Hickman County, TN
"Reminiscences of Hickman County"
REMINISCENCES OF THE OLD CITIZENS OF CENTREVILLE
Dr. Joel Walker, the oldest brother of the late Hon. Elijah Walker and of P. Walker, was one of first settlers of this place. His mother then a widow lived at the old Walker homestead, on mile from town, on the North side of Duck river. The doctor was proverbial for his goodness toward all those in want or distress; was charitable to a fault, and was in every sense one of the best men that ever lived in our county. He was at one time in the Senate of the Tennessee Legislature, representing every county from this to the Alabama and Mississippi lines, and including all of what is now known as West Tennessee. His opponent was the Hon. M. R. Maury, who then resided at what is now known as Old Vernon, in this county. Their hopes of success after the election, alternated every few days, or perhaps weeks, as the returns of the election would come in, in many instances one or the other candidate would carry all the votes in a whole county, and for many weeks they were held in suspense as to which was the successful man, until but within a very short time before the meeting of the Legislature, the result was finally arrived at. He had an aversion to politics, and could not, under any circumstances, be prevailed on to run for any other office. He removed from this place in 1832 or 3 to Williamson County, settled on the banks of Harpeth, East of Franklin, and in 1836, or perhaps a year or two later, the people of that good county forced him to run for and elected him to the Senate. He served one term and refused to be re-elected. He was always a strong Whig, lived to good old age, and died at his residence in Williamson county.
Mr. Samuel Bean was the first man that occupied the position of jailor in our county. He was a man of immense size, and was at all times and on every public occasion ready and willing to take a hand at fisticuffs, practiced in early days, in our town and vicinity, and was always ready to lend a helping hand to those who desired help. He went from here to Mississippi, and died in 1836.
David B. Warren was the first Circuit Court Clerk elected under the Constitution adopted in 1835. He served in that capacity until his death, and was during that time deputy Register and Entry taker. He raised a large family of children, most of whom preceded him to their long homes beyond the River.
Samuel Whitson came from Maury county and settled in this place in 1830 or 31. He was one of the leading merchants of the town for many years, bought a farm in Shipp's Bend on the West side of Duck river and lived on it until he became involved in his financial affairs, when he sold his place and moved to Missouri, and lived there for several years. Becoming dissatisfied, from several family afflictions which terminated in the death of his wife, he returned to his old home, in this county, but meeting with but few of his old time friends he finally emigrated to Texas, and died since the war.
John Phillips, came from Smith county, in 1830, and in partnership with E. W. Dale, of Columbia, went into the mercantile business. He was one among the best merchants in town, done the leading business, and had an immense trade all over the county. He was celebrated as a deer and turkey hunter, and no man was fonder of the chase, the deer and fox hunt, than he. He raised a large family of sprightly and interesting children, and moved from here to Columbia, where perhaps some of his family now reside. He lived to a good old age, and died in Columbia, beloved and respected by a large number of friends and relatives.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, February 22, 1878)
Dr. Samuel B. Moore came from near Rome, Smith county, Tenn., and settle here in 1831, and at once entered into a very large and lucrative practice of his profession. He was one of the most successful physicians in the State, his practice extending at one time extending over an area of territory that is now occupied by at least fifty physicians, frequently visiting patients in Dickson, Humphreys, Perry and Maury counties, at a distance of from twenty to thirty miles. The sick, always, whether rich or poor, could calculate with certainty of having his attention when sent for. He was proverbial for his charity to the indigent and poor, and no worthy applicant for alms was ever turned away empty handed from his door. In the summer of 1838 he had, in Centreville, as many as fifty patients with fever, at one time, and visited patients in a circuit of at least seventy-five miles, that he would travel in a day and night, and for three weeks he never undressed for a nap of sleep; frequently sleeping an hour on some lonely ridge or deep hollow, while on a visit from one patient to another. He married Miss _____ Hornbeak, 14th of May, 1835, and became the father of Mrs. Martha Johnson, and Hon. Jack Moore who now reside in our town. In 1848 he was elected to the Lower House of the Tennessee Legislature, and served in that capacity for two terms, and was then elected to the Senate from this Senatorial district, and had it not been for the late unpleasantness, he would have been sent to Congress. He was a member of the Charleston Convention that bursted up, and adjourned to Baltimore, and was also in that convention when Breckenridge and Lane were nominated. In 1856 he had the misfortune to lose his fond and affectionate wife, whose death was keenly felt by all those who knew her, and by none more than her trusting and confiding servants. After living a widowed life for several years he married Mrs. Duprece, of Memphis, Tenn., the mother of young Willie Moore, now of the Vanderbilt University, at Nashville. His kind-hearted and accomplished widow still survives him, and is living at his old homestead on the north side of the Public Square, in Centreville, where he breathed his last and passed beyond the floods, on the 14th day of December, 1869. Taking him in all the various positions which he filled, he has had no superior, and but few equals.
Major James D. Easley came with his parents, at an early day and settled in Gray's Bend, about four miles east of this place. He supplied various neighborhoods in this county as a school teacher, and when our county-seat was moved from Vernon he was one of the fixtures; serving as Mayor and constable for the town district. In 1836, after the adoption of the new Constitution, he was elected Clerk of the County Court, and be it said to his credit, he served in that capacity until 1858, at which time he resigned to accept a seat in the Lower House of the Tennessee Legislature, to which place he was called by the spontaneous wishes of his old time friends and neighbors. Again in 1860 he was re-elected, and was an occupant of the beautiful temple erected on Capitol Hill, in the city of Nashville -- the place where the wise men of Tennessee were recently assembled by the call of our popular Governor, to devise some means whereby we could be relieved of our heavy burdens, and at which time they passed only one act -- and while the members of the Tennessee Legislature were carrying out the wishes of their constituents, Gen. Grant, at Donelson, and Gen. Buell at Bowling Green, were making things too hot for comfort, and Major Easley with the entire Legislature, except perhaps a few members from East Tennessee, adjourned, and met at Memphis, and after passing such laws as were thought to be beneficial to the State, they adjourned. Major Easley was a member of a large family, all of whom he survived. He raised a large family of sprightly children, most of whom preceded him to the grave. Capt. Tom Easley, of this place, Major Bob Easley and Mr. Billy Easley, of Beaver Dam, Capt. Ed Easley, of Linden, Perry County, and Mr. James D. Easley, of Lavergne, Rutherford county, are the sons who survive him. After the war he was elected magistrate in town district, and was also elected Clerk of the County Court, but having lost his amiable and truly religious wife, the shock was so severe that it preyed so upon his mind, until the 4th day of July, 1874, when he passed away. Thus lived and died one of the best, most charitable and kind hearted men it was ever the privilege of your correspondent to associate with. May we always cherish his memory and imitate his virtues.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, March 15, 1878)
Peter Morgan was the owner of the first house erected in this place. He lived here for many years, and sold ginger-cakes, small-beer, and occasionally a jug of corn-juice, for a "living". He was a harmless, good citizen, and was lost sight of by your correspondent.
The first stock of goods opened in Centreville was sent from Vernon, by Robert Sheegog, in charge of his younger brother, Edward, who was then but about fourteen years old, and fresh from the Emerald Isle. He accompanied the wagon and ox team, which brought the goods, and took his first meal in town at the cabin of Peter Morgan, consisting of ginger-cakes and cider, for which he paid an old piece of six-and-a-fourth-cent coin He lived in this place for several years, and many amusing incidents are related of him. Once, when coming from Vernon on horseback, he stopped on the road, and while his horse was nipping a sprig of grass its foot was stepped in the reins of the bridle. This was a dilemma which he was considerably exercised over, and the only way in which the foot could be removed from the bridle, as he conceived, was by cutting the rein, which he did. On another occasion he was sent to Nashville by his brother Robert, in company with Major Carothers and others, and was a passenger on the Major's ox-wagon, and on passing a small farm near Bon Aqua Springs, he discovered a great many - as he supposed - fine water melons. He asked the privilege of procuring one of the largest, which he selected and put into the wagon, and on their arrival at the Springs he expect to have a delicious treat. He cut it open, but none of his friends would join him in the delicacy. After enjoying the joke at his expense they told him the difference between water-melons and pumpkins.
Col. Sheegog has filled many prominent places in the commercial community, having been a merchant in Vernon, our place, Nashville, New Orleans and Columbia, at which place he now resides in excellent health, and surrounded by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
Peter Headstreams, a Swede, was a hotel keeper, and his hotel, erected of hewn logs, was consumed by fire about four years ago. It was on the east side of the Public Square, and he had a sign of flaming letters, hoisted between two long poles, far above the roof of house. The old man, with his family, moved from here to Illinois, where he died many years ago.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, April 12, 1878)
William Bird moved to this place in 1823, or soon thereafter; was for a number of years engaged in the grocery business. Prior to this time he lived on Piney river, near Vernon, and was regarded as a great fighter at fisticuffs, and doubtless possessed as little fear as any man of his day. He was in all the Indian Wars under Jackson, and was in the breast-works in the battle of New Orleans, and at one during the engagement, having his gun so damaged that it could not be used, he, by permission of, Gen'l Carroll, crossed the works and took from the hands of a British soldier his musket, and used it during the engagement. He was in the early Florida wars, and passed through many hard fought battles without ever receiving a wound. About the year 1830 he made a profession of religion, and attached himself to the church, and shortly afterwards he abandoned the grocery business and engaged in selling dry goods. He was for many years a justice of the peace and chairman of the County Court. He had but a limited education, having been taught to write by, his wife, after marriage, but was a man of remarkable native mind; was one of the best of citizens; was sorely afflicted with rheumatism in his later days, and died in the Christian faith, regretted and mourned by many affectionate friends.
In mentioning the name of Reaves J. Huddleston it will be detracting nothing from the good name and high standing of his many relatives, of the same name, in our county, to say that he was the noblest man of them all; with a heart always expanding and open to the wants of the poor and distressed. He was elected to the office of constable in this district, and was regarded as one of the most efficient collecting officers in the State; he done more business, in that capacity, than almost every other officer in the county, he was elected sheriff of our county, beating William Phillips, one amongst our most popular men, after the election he kindly appointed Mr. Phillips his deputy, and the rule has been pretty well kept up ever since, of the successful candidate making his opponent his deputy. He died while in office as sheriff, and left many warm friends and a large family of connections.
Dr. W. B. Douglass came from Smith county in 1832, formed a partnership with Dr. S. B. Moore, and practiced medicine here for several years, then went from this place to Vernon. He married Miss Easley, a sister of W. B. Easley, done a large practice, and died at his residence near Vernon, Tenn.
Peter Grinder, a colored man, was the property of Robert Grinder, Sen., and was at an early day our village blacksmith. He came from what is now Lewis county, and with his master then lived at the Grinder stand, on the Natchez Trace, where the monument is erected over the grave of Gov. Lewis, and was the boy of all work at the hotel; was with Gov'r Lewis during his stay at the hotel, and the first one that saw him after he had committed the rash act of self destruction. He was, like most of his race, superstitious, and did not like to talk of the event. Uncle Peter was a man of great muscular power, a favorite amongst the white people, and lived to a good old age; having died since the war.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, April 26, 1878)
OLD TIMES IN HICKMAN
Reminiscences of the Early Settlers of Lick Creek
Lick creek is a stream of pure, sparkling water that empties into Duck River, on the north side, about twelve miles below Williamsport by land and perhaps twenty-five by the river. It has its origin in Williamson county, and is about twenty-five or thirty miles long. Forty or fifty years ago it was one of the finest fishing streams in the State, the water then being as pure and bright as crystal; the bottom could have been seen to the depth of twelve or fifteen, and fish of almost every kind, common to our waters, could be counted by the hundreds and thousands, and I can safely assert, at that time we had twenty good fish to one at this time, but alas! they, like the old settlers on the stream, have gone.
The first settler, at the time I speak of, was George Martin, who then lived at the place owned now by Mr. F. B. Russell, at Little Lot. He was an eccentric old man; raised a large family of children, the most of whom have passed away. He was the father of G. W. Martin, Esq., in Totty's Bend.
The next place was owned by Joshua Tarkington, now living in the vicinity on or near the old homestead. He had many children and grandchildren, but nearly all of them moved to other places and have died.
The next place, and in sight of the Tarkington place, was the Widow Tyler place. Mrs. Tyler moved from Maryland about the year 1816. She had a large family of children, the most of whom were mechanics, and some of the chimneys now standing in Centreville were built by Wat Tyler. The popular dry goods merchant at Columbia by that name is a descendant of that old, time-honored family.
The next place, on the opposite side of the creek, was owned by Drurey Harrington, a member of the old Baptist church, and the father and grandfather of the numerous family by that name now living in that vicinity.
The next farm was owned by Horatio Clagett, the father of Messrs. W. G. and H. Clagett, who are now and have been for the last forty years selling goods in your town. He raised a family of seven children, all of whom have crossed over the river except the two named and Mrs. Mullins, the oldest child, now living in Marshall county.
The next family was that of David Kellough. They were of German descent and came from Pennsylvania. The old man made several trips to his old State, always riding his favorite horse, Henry, and would take about two months to make the trip in.
At the next place, near the mouth of Hassell's creek, lived John Hassell -- called "Black John" -- the only one of all the old settlers that still survives. He is still living at the old homestead, in the enjoyment of excellent health; surrounded by many relatives and a large circle of friends; is a strict member of the Baptist Church.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, February 21, 1879)
OLD TIMES IN HICKMAN
Reminiscences of the Early Settlers of Lick Creek
Hassell's creek is a small tributary to Lick Creek, and at the time I speak of old Mr. Edwards lived at the first house on the creek, opposite where the new Baptist church now stands. He sold his farm and moved farther West.
The next place was that spoken of in my last as the Hassell place.
The other, and the last farm on the creek, was owned by Allen Massey. He was a Virginian by birth; moved in 1816, and settled at that place; married a Miss Gantt; was an uncle to the Clagetts and Primms, and having been left a widower, and being childless, he made his home at the house of John T. Primm, Esq., where he resided for many years, and died in peace at the age of eighty years.
Hassell's creek now is dotted from its head to the mouth with small, well-cultivated farms.
The next place was owned by John Hassell, known as "Toe-head John". He was a well-to-do farmer, and moved in 1836 to West Tennessee.
The next farm was that of old Mr. Zebulon Hassell, the father of "Toe-head John." Zebulon, Woods and several other children. He was an old man as far back as my earliest recollection; was a good farmer, and excellent neighbor, a fast friend and and exemplary member of the old Baptist church. He died at his old homestead, loved and respected by all who knew him.
On the opposite side of the creek and in sight of the old Hassell place, lived Dr. Charles Smoot, one of the most eminent physicians that ever lived in our State. He was proverbial for his great eccentricity, blunt manners and marked honesty. He was somewhat addicted to intemperance, but he was always a successful physician. I remember, on one occasion, of his having been insulted by a negro man belonging to Mrs. Gantt, while he was resting from a squirrel hunt, at a neighbor's spring, and he deliberately emptied the contents of his shotgun in the offender, and then gently pursued the negro to his home and extracted the shot. He lived to be quite old, and died at his old place.
The next place was the farm of Mrs. Elizabeth Gantt. She, with a number of other emigrants, came from the State of Maryland, in 1816, and settled on the place now owned by the Messrs. Nichols. She was the mother-in-law to _______ Primm, George Hicks, Allen Massey and old Captain Clagett; was a woman of great native mind, with as good an education as was common in those days. She managed her own farm; was the owner of a good many slaves, and conducted her business quite profitably. She died in 1828. In after years George Hicks lived on a part of the old farm, and carried on business as a dry goods merchant. I remember then of there being in his employ a very straight, boyish-looking young man, by the name of Robert Reaves, and understand that his widow and family now reside near Centreville. George Hicks became a Methodist preacher, and in 1834 or '35 moved to the vicinity of Vicksburg, Miss. When he left our county he had a family of sprightly and healthy children. I have learned that nearly all of them, with their parents, have passed beyond the flood-gates of time. John T. Primm, Esq., lived on the old Gantt farm, and after her death he owned the old homestead. He came from Maryland, with other emigrants, in 1816, and shortly after his arrival he went into the mercantile business. Not succeeding very well, he directed his attention to teaching and farming, and for a number of years he was the principal school-teacher in his neighborhood. There was scarcely a boy or girl in that vicinity but what was a pupil of his at that time. His schools were all the time well attended. At a later period of his life he kept and entertained boarders at the now popular Primm's Springs, near his old homestead. He was for many years an acting magistrate in our county, and his legal opinions were often sought and ever regarded by his neighbors. He was noted for acts of charity, and no one in distress was ever turned from his doors empty-handed. He has two sons --- Hinson G. and H. Clagett Primm --- now living in the old neighborhood. He lived to a good old age, and died universally beloved and respected by his many neighbors and friends.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, March 21, 1879)
OLD TIMES IN HICKMAN
Reminiscences of the Early Settlers of Lick Creek
George Gantt lived with his mother at the old farm spoken of in my last, and was considered, in his early days, one of the "bhoys". He was fast in all his undertaking, and gave his folks much concern for his future, but he ultimately married a Miss Williams, sister to Edward Williams, of Columbia, and daughter of old Mr. Neddy Williams, the founder of Williamsport, in Maury County. He lived a short time at the old place, and from there settled near Shady Grove, in our county. He finally moved to Williamsport and engaged in the mercantile business. He was a popular and successful minister of the old Baptist church and one of the best merchants of his town; was the father of the Hon. George Gantt, of Memphis, and of the Hon. Ed Gantt, (now deceased) of Arkansas. He died at his home, in his adopted town and is now resting in peace in the better land.
The next farm, on the opposite side of the creek, where H. G. Primm, Esq., now lives, was owned by Vincent Irwin. He was good farmer, quite industrious and a strict member of the Methodist church; lived to a good old age and died on his old farm. He has a son and many relatives living in the old neighborhood.
The next place was a little farm owned and worked, at the time, by a very old man by the name of Weeks. I recollect but little of him, but think he died at his old places.
The next place was owned by Pleasant Russell, the father of the Hon. W. B. Russell, near Pinewood, F. B. Russell, of Little Lot, the Rev. James Russell, of Maury county, and the grandfather of the Hon. H. P. Fowlkes, the now popular Speaker of the Lower House of the Tennessee Legislature. Mr. Russell was one of our best farmers and was the father of several children not spoken of in the above, all of whom made good citizens. He died at his old place and for many years his widow survived him and conducted the farm and managed her financial affairs with as much ability as did her deceased husband. She died and was buried by the side of her husband. The farm has passed into other hands, and is no longer known as the Russell place.
The next place was on the opposite side of the creek, and was owned by Jesse C. Peeler. I can now recall the many happy and pleasant days and nights spent at that old place with D. W. Peeler, now living in Maury county -- the only child of the well-to-do couple that occupied that old homestead in the long ago; but Death visited the old place and left Mr. Peeler a widower. He afterwards married his present wife and after living at the place for many years, he moved to Beaver Dam, in this county and the old man, now ninety-odd years old, is still living in the enjoyment of good health; surrounded by his present amiable wife and a large family of good children, he is patiently waiting his summons to the better land, having been, for the last fifty years a member of the old Baptist church. He and old Mr. Hassell, on Hassell's creek, are the only survivors of the many old settlers of Lick Creek. This county would evidently be better off with such men as they were in their younger days.
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, April 4, 1879)
OLD TIMES IN HICKMAN
Reminiscences of the Old-Time People of Pine River
In 1806 William Curl and family, consisting of wife and six children, the oldest Jarret, then about twelve years old, moved from South Carolina and settled the farm now owned by Jarret Frazier, the grandson of the old couple. At the time of their emigration to this county the country was sparsely settled, the milling from the mouth of Pine was done in Dickson county, and the blacksmith shop was twenty miles away. The nearest place of worship was at the fort where Nashville now stands. At that time they had -- as they regarded it then -- three near neighbors: David Herrin, on Taylor's Creek; John Ward, on Bird's Branch, and Sam Walker, on Sugar Creek; the nearest being about three miles, and the furtherest about seven. Mrs. Curl was considered in delicate health, and by over-persuasion on part of her husband, was induced to abandon her old home and seek their fortune and better health in this far-off country. Esquire Curl was, for many years one of the leading men of our county; was an acting justice of the peace, and had much to do in organizing the courts and public offices of the county. He was one of the commissioners that located the county town, and was a great favorite among his neighbors and friends. He lived to a good old age, being about ninety-five years old at the time his death, which occurred in April 1862. He was born before the first rebellion and lived up to the time the second was fully inaugurated. His wife still survives him and is now cheerful and in the enjoyment of pretty good health, with her hearing and eyesight almost perfect, and it is quite interesting and very entertaining to listen to the good old lady detail the many trials, mixed with the pleasures of their early days in the wilds of their new home. In hearing distance of their fireside they could often see the wild turkey, deer and occasionally, the bear; the wolves would come in large gangs and at times were very destructive on their young stock. The old lady is very communicative and likes to talk of old times, and she is now in possession of many old relics that date back to her birth, among which is a pair of steelyards in perfect preservation, with which she says thousands of pounds of beef were weighed to the American army in the Revolutionary War. Another relic is an old powder-gourd that looks as fresh as it did one hundred years ago, and today is used in keeping powder in by our clever and worth friend, Mr. Frazier. There is also a set of cups and saucers bought in 1812 that looks clean and new, and side by side, hanging on the wall, may be seen the stiff, old-fashioned felt hat with broad brim, and the identical bonnet, that were worn by the old couple the last time they attended church together. Mrs. Curl was born in 1771 in North Carolina, and has been a member of the Baptist church -- as was her husband -- for sixty or seventy years, and is now patiently waiting for the summons to meet her sainted husband and long absent friends on the shores of the better world, and with them to rest in the shade forever.
Daniel Head and Mr. Bigarstaff were brothers-in-law and lived, at the time I write, at what is now known as Scott's Ferry, on Duck River.
In 1807 the settlers began to move in pretty thickly, and William Richardson, from North Carolina, settled on Pine River, and the Abednego Finn settled on what is now know as the Montgomery place. Samuel Lomax, the father of Joe and several others of the older Lomax family in Perry county settled on Duck River below the mouth of Pine.
Thomas Thompson, the father of Asa, William and other older members of this family, settled also, on Pine River. Mr. Asa D. Thompson, then quite young, lived to a good old age and left behind him his kind and affectionate wife and many children. His estimable wife now lives in your town with her son, Dr. E. G. Thompson, and a widowed daughter, Mrs. Herndon.
Jarret Curl, son of the first couple spoken of is now living at the place he settled on many years ago. He is in the enjoyment of excellent health; is now and has been for almost half a century an acting justice of the peace, and on every county court day the genial and laughing countenance of the Squire may be seen on your streets. May he live as long as his mother!
(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, June 13, 1879)