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Marion County, Tennessee

Introduction to the Resources of Tennessee, Volume 1
Tennessee Bureau of Agriculture, Joseph Buckner Killebrew 1874

County Seat—Jasper.

Marion county was organized in 1817, at the town of Liberty, where the seat of justice remained three years. The capital was removed to the town of Jasper in 1820, where it is now. Jasper is situated at the terminus of a branch of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. It has a population of about four hundred. It has an enterprising and stirring citizenship. Owing to the fact that it is the outlet for most of the trade of the Sequatchie Valley, in which it is located, it must necessarily become a town of some considerable importance. There is an excellent school here, one of high grade, and educating at present more than two hundred pupils. There are two good churches, a number of stores, a wagon factory, &c. Social advantages arc good. The town is immediately under the brow of the Cumberland Table Land. It is a romantic place, and there is none more healthful. Besides Jasper, there are other towns or villages of some importance, on account of the fact that they are manufacturing points. They are Vulcan, Whitesides, and Shell Mound. All of them are on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and in the midst of an extensive coal region.

Marion county has a considerable number of mineral springs, mostly chalybeate, and from three to seven miles from Jasper. They are pronounced by competent judges to possess strong and medicinal qualities. None of them have been improved. The prevailing rock in the Valley of Sequatchie is limestone, and in Walden's Ridge valuable sandstone prevails. The latter is found in large square boulders, and can be quarried in suitable sizes for building purposes.

The coal and iron interest of the county is striking. Perhaps there is no county in East Tennessee surpassing it in this respect. The Aetna coal mine is an extensive one, Vulcan another, Alpine another, Alley another, Battle Creek another, Vaughn another, McNabb another, Little Sequatchie another. All these mines are turning out considerable quantities of cod, which is shipped to Nashville and to the Southern States. The Cumberland Table Land is filled with strata of coal. The Little Sequatchie mines, sixteen miles from Jasper, have a vein fully seven feet thick, extending horizontally, which supplies coal of good quality.

The iron interest is equally as great. It is mostly of the hematite species. There is said to be a solid iron bed of more than nine miles, stretching north-east of the town of Jasper. With such advantages, what is there to prevent this county from becoming one of the richest in East Tennessee?

The topography of Marion county is easily understood. It lies partly on the Cumberland Table Land, and partly in Sequatchie Valley. The Sequatchie Valley is sixty miles long and five miles wide. Once it was exceedingly fertile, producing immense crops of corn, which was fed to hogs, but it has been much abused. However, it still has considerable vitality. Its average production of corn to the acre is about thirty bushels. It is not so well adapted to wheat as corn, though, it must be confessed, that but little pains have been taken in the production of wheat. There is almost a total absence of clover and grass, and yet there is no better region for either. But little manure" is economized. It is a great section for sweet potatoes. Tobacco grows well, and so does cotton. There are no extensive orchards in the valley, and consequently but little fruit raised. Apples and peaches do well, and by not having orchards, the farmers lose annually thousands of dollars.

The average size of farms is about three hundred and fifty acres. Scores of farmers in this valley are retarded in their operations by having such overgrown estates, and their lands are depreciating. Another unfavorable sign is, that fully one-half of the farms are leased to tenants.

Prices of improved lands arc as follows: bottom lands, fifty dollars per acre; second bottom twenty; and uplands about five. There is an abundance of laud for sale, and it can be bought on one, two and three years time, with six per cent, interest.

The most profitable system of farming is the raising of grass and stock. The mountains on either side afford abundant grazing grounds for sheep and cattle, and the only cost is the herding and salting. They are driven there as early as the first of April, and are kept until about the first of November, during which time they get in good order. There is no better region for sheep husbandry. They can be raised and kept at a nominal cost. Sheep-killing dogs, as in other counties, are in the way. How to exterminate them, the farmers cannot well determine. They are in favor of a stringent dog law. Before the war, this county was noted for the great quantity of hogs and mules, and even cattle, that were raised. Hogs were the principal staple. Since then, there has been a large falling off in every description of stock, and many of the farmers arc convinced that they have been pursuing a fatal policy in attempting to raise so many hogs. They now think their true policy is to put their lands down in grass and clover. The county is deficient in good stock. The want, therefore, of a better race of animals, is seriously felt. The scrub stock pre-dominates.

The county is sparsely populated. The present population is only about 2,300, with about 175 colored. There is room enough to quadruple the number. The citizens arc extremely anxious for new-comers to settle in their midst, where they would meet with a cordial welcome, and find good and cheap homes. Tim country is healthy, and it is no trouble to make a living. The water is good, society is highly respectable, the schools arc efficient, plenty of timber, genial climate, and mills and churches in every community. The principal streams are the Tennessee, Big and Little Sequatchie rivers, and Battle Creek. The Sequatchie River runs the entire length of Sequatchie Valley. The Tennessee River is navigable, and affords an outlet to market.

Labor is equal to the demand. There is not much complaint on this score. Wages range from twelve to eighteen dollars per month. The smaller industries are not lost sight of. Considerable quantities of butter, eggs, chickens, and dried fruit, are daily sent off*. There are some farmers' organizations in the county, but no fair grounds.

MARION COUNTY.

Marion county is mountainous, but includes some fine valley lands on the Tennessee and Sequatchee rivers and their tributaries- There is fine water power on the Sequatchee. Jasper is the county seat, and has a population of 541. Other towns are, Victoria (a mining town), Mount Eagle (a watering place), and Whitesides. The soil in the valleys is excellent; on the table-lands it is adapted to fruit growing. There is great abundance of good timber including many varieties. The county contains vast quantities of iron and coal which arc extensively mined. South Pittsburg is the principal manufacturing point. It has capital invested in mining and manufacturing iron and railroad cars to the amount of about a million and a half of dollars. A branch of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad extends from Bridgeport, Alabama, to Victoria. Corn, cotton, wheat, oats, potatoes and fruits are cultivated. There is a good school at Jasper, the Sam Houston Academy. Religious denominations are Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Christians. Taxes on $100: for schools, 20 cents; for roads, 10 cents; county purposes, 20 cents.

Hand-book of Tennessee By A. W. Hawkins, Henry E. Colton 1882