. Goff, Jasper Tate, John Franklin, S. F. Rosson, J. F. Martin, W. H. McBride, W. R. Wright, T. R. Sisson, and Dorsey Stewart, who is now serving.

The first County register was perhaps O. H. King, who served unti1'1832, when he was succeeded by S. A. Orton who was succeeded by John H. White, who was succeeded by John Smith in 1844, who was, in 1856 succeeded by J. A. Henry, who served until his death in 1884, thus serving twenty-eight years. Major T. A. Smith was appointed to fill out his unexpired term, and was re-elected in 1886. Following him were J. A. Jones, J. C. Peterson, J. L. Sullivan, J. R. Dennison, and C. L. Scates, who is serving at present.

On the organization of the Chancery Court May 6, 1844 J.W. G. Jones was appointed clerk and master and held the office until 1866. Following him and in order were Owen Haney, J. W. G. Jones again, W. F. Brooks, Charles R. Scott, E. F. Boswell, and W. V. Barry, who is serving at present. Mr. Barry has received four appointments-appointments from both Democrats and Republicans.

Perhaps E. H. Tarrant was the first circuit court clerk in the County. He served until 1836, when he was succeeded by Addison Tyle. Others holding that office are R. B. Jones, James Priddy, E. J. Timberlake, I. T. Bell, J. A. Teague, W. R. Britt, J. R. Wilson, "Bob" Lewis, P. O. Roberts, W. F. Appleby, John B. Scott, A. R. Wallace.

Joshua Haskell was perhaps the first circuit Judge. In 1838, John Read of Jackson became judge and served until 1861, when he resigned on account of failing health. He served twenty-three years. Courts were held by special judges until they were closed by the war. On the reorganization, Fielding Hurst was made judge, and was succeeded by F. P. Bond, who was succeeded by L. L. Hawkins in 1867. In 1873 T. P. Bateman became judge and served until 1868, when he was succeeded by Levi S. Woods. In turn, Woods was succeeded by D. W. Herring, who was succeeded by N. R. Barham. Judge W. H. Dennison is the present circuit court judge and is a Henderson Countian.

Some of the first lawyers that we have any record of in the County were H. H. Hopkins, William L. Petty, and James A. Heaslet. In 1826 or 1827, Micajah Bullock began practice at the Lexington bar, where he was prominent for nearly half a century. The prominent lawyers about 1850 were Hawkins, Bullock, Alien, Brasher, Huntsman, McClannahan, McDougal, Scott, Walker, Scurlsk, Totten, Brown, Doherty, Swayne, Beloate, Foster, Williams, Gillespie, Shrewsbury, and others. At that time it was not imperative for a person to spend so much time and money to become a lawyer as it is now. The attorneys of Lexington about 1885 were Hen. John M. Taylor, Judge L. S. Woods, R. H. Thorn, W. T. Logan, W. B. Ware, T. Davis, and Arthur Pearce. The present lawyers in Lexington and Henderson County are, P. M. Davis, E. W. Essary, W. H. Denison, John F. Hall, W. H. Lancaster, Joe C. Davis, J. L. Jones, E. L. Stewart and E. W. Essary, Jr.

The County Judges were W. M. Taylor, T. A. Lancaster, W. H. Lancaster, W. F. Appleby, L. B. Johnson, and F. M. Davis.

Previous to Taylor the chairman of the County Court acted as Judge. After Davis the judgeship passed back to the chairman of the County Court, this time to P. O. Roberts.

In 1866 the first trustee of the County was elected. Previous to that date the sheriff collected taxes and did other work that the trustee now does. The Trustees of the County are as follows;1866 Charlie Rodgers, 1870 Felix Henry, 1874 Buck Priddy, 1878 William Carral, 1882 Sam Howard, 1886 Sam Howard again, 1890 Andy Long, 1894 Bud Essary, 1898 T. Edwards, 1902 T. Edwards again, 1906 W. T. McPeake, 1910 S. F. Rosson, 1914 W. F. Appleby, 1918 Carl Edwards, 1922 Carl Edwards again, next Ernest Reed (by appointment), 1926 T. R. Sisson, 1930 T. R. Sisson again.

The present doctors of the County are: G. A. Brandon, Lexington, Tennessee, C. H. Johnson, Lexington, Tennessee, J. F. Golf, Lexington, Tennessee, Wm. I. Howell, Lexington, Tennessee, W. F. Huntsman, Lexington, Tennessee, J. P. Joyce, Lexington, Tennessee, W. F. Watson (retired), Lexington, Tennessee, C. E. Bolen, Wildersville, Tennessee, W. D. Bradfield, Wildersville, Tennessee, R. L. Wylie, Scotts Hill, Tennessee, Gib Howell, Sardis, Tennessee, C. B. Chaffey, Luray, Tennessee.

The first marriage license in the County was issued to H. H. Hopkins and Sophia Greer, and bears the date of January 8, 1822. Others were issued to John A. Null and Hester Humphreys December 22, 1822, Calvin Gillum and Susan Reeves, 1828; B. H. Tate and Polly Chambers, July 26, 1825; James Phillips and Martha Rutlege, 1826; Robert Carter and Lydia Mathews, 1826; William Potts and Elizabeth Rodgers, October 24, 1823; Robert Rhodes and Lucy Redges, January 24, 1823; and Silas Mathews and Elizabeth Snell, January 24, 1824. The minister officiating most frequently was John Darnett, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister.

Chapter 4 - Early Development

After pioneers once got a sound footing, they made great advancement. Even though there were no railroads, turnpikes, or navigable streams in the County, it developed rapidly. Soon farming took a step forward. The wooden plows that the earlier pioneers used were replaced by plows with iron points and other iron parts. The rapid progress and the abundant crops from the fresh lands brought about a demand for marketing these crops and still other products.

A road was opened up from Lexington to Clifton by way of Scotts Hill. William White, the father of Marion White, and Milt Buck, the father of the late Milt, John, George, Henry, Jurdon, and Wilse, took the contract for building the road. They and their slaves felled trees and cleared the right-of-way for the road. They measured the road with a grapevine, there being no chains or ropes available. They did not grade the road or even plough it. All they did was to cut the stumps low and move the fallen trees. It was a rough road. There were no bridges. The only way that there was to cross a stream was to ford it. And the larger streams could not be forded when they were up. This was not the first road in the County, but it was an early one. The account of the first road is unknown. Other early roads were the one from Lexington to Perryville and the one from Lexington to Jackson. Almost all the roads ran perpendicular to the Tennessee River, for most of the freight and passengers were brought up or down the river. The opening up of the roads made travel much easier and faster. Cotton was hauled in wagons and carts to Perryville, Saltillo, and Clifton, where it was loaded on boats and shipped, usually to New Orleans. Live stock was driven to various places for market.

The roads were gradually improved year by year until finally transportation was revolutionized. The stage coach was brought into use and with the introduction of it came the development of the inns. An inn is a kind of a hotel prepared to take care of travelers. It would be rather amusing to us to see four or six gay horses hitched to a gaudy colored stage coach dash up to a wayside inn and stop at the front gate. The coach driver would dismount from his seat, which was usually on the front end of the coach, and open the coach door for the stranger to get out. The proprietor of the inn would welcome the stranger in and share the best he had with him. he stranger felt free to request any service he desired, and the proprietor saw that his requests were complied with. The stranger ordered a fire built, dry clothes, food or drink, or whatever he wished. The servants, hurrying in and out and showing their large, rolling eyes and broad rows of snow white teeth, obeyed his orders very gracefully. After supper he and the proprietor would talk of the news of the day and tell jokes. He was a source of information and amusement. When he was ready to depart, he would pay for his lodging, which was usually a very meager sum. He was bid good by and wished a good journey. This mode of travel was considered very fine. Governor Brownlow came through the County in such a manner and ate dinner with James W. Hanna near Sardis. Innkeepers were always glad to have a stranger, and more especially if he was some distinguished "gentleman."

Even before the stage coach was introduced the County was progressing by leaps and bounds, Grist mills and cotton gins were being erected throughout the County. Perhaps John and William Brigham built the first grist mill in Henderson County, in 1821 on Mud Creek. Daniel Barcroft built one about the same time on Forked Deer River. These mills were turned by water power. The first horse mill was built about 1822. Major John T. Harmon, who was the most distinguished man at that time, built the first cotton gin in 1823 on Beech River. By 1830 there were at least six mills and two cotton gins in the County. The assessments of 1836 show 108,123 acres of land in cultivation valued at $450,469; eighty six town lots valued at .$30,880; 558 slaves valued at $525,000; and nine pleasure carriages.

After pioneers once got a sound footing, they made great advancement. Even though there were no railroads, turnpikes, or navigable streams in the County, it developed rapidly. Soon farming took a step forward. The wooden plows that the earlier pioneers used were replaced by plows with iron points and other iron parts. The rapid progress and the abundant crops from the fresh lands brought about a demand for marketing these crops and still other products.

A road was opened up from Lexington to Clifton by way of Scotts Hill. William White, the father of Marion White, and Milt Buck, the father of the late Milt, John, George, Henry, Jurdon, and Wilse, took the contract for building the road. They and their slaves felled trees and cleared the right-of-way for the road. They measured the road with a grapevine, there being no chains or ropes available. They did not grade the road or even plough it. All they did was to cut the stumps low and move the fallen trees. It was a rough road. There were no bridges. The only way that there was to cross a stream was to ford it. And the larger streams could not be forded when they were up.

This was not the first road in the County, but it was an early one. The account of the first road is unknown. Other early roads were the one from Lexington to Perryville and the one from Lexington to Jackson. Almost all the roads ran perpendicular to the Tennessee River, for most of the freight and passengers were brought up or down the river.

The opening up of the roads made travel much easier and faster. Cotton was hauled in wagons and carts to Perryville, Saltillo, and Clifton, where it was loaded on boats and shipped, usually to New Orleans. Live stock was driven to various places for market.

The roads were gradually improved year by year until finally transportation was revolutionized. The stage coach was brought into use and with the introduction of it came the development of the inns. An inn is a kind of a hotel prepared to take care of travelers. It would be rather amusing to us to see four or six gay horses hitched to a gaudy colored stage coach dash up to a wayside inn and stop at the front gate. The coach driver would dismount from his seat, which was usually on the front end of the coach, and open the coach door for the stranger to get out. The proprietor of the inn would welcome the stranger in and share the best he had with him. he stranger felt free to request any service he desired, and the proprietor saw that his requests were complied with. The stranger ordered a fire built, dry clothes, food or drink, or whatever he wished. The servants, hurrying in and out and showing their large, rolling eyes and broad rows of snow white teeth, obeyed his orders very gracefully. After supper he and the proprietor would talk of the news of the day and tell jokes. He was a source of information and amusement. When he was ready to depart, he would pay for his lodging, which was usually a very meager sum. He was bid good by and wished a good journey. This mode of travel was considered very fine. Governor Brownlow came through the County in such a manner and ate dinner with James W. Hanna near Sardis. Innkeepers were always glad to have a stranger, and more especially if he was some distinguished "gentleman."

Even before the stage coach was introduced the County was progressing by leaps and bounds, Grist mills and cotton gins were being erected throughout the County. Perhaps John and William Brigham built the first grist mill in Henderson County, in 1821 on Mud Creek. Daniel Barcroft built one about the same time on Forked Deer River. These mills were turned by water power. The first horse mill was built about 1822. Major John T. Harmon, who was the most distinguished man at that time, built the first cotton gin in 1823 on Beech River. By 1830 there were at least six mills and two cotton gins in the County. The assessments of 1836 show 108,123 acres of land in cultivation valued at $450,469; eighty six town lots valued at .$30,880; 558 slaves valued at $525,000; and nine pleasure carriages.

In 1851 the County bought from Absalom McGee 273-3/4 acres of land with a house for $900 and made of it a home for the poor and unfortunate. Previous to that date, these helpless paupers had been taken care of by private families or were farmed out to the lowest and best bidders. The new home for the paupers lies about three miles south of Lexington on Beach River, and is a part of the track entered by Solomon West in the settlement of the County. The paupers are kept on the farm and cared for. Those who are able work. The steward receives $5.00 per capita together with the use of the farm for his services. The paupers, of course, do not get out of life what many of us do, but they have plenty of comfortable clothes, common food, and a fairly decent place to stay. The County, in preparing even this, did a kind deed.

In 1851 the County bought from Absalom McGee 273-3/4 acres of land with a house for $900 and made of it a home for the poor and unfortunate. Previous to that date, these helpless paupers had been taken care of by private families or were farmed out to the lowest and best bidders. The new home for the paupers lies about three miles south of Lexington on Beach River, and is a part of the track entered by Solomon West in the settlement of the County. The paupers are kept on the farm and cared for. Those who are able work. The steward receives $5.00 per capita together with the use of the farm for his services. The paupers, of course, do not get out of life what many of us do, but they have plenty of comfortable clothes, common food, and a fairly decent place to stay. The County, in preparing even this, did a kind deed.

Chapter 5 - Slavery

The first slaves were brought into Henderson County by Joseph Reed in 1818, when he made the first settlement. The assessor's report of 1836 shows the County having 858 slaves valued at $525,000.00, making the average valuation of each slave about $600.00. Some brought much more than that. The largest and strongest negro men brought the best price providing they were young men.

Slaves were bought and sold much the same as ordinary property. In fact, they were ordinary property, and had no say in where they wished to live or what they wished to do. The owner would usually auction his slaves off to the highest bidder when he wished to sell them. The slaves were often stripped of their clothes down to the waist so that their form and muscles could be seen, and then were placed upon a platform to be sold. The slaves' desires were totally disregarded. He was sold away from his family and loved ones. Black as he was, he had the same feelings and love that we have. Yet in selling them friend was separated from friend; brother from sister; and mother from baby. They were separated from all that was near and dear to them. But they could do nothing.

It was at such an auction in New Orleans, where many Henderson County slaves were carried to be sold, that Abraham Lincoln is claimed to have said that if he ever got a lick at such he would hit it hard. It was really heart touching to see the mother holding close to her bosom her loving babe from which she was soon to part, perhaps never to lay eyes upon it again. We have below an instance of such.

The first wife of Howard, more commonly known as "Hoad" Lowery was sold from her mother when she was only five years old. Her mother weeping bitterly and clinging to her little one until separated from it by super force, begged God to let her see it once more. Mrs. Lowery was brought to this county and grew to womanhood and married, never knowing what became of her mother. But many years later her mother learned where she was and arranged to come to see her. She came on boat to Saltillo and the remainder of the way in a wagon or cart. It had been fifty one years since the sad separation, but the mother recognized her daughter and thanked God for sparing the both of them that they might see each other again.

Slaves were allowed to marry, but they had no assurance that they would be together long. A man from one farm would usually marry a woman from another. Of course, the man was not permitted to bring his wife with him, unless his master was unusually kind and would buy her. Unless such happened, the slave and his wife were kept separated except when they would pay each other a visit. If they had any children, the children remained the property of their mother's master. You can plainly see that the negro had very little privilege. He could not claim his own children.

Very often a slave would fall into the hands of a good master and would be very grateful to him. Some masters would provide good food and comfortable clothing and lodging for their slaves and grant them privileges. Slaves under such masters fared better than many negroes do today. They had nothing to worry about and were treated kind. They had their parties and dances much as did the white people. What better life could he want? But all masters were not good masters. Some worked their slaves hard and provided only a scanty living for them. It is said that some even fed them on boiled cotton seed and demanded them to perform heavy duties.

I shall give here an account of an unjust master. However, do not understand me to say that this man was a fair example of the slave owners in the County, for he was worse than the average. Most masters were kind to their slaves, and the slaves were very well satisfied to remain slaves. This cruel master was named Robert Lowery. He was born in Ireland about 1805. His father sent him to the Medical College of North Carolina to learn the medical profession. He graduated from there but must not have taken up his chosen work. About the age of twenty-five he was foreman on a large plantation in North Carolina where many slaves were worked.. It is said that during the night he loaded provisions and mothers with newly born babies in an ox cart and ran away with them. He and the able bodied negroes, both men and women, walked behind the cart. One old negro did not want to run away and leave his wife. He was tied and led behind the cart. He finally became submissive and promised to behave himself if Dr. Lowery would untie him. But he escaped one night from camp when he went after water, and Lowery never saw him again.

Dr. Lowery came to Henderson County about 1830 or 1835 and settled on a large plantation known as the Lowery Plantation six miles south of Scotts Hill and near the Decatur County line. Here he and his slaves built a house for him and a string of huts for the slaves. He had the slaves clear land and plant crops. Dr. Lowery was very cruel to his slaves. He worked them hard and fed them poorly. He spent most of his earnings on bad women, and was never married. He lived on the plantation with his slaves; and it is said that many of the Lowery negro children were of his own blood. But he made no discrimination between them. He was cruel to all alike. Harriett Beecher Stowe could have found ample material on this plantation for another such book as "Uncle Tom's Cabin". King Nero treated the Christians no more cruelly than Dr. Lowery treated his slaves. He would dog, beat, whip, lash, and starve them.

He had two fierce dogs that he would set on the slaves and tear the very flesh from the bones. One day he set these dogs on a slave woman who had started to her hut. No one knows why he did so. She saw that she did not have time to reach her door, so she made for a rail fence and crossed it. She did not get far before the dogs caught her. They tore her clothes into shreds and finally stripped her of all she had on. Then there was nothing but her naked flesh for them to rage at. We do not know just how badly they tore her body, but we know the character of the dogs and the ugly work they had done before.

She did not return. Nor did Dr. Lowery seem to care if she had been torn to pieces and eaten alive by those blood thirsty dogs. She preferred to risk hunger and starvation rather than face Lowery and his demons. She wandered through woods and fields and lived upon berries and nuts and green corn until she reached a slave owner by the name of Ferry Hawkins at Saltillo. There she stopped and spent about four months as one of his slaves. She was a miserable wreck naked and half starved when she reached him.

Dr. Lowery learned of her whereabouts and took his dogs and went after her. He was allowed to take her home; but when he was about to set the dogs on her again, Mr. Hawkins raised his gun and threatened to shoot him if he even heard of his dogging her again. Lowery took her home in a decent manner, but not to his liking.

Others would run away in summer and live on such things as did this woman rather than endure the punishment that they had to undergo at Lowery's merciless hands. The sad part of that came in the early winter when they were forced by cold and hunger to return to camp. He would tie them to a large tree with their faces to it and remove the clothing from around their shoulders and back. He usually whipped them with a heavy lash, which would split the skin almost every lick. He would continue this punishment sometimes until the victim would faint from suffering and loss of blood.

After he had finished with his cruel lash, he would rub salt and pepper into the gashes. The tree to which were tied so many of these bleeding forms of living humans, still stands. It is a huge and spreading white oak. (The author has seen it.) It stands near the old camp and the Lowery front yard.

Hoad Lowery, when a very small child, came upon the scene one day when Dr. Lowery had his mother tied to the tree and was whipping her. He watched his mother endure the agony as long as he could stand it. He was small and weak, of course; but his courage was not lacking. He rushed in to his mother's assistance with his fighting blood up. He was ready and willing to take whatever might come if he could relieve his mother. But with one mighty kick, the Doctor sent him whirling through the air. He hit the ground several feet away and was unable to renew the fight in his mother's behalf.

Dr. Lowery had one slave that was larger and stronger than the others. And he could finish his task quicker than the others. One day Dr. Lowery returned and found that this slave, Antney Lowery, was not at work. The Doctor asked him why he was not working Antney informed him that he had finished his task. But the Doctor was not satisfied and took Antney to measure the task. The Doctor, seeing that he was wrong and that the slave was right, become angry and shot Antney in the back of the head. He turned Antney on his back and left him to lie in the scorching sun the remainder of the day. A mock inquest was held after which Antney was buried in the Lowery grave yard. To mention all of Lowery's unjust treatment would require a volume within itself.

Years later, when Dr. Lowery, himself, was come to experience the Great Beyond, it is said that, in his illusions, he could see Antney before him and that he would say "Antney, Antney, is that you? What are you doing here? I thought I had killed you" and so on. Such a death must have been terrible. He was buried in his own grave yard among his slaves. If there is such a thing as the communion of spirits Dr. Lowery must be reaping his rewards.

Hoad Lowery, one of Dr. Lowery's slaves, is still living. He is a very industrious old darkey and minds his own business. The author was in his home in October of 1929, and found him grating meal from which he still makes his bread occasionally. He lives in Decatur County about six miles southeast of Scotts Hill, with his second wife. He and his wife have reached ripe old age and seem to enjoy life.

Chapter 6 - The Civil War

We must know a little American History before we can properly understand the Civil War and why Henderson County was involved in it. Long years ago in a continent across the seas lived many tribes of uncivilized people called negroes. They lived happy until white traders began to bring them to America and other places to sell them as slaves. For years they were brought into this country and bought and sold at will. Finally, people began to think it wrong to have slaves. The North wanted to free them, but slaves in the South were very profitable, and the southern people did not wish to give them up. Finally a dispute arose.

All sections of the country became aroused. Many states, both northern and southern, set aside laws of the general government when they chose and refused to obey them. The South even went so far as to threaten to break away from the Union. In 1861 the southern states declared themselves free and independent states, an act which northern states had threatened to do themselves. Lincoln called for soldiers to bring them back into the Union, thus marking the beginning of a long and bloody war. Slavery was the indirect cause of the Civil War, but the secession of the southern states from the Union was the direct cause. Just who was to blame for the war we cannot say. But both the North and the South felt that they were in the right and prepared to sustain their convictions.

Tennessee, however, preferred to remain neutral in this affair, and refused to break away from the Union when the other southern states broke away. She had nothing to do with bringing on the War. But when she saw that she could no longer remain neutral, she sided with the South. However, each citizen shouldered arms and fought where his convictions led him. Henderson County was one of the few counties in West Tennessee to cast her lot to remain with the Union when time came for Tennessee to make her final decision as to the part she would play in the Civil War. The vote was held on June 8, 1861, and was as follows; 810 votes for "separation" from the Union, and 1,013 for "no separation" from the Union. But when the final clash of arms came, the County was largely in sympathy with the South.

Nothing has caused so much distress and suffering in Henderson County as did the Civil War. All that were fit for military service, except a few unworthy, disloyal, roguish, murderous, cowardly bushwhackers, joined one or the other army and fought for what they believed to be right. Doctors, lawyers, merchants, mechanics, farmers, and laborers, left their work. Young men and old men left their families and loved ones, to fight for a worthy cause. They carried what guns, pistols, and swords they had and gave their all in support of their convictions. The Confederates gathered together at Trenton in the summer of 1861 and formed four companies for the Twenty-seventh Tennessee Confederate Regiment. The first company was raised by B. H. Brown and was formed from Henderson County. His company was known as the "sharpshooters". The captains of the four companies raised at Trenton were B.H.. Brown, of the "sharpshooters"; C. H. Williams, whose company was called the "Felix Rebels"; Richard Barham; and S. A. Sayle. On the organization of the regiment, C. H. (Kit) Williams was elected colonel; B. H. Brown, lieutenantĚcolonel; Samuel Love, major; Smith, adjutant; Robert Wilkerson, Sergeant-major; D. A. McKamey, surgeon; and J. R. Wingo, assistant surgeon. The regiment numbered about 1,000 men and was put in camp at Trenton for a time for discipline, but was soon moved to Henderson Station for sanitary reasons. Here it remained until the battle of Belmont, when it was ordered to Columbus, Kentucky. The next troops composed one company for the Thirty-first Tennessee Confederate Regiment. It was also organized at Trenton in the fall of 1861. A. H. Bradford was elected colonel; C. M. Cason, lieutenant-colonel; and John Smith, Major. Other Confederate soldiers went with friends to different regiments to enlist.

The Seventh Union Regiment of Tennessee Cavalry was raised mainly in Henderson and Carroll Counties. Three full companies were raised in Henderson County. The first of these was raised by T. A. Smith, whose lieutenants were A. T. Hart and Frank Reed. The second company was raised by Captain A. H. Hays, and the third by Captain J. W. Beatty. A part of a company, consisting of twenty-nine men, was raised by Captain Derryberry. The regiment was mustered into service November 14, 1862, and consisted of 650 men. The work of this regiment was confined almost entirely to guard duty along the line of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. In addition to guard duty, it scoured the country, picking up deserters and stragglers, preventing the Confederate Army from recruiting, and fighting guerilla bands. A portion of the regiment was captured by Forrest at Trenton in 1862, and nearly the entire regiment was captured by him at Union City on March 24, 1864. The men from Henderson County were widely distributed, both in the Union and in the Confederate Armies. They enlisted in the armies in which they preferred to fight. Many Confederates joined Forrest's Cavalry. Not a few Union men enlisted in the Illinois Regiment, in which- Mr. William Essary, who still lives at Chesterfieid, and many others were loyal soldiers.

There were two main battles fought in Henderson County, the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Parkers Cross Roads, the latter being the more important. Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll of the Hawkins Regiment was given orders to prevent General Forrest from crossing the river at Clifton. Ingersoll attempted to do so, but met Forrest, who had already crossed the river, and returned to Lexington without battle and encamped for the night. Here Forrest charged him. The battle was fought at the junction of the Clifton and Decaturville roads. It was fierce for a short time, but the Federals were outnumbered greatly and were soon crushed. They scattered through the town and fled for safety. Some escaped, but several were captured.

It was reported, doubtless by the Confederates, that Colonel Ingersoll was captured under an old woman's kitchen. It is said that he was discovered because he had crawled under the kitchen head first and had left his feet uncovered. But this was a false report, for Colonel Ingersoll was a brave and courageous man. He was a good fighter and always ready to do his part. Colonel Ingersoll was captured standing at the back of a house with the author's grand-father, Ira Powers, where he had taken refuge from the Rebels' bullets. Ira Powers, having lost his hat in the fight and seeing another man with two hats, had just requested Ingersoll to make the man give him his hat; and Ingersoll, believing one of the hats to be Powers', bade the man give it up. It was at the end of this little affair that Colonel Ingersoll and his little band of followers were captured. It is untrue that Ingersoll, like the frightened ostrich, hid his face and, forgetting to hide his feet and legs, believed he was safe from all harm and that the Confederates pulled him from under the kitchen by the feet. No such scene ever existed, either with Ingersoll or the ostrich so far as that is concerned.

The losses on both sides at the battle of Lexington were small, the number killed and wounded not exceeding five or ten. The Confederates captured quite a few men and two cannons. But the cannons were recaptured by the Federals a few days later at the Battle of Parkers Cross Roads. The most important battle in Henderson County was fought at Parkers Cross Roads, eight miles north of Lexington. Early in the morning of January 1, 1863, General Forrest and his men were breakfasting in a wooded lot at the home of W. R. Britt, who was then a small boy. The freshness of the morning and the first meal of the day were invigorating to the Rebel soldiers. They were consuming their well-earned food when, at sunrise, the sentinel fired, at the top of the hill near the home of Mr. Britt, the first shot of a great battle. Breakfasting instantly ceased and Forrest's men hastened into their well-selected line of battle just north of the old Hicks Field. The Federals, under Dunnivan, lined up just south of Mr. Britt's home and towards the Trenton Road north of Dr. Williams'. Before the sun was an hour high, the cannons were shaking the very earth, tearing it to pieces and laying low even human beings who had so short a time before enjoyed the refreshments of a morning meal. The smaller arms cracked and popped making it almost certain death to be seen by an enemy. Forrest seemed to have had a stronger army and the advantage and to have used it. The manslaughter lasted until far into the afternoon. The Federals, being great losers and becoming hardĚpressed, fell back into the southeast and into Dr. Parker's fields and the Milan Woods about mid-day. Forrest came into their deserted territory and seemed to have the advantage so much that the Federals stationed at Dr. Parker's woodpile were ordered to stack arms and surrender. They had begun to do so when Sullivan's reinforcements were seen coming at full charge over the Hiram Britt Hill only one-third mile away. The Federals renewed the fight and, with the fresh troops of the reinforcement, totally defeated Forrest and his men. But Forrest, not willing to be captured, ordered his men to take care of themselves, and all fled for safety.

Forrest and his lovers always wished to boast of his never having lost a battle but at Parkers Cross. Roads he was totally beaten. This battle was one that he always hated to think of. Some of his men were captured here, but many escaped. About two hundred, including Gen. Napier, were killed and many wounded. The Federals captured the heavier arms and ammunitions. The battle of Parkers Cross Roads, fought all day with heavy artillery and other weapons of warfare, has never received the notice it should have received. Forrest, not willing to admit defeat; Gen.Dunnivan, being whipped all day; and Gen. Sullivan, lying out when he should have been in command were all unwilling to give emphasis to the battle.

It was not a little affair of petty officers and small guns, but a great battle. The scene was red with some of the best blood of America. The dead and dying were on every hand. The wails of the wounded were pitiful to hear. General Wellington, who looked upon the field just after the Battle of Waterloo, where he had captured Napoleon, said that a victory was the saddest thing on earth except a sad defeat. The same statement might well have been made here after the fighting ceased and all was calm except the groans of the suffering and dying. There were also many Henderson County soldiers who took part in the Battle of Shiloh, although it was fought outside the County. The Federals under Grant had taken Fort Henry and Ford Donelson on the Tennessee River and had pushed southward beyond Pittsburg Landing. They encamped near Shiloh Church about two miles from the river and planned to await the arrival of General Buell before pushing farther into the South.

The main body of the Confederates was stationed at Corinth, Mississippi, only about twenty miles from Shiloh. General Albert Sidney Johnson, commanding the Confederates, lay plans to defeat Grant before Buell could reach him and then to defeat Buell. If he could accomplish this he would be able to regain Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. Early on the Sunday morning of April 6, 1862 the Confederates struck with terrible onslaught upon the Federals at Shiloh, who were unprepared for the attack but who resisted stubbornly. The cannons roared and thundered. The smaller arms belched sudden death. Enemy rushed upon enemy with only the better fighter to survive to attack another. Men who had been friends and neighbors back home met and killed each other on this bloody field of battle. It is said that brother shot brother down and, raising his weapon to strike the final blow, would sometimes discover whom he had killed. Dead were piled upon dead.

The battle raged thus, with the Federals losing heavily for near a day. In the afternoon, when the Confederates had driven most of the Federals to the river to the shelter of the gunboats and victory seemed certain, the Confederates lost their gallant leader, General Albert Sidney Johnson. General Beauregard was placed in command, but, not understanding conditions as he wished to understand them or else wishing to claim all the honor of the victory for himself, ceased fighting for the day and planned to capture the Federals the following morning; but during the night, General Buell arrived with reinforcements to aid Grant. On the following day the Confederates were beaten and forced to retreat to Corinth. The arrival of Buell saved the capture of Grant and his army, it seems. More soldiers were killed in that one battle than were killed in the whole Revolutionary War. And many of them were Henderson Countians. It would take too much space to give an account of all the battles in which soldiers from this county proved their metal. They did their bit on many occasions.

And while they were bravely shedding their own life's blood in support of the cause that they believed to be the right, conditions were growing from bad to worse back home. Families that lived next door to each other and that had long been friends became enemies and said many hard things against each other. This in turn developed into feuds which involved the worn out soldiers when they returned home after peace had been made. Some of these hard feelings lasted for generations and are hardly forgotten yet. During these trying days Henderson County was overrun time and again by both armies. Very often an army would run short of provisions and would take the necessities from whoever had them. This made provisions scarce and conditions bad in Henderson County.

But the armies caused little more disturbance and discomfort and aroused little more hatred and strife than did those outlaws, more commonly known as guerillas, who remained behind and were not men enough to fight for any cause, however just or sacred. The armies, both Federal and Confederate, were fighting for the betterment of mankind and for what they considered a sacred duty. But these guerillas had only a selfish purpose. They would go in bands of from two or three to a dozen or more and would pilfer homes and take away all that was worth having while the owners of the homes were on the field of battle. They often pretended to be agents of the Government looking for stolen property and would mistreat women and children and take the last bite that they had to eat away from them. They would hang the old and feeble for their money, and would even grapple and fight between themselves. Ike McCarrol was killed by his own clan because he told who received a fancy shawl taken from a lady by the name of Luiza Mathews. Jim Scott, who lived a few miles south of Lexington, was one of their pitiful victims. His daughter, who married John Wilson and who died only a few months ago, followed the guerillas as they took him off to hang him. She followed as closely as was safe for her and cut her father down after the dirty curs had left. But she was too late. Mr. Scott died two days later.

Another case was that of Johnnie Powers of near Middleburg. He had accumulated a little wealth by hard work, and a band of these outlaws learned of it. They came to his home and abused him and threatened to hang him if he did not give up his savings. They did hang him, but did not let him die. Later they came again and demanded his money. This time they hanged him until he was almost dead. His wife and children searched the place over for his money, and as he was about gone, found a small amount--enough partially to satisfy the guerillas. They let him down and left. He soon revived, to his family's delight. Heaped upon this were tragedies even worse. Three of Mr. Powers' sons were then starving to death in Andersonville Prison. The hunger and suffering that they endured before the grip of death closed upon them, words cannot tell.

Ed Holley, a brother of a Union soldier who was at home on a visit, was marched out by a guerilla band and shot in cold blood because he refused to tell where his brother was. This happened near Wake Forest in the south end of the County. Rev. D. W. Blankenship was asked to preach Ed's funeral at Hurricane Church and planned to do so. But at the appointed hour he was not there. He claimed to have been warned in a dream three times the night before that he would be killed if he went. And sure enough, the guerillas came in full force to take him for preaching a Union soldier's funeral, but he was not there. However, two Union soldiers were there dressed in full uniform. When they saw the guerillas coming they ran off in opposite direction to them and escaped. One of them was "Cul" Parkins, who had come a long way to be at the funeral.

A more-or-less trivial happening at this scene was the ordering of the boys to hide their hats and pocket-knives by Mr. Jim McBride. Mr. McBride, through his haste to help the boys save their hats and knives, forgot to hide his knife and lost it to the first guerilla that searched him. The hats were found also and carried away. Guerillas took all that they found and wanted. In the vicinity of Sardis the guerillas killed a boy named Billy Hughs. His people were unable to find him for a long time. Finally a dog of Frank Murphy's brought home one of the boy's hands. Billy was then found by watching the dog return to the dead body.

Monroe Ham was with Billy when the guerillas captured him, but he ran away and later reported that it was Jim Kennedy who killed Billy. Dock Willis, G. W. Brant, and Seth Boswell, all Union sympathizers, mustered arms and went after Kennedy. Their most effective weapon was a shotgun with most of the barrel cut off and loaded with slugs of metal instead of shot. They killed Kennedy and felt that they had done only common duty.

Immediately after the war a number of citizens of the County organized and hunted down a few of the leading guerillas. They surrounded the home of Jourd Brigance, one of the outlawed leaders, and ordered him to come out. But he, seeing the men coming and suspecting their purpose, had hidden under the house. When he refused to come out, the men carried his mother, then old and feeble, out of the house and set it on fire. Jourd was finally forced to leave the burning house and was captured He was carried from his home, near the present site of Alfred Rodger's home, to a large oak tree near Rodgers' Store. To that tree he was hanged and shot many times. To give an account of all the incidents connected with the guerillas would require a volume within itself. These few incidents will give an idea of the lawlessness of the guerillas. I shall, however, give a sketch of a brave and daring man who carried on guerilla warfare, yet who would not be called a guerilla in the common sense of the word.

Silas Hodges might better be called a scout for the Confederate army, but he worked as he saw fit. He was a man of good judgment and iron nerve. What he did was very bold and cunning. He became such a terror to the Federals in and around Henderson County that they sent out detachments to hunt him down, but he was too shrewd to be trapped. On one occasion he and one of his men went to the encampment of the Federals at Mifflin to get some horses. The man with him stopped outside the outermost guard while Hodges ventured into the Federal Camp. Here in Federal uniform he sauntered about with the Union men until night. When all were asleep, he took one horse at a time until he had carried eleven of the best horses the Federals had to his friend on the outside of the camp. The horses were then taken to General Forrest.

On another occasion, he walked boldly into the Federal camp at Jacks Creek dressed in a Federal uniform. How he obtained the Federal uniform no one knows, but probably anyone would guess correctly. He soon found himself engaged in conversation with his enemies, who made bad threats against Silas Hodges, not knowing that he was the man. Again, in the silent hours of the night, he escaped, this time taking with him a beautiful roan horse. At another time near Mifflin, he found himself in the Union camp and dressed as a Yankee. This time he noticed a man following him who seemed to suspect his identity. Hodges found his chance and shot him rather than risk the outcome and then joined the search for the murderer.

These are only a few of the many events in which Hodges was the leader. He was brave, fearless, bold, cautious, cunning, and sly. He had a true friend in his horse, which was ever alert. On different occasions this horse saved the life of Hodges by warning him of danger, usually from being am bushed by his enemy. Hodges settled down after the war and made, or continued to make, a good citizen. But he always seemed to be weary and on the lookout for danger. He finally moved to Texas where he died.

During the war, soldiers on both sides found it a hard task to visit home, for soldiers from the enemy's army might attack and capture them at any time. When the County was occupied by Rebel soldiers, it was unsafe for a Union man to be seen. When the Union controlled the County very few Rebels ventured in. But on April 9, 1865 the great and bloody war came to an end, and no longer was it dangerous for a man to go to his 'own home. Both the Union and the Confederate men were discharged from the armies. Prison walls were let down and the prisoners administered unto. According to reliable information, the Union soldiers in Rebel prisons were in an unusually bad state of physical being when released. They had undergone hardships unbelievable. In Andersonville Prison in Georgia prisoners were treated more inhuman than perhaps anywhere else. They were kept confined without clothes to keep them warm. Their food was so scanty and unwholesome that many died of starvation and of diarrhea. A man might enter strong and robust but within a few months be a skinny and haggard wreck. The "body lice'' were thick upon these weather beaten victims and sucked the life's blood from them. Conditions were such that the lice could not be destroyed.

Exposure, starvation, cruel treatment, and lack of medical aid caused men to die on every hand. Friends and relatives could do nothing for each other. Harrison Thomas, now living near Lexington on the Reagan road, was one of Andersonville subjects. His brother W. H. Thomas, was with him and became so weak from exposure and starvation that he could no longer go When one ceased to stir about in this "Hells Enclosure," he had little chance. Harrison stayed with his brother to the end, but could be of little help except to comfort his mind and soul. The hours of waiting, waiting, waiting must have been terrible for Harrison as he sat by the side of his dying brother. But the end finally came, and the limp and skinny form of this gallant Henderson Countian stiffened to rise no more…. Many others from Henderson County experienced like fates, but they remained firm in their conviction. And when the United States once again ruled supreme and burst asunder the prison gates that barred her citizens from freedom, these noble characters marched heroically out and paid tribute to their dear old flag, which was unfurled over them--Old Glory.

For me to determine which side was right and which was wrong in this war is beyond my power or the power of any one else. We can only form our own opinions. But the Great Civil War, though expensive as it was in money and blood, has served its purpose. It made the Union supreme and put an end to slavery. Instead of mutual prejudice that once existed between the different sections of the country and between the different families of our own county we now have mutual respect. The Union has become greater and nobler because the sections have come to understand each other better and because the people of the whole nation have become one people. The men from Henderson County and elsewhere who gave their lives on the field of battle, whether they wore the blue or whether they wore the gray, did not give their lives in vain. They settled a great question and settled it for all times. The union is supreme and without slaves. No longer do we see four million human beings governed by the lash, or bear the strokes of cruel whips, or see hounds tracking women through tangled swamps, or see babies sold from the breasts of mothers, or see all the sacred relation of wife, mother, father, and child trampled beneath the brutal foot of might--all under our own beautiful banner of the free. Instead of this we see a country without a slave, a country filled with happy homes where love and honor reign, a country filled with progress in every line, a country the foremost of all the earth. Man at last is free. Nature's forces have by science been enslaved to serve man's needs. Wind, water, flame, and lightning have been harnessed and are now the tireless toilers of the human race. And Henderson County has done its bit in bringing all this about.


History of Henderson County Part 1
History of Henderson County Part 2

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