Marshall County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Early Residents of Marshall County

 

The section of the county lying in the vicinity of Chapel Hill is particularly well adapted to the growth of cotton. The section along Richland Creek, south of Elk Ridge, is regarded as the best part of the county and is equal to any in the State. The finest and best improved farms in the county are to be found in this section. All the lands are arable and highly productive except near the tops of the knobs, serrated ridges and glady spots. The ridges are usually fertile to their summits and are covered with a soil of flinty, siliceous, cherty gravel and weathered rocks that is friable and easily worked. What is known as the Cornersville District is generally considered the finest agricultural section of the county, and will compare favorably with any in the State. The timbered lands of the county cover from seventy to eighty square miles of territory, and some of this is unsurpassed in the United States. The best of these lands I are between East and West Rock Creeks, west of Farmington, between Duck River and the railroad, extending to the neighborhood of Berlin, and in the northwest part. The growth of timber includes oak, poplar, ash, elm, linden, beech, locust, cherry, walnut, sugar tree, hackberry, buckeye, cedar, hickory and chestnut. The growth of oak, walnut and poplar is of immense size.

In addition to the excellent timber the county affords good limestone rock, not only for fencing but also good building material. The sandstone in some places affords good grit for whetstones and grindstones. Excellent lime is made from the limestone rock, which exists in almost unlimited quantities. Within the last two decades there has been a perceptible falling off in the amount of cotton raised, and a great increase in the amount of grain, particularly in wheat, oats and corn. The greatest increase, however, has been in the amount of fine stock, including horses, cattle, hogs and sheep. This change has greatly increased the wealth of the county, is less exhaustive on the soil and is obtained at a less expense of labor.

A landscape view of the territory now included in Marshall County, as it was 100 years ago, would reveal to us an unbroken wilderness visited only by the roaming Indian in pursuit of the game which so abundantly inhabited this section. No settlements were made within the present limits of Marshall County prior to 1807.

The first settlers found a growth of cane so rank that they preferred traveling along the beds of small streams to the arduous labor of cutting out roads. Most of the first settlers came here to live on land which had been granted to Revolutionary soldiers by North Carolina, for service rendered in the war. The many indications of a fertile soil and the equable climate caused many others to follow soon, and in 1810 the curling smoke ascended from many of the primitive "clearings," and the hardy pioneers began to call this new land their home.

It is not known where or by whom the first settlement was made. For convenience in treating of the first settlements, the county may be divided into three sections: First that portion north of Duck River; Second, that lying between Duck River and the Elk Ridge, and Third, that lying south of Elk Ridge.

On Caney Spring Creek, near the village of Caney Spring, Asa Fonville raised a crop in 1807, and a little farther up the creek James Patterson began clearing up a farm early in the same year.

Four miles northwest of Caney Spring, Squire Atkisson was a very prominent early settler, and a leader in his community for many years.

James Haynes and a man named Kellams settled near together, and between Atkisson and Patterson.

Samuel Ramsey settled on the creek two miles from the village, in 1808, and afterward in 1809 removed south of Duck River. He had a water-mill, which was the first one north of the river. It was visited by people from ten or twelve miles distant.

Others who lived in that vicinity prior to 1810 were the Allen, Wallaces and Becks. Gen. N. B. Forrest, who was born at Chapel Hill in 1818, was a descendant of this family of Becks.

In the vicinity of Chapel Hill a settlement was made in 1808 by Andrew Patterson, who was a captain, commanding a company in the battle of New Orleans in 1815. Robert Patterson, a brother of Andrew, also settled near in the same year.

Northwest of Chapel Hill four miles in 1809, Joseph Brittain settled on his tract of 5,000 acres. He reared a large family of children, and gave them all farms. Several descendants of this man are now living in that section. He built a horse-mill.

The Boyds and Riggs lived in the same community as early as 1810, and were probably there as early as 1808. The father of Gen. Forrest emigrated from North Carolina, and after a temporary stay at other places made his home at Chapel Hill in 1815.

Near Duck River on the north side, a large family of the Billingtons were the first to make permanent settlements. Near there was a Rev. Mr. Warner, a minister in the Baptist Church. Others among the first pioneers were James Patton, Hugh McClelland, Richard Walker and two families of McClures.

Early in the year 1807 James Neil came from North Carolina to where Farmington is now located. He built a cabin just northwest of the turnpike in the village. He was soon followed by two of his brothers, Alexander and Andrew Neil, who both lived within a quarter of a mile of where the village stands.

About the same time John Reed opened up a small farm one mile south of these Near Reed was John Dysarts about the same time. About three miles from Farmington, on West Rock Creek, Allen Leiper was the first cane cutter. He had a valuable water mill for those days, which in the years 1808-09 supplied the demand of the central section of the county.

In 1808 John Shaw brought his family from North Carolina, and made his home one mile north of the village. Shaw was a hero at the battle of New Orleans.

At Fishing Ford a man named Hazelett was the first to clear away the cane and build a cabin. Southwest of him a short distance was a man named Cleek. Cleek raised several sons, who made good citizens of that section. Who first drove the ax through the wilderness where Lewisburg now stands is not known.

At the time of the organization of the county Abner Houston lived just west of Col. J. H. Lewis' house, and across the creek from him lived John H. Bills. Two miles northwest William McClure, the first chairman of the county court, settled in 1808 or 1809. Jonathan Moore came in 1808 from Carolina, and made the first opening in the forest on Globe Creek, and was soon followed by John Wilkes, who has many descendants in the county at present. On the head waters of Rock Creek a settlement was made by James Leiper, a brother of Alien Leiper, in 1808.

About this time Benjamin Simmons came from North Carolina to, the same neighborhood, bringing with him a slave then eight years old, who is now reverently addressed, by white and black, as "Uncle George McBride." This Negro was widely known throughout this section of the State on account of his skill in the use of the violin. Just east of Simmons were Josiah and John Blackwell's farms.

Not far from where the railroad begins to ascend Elk Ridge from the north, John and Robin Orr were among the first settlers in the county.

In 1808 William Williams settled where Round Hill Church now stands, and soon afterward removed to near Belfast. Then he opened a store. He bought his first stock of goods at Nashville, and hauled it home in a one-horse cart. From a ledger which he kept in 1823 the following prices are quoted: Coffee, per pound. 56£ cents; sugar, 25 cents; indigo, 31¼ cents; salt, 4 cents; copperas, 12½ cents; nails, 25 cents; madder, 15 cents; cambric, per yard, $1; flannel, 75 cents; calico, 50 cents; muslin, $1; bombazette, 75 cents; whisky, per pint, 18¾ cents; wine, 50 cents; "Bateman's drops," per bottle, 25 cents, etc. A remarkable fact is that calico was bought in quantity from three-fourths to three yards, rarely ever more than one yard being purchased at one time by one party. The book indicates that Mr. Williams did a large business and that his debtors paid their accounts promptly.

Early in 1807 Nathaniel Dryden emigrated from North Carolina to his grant of land where Belfast now stands. Thompson Cannon was his first neighbor, and in the same year Francis H. Woods and James Coffey settled near. Further down the creek was Samuel Ramsey, who moved from north of Duck River in 1809. He was the father of John Ramsey, who was born in North Carolina in 1797; was fifteen years old when coming to the county, and is now living at Farmington, at the age of eighty-nine years. Thomas J. Hall, who was a prominent Presbyterian minister, settled near Farmington in 1814, and taught school there for many years.

South of Elk Ridge is some of the finest land in the county, and it was not long in being developed into a well settled community. At Connersville the first to disturb the stillness of the wilderness was John Haynes, who, in lived near where the flouring mill stands. William Henderson, in 1808, built the first house on the ground now covered by the town. In a very short time Pearsley Cox became his neighbor on the northwest. Billy Marr came from North Carolina to Robinson Fork in 1808, and in a short time he sold out to Ephraim Massey, who kept a store for several years. Ephraim Patrick, John Dabney, John Cockrell, Billy Alexander and John and Thomas Walker came to this section about the same time. John Parks lived four miles south of Connersville, on Richland Creek, in 1807. On Cane Creek, about ten miles south of Lewisburg, Elisha and Joab Bagley located between 1807 and 1810; James Brown lived very near them. Above Brown, on the same creek, were Josiah McAdams and his two sons, Irvin and James; still further up the creek Jesse McLean and Henry Bagley were the first pioneers. Elisha Bagley had a horse-mill. After these first settlers had opened the first farms settlements rapidly followed, and the names of those coming in after those above mentioned would occupy too much space to be given.

In all parts of the county traces of the Mound Builders are found. Mounds built of earth and small stones, ranging in height from four or five feet to about fifteen feet, are more numerous in this county than in any other part of the State. North of Lewisburg about a mile is a mound ten feet high, built of larger stones than are commonly found in these structures. It was evidently a burial place, for parts of a skeleton have been taken from it. A thigh bone of a person was recently found in this mound, which, if the other parts were developed proportionately, belonged to a person over seven feet tall. The jaw bone, also found, is much larger than that of any person of whom we now have any knowledge. This body was evidently buried in a sitting posture. Three miles west of Lewisburg is a large clay mound, covering over a quarter of an acre. In the Seventeenth District there is one of small stones and clay seventeen feet high. There is also a very large one in the Fifth District. In these mounds are found fragments of pottery and rude missiles of various kinds, supposed to be weapons of warfare. In various parts of the county are found numerous arrow-heads, battle-axes, pipes, etc., probably relics of the Indian tribes that lived here.

 

 Marshall County | AHGP Tennessee

 

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886

 

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