By Auburn Powers 1930
The people who had enjoyed prosperity and plenty four years before were now forced to start life over anew, and at a disadvantage. The spinning wheel again hummed far into the night when wool or cotton could be obtained to spin. The old and musty looms were taken from their corners and tuned for service. Scraps of leather and other strong material were nailed to pieces of wood hewn in the shape of shoe soles and used for shoes. Sometimes the entire shoes were made of wood. Again were the sluggish oxen put under the yoke and plowed, for the good horses and mules had been taken away during the war, and the oxen that had been left behind were only the culls. But they could be used and were. Fields had grown into thickets and axes with which to clear them were scarce and could not be bought. Money had no value. Sixty dollars of Confederate money was worth only one dollar in United States currency, and Confederate money was the dominant money in Henderson County. In Confederate money, a barrel of flour cost $250.00; a bushel of corn $40.00; and a pound of brown sugar, $10.00 or a pound of coffee, $12.00. You can readily see that a pocket full of such money would buy very little.
Some things could not be bought at all. Flour was so scarce that it was used only as a very rare dainty. When a portion of it was secured in a community, it was kept for a case of emergency. Coffee was another very scarce commodity. People would sometimes go miles to borrow a small quantity of it for a special occasion. Rye, corn, and cotton seed were used as substitutes for it. Salt was perhaps the less plentiful and most essential of all these products. Without salt meats could not be preserved or foods cooked decently. Wood ashes were sometimes used for curing meats, but to no great advantage. Dirt from smokehouses was dug up and boiled in water to separate the salt from it. All-in-all, the people of Henderson County were in a worse condition than were the early settlers, for the early settlers could make their living from the bounteous game supply and were looking forward to new homes; whereas the people of Henderson County just after the war had little game and were heart-broken over the destruction of their homes and property. There were many widows and orphans and totally deserted homes.
The question of managing the negroes was of no little significance. In Henderson County perhaps conditions along that line were not as bad as in many places, but not a few of these newly freed slaves had fallen in with the Loyal League, which encouraged idleness and crime. The negroes believed that freedom meant freedom from work and all other cares of life. So they took to loafing, stealing, and everything else that they dared, except work.
In opposition to the Loyal League and the misconduct of the negroes, there grew up another secret order known as the "Ku Klux Klan". This "Klan" is said to have originated at Pulaski, Tennessee in the fall of 1866 by some young people whose object was amusement. The young people, seeing that they could scare the wits out of the Loyal League meetings and also the misbehaving negroes, turned their or into a band of regulators for the protection of society.
The "Klan" in Henderson County and elsewhere adopted grotesque and outlandish disguise and went about frightening superstitious negroes. It is said that one of the members would conceal a rubber bag under his robe, with a tube extending from the bag up under his disguise to about the position of his mouth. The "Klan", in its hideous disguise, would then go to some negros house and ask for a drink of water.. When the water was brought, that member of the party with the rubber bag would take the bucket, apparently drink all that was in it, and call for more. After seeming to drink two or three bucketfuls, he would thank the amazed negro and tell him that it was the first drink he had since the Battle of Shiloh. The negro usually dropped the bucket and ran for dear life, believing the man to be the ghost of some soldier who had been killed in battle. The "Klan" played other tricks on the negroes, usually accomplishing their purpose. But occasionally a stubborn negro paid little heed to the joke and was actually punished by the "Klan."
Whether we approve of the Ku Klux Klan or not, it served its purpose and helped to restore order after the Civil War. But soon bad men crept into it. Other dirty work was done in its name by people who had never been a member. Thus the "Klan" gained enmity of the good people and lost its power. But despite all this, as months and years rolled by, the brave, hardy, and patient race of the Henderson Countians set about to reconstruct the County and to bring back comfortable living conditions. It was many years, however, before some of them laid aside the prejudices formed during the Civil War and became neighbors as before. But finally they did so and laid the foundation for another era of progress and development.
The negroes had learned that freedom did not mean pleasure alone and settled down to work and made great strides of progress in wealth, civilization, education, and culture. They became sincere in their desires to imitate white people and neared equality with them each year. Beyond a doubt, in the future they will hold a much higher station in life than they hold even now.
Churches were rebuilt as the people began to recover. Roads were repaired and schools were opened. People began to neighbor with each other as of old. In general, Henderson County was gradually climbing to her feet again. But it must be understood that conditions were backward even then. What we call modernism did not exist. Markets were poor and prices out of proportion, but the people could raise what they ate and make what they used except a few luxuries, the like of which we would call very common necessities. There were no railroads and very few dirt roads that could be traveled to any great advantage. During the winter and early spring, roads were impassable. Stores carried only the barest necessities for the community. Cooking stoves were uncommon, indeed. Almost all the cooking was done on the fireplace. Steel plows were unknown, farming being done largely with the eye-hoe and the wooden shovel-plow, which sometimes had a metal point and cutter. Clothes were still largely made by hand. Such a life would seem hard to us, but to them it was a good life. It was peace and a comfortable though rough, living. The people again had homes and provisions to last until more could be grown. They had their parties and dances, their worship and their sports, though they knew little of the luxury that we now possess. But do we, with our cars, radios, and other means of amusement, enjoy life any more than did the people a little more than a half century ago who traveled in wagons and carts or on foot and danced to the music of the fiddle and banjo? It is not what one has in life that counts, but the station he holds. It is not what one possesses but the appreciation he has of it that counts.
Before going further, it will be well to consider several facts not directly connected with any chapter, but which are of interest and value in the History of Henderson County. These events date from pioneer days to the present time. Among them are facts so common to many of us that they may seem out of place in a history, but to others and to our posterity they may not seem so.
Mills Darden, an early Henderson Countian, was one of the largest, if not the largest, man known to the civilized world. It is said that he grew in height and in weight from birth to death. His flesh became so enormous that he choked to death on account of it in 1857. There is a legend connected with the birth and parentage of Mr. Darden. Whether it be true or false the author is unable to say. But the legend goes that he was a foundling, that an old negro woman discovered him when he was only a few days old and almost naked down by an old mill. When she found him, he began to cry; and she, in a soothing and coaxing way, exclaimed "Dar Den", meaning "there then". From that exclamation he has ever afterwards been known as "Darden". His Christian name was "Mills", and not "Miles" as has been incorrectly published and used. This name was derived from the circumstance under which he was discovered, down by the mill. (The author has seen his own signature.)
According to the legend, he never knew anything of his parentage, nor did he learn the secret of his birth until near his death. But whether this legend be true or false, Mr. Darden was of good character, and his posterity has shown him to be of good blood. He was held in esteem by the people who knew him, and it was in his honor that the town of Darden was so named. Mills Darden was so sensitive about his size and so averse to newspaper publicity that he never consented to be weighed. It was only through a clever scheme of those who wished to know his weight t a even an estimate of it was obtained.
Mr. Darden was so large that he could not ride horseback or even in an ordinary light vehicle. He had a special cart built with heavy springs or his own use. When he went to town, he usually drove an ox to the cart. One day before he got out of his cart, some men managed to measure how far the springs were mashed down. Later they filled the cart with rock and scrap iron until the springs measured the same as they measured while he was in the cart. They then weighed the rock and iron and thereby obtained a fair estimate of Darden's weight. Reports vary slightly, but his weight must have been around 800 pounds or probably a little more. He was so large that his clothes had to be made for him. His old-fashioned white hat resembled a bee hive in size; his shoes were homemade and on the style of moccasins; he could not pass through an ordinary door without stooping and turning sidewise, his height being approximately eight feet. Jim Pinkston and Major T. A. Smith of Lexington made him a suit of clothes. Mr. Pinkston and two other large men put on his coat, buttoned it around them, and walked down the street. It was a good fit for the three.
He was buried at Chapel Hill, and it is said that 500 feet of lumber were necessary to make his coffin and box, allowing for usual waste. Soon after his death newspapers from all over the country and world, including one from Wilmington, North Carolina and one from London, England gave accounts of his death and huge proportions.
Mrs. Waller cared for him as best she could, and Dr. Waller gave him medical treatment. Henry was very particular about his clothes. He wore heavy black yarn socks in winter. He also detested being touched by human hands. One time when Mrs. Waller tucked the cover around his feet, she touched them, and he, even possibly unconscious of the fact, kicked with all his might. His habit of keeping man's hands off him had been built so strongly. On January 6, 1892 Henry died. Men went into his room to dress him for burial, but returned without doing so. They reported it was the women's job--that Henry Armstrong was not a man but a woman.
Henry lived a man, had worn men's clothes, and had seemed to want to be a man so long that he was given men's clothes for burial. [Henry shall also be spoken of as "Him" in the remainder of this story.] He was buried about one mile west of Juno at the Sheard grave yard. Just who Henry Armstrong was, where he came from, and why he lived such a life is unknown to this day. He came into the Juno community immediately after the Civil War and located on the Sheard place, now the Frank Fesmire place, and worked for different people, doing man's work and enduring hardships and exposure just as did the ordinary man.
Henry was a good old creature--not bad at all. He was a jolly fellow and would partake of the sports of the community. He would go with the boys to the swimming holes and would sit on the bank and slap his hands and laugh with the crowd. He seemed to enjoy it as much as any of the others. Of course, he did not go in swimming with them. Mr. Will Gardner of the R. F. D. service and Mr. Charlie Gardner, his brother, slept with Henry many times, never knowing but what they were sleeping with a man. One mysterious thing about Henry was that he always slept with a big knife under his pillow. The knife must have been as a protection against anyone who might approach him.
Many suspicions have been advanced concerning the mystery of Henry's life. The one that seems most logical to the author is that Henry, while a young woman, entered the war as a brother to her husband or lover and that he was killed in the war and that she drifted into the Juno community. However, this legend may be untrue. But regardless of the cause of Henry's disguised life, he must have been a person of self control, for he fooled the people of an entire community for some thirty years. He died with the secret still kept. Dr. Waller asked him in the very last days if he had a secret to tell, but he had none. His secret was not to be told. He said, however, that he had well-to-do relations, but that they would not care to hear about his death. No investigation has ever been made concerning them.
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Many new trees have been introduced into Henderson County since its occupancy by white people. Cedar is the most common of these. Cedars were brought into this county from the bluffs on the Tennessee River about the year 1826. At first, they were a very delicate plant and would seldom live even with the best of treatment. They were used as shrubbery and considered sacred. Some people were so superstitious about this tree that they believed the person who set out one of them would die when it became large enough to shade his grave. As a consequence, many beautiful cedars were kept pruned back or even cut down. But they now grow on every hand, especially on gully banks.
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Beech River, the largest river in the County, received its name from the enormous amount of beech timber that once shaded its valley and from the bounteous beech mast that fell from the trees and fattened the farmers' hogs. There was also much other timber of value along Beech River. About 1875 white oak timber was slayed without mercy or any consideration of the future value of it. It was cut into stave bolts and loaded on boats known as ''stave boats'' and floated down River into the Ohio River, and down the Ohio into the Mississippi River which carried it to New Orleans where it was sold. Those who went with the rafts walked through the woods back home. It would often take a party six months to float the bolts to their destination, dispose of them, and make the journey back. The bolts were carried away in great quantities, and the County soon realized that its timber was depreciating very rapidly. Logs are sometimes marketed in such manner even now, but it is almost a thing of the past.
As was hinted in the preceding paragraph, the farmers' stock ran outside an ma e much of its own living. Beech River Bottom furnished an abundance of beech mast, acorns, and nuts. And once a farmer had a sow and bunch of pigs "ranging" in the bottom and bearing his "mark", he was pretty sure of having meat the following year. Often such a bunch of hogs would prosper, reproduce, and develop into a large drove. Some would go wild and seldom be seen. It was not infrequent for such a drove of semi-wild hogs to become infuriated and chase men from their range. Once a hog was hurt and made to squeal, all within ear shot of it would rush to its assistance with bristles raised and mouths chomping. Many. a hunter or fisherman has climbed a tree to escape the tearing tusk of the angry boar.
Every family had its own mark and knew its hogs by such marks, which were usually made by cutting "splits", "holes", "crops", etc., in the left or right ear and by cutting the tail off half way or close up or by leaving it long. Some' times a man would come home with a hog in his wagon or on his slide bearing no ears. The ears had been cut off to prevent the lawful owner from knowing his hog. The act of cutting a hog's ears off was considered an acknowledgement of stealing, and the person guilty of committing such an act was often punished by law.
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It was mentioned in a preceding chapter that game was plentiful during the days of the early settlers of the County. Much of that game survived many years. About 1870 a deer was aroused from his lair to give chase to a pack of hounds. Just where the chase began or how long it lasted is unknown, but the deer became near spent and, when his laboring bounds ceased to place more distance between him and his hot pursuers, his chance seemed lost. The foremost dog ceased to bay and strained his lithe muscles to draw the chase to an end. The deer, seeing no other means of escape, plunged into Middletons Creek, about two and a half mites south of Reagan, for a last resort. Evidently he hoped to ward off his foes with his antlers, for the deer could stand on the bottom of the creek, while the dogs had to swim in order to reach him. In his new position he had an advantage. But alas, the cruel hand of fate played his trump card. Some women by the name of Hubs were washing near by and came to the contest. They brought with them their "battling sticks", which were used for beating the dirt from wet clothes, and killed the deer. The laboring and painful attempts of the quarry to lose his pursuers had been in vain and he paid the supreme price. The courage and breath of the staghounds had been rewarded by the loss of their well earned feed to an intruder.
About three years ago, as an attempt to reestablish deer as a game in Tennessee, the State let loose a few specimen. One drifted into this region and caused much excitement. People reported that a deer had been seen. Others made sport of the report. There arose much talk upon the subject, for no one believed it, yet truthful men had affirmed the report. D. McCollum of near Scotts Hill settled the confusion by killing the deer and distributing its flesh throughout the community. Some was carried to Brown School No.6, where many children bit off the same piece, merely for the sake of being able to say that they had eaten wild deer meat. The killing of the deer was in no way meant as a violation of the law. Mr. McCollum knew nothing of the State's placing them here, and, when the opportunity of a lifetime came to make a big kill, he took it.
Jim Story, the great-grand-father of the White Brothers in business at Lexington, had the good fortune of killing a deer at the present site of the Henderson County Court House in early days. Mr. John Wash Fesmire, one of the two survivors of the first Republican Convention held in Henderson County, (William Essary being the other), helped to lower Mr. Story into his earthen tomb.
About the year 1880, Tommie Owens, more commonly known as "Dred" Owens, was aroused from his contentment one night after supper. A black sheep had made its way into his house; and "Dred", with the light of only a flickering grease lamp, pronounced it a bear. He ordered the wife and children to climb into the loft, a very unwise act, for bears can climb also. Dred yelled for his neighbor's dogs and made the well known remark, "Skin will hang when Grice's dogs get here." The sheep was detected and Owens became the "goat" of the community.
Crawford Springs, in the west end of the County and owned by a party in Jackson, is the favorite fox hunting resort of the County and has been so for several years. People come from Jackson and elsewhere, bring their family and dogs with them, and spend days and often weeks camping and fox hunting. The chief range of hunting territory is on Wolf Ridge.
The winter of 1898 and 1899 was so severe that almost all the blue birds in the Country were killed. It has been during only the past few years that they have been seen in any considerable numbers, but they are rapidly regaining prominence. It was so cold that winter that horses and cattle froze to death, and houses popped.
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An old man named Lee in 1899 attempted to pass a "four dollar bill" on his friend as a joke. The bill was struck in 1777 during the time that the United States lived under the Declaration of Independence. Judge Hammond made a "big-to-do" and offered Lee a fancy price for it, but Lee rejected the offer, considering the old money an emblem of loyalty and reverence to his ancestors and family. W. J. Long of Beacon, Tennessee was a witness to this act.
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The most widely known dog that this county has produced was a little black first owned by Ben Jacobs, who kept a saloon at the site where Timberlake and Buckley now stands, and called "Jim". He afterwards received the name "Tack" because he had the ability to eat metal tacks, or ordinary carpet tacks, without injury in the least. So far as the author has been able to trace, no other dog has had such a remarkable stomach and intestines. This dog even liked tacks and would sometimes consume a whole box at one time. In his early tack eating career he was put on exhibition at Lexington on "First Monday", and a small fee was charged to see him eat tacks. Many people witnessed his super-dog performances. Mr. Jacobs carried the dog to New Orleans and put him on exhibition. Some doctors, wishing to kill the dog and examine his stomach, offered Jacobs a good price for him. But Mr. Jacobs learned their intentions and refused to sell Tack to them. There are yet several men in the County who remember this remarkable dog.
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If my report is correct, Judge W. H. Lancaster, who yet resides in Lexington, was the victim of one of his jokes. A bunch of rowdy boys persuaded Chalk to make a political speech in support of the Democratic cause. He climbed to the platform and blundered away fiercely at the Republican party. Judge Lancaster, for the sake of making things still more lively, ask him a few stiff questions. Chalk paused for a moment, scratched his head, and remarked to Judge Lancaster that he had no time to fool away with such men as he and blundered away on his speech again. The crowd "ragged" Judge Lancaster a plenty.
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In 1908, the report was spread that the products of those refusing to market them in accordance with certain rulings of the Farmers Union would be destroyed. The band proposing to destroy these products were called "Night Riders".
The people of the County became very much excited, and much comment was made upon the subject, but no damage was done by the so called night riders.
After the World War an attempt was made to restore the power of the Ku Klux Klan in Henderson County and in many other places. Quite a bit of enthusiasm and discussion arose. Many of the leading citizens and practically all of the preachers, took sides with the movement. Meetings were held at various times and places. The attempt of the Ku Klux Klan to restore itself caused much unrest for a spell, but it all faded away as silently as it had come.
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The politics of Henderson County is and has always been rather remarkable. Surrounded by Democratic counties, it has almost always supported the Republican cause. It has, however, laid aside party lines on many occasions in the election of its county officials and supported the "Man".
Below is a list of the candidates for President from 1836 to 1928 and the vote of Henderson County in these elections. However, a few of the votes cannot well be found.
Members of the county court.
Henderson County has echoed to the tread of many great men of state and national fame. In spite of the fact that Henderson County was Whig by a large majority, the Democrats, by no means, abandoned it. In 1840, during the presidential campaign between Harrison and Van Buren, ex-president Andrew Jackson was drawn into the struggle for his old friend, Van Buren. Jackson, Governor Polk, and Adam Huntsman, who had defeated Crockett for congress, visited Lexington, Tennessee. When Jackson arose next morning, he saw near his window on the end of a liberty pole a Harrison and Tyler flag flying. This flag was put there during the night by the supporters of Harrison and Tyler. Jackson, it is said, remarked that one could never tell what the damned Whigs might do. Both Jackson and Polk made speeches in Lexington. that day. You will note that each of these gentlemen were, at one time or another, President of the United States.
Governor Brownlow passed through the County in a stage coach and ate dinner with Captain James W. Hanna of near Sardis.
David Crockett, a brave and adventurous frontiersman and hunter, a soldier, and a statesman, visited the early settlers and hunted with them. He spent nights with the parents of the Crook families now living about ten miles south of Lexington. It was always a treat to have him come.
Other men of note have visited our County. Many have been born and reared in it. We shall hear more about them in a later chapter.
The schools of Henderson County date back to the very early settlements, perhaps as early as 1822 or 1823. But these schools were of an isolated character, being taught in various neighborhoods of the County. Sometimes they were taught in log houses built for the purpose, sometimes in churches, and sometimes in vacant dwellings.
The first school of much significance in the County was the Lexington Academy, which was authorized October 18, 1825, with John T. Harmon, J. W. Philpot, John Purdy, Richard McCree, and James A. Haslett as its trustees. In 1827 M. B. Cook, W. M. Haskins, and Samuel Wilson were added to the list. In 1826 John T. Harmon, C. H. Miller, J. J. Hill, Reuben Wilcox, and James A. Haslett were authorized to raise money for the Academy.
The first house was built in July 1832, in the eastern part of town on a lot purchased from Samuel Wilson. This building stood until 1852 or 1853, when it, being old and too small to serve the increased number of students, was sold. With the proceeds the trustees, W. H. Warner, John Brooks, R. B. Jones, and William Brooks, purchased a lot and building in the northern part of town. On this lot was erected a good brick building which served its purpose until 1885, when it was sold to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. With the proceeds, a new site containing four acres in the southeast part of town, was purchased, and on it erected a new frame building two stories high, containing a study hall and several recitation rooms.
The trustees conducting the business transactions were C. R. Scott, President; P. J. Dennison, treasurer; J. N. Hall, W. F. Brooks, and L. A. Stanford. They realized $250.00 on the old building and had on hand about $300.00; and, in addition to this, a sufficient subscription was obtained to raise the amount to $1,500.00 with which the new site was purchased and the building erected.
The school became recognized as the County High School, and S. A. Mynders, A. B. was chosen principal. The course of study embraced the English language, and its literature, pure and applied mathematics, natural sciences, ancient and modern languages, bookkeeping, and a special course for teachers. The purpose of the school, which will hereafter be known either as the County High School or as Lexington High School, was intended to fit students for the university and for practical life. S. A. Mynders was a very shrewd and active man in the field of education, and afterwards became the State Superintendent. While State Superintendent he greatly promoted school interest and helped to arrange for the State to appropriate more money for the public schools. The County High School under his supervision became widely known and much appraised.
Lexington was at one time quite an educational center, having its church schools and the Academy. About forty teacher students and a much larger number of regular students attended the County High School the first year of its actual service. The educational system in Lexington became widely known during that period, but failed to gain a great deal during the following years. However, during the past quarter of a century it has regained its rapid advancement. We shall hear more of it later on in this chapter.
The public schools over the County had nothing like a systematic course of study until after 1844. In that year a report of Henderson County school conditions was made and school directors, or commissioners, were elected in each of the school districts, which were made to correspond to the civil districts.
The report showed that there were 2,058 children of school age, that the length of school term varied in length from about forty to sixty days, and that the school fund averaged about fifty cents for each pupil.
The above plan of the management of common schools was not a good one, but continued to exist with little variation until the whole of it was broken up by the Civil War. In 1872 a new plan was adopted that gave a more or less uniform system of .public schools over the County.
A partial report of 1885 shows that the scholastic population for that year was 4;514 white; 683 colored; or a total of 5,197. The whole number of white teachers employed .was 81; colored 7. There were three consolidated schools, and a total enrollment in all the schools of 2,250 white and 350 colored, with a total average attendance of 1,350. The total amount paid in: salaries was $7,329.60 and total: expenditure of $6,381.25. The average length of the school term was 57 days and the average salary: per month for the teacher was $28.00.
Schools ran along thus until about 1895 to 1900 when good schools were established at Scotts Hill and Sardis. These were schools of a high grade and carried on work similar to our present high school work. More will be given about Scotts Hill and Sardis schools in Chapter 14.
Except at Scotts Hill and Sardis the schools of Henderson County had reached a low by 1900 or 1905. But with the coming of J. O. Brown in 1907 came also an advancement in education. Mr. Brown came to Lexington to engage in the hardware business, but being a school man and seeing the great need of. school and school interest in the County and town, he was induced by the citizens of the town to take charge of the school.
There was but little public interest and public funds at that time. The town could run but two or three months' public school. Mr. Brown had no stipulated salary except to give the town three months' public school for the amount of school taxes to be collected each year and the use of the school building for the remainder of the year to make what he could. The preceding year there had been three teachers employed, and the school had automatically closed before the time was out for the want of students.
Mr. Brown, at one, began work to interest parents and pupils. He employed a faculty of six teachers and became personally responsible for their salary for a nine months' session. The first faculty consisted of J. O. Brown, J. L. Rush, M. L. Stanfill, Misses Dell Bright, Martha Smith, and Nannie Jett. He was successful in inducing State Superintendent R. L. Jones to locate the Peabody Institute, of four weeks, for West Tennessee in the town of Lexington for the years of 1907 and 1908. He was also a member of the corps of instructors in this institute. This brought some three or four hundred of the leading teachers of West Tennessee into the town for the period of four weeks each summer for the two years, all of which had its effect in arousing the local interest in educational work. It also placed Mr. Brown in a favorable light before the people of the town and County as a leader in school work. Schools began to improve at once.
No good work has ever been accomplished without opposition. So it was, after the first year, some of the "Wise Acres" began to complain and made an effort to force the principal out of the school or to make him turn over a part of his earnings to the town and to select his faculty for him and to say how much he should pay his teachers, but in the beginning Mr. Brown obtained a five year contract, and by the time the five years had expired the best people of the town and County had recognized his ability in leadership and the boards of education continued to elect him year after year until he had served them for twenty-two years.
In February of 1909, the legislature passed an act permitting the County court of each county of the State to levy a tax and establish a public High School. In July of the same year, J. O. Brown and County Superintendent, W. H. Denison, went before the court in Lexington and asked them to vote a tax and establish a high school there. They explained the law made for that purpose and the advantages that would be derived from high school by the boys and girls of the County. The taxes were voted and a High School Board was elected. A few days later, the Board met. They had authority to locate and employ teachers for the school but on consideration, they had no house nor money nor would they have until taxes were collected. It was expected that the high school would open in September. They did not know what to do. Mr. Brown was called in for consultation. He told them the probable number that would enter the high school and what it would cost to take care of that number. If the school did not begin in September, the court would probably rescind its act and the County would have no high school, for already there were murmuring's against the taxes necessary to run the school. Mr. Brown made a proposition to furnish teachers, care for the school, and advance the money for current expenses until the board could collect the taxes and refund the money. The proposition was gladly accepted and the school was established.
Great opposition soon arose to the taxes necessary to run the school. Some of the "would-be-politicians" made their county campaign against the high school. The second year was more strongly opposed than the first. It became uncertain whether there would be a high school the next year or not. Under these conditions the best work could not be accomplished. The principal began to plan for permanency. In 1911 the legislature was again in session. He asked the school men to back a bill requiring each county court to establish one or more high schools in each county. The school men were afraid to undertake it. The County Superintendent, W. H. Denison, together with Mr. Brown drew a bill for Henderson County and had it passed. Thus making Henderson County the leader in the State in compulsory High School education.
These are just a few of the difficulties which were confronted and overcome in the progress of school work in the County. Mr. Brown was an ever lasting worker. He never quit. Aside from teaching nine months at home, he taught each summer in the teachers' college at Memphis or in the University at Jackson. He was diligent and faithful in meeting with the County teachers and in encouraging and assisting them in every way possible. The teachers came to regard him as their very best friend and were not backward in going to him for assistance and help in time of need: His work has been such that there is a common saying that no other-man in the County has done so much in the progress of schools. No doubt, that saying is correct.
The High School, at present, ranks as one of the best-high schools in the State. Since its establishment in 1909 there have been over three hundred fifty graduates. With the exception of. the years during the war and the two years following nearly fifty per cent of: the graduates have gone to higher institutions of- learning. Their work in colleges and universities has been of high esteem.
For twenty-two years Mr. Brown has served Lexington and Henderson County. (From 1907 to 1929). During this: time schools in Lexington grew from an enrollment of about one hundred on the year preceding his first and from a faculty of three for the same year and one poor building to an enrollment of nearly seven hundred in grammar school and high school and to a faculty of eleven in each school (twenty-two in all) and to two magnificent buildings.
In addition to the good work in education at Lexington the County has a splendid high school at Scotts Hill; three year high schools at Sardis and at Reagan, which are likely to grow into four year schools; junior high schools at Judson, Wildersville, Luray, Poplar Springs, Darden, and Bargerton and elementary schools throughout the County.
We also have other school men in the County that are worthy of mention. Profs. P. H. Murphy and Ira C. Powers of Scotts Hill High School, Prof. Luther Bobbitt of Lexington High School, Prof. Arthur Bobbitt of Lexington City School and others are doing commendable work.
While. Mr. A. H. Fuller was County Superintendent he conducted a competitive examination at Lexington, the winner of which received a $1500.00 scholarship to Oxford University. The examination was held in June 1904. John A. Pearson made the highest grade and won the scholarship.
The County Superintendents of Henderson County have been: Levi S. Woods, Billie Brooks, Addison Henry T. J. Brooks, Judge R. H. Thorpe, Y. A. Jackson, W. R. Wilson, Mrs. L. T. Fielder, A. H. Fuller, C. P. Patterson, W. H. Denison, O. F. Holmes, J. O. Brown, and R. E. Powers, who is serving at present.
The present membership of the County Board of Education are E. M. Evans, chairman, E. D. Deere, Fred S. Sellers, H. W. Creasy, E. P. Segerson, A. W. Holmes, and G. W. Stewart.
With the present advantages no boy or girl in the County needs go uneducated. An elementary school is within reach of every child in the County and high. schools are at such intervals that any ambitious pupil can attend.
The present schools with their present teachers are given below.
Lexington High School: Luther Bobbitt, G. R. Dodds, Tillman Stewart, Paul Caywood, Mrs. Joe Davis, Mrs. H. A. Powers, Miss Margaret Carter, Miss Mary Elizabeth Ball.
Lexington City School: J. A. Bobbitt, Mts. J. A. Henry, Miss Maxie Dennison, Mrs. Cora Garner, Miss Mary Paul Spellings, Miss Elizabeth Summers, Miss J. D.Tilson (senior), Miss Florence, Miss Margaret Moffitt expression teacher, Miss Louise Keith music teacher.
Scotts Hill High School and Elementary School: P. H. Murphy, Ira C. Powers, Cecil Milam, Hubert Jones, Mrs. Hubert Jones, Mrs. Tom Stewart, Miss Gertrude Roberts, Miss Rubie Roberts.
Alberton—Mrs. J. L. Hare, Miss Cora McPeake; Antioch —Andros Rhodes; Bargerton—J. P. Montgomery, Gladys Manley, Mayrene Leslie; Birch—Major Scates; Brown, 5—B. F. Johnson; Brown, 6—Troy McPeake; Cedar Grove—C. C. Scott; Central—R. D. Todd, Mrs. R. D. Todd, Miss Opal Butler; Center Hill—T. F. Stanfill, Miss Lula McMurray; Chapel Pauline Lindsey; Chapel Hill—Mrs. Elizabeth Hart; Chesterfield—Miss Ruby Wallace, Miss Lounelle Evans; Cooper (colored)—Connie Kizer; Corinth— Miss Opal Hays; Crowell—N. . Todd, Mrs. Martha Long; Cross Roads—Mrs. Eva Derryberry; Cross Roads—G. Bartholomew, Loyce Gilliam, Miss Louise Oakley, Miss Mildred Reed; Darden—Eunice Wood, J. H. Kolwyck, Miss Bessie Mae Evans; Duke—A. M. Duke; Ebenezer—Elmer Duck; Farmville—Kennedy Laws; Harmon (colored)—Willie B. McCullough; Hinson Springs—Goy Snider; Holly Springs (colored)—J. A. Cooke; Howard—Irona Tucker; Judson—Auburn Powers, Andrew Todd, Miss Gertrude Powers; Juno—Miss Della Pendergrass; Kizer (colored)— J. H. Edwards; Laster—Mrs. Lena Wallace; Life—Miss Clara Buck; Lexington (colored)—E. A. Gray, Bland Edwards, Theodore Wilson, and Mrs. E. A. Gray; Longosuhst—L. W. Adams and Mary Sue Goff; Luray—(Colored) S. E. Whitaker; Mable Grove—Miss Ruby Miller; Maness—Mrs. Mona Powers; Middlefork—W. C. Crook, Miss Minnie Page; Moore's Hill—Milani Scates; Moss—Miss Nell Jackson; Mt. Gilead—J. L. Fesmire, Miss Lavada Moody; Oak Forest (colored)—Miss Mary Buck; Oak Grove—Miss Pearl Helms; Ollies Grove—Miss Ruth Thomas; Palestine—Miss Mildred Kent; Piney—Miss Exie Smith; Pleasant Hill, 1—Ernest Wilkins; Pleasant Hill, 2—Beatrice Loving; Poplar Springs, 1—Lyde Reeves; Poplar Springs, 2—J. B. Austin, J. L. Douglas, Miss Omera Winslow, Miss Eula Mae Ringold; Pritchard (colored)—Miss Georgia Smith; Presley—C. V. McClanahan; Park Meal (colored)—Cassie Roberson; Reagan—J. H. Page, Mrs. J. L. McKinstry, Tom Bailey, Miss Maggie Todd; Reed—Miss Ruth Frizzell; Rock Hill—J. A. Deere, Miss Jewel Reed; Rock Springs—Miss Mamie Brooks; Sandy—Miss Minnie Page; Sardis—E. A. Weaver, D. L. Story, Miss Beulah Holland, Miss Mary Blevins, Miss Carrie Powers; Sand Ridge—Guy B. Amis, Miss Mildred Sellers, Louise Austin; Shady Hill—D. E. Howell, W. S. Middleton, Mrs. G. Youngerman; Sheppard—Clyde Smith; Smith— Athael Milam; Spring Hill—Miss Jessie Oakley, Miss Katherine Thomas; Stegall—Mrs. L. H. Milam; Thomas—L. H Milam; Timberlake (colored)—George Beal; Timberlake (white)—Mrs. Vaughn Duck; Truett—Carmon Buck; Union Cross—J. B. Powers, Miss Oleita Jones; Union Hill—O. D. Phillips; Unity—Aubrey Lipscomb; Wake Forest—Mrs. Opal Story; White—Miss Ida Halter; Wildersville—C. M. Reeves, Miss Opal Finch, Miss Jerinima Laws, Miss Gussie Gobelett; Maple Springs—Herbert Lawler; Beach River— Ashley Adams; Independence—Oren Gilliam.
Below are clippings from the County papers.
LEXINGTON HIGH SCHOOL LEADERS FOR THE FIRST MONTH
First Year: English, Naomi Hopper, Margaret Brooks, Vesta Ashbury, Estelle Bailey, Loy Jowers, Martha Jane Williams, Nelle Rhodes. Algebra, Estelle Manley, Naomi Hopper, Margaret Brooks, Billy Lacy. Latin, Naomi Hopper, Margaret Brooks, Martha Jane Williams. Civics, John Albert Hancock, Leo Pearson, Larell Hendrix, Jim Davis, Thomas Williams, Beulah Alexander, Howell Deere, Elmer Franklin. Science, Loy Jowers, Lewis Blankenship, A. E. Beasley. Home Economics, Naomi Hopper, Nadine Butler, Bernice Hays, Margaret Brooks. Agriculture, Leroy Hardin, Fred Youngerman, W. C. Kee, Houston Helms.
Second Year: English, Dorothy Austin, Edith Brooks, Sallie Neal Cooper, Mabel Scates, Patty Sue Deere. Algebra, Dorothy Austin, Edith Brooks, Rettie Stephens. History, Irene Derryberry, Sallie Neal Cooper, Ruth Hopper, Harry Mullins, Alberta Veteto, Warren Holmes, Larry Franklin. Latin, Mildred Veteto, Pattie Sue Deere. Biology, John Williams, Josephine Austin, Dorothy Austin, Vesta Ashbury. Home Economics, Lorraine Austin, Edith Brooks, Rettie Stephens. Agriculture, D. L. Douglas, Robert Douglas, Lyman Sellers.
Third Year: English, Ruth Bobbitt, Robie Hart, Pauline Scott, Lula Mae Cogdell, Edith Rhodes, Lawrence Kee, Alton Green, Eddie Belew. Geometry, Rebecca Evans, Alton Green, Velma Hays, Lawrence Kee, Robert Summers, Pauline Scott, Ruth Bobbitt, Lula Mae Cogdell, Edith Rhodes. 'History, Eddie Belew, Edith Rhodes, Robbie Hart, John D. Webb, Lyman 'Sellers, Mary Louise Deere, Willie Anderson, Sarah Webb, Hazel Wallace. French, A. Green, Pauline Scott, Ruth Bobbitt. Chemistry, Edith Rhodes, Dalton Rhodes, Mildred Jones, Robert Douglas, Lucille Deere, Mary Louise Deere.
Fourth Year: English, Lorraine Austin, Charles Armstrong, Ophelia Hall, Ruth Hall. History, Woodrow' Butler, Lorraine 'Austin, 'Josephine Austin, Ruth Hall, Charles Armstrong, Laura Mae Graves. Solid Geometry, Charles Armstrong, Paul Summers, Woodrow Butler, Henry Maxwell. French, Ruth Hall; Lois White, C. B. Johnson. Chemistry, Lorraine Austin, Ophelia Hall, Exie Neisler, Woodrow Butler, Jane Lassiter. Economics, Opal Fesmire, Jane Lassiter, Ruth Hall, Lois White, James Hinson, Laura Mae Graves.
CITY SCHOOL HAS GOOD OPENING EXERCISES
With approximately three hundred students and a large number of citizens present, the city school began work on Monday September 1. After the devotional exercises, conducted by Rev. W. C. Waters of the M. E. Church; South, Supt. J. A. Bobbitt called on several for brief talks. R. A. Lewis, president of the Central State Bank, emphasized the value of forming correct habits. Judge W. H. Denison, chairman of the board of education, quoted Prof. Halbrok's idea of the best teacher as being the one who can soonest make herself useful to the student. W. H. Montgomery, former, chairman of the school board, offered a few words of encouragement. Mrs. W. H. Denison, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, represented her organization and called a meeting for Friday of this week. Prof. J. O. Brown illustrated the work of the school by comparing it to a game that must be "played fair" and in accordance with the rules. Supt. R. E. Powers was present and offered a few words of appreciation as did Postmast John L. Sullivan.
Miss Florence, the new primary teacher, was introduced and spoke a few words befitting the occasion. Mr. Hendrix announced his plan for giving lessons in painting and drawing. The program was enriched by vocal solos rendered very effectively by Mrs. J. A. Pafford and Miss Ivy Holland. Miss Louise Keith was at the piano. An interest was manifested at the opening which it is hoped will be an index to a year of profit and pleasure.
SCOTTS HILL HIGH SCHOOL Scotts Hill High School opened July 21st for the 1930-31 session with 114 enrolled; 59 high school pupils from Decatur County and 55 from Henderson county. Hubert Jones and the class in agriculture attended the annual meeting at the Pope farm in Henderson County August 22nd and report a good day filled with an instructive program. The new edition to the school building will soon be ready to take care of agriculture and home economics department in a better condition than ever.
We now have three trucks bringing them in from the hedges and dusty highways. Side walk work is progressing well. One walk leads from the school building up to the main street, and this week will see the completion of this walk to the main business section of the town. A new twelve volume encyclopedia has been added to the library this year. The gymnasium will have a floor laid in it before the ball season opens this fall. All the high school teachers attended the educational meeting at Jackson last Saturday.
Below are given three paragraphs pertaining to the early history of the Methodist Episcopal, the Missionary Baptist, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches. These paragraphs are direct quotations from Goodspeed's History of Tennessee published in 1887,which contains historical sketches of Henderson County. It gives accounts, however, of only these three churches. No other early records can be found.
"The Methodist Episcopal Churches South are a part of the Jackson District of the Memphis Conference. They are mainly embraced in the Lexington Station, Lexington Circuit and Scotts Hill Circuit. The three above mentioned (in 1887) embrace fifteen churches or classes, and a membership of 671. The first class was organized in Lexington about 1840 and a house soon after erected. The old register having been lost, it is impossible to ascertain the names of the first class or the date of the organization. The oldest member now living (1887) is Mrs. Elizabeth Ewing who joined the church at Knoxville in 1824. The names of others who joined the church early, are R. B. Jones, in 1839, under the preaching of Rev. Renshaw; Mrs. A. A. Warren, in 1838, under Rev. J. Kelsey; Bettie Bell in 1840, under R. S. Swift, and E. E. Smith at the same time; J. W. G. Jones, in 1847, under A. D. Bryant. These are all the names of members that are preserved previous to the war. Among the ministers of the Lexington class since the war may be mentioned R. S. Swift, J. G. Harris, T. G. Whitten, J. J. Brooks, J. A. Moody, and W. T. Lock. This class now numbers fifty members and has a new house of worship and maintains a good Sunday School. Perhaps the first Methodist Church built in the county was the one at Olive Branch in 1832. This was built on a two-acre lot deeded by Solomon Milam to Ramsom Cunningham, John Cooper, Jas. Hart and Thomas Johnson on July 29, 1832. Shady Grove was another one of the early Methodist Churches of Henderson County. Here was a well known camp-ground and church which were established between 1830 and 1840. Among those connected with this church were the Renshaws, Andersons, Corbets, Hunts, Cogdills, Sherwoods, Hamlets, Youngs and others. The church at Holly Springs was built in 1845, New Hope in 1855, Barren Springs in 1857, Hepzibah in 1855, New Prospects in 1850, Bethel about the same time, Mount Pleasant in 1872, Poplar Springs in 1873, and many others at different dates. The early revivals were largely due to the zeal of the members at the annual camp-meetings that were formerly held in every county and in almost every neighborhood.
"The Missionary Baptist Church was built in Lexington in 1847. In 1880 another lot was purchased of J. S. Fielder and the present brick house erected thereon. This church (1887) has a good membership and maintains a Sunday School. Other Baptist Churches are Piney Creek, Union Church, Scarce Creek, Ridge Grove, Bible Union, Pilgrim's Rest in Zion, Hopewell, and a few others. The membership of this church is quite large in the county (1887).
"John Barrett, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, preached in Henderson County in 1824. He was, perhaps, the first to preach the doctrine of this church in the county. Some of the first churches in the county were built by the Cumberland Presbyterian's. There is a small congregation of Presbyterian's at Lexington, but they are without a house of worship at present, (1887), although they own the old Lexington Academy which was purchased recently for church purposes. Palestine, is the place of an old church and camp-ground. The membership at this place is twenty-one. Spring Hill is another Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Its membership is forty-eight. Mount Gilead Church was built in 1856. Its membership is now about twenty. Besides these churches, there is one Methodist Protestant Church, a United Baptist Church, at Masyer's Chapel, a Freewill Baptist Church at Shady Grove, and one on Steele Creek, and a Christian Church in the Fifteenth District."
In spite of the reports that religion and Christianity are on a downward trend, we find that the value of church property, the contributions to Christian work, and the church membership are increasing year after. year. In 1887 the Lexington Stations, the Lexington Circuit, and 'the Scotts Hill Circuit of' the M. E. Church South embraced a total membership of 671. Now the same three organizations, or collections of churches, have a total membership of 1193, and church building and homes for pastors valued at $27,300.
The report of the Annual Conference of the M. E. Church South for 1929 showed the Lexington Circuit to have one local pastor, H.R. Harris, seven churches and buildings worth $10,000, one parsonage worth $1000, and a: total membership' of 546. The churches of the Lexington Circuit are Bethel, Shady Grove, Sharon, Hickory Flat, Rock Springs, Mt. Neba, and Lebanon.
The Scotts Hill Circuit has seven churches and buildings valued at. $3,500, one parsonage valued at. $800, and a total membership of 332. Reverend H. T. Sanson is the pastor. The seven churches are Scotts Hill, Smith Chapel,:Oak Grove, New Hope, Ebenezer, Mount Moriah, Liberty.
The Lexington Station has one full time preacher, Dr. W. C. Waters, a total membership of 319, a church building worth $7,000, and a parsonage worth $5,000.
Luray is a church of the same order but is a member of a circuit whose headquarters is outside the County. Luray's pastor is H. H. Newsom.
In Henderson County there are eight Methodist Episcopal Churches North, as they are commonly called. The strongest of these is the Poplar Springs Church. Reverend G. W. Florence is pastor of it and also Center Ridge and Union Cross. Reverend J. C. Sandusky is pastor of the Sardis, the Union Hill, and the Lebanon Churches. Rev. C. W. Ruth is pastor of the Crowell church.
The Beech River Baptist Association held its fifty-ninth annual session with Darden Baptist Church September 20-22, 1929 and had representations from twenty-seven Missionary Baptist Churches of Henderson County.
THE OFFICERS OF THE ASSOCIATION WERE
Fleetwood Ball of Lexington, Tennessee, Moderator; Joe Jennings of Parsons, Tennessee, Clerk; Elco; Carrington of Parsons, Tennessee, Treasurer.
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WAS
Fleetwood Ball, Joe Jennings, Luther Garner of Lexington, George McPeake of Warrens Bluff, G. W. McBride of Sardis, Esco Carrington of Parsons, L. A. Lawler of Huron.
THE ASSOCIATIONAL AUXILIARIES WERE
Superintendent of W. M. U., Mrs. Shin Jones, Lexington, Superintendent of Sunday Schools, Joe Jennings.
Introductory by A. U. Nunnery, Parsons, Alternate by T. C. Jowers, Lexington, Missionary by G. G. Joyner, Parsons, Alternate by W. L. King, Parsons.
DELEGATES TO CONVENTIONS
State, Joe Jennings, Alternate, G. G. Joyner, Southern Baptist, Fleetwood Ball, Alternate, J. T. Bradfield of Parsons.
LIST OF MESSENGERS, 1929 SESSION
Bible Grove—L. V. Wood, J. L. Wood; Cedar Grove—Not represented this session; Central Grove—Mr. and Mrs. John F. Daws; Chapel Hill—W. W. Garner, J. S. Bell, R. R. Garner; Corinth—C. W. Kolwyck, C. S. Wood, J. J. Kolwyck, W. G. Reeves; Darden—W. F. Boren, L. B. Moore, Mrs. Nona Johnson, W. O. Hill; Hepzibah—By letter; Huron— L. A. Lawler, Herbert Lawler; Jack's Creek—R. L. Rogers, A. O. Rogers, Loren Rogers; Judson—G. R. Austin, E. Rogers, Roy Powers, I. J. Powers; Lexington, 1st—Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Jones, Mrs. A. Griggs, E. S. Garner; Lexington II—by letter; Luray—D. S. Sumner, Mrs. Florence Sumner, Walter Wilkins; Maizes Chapel—W. W. Overman, A. L. Wood, Lester Wood, R. L. Arnold; Mt. Ararat—M. H. Tolly, C. C. Stephens, J. E. Wilkins, Clifford Eads; Mt. Gilead—; New Fellowship—G. W. Hutton, I. H. Baker, Myrtle Phillips; Oak Grove—H. L. Garner, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Scott; Piney Creek—T. C. Jowers, J. F. Neisler, Leo Pitty; Pleasant Grove—; Pleasant Hill—Clayton Stanfill, J. C. Dyer, W. H. Chalk; Ridge Grove—; Rock Hill—Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Deere, Mr. and Mrs. D. D. Reed; Sardis—J. T. Bradfield, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Johnson, J. A. Sheppard; Union—Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Frizzell, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Lewis; Union Hill—Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Bailey, Carl Wilkingson; Wildersville—T. D. Birchett, Luther Halbrook, M. C. Carnal, J. Leslie.
ORDAINED BAPTIST MINISTERS OF HENDERSON COUNTY
R. W. Baker, Sardis, Tennessee; Fleetwood Ball, Lexington, Tennessee; W. F. Boren, Darden, Tennessee; J. S. Bell, Life; E. L. Davis; Darden, Tennessee; J. B. Eads, Senath, Missouri; E. S. Garner, Lexington, Tennessee; J. D. Hicks, Huron, Tennessee; T. C. Jowers, Lexington, Tennessee; L. A. Lawler, Huron, Tennessee; John Page, Lexington, Tennessee; J. N. Phillips, Sardis, Tennessee; R. L. Rogers, Lexington, Tennessee; Eli Rogers, Scotts Hill, Tennessee; A. H. Wylie, Sardis, Tennessee.
SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS
Chapel Hill, J. L. Kennedy, Lexington, Tennessee; Central Grove, J. B. Hays, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Corinth, H. B. Wood, Darden, Tennessee; Hepzibah, Etheridge Jowers, Lexington, Tennessee; Huron, H. A. McPeake, Huron, Tennessee; Judson, G. R. Austin, Scotts Hill, Tennessee; Lexington, First, J. W. Stewart, Lexington, Tennessee; Luray, John W. Hamilton, Luray, Tennessee; Mazies Chapel, Chester Wood, Wildersville, Tennessee; Mt. Ararat, J. E. Wilkins, Darden, Tennessee; Mt. Gilead, F. J. Coffman, Juno, Tennessee; Oak Grove, W. T. Davis, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Pleasant Grove, R. W. Harris, Darden, Tennessee; Piney Creek, T. C. Jowers, Lexington, Tennessee; Rock Hill, D. E. Helms, Warren Bluff, Tennessee; Sardis, A. A. Hanna, Sardis, Tennessee; Union, W. G. Frizzell, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Wildersville, W. R. Bolen, Wildersville, Tennessee.
Bible Grove, J. L. Wood, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Cedar Grove, H. W. Creasy, Sardis, Tennessee; Central Grove, John B. Hays, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Chapel Hill, J. S. Bell, Life, Tennessee; Corinth, I. K. Reeves, Darden, Tennessee; Darden, W. O. Hill, Darden, Tennessee; Hepzibah, C. S. Boswell, Lexington, Tennessee; Huron, Mildred Perkins, Huron, Tennessee; Jacks Creek, S. E. Johnson, Huron, Tennessee; Judson, N. M. Todd, Scotts Hill, Tennessee; Lexington, First, E. F. Boswell, Lexington, Tennessee; Lexington, Second, W. M. Owens, Lexington, Tennessee; Luray, G. W. Priddy, Luray, Tennessee; Maizes Chapel, W.W. Overman, Lexington, Tennessee; Mt. Ararat, W. A. Carrington, Darden, Tennessee; Mt. Gilead, J. J. Lawrence, Juno, Tennessee; New Fellowship, G. W. McBride, Sardis, Tennessee; Oak Grove, H. L. Garner, Warrens Bluff, Tennessee; Piney Creek, O.K. Petty, Lexington, Tennessee; Pleasant Grove, V. L. Wood, Wildersville, Tennessee; Pleasant Hill, S. F. Rogers, Juno, Tennessee; Ridge Grove, Elkins Lewis, Lexington, Tennessee; Rock Hill, J. A. Deere, Warrens Bluff, Tennessee; Sardis, Mrs. Callie Johnson, Sardis,Tennessee; Union, C. L. Reed, Chesterfield, Tennessee; Union Hill, A. R. Wright, Reagan, Tennessee; Wildersville, M. C. Carnal, Wildersyille, Tennessee.
B. Y. P. U. PRESIDENTS OR LEADERS
Lexington, First: Miss Georgia McCall, Lexington, Tennessee.
V. W. M. S. PRESIDENTS
Lexington, First: Mrs. Felix Creasy, Lexington, Tennessee; Luray, Mrs. J: W. Hamilton, Luray, Tennessee; Union, Mrs. E. W. Dennison, Chesterfield, Tennessee.
The Primitive Baptist Churches are Antioch, Zion's Rest, and Barren Springs.
The United Baptist have a large church at Center Hill and another near Cedar Grove. J. H. Kennedy is pastor of both churches.
The Cumberland Presbyterian's have a church at Palestine and one at Mt. Gilead. Rev. H. C. Cooper is pastor of these. The Beech Grove Church is of this order, but has no pastor at present. It was once a great gathering place.
The one Southern Presbyterian church of the County is at Reagan. Rev. J. L. McKinstry is the acting pastor.
The Christian Churches of the County are Lexington, Juno, Independence, Sardis, Stray Leaf, Holly Hill, Scotts Hill, and Central. Few, if any, of these churches have pastors, but they are very active.
There are several churches of the Pentecostal faith over the County. If the leaders of this faith wish to hold a revival in a community, they do not hesitate on account of having no church house. They build bush harbors and go ahead with the revivals. People go for miles and miles to these meetings. Some go for the sake of religion while others go for a big time -- to see those with the "Holy Ghost" "perform". Once a "lost sinner "is brought through" the shouting, talking in tongues and dancing begins. Some have refused to take doctors' medicine, when sick, depending upon God to heal them; some have even handled poisonous snakes to show to the people that God would protect them from harm. But no doubt many are sincere in their convictions.
The Darden and Scotts Hill Churches are the strongest ones. Meetings sometimes last almost all summer at some of these places. There is also a church of this order near Wildersville.
Liberty Hill is the one church of the Latter Day Saints in the County. It is an off-shot of the old Mormon Church.
After the Civil War and the reconstruction days, Henderson County enjoyed an era of general progress and growth, which lasted until the World War. During this time people lived well and enjoyed prosperity of a true and steady type. This era may well be said to have blazed the way for and to have brought us into "Modernism" which began with the extensive use of the automobile, airplane, picture show, victrola, telephone, radio, and other modern inventions.
In the field of agriculture the County enjoyed progress. The crude and clumsy farm implements were replaced by better ones. New ideas of farming crept in. The oxen were replaced by horses and mules. Wooden plows were replaced by cast and steel ones. Instead of the "fellows" of wagon wheels being wrapped with bark, they were encircled with steel tires. Horse collars were brought into the County ready made, and were quite an improvement over the ones made by hand, usually from the shucks of corn and sewed with white oak splits. Ashley Cunningham brought, perhaps, the first mowing machine into the County about forty-six years ago. Mr. Cunningham mowed a field of red-top for W. M. Friendship, and it is reported that people "me from far and near to see the machine work. The blade clicking a rapid rhythm and a wide strip of red-top being cut as fast as the horses could draw the machine were manifestations of a great step forward in the production of hay, for heretofore all hay had been cut by hand with a scythe or a "cradle". And it was rare to find a man who could wield a cradle skillully.
The first cotton planters were homemade and constructed in the shape of a drum. They were even called "drum planters". Holes large enough for seed to pass through were cut at regular intervals around the drum half-way between the ends. An axle was run through it lengthwise so that when drawn the drum would roll over. In this manner, the seed, which had been put inside the drum, would drop through the holes as they came near the ground. This way of planting cotton was quite an improvement over the old way, which was to wet the seed in water and ashes, roll them in the hands so that they would come apart, and finally drop them by hand and cover them. The drum planter was used until about thirty five years ago, when it was replaced by a more mechanical one, with a wooden "hopper". The latter gradually evolved into what we now use.
The first corn planters came into the County about 43 years ago, but we have no record of who owned the first one. Perhaps the first tractors used on the farm were brought in by J. C. Benson and R. L. Diffee.
In 1912 and 1913 the farmers of Henderson County were asked to dip their cattle in a prepared solution to kill a certain kind of tick, which had spread throughout the country. "Dipping vats" were prepared at convenient places, and on certain days the people met and dipped their cattle in them. Although it was a necessity and a service rendered the farmers, they were, as a whole, very indignant and disrespectful to those connected with the movement. The "Tick Inspectors", as they came to be called, were looked upon with disgust and contempt. They were called very ugly names and not infrequently ran away when they offered to do their duty. The people could not see the value of dipping their cattle, nor would they accept the favor because, as they looked upon it, it was "forced upon them." However, the dipping of the cattle stopped the ravages of the ticks, and the people came to realize that a "service" had been forced upon them. In the spring of 1917 a law was passed forbidding live stock to run outside. This law, known as the "no fence law", like the dipping of cows, met with much opposition and disfavor. The people again thought that their liberty and freedom in making a livelihood had been infringed upon. Many hard things were said against the law and against those who helped to make it a law. They said that the vote, which was held at Lexington, was unfair, that it did not represent the majority of the people, and that it was conducted dishonestly. Supporters of the law were accused of voting twice or even three times. The opposers of the law were right in some of their accusations, for some of the supporters actually did vote more than once.
But despite the corruption used in passing the law, it has served a two fold purpose. It has put an end to one man's stock destroying another man's crop, and it has made it possible for better stock to be bred and raised. Since the range for live stock has constantly diminished in size and quality, very few would cast a vote opposing the law now if they had the opportunity. The County now has a fair distribution of pure bred live stock, including Jersey, Holstein, Shorthorn, and Hereford cattle; Duroc Jersey, Poland China, O. I. C., and Hampshire Hogs; white and brown leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Buff Orphangton, Plymouth Rock, and other breeds of chickens; and good breeds of other live stock.
In 1916 a large canal was dug down Beech Bottom, which opened it up for cultivation. Before then the bottom was overflowed by every big rain that fell. The land in it was fertile and, after the canal was dug, has become very productive. The greater part of the broad valley is now in cultivation. During the same year Cane Creek was straightened by a canal. The Cane Creek Canal extends to the mouth of Cane Creek and down Beech River as far as what is known as the "Old Tommie Hole", a swimming hole just above the Robins land. The large bodies of land along Cane Creek are perhaps the most productive lands in the County since they have been properly drained.
Since that time many other streams have been straightened with similar results, Among them are Flat Creek, Piney Creek, Doe Creek, Forked Deer River,- Big Sandy River, Hurricane Creek, and Middleton's Creek. One of the greatest steps forward that the County has made in agriculture was that of securing the help of H. A. Powers as County Demonstrator. He has done much in arousing interest in better farming by introducing new and scientific methods and by finding better markets for home grown products. ˇ He has also helped the people through cooperative selling and buying. He has been responsible for much of the good work done through county and community fairs and agricultural clubs, all of which play a heavier part in the progress of agriculture than many stop to consider. He is doing a practical and beneficial work.
Below is a list of some of the outstanding club members: Harvey Adcock; who won second place in the crop judging contest in the West Tennessee District Fair at Jackson in 1925, which gave him a free trip to the State Club Camp at Knoxville, and first place in 1926, which gave him a free trip to the international Live Stock Show in Chicago; Edward Dennison, who won a trip to the State Club Camp at Knoxville as reserve champion for cotton club work for West Tennessee for the year 1927; Buenos Harris, who had champion crop exhibit for boys fifteen years old or more at West Tennessee District fair at Jackson in 1928 and won a free trip to the International Live Stock Show at Chicago; Fay Pope; who won a free trip to the National Club Congress at Washington D.C. in 1928 based upon club work for a seven year State contest; Homer D. Fesmire, who won a free trip to Springfield, Massachusetts in 1929 based upon his work as a club member and club leader in a State contest; and others who won prizes in different contests and work. The following are also worthy of mention as outstanding in club work: Lloyd Davis, Charles Deere, Carmon Duck, Warren Helms, Nell Jackson, Clarence Kolwick, Frank Maness, Charles Martin, Roy McPeake, Troy McPeake, Nova Millner, Harry Mullins, Noble Mullins, Irby Park, Bobbie Pope, Fay Pope, Flora Pope, John L. Pope, Rex Pope, Aubum Powers, Ohlen Reed, Floyd Richardson, J. L. Ross, Tillford Sellers, G. Tillman Stewart, Charles Taylor, Edward Timberlake, Loyal Tyler, Glenn Walker, Poley Walker, and others. Henderson County now has over 1,000 4ˇH club members.
During the era preceding the World War the economical affairs of the County improved favorably. The set-back that the Civil War brought on subsided gradually to the constant effort and perseverance of the Henderson Countians. Markets opened up for farm, forest, and manufactured products. Federal money circulated freely again, and the people were able, not only to make a living, but to lay in store for the future. Banks sprang up over the County to provide a safe place for keeping money and to lend money for investments. [The history of the different banks will be given in connection with the history of the towns and communities in which they are located.]
During this era turnpikes and highways were opened up. They were not of the quality that ours are today, but they were a great improvement over those of earlier days.
It was not, however, until a few years ago that our first graveled road was made, and not until 1929 that the first stretch of concrete road was constructed in the County. In the sixties, seventies, and eighties, the mode of marketing products and of bringing in merchandise was slow. Live stock was usually driven either to Jackson or to the Tennessee River to be marketed. Cotton and other products were hauled on wagons to the same places and cloth, shoes, coffee, and other merchandise from them. Logs, stave bolts, and the like were floated down Beech, Forked Deer, and Big Sandy Rivers during high waters.
In August 1888 the people saw the beginning of the Tennessee Middlin Railroad, which was soon to carry their products to market and to bring to them luxuries and necessities from other places. Maddox, a leader in the grading and construction work, struck the first lick in the building of the railroad near the present site of the Lexington Depot, in August 1888. The railroad was planned to cross the Tennessee River at Perryville and go on to Nashville, but it never crossed the River.
Henderson County agreed to pay $75,000.00 to the Tennessee Middlin Railroad Company for the construction of the railroad through the County as soon as it was finished to the Decatur County Line. It was finished thus far and the firstˇtrip made to the Line and back to Memphis on the first Monday in February 1889. Throngs of people gathered at the different stations along its line to see the event. At Lexington the people gathered in great numbers. It was here that a man, attempting to catch the train missed his goal and was thrown under a wheel and cut in two.
About three years after the completion of the Tennessee Middlin, the Paducah, Tennessee, and Alabama Railroad was finished as far as the Carroll County line and later to Hollow Rock Junction. These railroads are now known as the N. C. & St. L. Railroads. It paid Henderson County over $19,000.00 in taxes for the year 1929 and hauls approximately 15,000 bales of cotton and also the seed from this cotton, approximately 7,000 ton, out of the County annually. It also hauls approximately 150 car loads of live poultry; several car loads of eggs, cream, etc; about 50 car loads of cattle and hogs; over 400 car loads of forest products; over 75 car loads of tomatoes; and many other products, not including local shipments at all.
The railroad started with one engine weighing approximately 50 tons and hauling approximately 200 tons. The company now operates engines in Henderson County weighing over 300 tons and hauling over 2500 tons. The railroad has furnished employment to many Henderson Countians. At present at least oneˇhalf of all the employees on the line from Paducah to Memphis are from Henderson County. The railroads have been a wonderful asset to the County and still are, but, for the past few years, they have been losing ground to the automobile, though only in the carrying of passengers. The hauling of freight is still increasing.
Dr. W. F. Huntsman brought the first automobile into Henderson County in September 1909. It was a Maxwell Messenger without a top and was powered with a two-cylinder motor.. Dr. Huntsman had a top put on it and after about six months, painted it blue. It was red at first. The motor is still good and is operating a fishing boat on the Tennessee River. Mr. C. G. Gathings, the mayor of Lexington at that time, purchased the second car in Henderson County about six months later.
The early automobiles had their effect upon the people and animals as well. Men, women, and children gathered on the roadside to view the "horseless carriage" as it passed, and commented upon the danger of riding in one. The horses, mules, and even cattle kept as far away from the roaring monster as was possible. Those being used on the road when an automobile passed would attempt to run away, and, if forced to remain would look at the car: and tremble with fear as it passed. Those outside and in pastures would leave the roadside in great haste and, after gaining a safe distance, turn around with hoisted heads and expanded nostrils to view the nameless creature, a bellowing dangerous bug with hideous eyes and able to eat a horse at one meal, as it no doubt appeared to them. But, after their first introduction, automobiles poured into the County, until before the World War they were a very common means of travel.
There are 1,308 automobiles in the County at present according to a query box conducted in cooperation with the University of Tennessee. There were over 400 parked around the court square in Lexington on Saturday, June 7, 1930. But to "Cap the stack" man s amazement reached its climax when, during the World War, a trio of airplanes scared over the County. People laid aside their work to view them. Some yelled; some waved; while others shed tears, for such as they were dropping bomb shells on the boys in France. Yet all viewed the planes with a sense of wonder and suspicion. Man had unquestionably robbed the birds of their domain. However, up to the present time no Henderson Countian has owned a plane while a resident of the County, so far as the author has record.
With the early improvement of means of transportation came many other advancements. For years the people sent letters by friends and received same in like manner. Next came the system of post offices. The people would go to the post offices for their mail. Last came the R. F. D. system. This system met with disapproval in many localities. People feared the mail would be lost or misplaced. It soon gained the confidence of the people, however, and proved to be very dependable. Now mail is brought to almost every man's door in the County. The period that we are now studying marks a radical change in domestic and social life. The family no longer made shoes, or built its furniture. [A few persisted in clinging to the old methods for a long time, but the majority gave way to the new ideas of buying.] These things were bought ready made, but we do not know the date of the first brought in.
Just previous to 1880 a kind of sewing machine was introduced into the-County, which was operated by turning a wheel or crank with the hand. It was so made that it could be fixed on the edge of a common dining table or any other like structure. The work it did was not of a desirable kind. If a stitch broke, the whole seam might come apart, for if one of the broken ends of the thread was pulled, it would unravel. So you see the predicament a lady would be in if a stitch in: her dress should break and be pulled. This machine, however, soon evolved into a much better one--that which we have today. No longer is it necessary for us to go to a neighbor's house to borrow a chunk of fire or to resort to the old flint and steel process when our fire dies out. We have handy matches to resort to, the first of these being introduced into Henderson County about 1850. These were known as the sulphur matches and had a bad odor. They were put up in round wooden boxes of twelve each and sold for ten cents a box.
The Mason Fruit Jars came in 1885. These were, perhaps, the first of their kind ever in Henderson County. People soon began using them extensively, until now much valuable and delicious food is preserved in them for use when such food is scarce. Perhaps the most recent inventions that lighten and make more pleasant the work of the family are the electric light, the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine, and other electric devices. Not all of the people have access to these latter things yet, but they are growing to use them more each year.
About 1885 the first phonograph entered the County. It was in the form of a square box and had no magnifier, as do the phonographs of today. In order to hear it one had to hold the tube to his ear. It was not a loud speaker. This phonograph was demonstrated on the streets in Lexington. Will Teague, of four miles north west of Lexington and ArthurˇBarry, now in Stutgart, Arkansas memorized the record played, "Two Little Girls in Blue." In 1884 a telephone line was extended from Jackson to Lexington and the first telephone was installed where Timber lake and Buckley now stands. Mrs. Jennie Edwards was operator of the line. Just who talked first over the line the author is not able to learn, but G. W. McCall and his brother, then in Jackson, were the second ones to talk over it. G. W. McCall's brother learned of the line's being opened and attempted to be the first one to use it, but another beat him. A joke that occurred in connection with this second call was that Mr. McCall nodded his head to his brother as though he were talking faceˇtoˇface with him. The people that were looking on and saw him nod his head laughed at him for a long time.
Since that time telephones have increased in number until we now have a telephone system throughout the County, numbering about 1,000 phones. They are no longer a luxury, but a common necessity. The latest means of communication and amusement is the radio, which is purely modern. Radios are spreading to rural and urban communities alike.
Motion picture shows visited the County at an earlier date. Guy B. Amis installed the first talking picture at the Princess Theatre at Lexington in 1929. With all the advantages and desirable results of progress, inventions, and the like come a few changes that are looked upon with disfavor. "Home life" seems to be disappearing. The family counsel and fireside conversation are held only occasionally and they usually in the country. The disappearing of home life is partially due to the parents' and children's working away from home and having little or no time to spend with the other members of the family. We are faced with many divorce cases arising in our courts.
Yet, in spite of all this, we are inclined to believe that it is circumstance, and not the fault of the people altogether, that is responsible for this. The moral conduct of people in general and the relations between husband and wife seem to be on a gradual incline in very recent years, 1928-1930, in Henderson County. The close of the era that we are now studying marks the entrance of Henderson County into what we term "Modernism". Modernism may well be looked upon as the universal adoption and use of modern ideas, customs, inventions, etc. Modernism offers, even more so than has been offered heretofore, equal pleasure, social standing, and opportunity to the entire mass people. The country people and the city people, the poor and the rich are all one people in thought, interest, appearance, and education.
The causes of this war date back several years. Germany had been growing in military power and was the strongest nation in Europe. Industrially and commercially she was second only to Great Britain. Germany, Austria, and Hungary were closely related and were advancing rapidly in almost every line of endeavor and making good every opportunity that came their way.
France had held a grudge against Germany for some time. She allied herself with Russia and England for the protection of one another in time of war. Since the war it has been the belief of many that the allied countries had become jealous of Germany’s power and progress and had planned to subdue her when the time was ripe. Germany must have believed the same thing before the war, for she did not wait for the time to ripen for the Allies. She found her chance to strike and accepted it. The Allies then sided against her. Within a few days more countries in Europe were at war than had ever been at any one time before. So many countries were involved in it that it came to be known as the World War. The United States was largely in sympathy with the Allies, but remained neutral for the first few years of the war.
England forbade the United States to trade with Germany or her allies or even Denmark, who was then a neutral country. Germany then forbade us to trade with the Allies. She sank one of England’s ships, the Lusitania, which had American citizens on it. This, together with newspaper exaggerations, made the people of our country feel very bad towards the Germans. However, Germany was not the sole cause of the war. On April 6, 1917 Congress declared war on Germany. On June 5 she called upon all male citizens from twenty-one to thirty-one years of age to register. 1,431 Henderson Countians registered at this time, 182 in June and August 1918, and 1986 on September 12, 1918 making a total registration of 3,599. Of this number 448 were accepted at camp. 380 qualified for general service. Ten were remediable's, nineteen were held for limited service, and 163 were disqualified. There were 884 dependencies.
Just how many boys from Henderson County that crossed the waters is not known. Sixteen gave their lives in service. Sidney S. Ayers, son of W. T. and Mrs. H. E. Ayers, was born in the old nineteenth civil district of Henderson County June 16, 1892. He was reared a farmer, was a faithful and dutiful son, and an honored and esteemed citizen among his large circle of associates.
Sidney entered the United States army service October 14, 1917. He went to Camp Gordon, Georgia for his training and became a first class private in Company D. 11th U. S. Infantry. He crossed the waters and took an active p art in the worst of the war. He won three distinctive medals for bravery and honor in the battles of St. Mihel, Meuse, and Argonne. One of these medals is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a soldier. Sidney was the first of the boys who gave their lives on the field of battle to be brought back home. His casket was of high quality better than anything the undertaker could furnish. He lived and died a worthy and honorable man.
Jesse Deere of Warrens Bluff, Tennessee gave his life for his country in an honorable way. Although he was not killed in action, he was at hand ready to do and to die when called upon. He died of influenza. And his grave, along with thousands of others, is marked by a white cross bearing the date October 8,1918. Riley Jefferson Climer, son of L. R. and Melvina Climer of Reagan, Tennessee enlisted July 12, 1918 and died of measles and pneumonia October 8, 1918. He was brought home for burial and laid to rest in the Center Hill Cemetery. He was in the 17th infantry, Company D. of Camp Mead Maryland. "Jeff," as he was commonly called, professed a hope in Christ a few years before entering the service, and joined the United Baptist Church at Center Hill, of which he remained a faithful member.
Jesse C. Powers, son of E. E. and Mrs. Kizzie E. Powers, was born near Scotts Hill, Tennessee February 14, 1899. He joined the army June 14, 1918 at St. Louis, Missouri, and was made corporal a few months later. He joined the veterinarian branch of the service and went over seas with some horses. He was in service over thirteen months, seven of which were over seas. Soon after his discharge from the army he joined the navy and served at Great Lakes, Illinois until his health failed. He then spent some time in the hospital, and was finally discharged, his health being bad.
He started home but never reached there. He got as far as Lexington and died at the Hotel Lexington. He was twenty-two years old when he died, February 18, 1921. Others who gave their lives in the war, but whose record are not at hand, are W. T. Hamlett, Dr. Bell, Malone Waller, Ulis E. Phillips, Lynn McNatt, Elbert Bivens, Jet Smith, Geane M. Smith, Willie Campbell, Gilbert Powers, Webb Johnson, Elbert Greener, Eff Lovell, Homer Buck, Jim Lockhart, and others.
Arvie Ayers, brother of Sidney Ayers, was born July 14, 1895, entered the service October 14, 1917, and was honorably discharged November 9, 1917 for physical disability. He is yet under government treatment. C. W. Anderson is a native of Henderson County although has not lived in the County since the war. He went to the army from Lexington with a bunch of boys from said town and county, and was with the "30th Division, better known as 'Old Hickory’". He was in training over here at Camp Sevier, South Carolina with the 117th Infantry, Company E. but was transferred to 114th Machine Gun Batallion Company B. for overseas service, in which unit he served for the remainder of the war.
His service began September 19th 1918. He was discharged April 6th, 1919. He saw overseas service from May 11, 1918, to March 20, 1919. Serving in England, Belgium and France. He was engaged in battles and skirmishes in the following sectors: Ypres sector in Belgium July 12 to September 5, 1918, which included the battle of Kemmel Hill, August 30-31, and the Ypres-Lys Offensive August 31st to September 3rd., 1918; The Somme Offensive in France from September 24th, to October 20th. This offensive will be long remembered by the boys of the 30th Division as there were twenty-eight days of almost continuous going forward, and in which time the battle at the "Hindenburg Line" and several others were fought. Mr. Anderson is now at Indianola, Mississippi.
Legionaire R. E. White entered the United States Army at Lexington, Tennessee, September 19, 1917 and was trained at Camp Gordon and at Camp Sevier. He went overseas with Company M. 117th Infantry, 30th Division, passing through England and landing in Calais, France May 24, 1918. After intensive training near Inglingham, his outfit entered Belgium July 4, 1918, being the first American troops to enter that country. After two months in the shell torn Ypres he was sent to the gas school at Clemacy, France and on his return to his Division was in Paris during the last air raid by the Germans about the 20th of September. He rejoined his company in time for the Hindenburg Line smash at Bellicourt, September 29. He was with his company on October 7 when with a fighting strength of 77 men it attacked a strong German position, killing 114 of the enemy, wounding 23; and capturing 263 prisoners, 42 machine guns, 4 trench mortars, 2 "whizz bangs", and a large amount of equipment. All the officers became casualties and the company was reduced to 34 men. White got his "blighty" in this affair and was in the hospital for two months. He attended the A. E. F. University at Beaune, during its entire existence and came home on the Italian ship "America" from Marsailles via Gibraltar to New York.
Victor C. Halter volunteered into the Marine corps before the draft law and rated as sharpshooter. To be a marine means to be one of Americas best trained soldiers. To rate as a sharpshooter in that branch of service is to be one of the most skilled of the marines. Dr. J. F. Goff, now a practicing physician in Lexington, volunteered into the service as a first Lieutenant in the medical corps and was commissioned in October of 1918. He reported to the 20th Sanitary Training in Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina in January of 1919 and was transferred to Camp Jackson with the 156th Depot Brigade on the examining board for discharging soldiers from overseas.
Joseph Paul Parker, the late County Court Clerk, who mysteriously died August, 19, 1930, enlisted August 8, 1917 and served as a first class private at Camp Gordon until almost ready to go overseas. He was then removed to Camp Merit, New Jersey from which place he was sent to Cosne, France. He served there until December 1918, when he was moved to the Base Hospital at Paulillac, France where he served until he came back to the States. He was honorably discharged at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. Murray L. Austin served in the 323rd Field Hospital, 306th Sanitary Training, 8lth Division, known as the Wild Cat Division. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. His duration of service was one year and one month.
William A. McPeake entered service May 28, 1918, landed at Liverpool, England August 28, and spent twenty-six days there. He then moved on to La Havre, France and thence to Verdune Front. He was in the Battle of Argonne Forest, Battle of Oise, Battle of Aisne, and Battle of Baccarat. He left Brest, France April 6, 1919, landed in New York April 14, and was honorably discharged May 11th, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. There are many other soldier boys who are worthy of mention, but whose record I do not have. This will, however, give an idea of the service rendered in the World War by Henderson County. Although the war never reached Henderson County it had its effects upon it. The war made prices unstable, lowered the morals of the County, and put over it a fever of discontentment, from which the County is just now beginning to recover. The hard times of 1930 may be necessary to bring back appreciation of comfortable, though plain, living.
Chapter 12 - Present Conditions
The World War left the County in a worse condition than people in general thought. The War broke up or helped to breakup several homes. The epidemic of influenza, which swept the County during the War did likewise. It killed people so fast that often several burials were conducted at a cemetery in a single day. The well were kept busy burying the dead. People were afraid to go in and administer unto the sick, and as a consequence, many died for want of attention.
Coupled with the broken up homes, was general disorder and confusion. Morals had been lowered by the War, as is always the case. But January 16, 1920, the General Government passed the Prohibition Law which forbade the sale of intoxicating liquors. This law helped to restore moral conditions though very slowly, there being so many other inducements to immorality. However, the law is serving its purpose. There are not nearly so many drunks on the streets and roads now as there were before the Prohibition Law, despite its opposition. Prices were high after the War, cotton selling as high as forty cents a pound. People resorted to wild speculation with the hope of making themselves rich within a few days. Many people sold their homes for fancy prices and bought others yet more expensive. When the end of the boom came and the Abottom fell out of everything@, as is again the case after wars, many people found their homes and property gone from them, and mortgages on their new investments so great that they were taken from them. This was the case in general throughout the County. The fever of false prosperity and wild speculation died a sudden death in the fall of 1920 and left many a farmer and not a few business men in disappointment.
Following this sudden reverse came another era of slow and steady progress marked with occasional drawbacks. About 1923 the County voted road bonds to the extent of $350,000 with which to improve its roads. Money was borrowed on these bonds and entrusted in the care of Henry Graper and the Citizens Bank for safe keeping. In September 1924 the bank burst, Mr. Graper died, and the County lost the$350,000. [It was believed by many that Mr. Graper escaped from the County with the money and that a waxen image was buried. Such is still the belief by some.] The County did not get its good roads, nor has this enormous debt as yet been paid. Mr. Graper, of course, made bond before going into office, but if these bondsmen pay the debt, the County will lose that amount anyway. Otherwise the taxpayers will have to raise the money.
While trustee of the County, Carl Edwards squandered a large sum. Also, the late County Court Clerk, Paul Parker, is claimed to be short about $7,000. However, official reports have not as yet been announced. Mr. Parker was the last County official to have a local bond. The County has ruled that all its officials must make bond with bonding companies and not with local friends. This ruling offers protection to the good people of the County.
The census of 1850 shows Henderson County to have had a population of 13,164; that of 1860, 14,491; that of 1870, 14,217; that of 1880, 17,430; that of 1890, 16,336; that of 1900, 18,117; that of 1910, 17,030; that of 1920, 18,436; that of 1930, 17,654. Civil District number one has a population of 3,556; number two, 2,737; number three, 1,966; number four, 687; number five including Lexington, 4,459; number six, 2,346; number seven including the part of Scotts Hill that is in Henderson County, 1,903. Lexington, as stated before, has a population of 1,823. There are 16,665 native whites, 5 foreign born whites, and 1,766 negroes in the County. Beyond a doubt, more planting cotton seed are shipped out of Henderson County than any other county in the State. The Crook Brothers of ten miles south of Lexington have been responsible for most of this exportation of half-and-half planting cotton seed. The Crook Brothers keep a record of the cotton with high percentage of lent and buy the seed from it if possible. They deal in only that which gins extremely high per cent lint. Henderson County made over 1200 shipments during the month of February 1929. They were shipped to almost every state that grows cotton.
The County produces, on an average about 15,000 bales of cotton annually and about half a million dollars worth of poultry and poultry products. It has of late introduced the producing and marketing of cream, cabbage and tomatoes on a large scale. These are all profitable enterprises and are growing yearly. The County produces many potatoes, hogs, cattle, and enough corn and hay for home use. Henderson County had for many years been deprived of good roads, but no longer is this so. It now has a concrete highway, highway number 20, being constructed thorough the County connecting Nashville and Memphis. It is already finished from Lexington to the Madison County line and is a marvelous thoroughfare. Highway number 22 connects Huntingdon and Henderson. It passes through Lexington and is a good gravel road. U. S. highway number 100, which passes through the County from east to west, promises to be an outstanding highway of the whole country. There are other good roads in the county also. The ones connecting Lexington and Sardis, Lexington and Scotts Hill, Lexington and Bargerton, Lexington and Alberton, Lexington and Muffin, Lexington and Luray, and others are good.
The Tennessee Electric Power Company, which secured its franchise from Lexington in 1930, plans to connect with all the small towns of the County. It is the largest industrial corporation in Tennessee and offers the cheapest rates of any power company in the State. If it holds up to expectations, it will be a wonderful asset to the County. Already several Henderson Countians have bought stock in it. Although Henderson County's total indebtedness runs around a half million dollars, it is in better condition than any of its adjoining neighbors. It is meeting its debts as they come due and has no outstanding bond over due. The $132,000 or $133,000 that come into the County trustee's office annually is gradually reducing our indebtedness year by year. The elementary school funds are only six months behind, whereas they were almost a year behind only a short while back. If no other reverses hit us, we should be even with the world in a few years and have good roads, good living conditions, and general prosperity for all. Henderson County, taking everything into consideration, is a good county in which to live. Every citizen of Henderson County should feel proud of his county and strive to preserve and defend what our forefathers have handed down to us by dint of teeth and perserverence. Let us not only do that, but let us add to it still and make its future even more glorious than its past has been. Instead of going into new fields let us stay in our home community and build it up. If we will do so, Henderson County will grow and improve as it has never done before.