BEDFORD COUNTY lies in the great Central
Basin of Tennessee. The prevailing rocks are limestone generally thinly bedded
and flaggy, but with some fine building stone. The limestones
belong to the Nashville and Lebanon formations, limestones
low geological series. West of Shelbyville excellent building stone
abounds. Two other varieties of limestone are found in the county, called
white rock and sandstone or fire rock. The white rock, found in the
northwest corner of the county, bears a good polish and makes a good appearance
in buildings, standing the weather well. The sandstone or fIfe
rock occurs in thick beds eight miles west of Shelbyville, and is coarse, soft
and easily worked, but in thin slabs is flexible. The sandstones which cover
the knobs are of little value.
The surface of the county
is undulating and is interspersed with hills and valleys. West of the
road that leads from Shelbyville to Murfreesboro, and north of Duck River, the
country is comparatively flat, and east of this road it is undulating, with
lines of rounded hills. These hills rise in some instances to an
elevation of 200 or 300 feet, and are usually capped with sandstones, and together
with the slopes and crests, are heavily wooded. The soil is comminuted
limestone and sandstone, with an intermingling of rich black humus, and is
exceedingly fertile, durable and generous. South of Duck River, and
running west as far as Sinking Creek, the surface continues much the same,
while west of Sinking Creek the hills rise much higher than anywhere else in
the county. Gentry Hill is about 850 feet above the valley lands
below. Another hill, and probably the most noted elevation in this part
of the country, is Horse Mountain, three miles east of Shelbyville and in plain
view from the town. One side of Horse Mountain is heavily timbered, while
on the other flourishes an excellent vineyard. At the base of the mountain is a
fine spring, and which years ago was the location of a camp
ground. During the late war Horse Mountain was used as a signal
station by both the Northern and Southern armies. Zinc or copper was
supposed to exist in the mountain, and during the war a party of Federal soldiers
leased the property for a term of years, and had an Indiana geologist make a
visit to the mountain for inspection. Nothing ever came of the venture.
There are several varieties of soils, different in color and
productiveness. They may for convenience be called the mulatto, the red
and the black. The mulatto predominates and is the characteristic soil of
the county , and the best of clover, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes and cotton
grow well on it. The red soil is confined chiefly to the cedar belt, on the
north side of Duck River. The black soil is found upon all streams and on
the hill sides. Corn, wheat, oats, cotton, clover, potatoes and all the
grasses grow well in the county, and all kinds of fruit, such as apples,
peaches, pears, plums, cherries and all the smaller fruits and berries, grow in
abundance. The timber of the county is made up of ash, poplar, walnut,
butternut, elm, buckeye, sugar, maple, oaks, red bud, sumac, dogwood, hickory,
beech, box elder, gum, cedar and mulberry.
The streams of the
county are Duck River (which runs nearly centrally through the county from east
to west. Its tributaries from the south are Norman, Shipman, Thompson, Little
Flat, Big Flat, Sugar, Powell and Sinking Creeks; from the north, Noah Fork,
Garrison Fork, Wartrace Fork, Butler Creek, Fall
Creek, North Fork and Clem Creek. All of these streams furnish good
water-power, particularly Duck River. In the east and southeast part of the
county numerous springs of excellent water are to be found, while in the level
part they are not so frequent.
Upon the formation
of Bedford County, in 1807, the territory embraced in her boundaries was
made up of dense canebrakes and vast forests, both almost impenetrable, and was
but sparsely settled. From information gleaned from such men as Nimrod Burrow
and Thomas S. Word, Esqs., of Flat Creek, and J. E.
Scruggs, Esq., of Fairfield, who are among, if not the oldest citizens now
living, the writer is of the opinion that the first settlement of the county
was made about 1805 and 1806, as follows; Clement Cannon settled near the
present site of Shelbyville, in the Seventh District; Philip Burrow, William, Wilbourn and Freeman Burrow settled on Thompson Creek, in
the Twenty-fifth District; John Blackwell settled near Three Forks of Duck
River; Capt. Mat Martin and brother, Barkley, and William McMahan settled on
Garrison Fork of Duck River, in the First District. The above settlements
were all made at about the same time, and if any were made prior to them, no
information of the same can now be found.
Among the other early
settlers were Cuthbert Word, Samuel Card, Thomas Knott, Robert Snoddy James Eddy, William Hix,
Robert Hastings, Henry Hastings, Nathan Hubbard, Stephen Hastings, William
Haslett, William Burrow, Banks Burrow, Joseph Hickenbotham,
Thomas Gibson, Hazen Blair, John Casteel, Michael Holt, Joseph Walk er, Joseph Erwin, William Crutcher,
William Hickman, Henry Davis, Isaac Muse, Richard Muse, Anderson Davidson,
Andrew Erwin, William Finch, Mrs. Mary Scruggs, William P. Finch, John Tillman,
Christopher Shaw, "Salley" Sailors, Robert Furguson, Thomas Dean,
Thomas Hudson, James Reagor, David Floyd, Michael Womack, William Pearson, and
the Davises, Deerys, Eakins, Armstrongs, Stones, Caldwells, Burdetts,
Galbraiths, Wades, Whitneys, McKissacks,
Ruths, Hollands, Marshalls,
Nelsons, Moores, Arnolds, Shrivers,
Bomars, Mullines, Norvilles, Shaffners; Kings, Youngs, Kimbroes, Hooziers, Ewells, Halls, Hords, Ewings, Davidsons, Smiths, Vances,
Stokes, Osborns, Finches, Scotts, Crouchs,
Mosleys, Neils, Thomases, Peacocks, Woods, Fugetts,
Hoovers, Suttons, Murfrees, Steeles,
Harrises, Wilsons, Coopers, Tunes, Mortons, McCuistians, Clordeys, Greens, Browns, Fishers, Thompsons, Parsonses, Turrentines, Tilfords AIlisons, Lents, Blantons, Warners, Worthams, Atkinsons, Andersons, Sharons, Stallings, Sims, Brames,
O'Neals, Coffeys, Gaunts, Stephensons, Drydens, Harrisons, Greers, Barretts, Whites, Gambills,
Deans, Campbells, Williamses,
Floyds, Pearsons, Bobos, Reids, Reeveses, Morgans, Parkers, McGills, Rays,
Hastings, Dunaways, Dicksons,
Allans. Landers, Landises, Anthonys, Enlisses and Maupins.
The following persons were
granted land lying in Bedford County by the State of North Carolina for
military services during the Continental war,
between the years 1785 and 1790:
Amos Balch, 1,000 acres;
George and Richard Martin, 3,000 acres;
Thomas Talbot 2,000 acres;
George Cathey, 2,500 acres;
James Brandon, 1,000 acres;
Robert Smith, 5000 acres.
Between 1790 and 1800:
John Sloan, 1,000 acres;
Ruth Greer, 2,000 acres,
James Grant, 5,000 acres;
Stokely Donaldson, 1,000 acres;
Samuel Patterson, 2,400 acres;
Ezekial Alexander, 1,000 acres.
Between 1800 and 1810:
Norton Pryor, 1,360 acres;
David Justice. 2,000 acres.
Below is a list of those who received grants
of land from the State of Tennessee between the years 1800 and 1810:
George Doherty, 2,500 acres;
Andrew Jackson, 320 acres;
Thomas Overton and John Brahan, 640 acres;
Malcom Gilchrist, 260 acres;
John Bright; 122-1/2 acres;
James Greenlee, 300 acres;
Tilman Dixon, 274 acres;
James Bright, 45 acres,
James Lewis, 2,000 acres;
James Patton, 274 acres;
Daniel Ship, 532 acres;
John Baird, 2,500 acres;
George W. Campbell, 730 acres;
Thomas McCrery, 1,000 acres;
William Martin, 50 acres;
John Smith, 1,000 acres;
Ephraim Drake, 275 acres;
John Coffee, 100 acres;
Edward Harris, 800 acres;
Oliver Williams, 60 acres;
Joseph Greer, 150 acres;
Jesse Maxwell, 320 acres;
Robert White, 1,000 acres;
Aaron Cunningham, 640 acres.
Probably the first mill
erected in the county was the water-power corn-mill built by Mr. Goge, on the creek by that name, in about 1809 or 1810.
Previous to the erection of this mill the pioneers carried their corn to
Phillips' horse-power mill in Rutherford County, or reduced it to meal by means
of the mortar. In about 1812 Joseph Walker erected a water-mill on
Garrison Fork of Duck River, near where the town of Fairfield was afterward
located, and David Shipman erected a water-mill at the head of the creek by
that name. The Wilhoit and Germany mills on
Duck River, both water-power, were built about 1814 or
1815. Other early mills were the Cannon Mill, at Shelbyville, on Duck
River; Ledford's mill, on same river; James Sharp's mill, on Thompson Creek;
John Sim's mill, on Duck River, two miles above
Shelbyville; Henry Wiggins' mill, on Flat Creek, and Conway's and Pruitt's
mills, on same creek; Horseley's mill and Crowell's
mill, all of which were water-power, and Joshua Holt's water-power near Flat
Creek. The mills of the present, outside of those located in the
different towns heretofore mentioned, are as follows by districts: Third
District, James Mullen's and N. C. Germany's corn-mills, water-power; Seventh
District, Tune & Co.'s flour and corn-mill, waterpower on Duck River, and Wilhoit Mill, owned by Strick
Parsons, on Duck River, waterpower; Eighth District, G. W. Gregory's saw and
grist-mill, water-power, on Falling Creek; Ninth District, William Taylor's
steam grist- mill; Tenth District, N. R. Taylor's horse-Power grist-mill; Eleventh
District, John Hall's water-power saw, corn and flourmill, On Duck River,
Fletcher Ray's water-power grist-mill on North Fork Creek, and Adams' &
Simmons' steam saw-mill; Eighteenth District, J. N. Neeley's
water-power corn-mill on Sinking Creek, R. M. Sikes' water-power corn-mill on
Rock Creek, and Whitehead's steam corn-mill; Twenty-first District, F. M.
Johnson's water-power corn-mill on Flat Creek and Eugene Blakemore's
water-power corn-mill on Duck River; Twenty-third District, Hix
Bros. water-power grist-mill on Flat Creek; Twenty-fifth District, Mrs. Smith's
steam corn-mill, Joseph Wilhoit's water-power
corn-mill on Duck River, and Jacob Anthony's water-power corn-mill on
One of the first cotton-gins
in Bedford County was the Cannon Gin, near Shelbyville, built by Clement
Cannon about 1812. Other early gins were those of John Tillman and Tom
Mosley, in the Fairfield neighborhood, and later L. P. Fields had a gin in the
same neighborhood. There were, no doubt, other early cotton-gins, but a
faithful effort to learn whose they may have been and their location was
unrewarded. The cotton-gins of the present are Taylor & Hester's, in
the Tenth District, with which is also a carding machine; William Taylor's in
the Ninth District; W. J. Loyd's cotton-gin and
carding machine, in the Eighth District; George Vernatti's,
in the Fifth District, and Mrs. Smith's gin and carding machine in the
Twenty-fifth District. While there were no doubt a large number of
still-houses in the early days, yet they all disappeared years ago, and with
few exceptions have passed from the memory of the present citizens. One
of the first, if not the first still was owned by Philip Burrow, father of
Nimrod Burrow, Esq., and was situated near the present town of Flat Creek; John
Holt also had a still at about the same time and in the same
neighborhood. Other early stills were those of Nathan Evans in the
Twentieth District, on Sugar Creek, and of Simpson Neice
and Leslie Bobo in the Twenty-second District, on
Flat Creek. Later on distilleries were established. The distilleries of
the present are four in number, and are as follows: The Zach Thompson
Distillery is the most extensive one in the county, is situated near the town
of Wartrace, and full particulars of the same may be
found in the history of that town; Marcus L. Rabey's
distillery in the Twenty-second District, and Blakemore & Co.'s distillery,
in the same district, each have a capacity of sixty gallons per day; T. F. Wooton's distillery, in the Twenty-fifth District, has a
capacity of forty gallons per day. So it will he seen that whisky forms
quite an item in the products and exports of Bedford County.
In the early days the
militia laws were in force in Bedford, as in all other counties in Tennessee.
The early officers of the militia were Brig.-Gen. Robert Cannon; Cols. Samuel
Mitchell, John A. Moore and S. B. Blackwell. The militia consisted of two
battalions, which formed one regiment. Musters were held semi-annually.
The battalion muster was held each spring on Sinking Creek, and the general (or
regimental) muster was held in the fall at Shelbyville. The officers
would bedeck themselves on muster day in close-fitting, homespun coat,
half-moon hat, and presented a great sight as they would drill the rank and
file, armed with shot-guns and cornstalks, accompanied by music from the
piercing fife and drum. After the drill would begin the
"fist and skull" fights, which would continue throughout the day.
Bedford County was erected by an act of
the General Assembly December 3, 1807,
which act is as follows:
"Be it enacted by the
General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, that a new county be, and the same
is, hereby established south and southwest of, and adjoining the county of
Rutherford, by the name of Bedford, in memory of Thomas Bedford, deceased,
which said county shall begin at the southwest corner of Rutherford and
southeast corner of Williamson County, on the Duck River Ridge, and run thence
with said Williamson County line to the line of the county of Maury; thence
along the same southwardly to the south boundary of the State; thence
eastwardly to the east boundary of Rutherford County; thence along the same to
the ridge that divides the waters of Duck River from those of Cumberland;
thence along the same westwardly to the east corner
of Williamson County leaving Rutherford County its constitutional limits, and
all that tract of country included in the above described lines shall be
included within the said county of Bedford."
Section 2 of the act
provides for the holding of the courts of the new county at the house of Mrs.
Payne, near the head of Mulberry Creek, until the next General Assembly. The
county was surveyed and organized in the early part of 1808, the courts being
held at the place designated by the act creating the county. Of the courts,
court house, etc., but little is now remembered, and as the county was reduced
in limits the following year, thereby placing Mrs. Payne's residence and farm
in a new county (Lincoln), the county seat was soon removed. On the 14th of
November, 1809, the General Assembly, passed the following act, which reduced,
materially, the limits of Bedford County, the territory taken in the, formation
of Lincoln County:
"Be it enacted by the
General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, that the lines an boundaries of
Bedford County shall be as follows, to wit: Beginning on the northeast corner
of Maury County and running south with the eastern boundary line thereof to the
extreme height of the ridge dividing the waters of Duck River from the waters
of Elk River; thence eastwardly to the extreme height of said ridge to the
present eastern boundary line of the said county of Bedford; thence north to
the south boundary line of Rutherford County; thence westwardly
with the said line to the southern boundary line of Williamson County, and
thence with the said line of Williamson County to the beginning."
Section 2 of the act
provides for the appointment of John Atkinson, William Woods, Bartlett Martin,
Howell Dandy and Daniel McKissack as commissioners to
locate a county site for the new county on Duck River, within two miles of the
center of the county. Benjamin Bradford and John Lane were subsequently added
to the above commission by the Legislature. The county was resurveyed by Malcom Gilchrist, and the county site was located
temporarily at the house of Amos Balch, on the Lewisburg road, two and one-half
miles southwest of the present county seat. In May, 1810, however , the
county site was permanently located at Shelbyville, 100 acres of land being
donated for that purpose by Clement Cannon. Amos Balch and William Galbreath each offered to donate to the commissioners fifty
acres on which to locate the county seat, but as the site selected was more
central and the donation more liberal their offers were rejected.
Bedford County was
materially reduced in territory by the formation in 1836 of Coffee County on
the east, and again in 1837 by Marshall County on the west. At present
Bedford County is bounded on the north by Rutherford County, northeast by
Cannon County, east by the counties of Cannon and Coffee, south by the counties
of Moore and Lincoln, west by Marshall County, and has an area of about 475
square miles. Originally the county was divided into twenty-five civil
districts, but upon the formation of Marshall County in 1837 a number of these
districts were placed in that county, and other districts have since been
merged into each other, and at present there are only nineteen districts, they
being designated numerically as First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth,
Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth,
Twenty-first, Twenty-second, Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth.
In 1810 the population of
Bedford County was 8,242, and in 1830 had increased to 30,396. At that
time it was the most populous county in the State. The formation of the
new Counties referred to before and various other causes, reduced the
population materially, and in 1870 it amounted to only 24,333, and at present
the population is about 26,000. The voting population is about 4,500, and
at the presidential election of 1884 Mr. Cleveland received in the county a
majority of 171 votes over Mr. Blaine, though the usual Democratic
majority far exceeds that given to Mr. Cleveland. Bedford County has a
total area of 332,800 acres, of which 203,511 were improved in 1885.
During the above year the total value of property assessed for taxes was
$5,183,560. There are in the county 741 town lots, at a total value of
$522,515. The taxes of 1885 amounted as follows: Poll tax $7,508; State
tax $13,787.41; county tax $11,489.51; school tax $21,295.41; road tax
$4,399.84. The tax levy for 1886 was 20 cents on the $100 worth of
property for county purposes; 20 cents on the $100 and $1 poll for school
purposes; 11 cents on $100 for roads and highways.
The cereal products of the
county for 1885 were of corn 1,682,358 bushels; wheat 257,425 bushels; oats
87,408 bushels; rye 6,145 bushels, and of barley, 108 bushels. During the
same year there was owned in the county live-stock as follows: 11,426 head of
horses and mules, 14,188 head of cattle, 16,020 head of sheep and 46,251 head
The first court house was
erected in 1810 or 1811. The building was of frame, very small, and stood
on the northwest corner of the Public Square. A second building, this
time of brick, was erected in a few years, and stood in the center of the
Square. This building was destroyed by a tornado in 1830. In its
stead was soon afterward erected a large brick court house on the site of the
one destroyed, which stood until 1863, when it was destroyed by fire, together
with a large portion of the county records. A party of Confederate
soldiers bad taken quarters in the court house, and
through their carelessness the building was set fire to and entirely
destroyed. Upon the reopening of the courts after the war they were held
in various buildings, principally in a hotel which stood on the south side of
the Square, and in 1869 the erection of the present court house was begun, but
was not completed unti11873. The building is one of the largest and
handsomest court houses in the State, and was erected at a cost of about
$120,000. It is of brick, with rock foundation. The principal court
room is 40x90 feet in size; county court room, 20x40 feet, and chancery court
room, 20x40 feet. The circuit and chancery court rooms are on the second
floor, while the county court room and county officials' quarters, six in
number, are on the first floor. Besides these there are four jury rooms,
and in the basement are eight good rooms. Including the porches the
building is 120 feet long and 91 feet wide. The pillars for the lower
porches are of blue limestone, square, and in AshIer
masonry, while those above are of cast iron, Corinthian in style. The
building is surmounted by an elegant cupola, containing a clock and bell that
cost $1,500. The building stands in the center of the Square, and is
surrounded with a grassy plat, enclosed with a neat and substantial iron fence,
erected on a stone base. Altogether it is a handsome edifice, and
presents a striking appearance, and of which the citizens may well be proud.
Several jails were erected
by the county at different times, all of which were of small consequence, until
the building of the present jail in 1866 at a cost of $35,000. The jail
is a solid stone building, two stories in height, and is one of the most secure
jails in the State. It is conveniently arranged into cells and corridors,
and light and air are admitted through several long, narrow windows, through
which the smallest person could not escape. It is one of the handsomest
and most conspicuous buildings in Shelbyville.
In 1832 the first poor
asylum was established by the county. At that time 160 acres of land were
purchased, lying in the Third District, three miles northeast from Shelbyville,
adjoining Horse Mountain, on which were standing several log houses, which were
fitted up for the accommodation of the county's poor. In 1883 two
substantial frame houses of two rooms each, 16xl8 feet, were erected at the
asylum at a cost of $2,300. These buildings were burned in May, 1886, and
new ones in their place are in course of construction, the county court having
appropriated $2,500 for that purpose at its July meeting.
Bedford County is
traversed by numerous turnpikes or macadamized roads, a majority of which lead
to and from the county seat. The average cost of these turnpikes was $1 ,500 per mile, and toll-gates are established every five
miles, by means of which the expense of construction and maintenance of the
pikes is derived. The turnpikes of this county, their establishment and
the number of miles of each are as follows: Shelbyville, Murfreesboro &
Nashville Pike, built in 1832, 12 miles; Shelbyville & Fayetteville Pike,
built in 1852, 9 miles; Shelbyville & Lewisburg Pike, built in 1856, 11
miles; Shelbyville & Unionville and Shelbyville, Richmond & Petersburg
Pikes, built in 1858, 18 miles of the former and 9 of the latter; Shelbyville
& Fairfield Pike, built, part in 1859 and completed in 1865, 8 miles;
Shelbyville. Flat Creek & Lynchburg Pike, built in 1875, 9 miles;
Shelbyville & Fishing Ford Pike, built in 1875, 5 miles; Shelbyville &
Tullahoma Pike, built in 1874, 10 miles; Shelbyville & Wetumpka Pike, built
in 1881, 5 miles; Shelbyville & Versailles Pike, built in 1885, 8 miles; Wartrace & Beach Grove Pike, built in 1874, 6 miles;
Bell Buckle & Flatwood Pike, built in 1882, 5
miles; Bell Buckle & Beech Grove Pike, built in 1882, 6 miles, and Bell
Buckle & Liberty Gap Pike, built in 1882, 5 miles.
The bridges of importance of Bedford
County, together with their cost and earliest time at which bridges were built,
are as follows:
Shelbyville bridge, across Duck River, built in 1832, present cost $2,000;
Fairfield bridge, in the First District, across Garrison's Fork, built in 1856,
present cost $1,000;
Scull Camp Ford bridge, in the Seventh District, across Duck River, built in
1856, present cost $3,000;
Warner's bridge, in the Seventh District, across Duck River, on the Shelbyville
& Fishing Ford Pike, built in 1856, present cost $2,000;
Hall's bridge, across Duck River, in the Eleventh District, built in 1875,
present cost $2,000.
Columbia Ford bridge, in the Eleventh District, across North Fork built in
1881, present cost $400;
Unionville Turnpike bridge, across North Fork, built in 1860, present cost
Sugar bridge, in the Twenty-first District, across Sugar Creek, built In 1850,
present cost $400;
Fall Creek bridge, across Fall Creek, in the Eighth District, built in 1860,
present cost $500;
Flat Creek bridge, in the Seventh District, across Flat Creek, built in 1855,
present cost $1,000;
Flat Creek bridge, in the Seventh District, on Lewisburg Pike, built in 1850,
present cost $800;
Lynchburg Pike bridge, across Duck River, in the Seventh District, built in
1876, present cost $3,000,
Fall Creek bridge, on the Columbia Pike, in the Eighth District, built in 1885,
There are numerous small bridges across small
streams throughout the county, but are not of sufficient importance to be given
The Nashville &
Chattanooga Railroad has a branch leading from Wartrace
to Shelbyville, eight miles in length, while the main line passes through the
eastern portion of the county. This railroad, together with the various
turnpikes, furnishes means for ample transportation for Bedford County, while,
in addition, Duck River can be used for transporting lumber to a great
extent. In point of agriculture, manufactures, stock and wealth Bedford
County ranks with the best counties in the State, while in health, climate and
educational facilities the county has few equals in any portion of the South.
The records of the
County Court of Bedford County do not extend farther back than 1848, those
previous to that date having been destroyed with the court house in 1863 by
fire. Beyond that date but little if anything of the transactions of the
court can be ascertained at the present day. The first sessions of the
court were held in 1808, at the house of Mrs. Payne, near the head of Mulberry
Creek (now in Lincoln County), and the only record extant of those sessions is
a marriage license issued by the county clerk to John Tillman and Rachael
Martin. During portions of 1809 and 1810 the courts were held, as before
mentioned, at Amos Balch's residence, from where they were removed to
Shelbyville in the latter part of 1810. The first session of the court of
which there remains any record was held in the court house at Shelbyville,
beginning October I, 1848, when the following justices were present:
William Galbraith, chairman; John W. Norville, James
Hoover, Newton C. Harris, Jacob Serley, Garrett
Phillips, James Wortham, John W. Hamlin, Price C. Sterle, Dudley P. T. House, Joseph P. Thompson, John L.
Cooper, James Foster, Joseph Anderson, Meredith Blanton, John O'Neil, Green T. Neeley, William Thompson, John A. Brown, Joshua Hall, B. F.
Green, Isaac B. Holt, Herrod F. Holt, Lemuel Broadway, Joseph Hastings, James H. Miles, Kindred
Pearson and William Taylor.
The transactions of the
court during 1848, or at least so much thereof of interest, were as
follows: A commission of lunacy was appointed to inquire into the mental
condition of Eliza Jane Gambell; Sarah Terry
emancipated Bob and John, two of her slaves. The commissioners before
appointed to let out the contract for building a bridge across Duck River, at
or near Skull Camp Ford, made a report to the effect that the contract for said
bridge had been awarded James Wortham, at the price
of $1,700. The report was signed by E. J. Frierson,
John T. Neil and William Galbraith, commissioners, which report was accepted by
the court. The following election judges were appointed for the November,
First District - William D. Clark, Anthony Thomas and Samuel
Second District - G. G. Osborn, John L. Davidson and Francis H.
Third District - Henry Bolt, John Shaffner
and John A. Moore;
Fourth District - John Norville, Robert
Clarke and Nathan Chaffin;
Fifth District - Andrew S. Lawrence, George W. Bell and William
Sixth District - James P. Couch, John Knott and Henry Brown;
Seventh District - E. J. Frierson, George
Davidson and Thomas Holland;
Eighth District - Thomas Wheeler, Jacob Fisher and Robert Terry;
Ninth District - Ziza Moore, Jason Winsett and Absalom Landers;
Tenth District - Alfred Ranson, Fredrick BaIt and James Mankins;
Eleventh District - William B. Phillips, Robert Rayson
and Charles L. Byren;
Eighteenth District - Fielding Bell, James Statling
and James B. Jones;
Nineteenth District - William Wood, John Larne and James H. Curtis;
Twentieth District - Miles Phillips, Jackson Wallace and Randolph Newson;
Twenty-first District - Samuel Thompson, Richard Phillips and Herbert Smith;
Twenty-second District - John C. Hix, Henry
Dean and Arthur Campbell;
Twenty-third District - James H. Miles, John Hastings and John
Twenty-fourth District - Elisha Bobo,
Watson Floyd and Thomas, Anderson;
Twenty-fifth District - John Koonce, Levi
Turner and Gabriel Maupin.
appointed for that purpose reported that they had let the contract for
repairing the bridge across Wartrace Fork of Duck
River to Henry Stephens for $79. The report was signed by Samuel Phillips,
Philip Cable and Robert Chambers, commissioners, and was received by the
court. The tax levy for 1849 was 8-1/2 cents on each $100 worth of
property for county purposes, 25 cents on each free poll, and licensed
privileges one-fourth of the State tax.
During that year William Presgrove and Nathaniel M. Wheeler were allowed $75 for
building a bridge across North Fork of Duck River, on the Lower Nashville Road,
near Presgrove's mill. The court ordered the
census taken in 1851 by districts, which census was as follows:
First District, 93;
Second District, 163;
Third District, 187;
Fourth District, 145;
Fifth District, 164;
Sixth District, 119;
Seventh District, 232;
Eighth District, 99;
Ninth District, 160;
Tenth District, 156;
Eleventh District, 239;
Eighteenth District, 177;
Nineteenth District, 151;
Twentieth District, 189;
Twenty-first District, 109;
Twenty-second District, 209;
Twenty-third District, 195;
Twenty-fourth District, 205;
Twenty- fifth District, 206.
In 1853 John R. Eakin, A. Ervin and John Meyers, bridge commissioners, made
a report that the bridge across Garrison Fork of Duck River, heretofore ordered
built by the court, was complete, which report was received, the town of Wartrace Depot was incorporated; a bridge was ordered
erected across Garrison Fork of Duck River at Wartrace.
In May, 1866, the court
passed an order for the erection of a new jail, and appropriated $15,000 for
that purpose, and levied a tax of 10 cents on the $100 and 50 cents on each
poll to raise the money. The following jail commissioners were appointed
to prepare plans and award the contract for building the jail: Thomas C.
Whiteside, A. V. H. Wisdom, Joseph H. Thompson, William Galbraith, W. G.
Cowan, Henry Cooper, A V. B. M. Brown, William Houston, Jr. and W. T. Tune.
In July of the same year the court appropriated $6,000 more to be used in
construction of the jail, and several additional appropriations for the same
purpose were subsequently made.
In October, 1869, the
court ordered a new court house erected, and appointed Thomas H. Caldwell, H.
P. Clearland, L. B. Knott, William Gosling and
William P. Cowan a building committee to prepare plans, estimates and
specifications, and award the contract for building the court house and
superintend the same. The building was completed in 1872. In June, 1872,
the court issued articles of incorporation to the town of Flat Creek. In
1873 the court appointed John R. Dean superintendent of the county schools.
In 1874 the court ordered
a new bridge built across Duck River, at Hall's Mill, slid for that purpose
appropriated $500. In 1883 an order for the erection of two buildings at
the Poor Asylum, was passed by the court, said buildings to be of frame, two
rooms each, 16x18 feet, and appropriated for the erection thereof $2,500. These
buildings having been destroyed in 1886, the court at its last session
appropriated $2,500 with which to replace them. Owing to the absence of the
records it is impossible to give the term of years the different county
officers served. but the following is a correct and
complete list of the names of the officers in the manner in which they held
Chairmen of County Court: John Atkinson,
J. W. Hamlin, H. F. Holt, P. C. Steele, William Galbraith, R. L. Landers, John
P. Hutton, Thomas J. Ogilvie, Richard H. Stem, B. F. Foster and John W.
Thompson, the present incumbent. County Clerks: Thomas Moore, James McKissack, William D. Orr, Robert Hurst, A. Vannoy, I. H. O'Neal, Joseph H. Thompson, R. C. Couch,
Robert L. Singleton and Will I. Muse, the present incumbent.
The first sessions of the
Circuit Court of Bedford County were held in 1808 at Mrs. Payne's house on
Mulberry Creek, and were presided over by Hon. Thomas Stuart, circuit
judge. Judge Stuart afterward held the courts at Amos Balch's, and was
still on the bench when the county seat was located at Shelbyville.
However, there remains no record of those early courts, the existing records
beginning with December, 1853, at which time Hon. Westly
W. Pepper was judge, John H. O'Neal was clerk
and James W. Johnson was sheriff. The first grand jury was drawn in the
following manner: the names of the venire were written on slips of paper and
the papers placed in a hat, from whence thirteen names were drawn out by a
child under ten years of age, and of the men whose names were thus selected was
the grand jury composed.
During the sessions of the
court in 1853, Gilbert E. Holder was fined $200 and sent to jail for three
months for carrying a bowie knife. John Record was fined $5 for gambling,
and William Neil was sentenced to one year's imprisonment in penitentiary for
larceny. In 1854 Martha Dobbins was granted a divorce from William
Dobbins. John W. Nelson was fined $5 for malicious shooting. Isaac
Williams for larceny, was sent to prison for one year, and Mary Low was fined
$5 for permitting one of her slaves to live as a free person of color. In
1855 Isaac Parker pleaded guilty to a charge of libel, and was fined $5.
William Ballard was sent to prison for three years on a charge of altering bank
bills. James B. Phillips served a judgment of $2,500 against Robert
Cannon, for slander and for committing murder, John Wilson was sent to prison
for seven years. In 1855 W. H. ________ was sent to the penitentiary
for one year on a charge of larceny, and James Wagster,
for disturbing public worship, was fined $10 and costs.
In 1857 William P. Puckett
was fined $25 for malicious stabbing, and Joel Criscoe
was sent to the penitentiary for five years for larceny. In 1858 James Ripley,
on a charge of murder, was sent to the penitentiary for twenty-one years; Frank
Bagley, for arson, was given a sentence of six years, and Jesse Phillips, for
incest, was sentenced to five years imprisonment. In 1859 Bob, a slave,
upon conviction of manslaughter, received the following sentence:
"That he receive 100 lashes upon the bare back, then be imprisoned for ten
days, and then receive another 100 lashes upon the bare back, to be well laid
on by the sheriff of Bedford County."
There were no sessions of
the court held during the late civil war. In 1864 Alexander Brown, for
larceny, was sent to the penitentiary for one year; and on a similar charge,
John Morton was sent up for three years. In 1865 Samuel Evans, Charles
Ellison, Riley Kizer and Harriet Phillips, all
colored, were convicted of larceny, and the first was sent to the penitentiary
for one year; the second for three years; the third for one year, and the last
one was let off with one month's confinement in the county jail.
In 1866 James Cheatham and
Bush Varmory, were each sent to the penitentiary for
fifteen years upon a charge of larceny and house-breaking. During that
year James Brewer, Pinkney McDonald, Van McFarland,
John Bomer, Jesse Barksdale and Mary Ann Stenston, all confined in the county jail on various
charges, made their escape. In 1867 James Eakin,
colored, was sent to the county jail for thirty days on a charge of larceny,
and on a similar charge George Morgan was sent to the penitentiary for one
year. In 1868 George Wood, Alexander Aldridge, Alan Jackson and Alexander
Elkin, were given terms of imprisonment on charges of larceny. In 1869
Ann Jackson was again imprisoned on a charge of larceny, and on similar charges
Arch Cook was sent to the penitentiary for twelve years; Abe Featherstone for
two years and six months; Alfred Davis for ten years; John Moore, ten years;
Sarah Cannon, three years, and, for stealing a horse, John Brown was sent for
In 1870, on charges of larceny, William King was
sent to the penitentiary for ten years; James Simmons three years, and Caroline
Houston three months in jail. In 1871 William Hamilton was
convicted of murder and imprisoned for eleven years; Elizabeth Kiser, for
larceny, was sentenced to imprisonment in State prison for one year, but her
sentence was commuted to ten days in jail on account of her encientic
condition; Edward Hilton, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, was
sentenced to three years' imprisonment; and on charges of larceny James Jones
was given four years in the penitentiary; James Gregor,
two years; Hal Germiny, three years; Charles Dyer,
four years; Fal. Hamer, one year; Green Smith, two
years, and Ida Kains one year. In 1872
James S. Robinson, Lewis Cannon and Henry Gambell
were sentenced, respectively, to terms of seven, three and four years'
imprisonment on charges of larceny.
In 1873 John Daniel was
sent to prison three years for larceny; Richard Wells, for murder, was sent for
five years; and Mitch Pearson was convicted of murder in the first degree and
sentenced to be hung February 13, 1874. Pearson took an appeal to the
supreme court, where the verdict of the lower court was reversed. He was
again tried and convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to ten
years imprisonment at hard labor. In 1874 John Fogelman, Henry Tillman,
Jerry Meadows and David Nealey were convicted of
larceny and all sent to the penitentiary for one year each. In 1875
William Campbell and Marion Shaffner were sent to the
penitentiary for three and one years, respectively, for larceny, and Dr.
Shannon, for horse-stealing, was sent to the penitentiary for twelve years.
In 1876 Joseph Williams
was sent to prison for two years, and William Barksdale was sent to jail six
months on charges of larceny. Thomas Rippy, for
murder, was given ten years; William Holder, for house-breaking, was given ten
years; and Abraham McMahan and wife recovered $120 damages from Thomas McEwen
for slander. In 1877 John Bourke, for house-breaking, and L. Jones, John
T. Dean, John Holt, Henry Cannon, Emmet Thompson, Willis Dallis
and Harrison Brown were imprisoned for larceny, and John Jones was sentenced to
be hung October 4,1877, for murder. Jones appealed his cause to the supreme court and the decision was reversed, and upon
standing trial a second time was sentenced to imprisonment for life. In
1878 Robert Dixon, Philip Shuman, John Miller and Bill Morton were sent to the
penitentiary for one year each, and Lafayette Revis,
for house-breaking, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, and for arson Revis was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, the second
sentence to go into effect upon expiration of the first. In 1879 Willis
Frazier, for murder, was imprisoned for twelve years; and for larceny James Eakin, Henry Brown, James Waston
and Jerry Ball, were sent to prison for one year each. In 1880 John
Gaston, James Woodard and Lewis Thomas were given terms of imprisonment for
larceny. In 1881 Mary Brown, Lula Thomas and Bob Chambers were given one
year imprisonment in the penitentiary on charges of larceny.
In 1882 Frank Atkinson,
for horse-stealing, was sent to prison for three years; James Stewart, murder,
five years; and Ambrose Tillman, one year; Louis Kiser, two and a half years;
Anderson Sims, one year; Henry Beedy, three years;
Henry Lovelace, four years; William Allison, one year; Harrison Williams, one
year; Bob Webb, one year, and Lewis Castleman two
years on charges of larceny. In 1883 Charles Elkins, for murder, was sent to
the penitentiary for twenty years; Jim Gamble, arson, two years; James Warren,
murder, three years; Nan Roberson, arson, two years; and for larceny Wylie
Chambers, Henry Amos, James Flack, R. C. Wyland, Tom
Stamps and Tom Ganaway were each given one year
imprisonment in the penitentiary. In 1884 Eliza Pepper, for murder, was
sent to prison for life, and George Cross, John Cooper and Nelson Johns were
given six and three years each, respectively, for horse-stealing; and Henry
Mosley and George Stewart, for larceny, was sent up for one year each. In 1885
Carrie Cleveland, for murder, was sent to the penitentiary for three years, and
William McGrew and Henry Carwell, for larceny, were
each given one year. In 1886 Willis Rankin and Henry Lamb were sent to
the penitentiary for one year each on charges of larceny, and Lamb was
sentenced to three years' imprisonment on a charge of horse-stealing, his
second sentence to commence upon expiration of the first.
The judges who have served
on the Bedford bench were Thomas Stuart, James C. Mitchell, Samuel Anderson,
Hugh L. Davidson, Henry Cooper, J. W. Phillips, W. H. Williamson and Robert
Cantrell, present incumbent. Attorney-generals: Alfred Balch, William B.
Martin, Thomas Fletcher, James Fulton, Abraham Martin, E. J. Frierson, Thomas C. Whiteside, H. L. Davidson, William L.
Martin, James L. Scudder, B. M. Tillman, James W. Brien, William H. Wisener, Jr., James F. Stokes, M. W. McKnight and Lillard Thompson, present incumbent. Circuit clerks:
Daniel McKissack, John T. Neil, Lewis Tillman, James
H. Neil, J. M. Phillip, W. B. McBrame and John T.
Cannon, present incumbent.
The Chancery Court of
Bedford County convened for the first time in 1836, with Hon. B. L. Ridley
presiding as chancellor and Robert P. Harrison as clerk and master. The
following is a list of the chancellors and clerks and masters:
Chancellors -- B. L. Ridley, Thomas H. Caldwell, John P. Steele, A. S. Marks,
John Burton and E. D. Hancock, the present incumbent. Clerks and masters
-- Robert P. Harrison, Robert B, Davidson, W. J. Whilthorn,
Lewis Tillman, Sr., Lewis Tillman, Jr., T. S. Steele, William H. Morgan and J.
S. Butler, the present incumbent. Other county officers have been as
follows, in the order given as to terms: Sheriffs -- Benjamin Bradford, John Warner,
John Wortham, John Warner, William Norville, K. L. Anderson, D. D. Arnold, James Mulins, J. M. Johnson, James Wortham,
Garrett Phillips, R. B. Blackwell, Joseph Thompson, J. M. Dunaway, F. F. Fouville, J. J. Phillips, George P. Muse and D. W. Shriver,
the present incumbent. Trustees -- John W. Cobbs,
William Ward, Peter E. Clardy, Daniel Hooser, S. B. Gordon, J. L. Goodrum,
William McGill and J. L. Goodrum, the present
incumbent. Registers -- John Ake, Thomas Davis,
A. Vannoy, D. B. Shriver, M. E. W. Dunaway, John W.
Thompson, H. H. Holt and C. N. Allen, the present incumbent. School superintendents -- John R. Dean, J. L. Hutson,
William H. Whiteside and J. H. Allen, the present incumbent.
Among the early
distinguished members of the Bedford County bar were Abraham Martin, who was
district attorney at one time, and who afterward removed to Montgomery, Ala.,
where he was elected to the bench; Archibald Yell, who afterward removed to
Little Rock, Ark., and of which State he was elected governor and also
representative in Congress; William B. Sutton; William Gilchrist; I. J. Frierson, a member of the Legislature at one time; William
H. Wisener, at one time a member of the Legislature
and speaker of the Lower House; Henry Cooper, who was judge of the circuit
court for a number of years, and who was also a member of the Legislature and
for several years president of the Lebanon Law School and United States senator
for one term; Hugh L. Davidson, who for ten years was judge of the circuit
court and attorney-general for one term, and Thomas C. Whitesides,
who was district attorney for a while. The bar at present is composed of
Edmund Cooper, who was a member of the Legislature one term, served one term as
congressman, was first assistant secretary of the United States Treasury under
President Johnson, and was also chosen by President Johnson as his private
secretary; Thomas H. Caldwell, who was at one time chancellor of this division,
attorney-general for the State, was a Grant and Colfax and Blaine and Logan
presidential elector, and was Tennessee's State Commissioner to the
Philadelphia Centennial in 1876; James A. Warder, who was United States
district attorney, and is at present one of the nominees of the Republican
party for supreme judge; R. B. Davidson; F. B. Ivey; Walter Bearden; Charles S.
Ivey; Gen. Ernest Caldwell, who is the present member of the Legislature and
who was commissioned a brigadier-general by Gov. Hawkins, and W. B. Bate.
Not a few patriots of the Revolution were among
the first settlers of Bedford County, among whom were Capt. Matt and Col.
Barclay Martin, who, with five of their brothers, fought for seven years under
Gen. Washington; Capt. Christopher Shaw, William Campbell and James
Hurst. There were no doubt others, but their names have long since been
forgotten, and of them there is no record.
A full company was
furnished by Bedford County to the war of 1812, which company was present at
the battle of New Orleans. Among the members of the company whose names
have been preserved were William Hazlett, John Farrer ,
Michael Womack, James Gowan, John L. Neil, Philip,
James and William Burrow (brothers), John Casteel, William Woods,
"Sallie" Sailors, William P. Finch, Robert Furguson,
Andrew Mathus, Townsend Fugett,
Benjamin Webb, Martin Hancock, J. L. W. Dillard,
John Murphey, Moses Pruitt, John Pool and James
Scott. The company was commanded by Capt. Barrett.
When the Seminole or Florida war began in 1836,
Bedford County promptly organized a full company, which, under the command of
Capt. Hunter, participated in many of the engagements of that war. Among
the volunteers of that war were Albert Smell, John Hudlow,
John Stone, Standards Thomas, Abraham McMahan, Lewis Tillman and William Woods.
Bedford County furnished
one full company to the war of the United States and Mexico in 1846. The
company was commanded by Capt. E. W. Frierson, and
was mustered into the First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, at Nashville.
The following are the survivors of the Mexican war who are living at present in
Bedford County: James H. Neil, Samuel J. Warner, E. M. Lacy, Stanford Sutton,
John B. Fuller, J. W. Buckaloo, C. W. Arnold and John
D. Martin. Among those who volunteered from the county and who have since
died, were C. C. Word, James Scudder, Berry Logan, Zechariah Lacy, Joel H.
Burdette, Thomas G. Holland, Alexander Turrentine,
Joshua B. Scott, William McNabb, Appleton Tucker, Chesley
Arnold, Sullenger Holt, Stephen Jolly, John A. Moore
and James L. Armstrong.
Bedford County was divided on the great
questions which led to the late civil war, and when the election was held June
8, 1861, to vote for or against separation from the Union and representation in
a Confederate Congress, the county voted in the negative by a majority of
nearly 200. When the time came for action the county furnished almost as
many soldiers to the Northern as to the Southern army. Indeed, so loyal
was Shelbyville to the Union as to earn for the town the name of "Little
Boston," and being on the line of march of both armies, witnessed many
movements and counter-movements of large bodies of troops, and though much
damage was sustained to property and not a few lives lost, yet through the
influence of prominent citizens on both sides the consequences were no more
serious than could have been expected in time of war.
In September, 1861, the
"Shelbyville Rebels," the fIrst Confederate
company raised in the county, was organized by the election of A. S. Boon as
captain. Immediately following this company, Confederate companies were
organized as follows, all of which were mustered into the Forty-first Regiment
of Tennessee Infantry: Scudder Rifles, Capt. W. C. Blanton, organized in the
vicinity of Unionville; Erwin Guards, Capt. M. Payne, organized at Wartrace; Richmond Guards, Capt. Brown, organized in the
vicinity of Richmond; a Flat Creek company, under Capt. Keith, and Capt. J. F.
Neil's Bell Buckle company, also about half of Capt. Thomas Miller's company,
which went from Marshall County, was made up from Bedford County by those
living near the county line.
During the same year a
company was organized at Bell Buckle, and James Dennison elected captain, which
joined the Second Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. During the summer of 1861
three companies were organized in the county, and joined the Seventeenth
Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. They were as follows: a Flat Creek
company, Capt. J. D. Hoyl; a Fairfield company, Capt.
James L. Armstrong, and Capt. W. A. Landis' company, made up part in Bedford
and part in Lincoln County. In 1862 a company of artillery was organized
in Shelbyville, of which J. L. Burt was elected captain, and Capt. R. B.
Blackwell also took out a company in that year.
In 1862 Capt. Montgomery Little was deputized by
Gen. Forrest to raise a company of 100 men to act as an escort to the daring
cavalry commander, which company was to be mounted and known as "Forrest's
Escorts." Capt. Little proceeded to Shelbyville where, October 6, 1862, he
completed the organization of the Escorts. The company was composed of
the picked men from Bedford, Rutherford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore Counties,
and were provided with choice arms and the best horses the county
afforded. On the above date the escort fell into line in front of the
court house, on the south side, in Shelbyville, from which place they took up
their line of march to Nashville, and from that time until the close of the war
was with Gen. Forrest through all his campaigns.
The Federal troops
furnished by Bedford County were as follows: Those who were attached to
the Fifth Regiment of Tennessee Mounted Infantry: Capt. R. C. Couch's company,
Capt. J. L. Hix's company, Capt. Robert C. Wortham's company and Capt. Rickman's company. Those
of the Fourth Tennessee Regiment of Mounted Infantry: Capt. James Wortham's company and Capt. John W. Phillips's; and Capt.
C. B. Word's company, of the Tenth Tennessee Mounted Infantry, known as
Throughout the war
Shelbyville was infested with troops at short intervals, first the Confederates
and then the Federals having possession. The same troops also visited Wartrace, and at that place entrenchments were thrown up by
the Confederates, while the latter also dug a line of rifle pits around
Shelbyville, extending from Horse Mountain to Duck River, and on the mountain
both armies established signal stations at different times. The first
troops to visit Shelbyville was a detachment of Confederates under command of
Col. Gordon, during the summer of 1861. During 1862 troops visited the
town as follows: Fourth Ohio Cavalry, Gen. Forrest's cavalry, Gen. Mitchell's
division, Gen. Lytle's brigade, Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Regiment of
Infantry, Gen. Wood's division, the First Kentucky Cavalry and Gen. Albert
Sidney Johnston's entire army corps, who came here on their retreat from
Bowling Green, Ky. While here Gen. Johnston replenished his commissary
department with about 30,000 head of hogs and a large quantity of beef.
In April, 1863, Gen. Bragg's army was encamped in Shelbyville for a month or
more. After the battle of Murfreesboro in December, Gen. Bragg retreated
to Shelbyville, and going into camp remained until January, 1864. During 1864
Gen. Milroy’s division, a Missouri regiment of infantry, under command of Col.
Fox, and the One Hundred and Seventh New York Regiment of Infantry encamped in
in April, 1862, the Forty-second Regiment Indiana Infantry, was attacked by
Col. Starn's Regiment, when a sharp skirmish took
place. In 1863 a lively skirmish occurred between the Fifth Tennessee
Cavalry and the Confederate Cavalry under Gen. Wheeler at Wartrace,
and in October following, Gen. Wheeler again had a brush with the Federal
Cavalry, between 3,000 and 4,000 men being in the fight, two miles west of
Shelbyville, in which quite a number were killed and wounded. On the 27th
of June, 1863, four companies of the Fifth Tennessee made an attack on the
Confederates who were holding Shelbyville. The Federals, commanded by
Col. Bob Galbraith, advanced from Guy's Gap, and by the time Shelbyville was
reached the Confederates were on the retreat. A running fight occurred on
Martin Street, during which several were killed on the Confederate side.
The Confederates retreated from the town and crossed Duck River at the Scull
Camp bridge, at which point, being so closely pursued, they threw a large brass
field-piece from the bridge into the river, and the cannon remains to this day
in the mud at the bottom of the river. No lives were lost on the Federal
side during the hot engagement.
1864, twelve soldiers belonging to the Fourth Tennessee Mounted Infantry
(Federal), were captured while guarding the Shelbyville depot, which was stored
with hay, by Robert B. Blackwell, who was at the head of a company of
bushwhackers. The depot and contents were burned, and the twelve soldiers
escorted a short distance from town and shot.
capital of Bedford County, is a beautiful town of about 3,500 inhabitants,
situated on the east bank of Duck River, and almost surrounded by that winding
stream, and at the terminus of the Shelbyville & Wartrace
branch of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, sixty-three miles southeast
from Nashville by rail, and fifty-five Miles as the "crow flies."
The immediate surrounding country is most beautiful and picturesque, the town
being enclosed between ranges of hills on the east, south and north.
Shelbyville was established in 1810 by the commissioners appointed by the
General - Assembly to locate the county seat of Bedford County. The land
upon which the town was located (100 acres) was donated - to the commissioners
by Clement Cannon, by deed dated May 2, 1810 and registered June 22, 1811. The
town was at once laid off into lots and sold at auction to the highest bidder,
and the county seat was then named Shelbyville, in honor of Col. Isaac Shelby,
who commanded a regiment of 240 men in the storming of King's Mountain and
capture of Col. Ferguson and the British Army under him October 7, 1780.
Among those who purchased town lots of the commissioners were Archibald
Alexander, Ben Brayford, Samuel Bell, Clement Cannon,
George Cunningham, Daudy Howell, James Edde, Michael Fisher, Ben Gambell,
Thomas Lordmore, William Lack, Lewis Marshall, Robert
Murry, Joseph Mengee,
William Newson, Abraham Thompson, Jonathan Webster,
Joseph Woods, Joseph Walker, Henry Winro and many
others. The streets of Shelbyville, all of which are macadamized,
are ten in number, those running north and south being Martin, Brittain, Depot, High, Thompson, Cannon and Spring, and
those running east and west are Daudy, Main and
The town was incorporated
October 7, 1819, and has continued as an incorporated town up to the
present. At the first municipal election, held on the first Monday in November, 1819, Thomas Davis, David McKissack,
James A. McClure, Giles Burdett. William 0. Whitney, John H. Anderson and Jacob
Morton were elected aldermen, and by them Thomas Davis was chosen mayor and
James Brittain recorder. The present municipal
officers are as follows: Mayor, John W. Ruth; recorder, John W. Thompson;
aldermen: First Ward, J. P. Ingle; Second Ward, W. A. Frost; Third Ward, S. J.
McDowell; Fourth Ward, J. R. Burdett; Fifth Ward, J. T. Allison; Sixth Ward,
Thomas L. Thompson; police: John Searcy, John Bartlett and Logan Harrison.
The Shelbyville fire
department was organized December 2, 1885. In 1883 a good steam
fire-engine and a hook and ladder wagon was purchased by the town at a cost of
$22,000. A steam force pump was also purchased at a cost of $800, which
was placed at the mill of Lipscomb & Co.
Library, containing over 1,000 volumes of choice literature, was founded in
1881 by the widow of the late William S. Eakin, and
from whom it takes its name.
The first merchant of
Shelbyville was James Deery, who opened a general
merchandise store on the town site in 1809, one year before the location of the
county seat. The first mill was a water-power com-mill, and was built in
about 1815 by Clement Cannon on Duck River, and a mill, known as the
"Cannon Mill," is in operation on the same site at the present.
The first blacksmith was Henry Tudale, and he was
followed by Jeremiah Cunningham, Moses Marshall and Jacob Morton. The
merchants of Shelbyville from 1810 up to 1840 were Benjamin Strickler,
John Eakin, John and Spencer Eakin,
Peter Donnelly, Hugh Wardlow, Robert Stephenson, J.
C. and T. M. Caldwell, John A. Marrs, Brittain & Escue, Thomas
Doris, George Davidson, Alexander Eakin, Thomas
Reed, W. B. Brame, Robert Mathews, Robert Moffitt, Wardlow & Thompson, John N. Porter, William Deery, John Cannon & Co., Davidson & Caldwell, and
Davidson & Jett. Richard White and R. P. Harrison were the hotel
proprietors of that period. The merchants of the forties were John Eakin, Eakin Bros., George
Davidson, William G., J. C. & T. M. Caldwell, Robert Mathews, W. W. Wilhoit, Seahorn & McKinney,
William S. Jett, Eakin & Moffitt, James H. Deery and T. M. Caldwell & Co. Merchants of the
fifties: John C. Caldwell, Jr., C. P. Huston, Baskette
& Stamps, Wilhoit Bros., Armstrong Bros., Baskette, Jett & Co., Cowan & Strickler,
Caldwell, Cowan & Co., John Wilts, John Nering,
Mitchell & Shepard, J. W. Wallace & Bro.,
Roan & Cable, and Mitchell & Sperry. Merchants of the sixties:
Thomas W. Buchanan, O. Cowan, John F. Brown & Co., Mason, Vandy & Co., Comey & Neiley, H. Frankle & Co., R.
C. White, Thomas J. Roan, C. A. Warren, Evans & Shepard,
Homer & Co., Buchanan & Woods, Graves & Gillis, George B. Woods,
John H. Wells, and Trollinger & Tune. With but
few exceptions the merchants of the seventies were the same as during the
The merchants of the
present are as follows:
Buchanan & Woods, J. S. Gillis, A. C. John & Co. and A. Frankle & Co., dry goods and notions;
J. P. Brown and Rice & Sandusky, clothing;
Allison & Hall and Leftwich & Co., dry goods
Mrs. Dalby, Mrs. Martha Rainbow and Mrs. E.
C. A. Warrell, B. Dwiggins,
Green & McGill, John Dayton & Co., E. W. Carney, G. N. Eakin, Morton Wilholt, Rutledge
& Thompson, T. J. Warner, Hix Bros., Arnold Bros.
and R. H. Whitman, groceries;
W. R. Haynes & Co., furniture;
C. W. Cunningham, books and stationery;
F. H. Otte, merchant tailor;
Evans & Shepard, Roan & McGrew and S. F.
John W. Ruth & Son, jewelers;
M. A. Rainbow, silversmith;
A. J. Jarrell, tinware and stoves;
O. Cowan & Co. and J. E. Deery, hardware;
Foman & Son, tinware
Hope & Co., Eagle & Shaffner and W. M. Bryant
& Co., grain dealers;
H. C. Ryall, lumber dealer;
Mathus & Low, commission merchants;
N. J. Calhoon & Bro., marble works;
M. L. Morton and E. W. Fuller, harness and saddles;
J. H. Hix, C. D. Gunter, T. J. Jones, P. Freeman, W.
V. Allen, Arnold Bros. and T. J. Warner, saloons;
W. H. Caul, gunsmith;
Benjamin C. Gregory, photographer;
G. A. Cleveland, house and sign painter;
John Ledbetter and Reidenbery & Turner, butchers;
Jack Henderson, T. C. Ryall & Co., T. C. Allison,
Hite & Taylor and Collins & Rankin, livery stables;
R. M. Bowen, G. F. Davis and J. R. Hunter, shoe-makers.
The only hotel of Shelbyville is the Evans House, J. C. Eakin,
proprietor, which is a first-class hotel in every respect.
James Brown and Simpson & Burkeen are the
J. T. Landis will open a steam laundry, which is now in course of erection,
during the fall.
The manufactories of
Shelbyville are as follows: The Victor Flouring-mill, built in 1880,
present proprietors Lipscomb & Co., is situated on Duck River, and has
water and steam-power; capacity 250 barrels of flour per day. The
building is a large two-story brick, and the machinery is of the most improved
pattern; the Cannon Mill (water-power), which stands directly across the river,
is also owned by this company; the Shelbyville Flouring-mill, also situated on
Duck River, was built some time during the sixties by Robert Dwiggins. The mill has changed hands frequently, and
is at present operated by E. Shepard, trustee; the
building is a three-story brick, and the capacity of the mill is 225 barrels
per day; Mullins Mill, water-power, situated on Duck River, one mile east of
Shelbyville, is owned by J. C. Tune; Shelbyville Carding Machine, established
in 1884, owned by Burdett & Co.; Shelbyville Manufacturing Company (stock
company), was established in 1883, manufacture hubs, spokes, rims, double and
single trees, etc., twenty-five men employed regularly; L. H. Russ & Co.,
manufacturers of carriages, and the celebrated New South wagon; McDowell Bros.,
manufacturers of wagons and buggies and general blacksmith; Southern Machine
Shops (owned by stock company), established in 1884; A. J. Trolinger,
cooper shop; E. H. Kohl, repair shop; H. C. Ryall, planing-mill; W. F. Holman, tannery; J. C. Eakin, fruit evaporator and canning factory .Probably the
most important manufactory in the county, and the only one of the kind in the
county, is the Sylvan Cotton Mills, situated two miles southwest of
Shelbyville. These Mills were established in 1852 by Gillen, Webb &
Co., but are now owned and operated by a stock company. The mills were
destroyed by fire in 1881, but were rebuilt on a larger scale immediately
thereafter. The present buildings are of brick, the main building being
50x186 feet, picker-room 40x56 feet and engine and boiler-room 40x60 feet; the
machinery is all new and of modern make; the mills are provided with 3,680
spindles and 108 looms, and the daily capacity is 6,000 yards of drilling and
sheeting. From 12,000 to 15,000 bails of Cotton are consumed annually, and
between eighty and ninety operatives are given employment. All of the
operatives reside in neat cottages in the vicinity of the mills, forming quite
a village. A general store is kept by the company, from which the
villagers draw their supplies.
The Shelbyville Savings
Bank was established in 1867 by A. W. Brockaway.
From its establishment until 1873 William Gaslin was
president and A. W. Brockaway was cashier. Brockaway was succeeded as cashier at that time by Dr .R. N . Wallace, and that gentleman was
succeeded by his son, John R. Wallace. The bank suspended in September,
1885, with a capital stock of $40,000 and $120,000 on deposits, of which not
over 20 per cent will be realized. The failure of the bank caused the failure
of several business men. The National Bank of Shelbyville was established
in November, 1874, by Edmund Cooper, who became president, with Albert Frierson, cashier, and B. B. Whitthorne,
teller. Mr. Cooper is still president and Mr. Whitthorne
is cashier and Edmund Cooper, Jr., is teller at present, capital stock
$50,000. The Peoples' National Bank, with a capital of $60,000, has been
recently organized, with N. P. Evans as president and S. J. Walden, Jr. as
cashier. A building for this bank is in course of erection, and the bank
will be ready for business during the present fall.
societies are as follows:
Shelbyville Benevolent Lodge, No.122, F. & A. M., organized in 1819,
suspended in 1833, and reorganized in 1847;
Chosen Friends Lodge, No.11, I. O. O. F., organized in 1845, suspended in 1885,
and will be reorganized in the near future;
Sons of Temperance Lodge, organized in 1846, suspended in 1860, and reorganized
in 1867, as Shelbyville Lodge, No.131, I. O. G. T.;
Olive Branch Lodge, No.4, A. O. U. W., organized in May, 1877;
Duck River Lodge, No.10, K. of H., organized in 1875;
Corono Council, No.426, Royal Arcanum, organized in
Local Branch, No.60, Iron Hall, organized in December, 1881;
Y. M. C. A., organized in 1884.
Duck River Lodge, No.1947, I. O. O. F., organized in May, 1879;
Charity Lodge, No.25, F. & A.M.
The physicians of
Shelbyville who have practiced in the town and vicinity since 1880:
James G. Barksdale,
George W. Fogleman,
and Frank Blakemore;
the present practicing
physicians are Drs.
J. H. McGrew,
R. F. Evans,
C. A. Crunk,
S. M. Thompson,
G. W. Moody,
J. H. Christopher,
N. B. Cable
and Samuel J. McGrew.
The practicing dentists are
G. C. Sandusky,
and J. P. McDonald.
The schools of Shelbyville
consist of a graded public school, Dixon Academy, Female Academy and the
colored free schools.
Shelbyville has seven
white and four colored churches, as follows: Presbyterian, organized in
1815, and brick church erected in 1817. In 1856 the building was sold to
the Catholic congregation and the present brick building erected at a cost of
$10,000. In donating to the county the land upon which to locate a county
seat Clement Cannon set apart a tract of ground upon which any denomination
could have the privilege of erecting a house of worship. The Methodists
took advantage of the free ground, and in 1820 erected a frame church.
The building was destroyed by a severe storm in 1830. The congregation
then abandoned the Cannon ground and erected a brick church in 1833, at a cost
of $3,000. This building they sold, in 1881, to the Christian
congregation and began at once the erection of the handsome brick edifice which
is as yet incomplete, but in which services have been held for many
years. This building has already cost about $12,000. The Baptist
Church was organized in 1845, when a brick building was erected on the Cannon
ground, the site of the old Methodist Church, at a cost of about $3,000.
This church was destroyed by a wind-storm in 1870, and was rebuilt, at a cost
of about $5,000. The Catholic Church was organized in 1855, and in 1856
the congregation purchased the old Presbyterian Church building, and the same
is in use at present; the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized and a
church erected in 1856. The building was destroyed in 1880. The
congregation then purchased their present brick building from the Northern
Methodists, which church was organized after the civil war, but disbanded The
Episcopal Church was organized in 1853, and until 1861 held services in the Odd
Fellows' hall. In 1860 the erection of the present brick church was
begun. The ground was donated by William Gasling
and the church was built by Hon. Edmund Cooper, as a memorial church to his
first wife. The building cost $2,500. The Christian Church was
organized in 1881, at which time the congregation purchased their present
church from the Methodist Episcopal congregation. The colored churches
are the First and Second Missionary Baptists, the African Methodist Episcopal
South and the Union African Methodist Episcopal.
The first newspaper
published in Bedford County was the Shelbyville Herald, Theo F.
Bradford, editor and proprietor. In 1821 the Herald was sold to
_____ Iredell, and with that gentleman was afterward associated J. Newton, and
together they conducted the paper until about 1830. The Western
Freeman was next established in 1832, with H. M. as editor, and John H.
Laird, publisher. In 1836 the Peoples' Advocate was established by
William H. Wisener, who was both editor and
proprietor. About the same time the Western Star was published by
Granville Cook. In 1840 the Peoples' Advocate was succeeded by the
Western Advocate, with John W. White as editor and publisher. In
1844 the Free Press was published by I. C. Brassfield,
and contemporaneous with the Free Press was the Whig Advocate,
published by John H. Laird. In 1848 the Star was published by R.
C. Russ. From 1848 to 1862 the Expositor was published by James Russ,
Jr., and Ralph S. Saunders. R. C. Russ published the Bedford Yeoman from
1850 to 1855, and during 1857 and 1858 the Constitutionalist was
published by J. H. Baskette. About the same
time the Herald of Truth, a Baptist paper, was published by Dr. R. W.
Fain. From 1862 to 1863 J. H. Thompson and T. B. Laird published the Tri-weekly
News, and from 1863 to 1866 T. B. Laird published the American Union.
In 1865 the Republican was published by James Russ, with Lewis Tillman
as editor. In 1871 the Bulletin was established by J. L. and J. B.
Russ, and previously these gentlemen established the Commercial, which
paper was published in 1870 by T. S. Steele and S. A. Cunningham. Two
years thereafter the Rescue, which paper had been started a short time
before, was merged into the Commercial, and R. C. Russ became editor and
proprietor, and occupies that position at the present time.
Besides the Commercial,
the other papers of Shelbyville are the Gazette and Times.
The Gazette was established in 1874 by J. B. and J. L. Russ. In
1880 A. L. Landis purchased the paper and conducted it for two years, and sold
it to William A. Frost and William Russell. In 1884 Mr. Frost became sole
editor and proprietor, and continues as such at the present. The Gazette
is one of the most successful newspaper plants in the State. The office
is supplied with an abundance of good material, and is equipped with a Campbell
power news press and Gordon jobber. The Times was established by
William Russell and D. M. Alford in the latter part of February, 1886, making
its first issue on the 26th of that month, with Mr. Russell as editor and Mr.
Alford as publisher. Although young in years, the Times is on a sound footing, and has evidently come with the
determination of staying. All three of the papers are Democratic.
The first agricultural
society of Bedford County was organized in 1857, and the fairgrounds were
located near Shelbyville. The first officers were as follows:
President, Hugh L. Davidson; vice-presidents, R. H. Sims, G. G. Osborn, Thomas
Lipscomb, W. W. Gill and Henry Dean; treasurer, Lewis Tillman; recording
secretary, J. F. Cummings; corresponding secretary ,
John R. Eakin. At the close of the civil war the
society was reorganized as a stock company, and handsome and commodious
buildings were erected on grounds just outside the incorporated limits of
Shelbyville. Annual exhibitions are held, and the society has been
deservedly successful. The present officers are as follows:
President, J. J. Gill; vice-presidents, Oliver Cowan, Martin Euliss and T. C. Ryall; corresponding
secretary, Ernst Caldwell; secretary and treasurer, John D. Hutton; general
superintendent, C. N. Rice.
In May, 1830, Shelbyville
was swept by a terrible tornado, which destroyed the courthouse, the Methodist
Church, and quite a number of other brick buildings, and killed and wounded a
number of people. Those who were killed were James Newton, David Whitson,
_____ Arnold, _____ Reideout and _____
Caldwell. The town has also been visited at three different times with
Asiatic cholera, which caused a large number of deaths each time. The
first visit was in June and July, 1833, the second in September, 1866, and the
third in July, 1873.
the second town of the county, is situated at the junction of the main line of
the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad and the Shelbyville branch of that
road, eight miles east from the latter place and fifty-five southwest from
Nashville, and has a population of 800. The town dates its establishment
from the time of the completion of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad in
1852. The land on which the town stands was originally owned by Rice
Coffee, and Henry B. Coffee was the first citizen of the village. Among
other early citizens were Robert Buchanan, John Stephens, N. C. Harris, W. H.
Clark, W. B. Norville, G. W. Martin, R. P. Gallaway, John R. Coffee, W. T. Grim, Willis Pruitt, S. A.
Prince, S. C. Mills, J. D. Payne, Robert Ervin, M. Payne, A. G. Garrett, A. M.
Keller and J. W. Tillford. The town was incorporated
in October, 1853, under the name of Wartrace Depot,
and Daniel Stephens was the first mayor elected. With the exception of
the years of the late war the corporation has remained in full force and
effect, and the officers at the present are as follows: Mayor, Sidd Houston; board of aldermen, R. P. Maupin, B. I. Hall,
J. W. Haynes, R. V. Davidson and T. B. Davis; recorder, W. G. Wood; marshal, W.
F. Hailey. Daniel Stephens and William Norville
were the first merchants, they opening general stores in 1852. During the
next eight years W. P. Green, Thomas Hart, W. K. Raibourn
& Co. and Murphey & Stephens were the
business men. From 1860 to 1870 the business men were Thomas Hart, L. P.
Fields, Fields, Mackey & Co., D. Morris & Co., M. N. McKinney &
Co., O. P. Arnold, J. A. Cortner & Co., Arnold Bros.,
B. W. Blanton, B. F. Davis & Co. and A. Murphey
From 1870 to 1886 the
merchants have been and are as follows:
J. D. Houston, drugs;
B. I. Hall, Davis & Co., Arnold Bros., B. W. Blanton and Cunningham,
Davidson & Co., dry goods;
Smith Bros., family groceries;
C. B. Murphey, books and stationery;
J. W. Haines, furniture and undertaker;
W. E. Russell, tinware and stoves;
A. Ogle, saddles and harness;
Mrs. M. E. Clayton, milliner.
The hotels are the Healan House, Mrs. S. D. Healan & Son, proprietors, and the Chockley
House, J. C. Chockley, proprietor.
The town has two good livery stables, owned by J. W. Tillford
and W. G. Petty.
The banking house of B. F. Cleveland was established in 1882, of which B. F.
Cleveland is president, and R. M. Cleveland is cashier. This
establishment does a general banking business, and is of much benefit to Wartrace.
The manufacturers of Wartrace are as follows: J. A.
Cunningham & Co., flouring-mill, erected in 1880 at a cost of $12,000, and
the Wartrace Mill Company, established in 1882, the
building of which cost $18,000; these mills are supplied with modern machinery,
and do a large custom and shipping business; Ellington Bros., saw and planing-mill, erected in 1885, with $3,000 capital
invested; John Butner, wagon-maker and blacksmith,
and Harry Erwin, John Price and W. A. Schwarts,
Near Wartrace is situated the distillery of Zach
Thompson, which has been in active operation since 1883, though it has been in
existence for about fifty years. This distillery has a capacity of
between seventy-five and eighty gallons of whisky per day.
The physicians who have practiced their profession in Wartrace
from its establishment to the present have been as follows, in the order
given: Drs. Walter H. Sims, W. T. Griswold, John M. Murry,
T. H. Marder, A. S. Brown, R. F. Fletcher, H. K.
Whitson and D. W. Duke.
The secret societies are
I. O. O. F., established in 1850, and reorganized in 1885;
K. of H., established in 1878;
K. of L., established in 1878;
R. A., established in 1861.
A Masonic lodge was organized in 1874, but was abandoned after a period of
about six years.
has splendid educational advantages. The Wartrace
Academy was established in 1860, and has been continued every year since.
In 1885 the present school building was erected. It is a large brick, two
stories in height, and cost $5,000. There are five grades in the school,
and the school term amounts to an average of ten months each year. The
houses of worship of Wartrace are the Missionary
Baptist, the congregation of which was organized in 1860, and the building was
erected in 1870. It is a substantial frame, and cost about $1,500.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized and house erected in 1876, at a
cost of $1,500. The colored denominations are Baptists and African
Methodist Episcopals, both of which have
The business houses of Wartrace are all of brick, and present a handsome and
substantial appearance. The railroad has a large brick depot, for both
passengers and freight.
Bell Buckle, the
third town of the county, was founded in 1852 by A. D. Fugitt,
the original owner of the land on which the town now stands. Bell Buckle
takes its name from a small creek by that name, which runs near the town, and
the creek derived its name from the fact of a representation of a bell and
buckle, which are carved on a large beech tree, which stands near the head of
the stream. The carving was discovered on the beech by the earliest
settlers, and as to the carver; when the work was done, or the reason thereof,
is one of the mysteries, though many traditions concerning the same have been
handed down. Bell Buckle is situated on the Nashville & Chattanooga
Railway, fifty-one miles southwest from Nashville, and ten miles northeast from
Shelbyville, and has a population of about 800. The town was laid off
into lots in 1854 and incorporated in 1856. During the war the
corporation lapsed, but immediately thereafter a new charter was obtained, since
when it has been in force and effect. The present town board is as
follows: Mayor, S. P. Jones; aldermen: G. H. Miller, W. R. Muse, T. J. Oglevie, B. E. Thomas, Z. T. Beachboard
and J. M. Freeman; George Moon, recorder; A. Melton, marshal.
A. D. Fugitt
opened a general store in Bell Buckle in 1852, being the first merchant.
Clark & Miller, W. B. Norville, R. D. Rankin, W.
R. Pearson and R. D. Blair, all of whom kept general stores, were the other
business men of the fifties. The merchants of the sixties were Lamb &
Weirback, W. C. Cooper, Norville
& Beachboard, R. D. Blair & Son, Thomas &
Claxton and R. D. Rankin, all general stores, while R. D. Wallace ran a
flouring-mill. Between 1870 and 1880 the merchants were McFarrin Bros., Jamison & Miller, Haggard Bros., W. L.
Garner, R. A. Hoover, T. J. Peacock, W. C. Cooper, J. F. Johnson, Johnson &
Rite, W. P. Crawford, Oglevie & Crawford and B.
E. Thomas, all of whom kept general stores, with the single exception of
Thomas, who kept a stock of drugs in connection with the post office. The
business men from 1880 and of the present are W. P. Crawford, T. J. Peacock, A.
H. Newman, R. A. Hoover. J. W. Pattey and E. F. Gomer, general stores; D. W. Shiver & Co., A. L.
Haggard and Howland Bros. family groceries; R. L. Justice, drugs and family
groceries; B. E. Thomas, drugs and post office; and H. Hall, undertaker and
cabinet-maker. The manufactories are represented as follows: R. F.
Wallace & Co., plows and wheelwrights: George Bailey and Meldon Bros., blacksmiths and wagon- makers; W. S. Putnam,
blacksmith and carriage-maker; R. F. Wallace, steam saw-mill and manufacturer
of Wallace's patent double shovel. Bell Buckle has a large
creamery, which was established in 1885 by a stock company with $5,000 capital.
The creamery is supplied with milk from the numerous herds of fine milch cows in the neighborhood. It is fitted up with
the latest improved machinery, and has a capacity of handling 6,000 pounds of
milk per day.
The one hotel of the town
is conducted by Mrs. Winnett. The railroad company
erected a good brick depot in 1862, which is in use at the present time.
The streets run north and
south and east and west, being continuations of the following pikes: Bellbuckle & Beach Grove Pike, leading east; Bell
Buckle & Liberty Pike, leading north; Bell Buckle & Flatwood
Pike, leading west, and a short pike leading into the Shelbyville &
The practicing physicians of the town have been
in the order named: Drs. Smith Bowlin, T. C. McCrory, W. F. Long, T. C. Henson, W. F. Clairy, J. W. Acuff, W. R.
Freeman, T. F. Frazill, and H. E. Finney, dentist.
The secret societies of
the town consist of Good Templar, Masonic and Odd Fellow, lodges of those
fraternities being organized in 1860.
The first school
established in Bell Buckle, and one of the first in the county, was Salem
Academy, which was founded in about 1820. Numerous changes were made in
the Old school, and in 1880, when a handsome brick building was erected and the
name of the school was changed to that of Bedford College (see chapter on
schools of county). Besides this school the public common schools are
conducted for a term of five months each year. An addition of importance
to the schools of Bell Buckle, and also of the county, is the Webb School,
which was recently removed to that place from Maury County, where it was known
as the Kuleoka Institute (see school chapter).
The colored school, which is taught five months in the year, is held in the
colored church building.
Bell Buckle is supplied
with a number of good churches. The Methodist Episcopal Church, a
handsome brick, was erected in 1878, at a cost of about $4,000; the Missionary
Baptist Church (frame) was erected in 1873, at a cost of $1,500; the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church was erected in 1883, is of brick, and cost $4,000; the
Christian Church was erected ill 1883, is of frame, and cost $2,000. The
colored churches are the Baptists and African Methodist Episcopal, both of
which are frame buildings which cost each about $400.
Flat Creek is situated seven miles southeast from Shelbyville in
the Twenty-fourth District, and has a population of about 150 people. The
town was founded in about 1840 upon a tract of school land known as the
Sixteenth Section. The first merchant was Thomas Newson,
who kept a general store as early as 1841 or 1842. Other early business
men were Blanton & Co., Hall & Warnock, Crunk
& Friend, Keith & Baker, Long & Morgan, Long & Watson, Evans
& Keith, Dean & Keith, Brennon & Dean and
Hudson & Co., and during the time of the above business men a Grange store
was in operation for several years. The business men of the present are
as follows: John E. Wood, Hudson & Co. and Hale Bros., general stores; J.
H. Farran, groceries; and John Bryant, saddles and
harness. The Flat Creek Saw and Planing-mill war, established in 1870, by John D. Floyd, and is now owned
by Phineas Hix. The
blacksmiths are John Bryant, Nance Green and Matt Thomas. The early physicians
of Flat Creek were Drs. J. Blakemore, Russ, Gordon, James Crunk,
Shepard, Samuel Rager and Grizard and those of the present are Drs. Frost, Anderson Rager and Williams. Flat Creek has a chartered
academy and also good common white and colored schools. The churches are
as follows: Cumberland Presbyterian, built during the fifties at a cost of
$1,000, frame; Methodist Episcopal South, built in 1885, and cost $1,000,
frame; and Christian, built in 1870, and cost $1,500, frame. In 1850 the
Primitive Baptists erected a large frame church, which was the first church in
the town. This church passed into the hands of the Missionary Baptists,
and afterward to the Separate Baptists, and that organization disbanding the
church was abandoned, and while still standing and in a comparative state of
preservation, is unused The Missionary Baptist (colored) congregation meets in
the colored schoolhouse. Both the Masons and Odd Fellows have
organizations in Flat Creek, both of which were established in 1850.
Fairfield, fourteen miles northeast from Shelbyville, in the
First and Second Districts, is one of the oldest towns in Bedford County.
The town lies on both sides of Garrison Fork of Duck River, which stream is
spanned by a large bridge at the town, and is distant from Wartrace
four and a half miles and from Bell Buckle five miles. The land upon
which the town was founded was owned by Dr. J. L. Armstrong and Henry Davis;
that on the west side of the creek belonged to Dr. Armstrong and was called
Petersburg; that on the east side by Mr. Davis and was called Fairfield.
The two towns were laid off into lots, and the lots were sold some time in
1830. From 1835 to about 1850 Fairfield (the name of Petersburg was soon
dropped) was one of the most flourishing towns in the county, and a large amount
of business was annually transacted. The building of the Nashville &
Chattanooga Railway destroyed the business to a great extent, and since that
time the town has gradually but steadily declined, and at present there are not
over fifty inhabitants. The early business men of Fairfield were Josephus
Erwin, William Crutcher, William Hickman, Henry
Davis, Isaac Miller, William Clark, Henry Davis, Jr., James Word, John West,
_____ Marshall, David Brown, James Martin, _____ Miller and James Simms. Osbom & Bro. are the business men of the present.
The blacksmiths are Osbom Bros. & Justice, James
Martin and Buck Butner. H. A. Justice & Son
have the one corn mill, which is on Garrison's Fork and is of
water-power. The physicians of Fairfield and vicinity have been as
follows: Drs. James L. Armstrong, Thomas B. Mosley, Needham King, Robert
Singleton, George B. Sumner, David King, Allen Hall, J. B. Muse, Jack Morgan
and Robert Morgan. Those of the present are Drs. Joshua Ganaway, Smith Bowlin, R. W. Kirch and S. K. Whitson, Fairfield has four churches-two
white and two colored. The former are Missionary and "Hard Shell
" Baptists, and the latter are Missionary Baptists and African Methodist
Episcopal. The schools of the town are the Fairfield Academy (chartered),
which enjoys an excellent reputation, and the colored free school.
situated in the Eleventh District, twelve miles northwest from Shelbyville, has
a population of about 200, and is one of the most prosperous towns in Bedford
County. Unionville was founded in about 1827 upon the lands of Meredith
Blanton and James Roy, and derived its name from the uniting of two post
offices and establishing the same at that point. In 1828 Meredith Blanton
erected a blacksmith shop, which shop has been operated continually from that
time to the present by the Blanton family and is now owned by two grandsons of
M. Blanton. The first business in the town was transacted by the firm of McGaffin, Rushing & Covington, who had a general
store. Other early. business men, who were in the merchandise trade from
that time unti1 1860, were William Collins, Blanton & Keller, Duggan, Moon
& Barnes, Little, Brown & Denson and F. S. Smith. From 1860 to
1870 the merchants were Ganaway, Clary & Co.,
McCord & Ogilvie, Atkinson & McCord, Peter Barnes, Williams &
Landis, Williams & Moon, Landis & Bro., Ganaway
& Henden, Duggan & Henden,
B. F. Duggan, J. M. Moon, McLane & Bro, Winsett
& McLane, Winsett & Elkton and Winsett & Covington. From 1870 to 1880: Duggan
& Clark, Duggan & Sons, T. N. McCord, J. A. Ganaway,
Landis & Winsett, Covington & Landis, W. A. Ott, I. Covington, J. M. Moon, B. F. Duggan and H. R. Frierson. From 1880, including the present merchants:
T. N. McCord, Blanton & Blanton, J. Covington, Covington & Blanton, H.
R. Frierson and H. R. Freeman. The churches of
Unionville are as follows: Methodist Protestant Church, erected in 1840 of
logs, and rebuilt of frame on the same site in 1868, at a cost of about $1,500;
Methodist Episcopal Church South, frame building, erected in 1856, and cost
about $900; Cumberland Presbyterian Church, frame, erected in 1876, and cost
$1,600; Christian Church, erected in 1878 at a cost of $1,000. The
schools of the town consist of a chartered academy, at which school is taught
ten months in the year, and the colored free school. The secret societies
are the Masonic and Good Templars lodges, the former
of which was organized in 1867, and the latter in 1885. The practicing
physicians of the town are Drs. B. F. Duggan, S. S. Duggan and G. L. Landis.
Normandy, at the
mouth of Norman Creek, twelve miles east from Shelbyville, in the Twenty-fifth
District; Richmond, in the Nineteenth District, ten miles southwest from
Shelbyville; Palmetto, in the Eighteenth District, twelve miles west of
Shelbyville; Rover, in the Tenth District. sixteen
miles northwest from Shelbyville; Haley's Station, three miles south of Wartrace, on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railway, and Cortner's Station, six miles south of Wartrace,
on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railway, are all flourishing villages of
from twenty-five to fifty inhabitants each.
Bedford County justly
prides herself upon her splendid educational advantages, which, indeed, are
surpassed by those of but few counties in Tennessee. Of the schools
during the first ten years of the county's existence as such, there remains no
record whatever, and from this fact one is led to believe that, while it is
more than probable that schools were taught in the county as early as 1805 or
1806, they were of an inferior order, and contributed but little to the
education of the county. The first school taught in the county, or at least the
first one of any consequence and of which there is a record, was Mount Reserve
Academy, which was established in about 1815 or 1816 by the Rev. George Newton,
who came from North Carolina a few years previous to that time. The
school was located three miles cast of the present site of Wartrace
in a log house at the place now known as Bethsalem
Presbyterian Church. Rev. Newton was a classic scholar, and taught with great
success the English as well as the higher branches of a liberal
education. This school continued at different periods until the civil
war, when it was abandoned.
The next school was Dixon
Academy, which was established in Shelbyville in 1820, and which in its day,
and even at the present, was a noted school. A thorough classical course
was taught at the school by such teachers as Rev. Alexander Newton, Prof. James
Jett, Prof. Blake and Prof. Gonigal, and many of the
afterward prominent men of he county and State were educated there. The
building was of log, and stood in the center of an eight-acre plot of ground,
which ground was donated to the school by Clement Cannon Esq., one of the
wealthy citizens of that day. The log building was subsequently weatherboarded, and in that shape the building rendered
service unti11855, when the present commodious brick building was erected. The
school has been in continuous operation (excepting vacations) from its establishment
to the present, having been conducted all along as a subscription school.
The present principal is Prof. T. P. Brennon, who, in
1885, added a military department to the school, and the pupils are required to
weal a neat uniform similar to those in use in the United States Regular Army.
Contemporaneous with Dixon
Academy was Salem Academy, which was established by Rev. Dr .Thurston near
where now stands Bell Buckle in 1825. This school was taught in a double log
house which was erected by the patrons of the school. Dr. Thurston was
succeeded as teacher by Prof. Blake. In 1850 the school was removed to
town and was known as the Bell Buckle Academy, of which Thomas B. Ivey was the
first teacher. In 1870 the school was succeeded by Science Hill School,
which was established by Prof. A. T. Crawford; and Science Hill was in turn
succeeded by the present Bedford College in, 1880, when a handsome brick school
building, costing $5,000, was erected. These schools were all a
continuation of the old Salem Academy. In about 1828 or 1830 Mrs. James
Jett, wife of Prof. Jett, of Dixon Academy, established an excellent female
academy a short distance east from Shelbyville, which was continued for about
twelve years, until the death of Mrs. Jett.
The next school of consequence was the Martin
School in Fairfield, which was established by Abraham Martin in 1828. Mr.
Martin was a very successful teacher, and for eight years conducted a
celebrated school. At about the same time Rural Academy was established
one mile east of Fairfield on the east side of Duck River, of which Rev. Baxter
R. Ragsdale was the first teacher. The school continued unti11846. In 1837
Clark M. Comstack founded a classical school at Big
Springs on Sugar Creek, which he taught unti11846, when the school was
In 1840 the citizens of
Shelbyville erected a building by subscription and founded a female academy,
which was first taught by Prof. Alford Dashiall.
The school was run for about eighteen years, and the school building stands at
the present, being occupied a residence. The school was succeeded by the
present female college, which was established in 1858, when the large brick
building now in use was erected at a cost of $15,000. The school is now
under the management of Prof. J. P. Hamilton, and is very successful. In 1846
the Baptists established a school about one mile south of Fairfield, of which
Abraham Tillman was the first principal. This school continued until the
breaking out of the civil war, and after the war the building was remodeled and
has since been run as a public high school, of which Prof. Joseph Estill is the
present principal instructor .
The Shelbyville University
was established in 1852, and continued about four years, Prof. Hamilton being the
president. After the war the building, which was considerably damaged,
was rebuilt, and the university was continued by Prof. C. W. Jerome. The
building, which stands and is in use at the present, is of brick, and cost
about $1,200, exclusive of the ground, which was donated by Judge Davidson and
Moses Marshall, Esq. In about 1870 the building and grounds were
purchased by the school directors of the Seventh Civil District and converted
into a public high school. For the ensuing term seven teachers are
employed for this school, and a most successful term is anticipated. The
school is one of three white public schools in the Seventh District, one of
which is at Sylvia Mills, and the other at Fairview.
During the fifties Richmond, Fairfield and Unionville Academies (chartered), and a splendid
school near Schaffner's Lutheran Church, known as the
Jenkins School, were established, all of which are in use at the present. Wartrace Academy was chartered in 1860, Flat Creek Academy
in 1875, Tumtine Academy in the Eleventh District,
ill 1873, Center Grove Academy in the Ninth District, in 1878, and Liggett's
Academy in the Eighteenth District, in 1880. The above is a list of the
chartered academies of the county.
The Webb School at Bell Buckle,
was removed from Culleoka in the spring of 1886, and
buildings are almost completed for the school. They are of frame, the
main building being one story in height, with two wing additions, affording a
capacity for 150 to 200 students. The chapel has a floor area of forty-two
square feet. W. R. Webb, A. M., and J. M. Webb, A. M., are the principals,
while the school is owned by a stock company. A classical course is to be
taught, and the school will no doubt prove very successful.
Under a general law of the
General Assembly, passed March 6, 1873, the present public school system was
inaugurated. The number of pupils enrolled the first year in Bedford
County was 5,432, and in 1876 the number enrolled was 6,062. On June 30,
1885, the scholastic population of the county was white male, 3,612; white
female, 3,354; total 6,966; colored male, 1,484; colored female, 1,417; total
2,901; total white and colored male and female between the ages of six and
twenty-one years, 9,867. For the same year there were teachers employed
in the county as follows: white male, 50; white female, 39; colored male, 21;
colored female, 16; total 126. Number of schools in the county: white,
63; colored, 31; total 94. Number of school districts in the
The different religious denominations
were organized in Bedford County probably as early as 1806, and the Methodists
and Presbyterians had camp grounds at different points in the county, where
they would meet during the months of July, August and September. The
Methodists had camp grounds at Salem, Steele's, Horse Mountain, Knight's and
Holt's; the Presbyterians at Bethsalem, and later on,
the Cumberland Presbyterians at Three Forks, Beech Grove and Hastings'.
Probably the first meeting-house erected was Salem Church, which was built in
about 1807 at Salem Camp Ground, one-half mile from the present town of Bell
Buckle. The church was a log house, built of yellow poplar, unhewn logs, and the cane was cut, jogs cut and carried on
the shoulders of men, and the-house built by the individual members of the
church. The old building stood until about 1820, when it was replaced
with a better log one, and in 1845 a substantial frame building was substituted
for the log, and it is in use at the present time. In 1816 the Tennessee
Annual Methodist Episcopal Conference was held at Salem Church. Other
early Methodist Churches were Pleasant Garden, on Flat Creek, in the
Twenty-fourth District, built in 1814; Holt's Camp Ground, near the
Fayetteville Pike, in the Twenty-fourth District, built in 1823, and Mount Moriah, near Wartrace, built in
1823. In 1821 the Methodist Circuit extended from below Fayetteville to
Hooker's Gap, and from four to five weeks were required to ride the circuit.
Rev. John Brooks, one of the ablest of the Methodist Episcopal ministers, was
the circuit rider.
The Presbyterians erected
their first church at Shelbyville in 1815, and their second and only other one
at Bethsalem, near Wartrace,
in 1816. New Hope, at Fairfield, was probably the first Baptist Church in the
county, it having been erected in 1809, and though having been rebuilt several
times is still in use. Keele's church, named
for "Billy Keele," on Garrison's Fork, near
Fairfield, was probably the first church erected by the Separate Baptists, some
time in 1812 or 1813.
Presbyterians erected their first churches at Three Forks about 1820, and at
Hastings' Camp Ground about 1821. The Lutherans came into the county at
an early day, and erected a church on Thompson Creek about 1826, though they
were organized several years before that time. Their next church was
Cedar Hill Church, in the Shaffner neighborhood.
In 1846 the Christian
Church was organized in the county, and in 1855 the Catholic Church was
organized in Shelbyville. The Episcopal Church was organized in 1853 (see
Shelbyville Churches). The Northern Methodists came into the county since the
war, yet are very strong at the present, having eleven churches in the county
and at Caldwell's Camp Ground, three miles from Shelbyville on the Unionville
Pike, which was named in honor of Hon. Thomas H. Caldwell, of Shelbyville.
The Duck River Bible
Society, a very important adjunct of the churches, was organized at Shelbyville
on the 16th of May, 1718, and has been in continuous operation up to the
present. The society is an auxiliary to the American Bible Society, which
was organized in 1816, and the Duck River branch was one of the first
organized. Its leading object is to distribute Holy Bibles to the needy and
The churches of the
present, outside of those in the towns already mentioned, are follows by civil
Center, Cumberland Presbyterian;
Shiloh, Methodist Episcopal South;
Bethlehem, Primitive Baptist;
Haley's Station, Methodist Episcopal South,
and Union Ridge, African Methodist Episcopal, in the Second District.
Mount Mariah, Methodist Episcopal South;
Methodist Episcopal South;
Mount Olivell, Methodist Episcopal North;
Phillipi, Methodist Episcipal
North, in the Third District.
Cross Roads, Christian,
and Guy's Gap, Baptist, in the Fifth District.
Whitesides Chapel, Methodist Episcopal South;
Nance's, Missionary Baptist;
Hart's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal;
Bellview and Browntown,
Colored Missionary Baptists, in the Sixth District.
Mount Pisgah, Primitive Baptist;
North Fork, Missionary Baptist;
Hickory Hill; Methodist Episcopal South,
and Green Hill, Cumberland Presbyterian in the Eighth District.
Blankenship, Methodist Episcopal South;
Methodist Episcopal South,
and Bethlehem, African Methodist Episcopal, in the Ninth District.
Enon, Primitive Baptist;
Rover (town), Missionary Baptist;
Rover (town), Methodist Episcopal North;
Cedar Grove, Methodist Episcopal;
Mount Zion, Protestant Methodist Episcopal;
Kingdom, Cumberland Presbyterian,
and Poplar Grove, African Methodist Episcopal, in the Tenth District.
Ray's Chapel, Protestant Methodist Episcopal;
Crowell's Chapel, Lutheran;
Pleasant Valley, Methodist Episcopal South;
Zion's Hill, Methodist Episcopal North, and Comer Meeting-house
and Thompson's Ford, both African Methodist Episcopal and Cumberland
Presbyterian combined in the Eleventh District.
United Presbyterian (at Palmetto);
Zion, Primitive Baptist;
Shiloh, Methodist Episcopal South;
Dryden's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal South;
Liggett Chapel, Methodist Episcopal North;
Liboum, Methodist Episcopal North,
and African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist, in the Eighteenth District.
Richmond (town), Christian,
and Branchville, Methodist Episcopal
South, in the Nineteenth District.
Marvin's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal South;
Big Springs, Missionary Baptist;
Cottage Grove, Cumberland Presbyterian,
and Knight's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal South,
and one colored church each of Missionary Baptist and African Methodist
Episcopal, in the Twentieth District.
Center, Methodist Episcopal South, in the Twenty-first
Mount Harmon, Methodist Episcopal
and Separate Baptist combined, in the Twenty-second District.
New Hope, Cumberland Presbyterian;
Mount Pisgah, Methodist Episcopal South;
Hickory Grove, Separate Baptist;
Caldwell's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal North;
St. Mark, Christian, and St. Mark, African Methodist Episcopal, in the
Normandy (town), Methodist Episcopal South;
Jenkins Chapel, Christian,
and Mount Bethel, African Methodist Episcopal, in the Twenty-fifth District.
Sylvan Mills, Methodist Episcopal North;
Mission, Cumberland Presbyterian;
Reed's Hill, Missionary Baptist;
Fairview schoolhouse used by Methodist Episcopal, Baptist and Christian
Robison's Hill, colored Missionary Baptist,
and Elbethel, Colored Missionary Baptist