Benton County Tennessee

The Goodspeed History of Tennessee Illustrated - Carroll, Henry and Benton Counties
The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887



Page Two

Camden Lodge, No. 179, A.F. & A. M. was organized about 1845. Between 1850 and 1855, in company with the Baptist Church and the sons of Temperance, a building was erected west of the public square. This hall was used by the lodge until 1876 when it was destroyed by fire. In 1878 a new hall was erected upon the same lot. The present membership of the lodge is about sixty. The I.O.O.F. organized a lodge in 1880, but on account of a lack in interest it was suspended after a few months.

Camden Lodge, No. 416, K. of H., was organized December 23, 1876, with the following charter members: I.C. Yarbrough, past dictator; R.P. Haley, dictator; William Stanford, assistant dictator; R.M. Hawley, Vice-dictator; N.T. Strickland, guardian; Wayne Rye, reporter; L. H. Presson, financial reporter; F. C. Whitfield, treasurer, and E.M. Cornell Chaplain; A.J. Morris, J.D. McAuley and A.P. Lashlee. The lodge now has but twelve members.

In the spring of 1886 the Benton County Temperance Alliance was organized with a membership of about fifty.

The first newspaper in the county was the Central Democrat, established by William F. Doherty in 1852 and continued for two years. After its suspension the county was without a newspaper until June 1875, when the Benton Banner was established. The first few numbers were printed in Huntingdon, and published from Camden by T. H. Baker.The venture proving successful an office was opened in Camden and its publication continued by W. F. Moiden & Co. It changed hands frequently, being published successively by Travis & Crockett, Travis & McGee, R. B. Travis and H. K. Springer. It was a seven column folio, and was a credit to the county, but the patronage was not sufficient to retain it, and in the fall of 1879 is was suspended. The office was purchased by John C. Brown and J.L. S. Travis, and removed to Dresden. In 1881 the Camden Herald, a six column folio, was established by E.M. and C. N. Travis. It also changed proprietors several times until 1883, when C. N. Travis became the editor and sole proprietor. During 1884 it was changed To a five column quarto, and January 1, 1886, to a five column folio. Mr. Travis is an experience printer, and is managing the paper successfully. He recently added a job press to the office, and is building up a good business in that line.

Since the completion of the railroad a little village known as SOUTH CAMDEN has sprung up around the depot, about one half-mile south of the town. Its business men at present are I.C. Yarbrough, N.E. Finley, J.F. Presson and A.J. __ general merchandise; Lindsey McElyea, groceries; P.W. McDade, produce; A.J. Hudson, saw and grist-mill.

BIG SANDY is a thriving village on the Memphis division of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, about fourteen miles north of Camden. It is located on land formerly owned by J. B. Lindsey in 1871. He also built the first store, about two years later, which was occupied by G. T. Morris and William Caraway. The first dwelling was built by A.C. McRae and J. B. Lindsey

The business of the town at present is conducted by the following individuals and firms: William Caraway, G. T. Morris, J. F. Dowdey, Graham & Grainger, and Hudson & Son, general merchandise; Bullock & Cantrell, drugs; state factory, Hudson & Son; saw-mill, William Caraway; blacksmiths, A. Bell, John DeBruce and J. E. Wilson & Son.

Big Sandy Lodge, No. 290, A.F. & A.M. was organized as Pleasant Ridge Lodge, No. 190, at Pleasant Ridge Church in January, 1861, under a dispensation from the grand lodge, with the following officers: A.W. Russell, W.M.; L. Childress, S.W., W. R. Pierce, J.W.; J.B. Lindsey, S.D.; W. Warmack, J.D, J.P. Byrn, Sec.; J. Askew, Treas.; T.J. Warmack, Tyler. Owing to the general suspension of lodges during the war no charter was obtained until December 6, 1866. From that time until 1879, meetings were held at Pleasant Ridge. At the latter date the lodge was removed to Big Sandy when, in partnership with the Odd Fellows, a hall was erected about two years later, and in 1883 the name was changed to compare with that of the town.

Big Sandy Lodge, No. 185, I.O.O.F. was organized at Pleasant Ridge Church about 1876, and was removed to Big Sandy three years afterward. The first officers were E.N. Williams, N.G.; William Caraway, V.G.; G. T. Moses, Sec.; and P.M. Melton, Treas. The present membership of the lodge is about twenty.

West Danville is a station on the Memphis Division of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad on the west bank of the Tennessee River. It was established in 1860 on land owned by Calvin Bomar. Point Mason, Thompson Point, and Rockport are all steamboat landings on the Tennessee River. Coxbury and Chaseville, twelve miles southeast and fourteen miles south of Camden, respectively, are small hamlets, each having a post office and store. Mt. Carmel, situated in a fine agricultural section fifteen miles south from Camden, and Williamsburg in a broken but productive district six miles Northwest, as well as Sawyer's Mill, six miles west, are small hamlets of more or less local importance.

The small amount of legal business in Benton County has precluded the possibility of its having a bar of great experience or large numbers. As has been stated, the first resident attorney was Alvin Hawkins who located at Camden in 1843. As a young man, he displayed unusual ability and soon became desirous of a broader field in which to exercise his talents. Accordingly, after two years, he removed to Huntingdon. He was succeeded by Col. W.F. Doherty, who had been attorney-general of his judicial circuit. He continued a member of the Camden bar until his death in 1881. He possessed a fine vein of humor and was a good speaker. In 1870 he was chosen a member of the convention which framed the new State constitution. John W. Davidson, while clerk of the circuit court, took up the study of law, and afterward was engaged in its practice for some time.

About 1846 S.C. Pavatt removed from Huntingdon to Camden, where he remained until the Civil war. He was a man of great dignity of bearing and possessed unusual talents. He was at one time chancellor of his district. T.A. Henry located at Camden about 1866, and remained until 1882 when he removed to Texas. While not a superior advocate, he was an excellent office lawyer, and never failed to present his cases properly. He always preferred the chancery practice and obtained the greater part of the business in the county coming under the branch of his profession. The present bar is composed mainly of young men of good ability, who, in a great measure, have their legal reputation to make. W.F. Moiden and A.J. Farmer are the two eldest Members, both having been licensed to practice about eight years ago. The former prepared himself for his profession in the the office of T. A. Henry. He is a good lawyer before a jury and has a fair practice.

Joseph E. Jones, the present attorney-general of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, was admitted to the bar at Camden, in December, 1878. He immediately took high rank among the members of his profession in this section of the State, and in 1884 was elected to the responsible position he now holds. He is well grounded in the law, and is an advocate of no ordinary ability.

T. C. Rye began the study of law with Mr. Jones and since his admission to the bas has given but little attention to the practice of his profession, having been employed as private secretary to Congressman J.M. Taylor and clerk of the congressional Committee on Naval affairs.

Travis Davidson, who has recently completed a term as register of Benton County, is a man of unquestioned integrity, and possesses good legal ability. He has recently engaged in the practice of his profession. J. G. Presson and ___ Brandon, are also licensed attorneys.

During the first three or four years after the organization of the circuit court, it was presided over alternately by Judges J. C. Cook, William R. Harris, Benjamin C. Totten, Mortimer A. Martin and William C. Dunlap. Afterward, until 1845, Judge Totten occupied the bench. His residence was at Huntingdon. He was one of the ablest judges ever upon the bench in this judicial circuit, although in private life he was recognized as a genial gentleman, while in this discharge of his official duties he was exceedingly dignified and reserved, and maintained excellent order in the court room. he was succeeded by William Fitzgerald, who continued upon the bench until the suspension of the courts in May, 1862. He was the able jurist, and socially was very popular throughout the circuit. In 1865, L.L. Hawkins, of Huntingdon, was commissioned judge of the circuit court by Gov. Brownlow. He continued to preside until 1870, when he was succeeded by James D. Porter, of Paris, who four years later was elected governor of Tennessee. The remaining four years of the term were filled by Jo. R. Hawkins, of Huntingdon. At the election of 1878, Samuel B. Ayres, of Dresden, was elected judge of the judicial circuit, but died in less than a year after entering upon the office. Clinton Aden, of Paris, completed the unexpired term, and in 1886, W. H. Swiggart, of Union City, was elected to the office of the succeeding eight years.

Benton County has never been deficient in patriotism nor military spirit. Promptly upon the breaking out of the Mexican war, a large company of volunteers was formed and organized, with Alvin Hawkins as captain; O.B. Caldwell, first lieutenant, and W. P. Morris, second lieutenant. They at once reported to the governor, but the quota of the county was filled and they were never called into service.

The first company organized in the county for the late civil was was Company C. of the fifth Tennessee Regiment, Volunteer Infantry. It was recruited in April and the early part of May, 1861. The following were the commissioned officers at its first organization:


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